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Trip, Day 1: To Eugene

We’re going to be going over mountains, so I take the special meds. I hate it with a burning passion, and you’ll understand why in a bit.

I take it because it increases oxygen concentration in the blood, which means less altitude sick. I get altitude sick in a ten story building. Only a slight exaggeration.

Four thousand feet is where I really start to feel it, though. Since I’m doing a lot of the driving, I take the damn meds.

I am not a morning person. I have not truly ever been a morning person (I quite literally lack the gene), but the last few years in particular I have especially not been a morning person. I was saying that to a friend who got run over by a car last year, and she said, “Because the pain meds have worn off!”

Exactly. That is why.
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Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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O, Canada

Mom and I are going to drive up to Canada.

I’ve driven to Seattle before, and I’ve driven from Seattle to Vancouver before. However, the next stage is the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island, which I’ve never taken (I’ve always flown).

I’ve also never been to Victoria before, so I’m excited that we’re going there, too, probably on the return. We may have some time for a quick visit on the way up or back, but I’m guessing that our timing is going to pretty much miss anything of interest in Portland. Seattle’s more possible.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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For Authors Who Do/Want to Do Direct Digital Sales

Please feel free to repost. Or, if you know of other, similar posts/threads, to link to them in comments.

If you’re an author doing direct digital sales from a web site you manage/control (meaning in addition to whatever you’re doing through Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Direct2Digital—or whatever)…

Questions for Authors Already Selling Directly

  1. What method are you using? Gumroad? Shopify? Easy Digital Downloads (plus WordPress)? WooCommerce? Sellfy? Some other?
  2. How’s that working out for you, and why did you make the choice you did?
  3. If you’re willing to share this information, what percentage of your total sales are direct sales?
  4. Has it been worth the hassle for you?

Questions for Authors Considering Selling Directly

  1. What programs have you looked into?
  2. Do you have any questions about the process?

For those who wonder why one would do such a thing, there are two primary reasons:

  1. If you have more than one thing to sell, you can offer custom discounts.
  2. You can offer them subscriptions to your email list; third-party vendors are completely transparent to you.
  3. Higher pay and faster payment.

For example, selling via EDD on my own site for a $3.99 book, I’d take home $3.52 today. If I sold the same book on Amazon, I’d receive $2.79 sixty days after the end of the sales month. For Nook, I’d receive $2.39 sixty days after the end of the sales month. For iTunes, $3.52 45 days after the end of the month. For Kobo, if the amount owing is > $150, then they pay monthly, otherwise every six months.

Obviously, $3.52 today sounds better, but it does require a savvy enough customer to sideload the book (drag to their reading application).

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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Myofascial Pain, Fibromyalgia, and Arthritis

For some years, I’ve been struggling with mis-identified causes of pain. It was believed that I had arthritis and fibromyalgia. Period.

As I’d been arguing, that covers less than half—and probably less than a quarter—of my pain most days. I finally have an accurate diagnosis: most of it is myofascial pain.

Both have sore spots, but the myo ones are where nerve enters muscle, and irritating them usually refers pain to a specific area. Fibro points tend to be near joints; irritating them doesn’t refer pain—but can make the whole body hurt non-specifically.

Put them together: irritate a myo trigger point, myo radiates pain to a fibro point and then you feel crappy all over. Win.

The really interesting thing for me is that I’ve known for years that my pain was inflammatory, and fibro isn’t (and myo is). So that answers that question, too.

The good news that now I have a real treatment plan.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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Heartbleed: Why SSL Certs Have To Be Reissued…and Salts

A friend of mine who’s a geek and I were talking about Heartbleed a couple of days ago. Said friend has never been a coder, and thus never really spent a significant time looking at memory dumps, unlike us old school programmers who have (especially back when we were, um, trying to argue with copy protection on games we owned back in the 80s when apps were traditionally copy protected).

So my friend said, “I don’t get why SSL certs have to be reissued.”

This friend doesn’t run SSL (nor do I). But I see exactly the gap that some technical people have.

Also, I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about the problem of non-obviously SSL security complications of the heartbleed attack, like password and cookie salts.
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Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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Why IRC Still Rocks After All These Years

Slowly becoming less of a fan of HipChat, it’s really no better than IRC with a proper client. –Matt Jarjoura

When I first looked at HipChat, I laughed. It looks, well, so 90s. Basically, it’s a revamp of IRC, where “revamp” means “we will charge you for it.”

The only reason you should pay money to them is one of the following:

  1. You don’t know how to set up an IRC server on some spare piece of office equipment and can’t be bothered to find anyone to help you.
  2. You need some obscure feature that’s not available on IRC or any of its addons.

Yep, that’s about it.

Essentially, HipChat and its ilk assume that you’ve never heard of IRC and are willing to pay to have private-ish conversations. They will never be as private as running your own IRC server.

If you don’t need that, you can get a dedicated channel on other servers, mark it private, invite people you want, and ban them if their status ever changes.

Why IRC Rocks

  1. The larger IRC networks are distributed, meaning everyone connects to a server closer to them. This does lead to netsplits, but it means that people can continue on even where one of the servers are down. In that sense, it’s designed like the Internet was intended: no single point of failure.
  2. IRC servers can be private. I’ve used them at several firms.
  3. You can do a seminar-style by making the channel moderated and requiring people to private message questions. Advantage of this format for the listeners is that they can private message each other, which many substitute chat types do not offer.
  4. You can make channels private.
  5. On most IRC networks, you can define a list of who’s an op (who has privilege to allow/disallow people on the channel), who can speak when the channel is moderated, and set those privileges so they persist without anyone on the channel. (And then there’s classic EFnet, which at least used to do none of these things.)
  6. IRC is extremely low bandwidth and fault tolerant. It assumes bad and slow connections. I have been in situations where no-image web pages wouldn’t load, email wouldn’t load, but IRC worked just fine. (Especially on ships using satellite internet.)
  7. Every operating system, even those without any graphical interfaces, still in use has at least one IRC client. Got an old Timex Sinclair?
  8. The biggest thing HipChat offers that IRC doesn’t typically out of the box is chat history, but there are even approaches for that using channel bots.

For Mac and iOS users, the best IRC software is Colloquy.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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dsmoen

Travel Channel Scientology Video

Pretty good introduction to some of the big issues from a non-Scientologist’s perspective. Interesting that they cover Operation Snow White but don’t mention that Hubbard’s wife served time for that.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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Box.com: Using My Powers for Good

Four months ago, I posted this commentary and critique of Box’s “Working at Box” page.

It got back to me that it created quite a stir, but I hadn’t checked back on the page recently. I have noticed incoming links to that blog post, so I wondered what was up.

Credit where due, Box has revised the underlying page.

Thank you! Nice improvement.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.


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Pain Management FTW

I haven’t really ever talked about how much pain I’m in publicly. But I’m going to now, because I have just started in a pain management program. For the first time in many years, I think I’m making real progress.

When asked how long I’ve had chronic pain, it’s hard to answer. I remember not doing things because I hurt too much when I was a teenager. Some of that was when I was 13. I remember times when I was so sore I could barely move before tap dancing class.

I remember when I seriously took up ice skating when I was 20 that even putting the boots on my feet hurt incredibly. And it got worse, but I still did it. I remember fracturing my wrist in a fall because someone else was being an idiot on the ice. I put my hand out (sigh) to break the fall, and the friction from that was so intense that it burned the imprint of the knit pattern on the glove into my hand for two weeks. That wrist was sore for years, and the rest of me didn’t feel so hot for quite a while, either.

Then there was the time I fell down the staircase at my office. My partner and I were running a partnership then. I landed on my chin, did some horrible things to my jaw, and it was pretty awful. The chiropractor who put my jaw back into whack said, “You’re gonna scream.” Despite not wanting to, he was right. I did.

I also remember the fall on the ice when I lived in Vermont. The fall from which my knee has never quite been the same. Didn’t help that I severely re-injured it a couple of years ago falling outside a church in Norway.

What I can’t remember is not having debilitating chronic pain. I’ve had it since I was a teenager. I hid it the entire time I was in Scientology, because only degraded beings were in chronic pain. You were treated better if you pretended you weren’t chronically ill. (I also had other chronic illness things going on then, but that’s another story for another time.)

Putting a label on it and developing an effective treatment plan for it, though, that’s another problem entirely.

What’s been clear to me for years is that I have super-tight muscles. My ginormous calves have no real significant fat on them, just bone and tense muscle. When I was a teenager, I remember finding a painful lump in my thigh muscle, afraid it was cancer or something.

No, it was just a sign of what was to come.

Eighteen years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Painful when poked in the typical places? Check. Over the years, I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with the diagnosis because fibromyalgia doesn’t actually describe my day-to-day pain very well.

Ever tried to argue with a diagnosis that seemed set in stone? Going to a rheumatologist in 2011 got it firmly entrenched on my chart, which was even more frustrating.

It was like “You have fibro. We are done.” And, “I can’t prescribe (this medication that helps your pain) because that doesn’t work on fibro.”

Incredibly. Frustrating.

And yet, I do understand Occam’s razor, it’s just that Occam’s razor suggested it had to be something else because reasons.

That led to rounds of doctor shopping (and firing) until I happened to get the right one in December. The one who told me that Kaiser had a pain clinic and actually referred me to it. Which I went to a week and a half ago.

Joke’s on Me

So, guess what?

I do have fibro.

I was right, though, that’s not the major source of my pain. What is?

Myofascial pain. From the Wikipedia page:

In fibromyalgia, chronic pain and hyperirritability are pervasive. By contrast, while MPS [Myofascial pain syndrome] pain may affect many parts of the body, it is still limited to trigger points and hot spots of referred pain.

So, I have both pervasive chronic pain (from fibro) and irritable trigger points (from fibro and myo) and referred pain (from myo). I’ll tell you right now, that referred pain covers huge swaths of my body.

The myo explains so much. The muscle tension in my neck and head is so severe that it can change my vision (I have gotten diagnostic imaging for this, btw, it really isn’t visible on a scan). This led to uncomfortable conversations that basically boiled down to, “Oh, you’re fat. Therefore it must be diabetes and therefore macular degeneration.” Even though macular degeneration doesn’t describe the reported symptoms at all.

Some days I’ve had shooting pain, and I was wondering if I needed another cardiac look-see. That’s apparently not unusual. But you say, “If I stand too long on my feet on a hard surface, I get shooting pains up my body.” And a doctor sees you’re fat and therefore it must be diabetes (even when your sugar numbers are and have been normal) and the specific symptoms don’t describe diabetic neuropathy. Nor could you possibly have had diabetes long enough to get diabetic neuropathy, because if you’ve been paying attention, you don’t get that far that quickly.

In other words, everything was reduced to: 1) you are fat; 2) you have fibro; 3) you must have had diabetes for like a decade to get your nerves in this shape even though the blood tests don’t agree; 4) can’t see anything on the scans, so it must not be serious.

So I’ve had all this diagnostic imaging and ignored symptoms for years (including the imaging for both head and heart)—and yet no one picked up what it was. Until now.

What This Means in Practice

On a day-to-day basis, here’s the reality I face—and have for years. I wake up with enough pain to be nauseated. I have medication for that, but I can’t take it on an empty stomach because it makes it more likely that I’ll throw it up. Apart from the not-wanting-to-throw-up part, if you throw up partly digested medication, what’s the right dose to take to replace it?

So, I have to take pain meds with food. Coffee works pretty well as an anti-nauseant for me, actually, so long as I drink it with milk. So: coffee first, pain meds with coffee, cook the breakfast, then eat to stabilize the stomach against the meds. Then, and only then, can I do other morning things like taking a shower and getting dressed, because it hurts too much to stand in the shower before the medication starts to kick in. The shower helps reduce pain once I’m to the point where I can handle it.

Only after all of that can I walk like something even vaguely approaching a normal person, though the myofascial muscle tension is typically still a problem. It gives me a strange gait at times. We ruled out MS, but that was one of the things I’d been worried about, given that my capability to walk is so random, even within the same day. Sometimes, even within the same hour.

And Then There’s Yesterday

So I’ve been doing better after a medication change that the pain clinic doc put me on. The other day, I forgot pain meds for the first three hours I was awake.

Yesterday, I took a shower first, then walked (almost like a normal person) to make coffee. Only as I was standing there making coffee did I realize how remarkable that was.

Of course, by the time breakfast was ready, I was shaking. It’s still progress, though.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Fun Thing I’m Waiting For

Season 2 of the web series One Step Closer to Home is filming in Australia. So. I’ve. Been. Told.

It’s a show about a newlywed couple trying to figure out all the normal stuff in life, like where to find the art for the living room and how to fit sex into the schedule.

Oh, and if you liked Season 2 of Fairly Legal with Ryan Johnson as Ben Grogan, here he is with his more typical accent.

Here’s the web site.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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