Brains are weird

For most of my life, I've been able to group my anxiety dreams into several distinct categories.

1. Someone I care for (friend, family, signficant other) treats me with indifference, cruelty, or contempt. When I confront them about it, they shrug or roll their eyes, tell me in detail how annoying I am and how much they've always disliked me, and leave (often stranding me someplace.)

2. I am stranded someplace without a car. The buses are not running. Sometimes I end up biking across Phoenix, which expands as I ride across it. For some reason, I am always heading for my childhood home, rather than where I live now, and I am seldom able to get there. If I do get there, someone else is living there. (In reality, we were the last people to live in that house before it was torn down for the new freeway.)

3. My teeth and/or my hair is falling out.

4. I am still in school, and about to take a final for a class I haven't attended all year, and have forgotten to drop out of. After many years of this dream, I have finally got to the point of being able to realize in-dream that I graduated decades ago. Fear of failing the final morphs into guilt for wasting money auditing a class I didn't attend.

5. The "dual responsibilities" set:

A) We have bought a new house, but we have not sold the old house, often because we just sort of forgot we owned one or the other of them. Either we are still living in the old house, and the new house sits empty, costing us money, or vice versa. I have forgotten to pay one of the mortgages, or I owe Mom a ton of money she lent us to buy the new house.

B) In addition to my normal job, I am still working for the play-by-mail gaming company that fired me back in 2001. I am supposed to be doing both jobs, though it's never clear why. (Maybe it's to pay for those two mortgages.) I've been slacking off at the PBM job, because it pays next to nothing and I don't like it. I feel guilty about it. I have to go over there after my regular job and deal with piles and piles of months-or-years-old customer service letters.

C) And a relatively new addition: Mom has been sick or injured, and she has somehow managed to go back to her old house (which, in the dream, we have not yet sold) after being released from the hospital. The house is mostly empty of furniture, and most of her things are at her assisted living apartment, but she insists that she will recuperate better in her old house, and refuses to go back to the apartment – which sits empty, costing her money. comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

Blood is compulsory

This morning when walking the dog, we saw the detritus from some flares in the road ahead. "Oh, there must have been a traffic accident last night," we said. When we got to the northeast corner of 28th and Indian School, there was a bunch of sand in the road, soaking up oil from what must have been a car crash. And there on the sidewalk was one (1) discarded pair of heavy duty plastic gloves, one (1) unexploded bullet, and two (2) LARGE PUDDLES OF WHAT SURE AS HECK LOOKED LIKE HUMAN BLOOD. This was not a little drop of blood; this was an oh-God-someone-died-here amount of blood. There's no mention of it in the news. Geez, life in a big city.

I was mowing the lawn this weekend, and thinking rather morosely about the environmental evils of Lawns In General. Our lawn is not a monoculture -- it's a mix of Bermudagrass, lippia, dichondra, buffelgrass, yellow sweetclover, desert mallow, Persian clover and other plants which occasionally grow up from uneaten birdseed, and assorted weeds. Unless it's the dead of winter, something in that mix is usually flowering, providing bee fodder. We get lots of bees -- not just honeybees, but carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, and a couple other wild species I'm not sure of the names of. (Arizona has a great variety of wild bees.) Not to mention the butterflies, wasps, and other pollinating insects. We have a dozen or so trees (two grapefruit, two oranges, one lime, one lemon, one fig, two acacia, one eldarica pine, and a dwarf bottlebrush) proving shade and a carbon sink, and that's not to be sneezed at around here. Plus a bunch of hopeful acacia saplings on the west side that may be shade in twenty years. But, still, we live in a desert and I can't pretend it's not a water hog, even though I use the Responsible Watering Tricks -- deep water once a week instead of sprinkling every day, etc.

But on the other hand, converting to desert landscaping (with actual desert plants and trees of even remotely comparable size, as opposed to just stopping watering and letting everything die) would cost a freaking fortune. And I don't want to live in a house with a bare dirt and gravel yard. If I could wave a magic wand and covert our entire yard to xeriscaping, I would. But magic wands being scarce upon the ground, I suppose I will just continue to stew about it. comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

Hello and goodbye

Hello to the new fridge, which fits perfectly. (Though Kathy said the delivery guy did have to take both the handles off the fridge, and the front door off its hinges, to get it inside. We're betting that the Costco delivery guy didn't want to go to all that trouble.)

And goodbye to Cairo. :( He was twenty-two years old this year, a very good run for a cat. For the last couple of years his health has been slowly but steadily declining: arthritis, thyroid and kidney issues, etc. He's lost a lot of weight, and while still alert, it's obviously painful for him to get around. A couple of days ago, he stopped eating. We waited a day to see if he was just feeling under the weather, but today he started wandering around the house, and eventually curled up in a corner (not one of his usual sleeping spots). Kathy set up a vet appointment for him, and we took him in this afternoon. The verdict, as we suspected, was just "He's old." The vet said they could try this that or the other that might perk him up for a day or a week, but at this point, anything they did would be prolonging the inevitable. So we decided it was better to send him off before he got really bad, and said goodbye.

Little Bit doesn't give a hoot about other cats and Valentine is too new to have gotten attached, but Churro has been wandering around the house sniffing at Cairo's favorite spots, looking for him. Churro was the one who noticed Ma-San had gone, too. He hassled them both unmercifully, but it was because he was interested in them (an interest which was usually not, alas, returned.) comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me


Kathy and I got our first covid vaccinations on Sunday. Monday morning, I went to the dentist to finally deal with my fallen-out filling. (I had originally been scheduled for last week, but the dentist's assistant had a family emergency, and we had to move the appointment.) I hadn't had any adverse reactions to the shot up till then, but after the dentist was done and I came off the nitrous oxide, I was absolutely wiped out. I don't know if the vaccine interacted badly with the nitrous, or if he gave me more nitrous than usual, or if he gave me the same amount and I'm just gettin' old, or what, but I came home and collapsed like a broccoli. I'm still feeling weirdly tired.

The good news is that I don't need a full crown after all, just an inlay. Yay. It's slightly less expensive, and I keep the tooth.

The new refrigerator is supposed to be delivered tomorrow, so fingers crossed that goes off... comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me


I had intended to do many things today, but we had a cold snap, and a lot of wind, so many of them did not get done. Luckily we managed to get 85% of the water sealing in the back yard done (all of the tiki bar, and the boards in the two gates) done Saturday. We still have to do the clothesline, but hopefully next weekend will be a little more temperate.

Valentine is still kind of sneezy, but the vet said that it's very unlikely he's still contagious, so we've been introducing him to the other animals. He LOVES Bo -- he'll rub up against his legs, and lie down next to him. The other cats are a little more fraught -- there has been some minor hissing, batting, and chasing, but so far, it's going really well. We are only letting him inside for short periods; I don't want to bring him in fulltime until he's been neutered, which will be another week or so. In the meantime, he's still living in Chez Quarantine, and we let him out in the back yard (under supervision -- he's shown no signs of wanting to leave the yard, but, well, cats), or bring him inside, several times a day.

Seeing him next to the other cats, he's quite small. We're not totally sure if he's still got some growing to do, or if he's full-grown but stunted. His legs are very short. Not Munchkin-short, but definitely stubby in comparison to the other cats; if he had normal-length legs, he'd be about Cairo's size, but he's only about 2/3rds Cairo's height. (Cairo was about a 11-lb cat when he was younger; Valentine is currently 7.5 lbs. He was only about 5 lbs when we found him, severely underweight.)

I have my first yearly review next week. Fingers crossed. So far my boss seemed fairly pleased with my work, but I always fret over this stuff.

One interesting note -- at a meeting last week, one of my co-workers was demonstrating the flu dashboard that they maintain. It tracks the last several years of company flu data -- how many flu-related claims, how many shots we gave, etc. It covers the last four flu seasons. The previous three seasons look like three vast mountains on the graph. The current one? A teeny, barely visible, flattened-out lump. Flu is less transmissible than covid; measures designed to slow down covid stop flu dead in its tracks. So anyone who says that masks and social distancing don't do anything can suck it; data says otherwise. comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

Baffled by predecessors

So a while back I was asked to do a report at work. It had last been done a couple of years ago, no one had access to the original code, and I had to research the process and build it from scratch. Which was fine, except that my results were really different from the old results, and no one knew why. The other day someone was able to give me the location of the old code, and I went through it to see if I could figure out where the discrepancy was, and I discovered that it was... well, it was a hot mess, and it wasn't actually doing the thing it was supposed to do. I let my boss know, and we've all quietly agreed to just go with my version from here on out. One of my co-workers said that they'd all had similar experiences dealing with Code From The Team Before Us; it looks very impressive on first glance, but upon examination it's apparent that they didn't know what the hell they were doing.

(I mean... there was one part where they were breaking out results by month. And instead of using A) "Between Date1 and Date2" or B) Month(Date)as their filter, they used in list with EVERY FREAKING DAY OF THE MONTH. IN TWELVE SEPARATE QUERIES. I don't think it would ever have occurred to me to do it like that, even as a rank newbie. NO HUMAN BEING CODES LIKE THAT!)

Valentine's second checkup went well; the vet was very pleased with his progress -- she said he looked like a young cat now, instead of a skinny-old-man cat. He's still got some sneezes going, so she gave us some different meds to try. His breathing is much improved, though. We had Churro and Cairo in for their vaccinations today, and Little Bit goes in next week, and once that's done, and we're sure his sneezes have cleared up, we'll bring him inside. He is VERY tired of being in the cage all the time.

In skiffy news, looks like Baen's Bar has finally come in for some scrutiny after one too many members posted about destroying the infrastructure of cities to own the libs. Now, of course, the putative lib-owners are wailing and moaning that they're being oppressed, and this is the inevitable first step towards said libs destroying Baen Books altogether. Instead of, I don't know, Baen just creating and enforcing a forum moderation policy or something. These people make me tired. comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

Woo and perhaps a hoo

So the vet called today, and to make a long story short, Valentine's* second test came back negative. So we gave him an official name, and I think we will be keeping him. He will have to stay in quarantine for at least another week, because of the respiratory infection. Apparently the kind of negative Valentine got is a possible indication that he may have had a less virulent strain of feline leukemia. I didn't even know there were less virulent strains, but apparently some of them are serious but survivable, like valley fever, rather than an inevitable death sentence. Anyway, out of an abundance of caution, the vet wants us to bring in the other three cats and get their feline leukemia vaccinations up to date before we bring him into the house. But since I've been bracing myself for the worst, all that seems eminently dealable.

*We figured that since we'll be spending all our money for the next few weeks on shots, neutering, etc., we might as well say he's our Valentine's present.

comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

Well, that sucks

The bad news is, Stray Cat's initial quick and dirty test for feline leukemia came back positive. The maybe not as bad but don't get your hopes up news is, the vet said that the initial quick and dirty test can throw false positives, especially when a cat is sick with something else, and Stray definitely has an upper respiratory infection. So we shelled out for the more expensive and accurate test, which will take several days. But I am not getting my hopes up.

Right now Stray is living in quarantine on the back porch, in Silly's old cage, being dosed with antibiotics for the respiratory infection. It wouldn't be kind or practical to keep him there for however many months he had left. Feline leukemia is very contagious, fast-progressing, and basically untreatable. And it is virtually impossible to place a cat with feline leukemia in a shelter, because of how contagious it is. And we don't want to put our existing cats in danger of catching it. If test #2 comes back positive, Stray will almost certainly have to be put to sleep. :( comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

Cat furniture

We have this ongoing issue where the cats want to sleep in the dog crate, which makes the dog Very Sad, and when the dog is in the crate, the cats are Very Sad. So today I took a bunch of scrap lumber, plywood, foam padding, and upholstery material that I had left over from other projects, and made a covered cat bed. It's only about a third of the size of the crate, so the dog can't get into it. Right now the cats are regarding it with trepidation and alarm, but I'm hoping that eventually, they'll come to see it as an acceptable alternative.

After Ma-San died, we made a Cat Plan. We would wait until Cairo and Little Bit passed away. Cairo is doing very well for his age, but he's freakin' twenty-two this year; he can't realistically last THAT much longer. Little Bit is going to be eighteen, and she is also doing very well, but likewise. Once they were gone, we said, we would adopt a pair of younger cats who already knew and liked each other.

This plan may have gone out the window. A few days ago, a young Siamese showed up in our yard, and has been living under our honeysuckle bush. He looks to be 6-8 months old, but he may just be small for his age. He's very friendly, very vocal, obviously used to people. He has some kind of a cold or runny nose, so we didn't want to try to bring him inside and possibly get our cats sick. If I can get a vet appointment, we'll bring him in to be scanned for a microchip, and tested to see if the runny nose is anything dire.

If it's not anything dire... Damn, I don't know. I have serious reservations about bringing in another cat while we still have three who only tolerate each other. But on the other hand, he's exactly the sort of cat we'd adopt if we went out to adopt one. Why couldn't you have shown up in two or three years, Cat?

At the very least, I guess we can get him neutered and get him his shots, and try to find him a home. He really is a sweetie, and he's gorgeous. comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

Had We Never Loved Sae Kindly, Willow/Tara, T

Had We Never Loved Sae Kindly

Rating: PG-13/Teen
Pairing: Willow/Tara
Synopsis: Tara reaches a breaking point.
Author’s notes: Written for the Which Willow Ficathon, 2021. This story takes place in the same universe as "Raising In the Sun," "Necessary Evils," and "A Parliament of Monsters." It takes place after "The Lesser of Two Evils" and "Mightier Than The Sword."

Collapse ) comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me