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Treating Meniere’s & Its Symptoms

All about Meniere’s Disease. Updated periodically.

When I’m questioned about why I’m retired already; or when someone airs doubts about my invisible disability, are you really disabled? the subject of Meniere’s disease is bound to surface. It is bound to surface because Meniere’s disease is the answer to both questions. If you just stumbled across this article on my blog and want to know, what is Meniere’s disease? I’ve never heard of it. I can understand that feeling. I’d never heard of it before its symptoms wrecked my life.

Continue reading “Treating Meniere’s & Its Symptoms”

Sacred Life

No, if we truly value LIFE, if we truly believe it to be SACRED, then before it even begins we as a people and as a nation must bend every effort to ensure not only its survival, but that it thrives to reach its full potential.

Stonekettle Station

Editor’s note – I planned to add this quote to the end of ranthonysteele.com – roe-v-wade was a conservative decision If I hadn’t broken the blog (05/16/2020) Now that it’s back up, I think I will add it to something even better than that post.

Losing at Chicken

Fifteen days ago, Texas began reopening. Yesterday, fourteen days later (the average incubation period of the…

Posted by Jim Wright on Friday, May 15, 2020
Facebook – Stonekettle

Austin remains largely under lockdown other than the parts of the economy that Greg Abbott has foolishly insisted on controlling at the state level. Austinites are starting to go out and party now. It is summer (or feels like it) and you really can’t keep people cooped up for months on end when the weather is beautiful. This is especially true when the President and the Governor tell you it is OK to go out and socialize.

The Wife was telling me about an impromptu party that sprang up next door to the worst violator of Texas drinking laws (not to mention fire codes) in our neighborhood. A building that was a Pizza Inn in a previous life but is now an Elk’s lodge, right on the highway that leads out of town to Houston. Every weekend they packed the building to the seams with drunken buffoons, and the drunken buffoons don’t know where else to go other than the neighboring parking lot to get drunk these days.

There is little that can be done to curb these yahoos without the threat of force and that threat of force has to come from the Federal or State governments, neither of which are willing to take a stand against the drive to let off the pressure that most people feel at being told to slowly starve to death in their homes while they simultaneously go broke. Most people in Texas live from paycheck to paycheck, a fact that is even more true in the big cities than it is in the country and towns.

We are locked in the no win scenario here in Texas and across the heartland of the United States. We are playing chicken with a train locomotive on an overpass. We could swerve and take the resulting personal damage on ourselves but Governor Abbott has the steering wheel, and he’s convinced the COVID train is going to swerve first. The resultant trainwreck will be amusing for the outside observer to witness. There isn’t going to be much to recommend living through it.

Facebook – AustinTexasGov – We are in stage three

What is a Bad Movie?

Campy films aren’t necessarily bad and cult classics really can’t be deemed good. There have been more than a couple of posts on Facebook (maybe as many as ten) asking me to pick films that I liked but I thought were bad films. I picked two movies (Joe Vs. the Volcano and Buckaroo Banzai) because I love them and I really can’t defend them. They don’t hold together and/or loose their audience halfway through. They didn’t make enough money in the box office and they haven’t gotten beyond a core cult following as time progresses. As an additional condition of love/bad I should add that I’ve seen both of these movies more than 10 times each and I never tire of watching them. I never tire of watching them while people who watch movies with me regularly object if I propose watching them again. The Wife’s film is ID4. I’ll scream if I have to watch that one again. But then she has about ten films that she cycles through, as well as two or three series that she has on repeat in the room while she’s constructing some art project or other, just as background noise, and I run screaming from all of them. That is the hallmark of a bad movie (or bad TV) that you love. You end up watching it by yourself.

Plot. Theme. Characterizations & cinematography. All of those bases have to be covered if you are going to make a good movie. Carpenter is the king of camp, and I consider Prince of Darkness one of his best films of all time. Big Trouble is another one. I wouldn’t put a Carpenter film in a list of bad films. His films (even his bad ones) are campy enough to be watchable. I’ve sat down and watched any one of a dozen Carpenter films with family more times than I’ve sat down to watch the two I’ve listed, and I still get takers to watch them (especially The Thing) I could go on for several more paragraphs but I’ve been a lifelong movie buff and I’m married to a woman who has been involved in more productions than a good number of professionals in the business. I know whereof I speak, even if I don’t have degrees to back my critical opinions up with.

Visual and written media are different, this is an understood fact.  The adaptation of a written work to film is an important subject of discussion, not just a pedestrian piece of entertainment. Why a film adaptation of a written work is perceived to be better or worse than it’s inspiration is a subject of high importance to the funders of film ventures.  The buy-in of the author of the written work, and their involvement in the making of the film does indeed seem to be key to a successful adaptation.

Let me offer a few examples.

The Harry Potter films all had the direct involvement of the author from the beginning of the film franchise.  I find the study of J. K. Rowling’s evolving talent fascinating.  I read the books myself, and read them out loud twice to my children. We then all went to see the movies. Now, while my daughter lamented at some of the parts left out of the story in question, I could see Rowling’s growing understanding of the film medium evolve from movie to movie, just as I watched her understanding of the written work evolve over the course of the several books she has authored. The films, just like the books, get tighter and more interesting as her understanding of the two different mediums grows. I would offer them as some of the best examples of book to film adaptation.

It can also be a good idea for the author to know his or her own limitations. I’ve read the Hunger Games series and watched all four movies. I find the movies far more interesting than the books were, and more believable.  The characters are far more sympathetic on screen and the actors that were chosen have all performed admirably.  I don’t know the level of the author’s involvement with those films, but I haven’t encountered her promoting them like Rowling did. Yet the films do seem to capture the essence of what was compelling about the Hunger Games novels. A worthy effort.

Fight Club is another instance where the film retains the essence of the book, and yet is actually better as a movie than the book was as a book. Very few adaptations not only don’t insult the original work, but mange to improve on it. It’s also one of the few internal stories that works on the screen, largely because the internal is external (as it is in the book) without the viewer knowing this. If you don’t understand the reference, then you haven’t seen the film. Stop reading and go watch it now.

On the other end of the scale we have every attempt to adapt Dune to the movie screen. I’m not convinced that any of the parties involved (much like the 007 movies and Ready Player One) ever read the books. Frank Herbert was still alive at the time of the filming, but never seemed to have taken an interest in the first movie produced. If Alejandro Jodorowsky is to be believed, then Frank Herbert was very much involved in the project when he was developing it. The final product of the effort taken over by Hollywood bore almost no resemblance to the book that I’ve read, and I’ve read it (and Dune Messiah and Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune) more times that I’ve read the Lord of the Rings. The mini-series from SciFi comes close to capturing the essence of the novels, but still manages to fumble capturing the theme. The subtleties of the realpolitik have never been captured by any movie that I’ve seen. Most books that I’ve read also fail at giving it life (Hunger Games being the latest to attempt it that I’ve read) unless they are biographies of real historical figures. Even some of those fail at being interesting and real at the same time.

I, Robot remains the epitome of failed adaptations. Rather than simply destroying one character, as Peter Jackson did with Faramir in the Lord of the Rings adaptations, the entirety of Asimov’s work on the robot series was completely thrown out the door. None of the characters share more than a name with their counterparts in the books (a series of short works and novels) the tone of the film is luddite in nature, with all technology representing a fearful threat. This is a framing for the film that Asimov would have rejected out of hand. The plot hinges on a point that contradicts all of Asimov’s writing on the subject (the ability for a robot to kill a human) only to be countered at the last minute with a physics defying descent to an inexplicably located central computer system that isn’t even in Asimov’s works. The continued existence of the film serves as firm proof that there is no afterlife, because I can’t imagine Isaac Asimov not returning from the dead to correct this blasphemy enacted in his name.

The people who complain about minor character details being missed, or sections of the work, like Tom Bombadil (again, in Lord of the Rings) that don’t lend themselves to plot progression, simply don’t understand the constraints of the visual storytelling medium. However, it is clearly important that the filmmaker not only be a fan of the written work, but has to understand how to pull the plot, theme, and narrative out of one medium and place it in another in such a way as to be recognized by the literary fan, so that the people who paid to read the written work will also pay to see the movie. If the producer, director, writer and actors all don’t agree on this and make their best efforts to pull this feat off, you end up with just another blockbuster that you hope makes it’s exorbitant production costs back in the first few weeks of it’s public release. Because you won’t have fans buying it and talking about it years later.

Understanding the limitations of the medium that the story is told in can be key to being more forgiving. For example: A keycard is familiar and its purpose is understood by the viewing audience. Using a keycard to bypass security serves to advance the plot more easily than how you might describe the problem and its solution in a book. You don’t have to spend time explaining how to transfer fingerprints or the knowledge needed to understand bypassing security through the software, if you just have the protagonist steal a keycard. This simplification of the storyline removes at least 10 minutes of film time and who knows how many dollars from the budget. Most of the changes that are made to a literary work being adapted to the screen are done for just these kinds of reasons.

Putting Tom Bombadil into the Fellowship of the Ring movie introduces relationships and characters into the story that really don’t advance the plot and don’t increase the viewers engagement in the story itself. In the book, the brief aside of Tom Bombadil between Buckland and Bree serves to draw the reader into the story, into the world of Middle Earth. Bilbo never encountered any of the problems that Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin did because he stayed on the Great Eastern Road when he traveled from the Shire to the Lonely Mountain in the Hobbit. Tom Bombadil, for the reader, serves to illustrate the problems of leaving the road unsheparded. This makes the Hobbit’s willingness to follow Aragorn more believable when they meet him at Bree. They’ve just survived death at the hands of ghosts and magic because Tom Bombadil was there to save them. The screenwriters rightly decided that shortening the narrative there was without any real cost to the overall storyline. The only people who object to going straight from Buckland (mentioned as the ferry in the movie) to Bree with a single scene cut are the people who are anchored in the literary narrative, incapable of appreciating the different demands a viewing audience brings to the theater with them.

I loved Fellowship of the Ring when it came out as a movie. It remains a testament to what Peter Jackson thought he could sell to a bunch of rabid fans ready to tear the heart out of his three-movie project before the first movie was even cold in the film canisters.

The Two Towers is a completely different matter. The Two Towers is a bad movie in pretty much the same way every second movie is, plus a few other insults thrown in. I’ve already mentioned Peter Jackson’s treatment of Faramir as one of my objections. Dragging the Hobbits to Osgiliath served the purpose of having a crisis moment for Faramir where he and the audience see the danger of the ring for themselves. In my estimation it is unnecessary.

As a film editor I would have sliced off all hints that they ever left Ithilien, had the Witch King show up, have Faramir renounce the ring (he does anyway) and send Frodo and Sam on their way. No need to draw out the crisis moment. No need to have Sam utter that heartfelt speech about not being here that always makes me laugh and agree with him. No. You shoudn’t be in Osgiliath. Now you have to come up with a device to get the Hobbits back onto the borders of Mordor. Oh, look! A tunnel! Just what we needed.

The less said about Treebeard and the ents as they appear in the movie, the better. I don’t think that Jackson had all those sequences worked out in advance. They have a hurried quality to them, which (bararum) Treebeard himself would not have appreciated. The second movie was always going to be the connector between the grand achievement of Fellowship of the Ring, and the closing moments of Return of the King. The book The Two Towers is a long slog, too. That the series of movies were completed at all is a tribute to Peter Jackson and his crew.

…and then he went on to destroy the Hobbit. Peter Jackson’s the Hobbit is J.R.R. Tolkien in name only, just like I, Robot having the name Asimov’s in front of it makes it his movie in name only. I haven’t watched the third Hobbit movie, but I will eventually. The elf/dwarf river dance in the second movie combined with the liquid gold surfing was more than I could take. You strip out Jackson’s love of overly-long action sequences and you might have a set of movies worth watching (see Jackson’s King Kong) his weaving of the various themes that predate Tolkien’s writing Lord of the Rings, themes that aren’t in the Hobbit, was clever if not at all like the book itself.  The first movie announced Jackson’s intentions to not follow the book so I wasn’t too upset when he didn’t follow it in the second movie.

Since they weren’t really J.R.R. Tolkien and they were definitively Peter Jackson, warts and all, I saw no need to rush out and watch the last movie in the movie theater. Now that I am longing to see movies in a theater again it may be time to dust off some of the movies I’ve put off watching and try them out. See if I think differently about them now.

So what is a bad movie? It is up to the moviegoer at large to determine this, just as it is up to the reader to determine whether any given book represents good writing or not. Let me put it this way. On my laserdisc copy of Star Wars Han Solo is the only one who fires a weapon in the Cantina scene. That is the way it was supposed to be before George Lucas screwed up all the original movies re-editing them. It is because of the re-edits that I have said for awhile now that neither Disney nor the Abramanator could screw up Star Wars. George Lucas already did that.

…But then the Abramanator said “hold my beer” and proved me wrong. That is also why I won’t buy Star Wars on any of the new formats that are available. Not unless I get an original version of the movie to view. A New Hope is a bad movie. Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were great movies. It’s just too bad you can’t buy them anymore.

Or you could just ignore the critics and go see the movie.

Stonekettle Station

The Meaning of Design

If you don’t stretch you won’t know where the edge is. I was constantly stretching into areas that I didn’t know very much about.

Designers don’t just look, but they see. They don’t just hear, but they listen. And they don’t just touch, but they feel. To design is to attempt to make a world a better place.

Sara Little Turnbull
The Mask – Throughline – May 14, 2020

Murderous Rage on the Anniversary

I’m writing in the new and improved Blogspot editing interface instead of in the WordPress interface today. That subject is one issue motivating my murderous rage. But there are at least two issues, I’ll get to the other one(s) in a minute.

The web host we have been utilizing to put ourselves online for about a decade chose this month to triple the cost of the online hosting that we had set up. Being the cheapskates that we always have been, we decided we could do better. Aside from which the Wife had found a new hosting company that looked good, run by some friendly people that she wouldn’t mind giving some more business to.

I mothballed my writing work and backed up WordPress and the website and waited for the procedure to complete for all the hosted websites that were going to have to transfer.  After a week of struggle with the host she had selected, she was unable to get an account at their place that functioned to her satisfaction. The thing that ended her week’s work with them was when they sent a confirmation email for a scheduled data transfer to the wrong email address.

They sent an email containing usernames and passwords to an address that was not on file with them as being the administrator of the transfer.  Let the enormity of the security breach that error represents sink in for a minute.

It’s the eleventh hour. The account we had at our existing hosting service was scheduled to bill us an obscene amount of money in less than 24 hours in order to keep up the hosting contract for the sites that we maintain for friends and associates, sites that don’t make us any money, and The Wife needed to find somewhere else for all of us to go.  She poked around a little bit and ended up at c|net and an article by written by a security guy (there’s a bit of irony for you) recommending the best hosting services for 2020. She decided well hell, if you can’t trust him who can you trust, right? Wrong. Wrongity, wrong, wrong, wrongness. All kinds of wrongness.

She did do some basic checking. The Wife is not an idiot. The URL registration for the hosting service she selected had been in place since 1998. c|net itself is one of the oldest publications on the web, well respected for the reliability of its information. We hadn’t heard of this particular web host before but we trusted c|net to have done their homework before recommending the service. That was our mistake. We contacted CIS.net.

At CIS.net we were assigned Chris W. to be the account rep. We paid up front for 8 years because the cost savings was going to be great and we were going to be getting a higher level of support for less money. Chris W. asked for the same information that the previously intended hosting company had asked for. Ok. No big deal. It’s just passwords and usernames, right? They will have your data when this is all over. Either you trust your data host or you don’t trust them. If you don’t, why keep your data there?

They moved this blog and its website first (I’m always the guinea pig) and the data transferred with just a few hiccups. The blog looked like it should, just missing a few images. I wasn’t too surprised by this. What I was surprised by was the insistence that I had multiple databases associated with the WordPress installation that I was running and that was why the images went missing. I’ve kept local backups and cloud backups of all the work I’ve done for as long as I can remember. The images are duplicated in at least two places. Image restoration would be a simple thing considering how few images were missing. I was annoyed but not outraged, so the move continued.

The Wife got to work setting up an email server for a customer next (a paying customer. One of the few) It looked great when she finished it even if she did think so herself. Two hours later it all disappeared from CIS.net’s servers. She contacted our account representative to see if there was a backup of the work she had just completed. Chris W. said that they could save and restore all that work she had just done if she signed onto their backup plan. The costs were the same as for other hosting services we’d checked with, but slightly cheaper.

(most of you can probably tell where this is going now)

While waiting for them to back things up and restore the missing mail server she had just set up, we discovered that our previous host would let us pay by the month to keep the service running. We promptly paid them for another month so that at least we could stop worrying about them deleting the data from that end of the transfer. The next day during a check-in she noticed that the mail folders in the restored backup were structured… stupidly. Like someone who didn’t know what they were doing would set things up. This cludgy restoration (not her original work at all) did work, so she got the client’s system and phone returned to them and the we sat down to take a well-deserved break in a hectic week of non-stop data terror.

In the middle of what was just the first of several movies we were planning to watch, the phone rang. Another subscriber for the destination that our data was heading for at that very moment was calling to let us know that CIS.net was not what it presented itself to be. They exchanged emails and we abandoned our movie night. After several hours of rigorous research on the Wife’s part she discovered that our data was being transferred to a honeypot set up to scam fees off of people dumb enough to transfer their data to the host.

Needless to say, she pulled the plug on the transfers. Will get a refund from the credit card servicer for the payments we made to them already. We picked a third host, one we had heard of this time, and we started the transfers again. That was when the fun started. And when I say fun, I mean the murderous red rage. But a fun rage, y’know?

The owners of the honeypot, alerted to our intent to abandon them before they had made a cent off of us, proceeded to transfer all of our domains to their registrar, whoever that was. Then they went in and deleted our accounts and all of the data from our original host (decades of pointless backups made meaningful. Yay, I guess) they changed all the passwords they had access to for the data that had been transferred, they diverted related email addresses and engaged in other assorted assholish moves in order to try to keep us from clawing back our domains and our data. They hoped to make some money off of us. I don’t think they know who they are messing with. If they did they wouldn’t be messing with us. There is no money here to be had. Just pain. Happy to share the pain with them if that’s what they want.

That problem is getting rectified as I type. The WordPress on the new (third) hosting service will be available soon and I will migrate this over there when that task is done. Have migrated it over now that it is available. Migrated the words and expanded on them with some words suggested by the editor-in-chief. I hesitate to write too much here without backing it up because I still don’t know how secure this site is and I won’t know for sure until at least a week has passed (two weeks and I still don’t know. I parked a new domain for the blog today just in case. -ed) This is not helping me find my inner peace. Not helping me get past the rage at having my stuff messed with in this way.

That is the thing causing a murderous rage that I/we can fix. So we are fixing it, because we can. This is not the thing that is causing the most rage at the moment, believe it or not.

Today is our thirty-first anniversary as a couple, the Wife and I. Every year on our anniversary we celebrate our relationship doing the thing we bonded over all those years ago. We go to a theater and we have a movie marathon, two or three movies in a row. We have dinner out as well, but for the last decade or so we have gone to the Alamo Drafthouse to watch our movies, so we get dinner and a movie together. That just makes more time for movies. Win-win.

Not this year. This year the Orange Hate-Monkey has made it impossible to go to a theater and have a good time. He has broken a thirty-year tradition of ours with his bumbling lack of leadership during this coronavirus crisis. He hasn’t managed to kill a family member with this disease yet, but I’m sure he’ll get to that eventually.

To top it all off several friends and the Wife all felt compelled to let me know that the Blue Angels were going to do a fly-over to celebrate the healthcare workers that have risked everything to keep people alive over the last few months. The Blue Angels will be flying over Austin. On our anniversary. Because the Orange Hate-Monkey thinks a patriotic tribute is what we need in this time of crisis.

The fly-overs are his idea of dealing with a pandemic. Not making sure there are enough masks for the essential workers to rely on. Not making sure there is enough protective equipment for the healthcare workers. Not paying them and the rest of the essential workers more money. Not training more people to take the load off of them in this time of crisis. No. His idea is to make us all look up and marvel at our own stupidity in spending so much of our precious blood and treasure on a military machine that cannot keep us safe from the threats we are facing.

This is the next war that we failed to build an army to deal with, to paraphrase an old truism. This pandemic is what a failure of leadership looks like. Man those fighter jets sure look great up there. Too bad all those billions spent making them and training those pilots wasn’t used to research antiviral medicines instead. We might have been able to go out and enjoy the summer, or at least been able to go out and see a movie, have some dinner in a restaurant, if we had spent that wealth a little more wisely. We might have developed a Malaria vaccine, a general Influenza vaccine, who knows what, with that kind of investment.

Instead we are sheltering in our houses hoping the markets don’t run out of food before the summer is over. At least I can write Happy Anniversary to the Wife on the blog now. We got our end fixed. How about it, Donald Trump? Want to try your hand at doing your job now? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

An Ode to Missing Balls

It was a proud sack you carried. The biggest balls I’d ever seen on a dog, not that I’m a connoisseur of dog’s balls or anything. They were big balls for the spare size of your body; and they warped your behavior, those giant balls. They made you do things that you didn’t understand and we didn’t appreciate. They were a vestige of a wild life, a life you would never be able to live.

The wolf that was your forefather chose the easy path. Or was it the hard path? Symbiosis carries its own cost. Surrendering your individual wants and needs to the group, relying on the group to keep you alive just as you try to keep the group alive. Taking the food and shelter in exchange for the limitations on behavior, the ungentle hand of the master.

The warping of your bodies to fit the whims of the selector. No longer the natural selector that bred you to be the cunning pack hunters that you were. Now your genes serve the human guide, molding you to his wayward specifications and needs. Sometimes small and lean, sometimes large and menacing, always the protector and defender of the group. Your services paid for with blood and pain and the sacrifice of your own genetic path through time, now forged anew, melded with the genetic path of the human animal.

Was that a wise choice? Who can say. But the generations of sheep herders and drovers that molded your form to fit their specific criteria for what makes up a good dog could not have understood what it was they were doing to you other than bending you to their will and their desires. You stand there today not quite natural and not quite unnatural. A testament to the malleability of the genetic code that rules all our lives.

Like your absent tail that we would have let you keep, your absent balls represented a liability that we could not afford. The liability of the tail that was docked because generations of sheep herders docked the tails of new pups, tails being just one more liability that a working sheepdog could not afford, dwarfed in comparison by the liability of testosterone enhanced viciousness and territoriality. The urine smell of marks on household furniture. The vain pursuit of the breeding imperative, a cross that you would bear all your life if we left you whole and complete. The additional litters of puppies in a world already drowning in flawed dogs without loving homes, measured in balance with the whim of male vanity. The desire to see your pet be the embodiment of your own male virility.

(Look at those balls!)

To be able to measure both paths and weigh them in your own mind. To know both the life without fulfillment, dying one day in the future knowing that you have failed to produce the offspring that nature foolishly demands of you, even though the world doesn’t need more dogs right now. Knowing that life and also knowing the life of unbiased devotion to the pursuits that your form suits you to. That one pure devoted life versus the life of frustrated pursuits curtailed by the master forced to be harsh in the face of your intransigence. Your insistence on pursuits that you will never be allowed to fulfill. To be able to judge which life carries the most real satisfaction, for yourself. Which would you choose, given that choice?

Do not hate me, my faithful companion. I beg this of you. Like the sheep herder that set your forefathers on the course that led you to me, I simply do as I think best, never really knowing if what I think is best really is the best. Am I missing something, myself? Is there some part of me that was taken away by people who felt they knew best what my course in life should be?

I cast myself backwards in time with the inner eye of imagination. I see horsemen on the plains. Nomads that knew no roof other than the endless sky. Living day to day by the skill of their hands, shaping bows and arrows the way they shaped their dogs and horses. Even they had masters. Tribal leaders that corresponded almost directly in their own way with the leaders of your forefather’s wolf packs. The most capable. The most charismatic.

The last wild men in Europe. Taking what they wanted from sheepherder and farmer alike. Taking from town folk and their rulers when they dared stand against them. Taking and taking again until they are hemmed in, strapped down and civilized right along with the rest of the human race. That force of civilization then launching outward, suppressing native populations across the world, trammelling all the wild men with the curse (or blessing?) of civilized life.

Did we cut off our own balls when we civilized ourselves? Was it more manly to take what was wanted than to work and barter and pay for it? Who now living can say?

In that life I would last mere moments, even if I had been born to that life. Too many flaws. Too much of a burden. Much better is the life I have today, even with all its insufficiencies. It remains life, the most precious of gifts bestowed on the unthinking universe. To be allowed to admire its vast arching complexity. The universe knowing itself even if only in one small way. What will all those small ways add up to? I’m glad I have this life. I hope that you are glad to have your life, as limited as we have made it for you.

How would you tell me, if you could tell me? The kisses and butt shimmies that pass for tail wags for you make me believe you are happy, but are you really happy? Would you have preferred the short life but a merry one, the life that a teenage me almost embraced? Had a different door opened, I would have gone there and been long gone by now. In that last fleeting moment of consciousness would I have thanked the universe for my brief moment in the sun or cursed my bad genetic luck for saddling me with such a miserable existence?

I will never know. I have but this life, and you have but your own life. If you could speak would you grumble about how your absent balls still itch? Or would you have already moved on to the next contemplation? Where has that tennis ball gotten off to again? Can we go for a walk now? I hope that the latter is true.

Do not hate me, my faithful companion. I acted in what I thought was your best interest and my best interests together. The best plan that my flawed human consciousness could conjure up, with what little resources I have to offer to both you and I at this late date. Yes, let’s go take that walk now. It is the least I can do for you. We can find that wayward tennis ball when we get back.

How will I be when I get out of this?

I shared a room with a homeless person, a Colombian cleaner, and a man from Bangladesh—all three diabetics, incidentally, which is consistent with the known picture of the disease. The days and nights were lonely because no one had the energy to talk. I could only whisper for weeks; even now, my voice loses power in the evening. But I always had that question going around in my head: How will I be when I get out of this?

After fighting viruses all over the world for more than 40 years, I have become an expert in infections. I’m glad I had corona and not Ebola, although I read a scientific study yesterday that concluded you have a 30% chance of dying if you end up in a British hospital with COVID-19. That’s about the same overall mortality rate as for Ebola in 2014 in West Africa. That makes you lose your scientific level-headedness at times, and you surrender to emotional reflections. They got me, I sometimes thought. I have devoted my life to fighting viruses and finally, they get their revenge. For a week I balanced between heaven and Earth, on the edge of what could have been the end.

sciencemag.org

Hat/tip to Eric Buck

Viral Testing Failure

Chris Hayes: "They try to prevent [President Trump and VP Pence] from getting sick by implementing an incredibly robust…

Posted by All In with Chris Hayes on Saturday, May 9, 2020
Facebook – All-in with Chris Hayes

That observation is similar to my first comment on reading the story earlier today.

Hey, isn’t it nice to have access to trillions of dollars and millions of man hours just so you two bozos can feel safe in your bunker in Washington D.C.? Too bad you couldn’t swing getting that kind of safety net out for the rest of us regular folks.

They still don’t have enough tests to pull of effective tracing and quarantine of the infected in the United States. Not even after three months.

RAnt(hony)-ings

…I wrote that on February 29th, back when the pandemic wasn’t even officially a pandemic yet. They knew they would need tests then and they’ve been promising them for the entirety of the time between now and then. They were two months late on getting tests out then, and now they are 5 months late and people in their inner circle are starting to catch it. So now they have tests available to test all the people around the president, the kinds of intensive testing and tracking that will be required to locate and isolate all of the people who are currently sick with this virus, but we won’t be getting that kind of security blanket.

That kind of security is only for the special people. The leadership. The authority figures, no matter how shady their path to authority was. They get the gold star treatment. The rest of us have to hunker down in our houses for the fourth month in a row, and be thankful that we still have houses. Those who had houses in the first place and weren’t already living in the streets of the major cities in North America. Never mind the poor immigrants and refugees that will be the real victims in this crisis. The people confined in camps all over the face of the globe. Packed together with minimal or no hygiene, poorly fed, they are the people who will bear the brunt of the suffering now just as they always do.

Next in line will the the essential workers. The people who have to work to survive. Those places are already becoming hotbeds of infection. Never mind the hospitals that no one would dare go to today without already feeling sick with the virus. Those places are the obvious nexus of infection that we all will avoid if we can. No, the essential work that is being done on farms. The meat packing plants. The grocery stores and other retail outlets.

It is totally laughable to me that the hair salons and barbershops are opening back up. I spent three haircuts worth of money to buy a Wahl self-cut set and I plan on cutting my own hair for the next six months at least. Social distancing goes out the window when one person touches the hair of even ten people in one day, and that would be a slow day in a hair salon.

<black kid murdered by self-appointed neighborhood patrol while walking home from a store with some candy>Well, he…

Posted by Jim Wright on Saturday, May 9, 2020
Facebook – Stonekettle Station

…Ted Cruz getting his hair cut by the woman who lead the revolt against common sense regulations. Another scofflaw directly rewarded by the Canuckian reject that we stupidly let represent us in Washington D.C.

Texas? Your fly is open. You might want to turn around and fix that. The Trump coronavirus response has been a complete joke. I only wish it had been a funny joke. We could all use a good laugh right about now.

10 Stacks of Determination

My raiding guild went into Uldir to get the achievement Glory of the Uldir Raider. I just happened to be free that night, so I tagged along for the experience. Like most meta achievements, this one grants a new in-game mount that you can show off to people who aren’t lucky enough to be part of a successful raiding guild.

Bloodgorged Crawg

All of the achievements that are required to get the raid-wide meta were pretty straightforward. We only had to reset the boss (pulling them out of the room the fight is supposed to occur in usually achieves this goal) a few times in order to get all of them, and so we ended up with the mount at the end of the day’s run.

On the last boss (G’huun – wowhead, blizzardwatch) several people voiced the opinion that they hated that fight. I know why they hate it. It is a fiddling, unforgiving fight when it comes to getting the mechanics down correctly. You have to understand how far you can throw the power matrix in the fight. You have to know which ground effects do what, where to stand and which effects can be damaged and removed by you. You have to know which adds to focus on and when. It is a complex fight.

I love that fight. I love it because the fight can’t be bulldozed. It is frustrating and it is unforgiving, and I love it. I love it either in spite of or because of the fact that I could reliably be summoned into that fight in Looking for Raid (LFR) when it was the end of progression in Battle for Azeroth, the current expansion for World of Warcraft. I love it because if you simply understand the mechanics of the fight and can execute them correctly, you can defeat the boss without too much trouble. Most probably I love it because most World of Warcraft players hate it, and would rather quit raiding than have to work that hard to defeat a boss.

In LFR, G’huun was a test of fire. We went through thousands of players in the cumulative months that G’huun was the last boss in the expansion, thousands of players joining and quitting while I and the other determined players just waited for that right random group of newbs to come along that could understand that the fight wasn’t about killing the boss. It was about satisfying the mechanics of the fight so that you could get the privilege of facing off against the boss. Dozens of newbs at a time would show up and complain not this boss, and then bail out.

Some of them had done the boss before that week. I know there was a few times I was one of them. When I was tanking on my Druids Tarashal or Tharthurm, I almost never got to kill the first boss of that wing of the raid before having to tank G’huun, the final boss. Tanks never have to wait to get into a raid. Almost never. No one ever wants to tank and few players want to heal. I play Druids most often these days precisely because I can fulfill any required role in the fight. Taunting, damaging, or keeping players alive. I don’t really care which role I get to fulfill just as long as I get to play.

It is those others, those players that only want to play characters that can inflict damage that are the bane of LFR. If you play a class that can only deal damage, your queues are anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, just waiting to be summoned into an instance. And yet, after having to wait an hour they would see it was the last boss and not the first one, and they would bail on the fight. Half of those players could have done at least one of the other two roles in the fight, but refused to take that kind of responsibility, thusly making the damage queues even longer by not checking off the box that says “yes I’ll heal” or “yes I’ll tank”. It is those players disgust at having to do something complex that they didn’t want to have to learn, even though they clicked on the raid finder and signed up to do that raid. Their disgust at having to do that fight one more time. It gave me an inner glow.

When I said I loved this fight in raid chat that night with my raiding guild, I misspoke. I said that I kicked thousands of players from the fight and that was why I loved it. I probably only initiated kicks on dozens of players. Trolls. Elitists. Whining complainers. I kicked dozens of those. Shut up and do your job or leave. It is really just that simple.

Uncomfortable conversations.

Uncomfortable conversations are why I don’t like talking as much as I like writing. I kicked dozens of players for saying things like this fight is easy. For castigating healers for letting them die. For blaming the tanks for wipes, especially when I wasn’t the tank. If I’m tanking, and someone says you suck I just leave the group. This is especially true if we’ve killed a boss or wiped on a boss previously in the group. If you’ve done either of those in the group before you leave, you can leave without getting the 30 minute coward debuff. Tanks get right back in another raid, so why stay where you aren’t wanted? Aside from which, the group you just left will wait an hour for another tank to show up. Waiting through dozens of trolls that get bored and pull the boss just for kicks, or in the mistaken belief that 10 stacks of determination would give them the buff they needed to beat the boss. I’ve met a few of those in this expansion. 10 stacks of determination and we can beat him! Not this boss.

It was when I was tossing power matrixes on Benelbur that I realized I loved the fight. There were several times I would be sitting alone with that Gnome Mage just waiting for twenty-four other players to show back up and try again. There was one time when we had the smoothest crew on power matrixes and we couldn’t get a tank that could deal with the complexity of the fight down on the floor. We went through three sets of tanks before we had one guy who was well geared enough to do it alone, and we knew we could get the origination beam to fire and the real fight to begin. That made all those hours of work that day worth the trouble. I made new friends that day, as I did most days when I found someone else who was willing to take the time to master a task for the sheer pleasure of it.

Those were my best friends when I was drafting for a living, too. Those people who were not afraid of learning CAD. People who were not threatened by something new they didn’t understand. Those people are treasures to me. They don’t need ten additional stacks of determination because they were born with ten stacks of their very own. Just point them in the right direction and get out of the way, because they will figure out what needs to be done and get it done if you simply give them the space to do it in.