richardf8: (Default)
So, after running a variety of medical and school related errands with Morgan, I thought I would do some work on my Saab, which was rear-ended a week and a half after I bought it. I was backing, the other driver was skidding, and the Insurance company assigned fault to me, because she had a broken headlight, and I had about $2000 in damage.* So fixing my damage is on me. I've been working on it bit by bit, reshaping the panel, and today I needed to pull the antenna (an electric antenna). In doing so, I pulled on it with some force, it released, and remainder of said force drove my pinky into some sheet metal which sliced it open deep and wide.

I went upstairs where Morgan and I pressure-dressed it, staunching the rather profuse bleeding. She then drove me to the urgent care, which of course made her knees hurt worse, and the doctor noting that I was fortunate to have missed nerve and tendon, sutured me with seven stitches. I am rather uncomfortable at the moment.

Anyway, today was an experience.

*Both the other driver and I were with Farmers. Neither of us carried collision. They chose to fix the car that was cheaper to fix. The reason for the disparity in the amount of damage is that she was driving a Nissan Pathfinder, which has a ridiculously high front bumper, even for an SUV, and it passed COMPLETELY over my bumper and went straight into my quarter panel. Had the bumpers met, I don't think either car would have sustained damage.
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Precis: Footage of an homage concert to Leonard Cohen framed by commentary from Cohen and the performers.

The good: Cohen's commentary is very illuminating, and his wry, self deprecating humour lends an incredibly gentle touch to the film.

The bad: Self-conciously "artistic" cinematography, including such crimes as shooting in high-speed Super-8 and then enlarging in to 70mm for maximum graininess, and too many excessively tight close-ups of mouths on microphones, as well as double-image special effects seriously mar the films viewability. One or two performances were . . . . strange.

The unforgettable: Cohen performing "Tower of Song" with a band of people influenced by him, including Bono and Rufus Wainwright. Gratitude permeates the stage - gratitude from Cohen that his music will live on the hands of these younger performers, and gratitude from the youngsters for the opportunity to play with Cohen.

The unforgiveable: I went in thinking the film was produced by the Canadian Film Board. However, it was produced by Mel Gibson and released through Icon/Lionsgate. Damn, our money got into that bastard's pocket.
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We found Cuchulainn. The idiot was in the basement all this time, doing an excellent job of Not Being Seen. He would occasionally make himself heard, which always resulted in me looking for him, but he was nowhere to be seen.
So six weeks of no food, limited water and a chilly environment took their toll. He's lost 60% of his body weight, was quite hypothermic, and we're not 100% sure he can see (though we suspect he can). He'll be remaining at the emergency vet until 7:30 am, at which time we will move him to our regular vet. He is in a heated cage and receiving intravenous fluids (he's too dry for subQ).

Grendel seems relieved that we found him. I think he tried to show us once or twice, but we shoo'd him out ot the basement, because cats aren't allowed down there, and we figured Cuchulainn had gotten OUT.

[ profile] morgan1 has a more articulate account here.
richardf8: (Default)
On Friday, I wandered out to Temple Israel's website and noticed that there were donations of physical objects (food, supplies, etc.) being accepted for Nechama to deliver to the victims. I also learned that the donations would be getting sorted and packed at the JCC's on Sunday and volunteers would be needed.

My workplace is right next door to a Costco, which struck me as a good way to get some items for disaster relief. I tapped [ profile] grassyneal for what sorts of things he regarded as comfort foods when he encountered them in MRE's in his marine days. He said that the Chef-Boy-Ardee spaghetti and meatballs were a comfort food. So I headed up to Costco, and got a flat of water, a flat of Chef BoyArDee Ravioli, and a 100-pack of feminine pads.

My arrival at temple coincided perfectly with [ profile] morgan1's and I told her to unload. She preferred to take the 30 pound flat of water and the ravioli than to be seen publicly with the "things which must not be named." So we took the stuff to the bins. On Saturday, after Torah Study and Hebrew Study, and lunch with Bruce and Rita, Bruce headed home to study for the intermediate biblical hebrew class he's taking at the U, and Morgan, Rita, and I went to caribou to indulge in the air conditioning. While we were sitting there, it occurred to Rita that fuller sized women were probably getting short shrift in underwear donations, and that african american hair has special care requirements, so we headed over to K-Mart to get some stuff to meet those needs, and some canopeners. The can-opener choices were 4.00 swing-aways or a 2.00 Ecko with an old-style beer can piercer at one end. We went with the Swingaways because I could just see FEMA rejecting the ones with the pointy ends for their weapon-potential.

Then came Sunday. Morgan's account is here. I sopent most of the day packing Diapers into boxes. This was supremely satisfying work for me because unlike donating money, or even donating things, this was something concrete that I could do with my body to help with the effort. And unlike so many other volunteer opportunities I have available to me, this was back room work, and I was loving it. Feeding the homeless is very nice, and I'm glad we have people in our congregation who are up for that, but by the time my week is done, I am so burned out on the whole provider/client relationship that I just can't do it. So the sorting and packing of supplies was the perfect fit for what it is I have to give right now.

This whole thing, By the way, was organized by Nechama of Minnesota, a Jewish organization devoted to disater response. They offer Chainsaw training. Hmm. Might be worth doing more with.
richardf8: (Default)
An Atari 2600 Video Game whose premise is to get the Journey Band Members to their "E5C4P3 Scarab.":
Is there any more emblematic artifact of the eighties than a Journey Atari game?
richardf8: (Default)

Today, at our congregational "service in the round" I had an Aliyah, i.e, I read from the Torah before the congregation. I'ne spent about the past three weeks rehearsing for this, learning how to read trope markings, using a .wav file I ripped from a tape our cantor made for me. After I learned the first couple of verses from the tape the trope marks began to make sense to me and I could read them on the fly. Trope, in this case, means the little snippet of melody with which one chants a given word. By the time I got to the synagogue this morning, I knew my verses cold, and felt confident and eager. I made this aliyah in honor of what I guess must be the 15th anniversary of my father's death (yahrzeit, in yiddish).

It went well. It was not a big deal, and that was something that I appreciated. When I was done most of the people present took the time to comment on how well I had done. I was pleased by this because I spent some time working on delivery and performance. I wanted to be able to deliver my chant from my diaphragm, to fill the room with a confident voice, rather than the stage fright-induced waver that so often attends these things. I delivered, my voice only mildly restrained by having to bend over a slightly too-low table while I read. Most gratifying were the words of praise from Rabbi Glaser, the member of the clergy I hold in the highest regard, during kiddush.

This is one of the great joys of being an adult - the ability to have an Aliyah and not have it be a big, anxiety loded deal, like my bar-mitzvah was.

"Getting Bar Mitzvahed" is a bit of a strange thing. Or at least it was for me. I barely remember the event itself, but I understand it went well. But the runup itself was a trauma. No discussion of how the trope system worked (I learned more about the trope system from about 20 minutes of an overheard hebrew school class at the beginning of this year that rabbi Wildstein was teaching than I ever learned in my own Jewish training). Instead I was sent to our synagogue's Bar-Mitzvah trainer who handed me a tape, a few pages of tikkun , and had me back every week to drill me, harangue me, and give me the general impression that if I screwed the smallest vowel point up, God himself would appear before the congregation to call me a fool while the Angels wept for me. All this from a man with a perennial booger hanging half out of his left nostril - a source of disturbing distraction for a 12 year old.

In many ways, over the past four years or so, I have been reclaiming my Judaism, rehabilitating it from the small, weird traumas of growing up Jewish in a decidedly neurotic family (My mother treated the Dars of Awe almost like lent, giving up Bacon, which if she were making more than a pretense of observation, she should not have even been eating in the first place). I have been doing this within the reformed movement, whose values better reflect my own than do the conservative or orthodox. And today, I feel particularly triumphant, because I have performed that most quintessentially Jewish act, reading the Torah, because I chose to and having studied for it in a way that involved no duress, harangues, or boogers, but was rather intellectually rewarding in its own right.

So today, I feel quite happy, and very much like I have taken ownership of a faith that I, at first, and thrust upon me, and then avoided. Living that faith is going to be a worthy challenge, but one I must undertake, as the life I have right now is not filling anything I would describe as a compelling need in the world, and I need to consider how to go about answering a call that came to me 2 1/2 years ago in a northwoods lake. Things seem to be clicking in the right direction though. In a couple of weeks there is a seminar being offered by some of our local clergy on life in the rabbinate, I will go, filled with questions.

richardf8: (Default)
Just fixed [ profile] morgan1's bathroom faucet which has had a costly leak for over a year. The washers needed replaced, and while I was at it, I gave the valve stems and seats some TLC with a Toothbrush and Lube.

The weekend was good, Potluck on Saturday at the Synagogue with after a fun Torah Study and a moving service. I will be making an aliyah (reading from the Torah) at the Feb 5th Service in honor of my Father's Yahrzeit (death Anniversary).

I think I've broken through the creative block that has been dogging me since Thanksgiving, and hopefully can get back on track with Cat-Tharsis, at least on a weekly basis. Twice a week is a bit much with everything else I've got going on right now, and I'd rather take the time to create a strip I'm happy with than to produce it all in a putsch the night it's due.

Well, dinner's cooking and can probably do with a cursory glance.
richardf8: (Default)
Instead of Tefillin
I bind my arm with the cuff of a sphygmomanometer
I press start
And await judgment from a beit din
of MAP sensors and printed circuits
Diastolic trending downward,
I am inscribed in the book of life another day, at least.
richardf8: (Default)
Leave it to [ profile] morgan1 and Me to get married on Pearl Harbor Day.

Morgan and I have been together for 13 years, the first two of which might be considered courtship, the rest a de facto marriage. Today we presented ourselves before Judge Gary Bastian and what was de facto is now de jure. Judge Bastian was a fine man, wearing jeans and a t-shirt beneath his robes. He rustled us up a pair of witnesses and we emerged from his chamber Husband and Wife in the eyes of the State of Minnesota. We followed this with Bento at Sakura in Saint Paul.

We were foolish; we told our bosses we would be in in the afternoon. The wedding itself, occuring in Judge Bastian's delightfully eccentric chambers, was more romantic than either of us had expected, and a walk over the Wabasha Street bridge seemed more suitable than returning to our respective jobs, but this we did, because promises are important.

I feel more relaxed than I have in a while. I have health coverage for the first time since August of 2002. I have the security of knowing that what Morgan and I may say to each other in the privacy of our home cannot be coaxed out of us in court. I have the comfort of knowing that whatever emergency may come up, Morgan and I can speak for each other without our authority being challenged.

I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine.

Yet, I also feel a little bit . . . well not guilty exactly, but perhaps more wistful. Because I know many of you reading this cannot have those things. This is an area in which Morgan and I have been active, and we are proud to have found ourselves in the midst of a religious community that is also dedicated to making available to all Americans what is available to us. For you I offer these words from the Head Rabbi of my congregation. I look forward to the day when you can join us in these comforts.

If you are surprised or wish you had known or anything like that, know this: Morgan and I are planning something in the form of a religious ceremony sometime down the road. In many ways it is this, rather than today's civil marriage, that will carry the full weight of emotion, and of this you will receive advance warning.

And that, my friends, is why Cat-Tharsis did not appear on Tuesday.
richardf8: (Default)
Ganked from [ profile] makovette and [ profile] kevinjdog

This is the problem with LJ, we all think we are so close, and we know nothing about each other. I'm going to rectify it. I want you to ask me something you think you should know about me, something that should be obvious, but you have no idea about. Ask away.

Then post this in your LJ and find out what people don't know about you.
richardf8: (Default)
Well, I donated $25.00 to Kerry's campaign. Not much, but an avalanche is made of tiny snowflakes. Use it well, John, it should be enough to buy bagels for your volunteers. And remember to fight dirty because they are.
richardf8: (Default)
Dayton has finally codified his views on Gay Marriage according to the Pioneer Press:

Sen. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that marriage should be redefined as a religious ceremony, allowing for a civil "marital contracts" for both gay and heterosexual couples.

"The Bible said, 'Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's,' " Dayton said in a conference call with reporters.

"Under the separation of Church and state, federal and state governments should leave marriage to God and to the religions of this country," he said, "and separate out the civil aspects of what is now termed marriage as a different term, whether it's legal union or marital contract."

Dayton, a Minnesota Democrat, said the federal government should establish the overall "parameters" for such contracts. But he said the focus this year should be on defeating a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Dayton made his pitch on the same day that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., urged Congress to embrace such an amendment, which Dayton called "un-American, un-Christian and unwise."

"We need to find a better answer," he added. "And we also need to avoid the mean, dehumanizing and divisive debate that a constitutional amendment would require."

When it comes to my own deep-down and personal feelings on marriage in general, Dayton here pretty perfectly reflects my mind on it. Bravo, Dayton for finally calling attention to the fact that "Marriage" as sacred contract is none of the state's damn business, and that the state's only concern should be with how to provide an interface for two people seeking to define themselves as a household in the eyes of the state.
richardf8: (Default)
I achieved a personal goal today: I finally have a letter published in the New York Times. It can be found here, third one down.

For when the link expires, and for those who don't want to register at the Times, here is the text of my letter:

To the Editor:

Lisa Schiffren ("How the Judges Forced the President's Hand," Op-Ed, Feb. 29) seems to assume that the courts exist to rubber-stamp whatever the majority of Americans happen to believe at any given moment in history.

If this were true, interracial marriage would still be illegal, and segregation the rule of the South.

No, the courts exist to ensure that the rights afforded to individuals by federal and state constitutions are preserved for those individuals, even if the majority disagrees.

Our founding fathers understood this and created the judiciary to protect the individual.

St. Paul, Feb. 29, 2004
richardf8: (Eating)
The other day, when I was at the food coop, I picked up a coupla cans of truly nasty-ass catfood, basically tuna and mackerel in aspic -- total if-your-cat-doesn't-eat-this-he's-on-death's-door bribe food. The stuff reeeekkkkkssss!

And Grendel's eaten about half a can of it.


New Icon

Feb. 24th, 2004 04:23 pm
richardf8: (Eating)
Probably going to use this for cuisine type stuff. The image is of my character, Grendel Armstrong, eating a "peep in a blanket," baisically a bird in a crepe.

It started out life as a concept sketch for peeps in blankets, a comfort food in the Cat-Tharsis universe (where "bubble and squeak" really does squeak, and "mouse dippers" fill the role occupied by chicken tenders in our world).

Last week it became a filler strip because I didn't have time to draw something new, coupled with a recipe. I made the recipe for dinner sunday night, using Turkey Andouille sausage instead of birds. It was quite good.

So today, it being a slow day, I cropped it in photoeditor, colored it in mspaint, resized it in msword, and exported it from photoeditor. I pined for Paint Shop Pro, but I remained amused.
richardf8: (Default)
Well, finally got something like a diagnosis on Grendel: he has pancreatitis. We switched his diet from Hill's I/D to Hill's W/D, which is basically pork liver. It's actually real low in fat and should therefore help relax the pancreas. He'll need to be force fed for a while and subcutaneously hydrated. Hopefully we can get it under control before it does much damage. I'd hate for him to wind up diabetic from this.
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Tonight I brought Grendel back to the vet. Dr. Troye was working, which is good because she's our preferred vet. Dr. Casey, while a helluva good guy, and Dr. Troye's betrothed, isn't half the diagnostician she is. That's not to say we have a diagnosis. The radiologist's report came back: Some highlights:

The radiologist was "amazed" (his word not mine) by the excellent condition of Grendel's organs given that he is 11 years old. I take pride in this because I have always ensured that he gets only the scantest amount of things like fish in his diet, and have always considered the ash-content of any food I feed. No stones were observed.

He noted that the stomach lining seemed irritated and expressed mild concern about an odd distribution of gas. However, he felt this could be attributed to aerophagia (swallowing air.) Given the way he's been vomiting, this does not surprise me. He noted that there was no evidence of tumors, and generally did not appear to be in need of surgery (Yaay!).

I also wanted another X-Ray snapped tonight so I could get Dr. Troye's interpretation, although I was able to interpret it sufficiently myself:

1) Barium made it all the way through. Some remains in the ascending colon, but a path out was found.

2) With two cats in the house, it is difficult to determine which cat produced the poop in the box, so I did not know if Grendel had pooped. The X-Ray from this evening showed the posterior colon to be clear of fecal matter where it had been present in the previous day's X-Rays, i.e. HE POOPED! (Yaay!)

So we're at a bit of a loss as to why he's puking. I asked for a urine test. Some bacteria were present. Dr. Troye didn't seem overly concerned about this, but since Maeve and Willie have been passing something around, and Maeve often visits with Grendel and Cuchulainn, I asked for some antibiotics.

So, the treatment plan:

We have some syringes preloaded with Reglan (anti-emetic) and Zantac (Antacid) for subcutaneous delivery. Hopefully these will soothe his stomach enough that he can hold stuff down. I will not offer food this evening. It seems to be working -- he puked a bit when we got home, but has now gone nearly two hours without an episode. The goal is to get him settled enough that he can start his oral antibiotic tomorrow, otherwise he goes back for a poke in the butt.

Grendel is now resting comfortably on the sofa, and since I have to be up early tomorrow to give him two shots, I think I will follow his example and turn in now.

Edit: He had another episode as I saved this, but they are less frequent
richardf8: (Default)
I noted loss of appetite and puking with loss of balance over the weekend. [ profile] morgan1 and I ran him to the vet's last night. The X-Ray showed a clear area at the head of his colon. They kept him overnight, took more films, and the area hasn't budged. Here's a transcript of a MS Messenger session I had with a coworker today:

[ profile] richardf8 says:
Grendel seems to have some kind of blockage at the head of his colon. They're going to do a barium series to see if it is an actual blockage.

Coworker says:
This is familiar ground to me. Andy had barium, then two surgeries (three, if you count the hernia repair a year later.) I feel for all of you.

[ profile] richardf8 says:
What did he need the surgeries for?

Coworker says:
He'd eaten a yard of crinkly curling ribbon right before F & my wedding. We spent our honeymoon at the emergency vet clinic, and then at our regular vet's, waiting for outcome.

[ profile] richardf8 says:
Cripes! I wouldn't be surprised if Grendel ate some newsprint that Cuchulain shredded.

Coworker says:
That might mush up in his gut from digestive juices. The ribbon was retrieved somewhat intact from Andy's gut.

[ profile] richardf8 says:
How much did it end up costing?

Coworker says:
Hundreds. And the vets gave us a huge break. They charged about 350 or 450 for the first surgery, then threw in the 2nd and 3rd. They are wonderful. I kiss the hem of their garments.

[ profile] richardf8 says:
Who is your vet?

Coworker says:
One of them is retired. The other is [Name of Veterinarian] DVM
They used to be with Airport Pet Hospital, but that is no more. The freeway by Hugedale was widened.

[ profile] richardf8 says:
By "Hugedale" to you mean the Maul of America?

Coworker says:
Yes, Mall of America. Airport Pet Hospital was down by 66th street and the hiway going south into Hugedale. I'd give Dr Boschert a call.

[ profile] richardf8 says:
I'm actually pretty confident in my vet.

Coworker says:
Oh, good. The barium may be all that is required. (May show it to be a passing thing, that is...)

[ profile] richardf8 says:
Yes, if only he passes it.

Coworker says:
I've got my fingers *and* toes crossed for you guys!

[ profile] richardf8 says:

Coworker says:
You betcha. Let me know how it goes. (Poor kitty!)
richardf8: (Default)
Well, last Tuesday the box I use for my art/music production stuck 4 feet in the air. It chose the all too common Death by Bulgy Capacitors. Nothing for it but to replace the MB (and while I'm at it the Power Supply and CPU fan, seeing as these were both being a bit wonky and may have contributed to the death of the Capacitors). So [ profile] morgan1 and I schlepped the thing down to General Nanosystems, bought the new parts, and with the two of us working pit-crew style had the new mombd and PS in within 30 minutes. The easy part.

The hard part can be summed up in two words: Windows(tm) 2000. You'd think the idjits in Redmond would design the operating system, which is allegedly plug-n-play (hah!) to use a universal IDE driver when it notices that the IDE controller has changed, but Noooo, it's gotta throw a Blue Screen and proclaim that you might have a virus. So here I was with a computer imupudently refusing to boot. So I know I have to flush the day rebuilding it. First install a secondary Win2K install so I can get at my data, join the Machine to the domain, and backup all my data (all the Cat-Tharsis files, and bunch of music of my own and others) and assorted and sundry other creative works to Morgan's PC. Only then can I go through the cleansing ritual of scrubbing the drive and reinstalling everything. Except PhotoShop because Paint Shop Pro kicks its ass at 1/4 the price. Miraculously I found all my media without having to turn the house upside down.

So, long about 3:00am Saturday I finally go to sleep, my system lacking only a decent web browser. (I'll Install Mozilla on it when I browse the web from that machine again. I do most of my web browsing (and development) from my Linux notebook anyway. This morning, my next door neighbor, who believes that her sweat is so powerful that only enough Downy to qualify for a superfund grant can render her clothes wearable after a long day changing oil (she works at Valvoline), decided to poison me by doing her laundry. Aghh, time to get her a new bottle of eco (and lung) friendly fabric softener.

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