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Mon, Apr. 14th, 2014, 06:04 am
More Spirit Dreams?

It's 0600, and I'm about to go to sleep, but before I forget, I need to put down last night's dreams. There was some kind of Indian (Native American kind) teaching me all kinds of stuff. First about a lesbian woman who did all sorts of great things, and I knew I was learning these incredible lessons, but the second I woke up, I forgot all of the stories. It was if he was teaching them directly to my subconscious instead of my waking mind.

When I went back to sleep, I had another series of dreams, practically fables that I was living, of which I only remember the last one. Someone, myself or someone else, was in a hospital room getting a cancer removed from their hand, only we were all drugged by the nefarious "doctor". It was more a scene from Hostel than a hospital, only we(really, I) overpowered the bad guy in the room with us and were keeping the bad guys outside of the room. Somehow I had done this, but it was the wrong choice. At the end of this "tale" I got the sensation that all of the particulars of the dream were meaningless, but only the message attempting to be conveyed was of important, in this instance that by attempting to do everything for everyone, instead of giving them a chance to assist, somehow I had screwed up our chances. Not only was it an untenable situation, but it denied them something in their growing process. I needed to allow everyone to help.

Too bad I couldn't remember all of the previous "fables", as I felt that each one was of importance and they were NOT being transmitted direct to my underbrain. I just couldn't hold them all; there were too many of them.

Strangely enough, AgtOrange had a dream about a popular celebrity figure who also happened to be one of the very first news articles I pulled up this morning, and not anyone I would read about ever as a general rule. I think my dream energy is bleeding over to him just for sleeping next to me.

p.s. Spirit Dog continues to hang around. My therapist approves. I've been thinking about ways, if there are any, to call such creatures to those in need, but I think that's just the thing. They come to people in need, when they chose to do so, and if people are willing to have them.

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Fri, Apr. 4th, 2014, 02:47 am
Notes From The Blue Car Universe

Last night I dreamed I had a dog. It followed me through all my dreams, nightmare or not, with the diligence of a service animal and the demeanor of a happy pup. It was incredibly well behaved, so much so that my dreaming self remarked, "wow, I wish my first dog had been so well trained" (of course, I was a kid and didn't know how to train a dog back then). The dog, also female, was slightly larger, and at some point I approached a vague sense of consciousness with the nagging sense that something was wrong. It wanted something from me, tried to wake me, but couldn't. Disappointed, it laid down beside me. Then I realized, no one had walked the dog before bedtime.

It was at this moment I realized we didn't own a dog. And that was the thought that woke me up.

Now, for those that know me know I have PTSD. Lately, whenever I wake in the night, it is usually in a cold sweat, heart hammering, in grave terror. Sometimes there are rushing thoughts to go with the terror, an intruder, a noise, etc. My sleeping partner likes to twitch in his sleep, which is a guaranteed wakeup for me, and means hours of exhausted restlessness before I can drift back into a nightmare-laced coma. I often check the house repeatedly, or fight the urge to peer into corners and closets and windows. This time, I woke up perfectly calm, only with the nagging guilt of having wronged an animal I was responsible for. And, even though I knew this beast didn't exist, I was totally unable to shake this feeling.

In the end, I took the spirit dog outside. I figured, whether or not it existed didn't matter. At the very least, I could pay homage to the fact that some part of my psyche helped to cushion and protect me from hours (or what seemed like hours) of bad dreams. And if that part of my psyche demanded to be let out at 0530 in the morning, it was only 55 degrees F outside, who was I to argue? So I put on shoes and a jacket, and feeling rather foolish, wandered outside and stared at the sky for five minutes, and then wandered back inside and crawled back into bed.

I was instantly asleep, without the aid of an additional sleeping pill--an entirely unusual circumstance. Fuck it, I have an invisible, probably imaginary dog.

Or is it? For those who remember my "blue car" theory, it's basically, if a person has a hallucinatory blue car, and they can see, smell, hear, and touch it but no one else can, sometimes it is just better for that person to live their life reacting to the blue car, rather than waste countless hours fruitlessly trying to convince themselves it doesn't exist. You weigh the harm, and you weigh the effort involved, and you figure out which one allows the person to get on with their life with the minimum of fuss. And I contend, that for that person, the question of reality becomes moot. For all practical purposes, if one chooses to act and react as if a thing were real, one might as well say it's real.

So...while standing outside at 0530 and feeling like a total nutjob, I weighed my options. I could go on as before, sleeping a few hours at night and then getting up after three hours, terrified. And then napping most of the day in fits. My cortisol is probably through the roof, and that's bad. Or, I could try out owning an invisible service dog, and see how well that affects my sleep, and if my sleep happens to improve, maybe that's worth it. What exactly would I be willing to do, and how far would I be willing to go?

And I decided that a quick trip outside, five minutes, morning and night, and a short walk (which I ought to do anyway) unless the weather is complete shit. Going outside and walking are two things that are good for me, no matter the reason I do them I can't lose by this. Does one need to feed an invisible dog? Originally I said no, but today is Saturday, which is the day I light incense and put out food and such for Buddha anyway. So I put a bowl of rice and peanut butter down lower than I might have otherwise (which I am now eating, one is allowed to eat food set out, it is just not considered as nutritional as all the "spirit energy" has been depleted according to the lore), and instead of tea for Buddha his tea bowl held water and was also down low. And I lit the incense and said my metta prayer.

And I will see how well I sleep tonight. If I sleep well, I will decide tomorrow whether or not to place out food, and if so, do I need to light the incense every time like I would for Buddha? Does a spirit dog need that? Or do they work like the lore of faeries and such?

Am I bonkers? I will contend that this is quite probably so. Do I care? Not really. Yes, I feel a bit (okay, quite a bit) silly. But in the end, the goal is to sleep well. Considering all of the ridiculous rituals that we do because scientists tell us it will help with insomnia (drugs, light boxes, caffeine, special diets, rearranging bedroom furniture, white noise machines, warm baths, exercise, etc.) this is practically nothing. In fact, some of this is the same outer activities with under a different underlying rationale. Perhaps this is my psyche encouraging me to exercise, and to reset my internal clock to the outer work (daylight and nighttime) with trips outside, and the only way my subconscious could do that was by summoning up a creature I could care about more than myself.

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Thu, Mar. 20th, 2014, 10:49 am
Diet Notes

I complain a great deal about my dietary restrictions, and as a consequence, people are often very helpful with their commentary. Or, at least, they mean to be helpful. It seems that about half the time they make an effort to figure out what I can and can't eat, and the other half of the time they just shout out things that work for them, which have little to no relation to foods that I can eat, or no real bearing on my dietary issues.

Mostly, I'm just sick of eating the same old things all of the time. I know that I feel better when I stick to things that are good for me, but a little piece of my soul dies slowly over time. I'm a total foodie. To be deprived of such basic necessities as garlic and onions, horseradish and cheese; it just breaks my heart. That's before I'm forced to constantly imbibe things I'd rather not in the name of feeling better. You take away the yummy foods and then you have to eat mediocre, or sometimes wretched fare, and it's like being on a perpetual diet that is supposed to last for the rest of your life. I'm desperate for alternatives that never appear.

The current conundrum is I have to have an influx of protein at a high level, but I'm limited in my meat levels, because for awhile I couldn't eat meat protein at all and now my body only lets me eat it in small quantities. And, without meat, there are only so many high protein options. There's beans, and there's nuts. And I can't eat nut products by themselves, because they give me heartburn. One does get sick of beans.

Currently, I plan to go back to two whey-protein powder shakes a day, one with berries and spirulina, and one with soymilk, prebiotics and probiotics. The probiotic shake at night isn't so bad, except it makes me gain weight since it's the last thing before bedtime. The afternoon "algae-berry" shake is particularly loathesome to me--it smells like Tetramin fish flakes.

Here's a refresher of all of my other issues, in case anyone has any other bright ideas.

Problem #1: Lactose-intolerant, also can't have any product that comes from a cow (no beef)
This doesn't seem to apply to my whey protein powder. It's got no lactose, and whatever chemical processes they've done to it have pretty much stripped out whatever 'cow-ness' affects me. These days, this isn't such a hardship with all the milk substitutes around; there are plenty of ways to get one's calcium that don't come in pill form.

Problem #2: Sulfite-intolerant. I have to stay away from onions, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, kale, most fermented foods, wine, pre-bottled lemon or lime juice, and processed corn or potato products. Those are some of the worst offenders. Molasses and dried fruits you can find in unsulfered varieties, but ALL processed potatoes (think frozen hash browns) have gone through some kind of sulphite process to keep them white. And raisins naturally contain sulphites (it's the mold/fungus/whatever that turns grapes into wine) but I've found cranberries make a wonderful substitute in almost any baking recipe. Also, fermented grape products like balsamic or red wine or champagne vinegars are a "no". I can tolerate low levels of sulfites found in some vegetables, especially if I cook them to death.

Problem #3: Allergy to canola/rapeseed oil. Canola/rapeseed oil gives me the worst heartburn feeling almost instantly. It kindof feels like...well, it kind of feels like gastritis does. By the way, canola is in everything. There are NO breadcrumbs (I use wheatgerm or pecan meal instead) sans canola and NO instant fish sticks. I love Gordon's microwave fish sticks. I remember them fondly from when I was a kid. I would kill to be able to make some sort of substitute I could eat (yes, I know they are barely fish).

Problem #4: Allergy to yellow #5. It's also in a number of things, not just candies and lemonades, but pickles and relishes and sauces. I really have to be careful of my condiments or anything processed, even potato bread. A handful of Starburst candies made me puke until nothing but bile and blood came out and I crapped blood for three days following. I'm good with all of the other food colorings, including red #40 and yellow #6.

Problem #5: Problems with most artificial sweeteners and stevia. Nutrasweet (blue) gives me an instant migraine and splenda/sucralose (yellow), it does very special things to me, the end result of which involve sitting on the toilet with the trashcan between one's knees. Saccharin (pink) doesn't do anything in particular, other than cause brain lesions but it does that to everyone. Both stevia and the chicory root "natural" sweeteners give me diarrhea (do remember that chicory is a natural laxative), although stevia normally has the opposite effect on people.

Problem #6: Reactive hypoglycemia. This means I'm on a high-protein diet, about 60gm a day. I can't have any processed sugar, and I'm limited in the amount of simple sugars I should eat. I can only have juice if I squeeze it myself, preferably if I blend it myself, because then it's got the fiber which slows the digestion of it. There should be protein with every meal, and I should never go more than four hours without eating at least a snack. My blood sugar has become so out of whack that I'm now trying to ingest more than a full-grown male.

Problem #7: Gastritis and hiatal hernia. There are certain foods you shouldn't eat in these conditions, specifically tomatoes (not going to happen; I don't think I can give up these unless you pry them from my dead fingers), chocolate, spicy food, onions/garlic (already out), and orange juice (whoops!). Initially, all my vegetables HAD to be cooked, but they've since relaxed that rule. However, I've maintained cooking my vegetables.

Problem #6: Lysine / Arginine Ratio. Unlike your average person, who should have a high arginine to lysine ratio (they are amino acids that balance each other out), because of other medical conditions I need to have a high lysine to arginine ratio. It keeps those conditions under control, the downside is it makes my healing rate slower overall. In order to keep a high lysine to arginine ratio I have to avoid eating chocolate, nuts (another oops), oats (what??), cereal grains, carob, soy, and coconut. Foods I should eat include vegetables (except, of course, all those high-sulfite ones), meats, legumes, fish, sprouts (yeshch), and dairy (only, not dairy, because I can't have dairy).

Problem #7: Vitamin Deficiencies. I'm low on vitamin D and folic acid. I'm staying with my D3 supplement, and will probably go for tanning since I've cut the pill dose in half. Having weighed the odds, I'd say my gain (from severe depression for one thing, and moving toward my goal of lowering incidence of gastritis, not to mention a nice tan) is much higher than potential risks (skin cancer, which does not run in my family, and higher costs).

The folic acid, however, I either need to supplement above my multivitamin, which I would prefer not to do, or add folic acid rich foods to my diet. Because I'm blanching the greens, and because folic acid is water soluble it's being lost. So it looks like I'm going to have to start making my own hummus.

So, I may go back to my "two muffin, two shake, one snack a day" meal regimen" but I don't have to be enthralled about it.

Alternatives to meat that have been suggested have included quinoa and seitan. The quinoa, as it turns out, has the same protein as peas, meaning not nearly enough. It's at least a complete protein, and I can use it to replace a grain, but I would have to eat twice as much quinoa as meat to get the same dose of protein and I just don't eat that much food these days. If I'm working out or really hungry, maybe it would be a good alternative on occasion.

The seitan is a much better idea, although it is missing lysine, which means I'll have to cook it in a soy-sauce rich broth to supplement the lysine. I'll have to be careful about getting low on my lysine if I opt for the occasional meal using this meat substitute.

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Tue, Feb. 18th, 2014, 01:06 am
Adventures in Computer Illiteracy

Sat down to finally get back to my math at Khan Academy, only to have one of my plug-ins + Firefox disable my ability to get in. Of course, it took me two hours, at least, to figure out the problem (including 5 minutes of S/o's assistance, which would have saved me from the majority of fumbling around blindly with my computer).


Facebook button "doesn't click" on Firefox. It works on Safari. And both the Google buttons and standard email buttons work on Firefox. Of course, I could have logged in using Safari. But my pedantic nature won't let me drop it. The button obviously works, so the problem must be on my end.


I remembered I'd just had an Adobe update, so I reinstalled Flash. Then, since I run LittleSnitch (it's a program with stops traffic) I checked all my rules. I didn't see anything, but just in case I opened everything up marked "adobe", "firefox", "facebook", "khan academy" and even "youtube".

Nothing, not a blink. Same problem. And I rebooted my computer about a dozen times. And then I looked through about a bazillion things I shouldn't have, using a search engine, but at least I'm smart enough not to go deleting bits of code and random processes in my least, not lately. *looks innocent*

Of course, I put back all of my exceptions in LittleSnitch after that, but I did take the time to delete some stuff that was old. After all, no point in keeping an exception for Zynga and Playfish when I know longer play games from those companies.

Then I went for help.


S/o, firstly, says, "why are you looking for Flash, since this is JavaScript." Um....because I'm an idiot? (Actually, I'd just cemented in my head "new update + something broken = because of new update".) But I will also accept "because I don't know what the hell I'm doing or anything about computers other than Force Quit+Reboot".

He then discovered somehow that all of my JavaScript was somehow broken in Firefox, or wasn't working correctly, and that it was because of a privacy blocker plug-in I had, which he disabled. And then Khan Academy worked. And then he went back to his desk (and work).

At most this took 15 minutes. As I said, probably it took 5, the first 2 of which were me showing him what was wrong.


Still, I need my privacy add-on, because I'm a crazy person. And, from the depths of my brain, I vaguely recalled an exception I'd put in for Khan Academy, but I couldn't remember how I'd done it. They had, however, changed their login screen, so I thought maybe it had deleted the exception. I also recalled that there was an icon for my privacy tracker, which should have been on my toolbar, but was missing.

So I went to the website, only I couldn't remember my password. Spend 20 minutes getting frustrated because I also couldn't remember exactly the email I'd used, and for some reason couldn't get a new password. Turns out, I was at the wrong site. I'd searched for the name "Do Not Track Me" (which is the name of the plug-in) on Google, and that actually brought me to NIA, which is a scammy little company that happens to own a good domain name. Luckily, LittleSnitch stopped THEM from requesting information. I should have known something was wrong when it popped up two items, one of which looked like a tracker. Do NOT go to the DoNotTrack Opt-Out website, because it has ad trackers on it. Figures.

Anyway, I went back to the plugin manager and found out the place I was looking for was They had more helpful tips for recalling the Firefox icon, except that for whatever reason the icon in Firefox wasn't blue, so at first I didn't identify it when I went searching. I almost uninstalled it and reinstalled it (the nuclear option, as they say).

After that, it was easy. You just put in the exception from the icon. So now I have Khan Academy AND my privacy add-on working. YAY!

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Sun, Jan. 26th, 2014, 09:30 am
Fun With Feng Shui

So, I still haven't received my disability money despite being approved in October. Gonna play around a little. I went to my "prosperity area" where I didn't see any major flaws, although the vent does cut off a bit of that section...meaning it's naturally inclined to be artificially smaller than it should be. I might have to enact a cure for that later.

Upon closer inspection, I realized last year's wall calendar was still up and I hadn't touched it since October. That's what it was still stuck on...hmm... So I took that down. There was also an empty box that needed thrown out in the corner, so I did that too.

Maybe that's all I needed to get things moving again, no major cures necessary. If so, I should have the money within two weeks from today, through whatever circumstances. Of course, it doesn't mean I won't have to check with them, although I've been doing that occasionally now for months, with no success to date.

I'm just writing this now in case it works (or, I suppose, doesn't work).

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Thu, Jan. 23rd, 2014, 05:02 pm
Shower Curtain Shenanigans

It's a shame I don't have Before, After, and Way Back photos of what's going on in my bathroom and why. But first, a rant:

(rant on subject from Facebook)
What backwards logic was I using when I decided not to start my shower curtain project until after the maid had left? What should I do next, bake a pie? Host jello wrestling in my living room? The bathroom was fairly messy beforehand, so I wait until it's sparkling clean to go in and immediately make a hideous mess out of it.

Also, in the realm of things I probably should not touch, next to superglue we might need to add spraypaint. Although I actually think I did quite well under the circumstances. Awkward angles, improper ventilation leading to massive paint fume inhalation (no real way to avoid it), and my own lack of height and disability complicating things. At least I'm having a great day painwise, now that the barometric pressure is stable a simple painkiller and I'm running around like a normal person.

Here's the skinny, things to consider

There are a few important factors to consider here. One, I was a feng shui consultant for awhile, and try to keep my house reasonably aligned. AgtOrange (my significant other) thinks this is impossibly silly. He thinks anything to do with energy, chi, paranormal activity, ghosts, hoodoo, witches, most facets of religion, and a good bit of alternative medicine is silly. I do feng shui because it has worked for me in the past and because sometimes I really can feel energy. It's easiest with a place I've never been to before. Granted, it has at times brought me unintended consequences (I boosted a bunch of things for travel just before I had a guy steal all my stuff and get me evicted.) And while I don't blame all my life's troubles or strange coincidences on feng shui, if every time you did something silly but harmless, let's say hopscotched when you left your house, you found money on the sidewalk while you were out, and somehow you had figured this out, well I bet you'd be looking silly to your neighbors every single day.

Two, we have terrible ventilation in our bathroom. There is no fan and the single vent I have to cover with a layer of cheesecloth. The reason being is that it is connected directly to the elevator shaft for the building, and all manner of flying bugs will find their way into my bathroom if I don't. Also, even though most of the time the air is traveling out from my bathroom to wherever, occasionally it blows in. Before the building cleaned the vents, this would mean I would occasionally find huge chunks of mildew and vent mold/dust in my bathtub, but now it just means dust in the air, and I happen to be frighteningly allergic to dustmites. So the fan-less vent, already a less than ideal manner of air circulation, is further compromised by addition of a cheesecloth cover to help stop some of the dust from attacking me on the occasions when its mild powers of natural "suck" become "blow".

The effect of no ventilation in the bathroom is that our liner is always needing to be replaced, and our cheap shower curtain rod has pretty much rusted into the wall in a rather unsightly manner. That and the paint is starting to peel from the ceiling, something which I can't do much about unless I want maintenance men repainting my bathroom. I don't mind the occasional visits to fix stuff, but I'd rather have a scruffy ceiling than go through the hassle of bitching just to have people inconvenience me for days on end.

The skinny, shopping and planning

I ordered the new liner, and was thinking about getting a more translucent curtain while I was at it. (No lie, still a tiny bit terrorized by the movie Psycho.) While I was at it, I might as well at least cosmetically spruce up the curtain rod with a little steel wool and Rustoleum metal paint/primer. Before I moved in, AgtOrange had this crazy bright shower curtain. Clown curtains. I'd gone with straight white curtains, and some mardi gras beads on the rings (with masks on the wall) because I'd needed those colors to balance some feng shui issues. But the weirdness is, I realized that the energy has changed. This apartment keeps doing that.

I've never had a place where the energy sways back and forth, I swear it's like living on a qi-boat. I switched out the bathroom colors, or it will be after I put up this new curtain (which is also plain white, no beads), but what if everything changes back? Am I going to be forever tasked with redecorating this apartment again and again as stuff switches around? And what could possibly be causing such a thing? Neighbors moving in and out? Sunspots? Some kind of unspoken, unconscious conflict between me and AgtOrange that I have no realization of? Are we on an ancient Indian burial ground?

My new shower curtain

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Tue, Jan. 21st, 2014, 08:53 pm
Shop Wise in Toothpaste

My new hippie toothpaste is here! YAY! I got the 4-pack which is all four flavors they sell. I am stocked with toothpaste for the near (and far) future. I just hope it's not too gross. I got used to Desert Essence because S/o refused to use it based on taste, but when that tube ran out and I tried his Colgate, the mint was so overpowering I started looking around for something better.

And, since Desert Essence really isn't all that good for you, despite it being sold in the local organic market, I figured I would search around for a better brand. If I'm going to buy "hippie" toothpaste, it should be real hippie toothpaste, and not faux-greenwashed crap. I found five brands that met my criteria.

My Criteria

I am not opposed to fluoride in toothpaste. I think it has uses when applied to teeth, so long as you aren't necessarily drinking it in quantity. It isn't necessary if we would cut out the sugar, but hey, realistically I am a sugar junkie and that's unlikely to change. Even when I cut out processed sugar, I eat tons of fruit. Still, I prefer a fluoride-free toothpaste, and would rather use a fluoride rinse after at my choosing.

Since my scalp did better when I got away from sulfate based shampoos, I decided I wanted a non-SLS toothpaste too. I also preferred not to have titanium dioxide, and I have to watch my sweeteners, preservatives, and colorings (if any).

The Brands, Runners Up

TheraNeem -- I found out that my Shampoo & Conditioner company makes toothpaste too, but only after I had made my initial selection and bought my toothpaste. I didn't look at this brand as closely, just tacked it onto the list as an afterthought. I do love my hair products.

TheraNeem Mint Toothpaste - 4.23 oz - Paste

NOW Foods XyliWhite -- comes in three flavors, xylitol for sweetener, uses papain as a whitener (from papaya), baking soda as the main abrasive, sodium coco-sulfate as foaming agent, also includes tea tree oil

Now Foods Xyliwhite, Baking Soda Toothpaste, Platinum Mint, 6.4-Ounces
NOW Foods Xyliwhite Cinnafresh Toothpaste Gel 6.4 Ounces
NOW Foods Xyliwhite, Refreshmint, 6.4 Ounce

Weleda -- four flavors, was first sold to me as a completely detergent-free toothpaste (for those with eczema issues), three use calcium carbonate as abrasive, while the other uses a silica, lots of therapeutic oils (many of which I know nothing about). It doesn't seem to have any foaming agents, which is best for your teeth but may be disconcerting to some users. Note that each flavor has vastly different components, and may work better/worse for a particular person.

Weleda: Natural Salt Toothpaste, 2.5 oz
Weleda Children's/Calendula Tooth Gel, 1.7 oz
Weleda: Ratanhia Toothpaste, 2.5 oz
Weleda Plant Gel Toothpaste, 2.5-Fluid Ounce

Nature's Answer PerioBrite -- two flavors (cool mint and cinnamint) and a whole system of things you can buy to go with your toothpaste. Rinse stuff to put in your oral irrigator. Mouthwash for after. Topical rub. They seem to use the "kitchen sink" method of alternative healing. There is a rack of stuff crammed into this, so much so you wonder how they can get it all in the tube, and yet it warns that it's "super-concentrated" and to only use "a pea-sized amount". They also blended the abrasives, using a mix of baking soda, calcium carbonate, and silica. Some things do work better with some people, so I guess they figured they could get the widest customer base by just including everything in one convenient tube. I'm not sure this is my "go to" answer, however.

PerioBrite-Toothpaste 4 Ounces
Nature's Answer Perio Brite Toothpaste, Cinnamint, 4 Ounce

Heritage IPSAB -- IPSAB products have a small but ferociously dedicated following. The toothpaste is actually a ho-hum product by all accounts but they adore the mouthwash and tooth powder. Add the gum treatment and you have a total mouth care package. The paste was Heritage's attempt to gather in the masses who think tooth powder to be a little too quaint for modern tastes. If I ever take a whimsical foray into tooth powder, this will be where I go.

Heritage IPSAB Toothpaste, 4.23 Ounce
Heritage Products IPSAB Toothpowder Peppermint - 4 oz

The One I Purchased...For Now

Earthpaste -- four flavors. This is the one I ended up buying, because it was the most natural, being made of Redmond Clay. And I got the weird-out-significant-other factor by admitting I was going to clean my teeth with dirt. It's clay, xylitol, oils, and salt, and meant to be used with a soft brush because the salt can be abrasive. Also doesn't have any foaming agents, so I hope I can get used to it NOT foaming, or spitting out brown toothpaste. I can't imagine it's worse than the bloody spit I have half the time now. There is a notice "may contain lead" which they have to put on the side of the box. Earthpaste says it is because of the medicinal Redmond Clay they use. People EAT this clay, by the way, it has been proven to be beneficial to some forms of Irritable Bowel syndrome for whatever reason. California law being what it is, however, since Redmond Clay carries infinitesimal levels of lead, the sticker must go on. Apparently, you can get an exemption for natural products, but then you also have to have the money to fend off any potential law suits when someone tests your product and it shows a trace amount of lead ("NO ONE TOLD ME THERE WAS LEAD! OMG!! SUE SUE SUE!!" Despite it not being enough to actually hurt anyone.) They decided it was cheaper to "stick with the sticker".

Earthpaste - Peppermint - Natural Organic Flouride Free Toothpaste - 4 Ounce Tubes

Earthpaste - Wintergreen - Natural Organic Flouride Free Toothpaste - 4 Ounce Tubes

Earthpaste Amazingly Natural Toothpaste- Lemon Twist 4 Ounce Tubes

Earthpaste Amazingly Natural Toothpaste-Cinnamon 4 Ounce Tubes

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Wed, Jan. 8th, 2014, 04:50 am

Today was an interesting day. I felt more like the old me, the loud, extraverted, pre-illness version of me that I haven't seen in ages, which was weird because for some unfathomable reason my joints and muscles were seriously acting up. Normally the cold makes them feel better (it brings the internal swelling down), and the colder the better. And I maintained my good mood, even as everything kept falling out of sync.

Searching for my missing gloves and balaclava caused me to be running behind as I jetted out the door, and I still didn't have either. The drugstore closest to my house, due to some strange convolutions of metro construction, currently isn't all that convenient. You have to cross the street at the end of the block, walk back, then turn around and do the reverse to get to where the elevator is (and of course, the escalator has been out for awhile now). So despite my cane being absolutely frigid in the cold air, I decided to tough it out and wait for the other end of the trip, since I would pass right by the door of yet another drugstore. This way I wouldn't be late.

Only, as it turned out, that drugstore had run out of gloves. So I had to make my way to my appointment sans gloves, and for once the therapist was running late (this never happens) so I wouldn't even have had to rush. Usually if it isn't raining, I go hang out in a couple of bars afterwards, where I have friends who work. I'd also planned on meeting a friend for dinner near one of the bars. Only it's a long walk, in fact, it's my single long walk of the week, just a touch over a mile and part of it is uphill (which is actually easier for me than downhill). If I get too tired, there is a section in the middle where I can wait on a bus, and I have a couple of different places I will sometimes stop for an hour if I can't make it in one shot. And of course, plenty of painkillers well timed in advance, and an extra painkiller and muscle relaxer before bedtime so I don't wake up screaming in the middle of the night after I've worked my body hard during the afternoon. (I usually only take the lower dose of either before bed.)

There's another drugstore AFTER the strip of bars, about another block further, and I managed to drag myself there in one shot, but it was really tough. If my hands hadn't been burning with cold, I couldn't have done it. I just knew once I sat down I wouldn't want to go get gloves, and also that I'd need them for tomorrow morning (which is really later today as I write this post). Then I came back to my favorite bar, only to discover it was closed. CLOSED?! The bartender was late, out with a cold. I went to another place, hung out there for a bit, and got a message from my friend saying it was too cold for him to make it to dinner. Drat. Now I needed to figure out what I was going to eat. There aren't many food choices that aren't "Jade poison" in that area, and none of those sounded appealing.

I went back to my favorite bar again, this time it was open. Met some new people (yay!), got stuck watching Braveheart because nothing else was on and waited it out...I forgot just how LOOOONG that movie was. Spent the whole night there and ended up eating dinner there even though I can't/shouldn't eat their food, because of course it totally upsets my stomach. And I had a drink, too. (Actually, I had one drink in each bar, which is my two drink limit that my doctor's allow, and it was over six hours anyway.) Cabbed home.

ONE IMPORTANT FACT I FORGOT. If you hang out in my fave bar for any length of time, you smell a bit like fryer grease. And I was wearing the big hoodie and sweatshirt that I wanted to wear for my next day's appointment, only they STANK like fries. CRUD! I realized this the minute I walked in the door when I got home, and immediately had to strip my clothes off and throw them into the wash at 0200, which is why I'm still awake and just now waiting for my night meds to kick in. I'll only have time for a short nap before I have to get back up and be out the door again. UGH. But then I'll be able to come back home and CRASH HARD, thank goodness.

Also, something weird. My hands felt weird and chapped, and so dry, but when I put lotion on them they got all red and started to burn and actually swelled up. Some kind of cold air burn from exposure and dry air, I think. I ended up rinsing the painful lotion back off, and digging my old climber's salve out of a bin (apparently, the stuff is still good even though I haven't climbed since I got sick, it must have been six years ago). Thank you Joshua Tree! I've got it on the backs of my hands and on the lower halves of my cheeks and jaw. I've never experienced anything like that, not even when I went skiing, but my skin is much more sensitive to things than it ever was before.

I wonder what that is, exactly.

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Tue, Jan. 7th, 2014, 02:28 am
Wonderful Things 2013

I forgot to keep this up about halfway through the year, which is a shame. I would have had so many more things, although most of them would have involved AgtOrange and we all know what a sweetie he can be. Basically, whenever some great thing happens, you put it onto a slip of paper and stick it into a jar. At the end of the year, you take out all the slips of paper and read them over. Here are my wonderful things, 2013.

  • AgtOrange made me my nighttime shake and woke me up to take my meds.
  • I found a metro card with 0.75 still on it.
  • Snuggled on couch watching Squidbillies with AgtOrange = pretty much perfect.
  • Friend S. came over to help me bag my meds.
  • AgtOrange has cleaned up the kitchen dishes (my job) ALL WEEK without complaining or saying a thing about the mess.
  • Today I learned that I can want a thing without feeling discontented. p.s. I'm having a HAPPY DAY!
  • Goal set and achieved: I organized my wallet.
  • AgtOrange unloaded the dishwasher and I didn't have to ask.
  • "Humor any prepubescent boy could appreciate" -- weird, this was in my cards and it's not in my handwriting. I think someone is having a little fun with my wonderful things/gratefulness jar. How cute!
  • AgtOrange brought me an ice cream drumstick. When I was stressed out and tired and hurting, he brought me a pain pill and made me take a nap even though I didn't really want to (but I knew I needed one), then he curled up beside me until I fell asleep. What an awesome guy.
  • Found a nice GAP sweater, donated it to HIPS.
  • HIPS asked me to come in special = it's nice to feel needed.
  • Of course, how could I forget all the folks who came to my parties and who did so much for me and for HIPS? We had the Indian food day, the El Dia de los Muertos day and all of those candy donations (it took me three volunteer days to transport that candy to HIPS, since I carry it in my bag), and of course the regifting party. Not to mention #GivingTuesday. Everyone has just been so amazingly supportive.
  • The HIPS volunteer appreciation party, where I got to attempt to dance. I had so much fun.
  • My physical therapist. Even though it's awful, I would not be doing as well as I am now if not for that.

If you too would like to start a jar for the new year, all you need is some sort of container. Things to put in it.

  • surprise gifts
  • accomplished goals
  • the beauty of nature, or any beautiful moments, memories worth saving
  • "lol" moments
  • daily blessings

At the end of the year (generally 12/31), sit down and read out all the things in your jar. It's a great NYE celebration.

Fri, Jan. 3rd, 2014, 05:38 pm
In Search of Cleaner Air (Mask Shopping)

My "Arrakis mask" lost a valve. I was cleaning the dust from the front, popped open a valve, and the clear piece inside went AWOL and for the life of me I cannot find it. I figured it would turn up somewhere at some point, after all, it's in the house (I think, unless it's been discarded by now), but I've since given up. So, now it's time for a new mask.

You can't just buy new valves for this one, because the mask was a) cheap, and b) generic. Figures. When I went to the site I bought it from, their crappy search engine couldn't even find it. Strangely, if I do a search (I use DuckDuckGo rather than Google) online, I can pull up the page I ordered it from and still get it...weird. I don't know why it doesn't come up internally on their search engine. Are they out of stock? In which case, why can I still pull up the page? I don't know whether or not I should attempt to order this item and just see what happens or not. Anyway, it's here.

It's sort of a Respro copy. I found out that the two best masks, according to a Beijing blog (and, as AgentOrange says, if you don't wear a mask in Beijing, your face might just fall off), are Respro and Totobobo. The Totobobo mask actually works better, in field tests it worked at 96% (all HEPA masks usually function at 99%, otherwise they couldn't be rated as HEPA-standard), whereas the Respro only came to 88%, but Respro looks awesome...and let's face it, we're not in Beijing. I'm not going to die at the lower percentage.

The only problem with Respro is, it's a UK company and if I buy it directly from their site, the thing is going to cost me around $100. If I buy it from an indirect source, even with the chemical filter and valve replacement, it still only comes to about $60-something. Now comes the hard part. Suddenly, I can find it in my size but white, not blue (and a white mask isn't going to be very white for very long in my hands). I can find it in blue, but not in my size. I can find the wrong style mask, etc. etc.

My usual go-to source is no help at all. The company that sells through Amazon is apparently abysmal. They ship just about any old size they want and every comment complains about the fit they got. And then, of course, my standard design aesthetic got in the way. The allergy mask is the most practical, but their Techno mask has an awesome look to it, and was easier to find in American online cycling shops and from

Or, as AgtOrange says, maybe I should start with one and eventually get both. Then I'll have two colors, and can match them to my outfits!

P.S. While shopping for masks, I think I found what is going to be our next water pitcher, because the Seychelle is NOT performing to standards. It was supposed to filter out everything. The PUR had worked wonderfully for this (I demand my filters work for cryptosporidia/giardia as well as metals and other impurities) but it was incredibly slow. We have a strangely shaped faucet that we can't switch out because we rent, so the normal solution of having a hose-fed pitcher system was totally off the table.

The Seychelle worked quickly as promised...only it doesn't filter. If there is any water in the top when you pour, I have witnessed water pouring/leaking from both top and bottom due to a design flaw. But even when this isn't the case, I can TASTE things in the water at all times. The water tastes the same from my pitcher as it does from my tap, and the water is by no means tasty from my tap. I also believe I saw water slightly leaking around the seal of the filter when I first put it in. This stopped almost immediately, but it doesn't make me think highly of how well it's sealed either.

All I know is, if I can taste lots of stuff in the water, there is no way it is filter out "all bacteria, most chemicals, and most metals/sediments etc." I won't even drink the water out of my pitcher, and have gone back to bottled water until a new pitcher can be acquired.

Our new pitcher?

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