## More fun with encodings

On a Slack I’m on, there was a conversation wondering why so many websites disallow passwords with spaces, punctuation, “special” characters, and so on; shouldn’t they all be hashing the passwords rather than storing them in plain text anyway?

Yes, they should, but that’s not where the problem is. Once again, encodings become a problem.

## Backslide

So, whatever positive effect I’ve gotten from the nortriptyline isn’t enough to make up for my current baseline pain levels. At least I’m able to get out of bed again (unlike a week ago) but holy moly do I fall into agonizing pain after not doing a whole lot. This weekend I wasn’t even capable of doing my usual 3-to-5 miles of walking a day, and I’m thinking tomorrow I might end up having to take a bus or even a Lyft to work. Very frustrating.

Also, lately I’ve noticed that the extra weight of my iPad in my purse is taking its toll on me. I should probably switch back to using my backpack as my main conveyance; it’s heavier but at least it’s symmetrical and puts the stress on my back rather than my shoulder and neck.

On the plus side, I’ve finally gotten my CPAP working well enough for me. I ended up finding a decent video on how to adjust the nasal pillows and those have turned out to be much more comfortable, given a second chance. The face mask ends up being too disruptive for a bunch of reasons (the slightest movement makes it leak around the sides and I have no way of scratching my nose without hecking the fit up) and I somehow managed to lose the nasal mask (which was nearly as bad as the full mask anyway) so the fact that I’ve gotten the one I’m “supposed” to be using to work reliably and comfortably is nice.

I still feel like it disrupts my sleep somewhat, though. I hope that’s just a matter of something I Need to get used to. Hopefully I’ll eventually start getting reliable deep sleep on it once I’ve fully acclimated.

Anyway. Being up this late and typing a blog post isn’t exactly helping. But I figured an update was in order.

## Encodings are the worst

These past few weeks I seem to keep on running into issues where things have been really bad about handling character encodings.

Back in the day, encodings were an absolute nightmare. You had different 8-bit encodings for every language, each with a bunch of different ISO standards; a very commonly-used one is ISO-8859-1, aka Latin-1, which is basically the characters needed to render all of English and most of several Romance languages (although a bunch of stuff is missing), plus a little extra stuff for math, scientific notation (µ), and German (ß), as well as a bunch of miscellani which were generally useful.

Unfortunately, a lot of Internet standards decided to default to that, including HTML.

Note: There are some updates based on feedback at the very bottom.

## Shout-out to Lending Club!

A couple weeks ago I started getting 2FA emails from Lending Club (an online peer-to-peer broker for loans and investments thereof). 2FA is of course a good thing, but less good is when the 2FA emails are addressed to my dead name, rather than my current, legal name.

So, I forwarded it along with a complaint about what was wrong, and fully expected to be brushed off like most companies do. However, they actually responded amazingly, with an explanation of the problem, an apology for it, and a commitment to fix it!

To all the other companies I’ve experienced this issue with: this is the right way to respond.

Thank you for your patience while I took a deeper look into your inquiry. Please know that I was able to find out the reason why the emails you are receiving use your previous name when your current name listed on your account is [current name].

When our engineering team set up the notification emails for our two factor authentication security feature, the source that they used to pull investor data from was the credit reports at the time of account creation, rather than the name listed on the account currently. I do apologize for this and please know that your case has been escalated to our engineering team in the hopes of fixing this issue.

## Ongoing stuff

So, Friday I took a day off from my day job to go out to Quincy, WA to visit the Quincy Valley Historical Society and Museum, a farming museum which the AR startup is doing an app for. It was an interesting trip and I learned some stuff, although mostly we were there to guide the filming of greenscreen footage that’s going to be part of the app.

Quincy reminds me a lot of Las Cruces, where I spent a total of 8 years as a college and graduate student, only it’s even smaller and there’s no university.

Anyway, Friday night I didn’t sleep particularly well, then Saturday we drove back and after a brief nap I went to a local Twitch streamer meetup and met a bunch of people. Which was a good time and I made a bunch of contacts, but unfortunately the combination of that with the previous day meant I was already pretty much at my spoons limit.

Then Sunday, because of the dumpster fire that is Daylight Saving Time, all those dirty spoons got thrown into my garbage disposal.

## Places to follow my content

For folks who were following me on Patreon and don’t have an RSS reader, here are some alternate ways of following me:

• All my stuff gets automatically posted to Twitter, Tumblr, and Mastodon, although that’s not ideal because updates are really easy to miss on those places
• You can use IFTTT or Blogtrottr to get posts delivered by email (here’s a tutorial on IFTTT)
• There’s also the #site-updates channel on my Discord (which is also a fun place to hang out anyway)

But of course your life is a lot easier in general by just using a feed reader like feedly, The Old Reader, or Newsblur. Or if you have your own web hosting that can run PHP, you might consider running your own private Feed on Feeds instance!

## In which I finally stop using Patreon

So, hey, Patreon is a pretty popular site for funding the creative people you follow. A lot of people rely on Patreon as their primary source of income. More power to them if they do; it’s where everyone goes to do that sort of thing and it’s really enabled a lot of people to do what they love for a living.

But I just removed all my pledges and also my creator account. It’s not one thing in isolation that led me to do this, but a culmination of a lot of things (some big, some small) that had been frustrating and upsetting to me.

(Want to know where I’m accepting donations these days without reading a long missive? I’m on Ko-Fi for one-time donations and Liberapay for ongoing contributions.)

So hey, Publ now has a tagging system, so I’ve updated my site to show tags in a lot of places. I’m not sure if I should make some sort of tag explorer view or if it’s okay to just pivot between tags within a category listing. Insight or ideas would be most welcome.

What I want to do at some point is tag all of my comics with subject matter and characters, but that seems like a lot of work. I wonder if there’s a way to outsource that to other folks which doesn’t involve opening up my git repo to the world. Maybe I’ll build a simple tool which lets people suggest tags for entries which don’t have tags. Iunno.

## Treatment progress

On the nortriptylene front, I’m up to 20mg/day and it’s feeling fine. It hasn’t solved my fibromyalgia forever (and after a day of typing and whatnot I’m still in pain, and my pressure points are still indicative of fibro) but it’s helping me a lot all the same. An unsurprising-but-nice thing is that it’s also vastly reduced my anxiety, which isn’t too surprising since that’s one of the on-label uses of this medication that I’m technically taking off-label. Does that count as a side-effect?

On the CPAP front, I’ve switched back to the nasal mask and it’s actually working pretty okay for me. I think the machine has finally learned to reduce its pressure because I’m a lot more comfortable throughout the night, although I still end up waking up at around 4 AM and taking it off so I can scratch my nose. Still, I’m generally feeling a lot more refreshed in the morning. I just need to get in the habit of putting it back on after I wake up and take care of the itching.

Also my cats have gotten used to it, which is nice.

## Nortriptylene and CPAP progress

So I’ve been on nortriptylene for nearly two weeks now, and so far it’s feeling pretty promising. I’m still at the 10mg dose (I’m supposed to increase to 20 in a few days) and while it hasn’t completely solved my fibromyalgia so far (not that I’d expect it to), it’s definitely helped me out a lot.

In particular, while I still feel pain after a full day of work, it just feels like something that’s present and that tells me that it’s time to take a break from things, rather than putting me into extreme severe agony.

Basically I suspect this is what pain normally feels like to people who don’t have this disability!

I still have some level of fatigue in the morning (and much more later in the day) and I’m still needing to manage my spoons – that’s not something that is likely to ever go away – but even this early and at this low of a dose I feel like I’m heading in the right direction.

## CPAP and Nortiptyline

Only too late did I realize that trying to adjust to a CPAP machine while already adjusting to a brain medication (that has weird effects on sleep) means that I am once again doing things on hard mode. Oops.

So far I’ve had two nights with the CPAP. The first night I didn’t get any real amount of sleep while on it and ended up taking a nap after I “got up” in the morning. The second night I did a bit better when I stopped worrying about paying attention to my breathing, although that’s hard to do.

Probably the weirdest thing about a nasal CPAP mask is that if you open your mouth, the air gets forced out through it and causes a sort of reverse snore. And it feels really weird. So if I need to talk to a cat, for example, things go strange.

Anyway the lack of sleep has made me feel like I’ve gotten a pretty big setback with chronic pain stuff; the day before CPAP, I was feeling pretty good, and over the last two days my major chronic pain has come back all over and in a big way. I’d hold off on the CPAP for now except insurance will only pay for it if I average 4 hours per night over the next two months, and I feel like in the long term CPAP is much more important for my pain stuff than nortriptyline probably is.

If tonight doesn’t go better I’ll probably go without CPAP tomorrow night though, because I have to be in good shape pain-wise on Tuesday (since I have a couple of big tasks at work plus I’m getting a bunch of cavities filled in the afternoon).

## Nortriptylene day 4

Are these updates getting annoying? I figure that the point of having a blog is to be able to do bloggy stuff again, and if people only want to subscribe to Bigger Things they can subscribe to the category-specific feeds on my site or whatever. Or they can skip/skim these entries.

Anyway.

## Day 2 of Nortriptylene

I took my first dose Monday night, and I had some incredibly intense dreams, and I was very aware that I was dreaming but kept on switching between like six different parallel threads, and was also very aware of my various apnea events. I was sort of awake and asleep at the same time and wasn’t really sure what was a dream and what was reality.

All day Tuesday I was drowsy and in a fog, and did absolutely nothing with my day except basic things around my home. Fortunately, it was also a day off because of the snowpocalypse.

I was kind of worried that my second day on it would be much the same, but aside from feeling vaguely like I was stoned all morning, I made it to work just fine (although I was in sort of a zombie mode on my way there), and then during the day I actually had a fairly productive day. In particular, I finally looked into modernizing the lab’s website (which was originally running Movable Type, just like this one), and realized that a quick-ish path forward would be to use Publ. However, the lab’s site had a lot more hackiness with templates and layout than my own one did, and I quickly came to the conclusion that the best path forward would be to finally implement better support for pure-HTML entries – so I did.

So far I’m not finding any major reduction in my pain levels (and if anything I’m noticing the pain I do have much more acutely) but I mean I’m only at the starting taper dose.

I’m getting a couple of cavities filled tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to finding out how that interacts with this current mental state.

So, Seattle’s been basically shut down for most of the past, oh, week and change, thanks to the snow. People did overreact to the news of the snow (did they really need to stock up with a month’s worth of bread and milk?) but the various shutdowns do otherwise make sense; Seattle is very hilly and when it snows it gets icy and slippery. And some caution does make sense for having a nonperishable food supply, since power outages are a thing. The really remarkable thing is just how much snow we’ve gotten this year; most years we’ll get none or just a light dusting, or maybe we’ll get one or two snow days when it gets especially bad.

But anyway. Despite the shutdowns, my doctor’s office was still open today (thankfully, although unsurprisingly as they have an urgent care clinic so they make plans to stay open as much as possible). So I was able to do my appointment where I finally got to deal with my various medications for fibromyalgia (as well as finally getting a new prescription of estradiol).

## Sleep study results

I finally got the results of my sleep study. Well, partial results, anyway. In-home tests can find either obstructive or central apnea, and complex apneas appear as obstructive. So, unsurprisingly, it determined that I have obstructive apnea.

Anyway, the good news about this (and it’s all good news!) is that I’ll be getting a CPAP machine, and modern CPAP machines are small, lightweight, self-adjusting (no need for a separate titration!), and also provide ongoing diagnosis. So after two weeks of sleeping with it, I’ll know if I have complex or simple obstructive apnea, and either way the treatment is a CPAP so I don’t really care to split hairs about what the underlying problem is.

## Lua, why are you like this?

Okay so I like LÖVE for making games, and have used it for quite a few of them at this point.

I like that it gives me a bunch of useful primitives for making games, and then just gets out of my way. And I like that it has a simple build process where it isn’t too difficult to make a cross-platform build and continuous deployment system that also lets me do continuous deployment to itch.io or whatever.

And I also like that Lua is a fairly easy language to learn, with a simple syntax. But there’s a few things about it which are just baffling or annoying to me.

And I’m not talking about the 1-based arrays! (That’s annoying in a couple of situations but for the most part it doesn’t really matter, at least not to the extent that people make a big deal about it.)

## Shelving

When you are born, you are given a shelf to put things on. The shelf is angled away from the wall a little bit, but that’s okay, because the things you put on it are boxes and they don’t slide around too much.

But as you get older you’re given more things to put on the shelf. And one of them is a bit round.

## I have fibromyalgia.

So yeah. This explains a lot about my chronic pain issues – and a bunch of other things.

It explains my IBS and anxiety.

It explains my chemical sensitivity.

It explains my need to manage my “spoons.”

It explains why drinking alcohol makes me hurt all over.

And it also explains how I can move forward, and I’m actually already on the right track.

## Wrist diagnosis

Me: My wrists have been chronically sore for over 20 years and it’s basically everything except carpal tunnel syndrome.

Doctor: Maybe it’s arthritis?

Me: No, it doesn’t match the symptoms of arthritis, it’s some sort of chronic inflammation. Maybe there’s a structural issue that makes me extra prone to inflammation.

Doctor: Hmm. Well, let’s get a bunch of tests done, like x-rays and such.

Me: And soft-tissue scans?

Doctor: Sure.

Doctor: [orders a bunch of tests, including x-rays, but no soft-tissue scans]

Me: [does them, wonders what the point was]

Tests: [are for arthritis]

Doctor: You don’t have arthritis. But you do have signs of inflammation!

Me: You don’t say.

## Pronouns, correcting and moving on

When I finally came out as trans at work back in 2015, it took a little bit of time for my coworkers to get up to speed. Most of them were great at simply self-correcting and moving on. There were always a few people who would start to make excuses for how hard it was, though, and go on and on at length about it, citing the pronouns that they used for me when they first met me or whatever. This latter behavior is a bit irritating, but I eventually got some of them to stop.

At my current job, where I started out female-presenting but visibly trans to begin with, I’ve only had one coworker have any trouble with my pronouns, and she’s always been great at self-correcting and moving on, with no further comment. And that is exactly what I want.

Most of my friends have been great about it too. When I was using they/them (as a concession to “how hard it is”), most of my friends were good at either self-correcting or mutually-correcting each other. There would be a few holdouts, but none of them really turned out to be actually friends – they’d all turn out to have some deep-seated transphobic baggage that they refused to address, and I’d have to cut ties with them. Fortunately that was the vast minority. And much more recently when I realized that I definitely prefer she/her, but they/them is still fine, well, I still have the same friends who are still being supportive in the same way.

In particular, one of my oldest friends, who is now also my business partner, has been amazing at self-correcting, in a way that is apparent to others and gets others on board. And he’s even gone through a second phase of that when I did the they/them to she/her switch, which isn’t even that necessary but I so greatly appreciate that he makes the effort.

But there are certain people in my life who claim to want to be on board but keep on making excuses for why they can’t, and why it’s so hard for them, and eventually shift the blame onto me. And they are people that I can’t simply cut ties with.