May. 4th, 2009 12:25 pm
pecunium: (Loch Icon)
I like poems. I've been known to write them. On really rare occaisions I've made attempts at translation:

One of the interesting things I discovered when studying French, and then again with Russian, is that poetry is easier than prose to understand, in a foriegn language.

I think this was because 1: I understood poetry in English. 2: We expect density of idea, evocative language, metaphor, and simile, in a poem. With the result that we are not tripped up in the same way we are when we encounter idiom, or colloquialism (imagine not speaking English and getting a passage of Dashiel Hammet, or George MacDonald Fraser's, Pvt McAuslan).

So in that regard we are more ready for the difficulties. It also seems to me that poetry is somehow more revealing of details of culture than prose. It tends to be more slowly changed, forms and tropes persist (the Japanese still write haiku, and the sonnet was a popular form until recently. I was made to write on in school. It was awful).

So here are a couple I really like, one from the Japanese, one from the Russian.

An Haiku

To pluck it is a pity
To leave it is a pity
Ah!, this violet


Я вас любил

Я вас любил: любовь еще, быть может
В душе моей угасла не совсем;
Но пусть она вас больше не тревожит;
Я не хочу печалить вас ничем.
Я вас любил безмолвно, безнадежно,
То робостью, то ревностью томим;
Я вас любил так искренно, так нежно,
Как дай вам бог любимой быть другим.

I loved you: perhaps I love you still
but forget this love which pressed on you
no tears, only laughter. I do not wish to cause you pain.
I loved you quietly, hopelessly, jealously; afraid
I loved you with tenderness, and sincerely
May God grant you love like this again.

Aleksandr Sergeyivich Pushkin
(trans. T. Karney 1995/2009)

[I am not really happy with the translation. I've wrestled with it several times. Layers of meaning are lost, which tease at me. It didn't help, last night, when I did this, that I have no dictionaries here, just a crib sheet for grammar.]
pecunium: (Default)
I've been working on this one for a while. It occurred to me that some of the things one learned to do when the "Intro to Photography" courses were all black and white film is being lost. A large part of it is, pretty much, irrelevant in these days of digital. Some of it I did think still applied.

So I tested it. I took some of the equipment I bought to manipulate black and white film, and used it on my digital camera.

The results are discussed at TKP. I'd like comments there, but I understand people don't want to register (and I don't want the spam. There's already been one attempt to flat out hack the site too), so I won't close the comments here.

In the meanwhile,

A teaser
_AP58167YP as shot

Crazy :)

Feb. 24th, 2009 10:14 am
pecunium: (Loch Icon)
When I was in basic training Sgt. Gibson, late in cycle, when the relationship was familiar (but not intimate), looked at us, as we sat under a tree, and responded to something with, "you motherfuckers". It was affectionate, and comfortable. I don't recall what we'd done, but it was one of those things which was right, and foolish; had it gone wrong someone might have been hurt.

Which is why I point you to these crazy motherfuckers.

Locals free dolphins

"...one - Brandon Banks, 16 - got into the water and helped calm one of the dolphins weakened by the ordeal so they could tow it to open water.

Why do I call them crazy...? Because the dolphins were trapped inside a small pool of open slush in a frozen bay.

Mr. May said the men carved a channel by ramming the five-metre fibreglass-hulled boat up onto the ice, then jumping out and onto the ice to hack away at it. He said it took them three hours before they had a path from the main body of water to the pool of slush and water where the dolphins were trapped, a distance of about 250 metres, he said.

It took them hours. The weather wasn't brutally cold (a bit below freezing), but even with survival suits (which they had), the water is cold, and the possibility of an accident in/on/under the ice (they were breaking it apart) was non-trivial.

The world needs more crazy like this.

(H/T to [profile] willshetterly)
pecunium: (Default)
Got the bills for the kidney stone today.


Total invoiced bills, rounded off, $8,000.

Five hundred of that is to the radiology lab for the CT scans, which are also billed on the hospital invoice to the tune of $3,700. I guess I wasn't kidding when I told the nurse at Walter Reed that, had I been paying for what they gave me, I'd have been filing bankruptcy after about 48 hours.

The mark-up for the saline, (which I know the rough cost of, because vets use it, and I worked at at vet) was about 14 times the cost of the bags ($222, rounded), the IV catheter cost $325, the tubing for it was, thankfully only $250. The morphine, a bargain at $50, for 10mg. Each time a nurse pushed some drugs, add a hundred bucks for the treatment, so for the bags and the drugs, $700 labor. Not bad for a grand total of 30 minutes worth of work (and I'm including the time spent getting the bags and drugs).

The worst part is the sanskrit billing. I don't recall getting a pair of injections, separately from the stuff pushed IV, but the bill seems to have them.

On the up side, if there is, I think I'd have agreed to most of that, and at that price (certainly the drugs, etc, I'm not so sure about the CT Scans) for the privilege of not screaming myself mute while the stone passed.

And the note on the back, that's the kicker. If we pay promptly (i.e. withing 30 days of today, though I might have to argue the date of reciept, were we to be on the line) we get a 50 percent discount for prompt payment, because I have no insurance.

Which feels like a scam.

I have to confess, even knowing that medical treament in the states is expensive, the sheer speed with which a huge bill gets racked up is astonishing (I made the comment at Walter Reed because I'd gotten lots of treatment in a short time. Fluids, doctors, ER, Spinal Tap, more bloodwork than I know how to describe, CT Scans, 14 doctors, on a total of four teams, plus my attending and the rheumatology team (who basically stopped by to see how I was doing; since it was their regimen of treatment which put me in hospital to begin with), three kinds of antibiotics, some potassium (ow, ow, ow!... not good, and worse the second time, after you've been getting IV Fluids for a week) and other things, I no longer recall. That was the first 2 1/2 days... I was there for almost two-weeks).

If it had been bad, say I'd needed a stent, or had mmore stones and they worried about complications, I'd be filing for bankruptcy. For some shots, a bit of blood work and some fluids. That makes up half the bill. The other half is for 10 minutes of scanning, and the expertise to read the results (I'm assuming the 500 to the radiology lab is for the person who shot the film).

Six hours, $8,000, for non-dedicated treatment (whatever nurse was handy, and the doctor on call).

On the other hand, if one can find the money (all of it) quickly, the bill is far less. Which makes me wonder at the real cost of things. It also means those who rack up really huge bills (say a heart attack, and a $25,000 tab) are screwed. They can't find the money to close the account, so they have to pay the really huge markup.
pecunium: (Default)
I am almost my normal self today.

I've not taken any vicodin since Sunday night (when I stayed up an extra two hours, so I could take one more pill). I've not had any spasms since Sunday evening, around 5 p.m. (when I retired to the empty room because crawling around an empty floor, in privacy, seemed so much better than trying to negotiate the living room, or not flail into a snake tank).

I am drinking more (to Maia's eternal glee, she has been saying, for the better part of six years, that I don't drink enough). I have yet to have coffee again. Somehow the idea of a diuretic isn't appealing enough to make any. Happily I can take or leave it.

I have been drinking Nestle Milo. You can't get it in the states, it was brought back to me from China, because Ovaltine couldn't be found there. I know Ovaltine makes a Chinese version, because I've bought it, in Chinatown. Perhaps it's for the local market. When I was a kid Ovaltine was really malty. The powder was shiny from malt crystals. These days, it's funny tasting hot chocolate. Opening this present (from Christmas) to consume as comfort food has been a treat.

I still have a mild ache in the lower left of my belly. I am not feeling as weak as I did yesterday.

On the other hand, I wasn't going to let this keep me down too much, so we had the usual open invite to the Tues. Night Supper Club (if any y'all are gonna be in the area, drop me a line, we've got lots of napkins, and food to spare).

Pasta. An easy dish. Almost trivial. A couple of pounds of last weeks farmers' market tomatoes, sliced. Some oregeno, a few cans of diced tomatoes, a healthy dash of celery seed, some marjoram (fresh, it doesn't dry well, much like basil. This was the first cutting from this plant. It needed to be pruned anyway, in the interest of turning the spikes to bushes) some pulverised white pepper, and a couple sprigs of rosemary.

The oregeno (one of the few spices I think improves from being dried) was powdered in the mortar, some red onion was sauteed, a bit of fresh garlic was added and the whole lot put to simmer on the back burner for six or seven hours.

While that was doing I was playing with the sourdough starter. I'd fed it the night before and fed it some more. I wanted enough to make three loaves of bread (last week there wasn't enough bread for the borshch, but it did, much to my pleased surprise, work. Dense, and light, and tasty, if Maia like caraway it would have been well nigh perfect).

Added the vital wheat gluten and decided to really let these loaves rise. I have been getting a nice crumb, but it's denser than I want. I'm not getting the open eyes I've been hoping for. So longer rise, with more stretching.

Stretching is one of the tricks I got from my valentine's day present. Instead of punching the dough down after it doubles, one pulls the lump out to a rectangle, or square, and then folds it back on itself, in thirds. Turn it 90 degrees and then fold it again. The reccomended interval is about 20 minutes between turnings. It slows the doubling, and makes more pockets for the air to get trapped in, but layering the gluten sheets.

Adding more gluten helped, a lot.

I'm still not adding quite enough salt, but when turned into garlic bread, I'm pretty much the only one who notices.

About 5 o'clock I ran the tomatoes through the medium setting on the food mill: one needs toys, not many, but a few, to make some things. Maia want's more toys than I do. I think my list of essentials is.

Pots, pans and skillets
Bread stone
Food mill
Mortars and pestles
Whisks (Swedish and balloon)
Thermometers (meat, instant and candy)
Knives (small, medium and large. A chef, and a cleaver are nice but three knives you like is better than 10 you don't)
Vegetable peeler
Measuring devices (this includes a scale)
Mixing devices (I am in love with my silicone spatula, it's what I make my loose dough with for bread, for some breads it does the kneading too).

The only other essential is heat diffusers for the stovetop. I have three, for a four burner stove. They are cast iron, and reduce the hot spots, so things are less likely to scorch. They do slow the start of things, and they mean one has to think of a gas range a bit more like an electric (if it's done, you have to take it off now).

Everything else, the Kitchen-aid, the mandoline, the ginger mincer. the rolling pin, the micro-plane, the the three part pasta pot/steamer etc. are tools of convenience. They don't make things possible, they just make them easier.

So, where was I before I got onto equipment...? Sauce.

Sauced the tomatoes, balanced the mix (a bit more oregeno, some olive oil, a pinch of salt), and set that on the burner again to reduce.

Set a large pot of water to simmer, and put the bread in the oven.

People came, tossed a pound of penne rigate in the pasta cradle (this is my three level pot/pasta cooker/steamer... I could make a dish doing all three. If Maia like shrimps, crawdads, clams, mussels or scallops, I would, but she doesn't, so I don't), and plunged it. While that was cooking I sliced some zucchini, and chopped some broccoli, while the garlic bread Maia had prepped was under the broiler.

Pasta, sauce, and salas on the table, veggies in the steamer, over the water from the pasta, and, voila, dinner is served.

We kept the water at a simmer, and Maia made another pound of pasta a little later.

I retired early.

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pecunium: (Default)
I am sipping soup right now. It wants salt. I don't really have the energy.

I'm wearing a new bracelet, which I want to remove but have not the energy to do either.

I learnt a lot of stuff today.

I spent five hours in the Emergency Room learning that kidney stones hurt more than one can possibly imagine.

I learnt the nearest hospital is walking distance.

I learnt that Morphine is, so far as I'm concerned, a shitty drug, because it didn't really kill the pain, just sort of made not care enough to complain about it. Fentanyl was much better, but 100, of whatever units they were using lasted about an hour. Even at that it only moved the pain down the scale from 10, to about 3 1/2. Mind you, I'd have been willing to pay a lot for doing that.

For those who don't know the scale, 1 is no pain, 3 is painful discomfort, 10 is the worst pain you've ever experienced in your life. I was compos enough to say if this wasn't a 10, I didn't wan't to imagine it.

Maia was a Trouper. She deserves a medal, to be mentioned in dispatches, to have statues erected. Maybe the statues are a bit over the top, but she was great. She (and for much of it Alexa) stayed with me for the whole thing. About half of which I spent in a stupor of drugs and pain, so entertaining I wasn't.

I woke up with a painfully full bladder. After I emptied it I was still a bit unhappy, since it felt as though I'd gone far beyond the designer's specs. Then I decided I needed to get up, because I was feeling restless. In short order I was making noises of great distress. Maia asked if I needed to go to the Hospital. I allowed as it didn't seem to be appendicitis. Ten minutes later I decided she was right, and writhing around at home was a stupid sort of stoicism.

We looked up the hospital (ok, Maia and Alexa looked up the hospital. I did things to try and distract myself, like watering the chive seeds in the cutting grape.

Off we went. Happily at 0745 on a Sunday morning there isn't much of a crowd. Being in a public place I was a trifle more restrained, though I was in obvious distress. Kidney stones, it seems, have some fairly recognizable symptoms, and I was diagnosed before they were done taking my vitals.

The nurse who stuck me was great. We had a small discussion on where they were going to stick me (nurses love my veins. They are large and the lack fat makes them easy to see) Given my state of distress, I didn't want it in the elbow, and no way I was letting them stick me near bone, given the excruciating attempt when I was at Walter Reed.

A few minutes later the doctor looked at me, and a few minutes after that the drugs began.

Maia called Alexa who brought a pair of socks and a blanket for me, crochet and breakfast for Maia.

I talked to the nurse (there were several) about meds, she said to call for more if I needed them. I thought about it when the tech took me to the CT Scanner. I really wished I'd done so when she spent 2-5 minutes on the phone, after I was done.

Doctor Greenberg said the scan showed a 3mm stone.

And the waiting began. I might have been let out sooner, had a couple of auto-accidents not come in. I wasn't all that happy about not getting a new dose of drugs the last time I asked. I did notice (I think) the actual passage of the stone.

When all was said and done I'd had Fentanyl, morphine and three bags of IV fluids.

I do know, now; some two hours after I got home, why they prescibed Vicodin. I am having spasms, which head up to high 8, low 9, on the pain scale. I hope they don't last.

So that was my Sunday.

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