bunrab: (Default)
Can I use "I've been busy" as an excuse, when I'm home all the time except for trips for lab work and biopsies?

The great news is, I am doing well enough post-transplant that they have already started lowering the immunosuppresant dosages at 7 weeks (that was yesterday) instead of 3 months. My kidney function is not 100% normal yet, and I still have to watch my potassium, but that's because these drugs are real tough on the kidneys, not because the kidneys are otherwise impaired, and everything's still within expected and acceptable ranges. My blood pressure continues to drop toward normal - the diastolic in particular was quite high for several weeks, but now it's down to around 80. For the most part I have my blood sugar under control. I am managing to get some knitting and other needlework done despite the prednisone-induced hand tremors, and am hopeful that the lower dosse of prednisone will alleviate a bit of that, once I get used to taking it all in one dose a day instead of two.

The schedule over the next few weeks is a busy one. Next week I see the surgeon for normal follow-up: x-rays and whatnot to make sure that the physical aspects of the surgery are healing normally and then I can be released from "sternal precautions" and be allowed to use my arms more. I look forward to being allowed to sit in the front seat of a car again! Theoretically I'll also be cleared to drive at 8 weeks, although the aforesaid hand tremors may make me hesitate about that for a bit longer. Next biopsy is the week after that - I'm on every two weeks now, through March, then it goes to once a month. And March 7, I start cardiac rehab. This time it will be at HoCo General (Howard County, MD is referred to by almost everybody who lives here as HoCo; Montgomery County is MoCo.) Last time, after the ablation and lead placement surgery, I had to go up to Greenspring, about 25 miles away, because HoCo didn't have an opening till about a month and a half after I needed to start. I am not sure that the benefits of cardiac rehab then outweighed the additional risks involved in driving a 50 mile round trip largely on the Baltimore Beltway...

Of course we didn't go out to dinner on Valentine's Day = but, since they have already lowered the dosage of immunosuppresants, I am going to be allowed to go out to dinner for our anniversary on March 25! I will have to be cautious - a restaurant with booths, so we aren't cheek to jowl with other patrons whose health status is unknown, and all food cooked well done and served hot. (No salad bars ever again - wah!)

Overall, things are going well. One thing I'm going to try to do before the end of the month is put together a detailed timeline of everything that happened in 2016 that led up to the transplant as a finish for the year. The two really big highlights are getting married on March 25, and getting the transplant on December 30, and both of those events were the start of a new life. But those wouldn't have happened if other things hadn't happened, so it's important to document the chain of events.

My mantra for now: people who make it through the first three months can expect 20 to 30 years!

Wedding photo:
bunrab: (me)

So when we last met, I had mentioned that I was going to attempt to read one of the volumes in Daniel Abraham's current series; two chapters of that disabused me of the notion. It's definitely complicated enough that one would have to start at the beginning. And given the size of each volume - fatter than the volumes of Game of Thrones, for comparison - it would be far more than I want to take on at this time. So back it went to the library, unfinished.

lengthy book stuff )

Now under way: another Patricia Briggs, but this time a series I haven't read before, or even noticed existed before, which appears to include dragons, maybe - at the moment, at the beginning of the book, the dragons appear to be extinct. So that will be the next one I report on.

Also read a graphic novel that sort of counts as fantasy: Beasts of Burden Volume: Animal Rites - cute, not terribly deep, but the dog characters and the cat are sort of cool.

Other things: took the euphonium to a Browningsville rehearsal and played it for about half the time, and there were moments when I didn't make a fool of myself. And saw "A Million Ways to Die in the West" with Larry, speaking of the West, and Seth MacFarlane's West is probably almost as fantastical as the books above, and from the first couple of measures of the score during the opening credits I was laughing, and I think I enjoyed it so much because so much of the humor was audio in one way or another, which is what I was paying attention to rather than the gross and tasteless poop jokes. From the snippets of Copland in the score, to "Mila Kunis" by way of "People die at the fair" and not forgetting the uncredited cameo by Bill Maher, I laughed a lot. I'll probably buy the soundtrack album.
bunrab: (me)
I am pretty much through with my annual fall fit of the weepies - the one where every time I think "The leaves are so beautiful" a little voice in my head tacks on, "but Steve's not here." The little voice isn't quite as loud as last year, or as constant and frequent as the first couple years, but it's not gone completely, either, and I don't know that it'll ever go away completely. It doesn't hit me like a ton of bricks so that I double over trying to catch my breath; it just takes a little chunk of time to enjoy things away from me. That's what "getting better" consists of.

Long, whiny self-justification )

So - is that enough "moving on"? Do you think I should be feeling no grief at all anymore, just faint soft memories of the happy times? Bullshit. If everyone else is tired of hearing anything about Steve by now, say so, but don't tell me I shouldn't be thinking of him any more.

I was reading The Book of Woe, about the making of the DSM-5. One of the things they did was remove the "bereavement exclusion" from the definition of depression, so that anyone who acts depressed for more than a couple of weeks due to grief is now considered to have a medical condition that can be and should be fixed. This is pretty much ignoring all of recorded history about how humans handle loss and grieving. And the book - which disapproves strongly of the DSM-5 - includes a quote about that from a doctor and medical anthropologist who lost his wife: "I still feel sadness at times and harbour the sense that a part of me is gone forever... I am still caring for our memories. Is there anything wrong (or pathological) with that?"

I'll be visiting Austin next week. And going to the quilt show in Houston!
bunrab: (me)
So I had the defibrillator replaced on the 29th, and it was so painless and easy compared to all the other surgeries I've had these last 10 years that I feel like there's another shoe that's gotta drop - something can't possibly go that well without anything going wrong! And yet that seems to be the way it worked. Went over to the hospital at 11, was home again before 4, even counting the extra time we had to wait while they rearranged the operating room because someone had forgotten to tell the setup people that my device is on the right side, not the left. It was, as expected, local anesthesia and a bit of sedation, with the sedation increased for a few minutes when they had to test the device after putting it in - the sedation caused some mild hallucinations which I recognized as such while they were happening: the blue woven-paper coverings and pads that they use to cover areas, block things off, rest tools on, turned into a vast rolling Avatar-like landscape. And of course I chatted all the way through the thing, uncontrollably - but the anesthesiologist says she enjoyed it, and that constant chatting is in fact quite reassuring to them.
Boring details of easy recovery )

In other news, I am now officially elected to the condo board, not just appointed, and have already started wielding my immense power - which consists of volunteering to do many, many hours of unpaid work on behalf of the 433 owners who /aren't/ on the board, while enduring complaints from them and hassles from the other new board member who is a nutcase, and an exciteable, shouting nutcase at that. Wonder how long he'll last???

We went to the state fair the weekend after the surgery - and I was fine, although, since this year the scooter rental people weren't there, we didn't get to see much of the fair. In general, I'd have to say that for most ag stuff, the Montgomery County fair was larger and better organized than the state fair - the only place where the state fair has it better, and the reason I wanted to go, was the Home Arts building - many more quilts, knitted things, and needlepoint things at the state fair than there were in Mty Cty. This coming weekend we are going to go to the Great Frederick Fair, which is the name for the Frederick County fair. I've never been to that one, but Frederick is  a big agricultural area, just as northern Montgomery county is, so I have high hopes for fancy goats, obscenely-shaped vegetables, and, since it is a month later than the Montgomery one, much, much larger pumpkins. I shall report!
bunrab: (me)
We went to the animal fair
All the birds and beasts were there

Well, maybe not all, but lots. The Montgomery County fair is a big one, much bigger than Howard County (where I live, and which was back a week and a half ago) and almost as big as the State Fair. In some areas, bigger. Although the State Fair has lots more Home Arts (arts and crafts) it's got a really pitiful rabbit and poultry section, whereas the Monty Cty fair has an entire rabbit barn and an entire poultry barn. Now, I do miss visiting fairs with Steve, who would have looked at every single animal as closely as I do, and talked to every single rabbit, and laughed at every single chicken, but on the other hand, with Steve, I never would have gotten to the Montgomery fair at all - we only went to the State Fair up here. (Back in TX, we didn't make it to the State Fair every year - Dallas is a bit of a hike and hotels are often quite full those weeks - but when we did, of course that's an enormous fair, and some years we went to the Travis County fair, which isn't as interesting animal-wise but certainly had one of the hugest exhibits of new farm equipment I've seen.) And Steve really didn't care about the Home Arts stuff that much, despite that I do all sorts of crafts; it's nice to go through the quilting and knitting and needlepoint with someone who does want to look at it (if not quite as closely as I do).

So we got there shortly after opening, early enough to get one of the closest handicapped parking spots and to have first pick of the rental electric scooters, the availability of which at fairs is one of the great innovations of the 21st century, I think. The one I got was pretty peppy - it did hills surprisingly well compared to some. Not that great a turning circle, but I didn't get horribly stuck anywhere. Today was Senior Citizens Day - discounted admission for those over 62, which Larry took advantage of. One of the neat things about Senior Citizens Day is that lots of the old folks older than us just thought we looked harmless and therefore stopped right next to us at random moments to tell us interesting facts about how the fair was in their day, or to chat about whatever object we were all standing near. It's nice to be able to serve as a harmless ear for people who need to convince other people that they still have something worth saying.

There was a raptor show going on over at the community stage, with some lovely owls, and we stopped by their booth later, too, to peer more closely at the owls. Some interesting information about owl hearing and about owl flying, especially as compared to other raptors. They did have a red-tailed hawk, too.

The rabbit barn was dominated by Dutch, mini-lop, dwarfs, and mini-rex, but there were a couple of multi-colored full-size rex (polka dots in more than one color on white) and one really nice Rhinelander whose ears were a gorgeous tortoiseshell mottle. A couple of Jersey Woolies and an American Fuzzy Lop. And a few Lionheads, which caught Larry's eye. They're still a relatively new breed for showing, and there weren't a lot of them. One Flemish giant, a medium 15-pounder, not terribly big as Flemmies go. There weren't many of the giant breeds at all, that one Flemmie and a couple of NZWs, no Californias and no Checkered Giants (my favorite breed). Checkered Giants seem to do best further north - the Massachusetts state fair always had a good assortment of them when I lived up there. A full-sized angora and a fair couple dozen English lops rounded out the large rabbits. I gotta say, I've never been that fond of the really smushed-in faces of Netherlands Dwarfs of show quality. When we were looking at the Jersey Wooleys I was explaining about spinners who keep them and angoras as pets and then spin their own rabbit yarn.

We made the mistake of going in the "Chilly Mall" (the air-conditioned commercial vendors' building) before we ate lunch, which meant that the pick-your-own-candy booth sucked us in, and we walked through the maze of candy bins and came out with 3/4 of a pound of assorted root beer barrels and Squirrel Nut Zippers and caramels and Atomic Fireballs and so on. Other than that, we didn't spend any money on stuff or souvenirs, just on food, which was, of course, bad for us. Pit beef and sausages for lunch. Hey, at least we avoided corn dogs and fried Oreos. The county fairs have much less fried stuff than the State Fair or the average RenFair - no fried cheese, no fried ice cream, no fried peanut butter... We were too full to try the roasted corn ears and limeade when we got to them.

The Home Arts was, as I said, somewhat smaller than the State Fair, but there were a couple of nice quilts and a spectacular quilted table runner, and quite a few nice cross-stitch pieces. In the knitting and crochet, there were almost no sweaters at all - one women's sweater and a couple of kids' sweaters, that's it. There will be more of those at the State Fair, I'm sure. Some felted pieces that are best described as "interesting." And, there was a spinning exhibition, and sure enough, there was a lady hand-trimming her American Fuzzy Lop, who was mostly hypnotized lying on his back in her lap while she trimmed him. Very relaxed rabbit.

There were not many ducks or turkeys in the poultry barn - just a couple token ones. We saw quite a few sheep and goats being sheared over in the sheep barns, but that's not as funny as watching the rabbits. The only alpacas were the ones in Old MacDonald's Barn for the kids, where there was also one full-grown camel, but no llamas. I guess the camelids aren't as popular in Montgomery County as some places. There was a goat judging going on, and it was interesting watching the kids pose their goats, adjusting their legs a couple inches one way or another. Some nice large horses in the horse barn - a Belgian, a couple American Drafts, and one Clydesdale, and a Percheron who looked a tad small compared to those guys, though Percherons are not a small breed. You can tell I've been to more ag fairs than the average urban dweller; I can tell those apart, as well as being able to spot a Silkie chicken at 100 paces and tell a Barred Plymouth Rock hen from a Laced Wyandotte at 50 paces. I will say I remain as ignorant of cow breeds as ever - I know that Holsteins are the "cow-patterned" white and black ones, and recognize a Brahma, but other than that, I'm just, "oh, there's a brown one, there's a black one." Larry, on the other hand, can tell a Jersey from a Guernsey. His grandad had a farm, and used one of the red brand of tractors - I forget the name of it now, but one of the red ones. Me, I recognize big green, but really don't notice the other brands that much - though when I see the orange Kubota equipment, I can't help but think of kabocha squash, which is a Japanese pumpkin, not an orange one but a pumpkin which makes me think of orange and so... well, maybe that's silly, but I think of them as Japanese Pumpkin equipment.

Anyhoo, around 2:30 the overcast burnt off, the temperature rose 10 degrees in half an hour and I started to worry about sunburn, so we headed back to the midway, ate some fried dough - it ain't a fair if you don't eat fried dough or funnel cakes - and headed home around 3, with Larry a bit tired from doing all the walking and me a bit tired from that last half hour of heat and sun. I feel fairly well Faired.
bunrab: (me)
I am reading Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, and I like it so far, but I have reached one particular part in the discussion of risk aversion, and particular, the difference in how risk-averse people are with prospects of winning something, vs. with prospects of losing something.



The observation of contrasting attitudes to risk with favorable and unfavorable prospects soon yielded a significant advance: we found a way to demonstrate the central error in Bernoulli's model of choice. Have a look:



Problem 3: In addition to whatever you own, you have been given $1000. You are now asked to choose one of these options: 50% chance to win $1000 OR get $500 for sure
Problem 4: In addition to whatever you own, you hav e been given $2000. You are now asked to choose one of these options: 50% chance to lose $1000 OR lose $500 for sure.



You can easily confirm that in terms of final states of wealth - all that matters for Bernoulli's theory - problems 3 and 4 are identical. In both cases you have a choice between the same two options: you can have the certainty of being richer than you currently are by $1500, or accept a gamble in which you have equal chances to be richer by $1000 or by $2000. In Bernoulli's theory, therefore, the two problems should elicit similar preferences. Check your intuitions, and you will probably guess what other people did.

  • In the first choice, a large majority of responders prefered the sure thing.

  • In the second choice, a large majority preferred the gamble.



Kahneman presents how his prospect theory views this choice in terms of the reference point, an improvement over Bernoulli's utility theory. He then goes on to say most people never notice the gift of $1000 or $2000 that they've been given - it's included in most people's reference points. People see this in terms of winning money in Problem 3, and losing money in problem 4, and, as he had demonstrated earlier in the chapter, and verified through studies, when all of the choices are bad - for example, when all the choices involve losing SOMETHING - then people are more inclined to go ahead and take the gamble.

But there's where apparently I am way different from most people. That I had been given money was the first thing I noticed, and how I immediately thought of both problems is that hey, there are no losses here - in no case am I not winning at least $1000! Problem 4 is as much about winning as problem 3 is, despite the misleading wording of losses. For me, I interpreted problem 3 as "I definitely win at least $1000 no matter what; I have a 50% chance of winning $2000 instead, or a certainty of winning $1500. So I picked the gamble, because hey, even if I lose the so-called gamble, I have still won $1000! And in problem 4, I interpreted it as "I definitely win $1500 if I choose the second option, or I have a chance that I only win $1000 - of course I'm going to take the definite win of $1500!"  In other words, because I saw that I win $1000 no matter what I do, my perceptions of which gamble was worthwhile was exactly the reverse of most people's.

This isn't to say that Kahneman's prospect theory is as wrong as Bernoulli's utility theory - but it is to say that it's less complete than Kahneman thinks it is, because there are people who do see that their "reference point" is what they had before they were ever offered the opportunity to gamble, and that a gift given to you as soon as you agree to participate, before you even make any choices, does not change the starting point - the real gamble here is deciding whether to accept the offer to participate in the study in the first place! Once you make that decision, you have already won, if you decide to participate, or not-won (lost an opportunity, though not lost any real money) if you decide not to participate.

One of the things this shows is that studies based on academic settings with limited and fixed choices are never going to elicit the kinds of behavior that people will exhibit when they actually have money in hand and a real-world setting - and furthermore, which Kahneman should certainly have perceived, based on lots of earlier stuff in this book, how they have been primed by prior life experience that is not under the control of the experimenter, usually not even known by the experimenter nor does the experimenter even realize that he should somehow find about about those things. A person who has spent time previously in their life thinking about risk aversion, about gambling, and about decision theory, even in an amateur way, is primed to read these problems differently than someone who has never spent any particular amount of time thinking about risk and gambling. Even if asked to make a quick decision, these people will be more inclined to think that thinking it through is FUN rather than work, in that it's pursuing a personal interest, and so will expend the effort to think about it for a few seconds even if not encouraged to do so.

Am I wrong here?
bunrab: (me)
Things I am not catching up on:
Sewing: I'm trying to catch up on quilting projects, some 15 years old now. I am also trying to sort through fabric and reduce the stash some more, which I have been hopping to ADD-like instead of sticking to sewing - and worse yet, as I sort through fabric, I have ideas for new projects, and worse than that, I pull out fabric and start cutting it for those new projects - so I now have three more projects in pieces all over the sewing room, in addition to the already extant unfinished projects. On the good side there, I have pulled out about 40 assorted pieces of stash - from eighth-yards to 2-yard pieces - that I can stand to get rid of, and I have a group that makes baby quilts for charity lined up to give them to, next week - so I will try to find a few more pieces by then. But really, Kelly, stop having ideas for more quilts!

Blogging about books. I've read some, I meant to comment on some; I haven't found the time to both read and to write thoughtfully about what I read.

Knitting. I'm not going to have anything new done for Stitches next week. I have not used one single skein of the yarn I bought at Stitches last April. Granted it's been an unusually busy year, but really, having some 30 skeins of yarn still in its tote bag from Stitches 2012 is sort of evidence that I shouldn't buy more yarn, isn't it? Wanna bet I buy more yarn at Stitches next week anyway?

Condo association stuff: I /am/ going to do the condo association newsletter tonight. And I /will/ fill out and mail the Business Personal Property return before I leave for Stitches, since it's due the 15th. But I am no further along in finding an auditor nor in familiarizing myself with our interesting lawsuit against our former management company than I ever was. And pretty soon the next phase of the gas bill project will be added to the pile, along with the next phase of the washers-in-units project.

Catching up on my CPA CPE: I have 64 hours of mail-order classes sitting next to the computer (out of the 80 hours I need, total, to catch up), and haven't started a one of them, though I paid good money for them.

Unpacking boxes and giving away stuff: this is going incredibly slowly. I still get these little punches in the heart and bursts of tears sorting through Steve's stuff, and I still am having a great deal of trouble picking out books to get rid of without thinking I need to re-read them first. Never mind boxes full of papers such as old bills and greeting cards and souvenirs - those I haven't gotten to at all.

What have I done, anyway? Well, a Mensa friend gave me his old clarinet a couple of weeks ago, and I am making significant progress on that. Learning the fingering from a chart isn't the hard part; learning to look at written music and do that fingering at speed as the notes go by on the page is the hard part. Especially that middle register where the F through B-flat all take place with combinations of just the forefinger and thumb using keys that aren't part of the regular fingerholes. And I have filed all my own taxes, which were a bit fussier than usual this year thanks to selling the house, investing a bit of money, and receiving the lump sum from SSA. And I'm doing a /little/ bit to help out with putting together Maryland Community Band Day which is coming up in June, hosted by the Baltimore Symphonic Band this year. So I'm not entirely unproductive. Just not keeping up, is all.
bunrab: (me)
Although there were a couple band concerts in the past couple weeks, which were fun and which I did my part in reasonably well, other than that, I can't say I've made any progress on stuff I should be doing. I did mail off my 1040 - since I owed them a whopping check because of the lump sum Social Security amount in November, I had to make the payment earlier rather than waiting for April 15, to support my case for not charging me penalties for not making estimated tax payments during 2012, which I couldn't have because I didn't KNOW I was going to get money until it was already the 4th quarter, but nonetheless needed a bit of CYA-ing. I haven't done my state taxes, though. Or the extension for the condo association's taxes, or found an auditor for the condo association. I ordered some DIY CPE for my CPA license, because I want to keep it active (there's this vague "just in case" thing in my head, plus an equally vague fear that I will somehow forget the license and let it lapse, if I keep it on inactive status, and a CPA license is NOT something one wants to have lapse) but I haven't started in on any of it yet.

And I have several pieces of music in my head that I need to get written down. And, more short-term, about ten tea reviews to write, including one of some wonderful Sri Lankan tea that Barbara and Jim gave me, that turns out to taste a great deal like an Assam.

I did order a sofa today, finally. My niece is going to take my little loveseat for her first apartment - that'll be several months yet, but I've been wanting a real sofa, and it was part of what I planned to do with the SS money after taxes, and there was a sale over at Home Decorators Collection. And, knowing that there's going to be a sofa delivered in a week or so will FORCE me to clean up one last pile in the living room of stuff that's been: waiting to be mailed; waiting to be taken to Goodwill; waiting to be properly stored in the crafts room; waiting to be moved to my bedroom. So I have those chores cut out for me, and a deadline, which always inspires me more than just knowing that something /should/ be done. The little loveseat will also go in my bedroom for a while, once the sofa comes. The living room here is tiny-ish, and I don't want to block the patio door the way the previous residents did; I /use/ the patio door a lot.

The heating bills have been pretty reasonable - that was, after all, one of the major reasons for moving. They haven't been quite as low as I'd like, partly because this is the first floor so I'm not getting the benefit of anybody else's heat, and partly because when I have guests I do turn the heat up to a comfy temp for them, and I've had several guests in January and February, and partly because there's still a cold-air leak somewhere in my bedroom that I haven't managed to eliminate with the weather-stripping of the windows; I think it may actually be right at floor level under the window (I'd have to draw you a picture for you to be able to tell that that spot is a clear weak point in the overall design of these places) and the solution to that will be a runner rug and/or a door-type draft stopper - I don't think it would look right to run caulk and weatherstripping along the laminate floor and quarter-round baseboard molding. And maybe also next year I'll do that whole plastic-liner-with-the-hair-dryer thing to that window, too, since that would help with the spots I can't weather-strip such as the latches and locks for the sliding parts.

So, goals. Now to attempt to achieve some. In between more books (currently reading Nebula Awards 2012).
bunrab: (me)
I went to the US Army Band Tuba-Euphonium Workshop this past week - and discovered that I enjoy it for its own sake, not just for Steve's memory, and that other people look forward to seeing me there for my own sake, not just because I'm Steve's widow. That was an interesting discovery.

There are a lot of things to enjoy at such a conference, even if one isn't a tuba player. It's a whole bunch of music for free. Recitals by excellent professionals, evening concerts by the Army's professional groups - Army Blues, the concert band, etc. And some of the sessions that were lectures or recitals-with-talks were interesting for any musician. The morning warm-up for tuba players included suggestions about breathing and maintaining embouchure that were surprisingly relevant to a bari sax player. And the conversations in the lobby and the bowling alley dining room (the only place for civilians to eat on base most of the time) and at restaurant meals are with people that share a lot of interests in discussing music of all sorts, and griping about community band conductors, and building a music library, and lots of other stuff that isn't just for tubas.

I got to make lots of ophicleide jokes with people who understand ophicleide jokes and have more in turn. There were vendors who recognized me, and wanted to chat. And I bought a cleaning kit for the bass trumpet, and a swab of sorts meant for cleaning a euphonium that I think will do a much better job on the bari sax neck loops than what I'm currently using. And a couple of euphonium mouthpieces which will fit into the sax neck, which is part of the ophicleide jokes. And I am going to practice the bass trumpet more, and maybe even borrow a euphonium to bring to next year's workshop, to participate a bit.
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One of the things I don't like is the process of getting there. Even though Ft. Myer is less than 50 miles away from me, the routes that all the mapping services and GPS suggest are roads that I particularly hate. The BW Parkway is poorly maintained, especially when it crosses into the district and becomes DC-295. Here's one of the more disconcerting steps in the Mapquest directions: "Southwest Freeway/I-695 N becomes I-395 S." That was at least equaled, if not exceeded, in weirdness, by driving right under a sign on the way home that stated that the road that I was on was "I-295 S/ DC-295 N" - really, really disconcerting.The entrances and exits of DC-295 aren;t in the same spots NB as SB. Neither are the entrances and exits to the George Washington Parkway. And neither are the entrances and exits to US-50. All of which means that one can NOT reverse directions to get home.

Saturday night, driving in the dark, I decided on an entirely different route. Since the concert got out early enough that we could still get out by the Wright Gate (the north gate to the army base, which closes at 9 p.m.), I went straight up Ft. Myer Drive which ends directly being an entrance to GW Parkway going Northwest, straight to the west side of I-495, the Beltway. No need to read dimly lit local street signs, no need to watch for intersections or parking lots or pedestrians once I was on GW. That route winds up being some 20 miles longer, total, to get home - but being so much simpler, with so many fewer turns, and more time on higher-speed highways, that it takes no longer - and is MUCH less stressful. I think next year I'll use that route to go TO the fort, right off the bat. Yes, it sounds bizarre, yes, it uses up more gas, but so much easier on my sensibilities (avoiding US 50 altogether has a LOT to recommend it) that it'd be worth the extra $2 worth of gas.

In other news, I finished Rage is Back (see previous post) and also Albert of Adelaide, an adult fable about a platypus who escapes from the Adelaide Zoo to go looking for the Old Australia, where animals are all free and live naturally. Instead he meets up with an arsonist wombat, and they have adventures which unfortunately include a bunch of killing. I think the takeaway is supposed to be something about the power of friendship and mutual support, but the lesson I got out of it was more that the supposed good old days were actually violent, and lives were uncomfortable and short, with violent ends; modern "captivity" is actually a hell of a lot better quality of life. That's just me; you read it and see if you get more of that touching "buddy" feel out of it.
bunrab: (me)
In 2012, the only resolution I made was to remember to call my friend Cindy at least once a week, instead of always waiting for her to call me - I'm really,  really bad about picking up the phone and calling people, but I managed to keep that resolution. Without any resolutions on the subject, I decided just after the first of the year that I really needed to get out from under the burdens of a largish single-family home, so repaired the home, sold the home, bought a condo, moved. So far so good, right? Also good, that I don't think I've mentioned, is that I've lost nearly 25 pounds in the past year, getting my BMI to just under 25 - that is, within normal instead of overweight! Without any resolutions about losing weight!

I whined here about the couple of tachycardia events that screwed up my summer, and then somehow never got around to getting back here. I think, mind you I'm not certain, but I think, that this new year I resolve to write a few more substantive posts here, rather than depending on 3-sentence Facebook updates to be the only way I keep up with friends or organize my thoughts.

Playing catch-up )
More stupid heart stuff )

More than you wanted to know about my finances )

I have slightly less of too much stuff )

A visit to Texas )

OK, that's well enough of a ramble and a catch-up. New Year's resolution: keep up with LJ better, keep up with my friends' lives better. It's not all always me, and when it is me, sometimes it's good to share.
bunrab: (soprano_sax)
We're at the KOA, where, as there was last time we were RVing, there is free wireless internet access.

This RV is fun! It wallows a bit, though not nearly as much as a 29-footer. The 19-foot compact RV is also narrower than standard RVs, so it's much easier to drive down narrow roads. Which we certainly did earlier! Our lunch stop was in Stanardsville, VA, to visit w/ my nephew Michael and his family. Mike and Erika live on an unimproved road off another unimproved road (unimproved is one step up from dirt road; an unimproved road hasn't been paved but it has been graded and had gravel spread on it) off a 1.5 lane paved road. Miles from anywhere. It's a nice house, though, with a lovely wooded setting. Their son Oliver, almost 3, continues to be delightful - I brought him a play blanket I had knitted (it's on Ravelry, where I'm also bunrab, for those of you who are crafters) and he said "Thank you!" immediately without any prompting, and then sat down and started playing on it right away - it's a knitted piece out of superbulky cheap acrylic, that has a stretch oif grey road with a double yellow stripe, a winding river, and a section of railroad tracks knitted into it. And Oliver just happens to have a ton of toy trains and cars to use on such a blanket. The Junebug - their daughter June - has grown a lot in 2 months; she's not quite 6 months old yet.

The drive was pretty uneventful. Some disagreements between one set of maps and another and one GPS and another were fairly easily resolved. No major traffic jams, didn't see any major accidents, or even many state troopers! We pretty much stuck to the speed limit - the posted limit on various roads seems to be a pretty good fit for what feels comfortable in the RV. As I said, it does wallow a bit.

Things we forgot to bring: my handicapped parking tag (no biggie, since the RV wouldn't fit in most handicapped parking spaces anyway), pillows - they don't come with the RV, one provides one's own pillows and linens; Steve's music folder so he can practice. He brought the euphonium, which fits under the table I am typing at right now, and I brought the soprano sax; my bari sax parts will sound odd practiced on the soprano but it works to keep my fingers and lip in shape.

Tomorrow we go as far as, roughly, Birmingham, AL, where we'll have a visit with [livejournal.com profile] avanta2, whom we last saw in Little Rock on our move from TX to MD in the rented RV then! She's going to think we automatically hatch out of an RV every day.

Fairly tired now. A few minutes of mindless knitting (I brought along enough knitting, crochet, and cross-stitch projects for 6 months, never mind 3.5 weeks when I'll be driving a good chunk of the time), and then we wrestle the sheets onto the cabover bed, somehow finesse the pillow lack by using a bag of yarn or something, and fall asleep.

"See you" tomorrow!
bunrab: (Default)
First, some tea reviews:
Ginger Bread Cookie from Teavana http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5282 Thanks, Chas! Yummy tea!
Smoky Earl Grey from Fortnum & Mason http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5276 Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] parelle! This is one intense tea! (Other one to be reviewed soon!)

And some of my other recent tea reviews:
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5375 Pomegranate Oolong from Harney & Sons
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5332 Ginger Peach Black Tea from Let’s Do Tea
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5327 Starry Night from Liber-Teas

And some book reviews on Amazon.com:
The Enthusiast by Charlie Haas - read the review here: The Enthusiast
Monster by A. Lee Martinez - read the review here: Monster
As usual, you might have to scroll down through several reviews to find mine. And as usual, if you like the reviews, please click the little Yes button! Thank you.

Other recent reading:
A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage: there's a cute visual pun on the cover - in place of the word "the" in the title, there's an elaborate tea tin, looking like it's from an era when the French went in for Chinoiserie - and the French word for tea is thé. The book is a bit superficial, but fun, and let's hear it for beer, bringer of civilization!

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris - latest in the Sookie Stackhouse series, a bit too much blood, gore and torture - catering too much to the Anita Hamilton fans? Lots of action, but some of it totally unnecessary to the plot. If you are a reader of diverse and sundry fantasy and SF and have read Miller & Lee's Liad series, you can compare Sookie's accidental marriage to Eric with Miri accidentally marrying Val Con - both have knives. I didn't bother to do an Amazon review of this one because (a) there were already 493 reviews of it on there, and (b) my review would have been more negative than not, given the aforementioned blood and gore and torture, and the loyal fans don't want to see any negatives.

Coyote Horizon by Allen Steele - 4 connected novellas in his Coyote series, ties up some loose ends but creates others with its semi-cliffhanger ending.Won't make much sense if you haven't read the earlier books - but I do recommend them; it's good, straight-forward SF. Many people have compared Steele to earlier Heinlen (before the porn) - but Steele's politics are more nuanced and complex than Heinlein's rabid take-no-prisoners libertarianism.

Now the request: I can read Latin, more or less, as long as I don't have to get the tenses right, but I can't generate grammatically correct Latin. And there's two things I really want to make needlework samplers out of.
(1) Rust never sleeps.
(2) I know it's in here *somewhere*. (As in, someone asks whether we own such-and-such a book or object; our reply is that we do own it, but haven't the foggiest idea of where in the house or garage, packed or unpacked, it might be. This is pretty much our family motto, and has been, since the day we got married. So, I want Latin for something equivalent to "I know it's in here somewhere" although to sound euphonious, you might have to be a little elastic with the exact wording - I know that these objects are located within somewhere? Anyway. Something like that.)
bunrab: (Default)
LoudTwitter seems to be dead for the moment, so I guess I'll actually have to type in a post! Of course, the main thing on my mind right now is patriotic music - we'll be playing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, in various locations, and I will be heartily sick of Battle Hymn of the Republic before we're done.

Let's see, photos:


The older I get, the more I look like my dad. This is from last Friday, when we went over to Delaware to visit my folks, because my brother J and his family had flown in from CA to see them. So we had a small gathering of those family members who were nearby and happened to be free on a weekday, which came to 10 adults, 10 children and 1 teenager, and we all invaded the Smyrna Diner, which coped pretty well. Don't worry, we left them a really good tip.



And here's my brother J, and me, with his wife and their two daughters.

And here's all the tweets you've missed since LoudTwitter went down:
a long list )

ETA: since cut-and-paste from Twitter doesn't give the whole link, here's the links:
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=4441
http://bit.ly/XWn1t
http://www.nps.gov/fowa/planyourvisit/events.htm ~~CONCERT, you want to come to this one!!
http://tinyurl.com/l5jojm
http://tr.im/qmKs - jobs!
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=4363

Tea cozy

May. 6th, 2009 10:13 pm
bunrab: (Default)
I am inflicting the dreaded homemade tea cozy on my partner in a tea swap!



It's knitted; the top is a flap that opens up; the tea-cup design is part Fair-Isle, part intarsia; the yarn is Jo-Ann's Angel Hair. The fuzziness of Angel Hair combined with the layered strands of Fair Isle should provide pretty good insulation. The design is purely improvised - I "knitted till it looked like a tea cozy." It fits a standard-shaped 4-cup teapot.

Hey, my swap partner SAID she likes purple!

Book time

Apr. 2nd, 2009 03:22 pm
bunrab: (Default)
How to Live on Mars by Robert Zubrin - this isn't nonfiction, and it isn't a novel - it's a fictional piece written in the form of a nonfictional guide. Got that? Imagine one of Heinlein's libertarians carried away that one teeny step further into totally amoral greedhead, and then have that person volunteer to show you around Mars. Quite a bit of real science in it. Any fan of science fiction OR of popular science should like it. Single favorite bit: the "photo" on page 194 of "the founding of the Free Martian Republic." You'll recognize some of the faces right off, and be able to figure out others with just a bit of research.

Now to head for the library again!
bunrab: (crochet)
by popular demand: pix of amigurumi. First, lemur #1 (#2 is just started):

...


and second, Creepy Cute Cthulhu:

...
bunrab: (bunearsword)
1. [livejournal.com profile] angevin2, have you seen this cartoon in the Jan. 26 New Yorker? Roz Chast cartoon entitled "Grad-School Parent-Teacher Conference" shows somewhat older couple sitting in front of desk of frizzy-haired, tweed-jacket type, who is saying "Barbara is very mature for a 28-year-old." and (next balloon) "And she certainly isn't drinking as much as she used to!"

2. Ad in the January 2009 The Progressive for this t-shirt and other items with slogans such as "Future Librarian" and "Knitting is Knotty."

3. I seem to have saved a page from the Nov 08 issue of Metropolitan Home, showing the new Long Center in Austin, built on the skeleton of the old Mueller Auditorium. Says the old roof tiles, hail dents and all, now line the elevators and lobby walls. I haven't been there since it was finished; what kind of effect is that, really, someone?

4. I got the subscription for free, that's why I get Metropolitan Home. I am not normally in the market for $5000 furniture and $1000 bedside lamps, though some of them are cute. It is interesting to look at the ads for the latest in sleek, modern Murphy beds.

5. An interesting article from the July 2008 issue of Discover (that shows you how long this pile of magazines has been sitting next to my computer) about Laughing. Refers back to the essay "The Laughter of Copernicus" by Jim Holt in the book Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge edited by Damien Broderick. I believe I meant to make a note to myself to look for this book and Holt's Stop Me If You've Heard This. Is that what I meant?

Yes, I have a huge stack of recent reading, and a report from the Tuba-Euphonium Conference, and numerous other things to tell. Perhaps I shall manage a post after rehearsal tonight.
bunrab: (bunnies)
I suppose that if one is supposed to begin as one means to go on, then the new year got off to a good start: I finished a classic nonfiction book (Steinbeck's Travels With Charley), finished a knitting project (a shawl, for me, in an absurdly simple lace pattern), and made supper at home, using leftovers (leftover turkey frozen from Thanksgiving, turned into turkey-noodle casserole, which is tuna-noodle casserole only with turkey) instead of eating out. And then on the 2nd, I finished another book, albeit not so classic or important (Benjamin Nugent's American Nerd), got a few inches done on another piece of knitting that was already in progress (rather than restlessly starting yet another new project), and made supper at home again, using still more leftovers (leftover mashed potatoes turned into fried potato cakes, to go with crabcakes from Trader Joe's, all topped with low-sodium but zingy Texas Sassy Tequila Ketchup). So I suppose I'm on a roll of good habits.

Not that I'm making any resolutions for 2009. I have a couple of aspirations, but I'm not going to go so far as to call them resolutions. One is to get the garage and storage shed organized enough that we can get everything out of the rented storage unit, and not have to pay rent on that any more. Another is to get rid of some stuff - say, 25 things: books that aren't among the paperbacks I automatically trade in/give to friends/BookCross; skeins of yarn that I will never do anything with; yardages of fabric ditto; stuff like that. I already have in mind a pair of boots I bought years ago, and have only worn a couple of times, which were quite expensive and very nice and made on a last that doesn't match my feet at ALL, so that every time I wore them, I had feet that hurt so badly at night that I had trouble going to sleep. But I have never gotten rid of them, because, well, they are expensive, well-made, nearly-new boots!! Now I am going to get rid of them. (Speak up, flist, if anyone wants a pair of Clarks, black leather, size 8M, side-zip, just-over-the-ankle boots. I'll ship 'em parcel post if you really want 'em; otherwise, they will go to a local charity.)

It was interesting reading Travels With Charley - I don't know why I've never read it before; possibly because it was assigned in school, which of course would have made me avoid it. Anyway, since the book takes place during the 1960 campaign season, leading up to the Kennedy election, it has a rather peculiar resonance right now, especially when Steinbeck goes through the deep South and talks to people about race. And there's a postscript about the Kennedy inauguration that's sort of nice.

More reading recently accomplished, to be posted soonly.
bunrab: (bunearsword)
So we went to the Winterthur on Saturday. They have really nice lunches in their cafeteria, including a fancy dessert table. I spent more time on the "Who's Your Daddy" exhibit than [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet or Cindythelibrarian did. We all enjoyed the "Feeding Desire" exhibit - if you're anywhere in the area, that's a great one to go see. Of course right now, the house tour includes Winterfest, which is always beautiful. And mid-afternoon, there was a concert by a Sa"ngerbund - I forget the name of the group, but it was a chorus of about 30 people. Mostly songs we did not know, many of them in German. When we crossed the driveway to the gift shop, we noticed the largest holly tree I have ever seen, somewhere over 30 feet and full of berries. I am used to holly trees being spindly 10 or 12 foot things, and in Texas holly is a shrub; this was most definitely a tree! We got a good deal of holiday present shopping done in the gift shop. On the way home we avoided the evil Delaware toll plaza - on the way up, we were so busy talking, we missed the exit for easiest toll avoidance.

Backing up a bit. I did not wind up making the corn pudding for Thanksgiving. It would have been the last thing to get started, and when I got to that point, I realized that I had every single inch of space in my oven and my toaster oven completely filled with stuff already, more stuff than 8 people could possibly eat. (So I used the corn to make corn chowder late at night for S & I for supper - so we didn't have to eat the leftovers the same day!) We had a nice Auslese Riesling and a lot of apple cider. The day went well. My 7-month-old nephew Luke seems to be attempting to bypass crawling altogether and trying to stand up by himself and learn to walk. We watched "Babe" after dinner, which was popular not only with almost-2 Kyla, but also with my dad. My stepmom gave us a housewarming present, a Tensor floor lamp with a daylight-spectrum bulb in it - and it's dimmable! That will be useful not only for all my needlework but also for S's fiddling with stereo pieces and with gadgets.

Currently reading: Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred - very funny SF graphic novel - and The Eight by Katharine Neville, a thriller about Charlemagne, chess, the French Revolution, and auditing. The number 8 has many meanings in the book, and one of them is the "Big Eight" accounting firms, back when there were still such. Our heroine works for one that is a roman-a-clef Peat Marwick, often known as KPMG; in the book, the names of the firm form an acronym of FCK-U, which pretty much describes the firm's attitude toward its clients, its employees, and everything else.

I love museum gift stores.

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