Saturday, February 27, 2016

Gozer's new bed

Gozer got a new bed today! A friend of mine had beds made for her dog and they looked really nice so we decided to have one made for Gozer, too. Gozer and I picked it up today and we're thrilled with it, as you can see:

Gozer on her new bed. I just put it on the floor and she made herself comfy.
The person who made it doesn't sew professionally but she did a great job on this bed. The seams are straight and finished cleanly, the zipper is installed beautifully, and the plaid is matched. I'm really impressed by the work she did. She was worried the bed would be too big for Gozer but it's a good size because Gozer likes to stretch out.

The maker didn't want to charge me much for this bed - under twice the materials cost - but I thought this bed was worth more than that. A store-bought bed like this would cost at least $100 so a handmade bed should cost more than that. I ended up paying her just over double what she asked for because I thought that was the minimum fair price for the bed taking into account the quality of craftsmanship. I'd have paid more but she really didn't want to take what I gave her and I don't think she would have taken more than that.

Ian says I'm the worst negotiator ever because I wanted to pay more than I was charged but I firmly believe in charging a fair price for one's work. She might not be a professional sewist but she did a professional-quality job and should be compensated fairly for that.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

More details

I apologize if this is TMI again, but I've done some research about the incontinence I've been experiencing and I wanted to share.

It seems that there are several kinds of incontinence but two main types: stress and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is the kind that happens when one sneezes or coughs and leaks a little. That's not what I'm experiencing. No, I seem to have urge incontinence, which is characterized by a sudden urge to go followed by leaks. The urge can happen as the person fits the lock into the house door, or has just pulled into the garage, or stands up from a sitting position. That describes me to a T.

It turns out that this condition is worsened both by caffeine and drinking a lot of liquid at one time. My morning routine, which includes two large cups of coffee and some diet cola, is therefore almost certainly directly contributing to my problem. I'm going to have to change that routine, obviously. There are other things - Kegels and bladder training, for example - that can help but there's no real treatment.

Apparently some conditions can contribute to the problem although often no reason for it is identified. Therefore, it's usual to run tests like a pelvic ultrasound and bloodwork to make sure there are no physical problems. I think I have a requisition for each of those here somewhere. After I get those done, I guess I'll make an appointment with my family doctor just to make sure there's nothing going on.

Oddly, this only showed up when I made the painkiller transition in 2014. For a long time it was annoying but lately it's been a much bigger problem. Today has been better for me but I don't think this issue is something I should ignore.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Getting older

You know what sucks? Getting older. I am now a woman of a certain age and, like one in three women of this age, I've developed some light bladder incontinence. Apologies if this post is TMI but I'm this is something that is rarely discussed - and yet it seems to be a fairly common problem. And it's quite a frustrating problem to have, I can tell you. Having to change one's underwear and pants multiple times in a day just because of this has become annoying.

I know I should probably see my family doctor but given that the rest of my health is good I expect that this is just one of those things. I should also probably do Kegels (I even bought some things that are supposed to help do them properly - which would probably be easier to use if I didn't also have vaginismus), but that's a long-term solution and I need something for the short term.

I do have adult diapers; I bought them when I was having diarrhea in the summer and had to do a bone scan where I had to lay still for 30-45 minutes. I wouldn't have been able to get up off the table if the diarrhea struck so I wore a diaper for the scan. As it happened I didn't need it but I was very glad to be prepared. I don't actually want to wear diapers all the time.

I know that there are bladder leakage pads out there, and I guess I need to go ahead and buy some. However, I'm concerned that these pads aren't environmentally-friendly. I know it might sound silly, but there's enough stuff going into the landfill and I don't love the idea of contributing to it if there's another option. (I do understand that sometimes disposable diapers and pads are necessary, and that's ok; I don't judge other people - I just judge me).

So now I want/need to find some kind of environmentally-friendly pad that can be used for bladder leakage. I know reusable menstrual pads exist (and if I still had my period, I'd use them) but I don't know whether they can also be used for bladder incontinence. If you know of any good products, please let me know.

I have to say that this is not how I imagined getting older would be. Not that I expected it to be all roses and sunshine but I didn't expect this.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Amy the documentary

The other day I watched Amy, a documentary on Amy Winehouse. It was a very compelling film. Interestingly, instead of using talking heads to describe events, it showed video footage - both amateur and professional - and used voiceovers from each person to tell her story.

Her story was so sad. At 9, her dad left and since she was a daddy's girl, she was devastated. She never really developed good coping skills; she drank and smoked weed and was bulimic. When she had writer's block, she drank heavily.  She was an incredibly talented singer and songwriter but she really wasn't ready for what happens when a musical act becomes big. There were the exhausting tours, singing the same songs in the same ways over and over again and there was the paparazzi. The film shows just how awful they were - she couldn't leave the house without being followed and photographed.  

Seeing the difference between the fun, beautiful, engaging girl that she was and the slow, out-of-it, used up person she became drove home just how far she had fallen. The documentary is very powerful, and if you're at all interested in her life it's definitely worth watching. 

Monday, February 08, 2016

Ghostbusters and The Dark Crystal

Cineplex is hosting their annual The Great Digital Film Festival at select theaters across Canada, where they show a number of older movies in digital format. Part of this year's lineup includes Ghostbusters and The Dark Crystal, two movies we wanted to see. Therefore, this weekend we ended up seeing both movies in the theater.

Ghostbusters is one of Ian's favourite movies ever and we thought that it would be neat to see the movie in an actual theater. We were right :) The movie has held up fairly well because it looks more like a movie set in a particular time period than one that is unbearably dated. Some of the special effects are a bit dated and the music is obviously from that era but aside from those two points, it's still a pretty good movie.

It also turns out that I had never seen The Dark Crystal. I know what you're thinking - how could I have lived my life to this point and not seen it? I don't know the answer to that but it's fixed now. Since it was also playing as part of the festival, we figured that we might as well see it in the theater, too.

From a technical perspective, The Dark Crystal is an amazing movie. The puppetry is fantastic; it was clear that the puppeteers had really studied animal movements and reproduced them accurately, making the different characters look alive. For example, the way the Master settled his head on the pillow looked looked the same as when Gozer rests her head on something. The swamp scene where everything is moving slightly was also particularly realistic. The pacing of the story is slow but it fits the story and I didn't mind that at all.

The festival runs until February 11 and tickets are all no more than $6.99. If you're interested in any of the movies they're showing, why not see them in the theater?

Cineplex is also using selected theaters for other specialized purposes, including showing operas, ballet, and some Shakespearean plays on their big screens. Who knew you could get so much culture from the same place you can see crappy movies?

Friday, February 05, 2016

The Witness

This past weekend Ian and I played a new video game: The Witness by Jonathan Blow. It's a 3D open-world maze-like puzzle game that is set on an island composed of a variety of environments. When you start the game, it's as though you've been dropped into this other world and you have to figure out how things work on your own.

Because so much of what makes the game enjoyable is discovering these mechanics for yourself, I don't want to get too specific about the puzzle mechanics. I think I can give you a general overview, however.

Most of the puzzles are made up of some kind of grid with at least one start point and at least one end point. The goal for each puzzle is to trace a correct path (sometimes more than one correct path is possible) between a start and an end point, and every correct path is subject to constraints (ie conditions that must be met). Some of these constraints include avoiding a particular segment in the path, being required to use a particular segment in the path, using the path to divide one type of object from another, or using the path to keep objects of a certain type together. The way these constraints are combined and and defined creates new puzzle mechanics throughout the game.

As each new puzzle mechanic is introduced, the game does a pretty good job of teaching you how that particular mechanic works, all without giving verbal or written instructions. Although the constraints can be fairly easily defined, the puzzles themselves could be quite difficult. Quite often we used pen and paper to figure out how to solve the puzzles.

In addition to having great puzzles, this game is gorgeous. Each environment is beautifully designed and rendered and is a pleasure to look at and explore. Speaking of the environment, I can give you one hint: everything is specifically designed and placed and nothing is random.

We loved this game: really, really, really loved it. If you like solving maze-like puzzles, we highly recommend The Witness to you. Currently it's available for the PS4 and Windows.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Social media

A friend of mine had her Facebook account disabled because she wasn't using her real name (as an aside, while I understand the real name policy, sometimes it's a pain) so I followed her to Instagram, setting up an account there, because I didn't want to lose touch with her.

I'd never been on Instagram or spent much time there but once I got there I figured I should post some pictures and get involved, kind of. Pretty much all my pictures are of Gozer looking cute (which I think is all the time, although Ian says I see her through a mommy filter). I tell you, the first time I got likes from people I didn't know I really understood the appeal of social media. All I have to do is use hashtags that people follow and they look - and sometimes like - my photos. I can be part of a community.

Instagram isn't like Facebook, in that you don't have to know someone to like their photos or vice versa. Of course you can follow people, and they can follow you, but things don't have to work this way.

I realize that for almost everyone this is not a new concept but it was new for me. Odd, I know. I don't post a lot but I'm enjoying the thrill of connecting with people I don't know.