Saturday, August 30, 2014

Planning for failure

[Been reading Kim Possible fan fiction.  Has me thinking about exploding lairs and such.  Entirely original, though.]

-

"Why are the ventilation ducts big enough to crawl through anyway?" a man in a short suede jacket asked.

"I have pondered that myself," the older man in the lab coat asked.  "I believe I know the answer."

"Yes?"

"Yes, but I don't think you'll like it," he said while walking over to exposed ductwork.  "Follow me."

When the two arrived, the older man pointed at a symbol on one of the ducts.

For a moment it meant nothing to the man in the suede jacket and then his eyes opened wide in recognition.  He double checked the name of the company and said, "It's one of her friends."

"Indeed.  Regrettably, they're the best."

"So the company that makes our ventilation systems is owned by a personal friend of the person most likely to use said ventilation systems to bypass our security and break into our lairs?"

The other nodded.

"Why don't we just blow the place up ourselves?"

"Would you prefer to go without air conditioning?"

"No."  There was a moment of silence.  "Well, we could--"

"The last time we used anything other than the best was when--"

"Let me guess," the man in the suede jacket said, a palm connecting with his forehead, "it was when the climate control broke down and somehow the fresh desert air being pumped in didn't get any cooler and the aquifer-tapped lair didn't get any less moist.  As I recall it was muggy as hell and north of 120 degrees."

The other man nodded again.

"You're right.  I'd rather blow up the building myself than go through that again."

After a somber pause, he resumed, "It's just that I can't send sentries into the suspiciously person-sized ventilation system because then they wouldn't show up when we need to do a head count to make sure everyone gets out safely when the lair explodes, which it inevitably will."

"You don't like that the lairs have a self destruct."  It wasn't a question, it wasn't even disguised as one.

Nonetheless, the young man in the suede jacket answered. "No, no," he said quickly. "The self destruct has served us well.  I've lost count of the number of times cases against us have had to be thrown out because all of the physical evidence was destroyed by the self destruct."

After a pause he resumed, "I just think we could save a lot of time and money if we just blew the place up ourselves rather than waiting for her to get here and do it for us."

"We hope for success; we plan for failure."

"And you don't see any causal relationship between what we plan for and what we always seem to achieve?"

"Jacob?"

"Yes, boss?"

"Take a few days off."

"Thanks, boss."

-

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Missing hat

I got a ride from my mother because I felt liked I'd been imposing on my father the past two days and didn't want to bother him that day.

It turned out that because of the early departure needed to get a ride from my mother I didn't have my full wits about me when I left and forgot three things.  Two I decided to call my father about.  The third was that I forgot to print the ticket.  A quick trip over to the university and its printers would solve that.

You could see that the rubber foot of one of my crutches was damaged, Lonespark had said I'd need to replace it.

Finally it blew out.  I've never mastered walking on one crutch.  Walking on one crutch while holding onto a useless crutch, hard as all hell.

I made it back and got onto the bus, what to do with the crutches was sort of hard to figure out, but the problem would come later.

I realized, via being reminded, that I forgot to take my medication.  I'd need to do that when I got to south station.

Wrangling purse, crutches, backpack, and stuff that wanted to fall out of purse and backpack was difficult.  I forgot my hat.  Thankfully someone let me know.  Hat saved.

I went to McDonnald's in the South Station Bus Terminal.  (Not to be confused with the other end of South Station which is housed in a different building that services the Redline of the T and commuter rails of many sorts.  Plus Amtrak.  That has a McDonnald's too.)

I forgot to say no ice so instead of a large soda I had an incredibly small soda in a large cup that was mostly filled with solid water.  It was enough to take my meds though.

When the time came to go I went through the difficult task of gathering everything, now including a duffle bag that had been under the bus and tried and failed to make use of my remaining good crutch while somehow carrying the broken crutch.

When I got picked up I told of how I had almost lost my hat without ever realizing that I had left my hat three floors up in the rotunda of South Station.

So long hat, may you live well.

The hat, if I remember correctly, cost ten times as much as the amount of money the crying person was short on a bus ticket.  If I had cash I would have paid him, and if he turned out to be a sneaky person conning me or something I wouldn't feel the money was wasted, better that liars get money than innocent people get stranded.

The hat in question.  This hat.

A couple pictures:




At some point I'll have the money for another hat.

Also, the broken part of the crutch has been replaced.  I have two working crutches; I can take on the world.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Counting

  1. Unity
  2. The even prime
  3. The only consecutive prime
  4. First perfect square
  5. The first elder twin prime
  6. First squarefree composite
  7. Perfect number in Babylonian numerology
  8. First perfect cube
  9. First non-unity Kaprekar number
  10. Base.
  11. Landed on the moon.
  12. First sublime number.
  13. Months in a lunar year.
  14. Fortnight
  15. Quarter of an hour.
  16. Lowest perfect forth.
  17. "The most random number"
  18. Chapters in Ulysses
  19. The impossible cribbage score
  20. First primitive abundant number
  21. Spots on a standard die
  22. Paths in the tree of life
  23. Read the Illuminatus Trilogy an you'll see where the whole fuss started.
  24. Squares in a tesseract
  25. First aspiring number
  26. Number of cards of a given color in a deck of cards.
  27. Plastic parts in a Rubik's cube
  28. Only natural number with a unique Kayles nim-value.
  29. First number that is a  Pell prime and a Pillai prime
  30. First sphenic number.
  31. Number of triads in the standard twelve tone musical system
  32. First perfect fifth
  33. Bones in typical human spine
  34. The first semiprime Markov number
  35. Youngest age at which one can legally become president of the USA.
  36. Number of Tzadikim Nistarim
  37. First irregular prime
  38. Number of minutes a Stargate can stay open if not fed by an external power source.
  39. First perfect totient semiprime Perrin number
  40. First pentagonal pyramidal semiperfect octagonal Størmer number
  41. First centered-square (natural Einstein Proth) cousin prime
  42. The Answer

Thursday, August 21, 2014

About untreated depression

I had untreated depression for most of my life.  The vast majority in fact.  Memories from before a certain point are hazy so I can't put a definite start date on it.  I do know that the questions about "the last two weeks" as compared to "usual" always threw me because for me depression was the default setting.  There was no other usual.

Though on account of having two types of depression (yes, it comes in flavors) sometimes it was worse.  I had two settings for much of my life: depressed, and bouts of really, really, really fucking depressed.

It took, I'd say, five to ten years to realize I had depression.  It took another three to get anyone to take me seriously enough to get attempts at treatment.  All failed.  I got ping ponged between doctors, put on all manner of medication, and none did shit.

What I was like when depressed is, I think, best described by the time it took me two hours to brush my teeth.  The actual tooth brushing took two minutes.  That's well within the margin of error of the two hour figure.  I just kept on stalling out.  There are too many steps, you see.

First I had to get up, mustering up the will and drive to do that took quite a while.  Then I had to walk to the bathroom.  Once in the bathroom I had to put the toothbrush together.  (Electric toothbrushes commonly have removable ends.  One of the many uses of this is that you can have multiple people use the same expensive part because the part that goes in the mouth is different for everyone.  The down side is that you have to put it together and take it apart every time you use it.)

That took a while.  Not the doing, mind you, the getting the will to do it.

Then I had to open the tooth paste.  Took what felt like forever to start doing that.

Then I had to put toothpaste on the brush.  Guess.  Seriously, if you're not seeing a pattern yet something is wrong.

Then I had to actually pick up the toothbrush and brush my teeth.

When that was over I happened to glance at my watch and realized that two hours had passed between when I decided to get up to brush my teeth and the moment I was done.

Again, the actually brushing took two minutes.  (I know because the brush had a built in timer.)  None of the other tasks took longer than you'd expect.  So that's basically two hours spent doing nothing because I lacked the will to do anything and had to build up for every step.

Or there's the fact that I watched The Shawshank Redemption untold times for hours on end because I couldn't muster the will to stand up, cross the room, and change what was in the DVD player.  (I started being depressed before DVDs existed, for what its worth.)  Even getting together enough giving of a damn to pick up the remote and press play so it wouldn't be stuck on the title screen was hard, but it was better than it being stuck on the title screen.  That was way better than in the earlier days when hours might be spent staring at a wall in my room.  (My room has pretty boring walls.)

The point here is that depression isn't just about when you feel incredibly soul crushingly sad for no reason.  It isn't just when you feel like it's everything you can do to keep your head above water while no one gives a shit and you're worthless and so forth.

It isn't just the fact that it can (though will not always) turn you into an asshole who pushes everyone away when what you really need is to let people in.

It isn't just anything, people are too complex for an illness to manifest in just one way and depression is too complex of an illness for that as well.

It can also be apathy, it can be smothering anxiety, it can be a lack of drive, and any number of other things that simply make you stop.  Just stop.  Not "stop and ... " but stop.

It can make it so that the ones who need help most are least able to seek it.

And when there was a break in my not-actually-treating-my-depression "treatment" I simply wasn't able to get back to it.  I drifted.

And then I had no insurance.

And then I had insurance for about six months.

And then I had no insurance.

And then years passed.

And then fortune smiled upon me.  A few nervous breakdowns and a panic attack or two later (depression is comorbid with so much shit) I had a good psychologist who set me up with a good psychiatrist and for quite a while no treatments worked.

So, you know, same old shit.

But finally we found a medication that worked.

Which gave me total insomnia.  The symptoms of sleep deprivation are remarkably similar to depression.  So it was kind of a wash there.

Lots of shit, a concussion, being forced to try out a cheaper medication that didn't work, and so forth later and now I'm on a working antidepressant and the insomnia it causes is dealt with via a prescription sleep aid.

The only medication found that works for me in 15 years of (on and off) looking for one?  It wasn't even put on the market until ten years ago and even then it was explicitly supposed to NOT BE USED unless you'd exhausted all other options.  Do you know what it takes to rule out even one medication?

Most antidepressants work like this:
Doctor: We're going to start you on a low dose so take Xmg a day for a month."
*month passes*
Doctor: Ok, that isn't working, lets up the dosage a bit, lets try Ymg a day.  It'll take a while to build up in your system so we'll check back in a month.
*month passes*
Doctor: It's still not working but we did start you on the lowest dose so take Zmg for the next month.
*month passes, having reached the end of the alphabet the doctor moves on to Cyrillic, when Ya (that's the one that looks like a backward Latin alphabet R, by the way) is reached it's decided to try new things*
Doctor: Sometimes this medication needs a little help from another.  There's been a lot of research into promising synergistic effects.  So let's see if it works along with ξmg of medication ا.  See me in a month

(That's an Alif, by the way, the font is kind of wanting.)

AND SO ON.

Antidepressants work slowly and sometimes it takes a high dose for it to start working.  The dose of the medication I'm on that does work?  Six times the starting dose.  Assuming that I remember the starting dose correctly, it might actually be twelve times the starting dose.

And all of this skips over an important fact.  The medication?  Expensive as fuck.  If I weren't on my current insurance (which ends at the state line and involved jumping through hoops for ages, hoops that I wasn't able to make myself jump through for the longest time) I'd never be able to afford it.

Which means that until I got said insurance (which is ridiculously good for prescription drugs and crap for many other things) even if I, and my doctor, had known the exact medication and dosage that would treat my depression it would have been impossible to actually get my depression treated.

All these things and more are why I get pissed off at people who act like it's easy to get treatment for depression.  It fucking isn't.

I don't know what's made the latest round of, "Let's blame the person with a mental illness for not getting it treated when it would be hard to treat anyway and the mental illness itself makes it harder to get treatment in the first place," people come out, but it's pissing me off.

If the reason it's come up is Robin Williams then I'm doubly pissed off, if it isn't then I'm merely singularly pissed off.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I haven't forgotten that this place exists. I swear.

Really.

I have thoughts for posts on the most recent Godzilla movie (47 years late Godzilla finally makes it to San Francisco), The Croods (it's all fun and games when you're kidnapping people and plotting your mother in law's demise), Spore (this game you made, it doesn't appear to know what sort of game it is), and definitely want to get back to Edith and Ben, Snarky Twilight, .hack and Deus Ex, some Left Behind and Narnia stuff, and of course The Princess Story.

It's just that actually doing it never seems to happen.  Hopefully this will change soon.

Also, good news, they x-rayed my foot from three different angles and concluded that it's no worse than I already knew (it hurts, but is otherwise undamaged, the pain should go away with time.)

Oh, and remember when I needed beta readers in a huge hurry?  Going to need them again more or less nowish, but I have to write (or rather rewrite/expand) the thing before anyone can read it.  It's the same thing, others agreed with the general sentiment that there was too much unexplained.  I have to work out how to do exposition without making it feel like exposition.  I'm thinking cheeseburgers might be the solution.

But I need it in the next few days because computer problems (remember those?) delayed me getting the information and then procrastination (my constant companion) further put off writing more until now when I'm a few days from being out of time.  Which is where things currently stand.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Monthly Donation Reminder

So every month I do a reminder that I have a donation button.  And that's about it.  Boring post.

The ides of August are on the 13th so today would be counted backward from the start of next month, the 18th day before the Kalends of September.  Mind you the Kalends of September was counted as one of those days so by our reckoning it would be the 17th day before.

This is a holdover from when August was a 29 day month.  (Extra days were added after the ides.)

Of course the name wasn't always August.

It was called Sextilis (sixth.)  The Roman year was two months off from ours.  (Hence September, October, November, and December --meaning Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth-- being months nine through twelve of our year.)

Sextilis was renamed August in honor of Augustus.  The was after Octavian was given the name/title Augustus in honor of being the autocrat who could kill you if you didn't honor him.

People often think that August has 31 days because Augustus wanted as many days as he could get in his month.  In fact Sextilis was given thirty one days as part of the Julian calendar reforms before the month was renamed August.  Possibly before the person was renamed Augustus.

Anyway, donation button, it exists.  Top right.  Use it if you want to, don't if you don't.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why I go greyhound when possible

My insurance doesn't work out of state.  Well, it doesn't work on my medication, I've never tried it on things like doctors visits.  Without insurance my medication is hideously expensive.  (Tried the low cost alternative, didn't work.)  I think it might be more expensive than all of my other living expenses combined.  I could never afford that.

So I don't buy medication out of state.  But if I'm going to be out of state for a while and I forgot my medication...

I needed a round trip.  I naturally went to greyhound, my preferred bus company in the area.  They couldn't help, they could get me back to home, but not back from home.  The bus was full and they admitted that.

So I went Concord.

The way over was ok.  They'd overbooked but were able to commandeer an extra bus and shove everyone in to two buses.  Not a single empty seat and I'm not totally sure that they got everyone but they did get me.  One uncomfortable trip later and I'm walking in the general direction of home.  I stop to have lunch, I should have eaten it faster.

Also there seems to have been something wrong with foot that more than three solid hours of nothing but walking (with occasional running) made way worse.

I get home, get the medication, and head back but by now the problem with my foot is noticeably slowing me down.

Even though I was exhausted I had to run to have any hope of making the bus.

I reached the point where I was too exhausted to run more than a few steps.  Without the wind on my face from running I was overheating.  I began to start to wonder what the warning signs for heatstroke were.  More ordeal.

I made it in.  The bus hadn't left yet.  Woo!

I wanted to buy a drink but I only had one dollar and the vending machines charged 2 dollars.

A drinking fountain!  I quickly collapsed to my knees and gulped down water.  Drinking fountains are a good size for a person my size to use from their knees.

I think I must have been too dehydrated to sweat or something because soon after sitting in line (which is what I did after spending many minutes drinking) I was drenched where before not so much.

The bus arrived half an hour late.  All that work to get there on time was for nothing.  I could have limped at a reasonable limping speed (my left foot would have preferred that) and made it there.

It started boarding 40 minutes late.

There were about 30ish people in line for it, they were still selling tickets for it.  I was 12th in line.  I should make it on, right?  Wrong, of course.

There were only ten seats.

The bus was almost full.  They knew that there were some 20 people in line who wouldn't make it on the bus, and they were still selling fucking tickets.

An hour later I got on the next bus.

So why do I prefer Greyhound?

First, it's somewhat cheaper.

Second, when a bus is full they STOP SELLING TICKETS.