Happy Leaf

My wetware is still mostly non-functional, but should be coming back online soon. I’ve been capable of actual thought for whole minutes at a time. This could increase to as much as an hour now that the 8 liters of IV fluid have mostly been processed, and I have room in my body for things like food. Wow, right? My plans for the next few days include eating, with occasional naps. If all goes well, there will be writing, as well, but no promises just yet. I may be too busy shoveling nutrition in. Happily, I can do this while reading, so I’ll have some book reviews for you soon. You’ll love the one about all the flat earth people.

In the meantime, I’ve had just enough energy and focus to start going through photos we took before I got walloped by this infection. Here’s a very happy leaf we found at St. Edwards.

Image shows a green leaf on the ground. It has holes that look like eyes and a mouth. There's a small yellow leaf on top that looks like a lock of hair.

Happy leaf.

With luck, I’ll have some really spectacular fly agaric for you soon, too. They’re popping out all over the place right now. Seems to be a good year for fungi.

Hooray For Clean Blood

I don’t have to go live in the hospital after all – my blood came back clean, so oral antibiotics will finish the job nicely. In fact, I’d be feeling almost myself again if it wasn’t for 8 liters of IV fluid swelling me like sausage. Oy.

I visited our UW Urgent Care down the road so they could make sure I wasn’t gonna die of pulmonary edema, and get advice on how to make this wretched fluid leave me. It was gratifying to hear the doctor talking to the nurse in the hall before he came in, incredulously repeating, “Eight liters?”, which words have been my mantra whenever I look at my incredibly ballooned abdomen, my bulging ankles, my bratwurst legs, and my lil smokie fingers. He determined that my lungs and heart were holding their own despite the reduced room, so all we need to do now is let nature take its course. We’re not trying drugs because my poor kidneys are already unhappy enough, so it’s best not to antagonize them. We’re going to check them again on Friday, and if they’re recovered but I’m still Water Balloon Woman, we can drug the fluids out then.

Good thing I don’t love salt, because he recommended I keep my sodium low. I’ve already cut back drastically, because carbonated sodas and I aren’t currently on speaking terms. And I don’t salt my food, so I’m basically free to eat what I want. Now if I can only free up enough abdominal space to eat lots of it…

I managed a trip to Target all by my lonesome, and was able to haul everything upstairs without total collapse, so it’s Dana’s Independence Day. B would’ve done all that, but he’d been awake all night worrying after I sent him home for rest and didn’t sleep until I emailed at 4am to let him know mild fever all gone. Then he slept through the morning, and his brother took the car, leaving him stranded. It was a nice, sneaky way to force him to take the day off, really, and he needed it. If I’d needed help, there are other people I can tap, but I don’t think he quite believes that. That poor kid is getting so much TLC from me when I’m fully functional again.

So now, it’s just a matter of tottering around on swollen pins, and grazing throughout the day rather than having meals, and trying to be patient while the last of the infection is murdered and the excess fluid goes away. I anticipate long periods of napping. I’ll probably take several days off from the blog now, unless one of those suddenly-better events happens, in which case we’ll get right back to it. And, of course, either B or I will update you if anything goes wrong. So don’t fret at radio silence.

I love you, my darlings, and can’t wait to be really-for-reals back!

Image shows a cat face-planted on a bed. Caption says, "I will nap... HERE."




Home for Now

Writing from me own bed, yay! I checked out against medical advice because my body was telling me it would conspire with the bacteria to murder me if I didn’t get real sleep. You cannot do that in a hospital, especially when they spend half the night fast-pushing fluids to try to raise your blood pressure. I’m not kidding when I tell you I’m carrying an extra 20 pounds or so of liquid under my skin. I’m swollen all over and my poor lungs have limited room to work, so I sound like a Victorian woman in an extra-tight corset when I talk or breathe. I can’t crouch down to get thing without my legs feeling like they’re gonna pop like water balloons. Luckily, my kidneys are functioning fine and doing their best to deal with the situation.

And the best-worst thing is, I suspect it was all over nothing. I run low anyway, but I’m usually not tested after I’ve been lying down for hours. It’s usually shortly after I’ve had some ordinary but briskish activity, and then I clock in somewhere between 100-110 over something I can never remember. I had absolutely no other signs of too-low pressure. I wasn’t faint, light-headed, dizzy, or tunnel visioning my way to a blackout. I was merrily popping to the potty whenever, and the only difficulty unplugging and plugging in the IV pump came from excess fluid making it hard to bend, and muscle weakness from so much inactivity. But that improved plenty with all the lovely electrolytes, so my muscles are much more inclined to stay cheerful.

My morning bloodwork (taken at 4:48 in the ay-em, people – after the nurses had been dicking around with fluid pushes until after midnight, and then I had to wait for my main nurse to catch a break in her duties so we could go walkies, because all that fluid pressure pressed on nerves that made my legs do the St. Vitus’ Dance) came back with good results: all the numbers, including white cell count, were in acceptable ranges. The kidney ultrasound showed both working as advertised. The doctor was mainly concerned with the low pressure, which is NEVER going to go back up to where she wants it if I don’t get out of bed more) and my heart rate, which stayed fast. Well, the poor thing has an extra 20lbs of fluid to push around now. And they’ve checked my concern, which is the shallow rapid breathing, and aren’t too worried. The fluids aren’t leaking where they shouldn’t, and my oxygen sat is awesome as always. It’s all, “Medical crisis? What medical crisis?” We don’t have the blood cultures back saying fer sure that my blood’s actually infected. So I decided to risk going home, with the promise that I’ll be back in a jiffy if the cultures show a blood infection, or if I take a turn for the worse.

I spiked a fever this evening, which the charge nurse familiar with my situation said was normal and just come back in the morning if it was high, or earlier if other scary stuff happened. B did my laundry, kept watch over me while I slept, and only left when my fever went way down and I was able to watch teevee and joke a while. He’s got his phone by his ear just in case. I’ve started oral antibiotics, my appetite’s improving, and I haven’t had any nausea. I’m able to stay hydrated with water and Gatorade, plus the immense quanties of IV fluid my poor kidneys are frantically trying to process right now. Everything’s right as it can be, and disaster plans in place just in case.

Ima go take care of my poor, swollen legs for a bit, then get some more sleep, and we’ll see what the bloodwork tells us tomorrow. Here’s hoping that, even if the infection is in my blood, I can just do outpatient infusions rather than having to go back to constant insomnia… but we got the bags packed just in case.

Thank you again for all your patience and well-wishes. Not sure yet when I’ll be back to full Dana capacity, but hopefully soon. And really, despite my caretakers’ obsession with blood pressure numbers that I suspect don’t fit me, they’ve been amazing, and I know they’ll make sure I’ve got the the knowledge and resources I need to make the prudent decisions. Not to mention, if it wasn’t for the lack-of-sleep issue, I totally would’ve stayed for the food. Amazing good food, people. And best nurses ever.

We’re on a bumpy road, but at least all the signs say we’re on our way to recovery!

Gray kitten in scrubs walking toward right, caption says, "Dr. Tinycat to the OR, STAT!"













The Joye of Sepsis

Greetings from my hospital prison! Turns out this wretched little illness wasn’t just a kidney infection. No, the little bastard bacteria escaped into my bloodstream, after pretending they’d gone. I went to urgent care, and they pumped me so full of fluids I nearly popped, topped me off with antibiotics, and shipped me over to the hospital next door. Fun times. At least my female nurses have been unrelently awesome, my one male nurse was hawt, and all of the doctors so far rock, even though they won’t let me return to my memory foam mattress and cat.

B’s got me covered for fetching things and transport. He’ll also watch over my very upset felid. If all goes well, I’ll be going home tomorrow sometime. Probably will not be back to full Dana for a few days, though. Sepsis is srs bidness. However, I already feel miles better and am happily sucking down fluids, so I’m hoping recovery won’t take forever.

We shall see…

Thanks for your patience and well-wishes!

Gray kitten in scrubs walking toward right, caption says, "Dr. Tinycat to the OR, STAT!"







Currently Ill. Back Soon!

I’m so sorry, my darlings, but my body has gone into full rebellion. First, Aunty Flow showed up, then I developed what’s probably a kidney infection. Alas, of course, it didn’t make its wretched self obvious until after every Urgent Care clinic closed. Sigh. B is a complete angel and rushed over with necessary drugs and fluids, so I’m feeling much better and the fever’s going down. If it’s still a thing in the morning, or worsens unexpectedly, he’ll whisk me off to brave the indignities of the American health care system. Whee.

I’ll be posting again ASAP, but it might take a few days. Apologies to those who are languishing in moderation – I am definitely not up for admin duties, but hopefully tomorrow! I’m now going to drink a gallon of green tea and pass out.

Gray kitten in scrubs walking toward right, caption says, "Dr. Tinycat to the OR, STAT!"



This Pwnage Applies to All Sniveling Dictionary Atheists

Another day, another white male atheist stuffed full of himself to bursting, all eager to tell us icky feminists, people of color, LGBTQ folk, and other sundry social justice warrior types that we’re getting smudge marks all over his atheism. It’s pristine! It’s pure! It’s just a dictionary definition! Ewww, stop getting your SJW cooties all over it, yucky! *runs away screaming like the boys we used to chase at recess in the first grade*

Today, it’s Michael Luciano. Tomorrow, it’ll be some other dumbshit waving a dictionary around and pompously declaring atheism a pristine nothing. Well, if you’re the sort who likes to sit around feeling all smug and superior over nothing, fantastic. It’s a big ol’ world full of chairs, and you’re welcome to drag one into the corner and sit there enjoying the fact you played the Wednesday Adaams Game and came up with no for an answer.

Image is two stills from The Adaams Family. The top image has Wednesday standing next to an electric chair, saying, "We can play a game." Bottom image shows her strapping Pugsley into the chair, and saying, "It's called 'IS THERE A GOD?'"

Should you decide to sit in your chair and enjoy your triumph, perhaps gently sneering at churchgoers as they pass by your window, no one will worry a bit about the fact you’re a pathetic specimen of a human being. Seriously. What the hell use are you if all you can do is wave your arms and shout, “The dictionary definition of an atheist is all atheism is!”?

Like Buffy and the Scoobies said, “Where do we go from here?”

Cuz that ain’t it, muffin. That’s like answering a single question on Jeopardy! and then running around the set screaming, “I win! I win! I am better than Ken Jennings and everyone for all time!!!” You look like an absolute jackass, doing that shit in public. Especially when you go beyond the dictionary definition of atheism and start doing things like challenging creationism or public prayer. Where is your dictionary atheism now, buttwart?

Anyway. I could take the Smack-o-Matic down from the wall and administer some loving* correction, but it’s ever so much more fun to watch other people accomplish the job far better than I could. I shall allow them to take it from here.

Image is an orange and white kitty with its head in its paw. Caption says, "Oh, geez... ai splained it elebinty times."

PZ’s gotcher dictionary definition right here:

Here’s a definition for you: “a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods”. There is an important word in there: “person”. Atheists are people. These dictionary atheists are always quick to forget that. People have responsibilities to each other, and further, the rejection of religion and the understanding that the universe, and we human beings, lack any kind of grand purpose, shapes the pattern of those responsibilities. You simply cannot pretend that atheism is meaningless outside one philosophical abstraction.

Well, I suppose you can…but then how can you find any reason to even be an atheist?

Heina’s got yer top 5 arguments you’re not allowed to use anymore. Here’s one:

Criticizing Islam based on Muhammad’s marriage to a child, anti-woman sentiments, and proscription of apostasy on pain of death is to use social issues to promote atheism. Pure, true atheists would do well to refrain from such criticisms and instead focus solely on the fact that there is no god. Social arguments are not relevant to believing in no gods.

Avicenna explains why beef is an atheist event:

Let’s say you aren’t all that enthralled by Beef Recipes (That sound you heard was Ed Brayton fainting at the mere thought). But we have a bunch of ex-Hindus for whom beef was a major taboo looking forward to eating beef. Now you may think a Big Mac is hardly an earth shattering meal to be consumed to thumb it’s nose at religion but you know what? A fair few Ex-Hindus look forward to eating it when we can. Hell? Penn wrote about a Jewish fan who was breaking Kosher law when he became an atheist who he took out for pork and shellfish.

So to you a Big Mac may not be an atheist event, but to me it is. And that’s the point of having a more inclusive atheism. You begin to realise that many atheists have different ideas.

But you don’t have to take part. No one’s forcing a gun to your head to eat a damn Big Mac.

Olivia patiently explains it’s a people thing, not a liberal or conservative thing:

Oddly enough, there are still some of us out there who are hoping that atheism and people with a shred of human decency are one and the same, and that’s what we’re appealing to. The people who are saying these things don’t give a rat’s ass if you’re liberal or conservative, but they do care if you are actively pushing them out of your movement, discriminating against them, and essentially treating them like worthless piles of shit. Oddly enough, the desire to be given basic human respect and equality is not associated with any political party. The inherent connection between equality and atheism is that there are people who are atheists who want to be treated equally. In case you haven’t figured out where the atheism comes from yet, it comes from the thousands of atheists who are female, people of color, disabled, queer, or any other minority who want an atheist community that lets them in.

Hank_Says talks about what atheism contains, and varieties of justice:

Atheism might not contain but it certainly strongly implies certain positions on social issues: mostly, that without a religious or supernatural source for morals, ethics, law and societal cohesion, humans have to work those things out themselves and base them on reason.

In the realm of social justice, discrimination against women, LGBT people, people of colour and non-religious people, have many religious justifications. Examined in the absence of those religious justifications, there more or less are no reasonable justifications for such discrimination. This implies that the discrimination, being unreasonable, is therefore unjust. Injustice demands opposition; it demands justice.

Atheists often point to the discrimination they experience at the hands of the religious due to their lack of belief; is opposing that discrimination not a social justice issue? What of keeping classrooms, local councils and other public areas and ceremonies secular, so as not to discriminate against non-believers or non-Christians? Is that not seeking justice?

Ed spells it out for the hard-of-thinking:

It should be entirely obvious that one of the damaging effects of religious belief is the denial of equal rights to women, to gay people and even to racial minorities. In all three cases, discriminatory policies are justified by the religious beliefs that atheist activists fight against. We cannot be effective in countering the negative effect of religion-based public policy (or more broadly, cultural norms and non-political societal structures) if we don’t take up those fights for equality.

And Ophelia sums up the frustration of many of us right here:

I’m so fed up with being any part of a movement that has this ridiculous childish hero-worship thing going on. Guys, get over it.

Listen. You can thump your dictionary all you like, Dictionary Atheist. I’m sure you and the Bible thumpers can have a marvelous time together, seeing who can thump their holy book the hardest. Sit in your chair and enjoy all the nothing you believe in. Heck, you can even rouse yourself enough to go out and try to kick religion out of the public sphere, if you wish (although you’ll need to turn in your dictionary for that – it ain’t in the definition of atheist. Sorry, bro). If you don’t want to go beyond that and be a decent, helpful human being who cares about other people and does your best to make the world better, that’s your business. As Avi said, no one’s forcing you at gunpoint. Most of us can’t even stand guns anyway.

But do, please, get the fuck out of the way of those who give a shit. And don’t wave that dictionary at me. I see it’s the Oxford Unabridged, and I assure you that one more wave will earn you a painful thump over the noggin with it.

Image is a gray cat lying atop a hardcover English dictionary, with a slightly annoyed expression. Caption says, "Do not tempt me, sir."


*Actually not loving. I kinda don’t like you.

Disgusting Little Cowards

So the #gamergate fuckwads have taken to threatening universities with massacres for allowing women to give talks. If I didn’t already know they were pure scum, this would have informed me that their opinions need to be treated the same way I deal with nasty shit adhering to the bottom of my shoe.

I know quite a few of these shrieking shits think they are big-time heroes for managing to throw tantrums and threaten people for so long. They’re not. They’re the kind of people that every society has disavowed and discarded as it became more civilized. They have the same social value as contagious disease. They mistake small-minded spite for courage. They think that threats make them big, important men. They have to think that, because they’re shallow little personalities with nasty, small-minded ideas. They’re too terrified to fight fair in the court of public opinion, because deep down, they know they’re losers and will fail. So they have to send out death and rape threats, and rely on other cowards to give them cover.


Guess what? They’re still losers, and they will fail.

They managed to get this talk canceled only because their fellow cowards in the NRA have convinced Utah politicians that carrying guns around campus is what strong, independent people do, rather than the act of pathetic little assholes whose delusions of heroism allow them to ignore their innate cowardice.They don’t know what real courage is. They don’t know what everyday heroism is. They can’t know, because they’ve withdrawn into the fearful little bunkers of their minds, where they can pretend they’re important, rather than doing the hard and scary work of being out there in the world actually doing something important, without relying on the false security of a weapon to make them feel strong.

I’m ashamed to be sharing a planet with them.

They’re probably celebrating what they believe is a victory right now. That’s what people like them do: throw feces and howl in triumph when they hit something. Their fellow shit-throwers tell them they’ve accomplished something.

Meanwhile, the creative and innovative people keep creating and innovating, even if sometimes they have to dodge the shit, or pause to clean it up. The shit-flinging cowards who have to resort to death and rape threats to feel special may deceive a few folks into believing they’re important, but as time goes on, the stench gives them away, and they’ll find themselves pushed further and further away, walled off from the rest. The more shit they throw, the faster they make everyone else realize what disgusting little cowards they actually are.

Those of you who don’t have to hurl rape and death threats to make it sound like you’ve got a point, those of you who aren’t so terrified of women and minorities getting a seat at the table that you feel like you have to burn the house down, those of you who are tired of the stench and just want all of these violent little cowards to go fucking Galt already, you may feel helpless. You may be looking at the piles of shit and wondering how the fuck this is ever going to stop.

It stops when we keep rubbing noses in it. A lot of people – especially law enforcement and politicians, it seems – have just held their breath and stepped around the mess while other people quietly clean it up. Don’t let them. Enough of us writing to universities and legislatures and law enforcement, ensuring they have no choice but to smell the shit we’re dealing with, will eventually get through to them.

Don’t clean up these messes quietly with some misguided idea that we shouldn’t feed trolls or give them the time of day. Point to the piles they’re crapping out and complain about the smell. Show it to people who otherwise would’ve walked quietly around, saying “Can you believe this shit?” Make it impossible to avoid.

When you see people flinging shit, or making excuses for the cowards who fling shit, call them out. Pile on with the condemnation. Make people own their shit. Shame them for it. Demand better behavior of them.

Support the people like Anita Sarkeesian who get shit flung at them constantly. Watch their videos. Listen to their talks. Read their work. Donate to them, buy their work, speak up about how awesome they are.

And never, ever accept this shit as just the way things are. It’s bad, it’s disgusting, and it’s hard to clean up, but we don’t have to live with it forever.

We won’t.

Image shows a very determined My Little Pony with the caption, "Let's Do This."

Fall Fishies in a Lost and Found Spring

Just down the road a bit from Proxy Falls, there’s a meadow where people can pull in to camp. Behind that meadow is a spring, which Anne Jefferson showed us in July of 2013. Anne knows all of the best places in the McKenzie River watershed! Lockwood, B, and I went back on our last visit to the area. This time, we found more than serene and lovely water – we found fishies!

Image shows a bit of blue-green water with a log fallen over it. Fishes are swimming in the clear, shallow, still water.

Fishies in the spring I

Many many fishies!

Same view, with a few more fishies in it.

Fishies in the spring II

Are they trout? I wanna say trout. But I know very little about fish. We used to go fishing at Lake Powell, but the only fish I ever caught were the wee little sunfish that would flock to the boat, knowing I’d give them a salmon egg feast if they’d just bite the hook and tolerate me hauling them up and releasing them. I’m told fish don’t feel a lot of pain. I certainly hope that’s true. Regardless, the little dudes were never deterred, and they’d flock around me for as long as the salmon eggs held out. I think I might have caught a perch or two once, out by Glen Canyon Dam, and maybe something else as a wee youngster, but I’m obviously not an inveterate lover of all things fish and fishing. I can’t identify them for carp. But I do enjoy encountering them, especially when I don’t have to fish for them.

The same scene. Many fish have gathered in the center of the shot.

Fishies in the spring III

You have no idea how long I stood there squeeing and filming. I tried several photos, which as you can see are not the bestest. We always manage to get there near sundown, and the trees block a lot of the light. I decided to try a video instead. I think it turned out rather well, all things considered.

Alas, it’s a bit unstable, but it got a bit blurred when I tried to stabilize, so I suppose we can live with shaky-cam. Hopefully, all of the above are adequate for identification purposes. What kind of fishies do you think our fall fishes in the spring are?

One Courageous Cormorant

There’s a cormorant in this picture. I swear to you. Yes, I know there are very violent waves going on, but there’s a little seabird floating in the midst of all that chaos. Can you see it?

Image shows a portion of Devils Churn. There are steep, black basalt walls, with waves pounding against them. In the center of the photo, against the far wall, there's a cormorant swimming serenely in water that looks rather murderous.

Cormorants have no fear of fishing in the Devils Churn.

Here, this may help. The cormorant was where the big wave is now:

Image was taken a second or two after the previous. There is a rather hefty wave where the cormorant was.

The cormorant has dived below.

No? Well, let’s zoom in:

Image is cropped from the first image to show the tiny head of the cormorant floating in the churning sea.

Can you see the cormorant now?

This is something I hadn’t experienced at Devils Churn before: a seabird unconcernedly fishing in surf roiling in and slamming off the stone walls of a narrow chasm. I mean, imagine trying to grab dinner in a ginormous washing machine on the agitation cycle. With a bull ramming it every few seconds. And sharp, unforgiving rocks plastered on the sides. If a human fell into the Churn, it would go very hard for them. But this little bird fished as happily as if it had been on the serenest of seas.

I have a gif for you, showing the little bugger riding the waves:

Image is a serious of photos showing the cormorant floating atop churning waves.

Our enterprising little cormorant doesn’t appear to suffer seasickness.

Both the original photos and the cropped images are here, if you want to take a more leisurely look. They’ll give you an idea of just how wild the waves were. Of course, you can also watch the video:

I love the fact that nature has supplied remarkable creatures to go with the astounding geology. I hope to discuss all of that soon, but for the moment, I must away to scream thoroughly into a pillow regarding the continuing idiocy in atheism, followed by a nice calming session of rock magnet production with B later this afternoon. B is getting your newest Christianist miseducation post typed up, so you have that to look forward to. Right?