Saturday, April 18, 2009

How Does This Christian Mom Make $5K per Month?

I'm not certain how she does it, but if I had to guess, I'd say she probably sells heathen children into slavery and prostitution.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Why I Love Fark

In response to these mug shots, the third comment in the Fark thread was,
Man, Bert has really let himself go.
That's just beautiful.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


To spoil the story by giving away the ending before I even start, I'll quickly say up front that I just got a clean bill of health from my doctor: I am perfectly fine (physically, anyway; my mental health might be a whole other story at this point).

I've only been back to work for three days following a badly needed break, but already I feel like I need another holiday.

I came back into the office Monday morning and started listening to last week's phone messages. One was curious because it was from somebody at the local hospital's blood services unit, where I've been a regular donor since I moved here. They've contacted a few times in the past to ask me to come in when supplies are low or they're having a slow day. But earlier this year, I started donating platelets which is very different from whole blood donations: for one, I can donate every few days up to 26 times in a year. Since I was already scheduled to donate every other week through May, I thought that it was a little strange that they would be calling me, but I didn't give it much more thought.

Later in the morning, I returned the guy's call and was surprised when he answered by giving his name as Doctor so-and-so. I was even more surprised when he explained that he was the director for the blood services unit and needed to confirm that I'd donated blood back on March 25 and was scheduled to give again on April 8.

Well, you probably see where this is going, don't you? I sure did, and my gut and sphincter reacted appropriately.

It seems that I had tested positive for Hepatitis C on that last visit. That result was from the initial reactivity test that is designed to be hyper-sensitive. At that point, they ran a second test known as RIBA, which is where the first test results are usually either confirmed or shown to be false positives. Unfortunately, or maddeningly, really, sometimes that test gives an indeterminate result, and that's exactly what happened with mine.

The doctor explained that I needed to follow up with my regular physician ASAP and that as a result of these tests, I am now deferred as a donor. It turns out that the definition of the word defer is different in that world than it is in mine. I asked how I go about becoming eligible once more, assuming that further testing with my primary care provider shows that I'm OK. Well, it turns out that it doesn't work that way. FDA regulations state that a single positive test results for Hepatitis prevents that person from ever donating again, even if that one test is followed by 1000 consecutive negative results; for that reason, I am now on the deferred donor list. Thank you very much, have a nice day, please do NOT come again.

As you'd expect, I was on the phone to my doctor immediately after that call and got scheduled for an immediate exam and new round of blood tests.

The wait since that first phone conversation has been strange. On the one hand, I've felt pretty confident that I was OK: I'm not in any of the high risk groups, my blood is being tested regularly since I'd been a loyal donor for many years, and I've been getting annual physicals since I hit 40 and the most recent one was back in January which showed no problems on any of the blood work, including on the liver panel.

On the other hand, I was already trying to rank the most likely sources for the transmission, with my mind constantly going back and forth between the new tattoos I got last fall (at a licensed, reputable shop, so that didn't seem very likely) and the many blood donations (even less likely than the tattoos). Plus, I was trying to figure out my next steps, should the results come back positive. I'd go through a couple of minutes of thinking like that before I'd remind myself that the odds were extremely high that a false positive on the hospital's test was causing a huge amount of unnecessary activity and worry. But then my mind would wander back into that whole dark territory once more and I'd have to try to refocus again. And on and on.

That is, until late this afternoon, when I got the call from my doctor that the test results came back fine: I don't have Hepatitis C and there was nothing at all indeterminate about those results.

So that just leaves me pissed off. Yes, I should be relieved, and I am, but more than that, I'm angry that I'll never be able to donate blood ever again. I can understand and appreciate erring on the side of caution, but this just seems ridiculous to me. Test my blood every other month for the next year, during which time I'm deferred as a precaution: that seems like a sensible solution. But a lifetime ban is just over the top, especially for a regular, faithful donor and especially considering that this is due to a single result that may have come from a botched test or from testing an accidentally contaminated blood specimen. Utterly ridiculous.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Hat tip to NoneFor.Me for the video ("Men playing with their sheep," as NoneFor titles his post, drawing upon his family's history of animal husbandry to make the joke work)...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Black Plague Is Stalking Me!

I'm still not totally sold on the whole Twitter thing, but I'm having some fun at its periphery.

As I mentioned in a previous post, someone has used my email address on his or her Twitter account, so I'd been getting notices that people (some I know, some I don't) thought they were following me via some Twitter account that I don't control. So back on March 19, I sent an email to Twitter Support alerting them to the problem.

On April 2, I got an email back from Twitter Support to tell me that... well, that they hadn't even looked at my message, yet:

Since then, however, I have two new people not following me on Twitter. This one from Friday is great just because of the person's Twitter name:

And now this bit of disturbing news:

The Black Plague is actually a friend of mine who created the account just to mess with people (proving the tremendous potential for Twitter after all, I guess). Check out this page.

What the Hell Is This?

I stayed at an incredibly nice hotel Friday. But I admit to being somewhat perplexed by the bed. Take a look at the black and white pillow in these pictures. What purpose does this thing serve? In addition to being ridiculously big, the thing is rock hard, so it wouldn't make for a comfortable pillow. Its size also prevents it from being able to support your neck (unless you're got a seriously messed up cervical spine or you're looking to get one). Does anybody do anything with this except throw it on the floor before going to bed?

I was similarly confused by the greenish fabric you can just make out at the foot of the bed. What purpose does that small bit of fabric serve outside of surprising drunk people who try to pull it up thinking it is a blanket? Really, the only purpose it might have served is if I'd suddenly found myself in need of a sash for a night on the town.

When the Revolution Comes...

I had a great night Friday, getting together back at my former home (both in terms of the city and the bar) with some friends I'd not seen in many months or in one case, many years.

The annoyance kicked in this morning. ('Cause a good day has to be followed by some sort of crap to maintain the world's natural balance.) To be precise, it kicked in around 4:30 this morning, when I woke up after only approximately four hours of sleep. I tossed and turned until 5:15 before I finally gave up, showered, dressed, checked out of the hotel, and started the 4.5 hour drive back home at 5:45 this morning.

But that was fine, because leaving at that hour on a Saturday morning meant that there would be no traffic on the highway, right? Right. Or, one would certainly think so, anyway.

Within 30 seconds of hitting the interstate, realized that I was starting back home on the same day that families were leaving for spring vacations the week before Easter. Well, crap. It was heavy traffic the entire way down into North Carolina.

I came up with two new rules as a result of the traffic and related mess:

1. If I'm waiting in line behind you at a coffee shop and I'm having a serious caffeine fit (believe me, you'll know whether or not I'm having such a fit), you forfeit your right to any caffeine products if you insist on asking for descriptions of different espresso drinks and then end up ordering the most complicated drink imaginable. No, when I'm behind you in such situations, you need to order a plain coffee or get the hell out of my way. Is that clear? Good.

2. When the revolution comes, my first act will be to kill all of the Maryland drivers. You motherf*****s can eat sh*t and die. Is that also clear? Good. Oh, and don't think that you're going to be able to avoid your bloody fate simply by moving elsewhere: we'll know you're really from Maryland the moment you have a conniption behind the wheel because I suddenly slowed down to 10 MPH under the posted speed when you decided to ride my ass even while I'm passing other cars. Today, that earns you a big one-finger salute from me as you pass. Tomorrow? Well, it might not be my finger that I'm pointing in your direction.