Archive for March, 2010


frostbite and toenails, or, a disgusting p.s.

March 29, 2010

I lost a toenail today.  Or, well, most of a toenail.  It was kind of weird how it decided to flake off, and it required some assistance from a pair of scissors before all was said and done.  The only potential explanation I have for this strange phenomenon is that the mild frostbite that I suffered during my commute home during the blizzard somehow killed some of the tissues in the nail bed, and, well, it fell off.  I do remember the toenail looking as strange as the offending toe during the whole unfortunate event.

I guess that I’m lucky it’s just a toenail that I lost.  Also, I’m lucky that the toenail (and the toe itself) didn’t turn too many offensive colors, just a strange waxy white.  I’m really glad that I read up on cold-weather injuries and their appropriate first-aid procedures after the partner got hypothermia back over Thanksgiving.

Still.  It scares me a little that I lost a body part (no matter how insignificant) due to a snowy commute home, especially one where I didn’t really make any really bad decisions that worsened the matter, as far as I can tell.  Thanks, March.  You better be done snowing after that debacle.

[A P.S. to a P.S.: you’re supposed to use mild moist heat to treat frostbite — dry heat can cause burns, since you typically can’t feel anything in the body part you’re trying to warm up — and under no circumstances should you rub whatever you’re warming, since that typically causes further injury.  I removed my wet shoes and socks once I was “indoors” (on a bus), and just kept my hands wrapped around my toes until they started to regain feeling and color.  Took an hour, hour and a half for this particular toe.  Oh, and you’re not supposed to thaw any body part that has a chance of re-freezing, since that will also cause further damage.  This wasn’t serious frostbite, so I wasn’t too worried.]


the battle of the spurge

March 29, 2010

Meet my mortal enemy.

It's meaner than it looks.

I decided yesterday that I’d rather play in the dirt than work problems on p-n junctions, so I went to work in the front yard, where I’m planning to put an elaborate garden this summer.  Previously, the beds I want to use were infested with leafy spurge, a noxious weed native to Australia that is a serious problem here in Colorado.  The folks upstairs invested some major effort in removing it last year, so I thought it’d be a matter of turning over the soil, removing the flower bulbs that are coming up, and pulling a few stray spurge roots.  I was deluding myself.

Turns out leafy spurge is a bitch to remove.  This beast spreads by seed and by creeping horizontal roots, and it can have taproots up to thirty feet deep.  I spent 3 hours working in one bed (about five by three paces), and I removed an entire trash can full of roots.  I don’t think I’m done.  Seriously, this plant has a root system that a friggin’ oak tree would envy.

The best part?  The entire plant leaks an irritating latex-like sap (think milkweed), and if you get it on your skin, it causes rashes and such.  Mmm, fun.  I did wear gloves, but it really sucks to be cursing and sweating and up to your ankles in dirt and tangled root masses and remember that you have to be careful, too.  Caution and frustration do not exactly go hand in hand.  I got lucky, I suppose, since I’m rash-free.  My prepubescent helpers (the kids upstairs got in on the job once they saw…uh…how much fun I was having, I guess) were not so lucky, but apparently the rashes are already fading.

Anyhow, I am hoping that if I leave the bed alone for a few days, most of the roots that I missed will dry out from being somewhat exposed, and that I can invest maybe only another hour or so in pulling out the stragglers.  I’m hoping.  Then, of course, I get to repeat the process with the other two beds, which are both slightly larger (three by six paces).  That extra three square paces could add up to an hour of extra time, realistically.

I curse whoever first brought spurge to Colorado, and I hope they die a violent death by rhizome strangulation or something similarly karmic.

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subsidy FAIL

March 26, 2010

The unfortunate answer to my earlier question (not the one about the zombie apocalypse, but the one mentioned later in that entry: will I qualify for insurance subsidies?) is a resounding NO.  Maybe not resounding, since I had to dig into the nitty gritty details of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” to figure that out, but nonetheless.  Since my “employer” (CU) offers shite insurance, and said shite insurance requires <9.5% of my salary (7%) to pay the premiums, I don’t qualify for subsidies, even though my income meets the 133%-400% of the federal poverty level standard.



io9 answers the question we’ve all been asking…

March 26, 2010

…will healthcare reform help prevent the zombie apocalypse?  Don’t tell me you haven’t been wondering.

Anyway, this is a quick post, since LeechBlock will cut me off soon.  But, I did want to share this lovely little gem I ran across on last night: “Five Dystopias Healthcare Reform Could Prevent (and One it Could Cause).”  They’re of the opinion that the reform bill could stave off the mutant plague (zombie apocalypse), vanishing middle class (i.e., the sci-fi staple of the future society with only ruling overlords and downtrodden sewer-dwellers), corporate serfdom, our entire economy being devoted to healthcare costs, and the fast food apocalypse (think Famine’s actions in Good Omens, for instance, or soylent green…sort of).  Alas, they also suggest we’re no longer completely safe from the socialist totalitarian state, so it’s not all good news.

While the article is (obviously) intended to have comedic value, it’s actually a pretty good article, with links to some excellent information; in particular, there’s a link to this nicely-done breakdown of the differences between the house and senate bills that are currently being reconciled.  Overall, I’m kind of impressed that the website that usually gives me articles on my favorite sci-fi and other silly things has bothered to tackle healthcare reform at all.  I suppose it’s a big enough deal that we’re all interested.

I mostly just want to know if I’ll qualify for decent subsidies, since my tenure with Evil Insurance, Inc., comes to an end this year (although actually I saw one provision tossed around that would enable me to spend a year further with Evil Insurance, Inc. on my dad’s company’s dime…yay?  It’s a mixed blessing, for sure).  Also it’d be nice to see Evil Insurance, Inc. have someone more threatening than little ol’ me dressing them down for once.  Although, I can be pretty scary when I’m arguing about reimbursement checks that add up to probably a tenth of my salary, I’m told.


the karma gods are merciful

March 24, 2010

Earlier today, I was cursing the fact that I had recently gone to a bit of trouble to return a stranger’s phone that I found in the park, and yet my phone, which was lost in a fairly obvious location, on a bus that is part of a system with an overorganized lost and found, did not turn up.

But there is hope!  I have just been informed that someone finally answered one of the periodic calls Eric had been making to the phone, and that it will be at the Boulder transit center’s lost and found facility tomorrow.  Hooray!  The karma gods have decided to take mercy on me after all!

Also, there is nothing better than sleeping in until noon on a Wednesday knowing that not a single person on the planet will blame you for not going to work.  The lab ended up being closed, anyway, though the sun was shining by early afternoon.  Mmmm.  Sunny, lazy snow day.  Win!  It wasn’t worth going through last night’s hell, but I’ll take what compensation I can get.


definitive proof that the universe hates me

March 23, 2010

Let me tell you about my day.  No, let me tell you merely about my day between 6:15pm and 11:00pm.


So, there are 4 buses home, directly from Golden to Boulder.  The first three were fine apparently.  I was still busy.  The fourth left Boulder as usual, headed south to pick me up, and got stuck on the highway.

My day would’ve been better if I were on it.

Of course, I don’t know any of this.  What I do know is that the weatherman said, “meh, up to an inch of snow this afternoon, the real snowfall will be overnight, up to a foot maybe.”  Okay, fine.  I wear jeans, chucks, cotton socks to lab, figuring that’s no biggie at all since I’ll be home at 7pm at the latest.  Yeah, uh-huh.

“Up to an inch of snow” suddenly becomes “MOTHERFUCKING BLIZZARD APOCALYPSE” sometime around 6:15pm.  Yes, exactly the time our heroine chooses to depart the lab.

So I wait for the bus for half an hour before I call the bus folks.  They tell me I missed it.  Huh?  Um, no.  Lady across the street is running to the store to get cigarettes, feels sorry for me, and offers me a ride.  Since I’m soaked to the bone by this point, I decide to take her up on it, as long as she picks a store directly on the bus line.  Fine.  Deal.  She’s a hero (thanks Danielle!).  Alright, so I’m now hanging out in a Safeway, dripping all over the floor of produce.  I call the bus folks again.  I get someone much more helpful, either that or maybe I’m just way more demanding by now, and I discover that the bus got stuck and isn’t ever coming.  Fine.  I ask what time I can hope to catch the bus into Denver, where I can then catch a bus to Boulder.  This option takes 2 hours on a good day.

Fine.  Should work. bSucks, but whatever, should get me home eventually.  Activate Plan B!  Yeah, uh-huh.  Plan B involves a further 35 minutes of standing outside in the blizzard, since the bus could come any minute and I can’t see the stop from inside Safeway (due to white-out conditions).  I am still completely soaked through.  I begin to shiver uncontrollably.  I begin to lose feeling in my toes.  I begin to cry.  I think I’m at the wrong bus stop.  I walk to a cross street and flag down another bus.  Turns out I was at the right bus stop.  The bus chooses this moment to come.  I sprint to catch it.  Sprint, I’ll have you, through mid-shin-deep snow.  Mmm, fun.  I catch the bus.  I shiver.  I take my shoes and socks off and all of my toes are white.  Not so great really.  Too bad that frostbite first aid involves warm water, of which I have none.

I get to Denver, and the bus driver has pity on me, and saves me a block’s walk by  dropping me off between stops.  He is a hero (thanks, 16L-driver!).  I wait for another bus, that will take me to the other bus station.  It comes.  I ride it.  I shiver some more.  I get to Market Street Station and feel like throwing a party, because there is a Boulder-bound bus, sitting in the station, leaving in 15 minutes.  Highway 36 westbound is open.  There is a hot air hand dryer in the bathroom.  I find a smushed peanut-butter sandwich in my backpack.  Party time, indeed!

I get on the bus, the highway sucks, but we make it to Boulder.  Turns out 36 eastbound is closing as we drive past it, looks like a wreck (or ten, or twenty).  More than two dozen abandoned vehicles who couldn’t make it up Shanahan Ridge on the side of the road, and hundreds more in the process of trying not to add to that count.  No wonder they decided to block it off (for the second time this evening, actually).

I get off the bus, trudge through the knee-deep slush, and put my hands in my pockets.  My pockets are empty.  My phone is on the bus.  Phone.  On the bus.  Yeah.  I chase the bus waving my arms, but it’s not very effective in the knee-deep slush.  Motherfucker.  Motherfucker!  I kick some snow.  The snow isn’t impressed.

At this point it’s pretty much just despair.  I am ungodly tired, have lost my phone, and a few hours ago I was concerned about hypothermia and frostbite (all ten of my toes are now pink and have most of their feeling back, though).

Yes, the universe hates me.

But I am not going to work tomorrow!  FUCK YOU, BLIZZARD, you are not doing this to me again.  You may be bigger and meaner, but I am smarter than you.


i heart colorado

March 21, 2010

This is what I did this weekend.  At least, the part of it when I wasn’t mostly laying low or driving friends around to tour breweries.

Rahr! Nohku Crags!

I heart Colorado, indeed.  I will post and tell you about it in more detail (with illustrations) soon.