Saturday, March 17, 2018

Overtired And Underwell

     I'd been feeling lousy since late February, but with everything that was happening, I was ignoring it and hoping it would pass.

     Kind of hadn't.  Mostly sinus stuff, the details of which I will spare you, along with dizziness, lightheadeness and stabbing (occasionally bilateral) earches.  The last had gone away after my sinus surgery in December and I was hoping maybe forever.*  Early last week, I called my ENT's office and left a message; a day later, her nurse called me to go over my symptoms and two days later called back with prescriptions and the news that the doctor was sick herself ("a sinus infection, wouldn't you know?"), thus the delay.

     That was Thursday.  I was deep in a project and got home too late to get to the pharmacy, so it wasn't until last night that I picked up the heavy-duty antibiotic and some kind of a steroid.  She'd put me back on an OTC spray decongestant, too, which I was able to start Thursday.

     I hadn't been sleeping well -- stabbing pain is an effective alarm clock, but follows its own schedule.  Last night through this morning, I finally got a little over eight hours and it seems to have helped.  Vertical is still a slight challenge, though, so I'll be staying around the house and resting today.
* Maybe not.  Any kind of aggressive treatment in the affected area will often result in immediate relief, since the body tends to mute jangled pain signals while healing.  This is typical of trigeminal neuralgia.

Friday, March 16, 2018


     At least we've had sunshine the last couple of days, and more is in the forecast for today.  Saturday?  Rain in the morning.  But Sunday should be sunny and maybe even a bit warm.

     ...Which is good, because the first day of Spring is Tuesday and the prediction calls for snow!  So far, it doesn't look like the kind of nor'easter (which is not, you may note, in any way representative of the speech of New England sailors*) that's hammered the East Coast over and over, and which we have been spared.  So I mustn't complain -- despite the cold, this winter has been mercifully free of heavy snowfall here in Indianapolis.

     But it seems spiteful to deliver even a small snowfall on the first day of Spring.
* Alas, Edgar Comee passed away not too long after his fight against what he called "a pretentious and altogether lamentable affectation" got national attention.  He was 88.  Think of him every time a weatherperson smiles at you out of the tube and talks about a "noR'easteR," and remember people up that way say, "nu'theastuh," precisely as one might expect.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

"The First Hit Is Free"

     Tam has loaned me her old iPad 2 -- as in clean-slated it and handed it over -- so I "can see what it's like."  I have been a Windows/Android user ever since they yanked MS-DOS out from under me and dumped me into a world of colorful, simplified icons.

     For those of you who aren't old, or who had successfully avoided computers until they became ubiquitous, to many of us the abandonment of MS-DOS for Windows felt like a step back, or at least a step toward the softly-safe Apple world, where you could do whatever you wanted just as long as you did it Apple's way, with Apple's fully-tested-and-approved software and hardware.  If you'd started out with grotty mainframes (the "big machine" my extension campus had timeshare access to was a DECsystem10, sixty miles away in Indianapolis; the smaller, slower one was a PDP-11, or one of the PDP-series, at another campus), moved up to CP/M (the last operating system I was really comfortable with) and nice little Kaypro-II (which -- except for color and fancy graphics -- did more in 64K than modern computers manage with 2 Mb*) and then clawed your way into desktops running MS-DOS, with all the crazy frustration of trying to make the pieces work together and do useful things, the Apple world looked like a coloring book and when Microsoft decided to do the same, it appeared to be a betrayal.  Having been hauled into GUIs kicking and screaming, there was no way me or any of my peers were gonna go Apple.  Nope, nope, nope....  (Meanwhile, one of the most user-friendly remote-control devices at my workplace ran on touchscreen Macs, and the system ran great right out of the box.  Thank you, Michelle Unpronouncable and your coworkers at Troll Technologies!)

     And here I am, multiple versions of Windows on, poking at the screen of an iPad.  If I can get it to recognize one of my (supposedly) dual-system wireless keyboards, it's going to be interesting to play with.  After all, this going from one to the other hasn't done Tam any harm -- and CP/M or MS-DOS isn't staging a comeback, last time I checked.

     (But if someone wants to port PerfectWriter for any modern computer?  Oh, where do I sign up to support that!)
* PerfectWriter spoiled me for word processors, with easily-implemented standard TEXT/PAGE NUMBER headers or footers, automatic building of tables of contents and footnotes, and a clear set of inline commands -- and it was seamlessly integrated with the database and spellchecker.  The awkwardness involved in setting up Word to produce plain, standard-formatted manuscripts never fails to frustrate me -- PerfectWriter did it with a simple command.  Q10 is as close as you can get, but lacks much of the dot-command formatting features. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


     I found my copy of A Wrinkle In Time (and a couple of sequels) a couple of days ago.  It was right where I expected it (after Lem, Stanislaw and ahead of Lewis, C. S.), but I was looking for larger "trade-sized" paperbacks.  Nope, mine are standard-sized paperbacks, and a bit old.

     The story is fairly simple but the language is not, and Mrs. Who's lovely quotes in multiple languages are rendered in their original and translated after, not the sort of thing one encounters often in books for younger readers.  The relationships are fully-developed, though our viewpoint is an early-years teenager and we see them as she sees them.  It's not super-duper, tightly-plotted hard-SF but it's a good story, well told.

     And I have to tell you, if they play it right -- if she plays it right -- Oprah Winfrey's not a bad choice for Mrs. Which in the film: she's been occasionally speaking in the same manner for decades.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Wrinkle In -- Hey! That's Not Your Billboard!

     I was looking forward to seeing Hollywood's take on A Wrinkle In Time.  I have fond memories of reading the book in childhood, one of the first overtly science-fictiony books to cross my young horizons, and with a female protagonist, no less!

     Of course, the big (or little) screen never tells the story the way you read it; some things can't be staged or CG'd -- fewer and fewer, these days -- some casts don't offer much in  the way of visual appeal or "star-worthy" roles, some stories for children are a bit preachy and some screenwriters and directors Just Don't Get It.  (Exhibit A, Starship Troopers.)  Sometimes, Hollywood does get it right -- The Maltese Falcon is as perfect an example of how to film a book as you will ever find, with one exception: Humphrey Bogart, wonderful in the role, doesn't look a thing like Dashiell Hammett's description of Sam Spade!*  My expectations are never high; in the case of Madeleine L'Engle's classic, casting Oprah Winfrey meant the cinematic Mrs. Which was likely to be significantly different from her literary original.  This is just the kind of thing that happens in the leap from book to screen; sometimes it's okay -- Jeremy Brett or Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes aren't quite the fellow from the stories but we recognize them readily enough -- and other times, you get Robert Downey, Jr.

     Meg gets a makeover too, one I find entirely plausible for a young lady who frets over her unmanageable hair.  This is what Hollywood does: unable to easily let you overhear a character's thoughts, they use shorthand, hints and cultural tropes.  I expect it.

     What I didn't expect was a frikkin' social justice (pro and con) war in the reviews.  Reviewers all across the political spectrum use the not-100%-lily-white cast as a banner to wave, one direction or another, and get so tangled up in it that they're not telling me much about the film itself.  Look, it may or may not be carrying the weight of Hollywood's present preoccupations and that may be occasion for cheering or jeering, but that stuff is just background noise for the story.  Very few of the reviewers, perhaps dazzled by Ms. Winfrey, appear to have realized there's a story happening. Oh, I see "choppy" used a lot, but the book is choppy; that's essential to the narrative.  And not a one of the reviewers has bothered to bring a child along and ask them about the movie, either.  After reading reviews and looking at Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB, I know a little more about human nature but I learned more about the film itself from the trailers.

     Clearly, I'll have to go see it for myself.
* Seriously different: “He looked rather pleasantly like a blond Satan.” ... “He was quite six feet tall. The steep rounded slope of his shoulders made his body seem almost conical—no broader than it was thick.” 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Getting Back To --

     No, I can't write it, not yet.  "Back to normal?"  Not going to happen.  I can't call up Mom.  She was there forever, as far as I knew, and now she isn't.

     Both of my parents were hypercompetent people.  At least it seemed that way to me as a child, as a young adult.  Even with maturity (such of it as I have found) and time to provide scale and perceptive, they were outstanding.  Baffled by their children sometimes, but what parent isn't?

     I started this blog about six months after my father passed away.  Now Mom is gone.  Sometimes I still want to ask a grownup what to do -- and then I remember that's my job now.

Sunday, March 11, 2018


     Spent the day clearing off the dining room table, which has been a catch-all for several years.  Still not done -- but I took a break at dinnertime for the year's first grilling of steaks.  Yes, the good hardwood charcoal in the closed-top grill.  Tasty!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Shape Of -- Theodore Sturgeon

     Tamara and I went to see The Shape Of Water today.  It's a remarkable film, and more than merits the awards it has won.  It's all of a piece, as well-crafted as classical Greek sculpture, and tells a marvelous story, a sort of fairytale for adults.  I would rate it with the very best science fiction films, as good as Gattaca, and the visuals are simply stunning, scene by scene and in they way they tell the story.  The soundtrack is wonderful as well, and the cast--  All I saw were the people they played. 

     And the story...!  Simply remarkable.  There was something familiar about it; not the plot or character, but something -- the tone, the heart of it: about halfway through, I realized it's a Theodore Sturgeon story.  Not literally, but if you like Sturgeon's work, you'll like this film.  It's a love story; it's a story about people doing the right thing, not always for good reasons, and about people who think they have good reasons for doing wrong.  It's about recognizing the human in the alien and seeing the strangeness of everyday life.

     If you haven't seen it, maybe you should.

Friday, March 09, 2018

There's Not Sleeping Well, and Then

     Then there's being really bad at sleeping.  I have been sleeping poorly for the past week or more, insomnia, waking for no reason, backaches, difficulty getting up in the morning and, yes, nodding off in the afternoon.

     Last night, after getting up due to hydraulic pressure, waking up when cats were spatting, evicting a cat that was trying to bite my Kindle and succession of episodes of wondering what the weather was and falling asleep before the screen loaded, I capped it with an episode of sleep paralysis.

     I used to suffer sleep paralysis when I was growing up and in early adulthood, and found them utterly terrifying.  I'd be awake but trapped in my own body, unable to move, unable to even open my eyes and sure of a looming doom.  I was in danger!  Or so I thought.  My heart would beat faster and faster as I struggled to regain control and fear fed fear.  I'd either finally get my eyes open to find nothing out of the ordinary or fade back into sleep, still struggling to move.  I had no idea what it was about and I was darned well not going to tell anyone about such a crazy-sounding experience.  It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I plugged the symptoms into a search engine and discovered that it wasn't uncommon and wasn't life-threatening in and of itself.  Armed with that knowledge, I was able to shrug off such episodes, which became more and more rare.

     But last night, after all the other fuss and bother, I thought I heard a cat throwing up.  Great, after everything else, I was going to have to clean that up!  I tried to open my eyes and roll over--  Nothing.  Couldn't move.  Could not move!  I wasn't very awake.  I fought and fought and started to panic.  After what seemed like hours, I got my eyes up, drew a shuddering breathe, and said, "Help," in a voice barely above a whisper. 

     Never did find the cat-hork.  It might have been a dream.  When the alarm went off forty-five minutes later, I shut it off and just laid there while the TV talked to itself.  I didn't get up until I heard Tam feeding the cats.  That's usually my job but they must have pestered her after giving up on me.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

And Overnight, It--

     You know the drill.  Snow.  Yesterday was chilly but only partly cloudy; it was above freezing and by evening, the snow that had fallen was gone. 

     We got more.  And the temperature dropped and kept on dropping.  It was snowing pretty well on my way home last night.  This morning, we have a coating of snow -- and patches of "black ice" on the roads.  Stretches of interstate highway have been closed, just as rush hour begins -- and the first batch of drivers appear to have found the slick spots the hard way.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

And Today, It Snowed

     I woke up about 4:30 this morning and looked out to see big, fat snowflakes, falling thick and fast.  It has slowed down, but yards and roofs have a nice (?) covering of snow.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018


     Back to work.  Kinda dreading getting caught up.

     Here's a photo of a good-looking young couple.  I first met them a few years later: my Mom and Dad.

Monday, March 05, 2018

I'm Exhausted

     I should post something today, but I'm just exhausted.  Got up this morning to help my sister with her cat at the vet.  The poor old tomcat had ingrown claws!  He wasn't wanting anyone to touch his front feet, but he let the vet soak them and trim his claws.

     Tam and I had brunch after that and I have mostly just sat since.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

In Memory

     Here's my family in Christmas time, 2016, I think the last time we were all together until just last week. 
     Today is my Mom's funeral service.  At least it's a pretty, sunny day.  She would have liked that.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Power Outage

      Woke up at 5:45 this morning in pitch-darkness. I usually fall asleep with a seven-and-a-half Watt light on, but sometimes I turn it off. No blue-green glow from my nightstand clock, either, and that was unusual. Very quiet—
      I sat up and leaned over to the window, pulled back the curtains: dark. No security light shining on the back yard, no streetlight glow from the alley, no lights on in any house I could see.

      Picked up the flashlight I keep on my nightstand and went out to the dining room: no lights from next door on the other side, no lights out the kitchen windows. Out the front windows, the houses across the street have power. They're on a different distribution branch and it is rare for both sides of the street to lose power at the same time. 

      Went back to my room. Cellular phone service was working, so I went to our power utility's web site. Checked their outage map and we were not on it. Reported the outage, received bland, automated assurance, and Tam walked in.
T: "So, power is out.  That shoots my morning all to hell."
RX: "I reported it. Do you want coffee?"
T [cheering up a little]: "I do!"

      Of course, when I went back to the kitchen, I started to pour water in the electric teakettle. Caught myself, looked at the old teakettle that lives on a back burner and decided to wash it before use. Making coffee took a few more minutes than usual, but pretty soon we both had mugs of the stuff and the thermal carafe was nearly full with more.

     Now here I am, composing this offline as the sun begins to rise. I'm hoping Tam will let me post it using her phone as a hotspot, if power's not back on shortly. —No sooner did I ask her about that than the power came back on!

Thursday, March 01, 2018

A Lot To Go Through

     Spent time with my sister this morning, sorting through Mom's jewelry: earrings and necklace for her, things for the older granddaughters and oldest great-granddaughter, costume jewelry for the younger great-greats, some interesting coin collections for the great-grandsons.  Sister's got a lot of the family art (fewer bookshelves, though not for lack of reading!), which was nice to see again.  We never got around to going through photos, with breaks for recollections and tears.

     Oh, this isn't easy.