RL Sucks.

I will therefore provide no more commentary on it in this space. It will hereafter return to its original intention: my SECOND life.



One Twenty-five, Eleven, Eighten, Fifty, and Two Ninety Six

Sometimes it seems numbers are the most important things in our lives. For example, it has been about seven weeks since I last posted here. Much has happened in the intervening fifty-one days, but to those who might be reading this now, the passage of the months and days and weeks and minutes of my own life count for little. So it goes. My last post here was July 10. John officially retired from the Army as of August 1. He has applied for numerous jobs, but has so far not gone on a single interview. He's been concentrating first on organizing our finances in the light of drastically reduced income (and also apparently to make sure he has an =exact= figure to tell he me how much money I spent in the 18 months we were apart), and second working on the house. So far he has completely ripped off the back deck and is in the process or rebuilding it at about 1/3 its original size (rather like our finances, come to think of it). He had the house hydro-blasted in preparation for painting. (We've had the house just over a year now, and we've ALMOST agreed on a color scheme: white with ocean blue trim.) He and his father are going to install gutters on the house as well. I have some gardening to do in the area where the big deck used to be, and I'm thinking seriously of doing primarily an herb garden. I like the shape (half-moon) and the proximity to the kitchen door. Sheryl has offered to give me cuttings and plants from her own, quite healthy herb garden to get started. What I really need, though, is dirt. Lots of gravel and rocks, not much dirt there at present. I also need to pull up a bunch of weeds and a few day lilies to make room for more useful vegetation.

I started my job as an instructional aide, working with the kindergarten literacy program at the local elementary school. I like the people I am working with and the kids are a constant delight. The job pays minimum wage plus fifty cents extra per hour because I am a certified paraprofessional. WTF? I have tried to be pragmatic about the salary - $7.75 per hour is $7.75 per hour more than I have been earning for the past three years that I haven't had a job. I work with two other aides who are good people (the BOW is the second grade team - she was text-messaging at the seminar the principal sent us to on the first day of work, and didn't show up for the second day since the students were not there, but for some reason STILL has a job... but then, I am not an administrator, and for minimum wage, I don't give much of a shit what anyone else is doing as long as it doesn't impact what I have to do). The teaching time is fascinating - we tested the kindergarteners last week to see where they need to be placed in the reading program. Tremendous disparity shows up immediately - some know how to read independently, some can't even name the letters of the alphabet. It has been wonderful to get to know the children and to try to see how their busy minds work. That's the good part of the job.

The less good part of the job involves "duties" - the aides are responsible for the children in the mornings - getting them off the bus, lined up and ready for assembly, then into the classroom. Then the aides have recess and lunch duty. Recess and lunch have so far been the most problematic. The teachers bring them to the back door and let them go. Five classes of about 25 students in each class. That's a hundred twenty five four and five year olds running around on an aging wooden playset, with THREE aides to keep them safe. Then we have to get them to line up in alphabetical order for lunch (because the school secretary takes everyone's lunch money each morning and writes down who paid and then manually ticks off the names of the kids as they go through and get their hot lunch), separate the cold lunch from the hot lunch kids, take them into the cafeteria and monitor the getting of lunches, seating, eating, dumping of trash, and then lining up to go back to class. The ratio of 125:3 seems insane to me... especially when you consider that we're earning minimum wage.

Speaking of minimum wage, I got my first paycheck on Friday. I labored as aforedescribed, and took home Two Hundred Ninety-six Dollars. That will cover two weeks' of groceries, and very little else. So again, I must remind myself, that's $296 I didn't get when I was unemployed.

Since school started, I have been on my feet for nearly seven hours a day. This has served to illustrate very graphically and painfully that my current selection of footwear is inadequate for such a job. The first week I tried a different pair of shoes each day, and wound up with a different set of blisters, spots rubbed raw, and footaches each day. The worst was a pair of my old work shoes - flat closed shoes which were perfect for working at a law firm... considering that I sat at a desk most of the day and kicked off whatever shoes whenever possible. I realize I spend most of my time unshod. This is not an option at the school, because I am actually moving almost the entire day. By 2PM, I could barely walk, every nerve in my feet were shrieking. The closed shoes came off as soon as I was out of the building - I rode my bike home barefoot, even. Not the best idea, generally, but totally necessary in this instance. That pair of shoes did not make it back inside the house even, they detoured directly to the trash can. I had been using a pair of John's old running shoes as my own sneakers for at least two years - I got astonishing blisters from THEM even, when I had to wear them all day. Apparently John's feet are narrower than mine, and the insole cut into the outside edge of the ball of my feet and my pinky toe.

I finally resorted to a pair of white walking shoe/sneakers from the back of my closet, one of which Samwise had chewed up when he was still a puppy. I wore those most of last week. At least I wasn't hobbling by noon.

I ordered a new pair of shoes through Amazon.com, at the same time I ordered a book required for my lone college class this term. The shoes are Propet brand, Mary Jane style walking shoes. They're not remotely sexy, but my feet are happy. WHich brings me to the next numbers.... I used to wear a size 9.5, but started wearing size ten some years ago. Lately, size 10.5 has been so comfortable, I've started buying size elevens. I've won several other pairs of shoes on ebay over the last few days - Born, Dansko, and Ecco - all brands I know my feet like.

The next number is 18... I started off the school year barely able to squeeze into my size 18 pants, but between riding the bike everywhere I can and all the walking on my job, I wore a pair of size sixteen jeans on Friday. Happy dance!! I hope this particular downward trend continues.

I am tired of numbers now. I want a nap.



In case you were wondering...

This is what I've been up to lately:

3. A patient suffering from hypertension may receive drugs that decrease the heart's output, dilate arterioles, or increase urine production. In each case, how would the drug treatment help relieve hypertension? Diane
Hypertension is elevated blood pressure, which can result from or is contributed to by many different factors. Essential or primary hypertension is commonly caused or exacerbated by poor dietary choices and/or a sedentary lifestyle which usually results in overweight. In its simplest terms, increase body mass means increased workload on the heart to get the blood where it needs to go. Secondary hypertension results from other health problems or medications, though lifestyle is still usually a contributing factor. Because high blood pressure contributes to stroke, heart attack or failure, and kidney failure among other problems (p177), doctors tend to try to get it under control as quickly as possible.
There are five basic types of medications for treating blood pressure: diuretics, beta blockers, ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor antagonists, and calcium channel blockers (www.healthsquare.com/hbp5.htm). Each medication acts differently within the body to help lower blood pressure, and some act than one way.
Medications that “decrease the heart’s output” generally fall into the classification of beta blockers (which block epinephrine and norepinephrine, and cause relaxation of smooth cardiac muscles), and some of the older calcium channel blockers (which block the entry of calcium into the heart muscles thereby slowing contractions). They actually decrease the force of heart’s contractions which in turn pumps less blood into the arteries. Lower volume of blood in the vessels reduces the pressure on them.
Medications that “dilate arterioles” are ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors, newer calcium channel blockers, ARBs (angiotensin-receptor blockers), direct-acting vasodilators. The kidneys secrete rennin which produces angiotensin I, which is then converted to angiotensin II which causes contraction of the muscles around the blood vessels and stimulates production of the hormone adrenal (which also raises blood pressure). The renin-angiotensin I-angiotensin II cycle is referred to as the RAA system. ACEs limits the body’s production of angiotensin II. ACE medications prevent angiotensin I from converting to angiotensin II; ARBs prevent the arterioles (small blood vessels) from receiving the angiotensin II) (http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=18025 ). Calcium-channel blockers and the direct vasodilator hydralazine relax the smooth muscles in the arteries to prevent them from constricting (http://www.cvpharmacology.com/vasodilator/vasodilators.htm ). By preventing vascular constriction or by causing the blood vessels to expand, the blood can travel more freely through them which decreases blood pressure.
Diuretics “increase urine production” by increasing the kidney’s secretion of sodium and water which decreases the volume of fluid in the bloodstream and therefore pressure on the blood vessels. There is less for the heart to have to pump and the arteries to carry, which eases the blood pressure. The diuretic has been in use the longest of all the anti-hypertensive agents, and has the largest body of research behind it (www.cardiologychannel.com/hypertension/pharm.shtml ), including recent studies. “The latest findings stem from a landmark investigation based at the UT School of Public Health, which in 2002 established that diuretics were “as good or better” than three other classes of medications for high blood pressure during a multi-center, randomized, double-blind, clinical trial. The investigation is called ALLHAT - Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial” (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080128165704.htm ).
Before prescribing any hypertension medication, doctors consider all contributing lifestyle factors and any other health issues to ensure best results with fewest side effects. The long-term effectiveness of any anti-hypertensive medication is limited by lifestyle issues. Medications will treat the symptoms (high blood pressure) but not the varied causes (obesity, lack of exercise, underlying heart problems, diabetes, etc.), so changes in diet and exercise levels are critical to controlling high blood pressure.

9. When Jason runs his marathon, what energy sources are going to be readily available for his muscle contraction? Where will the muscles of his legs get their steady energy supply? Would it make sense for him to take nutrients during the marathon? Diane

Lots to talk about on this one, since it covers pretty much the scope of cellular metabolism. But the short answer: the most readily available sources of energy will be ATP stored in the muscle cells. Unfortunately, that supplies energy for only about ten seconds, so the cells must begin to produce ATP from other sources including creatine phosphate (creatine-P), glycogen, glucose, and fatty acids (p130). Creatine-P provides less than a minute’s burst of high-energy, and then for the next 3-5 minutes, the cells draw on their store of glycogen which can be broken down anaerobically. The glucose can be drawn out without oxygen (which produces lactic acid). Since oxygen is not required, this is why you don’t usually start to breathe heavily until a few minutes after you start exercising.
Once the cell’s stored glycogen has been anaerobically processed into glucose, the steady, long-term energy supply will come from aerobically catabolized glucose, fatty acids, and other high-energy molecules (p.130).
Here I had to dig for answers, starting with Wikipedia. After 18-22 miles, many runners hit “the wall” – a feeling of overwhelming fatigue (a feeling many college students can relate to after two days of studying without sleep in preparation for exams!). Marathoners work hard at conditioning the muscles to work most efficiently for the longest period of time, but “hitting the wall” is nearly because the body can only store a certain amount of glycogen. Once that is used up, the cells start to draw on stored fat which is not as efficient an energy source as glycogen. (Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marathon_(sport)#During_the_race )
My first guess is that intake of some nutrients help the body work more efficiently, depending on the type and amount of nutrients consumed. The Wikipedia page on marathon running indicates that replacing salt along with water helps avoid excessive dilution of sodium in the blood (hyponatremia, article in Science Daily here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080109195002.htm ). Consuming high-concentrate carbohydrates with some potassium and sodium (anybody remember the sodium-potassium pump??) and sometimes caffeine, periodically throughout the race provides a quick energy source and helps minimize the impact of “hitting the wall.”
I found a really great article on “the wall” at Marathon & Beyond. If you’re interested in, it is at http://www.marathonandbeyond.com/choices/latta.htm and has a LOT of information presented in a very accessible fashion.


Some days....

... it is easy to blog, other days impossible. Tired. Just .... tired.



Ah, California



Busy Weekend!

Technically, it is already Monday where I am, but I shall proceed as though it were indeed still the week end. Though perhaps one's weekend should not be considered "over" until one arises and prepares for work. Since I am unemployed, that doesn't quite work... ah, well. My weekend never ends, it seems, so here I am at nearly 2 AM still at the computer. But I have apparently not downloaded the photos I took over the weekend, so you will have to wait for that, at least.

So. This weekend began with the weekly Steelhead dance on Friday, this one a joyous celebration of the arrival of Steelhead Boomtown! Lunar and Tensai have set aside a block of land in the very center of Boomtown for a forested area. Since the trees are not in yet, the dance was held in the center of the sim. I love the outdoor dances! Much fun and silliness, as is the norm in Steelhead. My contribution to the silliness factor was that, in addition to my regular outfit, I also donned an invisible exploding barrel and fashioned myself a flip title that said "Touch me to Make me go BOOM." To me it seemed quite appropriate for the official opening of Boomtown. A few people set me off, and the barrel seemed to explode itself randomly. THis was not nearly enough bang for my buck so I had to announce very loudly a few times that since nobody else was going to make me go boom, I had to touch myself. Which, of course, I did! Nice little boom, good flames, lots of smoke. Fun for me, not so much for my occasional dance partners. Augustus had surprised me by arriving in Harborside as I was doing some landscaping on my spare lot, and we walked to the dance together, though we didn't even dance one dance together. I danced with Lunar, he danced with Searra and Tanarian. I wandered off while the dance was still going on, and flew around Boomtown to see what had been done in the hours since my last inspection. I can't remember what I've already reported on... Augustus was apparently called away before I could return to the dance, but return I did once the crowd thinned. Tensai started dragging out weapons... always a good time!

On Saturday morning, I got an IM from the lovely and multi-talented Soliel Snook, who was preparing her display for a Home and Garden show. She invited me to take a look at her area before the show opened, and am I ever glad I took her up on the offer! The first thing she showed me was a new item - texture-changing vases and planters. I played with those for a while (and bought the big planter, it's the first thing you see when you walk in the treehouse front door right now), then she showed me the vegetable garden - a PARTICLE garden!! Now, I suppose this is not new technology, but this is the first time I'd seen the particle thingies used for anything other than a poofer. But Soliel (and the brilliant scripter Jomander Trefoil) put together the entire vegetable garden package... I =so= need this! Wish I could plant it IRL, too, but that's a different subject.

In addition to the particle vegetable garden, Soliel also had particle fields of flowers. They cover about a 10' square area; I'm not sure of the specifics, except that the flowers themselves are GORGEOUS, the rezzer is an ingeniously unobtrusive plant stake, and the fields of flowers produced are simply remarkable. Of these, I got the field of tulips, and what she terms "Monet's Garden" with several different spring flowers. I was enchanted by the idea and awed by the execution.... I promptly planted them on Max's land in Boomtown. Anyone who wants to see them can stop by the his land, at the NE corner of Boomtown. They're not technically on HIS land, since the rezzer is not effective on extremely uneven terrain; they are in the public land between Ms Hauptmann and Max, at the very base of the mountain. These rezzers impressed the heck out of me, especially considering that they use up only five prims, I believe. I think we need them ALL over Boomtown! I suggested that in addition to her happy Monet's Garden, she should do a Van Gogh set -- all blue irises except for ONE white. And she actually DIDN'T tell me to shut up and leave her alone! Nice lady!

I need to go back and get that vegetable garden before I run myself out of lindens again.

Later in the day, Searra and I went to the anniversary celebration of SteamSky City. Eventually made it to the dance, but didn't stay too long. Long enough to hear Caledon Independent Broadcasters DJ Wormser to play "You Remind Me of The Babe" from th Labyringht Soundtrack. before being lured away to an event that Ms. Snook was DJing... I can't tell you where it was or what it was for at this point, though I think there was artwork and library involved somehow. I wore a new BareRose outfit called "Lilith" ... 'twas an interesting set. I don't know if I took photos or not. The crowd was fun, the music was awesome.

I did something in the evening, but I'm too tired right now to remember WHAT.

Today was spent mostly in outworld activities. I made it inworld around suppertime, and Searra called to say hi and invite me to see her latest build - another airship fine tuned using her experience from the previous two! There was apparently a mad science thing going on in SteamSky City but I was not in the mood for a dance and the Baron (who sent ME a TP but not to Searra - bad boy!) was not responding to my IMs. So I stayed in the skies above Harborside, rezzing then accidentally deleting my indigo tent. Honestly, I think I dleted it at least eight times. But I think it's finally situated, with clouds on the bottom to disguise it when viewing from the ground. I spent too much time decorating, and it snow a very comfortable hangout.

Now nearly 230... listening to Putumayo mysic streaming... dogs are already sacked out... life as usual.

Hope your weekend was fun and that you're preapred for another MONDAY. That's the best I can do right nose!




Here because the computer apparently at my link to flickr. Beltane and Walpurgisnacht snapshots.

See more at the bottom of this post.