Life Memories: The Dime Theory

This is still a theory I use regularly – and if anything the more I use it over the years, the more I love it!

Dream by Day

As a trainer, the most-dreaded question is “why do I need this.”  Especially if the person signed up to take my class. I can tell you then and there, they are going to be obnoxious from here to next week.  Everyone remembers in school the question “why do I have to learn _______” whether it was math, history, a foreign language, or Shakespeare.  How many teachers had good answers?

My mother is the one who always gave me the best answers to this.  “Why do I need to learn Shakespeare, it’s sooo boring.”

“You’re learning how people interact. Shakespeare lived hundreds of years ago, but people still behave like idiots and make these types of crazy choices and look what happens.”

As the youngest of three, I had already learned the lesson that I could avoid making the same mistakes my siblings made… so the idea that even “old” books…

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Politics: Too many Boswells?

So some background here (and eventually I’ll explain the picture!): As I was writing my thoughts on Scalzi, I went looking for Dickens quotes and found (God I love Gutenberg) letters!  In one of them (I was searching keywords but this letter made me pause for context) I found this AMAZING line:

I can imagine a succession of Boswells bringing about a tremendous state of falsehood in society, and playing the very devil with confidence and friendship.

-Letter to John Foster Devonshire TerraceSaturday, April 22nd, 1848


Do you know what a “Boswell” is?  It is a confidant who publishes your life.  The famous-ness of the phrase is probably retained from Sherlock Holmes calling Watson his “Boswell” because it was a term known in that age.  But Dickens wrote about it and wrote negatively.  Ok, again this was as I was thinking on Scalzi writing fiction as a commentary on my time… so I couldn’t help but have these two thoughts collide.

Dickens called the excessive use of biography as negative.  Competing biographies degrade trust in society.

There are over 7,000 books in that tower I have at the top of this post – and all of them are about Abe Lincoln. Oh, and in 2012, that was less than half the books that had been published regarding that president… Now granted, not every one of those books is a Boswell Biography (which is a style) BUT… BUT!

I have been mulling in my mind WHY.  This is probably the question that has founded more of my thinking than any other. And this quote (granted, you should read the full context) made me STOP.  Like full mental stop and connect two things (at least in my mind).

We have flooded the market with biographies and monographs on great people or perceived great people AND we have an issue in society where people pick and choose their “experts” based on… intuition?  There is an issue of trusting “experts” in society.  There is an issue of people cherry-picking data to confirm their own bias instead of seeking a truthful answer even if it proves them wrong.

I’m not saying competing biographies and new information can’t change the narrative we understand.  Just taking any information and then applying a lens of declassified information can drastically shift historical events.  But a lot of books are written by folks claiming to be “expert” in some way which compete with each other – and how do we know which ones to trust? And how do we determine who to give our confidence to?

Dickens was a smart man.  I think he might have been on to something.  I don’t want to silence (most) people, but… could this be exasperating some of the issues we have in our politics and social commentary?  This explosion in the past 30-50 years of “experts” without a way for the common person to vet them?

Not having a solution, I am mostly putting the question out there.  I will indubitably continue to mull on this one and look to other smart people to see if they say anything that sounds like a solution.  I don’t like the idea of “committees” who choose what we can read.  This removes any kind of certification board; academic panel; etc.  The closest is some kind of peer-review in terms of non-fiction books. And if it isn’t peer-reviewed, then we (society) can teach our children to read such books with deep suspicions.

I mean, I hope people know Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is fiction but at this point… I can’t help but wonder if there are folks that either think he’s a fictional character (despite the like 15,000 non-fiction/semi-fiction that predates vampire hunting) or there are people who think he really was hunting supernatural creatures.  I’m not sure which makes me grieve more.

Life Event: Asthma

I ended up in the ER yesterday. I am ok now, but damn that sucked. NOT how I wanted my husband to spend V-day with me. That was NOT the plan (there wasn’t a real plan just “spend time together” so…. we did that!)

I went to my pulmonologist last week for my bi-annual check up.  I had some of my best results on my breathing test since I started seeing her.  And I freaking LOVE this doctor.  Of every doctor I’ve ever had – she is amazing.  She walks a balance of treating me like I am not some stupid boob but teaching me all the things I need to know to treat my disease.  She is always late, but then will spend every minute I need with me – and so as annoyed as I get for her making me wait so very, very long; I know she spent as much time with her other patients and she will spend as much time as I need (or hell, as I want).  The only time I felt rushed was when I had an afternoon appointment and she came in at like 5:45pm (the office closed at 5, her last appt. slot was 4:15- my slot).  And then wanted out of there.

Ok, so because of several reasons (*cough* including stupid insurance*cough*) we had to change me from the meds I’d been using.  There are 2 meds I use for asthma: an as-needed/emergency inhaler (albuteral) and a long-term daily dose.  I was on Breo which is once-daily powder I inhale.  We switched me to the cheaper/older Sybicort which is twice daily.  I struggle with twice daily – but for the past week I was trying really, really hard and keeping up.  I only missed one dose Saturday morning ’cause I woke up wanting to write and forgot.  This is like record-awesome drug taking for me.


I woke up Wed and went downstairs and worked out (I’m trying to be better about this).  It was awful but I pushed.  My asthma was not happy, I did a lighter work-out but I did my 25 minutes of >100 HR.  I know I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m trying.

My asthma is running at low-annoying-not-wanting-to-breathe right.  When I’m at work at about 10am, it’s bad enough I decide to take my albuteral.  I take 2 puffs of it and head to my next meeting.  I go to lunch ~12:30 and I’m tired.  I am beginning to feel the fatigue of low-level pain (my diaphram is working harder to pull my lungs open) and my brain is “foggy” from less-than-ideal oxygen. I use my albuteral again (and I keep track on my fingers the number of times I have to same-day-use this, so this was a thing to me) My last meeting ends right at 3 and after I just can’t focus.  So I decide to give up and go home – I’m not getting work done anyway.

On my way home, I call my pulmonologist’s office and leave a message with the nurse – this new med isn’t working, I’ll pay the more to go back to Breo – can you send in the script.  I’m tired. I want to get back to where I was at the beginning of Feb where I wasn’t in pain and fighting my own damn body.

Right before 5 the nurse calls me back and says my doctor wants me to go to the ER.  Specifically, because my symptoms hit relatively fast and my albuteral isn’t clearing them up, she’s concerned about pneumonia. Damnit, I didn’t think of that (who knew? you need oxygen to think straight).

I don’t want to go to the ER.  Damnit I do NOT WANT TO GO.  I call my sister and mother to get their suggestions.  My sister recommends calling urgent care.  Oh! Yeah, they can do chest x-rays and at 1/4 the copay!

I call them.  I swear the nurse was a freaking psychic.  I ask if they can do x-rays and nebulizers (the awesome machine of life for asthmatics – I don’t have one because the only time my albuteral has failed me was when i had pneumonia).  She asks why and I say my doctor wants me to get chest x-rays.  She asks if I have asthma.  I say yes.  She says, “Did your doctor tell you to go to the ER?” “…Yes….”  “You really should go to the ER.”



Ok.  I call my husband (I had been chatting with him to give him the head’s up…). He says he can be home in 45 minutes, we can be at the hospital in 1.5 hrs.  My mom (a mile from my house) had offered to drive me up there and I tell him why doesn’t he work the day out (like his last 30 minutes) and MOM can drive me to the ER.

So I call Mom, she comes to get me, we go to the ER.

I get to the ER right at 6pm. I’m not triaged for 30 minutes (seriously, they were like “why are you even here. You can talk bitch.”)  They come for x-rays ~7(?) and then return me to the lobby because they don’t have an exam room for me.

I lost track of time. The ER was nice enough, but I was exhausted and I hurt. I wanted to go home. I wanted to think straight. I couldn’t read the book I’d brought (Fifth Kindom by N.K. Jemisen) because I couldn’t concentrate. I was mad at my doctor for “making me” (yeah, yeah – I had a choice. But when I say I love and trust this doctor… and with this flu season her fear isn’t crazy and mom and my husband kept reminding me walking pneumonia does long-term damage….).  They get me to an exam room and we keep waiting.

Doc finally shows up and listens to my lungs. He’s visibly surprised when I tell him I go to a pulmonologist but don’t have my own nebulizer, but I tell him I’ve been maintained with the dailies for several years. Then the nurse comes and gets my vitals.  My blood pressure is high (like 150/90) – which for the person who generally runs 120/70 even I know that isn’t good. Something is going on in my body.

Then the respiratory specialist brings the only thing I have wanted for like 5 hours – a nebulizer treatment.   Like 80% of the way through (it’s less than 10 minutes long) I feel it.  OMG.  It’s like rays of sunshine through the clouds. I take the first deep breath that doesn’t feel like a horse kicked my chest… It’s better than a yawngasm (you know- yawns that just feel good.)  When the nurse comes and re-checks my vitals, my BP is back down to like 135/80 – still high for me, but I’ve been in the ER for like 3 hrs now… like it’s stressful or something?

I got to the ER at 6pm and there was 1 person in the waiting room.  I left after 10pm.  We hadn’t had dinner. Despite the shot-in-the-butt of steroids the nurse I’m exhausted. Fyi, the nurse was awesome – she was funny and chipper and DAMN GOOD with that needle.  She stuck me before I knew what she’d done and had that burning shit in me before I could even tense – and steroid shots hurt almost as much as tetanus.

So we get home at almost 11 and finally eat dinner (Wendy’s – yay what’s open past 10pm….). I eat and crash in bed before midnight.  I know I’m “supposed” to not eat 3-hrs before bed but F-that when I just left the ER.

I didn’t post on FB; I kept in text-contact with my family & my husband was texting his parents to keep them informed.  Part of me wanted to take a selfie with my husband while using the nebulizer and make the valentine’s day joke – or a joke about him loving me too much – but as funny as my asthma-riddled brain was, I had enough oxygen to realize that was…. weird? Bad. Not as funny to anywhere outside my brain.  I blame the twists of carbon dioxide whispering such corrupting thoughts.

Ironically, I hovered around 95% oxygen when they brought me in (hence the “why is she here” looks…) and then stayed close to 97-98% after the treatment.  Granted, anything under 95 IS officially “less than ideal” territory and the high BP means SOMETHING wasn’t working right.  And the last time I was in the ER, I wasn’t pulling oxygen into my lower lungs, couldn’t talk and STILL showed 92% – I think I somehow throw off those machines.  Or my brain/body is more sensitive to low-oxygen.

My back is still sore this AM (I got up at 5:30 to write this up – yay steriods… ) But I can tell it’s “my diaphram doesn’t really ever get a break, so it’s sore after working hard” sore NOT “I’m working hard and it hurts” sore.  And yes – those are different.

Tomorrow you’ll get the post that was scheduled to go up today… but I thought this should get some expediency.

Musing: Book of my Time

This is not a review of Collapsing Empire (John Scalzi) because it’s the first of either two or three books – and I am chomping at the bit to be able to get #2.  I am actually really glad I waited to read it until now – if I had read it when it first came out I would have been soooo cranky. Ok, by read I do mean “listen to Wil Wheaton read it” and thoroughly enjoy his performance.

I have been musing over this book since last week – I woke up Saturday morning at 6am and found my mind turning over bits of it.  It is is the first time in my life I’ve read a book and thought “damn, if/when they read this in 100 years, what will they say of us?”

Let me clarify here.  John Scalzi has never considered himself a paragon of literature.  He has said (I am paraphrasing here) a thousand times he writes books he hopes entertains people.  He isn’t writing to make social commentary (again, as I understand from his blog) and he isn’t writing to change minds.

I wonder if Charles Dickens would have said the same thing.

I have been told in my entire academic career that Dickens was writing on purpose to change minds.  But I don’t remember ever seeing a quote from him saying this was his goal. HELL – he called A Christmas Carol “his little christmas book” and he just wanted that to make some money to pay the bills!  THAT I remember. I don’t think he was trying to pen the great novel it turned into.

Did he have a social conscious?  God yes. Clearly.  Do I think he was trying to spark social revolution with his novels? No.  I think he was writing those to entertain. I ran searches for keywords (society, poor, etc.) and he didn’t talk about these things in his correspondence.  The closest I found was a letter where he came to Virginia (1842!) and wrote about slavery.  (seriously, go here and read his letter to W. C. Macready in 1842!)

Interestingly, Dickens & Scalzi have something else in common.  Scalzi has written very openly about the difficulties he experienced growing up.  Dickens’ father went to debtors prison and at 12 Dickens had to go to work at a factory to support his family.  They both had some truly lucky breaks during their teens (Scalzi went to a great school, Dickens got a white-collar job – at the time a truly amazing break for a boy from a lower-income family).

I can’t help but wonder if Collapsing Empire might be one of those books kids read in school in 100+ years and talk about how Scalzi wrote it as a commentary (he says he didn’t!) on early 21st century society.  Some of the issues it touches on (gender, sexuality, stratified societies, greed & power, language…. God I don’t want know how many times “fuck” is used) are things that are just so real to me these days.

Whether intentional or not, the book does (in my opinion) touch on some of the mental/social fights we are having today.  It might just be Scalzi working through it in his own mind or reflecting his own dreams of how society could be into text.

I can’t wait to see the whole thing play out. I will have to read them again.  Hell, I might even buy some copies in paper-form that I’ll write in/mark up and do I truly in-depth review of them!  I haven’t done that since college…. mmmmm that sounds mentally yummy.

Review: Here, There be Dragons (James Owen)

This book is imperfect (I have critiques) but it is definitely on my list of “books I’ll recommend to someone.”  If that sounds like a contradiction – well, you can enjoy something that is imperfect despite it’s imperfections.

Here, There be Dragons is, at it’s core, a fun adventure novel.  I thought it was a little predictable, but it is a fun twist on the “fairy tale” genre.  It fits into the trend of re-examining the classic tales and/or referencing them without expecting them to be some kind of “TRUTH.”

I listened to this book, and the reader of the audiobook (James Langton) did a great job with the accents and character voices without making them take over the story. Especially in books where the author didn’t plan out audio (and so made sure to say “Said John.” type things) it helps for the narrator to have voices.

The biggest critique I have in this book is some (I suspect unintended) sexism.  There is one female character of note.  Oh, I think one of the 3-fates might be the most memorable but she had one scene versus the woman who was in the book the entire time.  I don’t think (or at least I’m going to assume it) James Owen meant to be sexist, I just think he assumed his primary audience would be young boys and they would want male protagonists.  There isn’t really a romance plot-line, which is more common in male-marketed fantasy (female-marketed fantasy is critiqued if they don’t have a romance plot…)

I DO like the way James Owen tackled myths and their interactions.  I like how he pointed out the “3 women controlling fate” has different names in different myths – and there similarities and differences and how they can be handled.

It is worth getting the end and seeing the twist he included.  I can’t say I “saw it coming” but I had been suspicious of something from pretty early in the book and when the twist happened I was able to think “Ha! I knew that thing I’d noticed couldn’t be an an accident!  THAT’S what he was doing with it.  Nice.”

It is absolutely worth the read, but it isn’t a book I would say “your kid needs to read this to grow up” (like I did with Alanna).  I don’t know that I would even say “it will make you think” – I don’t know that it would make an adult think (I kind of home not).  BUT, it was a fun romping adventure that made me want to find out how they’d reach the end.  It is one of the better “twisted fairy tale” stories I think I’ve seen lately and for that alone, I’d give it about a 3/5 stars.  Good, not brilliant.

Life Events: Apologies!

I have 2 reviews in progress but have written little more than intro paragraphs on them.  It has been such a crazy week for my paying-the-bills job that a LOT has slid to the side (my wonderful husband has been so supportive, I can’t even tell you how much I have needed him this week).

So I will try to get (a) caught up and (b) ahead on some posts this weekend so next week won’t be so barren (I have a backlog…. now I just need some energy)