2009/04/25

Varied Thoughts

DaGoddess @ 05:23

So much going on right now and not everything is bueno. I can deal with that. I guess. I mean, I have to, don’t I? Yes, I do. We all do.

It’s annoying when things go haywire, but that’s all part of life. I try very hard, though, to keep my life at a relatively low level of chaos whenever possible. When things do go nutso, I just don’t like it. But I deal. That’s what I do.

There are others who know what I mean. I’m praying for friends both near and far as they struggle with situations that will require all their strength. They’ll pull through. I know they will. I have Faith. (And if they’re reading, they should know: I believe in you!)

I’ve received an inordinate amount of email asking why I didn’t recap Deadliest Catch this week. As I mentioned during last week’s recap, don’t expect a full play by play every week. This week was particularly crazy around here and the episode was too involved for me to do right by it. Perhaps next week… I just don’t know at this point. I do know that had everything gone right the last couple weeks, I’d currently be in Seattle at CatchCon in seven hours. It didn’t. I’m not. And that’s life.

It appears that what I thought was a bladder/kidney infection was part of my back surgery recovery process. I did feel a little “pop” in my back on Monday while I was drying off after pool therapy. That was very likely the cause. This shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. It was simply panic time because of the fact that I’ve been without insurance for so long. Add to that the pressure of suddenly have NO money coming in again, and I escalated to full modified stationary panic. I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with the attorney’s office (no luck), Interfaith Emergency Services (no luck), and the Social Security people (no luck). Needless to say, I’m out of luck and out of ideas. I did consider selling off some body parts, but that’s a rather hard sell and the market, well, it takes more time than I have. Besides, what do I have that anyone would really want if it’s not attached to me? And turning tricks? That’s freakin’ laughable. Not much call for this body.

Trying to wrap my head around everything resulted in me being rather cranky off and on all week.

To top it all off, it’s calendar time. I wasn’t given a deadline, but it turned out to be the day before the deadline I’d issued to artists to have everything in. Now I’m working like crazy to get this damn thing done.

If you hear an extremely loud explosion, it’s my head.

Mosaic Canyon, Part IV

DaGoddess @ 04:00

In Black and White:

Mosaic Canyon in B&W

Mosaic Canyon in B&W

And Color:

Mosaic Canyon Color Detail

Mosaic Canyon Color

Mosaic Canyon Color

2009/04/24

Mosaic Canyon, Part III

DaGoddess @ 19:00

Mosaic Canyon Detail

Mosaic Canyon Detail

Mosaic Canyon Detail

Mosaic Canyon Detail

Mosaic Canyon Entry

2009/04/23

Depth Valley

DaGoddess @ 04:11

A lot of people have emailed me and asked how I get photos to look a certain way. “That photo is so pretty because of the soft edges and the blurry background. How do you do it?” Here’s a quick answer and two examples. If you still have questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me. I’m happy to help.

Depth of Field is one of the greatest tools at your fingertips when it comes to photography. You can change the entire feel of an image based solely on what aperture you choose.

The following photos are from Death Valley at the Harmony Borax Works. Which image speaks to you more? Why? Or does it matter?

What does aperture have to do with this? What is aperture? F-stop? What? Why? Huh?

The aperture (f-stop) refers to the opening in the diaphragm of the lens that allows light into the camera. Depending on how large the opening is, you can have a lot or a little light coming in: if the number is small — 2.8 for instance — the opening is wide and there is a lot of light coming in; if the number is large — say, 22 — the opening is narrow, thus allowing less light to pass through. This same opening also plays a role in what part of the image is in focus. A lot of light rays coming in results in less of the image being in focus. The light is scattered about on the sensor (assuming we’re talking about digital cameras). A narrow opening concentrates the light rays, packing in a lot of information which results in a sharper image. Think of it this way: if you’re making a shadow puppets on the wall, the closer the light (and you) are to the wall, the narrower the area of the wall that is lit, thus making your shadow puppet sharp and distinct. The further away the light source and you are from the wall, the broader the light cast upon the wall and the fuzzier the shadow becomes.

Because of the ability to select your area of focus by adjusting the aperture, you can change the depth of field (or view) within the image. A shallow depth of field (wider aperture) allows focus to be confined to a smaller area, often resulting in a dreamy, soft, out of focus background. The narrower aperture (smaller opening, larger number), the larger the area that will remain in focus. The background of a photograph shot at f-22 will be much sharper than that of a photo shot at f-2.8.

Below are two photos that are basically identical except for the amount of light I allowed in based on the setting I chose for my f-stop. You’ll notice that there’s a difference in focal point.

Shallow depth of field

Camera settings: ISO – 100, shutter speed – 1/800 second, aperture – 8. The result: shallow front focus, background blurry.

Deeper DOF

Camera settings: ISO – 100, shutter speed – 1/250 second, aperture – 13. The result: deeper focus, all but the leading edge in focus.

You’ll notice that the film speed (ISO) remains the same for both photos, but the shutter speed changes. You have to change the shutter speed in order to balance the amount of light you have coming in. In bright light, the larger the aperture and the more light you allow in, the faster the shutter will need to be, otherwise you’ll overexpose the image. A smaller aperture requires a slower shutter speed in order to let an appropriate amount of light so that you achieve the proper amount required for your image.

Does that make sense?

If you’d like to read more about aperture, Wikipedia does a fair job of explaining the concept and providing examples. But don’t hesitate to email or comment if you’re still confused.

Chill Baby

DaGoddess @ 03:18

I’m a sucker for cats. I admit it. I miss having cats, or rather, being owned by one. Or two.

Here are a few photos of a friend’s baby. He has the softest fur, the sweetest purr, and really knows how to relax. In fact, we should all be so lucky to chill like he does.

I love cats

Chilled out

Chill kitty

2009/04/22

Mosaic Canyon, Part II

DaGoddess @ 04:00

Mosaic Canyon

Mosaic Canyon

Mosaic Canyon

Mosaic Canyon

And I haven’t even gotten to the part where you see why they named it what they did.

Ooh! He Walks!

DaGoddess @ 04:00

Dudes!

Guess what’s on my wishlist?!

Rambling Robbie!

I blogged about Cardboard Safari last year and my desire is still strong. Yes, I shall never give up hoping that I will someday have my own cardboard crash of rhinos. I do prefer them walking as opposed to on the wall, but I’d be happy with either.

I so *heart* rhinos.

The Truth About Bacterial Infections and “Universal” Healthcare

DaGoddess @ 00:02

I’ve had this conversation with Pam via email regarding my possible bladder/kidney infection and I feel I should take a moment to explain myself to everyone. The reason? Because in the last six months, I’ve had very similar conversations with many others.

I do appreciate everyone trying to come to my aid with a “natural” cure to what might be a bacterial infection. However, there is no “natural” cure for bacterial infections. This is where my education in nursing, biology, and microbiology pays off. Please know that I value your friendship and the kind words you offer, but science trumps non-science.

And for those who will continue to say that “natural” options are harmless, I worked with many patients who were proof that this is not the case. ANYTHING YOU PUT IN YOUR BODY MAY CAUSE YOU HARM. The word “natural” means nothing. Neither does “over-the-counter” mean okay for everyone. Each of us has different needs and different metabolisms. And this is why you don’t take anyone else’s medications. They can harm you. Even if you have the same symptoms, your body chemistry is not the same as someone else’s. You may be taking medications that are contraindicated with the medications they’re taking. Combining them can lead to organ failure or death. This is why you don’t share meds. This is why you consult real doctors and not the lady in the vitamin or herb store.

I respect your right to do what you will with your body, but please do not presume that this is medically safe for me, for your children (don’t even get me started on what I saw children go through because you will weep openly and for many hours), or even for yourself. Your doctor is the only one who can tell you for certain.

This is what I wrote to her after she shared a story about her friend who was “miraculously cured” by an herbal remedy:

UTIs cannot be cured with herbs. Only the right antibiotic can kill the bacteria. However, if you have a spastic bladder, the irritation and urgency can be helped by certain herbal remedies for some people. But not everyone can or should take them. There is no control over the herbal and naturopathic industry like there is over the drug industry. Batches of herbal “medicines” from the same manufacturer can vary widely in the amounts of active and inactive ingredients. And not everyone has the ability to process those remedies properly anyway. Unless you’re under a doctor’s care (someone who can monitor your kidney and liver function), you should not use “herbal or natural potions”.

(Pam mentioned a friend in her email: “Until my friend had a UTI for weeks… she’d gone through three or four rounds of antibiotics… even had blood in her urine. The pain, as you know with a kidney infection, is intolerable.

Finally a woman at work told her to go to a local herb store and the person there gave her something… a week later she was fine. No lie. Shocked the hell out of me. Ever since then I’ve treated my UTIs with herbs.”)

My guess is that your friend was being treated with drugs that weren’t very effective or weren’t quickly effective. Over time, she could have developed a resistant strain of bacteria from using the wrong antibiotics for that particular bacteria. It can take a while for cultures to come back with an effective treatment for someone who has been treated with antibiotics during that same infection. Unless you have a urine specimen from someone who has NOT received any sort of treatment, you’re left playing a guessing game. One medication may provide false-susceptibility results during the culturing period. Or they can obscure other necessary information. By the time the doctors got around to treating her effectively, she’d started her herbal treatment, and she equated feeling better with the herbs she was taking. That’s not hard science. If fact, it’s no science at all. That’s luck of the draw.

How do cultures work? Your specimen is placed on a petri dish(es) and spread out. Disks of various antibiotics are placed in different sections of each dish. Whether or not there is growth around these disks, and how much growth, will tell someone in the lab which antibiotic is most effective. Some are slightly effective, but not entirely. Others aren’t effective at all. And then there are the medications that prevent growth completely. That’s the antibiotic you want! You could use one of the other not-quite-as-effective meds, but you run the risk of not clearing your infection completely.

I don’t mean to be coming across as a big naysayer, but this is simple science (and I was high dean’s academic list in nursing school for this leg of the course).

There is no way to rid yourself naturally of bacteria in your bladder or kidney or anywhere else in your body. Trying to do so can actually lead to sepsis (been there, done that, almost died). By the time they find the culprit for your infection, you could be dead.

Does that clear up the whole “how to treat a bacterial infection question”? I hope so. I can go into more detail if needed.

Now, regarding Jenn’s comment about universal healthcare on that same post, I hesitate to comment on this, but then again, having worked in healthcare as long as I did, I feel I’m obligated to help educate people who haven’t worked in the field.

Believe me when I say this: we do not want universal or socialized healthcare. I’ve worked with nurses from Europe and Canada and every single one of them would rather die a lingering death than to be subjected to the disaster that is universal and/or socialized medicine. Actually, many of them could face a lingering death if subjected to the healthcare systems in their native countries. Canada is better than Europe and that’s really not much of a consolation when you consider the shortcomings of both systems.

The closest we get to that right now: California’s Work Comp system. The very system that has screwed with me for over four years. The very system that has prolonged the suffering of thousands of injured workers.

The simple fact is that our healthcare system isn’t nearly as screwed up as Michael Moore or anyone else would have you believe. The only real problem we have with healthcare is our current system of HMOs and the incompentent people they hire to approve or deny your treatments. It becomes about profit and the people who are hired and trained to deny claims are often people who have only a high school education, if even that.

We could never maintain our current level of healthcare access if funds were meted out by the government to cover everyone. As it is, we don’t get adequate reimbursement from the government now and that’s based on many fewer people they currently cover. Children’s Hospital became “Rady’s” Children Hospital because they needed big time funding since California and the feds started cutting reimbursement rates in the mid 90s; we’ve never recovered. Once you take money out of that system, it’s horribly difficult to get the funding back.

We can’t run our hospitals effectively right now without bond measures every election being passed to provide the necessary funding to maintain facilities, staffing ratios, and stay technologically current.

True story: my very first chat buddy ever was a young man from Scotland. We met via a John Denver fan club on Yahoo back in the days when Yahoo had “clubs” instead of groups. He’d hurt his back getting a pizza out of his oven. I know! Hey, when it happens, it happens. Anyhow, Ian was seen by a doctor within a week. He was given pain medication, anti-inflammatories, and told to go rest. Xrays were being scheduled. He didn’t couldn’t get in any sooner than three months from the date of his injury. His MRI? It took almost two years before he could have that done. It took him six years to get the surgery he needed. Six years. And during that time, he was in pain. His story has been repeated to me over and over again by nurses who have worked in those systems and also by patients who’ve had to suffer under those systems.

Are there people who don’t mind the wait or who really don’t care because they’re healthy? Yes. And for the healthy among us, the system will work. But for those who are in need of more direct care more frequently, these systems of healthcare delivery can be horrifying.

Socialized medicine and universal healthcare CENTRALIZE treatment centers and resources. There are fewer resources available to a larger number of people.

Do we need to change our healthcare system to help more people? Yes, for those who are uninsured or underinsured. Is that really something we need the government to do? Not really. We need to hold insurance companies responsible, purely and simply. They are the ones who drive up prices and make insurance more unaffordable for many companies (especially small ones) and individuals.

The overhaul cannot come in the form of government sponsorship or takeover. We can’t get the proper funding now and it won’t get better any time soon. The insurance companies are the ones that need to be revamped and until that happens, there’ll always be a huge gap between what we need and what we actually get.

And that, my friends, is this (pretty much former) nurse’s opinion and experience.

2009/04/21

Mosaic Canyon, Part I

DaGoddess @ 14:00

One version of Mosaic Canyon’s beauty. This is really the first “slot” you pass through. It was lovely. And if you squint, you can kind of make out a darker line on the left side of the photo. It’s actually part of a makeshift ladder where you can climb up and take a photo of the slot/rocks below. I switched cameras with Jan after she got her shot so that I could have one, too. No way I was climbing it. I know my limits. Plus, I couldn’t risk falling. This photo, however, is not that shot. This is something entirely different. It was taken at the end of our little hike.

Mosaic Canyon B&W

Deadliest Catch — TONIGHT

DaGoddess @ 08:15

Don’t forget to check local listings for the Deadliest Catch start time!

Tonight: “Red Skies in the Morning” — foreshadowed by Phil last week.

It’s week 2 of the season, and boats are hunting down the elusive King crab. A vicious storm kicks up and a Mayday goes out. The Skippers are glued to their radios — waiting to hear the fate of 11 brother fishermen in distress…

Be prepared to sit on the edge of your seat for the full hour.

Before the show tonight, you can “catch” up with the crews by checking out some of the videos on Discovery Channel’s website. Go on. You know you want to.

Please, No. Please, Please, Please, Pretty Please — NO!

DaGoddess @ 07:21

I’m hoping and praying what I’m feeling is nothing more than a temporary condition. Pray with me. Please.

I cannot afford a kidney infection.

I’m downing massive quantities of cranberry juice at the moment.

Please…no. I have no insurance. And this isn’t like the one I had after surgery. This wouldn’t be covered by work comp.

No kidney infection. No kidney infection. No kidney infection.

That is the mantra for the day.

Stovepipe Wells, Circa ’09

DaGoddess @ 05:16

Stovepipe Wells

Why do I futz with photos and alter them? Because some ask for it. Others outright beg and plead and sound really pathetic when they do. And then there are those who just stand politely in line and hand in the proper requisition forms filled out in perfect order. Like this one.

PROMPTuesday #52 – Flying the Friendly Skies

DaGoddess @ 03:22

In an unprecedented move, I’m using this week’s PROMPT to further last week’s story. Except I’m going in reverse. Sort of.

It’s all part of Debbie’s devious plan, I can assure you. Really. She made me do it.

It wasn’t just a trip to a foreign country. To her it was much more than that. Something about Kenya had been calling to her for a very long time. She didn’t know what it was, but she felt it deep in her heart. Her parents had tried to talk her out of going. Her sisters had tried, too. Even her brother begged her not to go. “You don’t know what could happen there. There are wild animals; snakes! Dangers of all sorts,” he cried. She was his favorite sister, after all. “You could encounter strange people who’ll hurt you!”

But go she did. And she felt a thrill course through her as she boarded the plane that would take her on the last leg of the trip, from Europe to Africa, where she was going to help in a medical clinic for two months, followed by a wildlife study for another two. It was all part of her Earthwatch adventure she’d been planning for the last six years.

She got comfortable in her seat by the window, not wanting to miss a single moment. She wanted to see everything she could see. Of course, so focused was she that she didn’t notice the man who took the seat next to her for quite some time. When she did turn and actually saw him, she gasped audibly. There was something about him that said, “Hi, I’m here to change your life.”

He must have heard her gasp because he turned to look at her. Offering his tanned hand, he introduced himself, “I’m Barry. Looks like we’re going to be flight mates for the next several hours. And you are?”

Jen was sure she was blushing nine ways to Sunday, but she somehow managed to reach out and take his hand, giving her name, and quite possibly babbling something terribly inane that she couldn’t remember to save her life. He didn’t seem to notice or mind. His eyes were locked on hers and they were both so caught up in the moment that it took the flight attendant several “ahems” to get their attention.

“I’m afraid it’s time for you to buckle up. We will be departing soon. I will return shortly to get your drink orders. Champagne, perhaps? It does look like a celebration is in order for you two.”

Jen and Barry laughed and protested, “no, no.” All the while the attendant smiled a brilliant white grin and said, “yes, I do believe there is a celebration about to begin.” With that, the attendant walked away.

“Wow! She’s gorgeous!” Jen declared. “She’s exactly what I would expect to see once I land in Mombasa.”

“You’re not so bad yourself,” her new friend observed.

“Oh, thank you, um…thanks,” she giggled, blushing even more. “You…you’re…y…”

“What takes you to Mombasa?” Barry interrupted. “Work? Adventure? Romance?” There was a bit of twinkle in his eye as he uttered the last word.

“Uh, it’s, um…I’m going on an extended working vacation. No romance! I mean, no romance. And you? I mean, why are you going to Kenya?”

“Pretty much the same thing for me. Except now I think I may have to work romance into the itinerary.”

“O-oh?” Jen was flustered at this point and rather tongue tied. She was never very good at flirting and could never figure out how to respond when someone was flirting with her. However, her inability to think or speak when confronted with flirtation seemed even worse now as she sat next to this man. He was breathtakingly handsome. Model quality, really. And he was flirting with her!

The airplane started rolling down the runway, picking up speed, just like Jen’s heartbeat as she felt the warmth of Barry’s gaze upon her. She ducked her head a bit and looked out the window, hoping for distraction and some sense of social graces that would enable her to act like a human being in front of this modern day Adonis.

With a big swoop, the plane was lifted into the air. She turned to look at her new friend. He was smiling directly at her as he reached over once again and took her hand, raising his eyebrow and attempting a little boy face, “I hope you don’t mind. I get a little nervous when I fly.”

“No problem. No problem at all.”

Something about Kenya had been calling to her for a very long time. She didn’t know what it was, but she felt it deep in her heart. Was this it?

2009/04/20

Hot Toe Picker

DaGoddess @ 13:56

If you’ve never watched an episode of Foster’s Home of Imaginary Friends (the ep is “Squeeze the Day”), do yourself a favor and check out the one episode where Bloo is left at home all alone and is suffering from Boreditism™. It’s one of the best of the whole genius bunch. (I’m so sad there’ll be no more new episodes after next month.)

This is often the conversation between LD and crazy mom on a hot day:

Weather Forecaster: As a cold front sweeps in, you can expect showers in Spokane
Blooregard “Bloo” Q. Kazoo: Showers in Spokane. Spooo-Caaaahhhnn.
Weather Forecaster: Temperatures are up there, and it’s hot in Topeka.
Bloo: It’s hoooooooot in Toooooo-Peeeee-Kaaaaaaahhhh. It’s hot. Hot hot. Hot. Hot. *breathes out* Haawwwwt. Hawwwwwt. It’s Hot hot hot! It’s hot in Topeka! Toe-peeker. I’m a toe-pick. I’m a hot toe-picker. Pick my toe, it’s hot! Pick my hot toe-pick-it! Topeka’s hot. My toe is hot. Pick it. It’s hot in Topeka. It’s hot. It’s hot! Its hot. It’s Hooooot! It’s Hotten, it’s hotten, it’s hot in Topeka!

Guess what? It’s hot. In Poway. The stupid internet says it’s only 95˚. I beg to differ. Maybe it was at 9:30am when I left for pool therapy, but it ain’t that now! I missed the mid-town thermometer, too, because the phone rang right about that time and it was the school calling. (Just a recorded message from the principal about an unknown “person of interest” seen on the school grounds who turned out to be someone hired by the local soccer arena, blah blah blah. At least they let us know what’s going on.) Anyhow, I missed the temp at 1300. Oh well. I’m indoors now with the blinds closed, the fan on, and my pain meds kicking in. I’m staying right here for the time being.

Wanna know something funny? I got a little sunburn while at pool therapy. It’s an indoor pool, too. I’ll let that sink in for a few. Can you figure out how this happened? Post your guess in the comments and whoever gets it right will get a prize of some sort. Gotta have while our brains are melting, right? Right.

Preening and Posing

DaGoddess @ 10:00

You can’t really tell from this photo, but he was cleaning himself. I’ve never seen a dragonfly preen before, and yet, he was! His one little leg would sweep over his head and left eye. It was adorable.

My Dragonfly Friend

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