Random (but not really)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

How Do You Want to Die?

I’ve been listening to Radiolab podcasts for awhile, and today, The Bitter End came up.

In an unpleasant coincidence, a friend’s mother died over the weekend, so advanced directives were already in the front of my mind.

This is a subject I’ve written about a lot over the years, because end-of-life care is something most people tend to ignore until it’s in their faces and they can’t ignore it anymore.

First and foremost, I want to congratulate West Virginia University for putting advanced directives and medical power of attorney forms out as something to be discussed NOW. Hell, PEIA will give us a $4/month discount for having filled out and submitted these forms, because it really is that important.

These are decisions that need to be made while and discussed with your loved ones while you are young and healthy.

Yes, it’s a hard thing to do, but it’s IMPORTANT.

In the podcast they interviewed a doctor who said he tries to ask his patients who are over 50, “How do you want to die?”

Good on him, except it’s not a question that should wait until we are 50 or 60 or 70, it’s something to be considered when you’re still young, because even if you are unlikely to develop a debilitating disease, you can still be struck by a bus or an infectious disease that renders you incapable of making your own medical decisions.

We all like to think that our loved ones would know what our wishes would be, but time and again this has proved to be not so for so many families. You know the ones–you probably remember seeing some of the legal fights splashed across the evening news.

Make sure there is nothing to argue about–put what you want in writing, and make sure your doctor knows your wishes.

In West Virginia you can file these medical papers electronically. If you don’t have that option, make sure you tell your family where these papers are.

Put your wishes down in writing.

Talk to your family about what you want to happen and/or where your papers are filed.

Go back to that Radiolab link. See that chart? That’s asking doctors what treatment they would want if they were were to suffer “irreversible brain injury without terminal illness.” When the same questions were asked of lay people–just your average person walking down the street–most of those responses were the exact opposite.

Why? Because doctors know things lay-people don’t.

Take CPR.

As opposed to many medical myths, researchers have reliable data concerning the success rates of CPR (without the use of automatic defibrillators) in a variety of settings:

2% to 30% effectiveness when administered outside of the hospital
6% to 15% for hospitalized patients
Less than 5% for elderly victims with multiple medical problems

(emphasis mine) Surprised by those numbers?

How about this?

risks of CPR include harmful side effects such as rib fracture and damage to internal organs; adverse clinical outcomes such as hypoxic brain damage; and other consequences for the patient such as increased physical disability. If the use of CPR is not successful in restarting the heart or breathing, and in restoring circulation, it may mean that the patient dies in an undignified and traumatic manner.

Think about that for a bit.

Is that how you want to die?

Once you’re done thinking, talk to your doctor about completing an advanced directive. Then discuss it when your family and friends.

Because these decisions and discussions really should not be put off.

End-of-Life Care in the United States – August 17, 2009
At the End – May 1, 2008
End-of-Life Care – March 30, 2004
Death, Grief, and White Hot Rage

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Religion & Philosophy,Science, Health & Nature  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WWA: Sleeping Beauty Edition

Is it Wednesday again already? Jeesh. That’s what happens when one (literally) sleeps through Tuesday. (I was pleased to discover I’d missed nothing by sleeping through Tuesday. I should try that more often.) So today’s word is: roses

Written by Michelle at 6:02 am      Comments (4)  Permalink
Categories: Fun & Games  

Thursday, February 21, 2013



Written by Michelle at 9:58 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden,Non-Sequiturs  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday Word Association: Still My Car

My car is still in the shop, BUT it’s actually doing more than sitting, lonely, in a lot.
So today’s word is: paint

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (9)  Permalink
Categories: Fun & Games  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Geek, Dress Thy Self!

So, there is a distinct probability we’re heading back to a dress code at work.

This doesn’t particularly bother me, because I understand the rationale and agree with it.

However, I’m tired of black pants and white shirts, which is my typical default. So, I’m looking for recommendations.

When I’m not wearing black pants and white shirts (with a jacket or sweater) I tend towards long black skirts and dusters.

But I have several other outfits that I think do a better job expressing my… personality? Sense of humor? and I’d like to find more skirts and dusters along those lines.

Such as this dress only worth with tights and my black boots. (like this)

I recently ordered this skirt for myself which I will also wear with tights and boots. (Why tights? Because I am very uncomfortable with having my legs–and even arms–exposed. I don’t have a problem with other people exposing their skin, this is just my own, personal comfort level.)

But I’m having a hard time finding other skirts and dusters that are cute and amusing and personality laden that I could comfortably wear to work. The reason I have so many black pants and skirts is because I can wear them every week.

But I’d like a few more outfits that are fun and entertaining, at least to me if no one else. I’ve found the search for “geeky dress” or “geek skirt” to be singularly unhelpful, bringing up either con dresses or very skimpy outfits that are more–to my mind–akin to underoos than something to be worn in public. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this, but my tastes run more to this (which is a coat).

Yes, I know very well I need to start sewing again. I have tons of ideas for things I could make for myself, but until that time, I would like some recommendations.

Anyone have anything for me?

Written by Michelle at 4:59 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wednesday Word Association: Ash Wednesday

Yesterday was Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) so today is Ash Wednesday. Time for repenting all the cakes and pancakes you ate yesterday. So today’s word is: fast

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (6)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Importance of Good Documentation and Instructions

As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, I write technical documentation and instructions–I teach people how to use computer programs.

Which means that BAD documentation and instructions make me want to hurt someone.

I’m trying to become familiar with the new online course management system we’ll be moving to, and after a several hours of this, I’d like to take their entire support staff and beat them senselessly.

My goal: to import questions from a text file of some sort into the program.

What I found first:

A very long list of instructional videos. I would rather eat lint WHILE being stabbed with a fork than watch instructional videos.

Because they are almost always a WASTE OF MY TIME.

I finally find a help document.

No help

Completely worthless.

What I found next (within the program):

No Help
No Help

OK. Fine. I made a text file.

It failed. Repeatedly.

What I finally find after several hours of wasting my time.

Actually Useful

Really. Why does the help that pops up WITHIN THE PRODUCT not mention those parentheses? This is a system used across the country–in fact, I believe it’s one of the most used systems. So why are their help files so abysmally NOT HELPFUL.


Now if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to go try really hard not to put my fist through my monitor.

OK, trying to fix my text file, and I’m now even MORE confused. I really hate technology.

ADDENDUM the Second:
Co-worker looked over everything with me, and we can find no reason why most of the file is failing.

Have I mentioned how much I hate computers?

Written by Michelle at 2:50 pm      Comments (5)  Permalink
Categories: Computers & Technology  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I Just Wrote An Amazon Review

for the SideSwipe for kitchen aid mixers.

Yes, Michael really DID laugh at me whilst I whimpered.

Written by Michelle at 4:49 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

WWA: Idiot Drivers Edition

Today’s word, in honor of my poor car, is CRUSHED

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (8)  Permalink
Categories: Fun & Games  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Random Reading: Cleaned and Organized

As I’ve mentioned previously, I have a book blog, Random Reading. The sidebar here displays the last five books I read and reviewed because–why not?

But in addition to that book blog, I actually have a fairly extensive book site, and I spent much of January cleaning up that site, fixing images, and making sure the books I own/have read are in the site as well as my database.

The most work involved anthologies, which I love. It’s not completed, but a good portion of the work is done. So now, if you go to the anthologies page, and click on an author, say, Ellen Datlow, you see books she’s written as well as anthologies she’s edited. And those anthologies should contain a list of the stories in that volume as well as who wrote that story. And if I have a page for the author of that story, you can click on the authors name to see other things they’ve written.

The top of any author page should have a list of books that author has written, in the order of publication. Many of the book titles are linked to Amazon where you can buy that book if you so desire, and get me a few pennies if you buy after following my link.

The rest of the page contains any reviews I have of that author’s works, including excerpts from anthologies.

As I read more than 100 books a year, and have been keeping a book blog since 2004, there are not an insignificant number of book reviews here.

When applicable, the author’s name at the top of the page should link to that author’s website. I removed a LOT of dead and outdated links on these pages.

The comics pages are slightly different, as they’re grouped by series, since one series may have multiple authors. Keep in mind that I have pretty specific tastes regarding comics, and frequently will recognize that a comic is good, even if I have no desire to every read any more of it.

Because I read a lot, the site is a work in progress. The database isn’t even close to fully linked to the book site for two reasons: I have books I have not read, and I have books I read a long time ago, before I started writing a book blog. But between the two, I’m hoping you can find a fair amount about authors and books you like, even if it’s just the publication order for Discworld. ;)

Oh, most of the site (excluding the Random Reading site, which is backed by Word Press) is hand coded and maintained. Because, when I initially started writing book reviews, that’s how I did it, and because I couldn’t find blogging software to organize things precisely how I wanted them.

And also, because I am a masochist.

So, let me know what you think, and like I said, if you click through to Amazon and then buy a book, I get a couple pennies from that purchase. To feed my book addiction. :)

Written by Michelle at 6:18 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  
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