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Health updates, mine and cat’s

fluffy’s health

My new doctor has already proven himself to be way, way better than my last doctor. He’s really diving into my records and gathering insight to confirm my suspicion of hEDS. Meanwhile he’s put me on muscle relaxants “as needed” and I was taking them a couple hours before bed for a few days and started to feel a lot better. But I haven’t been taking them for the past few days, and I’m feeling worse. Go figure. So, muscle tension is definitely a factor, which I think goes along with hEDS? Like, reducing my muscle tension gives my shitty connective tissue a better chance to actually heal.

I also finally got an appointment with a new dentist. It’s towards the end of September (I really should have gotten on this sooner, as I’m due for a cleaning in, like, a week) but I’m really optimistic about the new dentist; her intake form is incredibly inclusive regarding gender stuff (with an open-ended selection for pronouns, and gender checkboxes that include non-binary!) and neurodivergent things (questions about a whole bunch of dentist-specific anxiety triggers to avoid, whether a blanket or weighted vest helps, whether it’s okay to be lectured about dental health, etc.). Also, she’s a PoC. I’ve never had a dentist who wasn’t a white dude before, and maybe that explains why it’s always felt like dentists don’t care about privilege or diversity or, y'know, taking care to make people feel comfortable.

Werner’s health

Little dude is definitely slipping away more and more each day. By the rubric he’s probably past the point where I should consider euthanasia, but he doesn’t seem to be in pain and he’s enjoying pets/skritches/sitting with me/eating (especially stealing my food) so for now I’m going to just let it ride.

If he starts expressing pain I’ll have to make a tough choice, but for now he’s basically just getting progressively drunker and sleepier all the time (except when food’s involved). I really hope he just drifts off one time and never wakes up (although every time I check up on him he ends up waking up and gets excited about the prospect of food).

He’s having trouble staying steady while standing or walking, and Fiona’s started to interpret this as him being a lost kitten. She tries to pick him up by the scruff, even though he’s nearly as big as her, and he has none of it. So Fiona gets pretty confused by this.

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Night Court has a transphobia problem

I have fond memories of the show Night Court growing up. In particular, I have a fondness for the episode “Best of Friends”, which I’d remembered being a surprisingly progressive episode about trans issues.

I have been rewatching the entire series from the beginning, for the first time since the series ended in 1992, and “Best of Friends” was in fact surprisingly progressive for the era. It still had problems, though; it put the burden on the trans woman for having hurt Dan’s feelings, rather than on anyone else for not respecting her, and her new husband was seen as some sort of freak for daring to support her. But in the end, Dan more or less comes around and realizes that Charlene has done what’s right for her.

But oof, there is so much unnecessary, downright mean transphobia in the rest of the show. For example, in the episode “Hurricane,” there’s a few jokes about a baby being “transsexual” due to a miscommunication (which also involved Brent Spiner’s bumpkin character), there’s a common undercurrent of perpetrators wearing dresses for the sake of man-in-a-dress jokes, there’s some ridiculous gender-essentialism on display in “Bull Gets A Kid,” and in the episode “Rabid,” there’s a gag in which two Swedish women (of course) turn out that they “used to be men,” which they feel compelled to disclose in response to Dan saying he might have rabies — and them being transsexual is treated as far, far worse than said disease.

As a kid I remember a bunch of later-episode jokes about big burly men wailing that they are a “woman trapped in a man’s body” but I’d always chalked that up to 1990s edgelord humor, during a decade when every other episode of a sitcom would involve some joke about a woman being “really a man” or just generally being shitty. But no, this show ended up having it all the way throughout its entire run.

Sometimes I wish I could get the ear of the writers and producers of TV in this era and see how they feel about how they treated gender-diverse people.

And of course it’s not just the transphobia. In the first couple of seasons, this show is generally pretty gentle, and optimistic, and treats quirky people as the wonderful diversity of life in New York, but as time goes on, the humor just gets meaner and meaner. And even Harry Stone, perpetual boyscout and optimistic truth-and-beauty-seeker, joins in on the punching-down.

I’m about halfway done with the show, but I’m not sure if I want to finish it.

And just as I was writing this, the episode “Caught Red Handed,” which I was already not looking forward to due to some well-remembered blatant hypocrisy regarding sexual harassment, is making fun of feminism, with Christine going on a feminist rant, and then she gets pulled out of it — by a trans woman agreeing with her.

Some recollections of working in the games industry

From 2004 to 2005 I worked at a new Ubisoft studio. Technically it was “Guillemot Entertainment” at the time (before it was renamed to Longtail Studios, and then later moved to Halifax and became Ubisoft Halifax), but it was basically Ubisoft; we used Ubisoft corporate letterhead, our QA and publishing went through Ubisoft, our paychecks came from Ubisoft, and so on. And, most importantly, our studio head was Gérard Guillemot, one of the Guillemot brothers. Notably, Yves runs Ubisoft as a whole, and Michel ran Gameloft, which was (at the time) Ubisoft’s foray into mobile gaming.

Because it’s relevant to the current discussion around the games industry and its rampant toxicity, I have a few stories to share.

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Various updates

fluffy health

So, I had a very bad experience with my doctor with this latest chronic pain flare (and the short-term disability leave situation), and with encouragement from my therapist I am switching to a different doctor. The doctor I’m switching to specializes in LGBT healthcare (and apparently 10% of his patients are trans) and also has a specific interest in treating chronic conditions, which is what I need.

I’ve also gone back to my self-determined physical therapy regimen. You know, the one that my GP and the pain doc and physical therapist she referred me to all think will cause more injury, even though it’s always helped me in the past. So far it feels like I’m actually making progress on recovery.

Said regimen:

  • Frequent powerball sessions
  • Upper-body stretching and partial chin-ups using a chin-up bar
  • Playing DDR (okay I haven’t resumed that yet but I’ll probably be starting that again soon, and I’ll be streaming it when I do)
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Current goings-on

Still on disability leave, and still in considerable pain. I’m trying not to work too hard on things, but it’s hard not to do things.

For example, I worked on a song with my friends Ken and Huan-Hua for this week’s Song Fight!; we entered the “We Did Everything We Could” fight under the band name Richard Donner Party. It was a fun song to make. Fortunately I didn’t have to even so much as look at a guitar. Most of my work was vocals, light keyboard work, and editing.

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I am not having a great day

I got woken up at 7 AM by an onslaught of opportunistic vulture realtors trying to get my attention because my condo listing had expired, and it only went downhill from there.

There’s this hideous practice where if a housing listing expires or is pulled from the market, realtors go out of their way to try to get in touch with the owner with the hopes that they will be the person that the owner switches to. and they’re relentless and fucking entitled and have all sorts of clueless feedback for why my listing isn’t doing well and why I should dump my realtor and go with them, and they don’t care about my explanations about the actual problems and respond even more shittily if you ask them to stop or tell them why calling me at SEVEN IN THE MORNING is not appropriate (but of course they have so many reasons why it’s totally okay and even expected and why it’s justified or even my fault why they’re even contacting me?!), and at one point some of them were even calling my mom with the hopes that she’d be able to help out, somehow.

I don’t even know how they got her number, probably looking her up in the phone book by last name or something. She’s in New Mexico, and has nothing to do with my property.

So my mom’s (rightfully) freaking out to me about all the calls she’s getting too, and I tell her it’s totally fine to just tell them to fuck off, and then apparently some of them started calling my sister too? Which makes even less sense, she doesn’t even have the same last name as me anymore.

In the meantime, my realtor’s working on trying to get the listing back up and that takes way too long because the MLS is slow to respond and meanwhile I’m still having this gigantic fibro flare which the stress is NOT HELPING WITH, go figure. But she gets the listing updated and the calls stop. Whew.

After all that settled down I took a nap because this is already too much for me and I can’t even.

Then half an hour ago I woke up to find that Werner pooped in the bedroom, because he’s senile and has forgotten how the litter box works. Fine. I work on cleaning it up. Just after I’m finishing with that, he goes back into the bedroom and poops again, this time diarrhea. So I start cleaning that up. Then as I’m getting my carpet cleaner ready he goes into the living room and DIARRHEA POOPS AGAIN.

so yeah I’m not having a great day

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Short-term disability leave

Over the past couple weeks my pain has been flaring up again, driven especially by work stress. A few days ago I hit a breaking point and realized that this is something I need to actually take short-term disability leave for.

Fortunately, Moz has an extremely generous disability leave program, and management would much rather someone take it if necessary. So, for now I’m off from work until August, and we’ll see where things go from there.

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Werner update

After he’d finished his course of antibiotics and antacid, he was doing pretty well. But today he’s started having bile vomit again, and he seems to be losing weight again as well. I think I also caught him drooling a little. It’s all very mild right now, but during the last scare it also started out pretty mild until it suddenly wasn’t.

He doesn’t seem to be in pain, at least, but he might be on the way out after all.

One funny thing is that he’s got no interest in dry cat food at all anymore (he’s probably finding it too hard to chew what with his horrible teeth) but he’s become extremely interested in everything I’m eating… salads, macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, pretzels, that sort of thing. I’ll give him little tidbits of the stuff he’s curious about, which at least makes him really happy, even if it’s probably not very good for him. But it brings him some amount of joy and that’s what’s important.

4th of July barbecue?

So hey, even though my birthday party got rained out, a bunch of people came and it was a good time. I suspect that an even better time will be had when it’s sunny. Anyone in (or able to get to) the Seattle area interested in having a barbecue at my place on the 4th?

Let me know in the comments!

Private, friends-only, IndieWeb stuff

Yesterday I participated in the IndieWeb sensitive data pop-up, or at least the first half of it (I had to disappear for my refrigerator delivery). It was really great to have some further discussion about what people want out of this stuff and how we’re all going to agree to get it.

Authentication stuff

One of the biggest pain points that keeps on coming up is there being no support for people to be able to get private posts without having to log in or be notified about them in side channels. Lots of people are doing things like making pages with unguessable URLs and then doing side-channel notification, but that’s unwieldy; fewer folks are doing things with actual login mechanisms.

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High temperature alert

It’s pretty hot in Seattle.

First, advice from someone who grew up in the desert:

  • Drink lots of liquids, but don’t drink just plain water because sweat loses electrolytes
  • A good way to cool down reasonably quickly is to hold ice against a major artery or vein, such as your wrist or armpit, or against your sternum (but be careful about overdoing it in that case)
  • A breeze can help but at a certain point you’re only blowing hot air around and heating it up even more
  • Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages
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Impossible Burger: a brief impression

I finally had Impossible Burger alt-meat in a burger tonight. My impressions of it:

  • The raw “meat” has a weird uncanny-valley look to it, and also a rather… smell. A bit offputting, but only in comparison to beef.
  • When cooked up, it does look just like beef, but it tastes and smells of, well, pretty much nothing.
  • The mouthfeel is just like beef. Really good texture on it.

This isn’t the first time I’ve eaten Impossible Burger itself; I first tried it when Poquitos had it in taco form, back when it was still a brand-new “coming soon” thing that was only available to restaurants. Back then I felt like the flavor was really good (although being in tacos it was so heavily-spiced that it’s more that it didn’t have a flavor that overpowered the cumin and chili and so on), and I felt like the mouthfeel was a bit mushy.

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Werner updates

Werner was unable to keep his liquid antibiotics down so yesterday I got him pills instead, at least for one of them (unfortunately the other one was liquid-only). He’s of course been lethargic but generally happy most of the time, and during my birthday party yesterday he mostly just hung out in my bedroom, but occasionally said hi to people — very uncharacteristic for him, and towards the end I even took him around to everyone to get pettings.

Anyway, today he’s been feeling a bit better, and I had a cheeseburger for lunch, which he got really interested in and wanted some of. So I decided that he can, in fact, haz cheezburger, and he’s enjoying it quite a lot, and eating way more than I’ve seen him eat lately. Really going to town on it. (I tried taking a picture for the meme™ but he was way more interested in snarfing it down than waiting for me to manage to get any shots in. Oh well.)

He’s such a good little guy.

Testing assumptions

There’s still a lot of MSG discourse happening in certain pockets of the Internet; right now it’s mostly on food YouTube, where folks are primarily saying that people who claim an MSG sensitivity are racist and/or relying on bad pseudoscience. And, as usual, using the same two strawmen of

  1. Lots of foods have glutamate in it
  2. Did you know that American junk food has MSG in it too?

For 1, yes, lots of foods have glutamate in it, but not bound to sodium.

For 2, yes, that’s why it was eating junk food in college (Doritos and the chili-flavored Fritos, specifically) that led me to realize what was causing my near-daily sensory overload migraines.

Anyway, recently I bought some “country style” bulk sausage at a local butcher which ended up having MSG in it, and rather than throw it out or try to return it, I figured I’d use it to perform an (admittedly extremely unscientific) experiment. Namely, a couple days ago I fried up a small amount and ate it, and while I felt a bit of the classic MSG effects it seemed like it might have been psychosomatic. So today I made a full patty of it and ate it for breakfast… and holy hell that was a bad time. I’m still recovering from it a couple hours later.

So, yeah, I’m still pretty sure MSG causes me problems, and I’m still gonna keep avoiding it.

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Resin printer updates

I’ve finally gotten a handle on my resin printer and have gotten some successful prints! Here’s some of what I did to get it to a good state:

  • Replaced the stock FEP sheet with an nFEP sheet (although that’s mostly because the stock one was leaking a little)
  • Added some PTFE lubricant to the LCD screen (to aid with cleanup in particular)
  • Increased the exposure times; first layers went from 30s to 45, and subsequent layers went from 2.5s to 4
  • Started using Chitubox on Linux because it performs way better than the Mac version (not really anything to do with the printer itself, but, y'know)
  • Ground down the build plate some more
  • Figured out a better way of angling prints
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The sorts of spam I attract

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of spam comments from people (really, probably just one person) trying to pedal Kratom, an herbal hallucinogen which has extremely bad side effects.

I hope that it’s obvious that I am not, in fact, going to allow my site to be used as a vehicle for advertising this shit, so stop trying to post comments on every mental-health-related article about it, thanks.

My smart house addiction continues

Today my Switchbot curtain robots arrived. They work pretty well, but getting them to the point of working well was a bit tricky. Here’s some notes, in case they help others:

  • The instructions for how tightly to clamp the robot to the rail are frustratingly vague. My recommendation is that if you have a telescoping rail, gently attach the robot to the thinner part of the rail, then while calibrating, increase the tension by one click at a time until it can move freely.
  • The telescoping rail shim works a LOT better if you make sure that the seam is on the back of the rail, rather than on the top or bottom (where it sometimes interferes with the motion of the wheels); at least this is the case with my grommet curtains. (This also happens to reduce the drag from the grommet ring to the shim, which is also quite important.)
  • The instructions and app don’t make it AT ALL clear about how to group two curtain units together! The answer is to set the curtain’s open direction to “open from the middle;” if you’ve already set them up as individual units, you can go into one curtain’s settings and change the opening direction.
  • Grouping curtains has pluses and minuses; on the plus side, it makes managing scenes easier, and it also fixes the asymmetrical delay issue that Techmoan ran into. On the minus side, it means that there’s no way to control them individually in HomeKit, if that’s a thing you want to do.
  • On that note, to get them to work with HomeKit (rather than using the “Siri shortcuts,” which suck), you need to enable the “cloud service” mode on the curtain(s), and run something like Homebridge and the homebridge-switchbot-openapi plugin to get HomeKit to see the device. And yes, you need a Switchbot Hub and a bridge to do this, and annoyingly enough, this all goes through Switchbot’s cloud servers, meaning if they ever go out of business, the dang things will probably stop working entirely. Why the hub can’t just talk locally is beyond me.

Anyway, having this set up was a lot of fun when my neighbor came by to help me finish hanging up my new TV; he suggested closing the curtains before verifying the TV tilt angle, so I said, “Hey Siri, close living room curtains,” and he said “No way!!!” and then the curtains closed.

And now I have a bunch of automations, like:

  • If I say “Hey Siri, game time,” the curtains close and all the living room lights turn on and the air purifier turns off
  • If I say “Hey Siri, movie time,” the curtains close, and the lights and air purifier turn off
  • In the morning, the curtains automatically open

I also have a few other automated lighting changes throughout the day, and the awesome one will be when my bedroom shades finally arrive — I’ll be able to automatically close them at midnight and open them at 8 AM, and maybe I’ll stop getting woken up at 6 AM by the sun shining on my face!