This has been a really tough week. I have been trying to complete a critical project since Monday, but setbacks keep being dropped on me which have been dragging things out. Now I'm going to miss a deadline. It's no consolation that it's not my fault... it's still a missed deadline.
Oh well. That's life.
In better news, I got the results of my COVID-19 test yesterday afternoon. This was surprising because I was told 3-5 days, not overnight. What was not surprising? I tested negative...
So I guess quarantining myself and double-masking on those rare occasions when I have to go out has been good for something. If everybody else took that to heart, then I guess the virus would have stopped spreading and we'd have been out of this pandemic months ago.
Oh well. That's life.
Or, not, depending on whether you can survive getting infected with COVID-19.
Posted on Thursday, July 23rd, 2020
=sigh= I've drastically cut down on the number of political posts I drop on my blog because there's nothing new to say. On top of that, it always makes people mad because I am critical of politicians no matter which side of the political divide they get their lobbyist money from.
But recently something has been dominating the news cycle which has really bothered me, so I'm just going to dump my thoughts here for all the world to see and let the chips fall where they may. And that "something" is Impeached President Trump bragging about being able to pass a cognitive test like it's certified him as some kind of very stable genius.
As the caregiver for my mother through her dementia, it's a test I'm painfully familiar with.
Far from an IQ test, the test our impeached president is referring to is designed to be a screening tool for diagnosing cognitive decline and brain-related problems. It looks like this...
This is the Montreal Cognitive Ability Test. I'm not positive this is the version of the test my mom took but, if it wasn't, it was very close to this. She took it twice. And watching her struggling to get through it is something that still haunts my nightmares. The first time she attempted it she pretty much failed at everything, and it was all I could do to not break down into tears right there in the doctor's office. I was so close to her problems that I wasn't seeing them for what they were. It was this test that put everything into perspective for me, and it was gut-wrenching. I am having anxiety just remembering back to it.
The second time we got through question three and there was really no point in going any further. That time I did break down in tears, but it was after I had excused myself and somehow made it to a stall in the men's bathroom.
Ironically I remember her taking the tests like it was yesterday because my cognitive abilities are (assumably) mostly okay.
The first question has you running through a maze of characters which are alternating numbers and letters of the alphabet. The challenge is to get them in alternating order, which anybody with a brain can manage easily. Except people with an injured brain, of course. Despite having it explained to her twice, my mom connected the numbers and ignored the letters. The next question asks you to draw a 3-D cube. Even if you don't have artistic talent this is something people can copy fairly easily. My mom managed to get a square okay, but then it was just random lines.
Next you have to draw a clock with the time set to 10 past eleven. This might be tricky for some but, again, a person with normal cognitive function can draw a circle, put a tick at 12 O'clock and 6 O'clock, draw in the 15 and 45 minute ticks, then put two ticks between the ticks you have. Then you draw the little hand and the big hand at the appropriate time. This had my mom completely flummoxed. She got a kinda-oval shape, but then just started drawing random lines really close together, and she had to be coached to get that far. I think the hands she drew weren't even on the clock face.
Then you have to name some drawings of animals. Mom blazed through these with no problem. At the time of her first test her long-term memory was in pretty good shape.
Next is a memory test where you are given five words and asked to repeat them back. This is where things can get tricky. If you just throw five random words at me, I won't remember them at all... likely not even five minutes later. But if you tell me I have to remember five random words, then I can do that no problem because I use memory association. FACE • Okay, I am picturing a woman's face. VELVET • Okay, the FACE is Isabella Rossellini and she is rubbing a piece of blue VELVET on it. CHURCH • Okay, we pull back from Isabella Rossellini's FACE being rubbed by blue VELVET and she's sitting on the steps of a CHURCH. DAISY • Okay, Isabella Rossellini's FACE is being rubbed with blue VELVET as she sits on the steps of a CHURCH which has a DAISY growing in front of it. RED • Isabella Rossellini's FACE rubbed by blue VELVET as she sits on CHURCH steps with a DAISY growing in front of it and a PeTA nut job just drove by and threw RED paint on everything. FACE, VELVET, CHURCH, DAISY, RED. Got it. My mom, of course, couldn't get through the list at all. She couldn't remember a thing, and this was all really confusing to her.
Then you repeat some numbers and have them repeated back... and have to clap when you hear the letter "A" when a series of letters are read to you. Then you have to count backwards from 100 by sevens (which, is something I can do easy enough, but it takes a minute!). My mom just kinda stared blankly and couldn't be coaxed into even attempting any of this.
And now we're finally to those last five VERY HARD QUESTIONS which has Impeached President Trump thinking he's some kind of medical miracle.
When Impeached President Trump brags about five fairly simple questions being "very hard," I am understandably concerned. Everybody should be. But more than being concerned, I am very, very pissed off. Whether your brain is cognitively functional or not has absolutely nothing to do with whether you're an evil asshole or not! Do I think Joe Biden could run through this test and get 30 out of 30 correct? No. No I do not. Do I think that Impeached President Trump actually got 30 out of 30 correct? No. No I absolutely do not. We will never see that test. And even if we saw that test, there's no guarantee whatsoever that it's the actual test or that he wasn't coached all the way through it. That's politics. And as thrilling as it might be to see Joe Biden and Impeached President Trump go head-to-head in a cognitive test when I think that they both have demonstrated that they have cognitive issues... that isn't going to get us anywhere. It's not going to tell us which special interest groups are buying them off. It's not going to tell us what they'll be fleecing off the American people's hard-earned tax dollars. It's not going to tell us what back-door deals and shady cronyism their administration will be party to.
All it will tell us is whether they can remember what a lion, rhino, and camel are.
But my biggest takeaway from all this brouhaha is that there's a serious stigma against people with brain and memory problems. I read the comments on these news stories and it's mostly people making fun of Impeached President Trump or Joe Biden because they (allegedly) have cognitive decline. Which is to say that they're making fun of my mom. And as I sit here and type these words my heart is aching.
I am not going to lie, though. I absolutely do this too.
I try not to. I know better. And it's never necessarily to make fun of people, but more to offer armchair assessments as to somebody's mental state or cognitive abilities from a clinical perspective when it comes to the responsibilities they have. I've said that Joe Biden looks like he's sundowning, which may be true... but it could just be him attempting to speak when he suffers from a stutter. I've said that Impeached President Trump scares the shit out of me because everything he says is insane and he's got his finger on the button to unleash the nukes... but it could just be him being an evil, disgusting excuse for a human being. I honestly don't know.
As always, all I can do is try to be better about not stigmatizing mental health.
Even if I fail in the attempt.
Which I do a lot.
Take my trying to eat better, for example.
Yesterday I had to go to the grocery store because I needed an onion and a few other items. While I was there I passed by a display of sugary bakery products that were on sale. These are things that I just can't eat any more... most of the time I don't even want to eat them any more... but I saw a box of raspberry jelly donuts and was immediately intrigued. When I was in college, I was eating a box of these things a day. But as of now? I haven't had a raspberry jelly donut in decades.
I bought a box of course. If I'm careful and eat them in moderation they're not going to kill me, right?
Yeah... I ate half the box that afternoon and downed the other half this morning for breakfast.
But I'll try to do better tomorrow, I promise.
Posted on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020
For reasons I don't really want to get into, I had to get a COVID-19 test today. Given the abundance of precautions I've been taking to not contract the virus (and the fact that I have no symptoms), I would be shocked to find out that I've got it. If I do, that would suck mightily considering how I've locked myself away in quarantine for five months. But it's not like it's outside the realm of possibility given that I still have to go grocery shopping and the majority of people here in Redneckistan still think it's all some kind of overblown Democrat hoax or whatever. Never mind that hospitals are filling up and deaths are reaching all-time highs, it's all fake news!
Until it isn't, of course.
The area where I live has made the news lately because there were COVID-19 employee outbreaks at a warehouse and at the local Walmart (to name two). Apparently Independence Day Weekend was just too much temptation for Redneckistanians who want to show Governor Jay Inslee that he's not the boss of them. Never mind that the guy is just listening to scientists who study this crap in an effort to keep everybody safe... he's Hitler for mandating that people wear a mask!
What's interesting is that the spike in infections mean that our local healthcare conglomerate has had to take over an old bank in order to create a massive drive-thru testing service in order to keep up with demand.
The facility opened at 8am but I was warned that it's busy first thing in the morning, so I waited until 8:45. I pulled into the (former) bank parking lot where a cigar-chomping man on a scooter was unnecessarily directing me to a lane to queue in. There were about 8 cars ahead of me in both lanes (total) and the wait only took about 15 minutes. First you pull up to a guy verifying that your doctor requested a test, then you pull forward to wait for a technicians to walk up and give you a lobotomy.
Well, not really, but it feels like you're getting a lobotomy.
After you lean your head back, they shove a long Q-tip up your nose into the back of your sinus cavity...
(Original) image taken from WBEZ.org
Then they start twisting it for six seconds so they can get a sample of mucus from deep, deep, deep inside your nasal passage. And what seems like a sample of you brain tissue for good measure.
It burns a little bit, but not so much that I was ready to start screaming or anything. What bothers me is that I was still feeling it for hours after it was over. Like the Q-tip was left up my nose or something. It was a good five or six hours before I felt quasi-normal again.
I'm told that I should have results back in 3-5 days. The clinic will call me directly if I test positive or it's inconclusive (at which point you have to act as if it was positive). If I never hear from them, that means I was negative and my results will be posted to MyChart so I have a record of my being perfectly positively toward the negative. Or however the fuck our dumbass impeached president has convinced his cult you're supposed to say it...
The entire world has done everything they can to get a handle on the pandemic and halt the spread of this virus that's killing us. Well, almost the entire world. Here in the USA, we've got leadership that has been propagating misinformation and unleashing a steady streams of bullshit from day one. Which is why we're leading the known universe in coronavirus infections and deaths.
I hope to God that people remember this come November.
Posted on Tuesday, July 21st, 2020
Generally speaking I try very hard to be accepting of people, even as I am being critical of them, because people change all the time and basically comes down to a "hate the sin, love the sinner" type situation. Because who knows? Perhaps one day a homophobic piece of shit bigot will understand that they're being a bigoted piece of shit and strive to escape it.
This kind of positivity has become increasingly difficult the longer the pandemic rages.
On one hand, I don't want anybody to get sick from COVID-19 and die because that's a repugnant attitude to have. If everybody is capable of redemption, then wishing them dead before they have a chance to find their redemption is a horrific thing. I don't believe that. I don't endorse that.
On the other hand, maybe if all these people who deny science and don't give a fuck if their actions threatens the lives of others would just contract COVID-19 and fucking die already, this world would have a chance to heal without their standing in the way.
This morning I found myself debating these two sides of the coin. I'm not proud of it, but that's what this has come down to now that I'm losing my entire summer and am badly missing my friends and family.
Rather than beat myself up too badly over being so awful, I'm just going to watch ducks eat a bowl of peas and attempt to find my center...
If you must know, the duckies are named Pepé and Arnold...
And now I think I will get the duck offline and try to avoid reading yet more incidents of ignorant assholes who refuse to follow Washington State's mask-mandate as they take out their frustrations on minimum wage workers just trying to do their jobs and tell people they have to wear a mask in order to shop. Holy fucking shit am I sick of this crap.
Posted on Monday, July 20th, 2020
Last night the skies were as clear as they ever are, so I decided to wander and see if I could find a place where I might see the NEOWISE comet. I keep running into these amazing shots other people are taking, and grabbed my binoculars in an attempt to at least see something.
My cats, not accustomed to my abandoning them after sundown were upset. As I was passing through the catio I heard comotion at the cat door and went to see what the issue was. Turns out it's just Jake and Jenny both trying to squeeze through at the same time so they could follow me...
Eventually Jake snaked through so Jenny could follow. They then watch through the catio fencing with forlorned faces as I walked around to see if I could get clear of the trees and hills blocking my view.
No such luck.
Oh well. My cats were waiting to greet me after my comet-spotting failure, so that was nice.
Posted on Sunday, July 19th, 2020
The USA may be leading the world in COVID-19 infections, but that's not the worst news you'll hear today... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Psych... Again! NBC's new streaming network, Peacock, launched this week. To entice people to subscribe to yet another service, they are making some content free for a while. Including Psych 2: Lassie Come Home...
I had forgotten how much I love this show. The one-liners are as fast and funny as ever and the story is actually pretty darn good! It features the return of Timothy Omundson (Carlton Lassiter) after his stroke, and he is wonderful. Everybody is. I tell you, bringing back Psych would be a sure-fire way to get me to subscribe to the network, that's for sure.
• Coming 2! Heaven help me, it might actually be worth getting infected just to go see this...
With the exception of all the Marvel Studios movies waiting to be released, this is what I most want to see.
• Leibovitz? In my work I've seen this many, many times. Photographers shooting Persons of Color the way they shoot white people because they cannot be bothered to learn how to create a shoot for darker skin. And apparently it can be a challenge for even the best photographers. Annie Leibovitz is a true artist, but she completely and totally failed in her shoot of Simone Biles. The Vogue shots are dim, murky, and poorly adjusted...
My guess is that Leibovitz is of a caliber that she can dictate nobody modify her photos, which is a shame because Simone Biles is a beautiful young woman who deserves far better (as does her family). Any pro photographer worth their salt will be able to get stunning shots regardless of skin tone because that's their job. Or, you know, Vogue could hire Black photographers who have a lifetime of experience shooting Persons of Color... just sayin'.
• Viola! Case in point? Meanwhile over at Vanity Fair where they hired the first Black photographer in the history of the magazine to shoot a cover story of Viola Davis...
Viola Davis would probably look amazing even if she was murky and tinted green... but, boy, this is phenomenal work by Dario Calmese.
• STOP! I've seen demos of SawStop technology before. It still takes my breath away to see it in action, and here it is in slow motion...
I use a table saw as an absolute last resort because I am well aware of how dangerous they are. No matter how careful you may be, accidents do happen. SawStop is a pretty brilliant way of keeping the damage to a minimum.
• Hobbes and Me! As a massively huge Calvin and Hobbes fan, I can't believe that I missed these shorts when they were released back in 2014...
You can see the entire series right here. You're welcome!
And that's a wrap. Enjoy your pandemic, everybody.
Posted on Saturday, July 18th, 2020
Something has been making Jake one unhappy camper for a few days now, and tonight when Alexa chimed for the cats' dinner I found out just how cranky he actually is. I told Alexa to stop, then went to throw clothes in the dryer before dishing up the cat food. Jake stood at the doorway to the laundry room and squawked and squawked and squawked until I threw down my wet clothes and ran to fix his meal.
He. Was. Pissed.
Which is strange considering how he just seems to adore hanging around me. Still sleeping at the foot of my bed each morning...
He also seems to be making friends with Fake Jake, because they'll hang out together sometimes now...
Remember how they used to throw themselves at each other whenever they saw each other through the catio fencing like this?
Jenny, of course, wants nothing of it. This is how she prefers to interact with Fake Jake when he's hanging around the catio...
Adorable, isn't she?
Helps when she's managed to get her beauty sleep in and doesn't get interrupted like she was here...
Until next Caturday, fellow humans.
Posted on Friday, July 17th, 2020
It is impossible to put into words how much John Lewis has come to mean to me.
From what I remember, The Civil Rights Movement was pretty much glossed over at school. I'm sure it was explored a bit, but not in a way that any of it stuck in my head. That wouldn't happen until I watched a Martin Luther King Jr. documentary shortly before leaving on a school DECA Nationals competition to New Orleans in 1983. On my way back home I was in an airport gift shop and spotted a book on The Civil Rights Movement. I didn't have the money to buy it, but made a note to request it at my local library. In the book I was introduced to The Big Six of The Movement... Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, Whitney Young, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins... and John Lewis. They were immediate real-life super-heroes to me, and their story was about as inspiring as it gets.
Not too many years after that James Farmer released his autobiography, Lay Bare the Heart. I checked it out at the library the minute it was available and found it a riveting read. The only other surviving member of The Big Six was John Lewis, and I remember wondering when he would pen an autobiography. The thirteen year wait for Walking with the Wind was worth the wait. Easily one of my favorite books of all time, it was a highly personal account of The Movement that went behind the scenes in a way that precious few could manage. If you don't walk away from the book in a fit of blind admiration for John Lewis, you'd have to be dead inside.
But it was his graphic novel, March, that really made me fall in love with the man...
To promote the series, he appeared at Comic-Con in full super-hero cosplay... as himself!
Photo from Representative John Lewis via Facebook
Photo from Representative John Lewis via Facebook
Photo from Representative John Lewis via Facebook
How many people can do that?
He never stopped fighting the good fight. He became a Congressman and served 17 terms, representing Georgia's 5th right up until his death... today... at age 80.
As a champion of freedom, Representative Lewis lived a life of service that is admirable and leaves a legacy that few can match. His voice in government will be sorely missed... especially in an age where Federal Officers In Unmarked Vans Are Snatching People Off The Streets In Portland and we're barreling further into fascism with each new day.
One can only hope that the legion of people he inspired will carry on in his place.
Rest in Peace, sir.
Posted on Thursday, July 16th, 2020
Ever get the feeling that the government is actively working against your best interests and is happy to endanger your health by pandering to ignorance, denying science, and covering up the data that reveals how badly they are fucking over the American people?
Call me paranoid, but it's tough to see it any other way when you follow the headlines...
Florida tops its single-day record for coronavirus deaths as the UK and France seek to mandate mask wearing. — The Chicago Tribune, Posted July 14, 5:11pm Eastern
Trump administration cuts CDC out of data collection on hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The move has immediate effect. — USA Today, Posted July 15, 9:27am Eastern
Coronavirus data has already disappeared after Trump administration shifted control from CDC. — Posted July 15, 9:31am Eastern
COVID-19 power shift: Experts have 'deep worries' about hospital data sent to Washington. — NBC News, Posted July 15, 2:19pm Eastern
Out of View: After Public Outcry, CDC Adds Hospital Data Back to Its Website — for Now. — ProPublica, Posted July 15, 2:38pm Eastern
Did Trump Admin Remove CDC as Overseer of COVID-19 Hospital Data? • TRUE. — Snopes. Posted July 15
If the pandemic is such a huge hoax involving a conspiracy of doctors and scientists around the globe, then why try to control infection data unless it contradicts your claims? THIS DATA IS HOW STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS MAKE DECISIONS AS TO THE HEALTH OF THOSE PEOPLE THEY REPRESENT!
Not that some State and local governments give a shit...
Data shows new COVID-19 cases steadily climbing in Georgia. — FOX 5 Atlanta, Posted July 16, 8:47am
Report: As COVID-19 cases continue to grow, Gov. Kemp sues Atlanta for requiring masks. — Decaturish.com, Posted July 16
Kemp is so far up Impeached President Cadet Bone Spurs' ass that he can give Trump a colonoscopy just by looking out his fucking window. And the people of Gerogia are suffering because of it. Just goes to show that you get what you vote for.
The truly awful thing is that people who trust our government to do the right thing are subsequently finding out the hard way that the government can't be trusted. Former game show host Chuck Woolery infamously declared the COVID-19 pandemic as some kind of hoax by the CDC, the media, Democrats, and doctors... then had to backtrack the very next day because his son was diagnosed...
SOURCE: Snopes: Did Chuck Woolery Say His Son Tested Positive for COVID-19?
Do people or their loved ones REALLY have to be infected with COVID-19 before they take this shit seriously? People like Chuck Woolery are why this country is so fucking fucked. I wish his son the best... not just for recovery from the coronavirus, but for having to deal with having a fucking ignorant piece of shit for a father.
Masks help prevent the COVID-19 virus in the moisture we expel in our breath from infecting others. Masks don't weaken you or cut down on your oxygen intake. Countries which have mandated masks have drastically cut their infection rates by as much as 90%! And then there's this...
People who deny masks are working... or bitch and complain because a mask is uncomfortable so they shouldn't have to wear one... are assholes. WEARING A MASK SAVES LIVES! SO WEAR A FUCKING MASK!
Or ignore the headlines and keep dying, I guess. It's entirely in your hands.
Posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2020
It always seems as though I miss out on all the cool celestial events. Usually the problem is that it's overcast (in Winter) or the sky is filled with smoke (in Summer). So many times I've gotten excited because there's a meteor shower or comet or an eclipse happening... then I can't see a dang thing. I thought my luck was changing because I got to see the eclipse back in 2017.
But... apparently not.
When it comes tothe NEOWISE comet, I thought I was golden because "in the Northwestern sky" is what's dicrectly outside my bedroom window!
But when I looked the past couple nights I could find it. Last night I loaded up the Star Walk app on my iPhone to find out why that is. Turns out that my elevation coupled with the surrounding hills is why...
The comet is too low on the horizon for me to see from my house. So... no NEOWISE for me then. Typical.
I was really hoping to photograph the thing because it seemed like a fun challenge. But oh well. There are so many awesome photos floating around that mine would be redundant (at best) or really bad by comparison (at worst). Guess I'll take more photos of flowers or my cats instead.