Showing posts from February, 2011

The Past Paving the Way for the Present

One of the assignments for my Interactive Media class was a group project conducting a Usability Study of a website, finding four to six subjects and observing as they used the site.

I lucked out with some great (and understanding teammates) and we all ended up playing to our strengths. T was good with identifying what we could test, M made some fantastic materials with which to conduct our observations and I wrote the report summarizing the data and providing interpretation.

It was rough to do, but only because it has been hell to concentrate on anything with all that's been going on. The report got finished at 3pm for a 5 o'clock class. I worried that my teammates would find it lacking.

Meanwhile, they both looked at the finished product and were pleased with it. As I had the professor's rubric close at hand while I wrote it up, I suspect we'll have minimal revisions to make next week.

All those Psychology papers definitely paid off, because the format was stra…

Warding off Evil Germs

I have no time to be sick. We're still moving Jane's crap, I have to drop off paperwork to the nursing home, I've got two big group projects this week, I have two other assignments to do as well. Between now and Friday, I'm supposed to be on the Lakeland campus for the four Provost candidate public interviews, on the Tampa campus for a Grad school session with one of the candidates to replace a retiring professor and probably a half dozen other things I am forgetting in the brain fry.

There is.NO.time. to be sick. Period.

Then, factor in that Ed had the flu, Chef started being sick late Thursday night and GameTeen started in with the cough last night and fever this morning, the deck is stacked against me. I had my flu shot, courtesy of USFP, but the menfolk did not.

Just in case that wasn't enough, today, I made a big pot of Chicken Basil noodle soup, which I consider an update to Jewish penicillin.

If you eat bowls of chicken noodle soup before you get sick, can…

Something About "Doctor's Orders"?

Remember last year, when I was diagnosed with the Chiari I malformation. My neurologist kindly suggested not lifting anything greater than 15 pounds, nor should I yell, because both would exacerbate the bitch-kitty headaches that I always seem to have.


Since then, I've sorted through Jane's stuff three times now and moved it twice and will have to move some more of it a third time in the coming week. I can report that yelling is at a minimum, but the other restriction? I kind of ignored it because this crap has to be moved.

As the past two weeks have progressed, the various trouble spots in my body have announced their presence with authority. The neck and shoulder kind of hinted they were going to raise a ruckus, but they waited until today.

It's been craptacular.

I'll be honest, I'm trying to avoid medicating the Chiari headache and neck and shoulder because I've got too much work to do on two projects for Monday's class, but I hurt too much …

Tangent, Anyone?

In the pursuit of degrees beyond the current one, I had a meeting on campus today. Afterwards, I mentioned to Ed that Dr. Smith and I spoke about my plans. He had a question for me "Did you ask him why he stowed away?"

Nope, he wasn't Zachary Smith.

However, I revealed to Ed something that I thought when I was very small. In watching "Lost in Space" with my siblings, then later watching "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood," I was confused. See if you might understand.

This is Lady Elaine Fairchilde:

And this is Doctor Zachary Smith:

Do you have any question why a preschooler might wonder how the guy was a puppet on one show and a real person on another?

You probably now have questions on whether I really am up for the challenge of a doctoral program, don't you!

Reality Not as Planned

Today's objective was to go spend 20 minutes dropping off paperwork for Jane's QIT account, then spend the rest of the time sorting the crap in her apartment. I would pack it in around 3, pick up Game Teen and then head home to study.

Called the financial company and discovered that they required a certified check from Jane's account (oops, didn't get the PoA situation cleared up with them), proof of her pension and SSDI (okay, have those), Jane and my driver's licenses.


For three days now, I've been trying to locate Jane's little plastic thingy with her cards in it and her phone. Nursing home said they didn't have it, I looked through her stuff quickly the other day. There's only one bag of belongings at the hospital and it's not in there. Visited both places, and this time, the nurse assigned to her found the property receipt from last Thursday. These items were taken away in the ER and locked up.

Forty five minutes later, I…

Highs and Lows

Yesterday, the nurses told us Jane appeared to be rallying, despite having a multi drug resistant bacterial infection (or MDRB) in her hip. Interestingly, the nurse I spoke to rattled off lab results as if I was a medical professional.

The things I did catch were the results of various liver functions. They weren't good. Her platelets on admission were 28, now they're 34, while the average person's is over 100. Her HDLs were scary high. Whereas the nursing home was of the mind that a DNR was needed, the conversation with the nurse gave me the idea that Jane would pull through.

Then, the call from the doctor arrived about a half hour later. Hematologists/Oncologists are merchants of hope. When a patient has merely 10% odds, they're the ones encouraging the patient that the treatments may work. So it was kind of interesting that this one asked me to tell him about Jane, as he hadn't gotten much information from her. After we discussed her medical history, he…

Deflection is Good For the Soul

This is why we live in Florida, for February days like these.
This was on our way to conducting a secret shop.

Meanwhile, the rest of the day was full of sturm and drang, which I'll talk about later, but for now, we'll just look at the pretty vista, okay?

Hell Week Ahead

Look into my planner and see that I'm just a little busy this week:

Teacher meeting for Chef at 8:15. Yay.
Mystery shop of yummy seafood restaurant
Class at 5pm

Clean out Jane's apartment and prepare for upcoming sale of things that she's not going to need/won't fit into the already stuffed to the gills garage
Then a boatload of school work

More cleaning
More schoolwork

Meet with academic adviser to sign my grad school contract
Have moving sale at Jane's place so that the people who work there can buy some of it
More schoolwork

Finish moving sale
More schoolwork

Hello? Three projects due in one class Monday (two are group assignments)
Try to read for one of the other classes
Write up summary report for one of those group assignments
Firm up the presentation graphics for the other one.

Get Goodwill to take whatever we haven't moved out of her place/turn in keys
Print out the summary report

That's not even fact…


Ed has several guitars. Among them: an unbadged Martin six string acoustic(that sounds incredible), an Ibenez (a/k/a Ibeenhad), a Dean bass that has a minor blem on the back and this Fender Jazz bass.

He got it for a great price from the Sam Ash in Huntington because it was an odd color, Razzberry. His mom took one look at it and gave him grief. Meanwhile, he had a vision, and it included some Volkswagen flower decals. He made modifications.

The first time I saw this, I expressed delight at how freaking cool this thing looked.

I suspect the Daisy guitar people saw Ed at a random gig of one of his small town Long Island band gigs and were inspired.

It is still pretty darn cool.

From Bad to Worse

Jane is in the hospital. Again.

This time, she was brought in for low platelets. They are conducting tests, but no results are back yet-except for a positive on the MRSA. So, once again, she's on a Vancomycin IV. How long she'll be there is anyone's guess.

I dropped off a copy of the PoA to the business office Thursday afternoon. When I left the office, she was in the hallway, at the nurse's station a few steps away from where I stood. When I walked over, she was asking me to find out the cat's names. "I beg your pardon?"

She told Ed the night before that they keep three cats in the supply closet just outside her room. She could hear them meowing. What she was telling me that day is that the cats were there to be loaned out. She wanted to 'borrow' one for a couple of hours. Add to this that she said she had TWO roommates, not one, and it's clear that things are not well.

There is one roommate. There are no cats.

But the bad part is that …

If Anyone Has Some Focus They're Not Using

Would you please send it my way?

I'm so stressed out by all the Jane crap that my intentions of reading for Psych fell by the wayside. I have an 8am meeting tomorrow, then I'll have another appointment and a lunch date. The plan was to work on Interactive Media tomorrow.

I guess the plans of going to the State Fair on Sunday are looking pretty dim. It's probably just as well, as Chef appears to have the same attentional issues right now.

And with that, I'm heading to bed. Perhaps I can get up earlier and bang out an hour of reading before that meeting...


PSA for the day:

If you're getting a Power of Attorney with two named attorneys in fact, list them as person A OR person B. If you list them with AND between them, most banks will not take the paperwork. This means we have to do another PoA to switch over the bank accounts.

This is not too big a deal. I have complete access to the account already. The main concern was getting the bank statements for Medicaid, then verifying that the funds are redirected to the holding account for the nursing home. It does have to be done to make any changes, though.

There was a list of items that need to be provided by the 28th. The only two left are a copy of the deed to the house and the title to the car. I am pretty sure we took those for safekeeping back in October, but we put them in a place so safe, it'll take some digging tomorrow to find them.

That part was easy. The hard thing was seeing Jane and her insisting that they're keeping three cats in the closet outside her bedroom…

Where Do We Go From Here?

As mentioned many times over the years, Jane did not take care of herself. Many of her issues would be minor annoyances for the average person, but for her, they were out of her control. Knowing what I know now, I chalk a lot of it up to her cognitive deficits that my mother in law hid from everyone, as well as the fact that Jane was babied to a great extent for most of her life.

In the 15 months since my Mother in law passed away, these deficits have come to a head on more than a few occasions. It got to the point that anything Jane told me, I'd go back and verify, because it didn't sound right.

Last week, she asked for her hospital bed, as the nursing home has her in a crank style bed that cannot be adjusted by the patient. A few weeks ago, a guy came to the door of our house looking for Jane. I'd told him she didn't live here, that she'd moved and gave him the address. His parting question "Does she still have the hospital bed?" confused me.



I don't consider myself an educator. Trainer, yes. Teacher? Maybe on a good day. However, the coursework I am studying is contained in the college of Education, so for all intents and purposes, my degree will indicate that I'm an educator when I am done.

It's a transformation that I'm slowly accepting.

Take tonight's class for instance. We were looking at common issues in the classroom and in groups, brainstorming on ways to avoid them. I come to the discussions as a parent and a special needs advocate. But as the semester progresses, I've noticed that I've started to apply the big picture mentality needed in my previous career to the discussions on teaching.

It was the same with the paper that was due today. While the topic was my choice, applying the educational perspective to it was a requirement. Two months ago, I may not have slipped into the educator shoes so easily, but now? It's making sense.

It's very exciting to recognize the chan…


The situation unfolding before us is a sad one. Despite seeing the writing on the wall for years and trying to offer help, it sucks when what you knew would eventually happen is staring you in the face.

Jane spends a lot of her day in a fog or sleeping. She knows it and mentioned it to the social worker. Today, the woman told me that she's asked Jane to make some end-of-life decisions.

Living Wills
Advanced Directives
Do Not Resuscitate orders

It's not something you really expect to encounter with a 58 year old woman who has health issues that (in anyone else) could be easily managed.

She has the window side of the room she's been assigned to. This means there is no room for the requested dresser, a table to put the requested television on and no place to put the various knick knacks she wanted from the apartment. Without these things, the terminal decline I've noticed will happen far more rapidly. Even the social worker agrees that Jane is not doing well.

As with all…

Before and After, the iPhoto Version

One of the things I enjoy seeing when a person is competent in Photoshop is an image like this:
has been transformed to something like this:

For a free program that comes with the Mac, the iPhoto application is pretty good. I'd really like to play with it in Photoshop and make the train sepia toned and leave the rest of the picture the natural colors.

One step at a time, though.


For my Internet in Education class, we're instructed to do a lot of little assignments that are designed to give students a good tour of what's out there in the big, wide, web. Tonight, I worked with one of the other blogging websites, Weebly.

If you've been reading blogs for ages, contemplated jumping in and writing your own, but haven't yet-don't use Weebly.

I've had this Blogger account for over five years, have a Live Journal blog, an account on MySpace and a couple of other sites that are now defunct. ALL of these sites are more user friendly than the Weebly site.

My main gripe is that with Blogger, I have so much flexibility with where I can place text and pictures. I can use HTML if I choose or a hybrid format (my preferred) of text and code. Adding pictures is a piece of cake, with one minor quirk (if posting five pictures, the one you want to display first is the last entered). While I've never posted pictures with either MySpace or LiveJournal, …

Shaking Things Out

I went over to Disney today with a friend, with the goal of taking pictures and getting used to the new camera. I ended up with a lot of great pictures, a lot of mediocre pictures and wore myself out.

Yesterday was the last day of Mickey's Toontown. Originally meant to last five years, the location survived more than fifteen. Heck, somewhere around here, I have pictures Ed and I took on our honeymoon, sitting in the chairs on Minnie's lanai. It was good to get some pictures for posterity.

These are the RAW images, I haven't had time to play with Bridge to crop anything yet.

The soon to be gone sign that announces Toontown.
Minnie's house.
I've always liked Edward Hopper's Nighthawks. This is a cute interpretation of the painting.
If there are flowers, I will shoot them.

When the conductor noticed my camera pointed at her, she kept waving until I gave a thumbs up.
A half hour later, when the next train arrived, I had to get this view, because it won't be seen …

How Many Times Does One Person Have to Call?

Apparently, if I don't answer my phone quick enough for someone's liking, I get five calls in about two hours.

Was someone dying? No. Was a house on fire? No. Was someone bleeding to death? No. Were bathroom ninjas about to attack? No. (but the cat does stand watch for those.)

Yeah, five calls. One that had 30 seconds of silence and a "Hi Sweetie, it's me". Three that had varying amounts of silence and the last one was a peeved "Nevermind. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

I was on campus, assisting at a graduate event that's kind of important to my future plans. A lesson was learned a while back with her-turn your ringer off if you're doing anything slightly important. Of course, as soon as I was done, I found the procession of messages and called back as I walked to the car.

She answered, I asked what was going on. She copped a bit of an attitude until I said I was at school. "Oh, Sorry." Seems she's been moved to her …

What's For Dinner Wednesday

Saturday morning, after I left my Spanish lesson, I made a quick trip to Lakeland's Curb Market. One of the bonuses of meeting downtown on Saturday morning is this little gem.

My favorite bread lady wasn't there, but I still enjoyed talking with a local photographer and visiting the vendors who had fresh veggies. That started the inspiration for today's meal, because I had some great pole beans and red bliss potatoes to pair with whatever we were to dine on tonight.

In his travels, Ed saw some Dungeness crab legs for what was really wholesale prices. A quick trip to pick some up today, and that was tonight's meal.

The thing is, I've used crab meat before, but never actually cooked crab legs or whole crabs. Half of them got steamed in a jury-rigged contraption over the boiling potatoes, while the rest were roasted in the oven. Ridiculously easy!

The best part? Chef (a/k/a Crustacean Kid) did his own crab picking and mom and dad are now off the hook when we dine o…


Last week's seminar I attended about doctoral programs was chock full of information about the process that lies ahead. One suggestion that came of it was to talk to everyone you encounter regularly for insights, as well as to find people to sit on your doctoral committee.

Tonight, I spoke to one of my current professors for an hour after class about the PhD. plans and what I already knew, felt comfortable with and where I needed to be. Yes, it's 18 months away, but hell, that's really not a lot of time. The time to get people in place is now.

The conversation was great. She feels that my topic is one that is not too narrow and does need exploration. We talked about how I feel about research, what it entails and what I think of USF as a whole. I love the school, but until last week, I'd thought that moving would better serve the goal of finding a mentor was an expert in either discipline.

Not exactly.

The seminar explained that you can have a mentor in your subjec…

Almuerzo al Fresco

The stupid printer issues I mentioned the other day presented a huge problem for me. Tonight, I had to turn in a hard copy of that Photoshop project, printed in the .psd format. Despite all the efforts of troubleshooting, uninstalling and reinstalling the software, the printer has not recognized the network. (There is nothing anywhere on the HP site to correct a missing printer IP issue).

So, the document needed to be printed, what do I do? Drive over to the Poly campus, right? It was lunch time, and I decided that lunch should be from my favorite Taqueria truck. Quesadilla carnitas con salsa verde.
It sure softened the blow after I realized that the computer lab on that campus is not equipped to print .psd files.

(FedEx office came to the rescue.)

I'm going to have to find reasons to head over to that campus more often, because that Taqueria is sooooo good!

The First is Always the Most Difficult

When I was in 8th grade, my mother enrolled me in piano lessons at the urging of Mr. Thayer, my choir director. He felt that my musical talents would benefit from doing more than singing. I was given an inexpensive organ that Christmas and the lessons began a month later.

If you picture a petite Barbra Streisand with a short, dark brown perm, that would be Mindy. She gave lessons at a local guitar shop where my brother was taking lessons. While Mindy had studied piano for close to 15 years, she hated classical music, and instead taught popular music.

Along with learning the scales in each key, Mindy handed me my first song, Mozart's Minuet. It would be the only classical song I learned in my time with her. It took a month of daily practice, but the day that I was able to play it through with proper fingering and no mistakes, it sounded a lot like this:

It was rough, but even though the progress was slow, it was fun to see that I was getting closer to getting the whole thing r…

Why the HP Photosmart C4780 Printer Sucks

When I purchased the MacBookPro, it came with a free HP Photosmart C4780 printer. I know, I get what pay for. The thing has given me nothing but trouble since day one. First, even though the software was supposedly pre-installed on the laptop, it didn't work until I installed it manually. Then, it wouldn't see the proper install (I couldn't uninstall the one that came installed on the machine.)

As this one worked with the WiFi network, I donated our old HP all-in-one to the Boy Scout troop. Too bad the reason we kept this one, namely the WiFi capabilities, have been horrendously bad.

The scenario:

I kept getting 'printer offline' messages, even using the USB connection to the Mac. Troubleshooting nets me 'no printers are available,' but the diagnostic tells me that my network is fine.

The install printer dialog shows no printer options, until I select "I can't find my printer," then Photosmart C4780 magically appears. I go through the ent…


Ed received a phone call this morning. Jane has decided that she will move to skilled care. He had a conversation with her, explaining how we've felt the past year and getting it off his chest.

The decision has been made, but how to make it happen? She didn't talk about that. I think she has assumed, once again, that we'll just take the ball and run with it. She probably expects us to deal with her apartment complex, while they will only deal with her.

We'll know more once A calls us on Monday. In the meantime, Ed called Jane back and left a message, asking her how she was handling things.

In the short run, this will be a royal pain in the ass. Once she's moved in, though, there won't be the worry that someone from the complex is going to call to tell us she's in the hospital again...

No Denial

After yesterday's confusion, I took the bull by the horns and called the business office at Jane's rehab. I had a very pleasant conversation with the staffer that I've been playing phone tag with all week. Ultimately, we're very much on the same page that Jane should not go home, she couldn't live independently prior to the hip fracture and she certainly isn't capable of doing so now.

She asked if I could head up there and the two of us could talk with Jane about future plans, with her hope that my intervention might get Jane to agree to apply for Medicaid. As I was five minutes away, that request was quickly met. I warned her that anything I say, Jane takes as me being the mommy bossing her around and goes directly against it and also explained a little more of what happened back in October to change Jane's mind from the positive view of skilled care to her going to an even less restrictive environment.

Once there, I had a slightly interesting time with …

Clarity and Confusion

Today, I attended one of the seminars put on by the Graduate school for new students. The topic? Choosing a mentor and deciding on a thesis/dissertation topic. I had the second part, but not the first, so I went over to gain some insights.

The presenter was expert and personable. He must be really good with faces, because he mentioned where he'd seen most of the people in attendance in specific presentations he'd lead before. It was nice to get to ask questions throughout, thanks to the small group size.

My big concern was how the heck do I pick a mentor when my plans include study in two separate departments? Well, the answer is that a doctoral candidate should have several mentors. He also dispelled the myth that a mentor has to be the supreme authority in your research area. As long as the dissertation committee or mentor has an expert in that discipline, it should be good.

This was very relieving. As I begin looking at PhD. programs, the reality that there is ver…


Since yesterday, I spent an obscene amount of time reviewing Photoshop articles for class, attended a class in which an amazing photojournalist spent two hours netting down the important features of that program for us. Then I came home and wrote my first 'real' grad school paper. Oh, and I colored my hair.

This morning, up before the sun to get showered, dressed really nice, drove to Tampa and spent the day interviewing five more candidates for that committee I'm on. (Frankly, three of those people probably were unable to fly back home today). Then back on campus for another three hour class, the one which I submitted my prose at 11pm last night.

It was already graded. The professor who wrote in her syllabus that we'll get B's in her class gave me an A. That stupid syllabus gave me writer's block because if above average work gets a B, then how is my undergrad A writing going to measure up. I'm sure hoping this is a good sing.

And I am so very sore fro…