Friday, February 26, 2010

Andrew Koenig

There has never been a blog post that I wanted to write less than this one.

I talked to John last night, and he said that Andrew's body was found in a park in Vancouver near where he had last been seen yesterday morning. He said and the news people are reporting that it appears to have been a suicide.

As far as news reports are concerned, I think we should take them with a grain of salt. For instance, this report says that Andrew's father, Walter, played Chekov in the original Star Wars movie, which is completely wrong. So, I'm going to do my best to only say what I know to be true.

I read another report today that focused more on suicide as a general subject, and in a lot of ways, this may be the more useful of the two.

My sympathy goes out to his parents. No parent should ever have to go through their child's death. It's the worst thing that can happen.

I haven't seen him since he was a child, but he was mannerly, and a joy to be around. We sat on the floor at a science fiction convention in New York and played a board game that he'd just gotten for Christmas in early 1979.

I wish he had been able to realize that there were so many people who cared about him and that would have been willing to help him, and that things couldn't possibly have been as bad as they must've seemed.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brain Fog!

I still haven't recovered from the hypothyroid fog I've been in lately, and really can't think of much to say.

I just wanted to check in and let people know that I'm still here, I'm OK, or will be real soon now, and give you more information about the bill that Senator McCain has introduced.

There was apparently a lot of protest heard about the bill, and McCain made a statement defending himself and the bill. Here's a rebuttal, repeating McCain's statements, and translating them into reality. If you haven't written a letter to your legislators, there's a link to a prewritten letter which you can amend near the end of the article. If you've already done so, there's a link right after that to a letter protesting McCain's statement, and again urging your legislator to not support the bill. You have to fill in your address information, and when you do, the form will automatically be sent to the correct legislators for you. It's quick and easy to let your viewpoint be known!

I'm giving you that link because a friend insisted that my writing on the subject is inflammatory, and deliberately manipulative. He's right, so read the more unbiased and factual report there.

The FDA has been trying for a while to get effective supplements off the market so that people have to buy drugs instead and have lots of side effects rather than take supplements that are far safer. And, incidentally, put lots more money in the pockets of drug manufacturers! The FDA is, of course, looking out for our safety when it wants to ban natural supplements that are inexpensive, effective and have few if any side effects so that we can take expensive drugs that are only somewhat effective and have lots of bad, sometimes life-threatening side effects.

There are several supplements that I take that are keeping me healthy. If this bill is passed, my health will suffer a huge blow, and the only workable alternatives for me will make me run a much higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and several other serious or life threatening problems. You can see why I'm biased, here. But here's another view on this.

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On the subject of nutritional supplements, When I saw the doctor last month, she suggested that I might have a vitamin D deficiency. She gave me a battery of tests, and I waited for my appointment this month to find out. Due to snow and emergencies that she was helping out with, she wasn't able to keep the appointment, and I won't be able to see her until early March.

So, I looked up vitamin D on the internet, and started realizing a lot of things. I read the list of symptoms of D deficiency, and it sounded really familiar. Plus, I've noticed that around November or so, I get worse, and don't really recover from it until well into the Spring. I looked up some information on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and discovered that taking extra vitamin D is even more effective at combating SAD than extra light is.

So, I went out yesterday and bought a bottle of vitamin D perles, and I'm trying it out. The initial dose made me feel really bad, but the bone remodeling process tends to feel bad when it goes into overdrive. It's probably why a broken bone hurts while it heals (over and above the initial trauma). Taking a dose of D means that the calcium and other minerals from the supplements I'm taking will go out of my blood and into my bones, helping make them strong and pain-free. Getting over it seems to hurt, although I have to say that I'm feeling much better 12 hours later. Better than I did before taking the D! We'll see how that goes.

Anyway, I have high hopes for all this.

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In knitting news, I still haven't even started my Knitting Olympics project. The combination of the late arrival of the yarn for it, my hypothyroid brain fog that hasn't lifted yet and is preventing me from designing it, and the extra sleep and rest I've been getting since my fall last week has left me hopelessly behind on all this.

But yesterday, I discovered I have a few extra dollars, and when I went out to get the vitamin D and some food supplies, I bought a copy of the Winter issue of Vogue Knitting. I've been looking through it, and maybe I'll get some ideas. Right now, I'm thinking that maybe I'm not in shape to design this, and an actual pattern written by someone else might be a good idea. Maybe I'll check Ravelry.

By the way, the Spring and Summer issue of Vogue Knitting looks like it's going to be really good. I can't wait! I think it's out the second week in March.

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There's a new episode of Burn Notice on USA tonight! Everything else is reruns.

I hope you've been having a great week!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Senator McCain, Drug Pusher!

Senator McCain is out to destroy your health, or at least make it a lot more expensive to maintain it!

This move to ban healthy supplements in favor of drugs that have bad side effects that include death is something I find very disturbing!

The drug companies are managing to have their way in so many places, and soon the American people will not have any health care at all, if people like John McCain have their way.

The FDA routinely approves drugs that go on to kill thousands of people, and that seems to be OK with them. I could understand if it was a mistake and the FDA removed these drugs as soon as they found out the ill effects, but they don't. They just tell us it's not so bad!

But at the same time, they attack natural, safe "drugs" that actually work, and have been proven to make patients healthy for as much as 100 years (Armor Thyroid), while promoting drugs that will make the tests come out right, but won't help patients get well.

I'm really sick of it!

I'm so sick of it that I've managed to substitute nutritional supplements (or OTC drugs) for all my health problems except hypothyroidism, for which I'm still dependent on drug pushers (they call themselves "doctors") who want to sell me expensive drugs that will kill me rather than make me well. Sometimes I feel like the doctor is asking me which kind of leech I'd prefer!

So, help yourself and do what you can to lower drug costs by opposing the removal of natural, safe remedies! Read this article.

There is space to enter your personal information, and once you do, the form will fill in your information on the sample letter and send it to the correct legislators for you. You will have the chance to delete or add anything you want to the body of the letter before sending it.

I can see where this is going. They're out to ban some of the only things I can take to correct my physical problems, leaving me only drugs that will (in my particular case) kill me! Please help!


There's another post I put up today after this one, and it's much more fun!

This and That

What is going on with curling in the Olympics?

The other day, Holly sent me a text message saying that she was surprised that I hadn't commented on the US Olympic uniforms with all their blue with white stars. Well, I would have, if I'd seen any.

First of all, you have to understand my viewpoint of sports. They're great fun to play, and boring as watching paint dry to watch. And this is as it should be, I think.

I'm not completely disinterested in the Olympics, but I've been recording parts of it and fast forwarding through the boring bits, which is most of it. So far, I haven't seen any blue with stars in the uniforms.

So, I tried looking up "US Olympic uniforms" on the internet, and there were dozens of uniforms for every kind of sport you could think of. I saw one uniform with a dark blue top and three tiny (almost invisible from more than a foot away) stars on each shoulder, and I'm still trying to figure out what she's talking about.

But back to curling. I wrote a blog post the other day, and had the TV tuned in to the Olympics. In the middle of the post, I dropped everything and turned to the TV in a panic.

There was a man on TV who was screaming! Not a yell of surprise or disappointment. This was a high pitched, sustained scream such as you would expect to hear from the teenage girl who has just discovered the mauled dead body covered in blood in a horror movie!

I thought that someone else had died in a horrible freak accident!

No. They were curling, and this is apparently a normal part of curling.

From what I can tell, if a man wants to be a curler, he has to be neutered in his early teens, and practice high-pitched, hysterical screaming, or he won't make it.

So, from now on, when the curling starts, I'm turning the TV to something else. I'm tired of thinking that somebody must've gotten run over by the Zamboni!

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I'm feeling a lot better after my fall on Friday, but my shoulder and knee still feel really unhappy about it, plus the bones somewhere in my left foot/ankle feel like they've gotten yanked into a position they shouldn't be in, and it hurts every time I take a step.

I'm still taking it easy.

The long period of under-medication for my thyroid has finally slowed my thinking to a crawl, and I'm really not feeling capable of doing much at all. I want to start knitting that vest, but I just can't make up my mind what I want. I am starting to figure out why nobody has designed a knitted Triquetra Celtic knot, though. I thought it would be easy, but with my mind seizing up like it is, I just can't figure it out.

I'm still waiting to wake up from this daze now that I'm getting the right amount of medicine.

I hadn't planned to do anything at all today, but I read about McCain's horrible bill to outlaw nutritional supplements, and I just have to write something about it, but not in this post.

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NASA has published at least one photo, and information about some brand new galaxies that have been found by the Hubble Telescope.


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The newest Dresden Files book, Changes will be out on the sixth of April! I'm really looking forward to it.

The newest Dresden Files book that's already out, Turn Coat, will be available in paperback on the second of March! This is my all-time favorite series of books!

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Tonight on TV, we have reruns only! They include The Big Bang Theory, Castle and four back-to-back episodes of Ghost Whisperer.

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Here's what seems to be the latest information about Andrew Koenig. He still seems to be missing, and I'm really upset about it. I wish him and his family the best of luck and hope that they will be reunited soon.

Have a great day!

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Addition:


Holly sent me this photo. At first glance, it looks blue, but if you look closely, you can see some lighter spots which I'm guessing might be stars? If so, this is the clearest photo I've seen of them.

It looks nice (probably much better if you see it nearby and in person), but I think I like Coraline's sweater better.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Has Anyone Seen Andrew Koenig?

Not long after the first Star Trek Movie came out, John and I went to New York City for a weekend of going to various science fiction conventions. If I remember correctly, John was a guest at one con, and we went to another Star Trek con. We just dropped in on that one to see a bunch of friends, notably, John's friend, Walter Koenig (Checkov on Star Trek).

Walter was busy talking to the fen, and everybody else was either busy running the con, appearing as a guest, or was a fan, and there to talk to people, and Walter had brought along his young son, who was introduced to me as Josh. He had gotten a game for Christmas that was the same one that Lisa had gotten for Christmas, and since I had played it with Lisa, I knew how to play.

So, Josh and I sat on the floor and played a board game, while the fen detoured around us for an hour or so.

Eventually, John and Walter came along and dragged the two of us away. I got to meet Walter, I got my photo taken with him, and John and I went on to other con activities.

Four years ago, when we were doing advance work on Fade Out (which eventually fell through), I suggested that we ask Josh if he wanted to be in the film. John told me that he doesn't like to be called that anymore, and that he prefers to be called Andrew.

I don't remember what happened to that suggestion after he corrected me, but since the whole movie collapsed, it didn't matter. I heard a few things about him from time to time since John and Walter are friends and Andrew and John's son Julian are also friends.

And then this weekend, I saw something on Facebook about Andrew being missing!

This is the official statement that Walter has asked to have copied and reposted:

Andrew Koenig, the son of Star Trek actor Walter Koenig, is missing. The last time Andrew Koenig was seen was on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Andrew Koenig never boarded his flight back to the US, and he hasn't heard from since then.

He was last seen at a bakery in the Stanley Park area of Vancouver.

Andrew Koenig, 41, was working as a camera operator on the show "Never Not Funny" as well
as doing improv in Los Angeles. Best known as "Boner" from "Growing Pains", Andrew also
had a role in "Deep Space Nine", and is a talented actor director, editor and photographer as
well as a passionate activist. In 2008, he was arrested at the Rose Bowl while protesting
China's part in the genocide in the country of Burma.

This is a serious matter that has Koenig's friends and family gravely concerned. If you have
seen him, emailed him or had any contact after the 14th or spent time with him during his stay
in Vancouver please call Detective Raymond Payette of the Vancouver PD at 604-717-2534.

Please share this and send prayers and positive thoughts. If you wish to leave Walter a note,
visit his site at: www.walterkoenigsite.com.

This is probably the best place on the internet to watch for upcoming
news. There's another article about him and more information
here, here and here..

I'm finding this very upsetting, and I'm really worried. I'm hoping for the best!

Please let Walter or the police know if you've seen him!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Instant Workout!

I was still feeling bad yesterday from the trek to the Comcast office on Tuesday, so I really didn't want to have to get back on the bus and go to WalMart yesterday, but I really needed some things I was out of and couldn't get anywhere else.

So, after a few delays, I walked to the bus stop, and got the show on the road. Once I got at WalMart, I was armed with a list, and made good speed through the store and got everything I really needed.

Theoretically, I had just enough time to get to the bus stop to be in time to catch the next one.

I realized my mistake as soon as I got outside and suddenly knew I had miscalculated how long it would take to walk there because of all the piles of snow that were over my head. The parking lot itself was clear and easy to walk through, and the one patch of snow between me and the bus stop looked like it was three or four inches deep, so I thought I'd take a chance and walk across it.

I stepped onto some snow that had been packed down into ice and was about three inches deep, tested it for a moment, and got ready to take a second step, when the ice spontaneously changed to slush and dumped just my heel to the ground.

I fell over backwards. Unfortunately, not into snow or anything that would cushion my fall, but onto the paving. My back landed hard, but since my foot was stuck in the snow/ice, I was really describing a 90 degree arc, which saved my back a bit. Unfortunately, my head whiplashed and hit the paving at more speed than the rest of me, and so hard that it bounced!

I laid there, stunned for a moment, and then tried to get up, which was difficult because the snow (which seemed so shallow) now seemed to be propping my feet and legs up at a crazy angle, so I had to sort of crawl out of it to a level place where I could get my feet under me.

While I laid there stunned, the snow that was anywhere near me took the opportunity to start melting, so I wound up with my pants and mitts soaked and my coat pretty wet.

This time, I walked around all the piled snow, and got to the light where I planned to cross to the bus stop just in time to see the bus chug past. If I had left one minute earlier or if it had been one minute later, I would have caught it anyway.

But it didn't, and that left me with 40 minutes to wait for the next bus at about freezing temperatures, with a stiff wind, and partially soaking wet. Fortunately, the ground was cleared between the bus stop and Dollar Tree, which is right next to the stop, so I went in there for a while. I came out later and had only a short wait for the bus, and had an otherwise uneventful trip home.

I suspected I was going to suffer an aftermath similar to that time where my motorcycle had an argument with some gravel (and lost) and I wound up with a 750 pound bike on top of me. Here's a photo of the bike.


During the bike fiasco, I actually felt OK, but the next morning, when I woke up, I was in agony from pulled muscles, except for my left leg, which the bike fell on and protected.

I had a bit of a headache last night, and I do have some muscles that are very unhappy with me, but overall the damage is far less than I would have expected. For a very short while, I was hoping that maybe the blow to the head had loosened something in my ear, because I thought I could hear out of it for a while, but no, it seems it was just wishful thinking. This morning, though, the whole area around my ear hurts, the gland under it is swollen, and it's generally acting like there's a mild infection, but then, it does that anyway a lot of the time.

But I've given up on doing anything I'm "supposed to do" this weekend, I've declared myself officially "not feeling good," and I plan to read some books, watch some TV, start knitting my Knitting Olympics vest (once I do some charts for the cabling on it), and not worry about anything. So, I don't expect to blog tomorrow, and probably not Monday either. Tuesday is a bit iffy.

There is no serious injury, but I feel really bad! Like I had a very vigorous workout yesterday, and really wasn't used to it. I'm really OK, just hurting all over.

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I've been reading the Septimus Heap books, and I love them. I have the last one, Syren from the library and it's due back but I haven't even started reading it, so I want to do that ASAP so I can get it back to the library. Even if I had read it already, I do not want to walk over to the library to return it feeling the way I do.

This is a great series of kids books that adults will love, too, and I recommend them!

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Survivors is on BBC in America tonight! It premiered (in the US) last week as a single two hour episode. In case you missed it, I think that they're rerunning that as two one-hour episodes followed by a new one tonight. With all the talk about the new flu that they were afraid might turn into a pandemic, it's very timely, even though the original was done a while ago. If you read down, you'll find that it was (possibly is) being remade. I'm guessing this is the remake.

I really think everybody should watch a show like this because it makes you think about what you would do if you were ever in that kind of a situation.

Sunday night (here) we have last week's episode of The Legend of the Seeker, followed by a brand new one on the CW. Check your local listings for this one!

So, I'm going to take it easy and get better and have a great weekend.

I wish you a great weekend, too!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

Yes, I'm a day late and a dollar short, as usual!

Yesterday was Mardi Gras, and I missed it because I was busy trying to get Comcast to give me what I paid for. This has never happened so far, but hopefully, I can manage to keep down the damage they're doing.

And now Mardi Gras is all over, it's Ash Wednesday, and lent has begun. I'm glad I don't observe lent. It sounds depressing, although it does have it's good points, I suppose.

Mardi Gras, though, is all kinds of fun!

So, I hope you had a wonderful day!

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I was expecting two packages yesterday, but they both arrived today. It's kind of a good thing they didn't arrive yesterday, though, because I was out all day trying to get Comcast to give me the service I'm paying for (see the last post if you want to be bored with just how bad a large company can make "service.")

More info about the packages coming right up!

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I was frantic when I got home yesterday. I checked FedEx tracking, and they said that the TiVo I bought was in Alexandria (on Monday), and that it would be delivered on Tuesday. Alexandria is pretty close, and a Tuesday delivery seemed pretty certain. But Fed Ex usually knocks on my door, sets the package where I'll trip over it if I'm not paying attention, and leaves. I expected to find a package sitting in front of my door when I got home.

But, no. Then I was worried that somebody had come along, seen a big box and decided they'd like a good surprise package.

But today when I got up, I got curious and checked the door, and there was the box!

I've been on the internet all day and haven't even opened it yet, but it's here. I have to open it, check the manual, and call Comcast so they can send someone out to install the card(s) I'll need in it to let it decode the Comcast signal so that I can actually use it. Once that happens, I'll finally be rid of this piece of garbage that they gave me. The sad part about this is that they'll wipe the hard drive and give this lemon to another poor, unsuspecting Comcast customer! I feel bad for whoever gets it! Actually, I feel bad for any Comcast customer!

But at last, it's here!

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The other package has in it the yarn for my Knitting Olympics project!

Part of it's lateness is my fault. I kept dithering around trying to decide what yarn I should get to knit because I couldn't decide what project I wanted to make. I finally gave up, submitted an order to Knit Picks, and then waited for delivery. And waited. And waited.

Knit Picks orders normally arrive very quickly! It could've arrived on Friday, when the Opening Ceremonies were held. That would have been really quick, and I didn't really expect it, but hoped. I have gotten things that quickly from them! They're really amazingly good.

But it didn't arrive on Friday. My apartment building won't let you pick up packages that are delivered on Saturday until Monday (normally) when there's someone in the office. But then Monday was a holiday, and the post office didn't deliver and there was nobody in the office. And it still wasn't here yesterday. Finally, today it arrived. I'll take pictures of the yarn and my start of the project, which is a vest. I plan to put a Triquetra on the back of it. I love Celtic knots, and I also love Charmed, which uses the triquetra as the symbol for the Charmed Ones. I hope to be able to knit the one with the ring through it which is shown in the second photo if you click on the link.

I probably should have at least started to write the pattern in the time I spent waiting for the yarn, but I haven't.

Oh, well.

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Lost was on last night! I noticed lots of people complaining about the lack of answers so far on Twitter, but they are throwing us some good clues. I suspect that there will be only one of two key pieces of information near the end that will explain everything, and will make you want to watch the whole series all over again just so you can put all the pieces together for yourself.

There's a new Human Target tonight (I know it's not SF, but it's good), also new episodes of Leverage (also not SF) and Psych!

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I've been reading the Septimus Heap books, and got the latest one of the series from the Library much sooner than I expected. I've been having lots of fun reading them, but I have two more to read (including the one from the library) and it's due back to the library today. I really hate to do this because I'm sure that someone else wants to read it, but it's going to go back late. The Septimus Heap books are great kids books for adults to read. I love them!

So, now I have two books to read and a knitting project to design, and knit in very little time.

I'm still feeling kind of beaten up from the physical abuse I had yesterday, so I'm not going to write here anymore. I'm going to get dinner and lay down and read for a while.

I hope you're having a happy, or at least successful lent, if you're observing it, and an all 'round good time if you're not! Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

I Got Mugged by Comcast!

This is a long list of all the rotten things Comcast is currently doing to me (and apparently, the whole of Prince William County) to make sure they collect their fees in full while not bothering to provide the service that I'm paying for, so if that's going to bore you, just skip this post.

Comcast sent me a bill over the internet in January for $58.02. When I actually went to pay that bill, it had miraculously changed to about $165!

On the 4th of February, I paid my Comcast bill over the internet. For the amount for this month. Part of the reason this was so high was because they included next month's bill in with it! The other part was because they changed their minds, after making up the bill about how much they thought I owed.

So, once I paid the bill, they didn't submit it to my bank or collect the money, and now they're mad at ME because of this! And I can guarantee that there will be a late fee, and if I hadn't discovered the problem, my service would probably be interrupted (meaning even less service for the same money) and then there would be a reconnection fee. My personal view is that they aren't collecting money so that they can get the late fees and reconnection fees. In other words, they've found a new way to get more money without doing anything.

I HATE Comcast!

I could go into a long thing about that's how much they billed, and so that's how much I owed, but I won't do that. They know they have the upper hand, because if you only pay what they originally billed you for, they'll charge you late fees foreverafter (if you're a Comcast customer, watch for "one time fee" which is actually a late fee!), AND they reserve the right to just turn off your service if you make them angry.

So, anyway, I got up earlier than usual, walked to the bus stop, waited for the bus in the cold, spent a half hour on the bus (plus a stop on the way for an errand, which had nothing to do with this), to get to a place where I could wait for a half hour in the cold for a bus that would, after a half hour ride, take me to Comcast. Later, I did the same thing in reverse. The total round trip time to do this was six hours (plus 3 hours actually at Comcast)! I walked home in the dark last night. If I'd had a job, that would have required me to take a day off of work. Because I don't have a job doesn't mean that I don't have other things to do, either!

The combination of all the walking, standing in the cold, and changes of temperature on the bus has left me feeling like someone beat me up yesterday. And, with all the snow we've had, it's piled up on the sidewalks and next to the road to a height that's taller than me in most places. I had to walk in the street on some busy streets (mainly right in front of the Dale City Comcast office on Dale Blvd.), which is a very dangerous thing to do, just so I could pay my bill and complain! Today, my head and back hurt, all my bones, joints and muscles hurt, and I am in serious pain because of all the cold, standing and walking!

First of all, I had to wait more than a half hour to see someone, because I insisted on speaking to a supervisor, or, in this case, an assistant supervisor. Which is not their fault, except in the sense that their bad business practices mean that they had two people there to do normal business, and one whole person (full time) to do nothing but deal with the many complaints and problems of the their cusotmers! And she was really backed up with the problems!

The woman I spoke to at Comcast was a supervisor. She was perfectly polite while giving me all the standard excuses why they can't possibly deliver what they said I was going to get for the money, but I still have to pay full price. Although she did accept the forms I filled out to get a percentage of my internet service off because I'm over 60 years old, and have low income. And she did also find a special program where I can get $13 off of internet service. I don't know how long that's going to last.

To make sure you understand this: We originally agreed that they would deliver specific services for a specific price. Every month, I have paid my bill, and there has not been a single month in the three years and 2-1/2 months that I've had service with them that they've ever delivered in full what I'm paying for!

So, I paid my bill with a check and got a reciept so that they can't claim I didn't pay it this time! This is, by the way the third time I've paid my bill over the internet and they didn't collect it, causing problems for me!

When I complained about having to come to the office, I was told "You didn't have to come all the way down here just to pay your bill!" Yeah, that's what I thought on the 4th, when I paid this bill over the internet, and you can see how far that got me!

I enumerated my long list of ongoing problems with Comcast. I can't watch five consecutive minutes of TV without having at least ONE of the following problems happen: the picture breaks up, the picture freezes for a few seconds, and the sound goes of for a few seconds. The Closed Captioning frequently drifts in and out, too, about every day or so on a random channel. And sometimes it goes off on a specific channel for a week or two. It has been off for three months on one channel on one occasion.

She said "Well, if you don't have a Comcast decoder box, that happens sometimes." This was after I had complained about my DVR, which is such a piece of junk!

She said that she wanted to send someone to test the signal strength of my connection. That actually sounds like a good idea. I told her that she needs to send someone to test the signal strength of the whole building, because I've spoken to a representative sampling of the residents here, and they all seem to be having the same problems.

In fact, I've spoken to people all over the county that have Comcast, and they all seem to be having exactly the same problems! I's not just me! I told her that the whole area needs to be checked and fixed!

I told her that I'd had Cox Cable for four years and DirecTV for four years, and I hadn't had as many problems with those two in those eight years as I had with Comcast in the first two days! I paid my bill to them every month and got the service I'd paid for, and never had to go down to their offices to complain! I pay my T-Mobile bill every month and get what I paid for without having to complain! WHY do I have to keep coming to the office and calling and trying to get help over the internet to get what I paid for with Comcast?

She told me that lots of the problems I'd had in the first year (almost a month, total hours, of outages) were caused by Comcast changing over to fiber optics, and that they were outages of at most an hour, right? I explained that lots of those outages were 15 to 17 hours at a time. And that I was a customer of Cox Cable when they switched to fiber optics (ten years ago), and they had an outage of two minutes (they told me). I couldn't verify it because I didn't happen to be at home at the time. Once again, Comcast loses out drastically when compared to other utilities!

If I was able to get any other TV provider in the apartment building I live in, I would have been making arrangements for other service within the first two days, and they wouldn't have lasted two weeks!

I found out something interesting, too. I was given by Comcast a DVR that obviously wasn't quality when I got it, it malfunctioned a bit in the beginning, and after three years was such a total mess that I had to have it swapped out for a "new" one. The "new" one malfunctioned from the very beginning, and is now almost unuseable. The woman at Comcast explained that the "new" defective DVR probably wasn't new at all. She said that when someone has a DVR that doesn't work right, the swap it out for another one (charging a hefty fee for a visit from a technician) and wipe the drive and give it to someone else! So, the "new" DVR I got almost two months ago was probably one that someone else returned because it didn't work! So they just gave the problem to me rather than bother to fix it! I thought they at least refurbished returns and made sure they functioned before sticking a customer with them.

It's like that old comedy skit "We don't care. We don't have to! We're the phone company!" Only, this is Comcast instead of the phone company. They have a monopoly in Prince William County, so they don't care.

I'll be making another complaint to the FTC about Comcast today, and and by the end of the week, I'm going to do some investigation into seeing what has to be done to get Cox Cable in the county instead of Comcast.

Just so you'll know what I'm complaining about, in addition to the picture breaking up, freezing and the sound going off (and periodically, the closed captioning going off), let me tell you about my other problems:

Sometimes, when I go to play back something, I get a black screen and no sound. It won't play back until I turn the DVR off and restart it, or sometimes I have to unplug the box, wait a moment, plug it back in, and wait for it to restart. Sometimes several times.

I try to fast forward through a commercial on playback, and when the commercial is over, I hit play, and sometimes it just speeds up and fast forwards to the end no matter what buttons I push, and then I have to start the recording over and fast forward to the place I left off and try to get it to play from there instead of continuing fast forwarding to the end of the show. Yes, I tried putting fresh batteries in the remote!

When I play back a show, if frequently decides that I don't want to see the last 10 minutes of it and automatically stops the playback then. I have to push "play from beginning" so I can stop it and get a selection that says "skip to the end" and back it up to where it automatically stops. I can't go any earlier than that point because if I do, I have to start over again because it always stops at that spot! It's like the show recorded a "stop" message right in the recording at that spot! I can see most of the show, but have to fight to see the end!

Whenever I use the remote, I have to wait 2 seconds before I can push another button, because the DVR disregards everything for 2 seconds after you push a button. And when I do give it a command that it actually executes, I have to wait for it to process the information for 2 or 3 second before it does anything. In electronic terms, it's severely retarded! I won't do it, but I'm very tempted to drop it on something hard and totally break it when the repairman shows up to replace it so they can't give it to someone else. Or maybe take something sharp and scratch "LEMON" into the case for the same reason. I won't do it, but I want to do it!

On to the problems that are from Comcast itself, and are not the DVR.

Periodically, the Closed Captioning goes off on one of the channels, and it takes a week or two before someone at the office fixes it. In one epic case, it was off on ABC Family for three months from May to late in August the summer before last. I tried complaining to ABC Family so that they would know that although they were sending the signal out with the CC, Comcast wasn't broadcasting it. I must have made at least 25 phone calls about this ("It's the fault of the network, not us"), and finally, they classified "my" problem as "highest priority." Did you notice that classifying it highest priority doesn't actually do anything to FIX it? I also made two personal visits to two different offices (including two hours of walking for one of them), and had several chat sessions with Comcast on the internet.

You should understand that this was an NTSC transmission (NTSC has been the standard definition for TV in the US since there was TV in the US--High Def is an ATSC signal, and that handles the CC differently), which has the closed captioning embedded in line 21 of the picture, so if they're passing on the signal, they should have to pass on the CC! They actually have to go out of their way to tamper with the signal to get rid of the CC! I don't know. Could this be caused by low signal strength? For the entire county? ABC Family also had a low sound signal (I had to turn the TV way up to hear it at all), and the sound went off and on frequently.

I missed almost the whole run of Middleman because of this. Someone else on the internet was talking about a specific episode of The Middleman, and described the parts where the sound went off for extended periods (exactly as it did on my recording) and I remarked "Oh, you've got Comcast, too!" and I got back "How did you know?" This person wasn't local, so I suspect that this problem may not be just Prince William County, but ALL of Comcast!

I spoke to one lady at the Manassas office who was smart enough to check some of the TVs in the station. They all displayed CC on every channel except ABC Family, so it was a problem with what they were broadcasting, NOT my TV, but they sent out someone to my home TWICE to fix the problem in their offices. One of those visits wasn't scheduled, and they didn't even tell me they were coming. I had to explain to the technician that the reason he was there was because the people who sent him were idiots! So, anyway, this problem was at least county-wide, not something I had done! The Middleman incident suggests it may be Comcast wide!

Yes, I have had it explained over and over again that they are required by law to do a weekly test of the emergency broadcasting system. I really do understand that! But doing three tests between 1 pm and 2:10 pm (that's just over an hour) seems to me to be saying that they don't want me as a customer! Doing three tests on three consecutive days during prime time really confirms that idea! This is not a malfunction! This is Comcast saying "We hate our customers, and we want to make sure they know it!"

I have to say that they haven't done this to this extent recently, but broadcasting 35 consecutive minutes of local commercials late at night (causing me to the miss the last half of a program I was recording) seems to be another way of saying that they don't want me as a customer! OK, so they haven't done 35 consecutive minutes lately, but they throw in a few extra minutes on other commercial breaks so that shows end as much as ten minutes late from time to time. They seem particularly fond of doing this on the SyFy Channel.

Yes, I've heard the excuse that this is done by the networks, but that's a lie. They advertise that you can buy local advertising with Comcast and the problems are caused by ads for the little sandwich shop on the other side of Woodbridge, etc. You can't tell me that that tiny shop spent hundreds of thousands to advertise on national TV! Not when Comcast is advertising that you can advertise locally through them at a low price. They're either lying in the ads or lying when they say it's caused by the networks. But it's clear that either way, they're lying!

Periodically, random networks go off the air for 10 minutes to a half hour or more. This could be the fault of said networks, but if it is, why did I never have this happen with Cox Cable or DirecTV?

Oh, and my new TiVo (to replace the pile of spare parts that don't work that Comcast gave me) was supposed to be delivered yesterday, and it wasn't here when I got home. I was very worried that it had been delivered and left in front of my door and someone had taken it. But when I woke up today, I checked and it was sitting outside my door.

OK, I haven't begun to get to the end of my complaints against Comcast, but I'm really tired of writing all this. Particularly when it hurts to sit and write because of all the abuse my body took yesterday when I complained in person.

If you're looking for a TV provider, don't even consider Comcast!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!


Happy Valentine's Day!

I wish you a happy Valentine's Day, and hope that you get to spend at least a part of it with someone you love!

I've also found a poem for you from Neil Gaiman!

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Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year! This is the year of the tiger! For you fiberartists out there, the year of the sheep will not happen again until 2015. I happen to have the sheep as my astrological symbol. Which I think is totally appropriate!

And good luck to all of you competing in the Olympics, the Knitting Olympics, and the Ravelympics.

Although I still don't have the yarn to start, I plan to do some knitting today and also some spinning!

It's cold and the ground is covered in snow (where it hasn't been plowed or shoveled), but the sun is shining, and it's a glorious day! I also plan to get out and walk around a bit.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day Is Tomorrow!

I'm dragging myself out of a hypothyroid stupor to write this, so I hope you appreciate it!

I'll start with Valentine's Day. Do check the link. There's a lot of history in the Wikipedia listing, and it's very interesting!

Anyway, Crazy Aunt Purl has two blog posts up about Valentine's Day. The first one has a link to a contest, but I'm mentioning this first because the contest ends at midnight tonight, so if you want to enter, do it quickly. I already entered!

The second one is just a wonderful read, written by a woman who has really found herself. She makes me feel happier after reading this than I have in a few days, and is worth the read. Very inspiring!

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If you're entered in the Knitting Olympics, The Yarn Harlot has a post up about it here. If you follow her on Twitter, you'll know that she went nuts last night because NBC didn't broadcast the opening ceremonies in real time, but delayed it for quite a while. She was upset that she didn't know exactly when they lit the big torches in the stadium so she could cast on. If you're reading this right after I write it, I retweeted some of her comments, and you should still be able to read them in my tweets in the sidebar.

I recorded the opening ceremonies on my DVR (such as it is) and watched other stuff last night, mostly from my DVR, because although CBS said earlier in the week that they would show a new (I think) Ghost Whisperer and Medium, they decided at the last minute not to do it, and showed junk instead. I can only assume that they thought everyone would be watching the Opening Ceremonies, so why bother showing anything worth watching? I was disappointed!

So, anyway, I watched stuff on my DVR and kept switching to the opening ceremonies, wondering when the torch in the stadium would be ignited. I did that for several hours before getting distracted by a ghost story, and really shared Steph's exasperation! First of all, they had 1-1/2 hours of not opening ceremonies in their opening ceremonies. I think it's a terrible tragedy that the luge went out of control and that someone died, but I didn't feel it was really essential to watch it several times, even though NBC obviously did.

And then, there were hours of inane programming. I did like that everyone in the audience had flashlights, and that they all had them on and were waving them. Maybe it would have been more impressive if I was watching the whole thing, from beginning to end, but I just tuned in periodically, usually in the middle of something, thinking "What is this?" Sheets pulled up to look like mountains (?) with skiers and snow boarders floating in the air? What's that all about?

Part of my annoyance and disinterest is because I waffled around for a while trying to decide on a project to make for the Knitting Olympics. When I finally made a decision, it was late enough that although it was possible for the post office to get my Knit Picks order to me yesterday, it wasn't very likely, and in fact, didn't happen. I'm not supposed to be able to get packages on the weekend, even if the post office delivers it today, I theoretically can't get it. I'm going to try to at least find out if my package was delivered today, and if it was, I'm going to try to get it.

I may sign up for the Ravelympics with a small project to keep me feeling like I'm doing something until my package arrives.

So, since I couldn't cast on during opening ceremonies, I was bummed (over and above being depressed by the hypothyroidism), and didn't really want to watch something on TV when I couldn't participate in it.

Which leads me to my other frustration about the Olympics. I used to love to play sports (except baseball). Watching other people play sports, though, is just boring! The Olympics does have some sports that are interesting and unusual enough that I do enjoy watching them on TV (especially figure skating), but the Opening Ceremonies is not one of them.

I'll feel better and write happier after my thyroid problem is solved.

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My DVR has developed an aversion to next Thursday, just like it did to that Wednesday last month when it wouldn't display any digital TV guide data at all! Trying to watch TV without a clue what's on is very frustrating! I really hope that my TiVo is installed by Thursday so that I don't have to contend with the piece of junk that Comcast fobbed off on me!

I got an email yesterday about the Shorty awards (awards for people who tweet on Twitter), and one of the categories was about the most helpful service tweeters, and they listed someone from Comcast. I've been tweeting to her about my many, many problems with Comcast. We'll see if she's actually helpful. Nobody else at Comcast is actually helpful! They are polite, and say things that make you think they're trying to help, but 99.9% of the time, they don't do anything to help!

If you're looking for TV service, do NOT choose Comcast! They haven't delivered what they promised in any one month of the over three years I've had service with them, but they've charged full price for the pitiful excuse for service, and even managed to find ways to get me to have to pay even more than I agreed to pay for what they're not delivering! As I've said many times, if I could get any other TV service here, I would've switched within the first two days of "service." At the moment, I'm currently hoping that having a TiVo can eliminate them to a greater extent. I do know that it's possible to watch some shows with TiVo via the internet, and I'm going to do everything in my power to eliminate all but the most basic service from Comcast.

To be fair, their internet service seems OK, but overpriced.

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SyFy will be having some good daytime programming on all next week! Monday will bring us V, Tuesday they're showing Joan of Arcadia, Wednesday it's Haunted (with Matthew Fox--check out part of his famous Lost tattoo!), Thursday brings First Wave, and Friday we have Sanctuary.

Most of the shows that have been showing new episodes did their season finales last week. Of course, there's still Lost on Tuesday, which is almost worth not having new episodes of everything else. The Big Bang Theory and Castle might or might not be new. My digital TV Guide says there's no information available (as usual). There's a new Human Target on Wednesday and The Deep End and Past Life on Thursday (they're new shows and don't have anything to rerun). I haven't seen The Deep End at all yet because there were other things I wanted to see more, but I have it marked to record on my cruddy DVR and with any luck, I'll actually record it on my TiVo. Human Target and Past Life are excellent new shows and I heartily recommend them! There's one show that showed part one of their finale last week and will be finishing it this week. Thanks to the brain fog caused by the hypothyroidism, I can't remember which one. Aren't I helpful?

I'll be so glad when the drug stores can get my medicine again! I hate feeling this way!

Have a fabulous weekend, and there will be a new episode of Legend of the Seeker on Sunday night!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

The World Has Turned to Crud!

As some of you may know, I have an underactive thyroid, and have been talking about it lately. Partly because January was Thyroid Awareness Month, and partly because the FDA and the drug companies have been having a fight over a lot of things that seem to be headed toward harming patients with hypothyroidism, while making more money for the drug companies.

The formulation of my medicine (Armor Thyroid) was changed at the beginning of last year, and although it still has the same amount of active drug, the filler hinders absorption rather than aiding it like the previous formulation did. They also added a thin film covering each individual tablet, rendering it even more difficult to absorb (I think--the coating makes it almost impossible to crush, so I think it hinders digestion and absorption).

So, anyway, for more than a year, I've effectively been taking less of the medicine that I need, and more and more hypothyroid symptoms have appeared. Here's the list so far:

  • Often cold
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Rising Cholesterol
  • Bizarre & debilitating reaction to exercise
  • Thinning outer edges of eyebrows
  • Ridged fingernails
  • Dry hair
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Air hunger (gasping for air)
  • Swelling/edema/puffiness
  • Internal ear itching
  • Ringing in ears
  • Joint pain
  • Tightness and soreness of throat
  • Muscle pain
  • Allergies
  • Low energy/stamina
  • Long recovery after activity
  • Brain fog
And last night, I finally slid into depression.

To be fair, I had a lot of things go wrong, both for me and for friends, but I suspect that I'd be dealing with it all in a much more constructive way without the under controlled hypothyroidism.

First of all, I recounted an experience on my blog, and a family member seems to have misunderstood what I wrote, and has become upset with me. I think I've been forgiven, but now I'm upset about it anyway. I never meant this blog to harm anyone, even if it was just to upset them.

I paid my Comcast bill on the 4th of this month. I had spoken to a supervisor there, who said that the bill was $58 (I'm rounding off) and because of my complaint, he was taking off $15. 98, for a total of about for about $42. I actually paid more than that, but that's not the problem.

Last night, I was watching TV, and the screen suddenly went black, there was a long pause, and the screen said that my DVR was NOT AUTHORIZED, and told me to call a number to get service. I did call the number, and by the time I got someone on the phone, the picture had come back on. Just another of the dozens of malfunctions this piece of junk they gave me has done. I complained (again) and insisted that they make a note of the complaint. I was told that I could make an appointment and have a repairman come out and swap my DVR for a new one. They like this because they normally charge a hefty fee to do that, although because of the agreement the apartment place has with them they can't do that with me. I explained that because the box was such a piece of crud that I had bought a TiVo and was expecting delivery any day.

But before I got a chance to speak to someone, the automated system informed me that I was overdue on my payment, and that I owe them $168 and change.

The payment to them hasn't posted to my checking account, at least not yet, but for some reason there are a lot of payments and charges to my debit card that haven't posted, and I don't know why.

Comcast has done this to me at least twice before. If you make a payment and they don't collect it or post it to your account, they can charge a late fee, and if they can keep you from noticing that they have prevented you from paying it, they can turn off your service and then charge a lot of money to restore service. It's a dishonest way of making more money for them.

I hate Comcast!

So, now I have to figure out what happened, and get that straightened out.

While I was checking my checking account, I found out that a lot of charges to my account haven't been made yet, and I really have to spend some time and balance my checkbook and double check everything. Until I do that, I won't know for sure, but it looks like I'm going to be out of money before I'm out of month.

Then I got a phone call from a friend who was telling me about someone else I know who is ill, and unable to work (mostly because of doctors). This person had a treatment that worked well for them and made it possible for them to work, but the doctors are now refusing to prescribe what works and are now prescribing "new" and "better" drugs that don't work. My guess is that they're doing this to help the drug companies even though it's severely harmed my friend, and on one occasion, nearly killed her. Because of it, my friend can no longer work and had applied for disability. They just found out that the disability has been denied because there are now "new" and "better" drugs that the people who evaluated the case are sure will solve all the problems. The "new" and "better" drugs are the cause of not being able to work.

I hate the American medical system!

The other news is that a friend owns the copyright to a creative work that he just learned someone else has published in Germany. And guess what? You can buy it through an American distributor on Amazon!

He knows this because the distributer called the copyright holder to ask if it was possible to dub the film in English so the distributer could make money selling it in the US! The film was originally in English.

There are lots of complicated legal issues, so I really can't talk about it here, but I'm really upset about it! A lot of money and effort went into this work, and the people involved should be getting money back on it's publication, and instead, they're being asked to help someone rob them of potential profits!

And I had a doctors appointment this morning for which I overslept, and woke up in time to pull on some clothes and rush to keep the appointment in time. I sat there for more than an hour before I was able to find out that the doctor was needed at the hospital for some kind of emergency, and had supposedly called all the patients with appointments this morning to cancel and reschedule. I wasn't one of the people called.

I really wanted to see her to get a written prescription for the thyroid medicine. I only have enough medicine to last until Monday, and I really need to get some more. I already am not taking enough, and it's bad. Taking none is not a good option!

CVS hasn't had it for two months, and I wanted the option to get it from another pharmacy, or to order it from Canada if all else fails.

The drug companies and the FDA have been staging a Chinese fire drill to try to get patients to take a more expensive medicine. The medicine I take has been on the market since 50 years before there was an FDA with no side effects or problems. It's much safer, having been proved in use for over 100 years than the new drugs, which I've tried and don't work. The manufacturers have taken it off the market for a while, and they're insisting it's because of the FDA, who are insisting that the drug companies go through testing as if it were a new drug! FDA says that, yes, they do want all this testing, but that the drug companies are just making all these problems and it's their fault!

The medicine they're trying to get people to switch to (Synthroid, etc) is really ineffective at doing anything other than making the blood tests come out right, but not really solving any symptoms! So they can claim they fixed the problem, but leave you still sick, and in need of other (expensive) medicines to fix all the problems that Synthroid doesn't fix, but natural desiccated thyroid does.

I hate the American medical system!

Because of the phone calls last night and checking my Comcast account and checking account online last night, I didn't get to sleep until 4 am, plus I was up and out by 10 am, so I'm really short on sleep.

I'm also really disgusted with everyone and everything, I feel bad, and don't seem to be able to do anything to straighten things out. So, you can officially add depression to the list of symptoms that the hypothyroidism is causing.

Maybe I'll try to catch up on my sleep. Now there's an "I'm depressed" statement if I ever heard one.

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There's a new Burn Notice on USA tonight! I'll be lucky if I can see it on my malfunctioning DVR.

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For all you knitters out there, The Yarn Harlot has put up a post with a link to a sign-up sheet for the Knitting Olympics. Check it out!

I hope you're having a better week than I am! Don't worry if you don't hear from me in a while.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Welcome to Stupidity

Armor Thyroid (which is a medicine I take for hypothyroidism) was reformulated just a bit more than a year ago. Then they quit making it altogether.

I have just a little of it left, and if I can't get some soon, I will have to go without the medicine I need.

The reformulation of the medicine included changing the sugar filler for cellulose, and that might sound like a good thing, but it isn't. The tiny amount of sugar allowed many people who took it to put it under their tongue and absorb it sublingually. The new filler makes that impossible, and manages to keep the medicine from being absorbed as well. In addition to that, although I haven't found anybody who has mentioned this on line, there seems to be a very thin film covering the actual tablet. They don't make pills in the strength I need, so I have to resort to cutting pills in half. I used to be able to do that with just the tiniest bit of crumbling, but now when I do that, the two halves stick together and I have to yank them apart because they're still fastened together by the coating on the tablet. That has got to affect the ability to absorb the medicine.

What all this means is that although I'm taking the same amount that I was (according to the amount stated on the bottle), I'm not able to get all the medicine that's in the pill. So, over the past year, I've been getting too little thyroid medicine, and I've been like a clock that's running down.

Today, I hit the point where I just can't think straight anymore. I want to do things, but get distracted, can't make decisions, don't know what to do, have no ambition.

I have an appointment Thursday to see the doctor who took all those tests last month to find out how the tests came out, and what can be done.

The Armor Thyroid people have said that they will be going back to their former formulation, and that it will be available soon. In fact, it should be available now. But at this point, it's not. Neither is another brand (Naturethroid) that is the same as the original Armor formulation and which was shipped on the 28th of December from the manufacturer. I know that it takes a while. The drug goes from the manufacturer to the distributer to the drug store distributer to the individual drug store.

Whatever happens, I am going to try to get a written prescription so that I can call around and find a drug store that actually has the medicine. If worst comes to worst, maybe I can get it from Canada.

And in the meantime, I may not put up as many posts, and you've probably noticed that my posts have been less and less interesting over time.

I'm sorry. Hopefully, I'll be feeling better soon and will do better.

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I competed in the Knitting Olympics four years ago, and it was fun, even though I didn't finish my project on time! The Yarn Harlot is running it again in a very low-key way, and I have put up a comment on her blog saying that I'll compete, but I don't have a clue what I'll knit (see brain fog above).

I also want to enter the Ravelympics, but am having lots of trouble trying to decide what to make for that. The WIP Dancing event (called WIP Wrestling in the last Summer Ravelympics) sounds like a good candidate.

Just thinking about the Knitting Olympics reminds me of four years ago, when I was working on preliminary planning for Fade Out, a science fiction movie that just kind of fell apart, and never happened. I still have the script for it around here somewhere.

I need more medicine. I'm rambling. On to another topic!

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All last week, the news people were going crazy over the weather situation here. Local channels preempted regular programming and had people standing around, talking about snow for hours! There was some mention of a few snow flurries that they (then) expected today and tomorrow.

Well, now that today is here, it has suddenly changed from "a few snow flurries" to "a Winter Weather Advisory!" They've been predicting something like another 20 inches!

All this was supposed to start around noon today.

Nobody told Mother Nature.

Right around noon, the sun came almost completely out from behind the clouds, and it was sunny enough that I wore my sunglasses, and could see shadows. It's about 5 pm now, and so far, not a flake has fallen.

That's not a complaint. There's about 20 inches of snow already on the ground, and it's piled up way over my head in the places it's been plowed. Here's hoping that the weather people are totally wrong about this snow!

I did take photos of the last snowfall, and as soon as I get the energy to get the photos out of my camera and into my computer, I'll put them up here. See info on brain fog above.

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Lost is on tonight! ABC will be showing the second half to the two hours they showed last week, and following it with a new one hour episode!

There's also a brand new show on called Past Life on Fox. I don't know much about it, but I feel sorry for it that it's on Fox, a network that likes to spend money putting shows on so that it can kill the shows as soon as they develop a fan base.

And, of course, a new episode of White Collar.

I'm going to collapse for a while and try to drum up enough energy to at least be able to think a little. Maybe even have dinner.

Hope you're feeling much better than I am!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ignorance and Possum Fur

I met Franklin over the internet by reading his blog, The Panopticon, a while ago because he's a friend of The Yarn Harlot, and she talks about him from time to time. He's as funny as Steph is, and a delight to read. If you don't read his blog and you're a fiberartist, you should!

Yesterday, I checked Google Reader and he had a new post up, which I enjoyed, commented upon, and checked off the little block that said to email other comments to me.

Was I in for a surprise!

I got one of the comments from a woman who obviously is totally uninformed (or possibly misinformed) on the subject she was commenting on. Her lack of understanding was particularly disturbing, especially since I've heard this misinformed opinion before and I just can't forget the whole thing.

First of all, here is the specific post I'm talking about. Please go there and read it (unless you've lost interest already, in which case, skip this whole post). If you're a fiberartist, you'll find it funny!

Franklin deleted the offending comment, but since it was emailed to me, I have the text of it, which follows:

Socks made out of a dead animal? Really? Personally I think that THAT is what's disgusting, not the creature in the photograph.

And shame on all the people calling an animal ugly. It looks as it is meant to look, as do you. What a horrid thing to say about an animal with no voice of its own.

If those socks were mine I wouldn't be able to even look at them without thinking of a creature dying in a trap. Wherever you stand on the necessity of killing them, it certainly should never be something to be celebrated, or even dismissed so callously in favour of gushing about how soft and pretty the dead animal's hair is now that it's been turned into socks for you.

This would be less disturbing if I hadn't heard this viewpoint at least once before. I'd like to respond to the person who commented (who is nameless, and has no available email address now due to the fact that Franklin deleted it) when he posted the following comment:

Hi, smaytch. Disagreeing with my point of view is fine - I have no problem with that. Insulting my readers (and me) under the guise of taking what you consider to be a moral high road is not. I've only deleted one comment in the years I've been blogging. Now yours makes two. Keep a civil tone or go elsewhere. Thank you.
The parts I find disturbing is the repeated theme of "dead animals" and the lack of any understanding of what was talked about.

Here's what I'd like to say to the author of that comment:

If you've ever brushed or combed your hair, or gotten a haircut, by your reasoning, you should be dead! And if you have a cat or dog and you've ever brushed their coat to get rid of excess fur, you've been as cruel to them as these animals have had to endure. Yes, I know that getting a haircut is considered a fate worse than death by many two-year-old humans, but it really isn't.

Most animals who contribute "fur" for yarn have the shed fiber combed or brushed from their coats. Some of them, especially sheep, who have had shedding bred out of them, are sheared. They probably consider it as traumatic as a two-year-old, but it doesn't really hurt them. In fact, many people keep rabbits as pets and for their fur, and the process is called "rooing", where the person runs their fingers through the fur to remove what has been shed. Most rabbits that are kept this way will try to get into your lap to have you remove the excess fur because it feels good, and they like to be petted.

"Fur," in this context is "Protein fiber from an animal other than a sheep." Sheep produce wool, not fur, and it is usually removed by shearing rather than rooing, although some of the older breeds can be rood. In this context, "fur" is not a pelt, it's just fiber!

By the way, this doesn't apply to this particular sock yarn, which is produced commercially, but if you ask a spinner about the fiber content of a sweater or other garment, you'll probably get back not only what kind of fiber it is (as in wool, rabbit fur, etc), but the name of the particular animal it came from. Example: "Is that wool?" "Yes from a corridale sheep named Flapjack!"

I have a bag of wool waiting for me to spin it at the moment, and the person who grew the sheep not only sent me the wool, but the sheep's name (Daisy).

In the future, please find out what people are talking about before commenting on it and revealing your ignorance!

For any of you who had the misguided idea that knitters were in any way harming animals, you're wrong about that!

I used to have some friends who lived in New Zealand and raised sheep. Those sheep were allowed to roam free for the most part, and live the life they would have had in the wild, while being protected from predators and had someone checking to make sure they had enough food, and stayed healthy, got their shots, got rid of parasites, helped with lambing, etc, and generally took care of them. Once a year, they were shorn, which was necessary to keep them cool in the summer since shedding has been bred out of them. What's so bad for the sheep about that? I'm sure they were as happy about getting shots as two year old kids are, but not taking care of them would be even more cruel.

I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure that ignorant people get educated about my chosen pass-time. So, non-knitters please read!

And for all you knitters out there, please step on this attitude wherever you find it, and consider it your job to let people know that we really are not harming animals.

Happy Birthday, Lynn!

Happy Birthday, Lynn!

You're the best sister ever!

I'm glad I caught you to say "Happy Birthday!" on the phone, but I'm sorry that you have to go to work today! May it be one of the nicest workdays you've ever had!

*************************

I promised John some photos of all the snow, so I need to go out and take them real soon now, while there's some light.

**********************

Legend of the Seeker tonight on the CW!

Hope you've been having a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Emergency Alert!

Well, all this snow, on top of the disaster in Haiti has inspired me to talk about an emergency kit. There are a large number of people in the area who are without power.

The apartment building I live in is for older people on limited budgets and for handicapped people. They provide very nice living conditions at a percentage of income. They also supply various events for tenants, such as an emergency plan meeting a while ago, along with a basic emergency kit. They stressed that the kit should be somewhere like the closet next to the front door. They said "it should be in a place where you can grab it as you escape."

I suspect that it's not practical to keep all of it there all the time. I suspect that one emergency kit with an extra bag or backpack would be good if you (for instance) keep all your medications in a bag so that you can grab the bag and stuff it into the bigger bag as you flee. And have several more convenient points where other parts of the finished kit are stored so it can be actually assembled very quickly.

The kit they supplied is very nice, but is only the beginning of what I would really need. I've been meaning to update it, but haven't gotten around to it. So, I though about looking up the kinds of things that I should keep in that kit, and I found a website with a great list of stuff for a kit, plus lots of other points that I hadn't thought of.

They mention a flashlight and extra batteries, but there are hand cranked flashlights available, and they might be helpful longer than one that uses batteries. And of course, you'll want a sturdy bag or other container that's easy to carry.

Actually, I think that all this would be too much for me to carry, but even just some of the most basic items would be a big improvement over nothing.

Please do explore the whole site. There are lots of links on the page that give you other helpful information.

Anyway, spend some time to think about this and assemble a workable emergency kit.

...And More Snow!

I woke up for a short while around 8 this morning, and there was no snow coming down.

At 11, when I woke up again, there was snow falling, but there didn't seem to be much accumulation since my previous check.

The local TV people have preempted all their regular programming, and they have news and weather people deployed all over the area with yardsticks and other measuring equipment saying things like "Wow! Look at all that snow!" and making and throwing snowballs or trying to play with toy trucks in the snow.

They've been telling people that the Potomac Mills Mall is open, but that most of the stores in the mall are closed, giving schedules of when various stores will be open, and then telling everybody to stay home.

They've been broadcasting images of plows and salt trucks at work and interviewing their drivers. We got to see an organized and previously scheduled snowball fight, plus an impromptu igloo built by a news crew. And, if you want to get on TV today, all you have to do is get stuck in the snow with a 4 wheel drive vehicle! There are lots of dummies who did just that, and had their stupidity proclaimed on network TV!

There are also lots of gratuitous shots of the Capitol building with snow falling in the front of it, too. Suspiciously, the ones I saw showed a sunny Capitol with no snow on it behind the snow that was falling. I suspect something underhanded.

At least it's better than watching snow fall at the Vienna Metro Station for a half hour, like we got to do last night!

In case you haven't figured it out yet, there's lots of snow around at the moment! One of the people on Twitter is calling it the Snowpocalypse!

The person on TV near Potomac Mills Mall (in front of Silver Diner, which is giving 25% off to anyone who braves the snow to eat there today) measured 21 inches of snow, and she said that there is an icy coating under that, which makes it an even deeper total snowfall. It looks like a bit less than that here, but it's hard to tell, because although the snow was wet, heavy big flakes for part of yesterday, it's switched back to the light, tiny, cold flakes that it started with, and it's drifting. A lot! Not to mention the areas that have been plowed.

The guy who was hired to plow the parking lot at my apartment building really was taking his job seriously last night. He plowed non-stop up until somewhere between 2 and 3 am today, at which point, he apparently went home to take a nap. Twelve hours and about nine inches later, he's back, hard at work.

The people who own the cars parked in front will have a lot of work clearing them off, once the snow stops and they want to go somewhere. One poor person with a compact car will have the major obstacle of finding his car before he can even think about clearing it out! It's at a point where the car itself is not visible anywhere, it just looks like a snow drift.

John called last night and requested that I post photos of all the snow. I took some photos earlier, but they're really bad. The snow has stuck to my windows and frozen there, so the camera wants to focus on that, rather than on the scene outside. And the ones where it is focused outside, the snow on the windows obstructs the view so much that they're not clear or easy to see.


This is a photo from the 19th of December, but it looks almost the same out there from time to time today. The difference is that there isn't a light covering of snow over my window.

I'll take photos once the snow stops and I can get out to take them without the obstruction of the snow on the windows.

********************************

John called last night in a panic wanting to know what was on TV last night! He checked my blog, and didn't see anything about the TV schedule! Sorry John!

Tonight, on BBC in America, there will be a Doctor Who episode, and two Demon episodes, followed tomorrow night by two Doctor Who specials, Planet of the Dead, and Waters of Mars.

Tonight, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone will be on ABC.

The Legend of the Seeker will be on the CW (here) Sunday night, one rerun (your last chance to see Jolene Blaylock on LotS) followed by a new episode.

Pretty pathetic, isn't it?

To liven things up, you can check out an article on io9 about Dollhouse.

*****************************

Ravelry has it's Ravelympics reving up, ready to go at the beginning of the Olympics.

The person who inspired the Ravelympics with her Knitting Olympics, The Yarn Harlot, has been deluged with questions about her Knitting Olympics, and whether she's going to have them this time. You can read her answer and get the info here (scroll down).

Make your decisions and pick your teams and sign up. And make sure you have yarn on hand to cast on during the opening ceremonies!

I'm going back to the window to check the progress of the snow.

Have a wonderful weekend, and I hope you don't get snowed in!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Snow!

The only topic that anyone who lives around here (the DC area) is talking about is SNOW! One of the local stations has preempted their regular programming and is just talking about SNOW!

The snow around here started around noon (apparently earlier in Fairfax, because my friend, Nancy, has a lot more snow on the ground than I do here), and it's been going strong ever since. Until about 4 pm, not much of it was actually sticking to the ground, it was just making things damp. The cars were covered first, and now it's starting to get to the point that you can't see the ground through it. Maybe the ground was just colder in Fairfax.

We're supposed to have about a foot of it today, and more tomorrow! Maybe lots more!

They said it would be another wet, warm, heavy snow, but so far the flakes have been tiny and light. The people on TV are talking about drifting, and the kind of snow that's coming down makes that likely.

So far, this story is pretty boring.

The fun started yesterday, when I went to Safeway.

The first clue that something was up was that there were NO shopping carts out in front! The store was jammed, and there was almost no milk (just a few containers of no fat) in the store. I didn't check the bread, but that was probably low, too. It was difficult shopping without a cart. V8 is hard to hold onto when you've got your arms full of groceries! I got 4 cans of Campbells chunky soup in chicken broccolli cheese flavor for only $5 on sale, though. It seemed like just what I want while watching the snow fall.

Still pretty boring, huh?

************************************

Well, there's not really much of anything else I have to say today. I just wanted to let people know that I'm still alive.

Have a great snow!

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