I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be,
but most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see.
— Douglas Pagels

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

In The Red (Because Harvey Is Still Here)

Credit: NOAA

Here's Harvey, just hanging out, being a jerk.

Folks who aren't experienced with tropical storms or severe weather in general (btw where on Earth do you live? and may I come live with you?) can learn a great deal from the various radars NOAA Hurricane Center presents. This one, for example, shows that the eye of the storm is on the Texas/Louisiana line, still bringing (moderate, according to the color coordination) rainfall and wind. Then on the right, 400 miles away, is also Harvey...the dreaded East side of the storm, that historically (in tropical cyclones) tends to bring a lot of havoc in the form of torrential flash flooding, sometimes lightning and hail, and a high risk of tornadoes. Red means severe, if that wasn't obvious. The media usually focuses on the largest city affected by storms, in this case Houston, and understandably they need the attention, but know that there's a lot happening in a lot of different areas when a cyclone occurs. Some towns who are in catastrophe are often ignored, which is sad.

I'm perfectly fine. The feeder bands were pretty rough overnight, but I have no water in my apartment. I'm immensely grateful for that. Other places around here aren't so lucky. My area has had a lot of damaging flash floods this year already, and the last thing we need is a hurricane, so believe me when I say all of us here in the Alabama swamp feel very fortunate that we're not five feet under water. Community centers and churches are collecting items to take to Texas. We've been down this terrible road before, and our empathy is sincere.

I send all of my love (and everything in my pantry) to those affected.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Harvey Update & Help

I'm sure I don't have to tell you how bad things are on the Texas coast right now. They've received a record-breaking 51 inches of rain in some places. Towns are engulfed, and people have died.

I remember the horror well. Twelve years ago today, I was facing this nightmare myself in Hurricane Katrina. The trauma and destruction are etched in my mind forever. I'm getting some of Harvey's feeder bands, and flooding is a concern living on a bayou, but so far so good. I'm fine.

Texas is not fine, and they need our help.

Relief efforts have begun even as Harvey isn't over and rescues are still occurring. I'll post a few links here, and add as I feel the need.

Google is matching donations. https://www.google.org/harvey-relief/

A great organization called Operation BBQ Relief has deployed to the area. I've followed them for years and they serve hundreds of thousands of meals. https://operationbbqrelief.org/

Houston Food Bank  http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/donate/

The Salvation Army SalvationArmyUSA.org

You can have dog and cat food shipped to Houston SPCA at this address:

Houston SPCA
900 Portway Drive
Houston, TX 77024

Hill's Science Diet is preferred. They also have an Amazon Wish List for other supplies. https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1512KZKBGYJV7

I'm not going to share images here. They're all over the internet if you really want to see the catastrophe. The effects of this storm will be ongoing for years to come. When everything has gone "back to normal" everywhere else, the Gulf Coast will still be devastated, still be recovering, and still be in need. For those who lost everything, the nightmare is just beginning. Remember them. Help if and when you can. I know it will be appreciated.

Thanks for caring.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey

(Credit: NOAA)

This monster, needless to say, is on everyone's mind here on the Gulf Coast.
It's a Category 4 now, and the consequences of such a storm are catastrophic.
I am so sorry for Texas, who will receive the worst. I have dear friends in its path.
Louisiana is also going to suffer, and I am concerned for my family there.
Mississippi and Alabama will get plenty of rain from feeder bands, possibly flooding.
There is a state of emergency, and I hope and pray everyone is prepared and safe.
I'm in a major flood zone on a bayou, but I'm pretty confident I'll be fine.
It's everyone to the west that I'm worried about. Keep the Coast in your thoughts.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Health Assessment 8/24/17

I took a digital health assessment today, and almost burst into tears over the results. In my defense, it doesn't take much right now as I just said goodbye to one of my dearest friends. I miss her, and loss has a way of reminding us of our own fragile mortality, doesn't it?

Today is the first time I've documented my BMI in an unacceptable range, and I am currently at my highest weight. It says I am about 9 years older than I am, but it doesn't know how poor my health is so I imagine I'm physically quite a bit older.

Certain types of Muscular Dystrophy can cause significant weight gain (whereas other types result in being underweight), and the high protein/fat diet I'm on because of MD is not helpful in this regard. At any rate, something must change. I'm headed down a road that will destroy me if I don't turn around. I have to find a happy medium, or at least a medium, even if it's not the "happiest" one. Here's the plan so far:

  • I put a battery back into my bathroom scale so I can use it again.
  • I'll buy a food scale when I get paid so I can monitor portions.
  • I will reassess my grocery list and menu asap.
  • I've installed multiple apps to help me keep track of my numbers.
  • I need to continue to look for distractions so I'm not cooking or eating out of boredom.
  • I absolutely must get over my desire to try to cook everything and feed others (Let me love you! Eat this feast I have prepared! Literally me. I have to stop even though it pains me to do so.)
  • Somehow, some way, by magic and determination, I really gotta give up caffeine.
  • To be honest, I should go paleo, but I am currently kicking and screaming every step of the way.
  • My body falls apart into HKPP mode every time I attempt to exercise. Even PT is a problem. This has always been the case, even in young adulthood. There is no solution for it, and I have no choice but to acknowledge that fact.

Life is sad and frustrating lately, but I know I can't let myself be consumed and I strive to "pull myself together", as I often put it, and carry on. It's hard, but I'm trying. Always.

I'll share a new assessment at the end of the year to see if things have changed.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I have lost a wonderful friend

She died in her sleep. No cause known at this time.
I had talked to her mere hours beforehand.
It seems so impossible. I am sad, angry, shocked.
She was a funny, empathetic, loving and kind person.
The loss is immense for everyone who knew her.
Funeral tomorrow. Please spare a thought for her children.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Wicked Cool Cell Biology Video

This is an animated video from the course I just zipped through at HarvardX.

I'm done...tore through it like a bat out of you-know-where. The last half was more difficult than the first half. The last test was so challenging, I've opted not to take the final. I have to avoid stress, so when a hobby becomes stressful, it's time to walk away, right? The content was overwhelming, but really cool! Thanks Professor Lue for a fascinating course. I especially recommend it to anyone with Mitochondrial Myopathy or other condition involving the Mitochondria.

Food Science starts on August 23rd.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

August So Far

The neighbors gave me some of their beautiful hot (and I mean HOT) peppers.
I haven't decided what to do with them yet, but I'll be using gloves!

I dropped my first #MobRox!

Someone offered to make a safety pin decal for my car, but didn't follow through (she's plenty busy I'm sure), so I bought a shirt. It represents solidarity with those who have been victimized. Safety is a human right, and I will speak against abuse and oppression until the day I die.

I'm struggling with severe pain, photo sensitivity, and social anxiety, but I went to the local game store to play Pokemon in person. I have been doing this off and on for a few months. I don't get to go very often, due to my sucky condition, and I pay the consequences each time as symptoms inevitably arise from sitting up for a few hours in a stuffy room under florescent lighting. Sometimes, I don't handle it well, at least in my opinion. I don't know how noticeable my physical meltdowns are to anyone else. As long as I don't annoy anyone or overstay, I think I'll survive every so often. The folks there have been nice, and a few customers even helped me break into my car when I stupidly locked myself out the other day. I'm an idiot. Anyway, it's a decent geek hangout.

P.S. - I'm terrible at the game in person. Just terrible.

I'm more successful online. Most recently, I had a 10 game winning streak, lost game 11, then returned a couple of days later and won 15 times in a row. Go me? Sylveon GX, if you care.

I booked my room for MDA clinic in 6 weeks. I used Airbnb last time with great results. Hopefully, this time will work out just as well. They even have a pool (which I won't use, so I don't know why I just mentioned it). It's a nice house in a safe neighborhood 10 minutes from the hospital. The joys of being an outpatient, out-of-state patient, I guess.

I am continuing free, non-credit courses through Harvard. If you're new here, I am too ill to attend actual college, even online. I confirmed that by almost dying while in community college 7 years ago. At any rate, these work-at-your-own-pace non-credit courses are a challenge, but I love learning. Biochemistry was a big NOPE, and I dropped it, but I'm currently in Cell Biology and doing well. More than well, I guess, since I started it on the 8th and I'm 3/4 of the way finished already. I'll wrap up the course material on the 10th (that's today), and start studying for the final.

As usual, forgive the wonky blog formatting. It's stupid. Or perhaps I am. Everything wrong with this blog is probably user error, to be honest. Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

I'd like for my patronus to be a wise owl or a beautiful zebra, but let's face it, it's probably a fat panda with Narcolepsy.

If you're one of the few people on Earth who does not know Harry Potter, and don't want spoilers, exit the page now.

You probably think this is absolutely nuts, but I introduced myself to Harry Potter in July.
Yep, it was my first time.
Crazy, right?
I've never read the books, and I'm not sure I'll get through them with my vision impairment and adult ADD, but I'll give it a shot someday. The movies, though...the movies. I was so so so impressed by everything: the acting, the storyline, the special effects, it was all fantastic. I honestly think I like it more than Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, and that's big. Really big.

Harry has a lot of empathy, and there's nothing better in my opinion. I hated how mistreated he was; what a burden to be "the boy who lived". I wanted to give him a hug. Great character, and Daniel Radcliffe did an excellent job. Of course Emma Watson is superb as both a human being and in the role of Hermione. I loved her. Harry and Hermione are serious friendship goals, people. To have that level of platonic intimacy - yes please!

I have to say I am shocked that I managed to avoid the massive spoiler concerning Severus Snape for 20 years. It took me by surprise, and I wept and wept. Then I watched it a second time and wept again. If you are unaware, Alan Rickman has been a beloved favorite of mine since Junior High School. It's a shame that I had not seen his role in Harry Potter until now, but I'm glad I finally did. Needless to say, it only reinforced my affection. Nobody portrays a hardened man painfully in love like Alan Rickman. Damn, he's good. And he is so missed.

It was also a joy to see Maggie Smith and so many other British actors that I am familiar with from film and television. There's a running joke that the UK has the same 12 actors in everything, ha. That's a slight exaggeration, but I get it. It's fun to me, though, to see the same folks pop up again and again. It feels like we get to know them after awhile, doesn't it?

I wanted to explain why I was unfamiliar with the stories, but I don't want to turn this post into a downer, so I've decided not to get into that. I'm glad I've enlightened myself and now I finally understand years of my friends' and siblings' Harry Potter references. Yay!

I plan to marathon it again soon.