Effects of Testosterone Poisoning on Frontal Lobe Functioning

A photograph of the rear end of a pickup truck bumper, with fake rubber bull testicles hanging from the tow hitch.  Seriously.
Advertisements

*Whew*

Got my computer fixed. It was only gone for a few days, and I backed up my docs and music and pix and extra programs before taking it in, but as I anticipated, it came back with a fresh OS installed. So I had to sort through the shiny new programs and adjust all of my setting preferences, and decide which files I really need to dump back on. After three days of paranoia and considerable annoyance, I found where I had backed up my 200+ bookmarks some three months ago *whew!* Imported calendar data into different program and got to two appointments okay *double-whew!* Finished job app. Got class reports turned in on time.

I feel like I’m making progress, but considering that my Things To Do list never gets any shorter, I might just be walking the wrong direction on a “slidewalk” (moving walkway). But omigosh, I will actually be able to get some blogging done again!

But not soon; I’m tired, and then there’s tutoring and a bunch of errands and an exam to sit and grocery shopping and probably several other things that aren’t coming to mind at the moment, that need to get done first.

On the other hand, I did find a Minuscule that I had not seen before, and I’m going to assume that everyone else is likewise “up to their ass in alligators” and also needing some fun. So kick back and enjoy the surprise ending!

“L’attaque de la sucette rose”

Horrid day for a migraine. Could have been worse.

Yesterday: it is very sunny, so bright the out of doors looks like over-exposed photos, all contrasty lights and darks and washed-out colors; even the trees were flickering masses of surface brilliancy against their internal heavy gloom. The previous night’s storms guaranteed humidity and muddy passage, and the tailwinds still rattle across the landscape, scratching the yet-unpruned peach tree branches against the outer wall of my bedroom. A few houses away, there is the repeated doppler roar of someone taking advantage of the clear skies to catch up on overdue mowing.

Cradled between layers of pillows, with the sheet and cotton quilt and heavy wool blanket pulled up to my ears, I lay stiffly. Mostly still asleep and not even close to the stage of stretching groggily or opening my eyes, my conscious awareness surfaces uncertainly through layers of internal sensory checks, transversing clouds of anxious, nonsensical dreams with endlessly repeating plot-less terrors.

For some reason I could not yet fathom, the usual morning physiological data-gathering was running very slowly, as though entire sections of my brain either could not communicate or were withholding information. At times like this, I am highly uneven, having some high cognitive functions but lacking other more basic ones. Pieces of random information drift by, sometimes contained in the phonemes of words that repeat like the short loop of an advertising jingle, but slide away without having been decoded for any meaning. I become briefly aware of just one or two sensory indicators of the outside world: water running through the sink downstairs, or the crackling of a cat’s jaw as it yawns so wide the ears fold backwards.

The mental sticky-notes I told myself at bedtime flutter by intermittently, “I need to get up early to take the bags of brush down to the curb before the truck comes by,” and “I still need to do a prelab and upload it before 11:59 pm,” and “I need to finish that cover letter for the job app,” and “The cable repair person may be here at 8:00 am,” and “I need to drive my daughter back to her college town.” Things to do, people to be, and most of all, irrevocable externally-imposed deadlines to meet. The bad part is, were this a Saturday, this could be much worse.

Slowly the information collects, like tiles of satellite photos that must reach critical mass for the terrain to be understood. One points out that I did yard work yesterday, several short jaunts out to pull weeds from the vegetable patch and to bag the pile of brush. This means I will be achier today, and the stiffness will require me to move about more carefully for a few hours. I should not plan on doing any heavy work today.

But I don’t yet stretch to test my joints, as the recalcitrant parts of my brain yield the messages previously withheld: my head hurts, a pain so large it has expanded beyond my brain case to my eyes, my ears, my nose, my jaw … Read the rest of this entry »

The Florida Swamp of Superstition

I swear, this country is getting more nucking futz every week.

In Land O’ Lakes, Florida, a substitute teacher named Jim Pikulas was fired for wizardry. Meaning, he briefly showed a class how to do a bit of sleight-of-hand.

Pat Sinclair, who oversees substitute teachers in the Pasco County School District, was on the phone. She told Piculas there had been a complaint about his performance at Rushe Middle School in Land O’ Lakes.
He asked what she meant.
“She said, ‘You’ve been accused of wizardry,’ ” Piculas said.
He said the statement seemed bizarre to him, like something out of Harry Potter.
Piculas said he replied, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He said he also told Sinclair, “It’s not black magic. It’s a toothpick.”

Meanwhile in the same state, there’s a bill approved by the (Florida) House:

After a long and sometimes testy debate, the House voted Monday to require teachers to include a “critical analysis” of evolution in science classes.

Proponents said the bill is needed to protect teachers and students from academic reprisal for challenging Charles Darwin’s theories, while opponents said it was a veiled attempt at sneaking religion into the public schools.

Rep. Tony Sasso, D-Cocoa Beach, warned requiring teachers to critically analyze Darwin’s findings would inevitably evolve into a discussion of biblical teachings.

“It’s about finding holes in evolution and allowing teachers to be able to do that, which in my mind, tracking this, will lead to a discussion of creativity — which ultimately will lead to a discussion of religion,” said Sasso. “We’re opening the door to religious discussion by doing this.”

What’s the deal, Florida? Is the collective rational intelligence for the entire state concentrated around Cape Canaveral?

What can’t this country drag its collective ass into the 21st century? Is there any reasonable hope of getting a job teaching real Biology without being harassed by IDiots?

Pain “All-Sorts”

Damn anthocyanins!

See what a college education does for you? It allows you to cuss using polysyllabic words.

This morning I awoke with an “icepick headache” type migraine as well as stiff arthritic joints. Then as I was pulling my large, soupy bowl of near-boiling oatmeal-with-blueberries from the microwave, I spilt it all over my hand and wrist, the shelf, and of course, the cream-colored carpeting. After running cold water on my hand for a couple minutes (it’s fine, if tender — I’m not wearing my watch for a couple of days), I had to go back and swab up the spill. The purple anthocyanin stains from the dried-then-rehydrated blueberries will be quite the test of my carpet-cleaning spray.

Meanwhile, the physical pain of ice-pick migraine has bugged me off and on all morning. The good news is that although it’s horrible and intense, it lasts no more than a minute. The bad news is that it tends to repeat periodically through the day. Made a point to take some more medication before my exam tonight.

~//~

Glancing through newsbits was less entertaining — there’s a reason why I usually read blogs in the morning and news in the evening. (I do glance over the headlines in the morning, just in case western California decides to crumble into the Pacific or something.)

Oh the conceptual pain … it’s sort of thing that Stephen Kuusisto calls, “the neurological equivalent of a foot cramp”. This is from Time magazine, “Huckabee’s Texas Evolution” (hyperlink is to single-page, text-only version), which describes US Republican presidential candidate Huckabee and his support for intelligent design, and the upcoming Texas State Board of Ed elections (emphasis mine):

Republican Barney Maddox, a urologist and ardent supporter of creationism. … Maddox, who declines media interview requests, has posted his writings on the web at sites like the Institute for Creation Research and has called Charles Darwin’s work “pre-Civil War fairy tales.”

Now there’s some irony as heavy as a falling Acme anvil.

https://i0.wp.com/img186.imageshack.us/img186/4171/anvil1cq2.gif

Sorry — I didn’t realise the clipping was an animation — hit your ESCAPE key to freeze the action.

(Picture description: this is a pop culture reference to Roadrunner cartoons. Wile E. Coyote was always trying to do in the Roadrunner, including dropping an Acme brand anvil on him. In this cartoon clipping, there’s a pile of birdseed in the middle of a road, with a sign stuck into it saying “Free”. The road runs underneath a natural stone arch somewhere in the US desert Southwest, and hanging below the apex of the arch is a heavy iron anvil. Presumably the unseen Coyote has a hold of the rope tied to the anvil, and is waiting for the likewise unseen Roadrunner to come running by. Of course, Coyote never succeeds, as Roadrunner is way to smart for him. Beep-beep! )

~//~

Just to complete this triad of pains for the day, I realised that I was wearing a new turtleneck for the first time. Normally when I get new clothing I remove the sewn-in brand name, size and laundering tags. Clothes-tag irritation is not as much a strict dermal irritation (there’s no rash), but rather is a constant hypersensitivity, a small but chronic sensory pain.

So before I washed this turtleneck I used my seam-ripper to carefully pick out the threads holding the labels at the collar seam. But by this mid-morning I realised that I had missed a tag, a big long one with laundry instructions that was unexpectedly sewn to the seam just below my ribs. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the spare time to sit around partially-disrobed in a toilet stall and employ my Swiss Army Knife scissors to the task of snipping a line of tiny stitches.

You would think that after a little while my brain would habituate to the sensory input and I would forget all about the silly tag. Well, it does, for a few minutes. But then I twist to do something, and I notice the annoyance all over again. Repeatedly, all day long. ARRGH!

~//~

Well, it’s time for me to wrap up my day soon. The icepick headache hasn’t shown up for a while. My wrist is less tender. It was wonderful to yank off the turtleneck and put on my soft, old honeybee pyjamas.

I aced my test this evening. And the last fix-it job I did on the dishwasher seems to have worked — we have machine-cleaned dishes, and I didn’t have to pay someone to come out and fix it, nor “hold vigil” for a repair person who would supposedly arrive “between the hours of eight and four”.

Oh joy, there’s the tinnitus popped back on again. And I’m getting another canker sore in my mouth. Well, can’t win ’em all.

One of Those Days

Last night I heard one of the cats gacking but haven’t found the mess yet.

I removed the ornaments a few days ago, but the tree is still up.

Is it too late to send Christmas cards?

I keep forgetting to schedule a haircut.

I dropped a Pyrex dish full of green beans and it shattered all over the floor.

Two messy pans and nine ruined crêpes later, I gave up and left the family to eat the ham with Swiss cheese sauce on toast-or-whatever. How come alla sudden I can’t cook crêpes?

Dishwasher still needs to be repaired.

I also need to finish painting the hallway.

I went to go soak my infected toe and achy joints in a hot bath and realised that the tub needs caulking all over again.

Tomorrow I will wear the suede loafers that don’t need polishing and the slacks that don’t need hemming. We will pretend the shirt doesn’t have a bleach splotch on the cuff.

I sure hope a button doesn’t fall off my shirt a second time this week.

I really hope the undiscovered cat gack isn’t in one of those loafers.

Some days the best thing to do is to put the Good Fight on hold and go to bed.   The world will still be there when I lurch back out of bed tomorrow.

Cultivate Your Inner Mantis

Every parent of a child with special needs has had Very Bad Days. Hell, every partner, sibling, good friend, and housemate has had those days. But there’s something especially protective about the way parents are on behalf of their children (blood relations or not; there’s more to parenting than DNA). Maddy just had one of Those Very Bad Days. This post is dedicated to her, and to everyone else who has been such situations. You don’t mess with mama bears. Or any species of protective parents. Even if we parents are stunned by the utter meanness, stupidity, lack of consideration, or bureaucratic idiocy, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have those flashes of utter savagery flick through our hearts.

The difference being that usually we think before we speak. Or, that we suffer badly from l’Esprit de l’escalier and the appropriately witty or remonstrative remark doesn’t occur until the moment has long passed. Or, all we can do is stand there and sputter.

So here is Mildred the Mantid. She was mother to more than I could count and an amazing hunter with ninja-like reflexes and deadly skills. And before you make any comments, the whole story about female praying mantids biting the heads off their mates is somewhat apocryphal, and quite likely an artifact of being stuck in a small laboratory cage with nowhere to dash off.

However, having watched Mildred dispatch a number of dinners, I can tell you that she would start her meals by first biting off the head of her victim, quickly and neatly dispatching whatever had wandered too close. Brains are relatively fatty, so are good calories in a world of lean, crunchy critters. Then she would leisurely rip off the wings, because there’s no good eatin’ in insect wings. Ditto the ends of the legs. And when finished, she would daintily begin to groom herself, much in the same manner that a cat does, brushing off her antennae, and nibbling down each of her six limbs from the thorax all the way down to the tarsi. Then she would flick her wings back into a comfortable position, and compose herself to waiting there quietly, all over again. Even when she was “very preggers”, all large and ungainly from being egg-heavy (photo on right) Mildred was a predatory force to be reckoned with.

Don’t Mess With Mom.

Don’t go saying dumb-ass, idiotic, rude, uncaring, insensitive, presumptive, judgmental things about our children …

… because then we have the lovely image of the fabulously wicked female mantis, who after sitting perched in her pose of Absolutely Shocked bug-eyed stillness, will — in a flash — reach out with her raptorial forelegs to grab the intruder and BITE THE HEAD OFF.

There. Much better now.

 

Resolved

I want to find a local coffeehouse / restaurant / pub that is quiet, damnit! Not whisper-quiet, simply quiet enough where my hubby and I can talk and both hear and understand each other.

I want to find a place that does not employ the latest design conceits of noise magnification: “Hey I know! Let’s eliminating the ceiling tiles to show off the HVAC ductwork. Let’s add lots of sheet metal and concrete floors and other hard surfaces. Let’s have the kitchen open to the dining area, so they can hear the staff yelling at each other, and doing all that food preparation. Let’s eliminate any room dividers, and skip curtains on the windows. Let’s put on loud background music or several televisions — maybe even both!”

It’s one set of issues for me to feel overwhelmed by overly-sociable waiters who want to play “best buds”, or to flinch at the inevitable crash of the broken glass du jour, or pick through menus that are dietary land-mines, but it’s quite another when the two of us have to spend the evening recursively repeating, rephrasing, lipreading and periodically abandoning lines of discussion just because it’s too f—ing loud! (Pardon the cussing; been watching Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant shows.)

Does the general public really think that the background has to be loud for them to have fun? When even the ordinary people can hardly converse without yelling at each other, that means the noise level is too much.

Please. We would be glad to spend our rare dining-out money on a nice cozy place where we can enjoy our food and chat with each other. Good heavens, we might be persuaded to linger long enough to bother ordering a bottle of wine, or some desserts and coffee. We would even want to come back — with our friends.

(Oh, and while you’re at it, could you install some hooks somewhere so I can hang up my hat instead of balancing it on my knee all through dinner?)

The Writing on the Wall

OMG Zombies! The leper-outcast-unclean-undead are on the move, seeking to steal away our chilluns and Eat Their Brains!

Except I’m not talking about the latest sci-fi movie with Will Smith. I’ve finally gotten to the point to where I can speak reasonably about the horrible “ransom notes” campaign by the NYU Child Study Center. Their billboards and magazine ads describe children with OCD, ADHD, depression et cetera as being stolen away and held hostage by their disorders. In an article in the New York Times, the organisation’s description of the effort says,

We hope to both generate a national dialogue that will end the stigma surrounding childhood psychiatric disorders and advance the science, giving children the help they need and deserve.

Excuse me? How the HELL does this horrifying campaign “end the stigma”? The stigmas that people with such conditions face are NOT caused by the conditions, they are caused by societal attitudes! Such negative, one-sided publicity only reinforces such.

The demonisation of differences creates Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to the first ring of Hell

I’m going to send in a couple of job applications for biology teaching positions at community colleges. With some 200 credit hours of college education, I’ve been exposed to enough teachers to know that I teach better than some of them. I’ve had a course in college teaching, over a decade of teaching continuing education (designing my own courses, content, handouts & my own photography), and have been tutoring biology for several years.

But of course I’ve not actually applied for such a job before. So here I am re-doing my teaching philosophy, checking over my resume, chewing over application letter drafts and whatnot.

Like everyone, I’m really nervous about the prospect of interviews. Unlike a lot of people, I have particular difficulties with interviews, such as the prosopagnosia. This means not recognising people from one day to the next, at least not until I’ve been around them a while. I hate it when people drag you around a building and introduce you to a gazillion people. I can barely mentally file away some vague identification characteristics for one interviewer, and even then I never know which details will prove to be the useful ones for recognising them in the future. Yes, I know … I spend an hour talking with someone, and then (aside from the name on the business card) I truly can’t remember who the hell they were the next day. It’s awful.

During the actual interview process, I’m running mental circles around the auditory processing difficulties, fidgety-scatterbrained ADHD issues, unconsciously suppressing little motor tics (I shouldn’t have to theoretically, but it’s ingrained habit under such situations), concentrating on trying to make “enough” eye contact (whatever the hell that is), concentrating on speaking clearly and avoiding stuttering, ignoring the tinnitus and joint aches (and hoping against migraine). And being nervous is bad enough without those damn menopausal hot flashes!

Of course all that detracts from the amount of energy available for composing brilliant answers. So my usual interview plan is to anticipate interview questions and then prepare and practice answers. I spend days ruminating over and practicing my short “scripts” while in the car. Fortunately, I can never remember my answers verbatim, so they don’t come off as sounding “canned”.

Unfortunately, for all I have a large vocabulary and am a well-practiced writer, I’m less able to produce clear, concise answers to unexpected questions. It’s not that I can’t think of what to say, but rather that all the details of things come to mind at once, and I can’t prioritise and sequence them easily, nor compose paragraphs and then remember them all the way through.

So … anyone out there have specific tips for teaching interviews? (I’m good on basic interview stuff like professional wardrobe.) But this is a new kind of interview situation, and I don’t know what sorts of questions are likely to be asked, nor what sorts of unspoken conventions are typical for such a process, or what committees look for.

Not helping my blood pressure

I went to the pharmacy to get some regular prescriptions refilled. Hubby has a new employer, which means we’re under a new insurance plan, which means sharing the newest insurance information with every one of our regular doctors and with the pharmacists. Oh the joys of paperwork – not. This time instead of a co-pay for prescriptions we have a (really, really big) deductible to meet before the insurance pays for things. I can sure vouch that the co-pay system with the previous insurer was a lot less stressful on my blood pressure. OMG the sticker shock!

My $9 blood pressure medication was no big deal. Getting just four migraine pills for $89 was alarming, especially as the kid takes two at a time, but the pharmacist explained that this insurance company only lets them fill four pills at a time. A month’s supply of ADHD meds was $109. (Yes, I’ve tried going without, and were I coping with just ADHD things wouldn’t be as bad, but you don’t want to hear about all the forgotten appointments and scorched pans et cetera; meds are just a part of my coping strategies.) Dang, that was a big check for all that.

Then a couple days later I went back to pick up some meds for hubby. I’ll refrain from details except to mention that when the pharmacist began to ring up his meds, she paused to ask “Do you still wan to fill these ‘scripts for the asthma medsRead the rest of this entry »

OMG the Paperness …

There comes a time in every academic’s life when they must pack up all their crap and move. It’s a dread time, and not just from the whole physical hassle of boxing and schlepping and unpacking. The actual hard part is making all the damn decisions: will I need this again? How long should I keep these data sets/ copies of journal articles/ contracts/ professional reviews/ semi-legal correspondence? Bug Girl also did this recently, and I noticed that she never did post her final analysis … hmn!

I’m not really moving right now, at least not residences. But when I moved off-campus a couple years ago, a lot of stuff simply got crammed into available spaces and has sat there since. Plus, there was years of other stuff piling up, as paper is wont to do. My ADHD packrat qualities vie with my OCD-like* organisational quirks, resulting in Read the rest of this entry »

Newer entries »