Review of Little Bodice Ripper on the Prairie

I finished it late last night.  Blah.
There wasn't a great deal of information that isn't already available (obviously that probably wasn't the case in the late 1970s).  Pretty much re-summarizes the events of the books while adding in a few tidbits of outside information from contemporary newspapers or diaries.  Still not as interesting as one might hope.
Zochert seems to take for granted how Laura must have felt in certain circumstances, which I found annoying.  And my lord did he hammer home the "holy crap their lives were harsh!" in the first years after Laura and Almanzo were married.  But not by actual description or relation of events, just by saying "OMG it was soooo hard" over and over again.
There is very little at all about Rose.  Next to nothing about life after the books in general, really. 

Definitely no bodice ripping.
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Totally Metal

I was looking through Ancient Egyptian Jewelry and stumbled on a photo of the mummy of Katebet (BM EA 6665).  Her mask and pectoral cover include her hands (made of wood).  Some of the fingers are broken off.  If you go take a look at her photo on the British Museum website  you can see that she is totally (almost) rocking some devil-horns.

This makes perfect sense, as she was a Chantress of Amun.  I bet she got crazy with the sistrum and was all dunn nuh nuh nuh nuh dunnnnuhnuh, Amun is the best!  Woo!

Tom has suggested she be renamed "Metal-amun" so start your letter-writing campaign to the British Museum now.  I'm sure they love getting crazy emails from random people - I know I did when I worked for a museum.  They may even have a Greatest Hits file.
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Medieval News: Ground Mouse and Cheese Mold: Looking for Medical Miracles in Medieval Manuscripts

Medieval News: Ground Mouse and Cheese Mold: Looking for Medical Miracles in Medieval Manuscripts

Link to an interesting article in Der Spiegel (in English, I'm not that nuts) about examining medieval texts containing medical information and looking into the efficacy of various treatments.

I've always found folk medicine and herbal remedies interesting, especially when combined with a healthy dose of scientific research and basic caution. Nifty.

Update on the Nana

I just got off the phone with my Nana.  She sounds really good, so I am much relieved.  Apparently she was having trouble swallowing anything without a whole lot of pain.  Her doctor was right on top of things though and even gave her his cell phone number (yay, good doctors!) and she's improved a great deal.
She said she's still being careful taking small bites and chewing a lot, but she is able to eat.  Yay!

She's been drinking Boost, which is one of those nutrition beverages like Ensure.  Only one a day - half in the morning and half in the afternoon.  I told her to be sure not to hit it too hard or anything, which made her laugh.  :P  I think I may tell Mom to take her the tackiest shot glass she can buy in the Vegas airport.

So, good news for the hard-core 87 year old!  Thanks for all the good wishes, everyone!

Spinning My Wheels

What little reliable information I can find about Functional Movement Disorders says that, while improvement may occur over time, there will be highs and lows in that overall trend toward improvement.
I'm not sure if the last week or so has been a low or a plateau or what, but it hasn't been pleasant.

I've been dealing with a constant sore throat and general feeling of mank for a month or more. I often describe my general overall sense of health as feeling as though I'm just coming down with or just getting over a cold or flu. This has been a touch worse, but something I can generally cope with.  I'm guessing it's more related to allergies and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome than FMD.  I have noticed that the general feeling of flu-ish-ness gets worse if I over do it physically. 

The past week or so, though, has seen what seem to me anyway, like setbacks or stuckedness with my movement issues.  I've been far more tremory.  A certain level of tremor in my hands is "normal" for me and has been since about 2007, but this has been body-wide.  Wii Fit Plus exercises have been more challenging and I haven't been doing as well at them - that, at least, is a more objective measure than my overall sense - the scores are there to see.  And I can't seem to push past 12 or 13 minutes without trouble.

I've had or been getting over or coming down with a migraine what seems like almost constantly all summer.

I've been under a bit of stress - I suppose the job interview last week might have contributed a bit.  My pelvic movements have been the worst they've been since May starting Wednesday evening.  I'd barely had *any* major involuntary movement in my pelvis/lower torso since May, actually.  It's deeply frustrating.  It's also uncomfortable. 

I've been in more pain in general lately and had more brain-fog days.

I've been sleeping 12-14 hours a day and still feeling exhausted.  And my sleep schedule is shot to hell.

It would be easy, at this point, to say "screw it" and give up, but obviously that's not what I'm going to do.  I do my Wii Fit every day.  I try to get out and walk (though the heat wave made that hard).  My new therapist has arrived and settled in and I had my first appointment with her last week.  My formal physical therapy is coming up in August.  I try to be as active as my brain and body allow in any given day.  It's very rare I spend a day in bed.

It's just deeply frustrating and a little frightening.  I'm trying, I really am and I do feel better, but not well.  And the very nature of FMD or psychogenic disorders or whatever you want to call them suggests that the ability to heal resides directly with me.  Which makes it very easy to feel guilty about not being better.  To wonder if I really want to be better.  Is my brain playing tricks on me?  Am I playing tricks on myself?  Despite all the evidence that I am reasonably insightful am I missing some huge part of the picture.  Am I, in fact, seeing some benefit to being sick that I just refuse to acknowledge?  Something powerful enough to keep me disabled? 
Or is that a bunch of bull-shit?
And on top of that - does it matter?
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Good Thoughts, Please

I debated about posting about this, wondering if it was too personal and then reminded myself that I post about rashes and medical tests and symptoms all the damn time, so, really, I'm probably in the clear.  Not to mention, we're all about some random up in here.

My much beloved Nana, who is also my only living grandparent, is apparently not doing very well.  Something is going on with her swallowing and she dropped quite a bit of weight recently.  She did go to the doctor and was treated in office with success and is now home.  (All this is via my parents, who also didn't get a ton of details - you know how it can be.)  I tried calling this evening, but no answer so I'll try again later tonight or tomorrow.  My Mom was already planning a visit for next weekend, so that will also get us some more information.

My Nana is a remarkably tough lady and in her mid-80s and we share a first name along with a few other characteristics - most of them involving smallness and feistiness and stubbornness and an abiding fondness for my husband (seriously, she has some major love for the Tom) and feeding pasta to Oreo. She's the child of Irish immigrants who married the child of Italian immigrants (that went over well) and learned Italian and a whole new style of cooking to do so.  She went to every Big Band show and swing dance she could during WWII.  She kept her house in an intimidating level of cleanliness and orderliness and worked as a dealer in a casino and raised three kids all at the same time.  She is hilarious.  She still smokes (extra longs, because they're more ladylike) and has no intention of quitting (sigh).  She only recently quit driving, which is probably good for all concerned, because she scared the crap out of me driving me around when I was a kid  (seriously, I think her driving is what kept me from freaking out in cabs in Egypt and Sudan).  Her house is still frighteningly clean and orderly.  I'd appreciate it if people would keep her in their thoughts if they're so inclined. 
I'm not sure if I/we can make it out to visit any time soon, but I'm investigating ways and means.
Nana at our wedding in 2003, rocking some pink jewelry


Little Bodice Ripper on the Prairie?

I have a deep and abiding fondness for the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Read them as a child and adored them, then picked them up again a couple years ago as comfort reading and discovered they were still wonderful. As an archaeologist and historian and general nerd, I was also interested in more information about Laura and her family. So, there's this book - Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Donald Zochert.  I scored it from Paperback Swap.  The cover is tripping me out.
The front cover isn't so bad.  They were clearly trying to capitalize on the Little House on the Prairie TV show without getting too far into potential lawsuit territory, which explains the Michael Landon looking dude on the left there.

Then there's the back cover:

Yeah.  I have many questions.
I'm assuming that's Laura over there on the left.
What isn't clear is why she has her blouse unbuttoned halfway to her navel.  Or why she has short, Brady Bunch hair.
On the right, I'm guessing Almanzo Wilder.  I was unaware until now that his family  had Neanderthal ancestry of sufficient recentness to give him a really distinctive brow-ridge.   Or that he apparently highlighted his hair.

Seriously - WTF?

The author, Zochert, writes in a weird, simplistic kind of folksy way that is sort of like Laura's.  I can't decide if this is annoying yet.

I definitely have not hit any bodice ripping yet.

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Can't Sleep. Don't Think Clowns Will Eat Me

Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder plus migraines plus being over-tired and overheated is awesome for turning one into a vampire.  I slept until 6 PM last night.  So, I'm still awake now.
Since I can't sleep, I decided to play with the new "Template Designer" Blogger has put out.  Yeah.  It makes it slightly easier to move around page elements and probably do stuff from scratch, but I decided to try out one of the pre-loaded templates and just fiddle with width and gadgets.


In other news, I had an interview for a part time job on Wednesday.  It went fairly well.  I would essentially be filling in for other people as needed, which should be doable for me.  The heat index here has been insanely high.  I'm far more sensitive to heat/humidity than I used to be, so this sucks more than usual. 


Archaeological Field Records as Art

I was just messing around surfing on Wiki and glanced at the entry for the Hallstatt culture (Iron Age in Central Europe) and found this glorious watercolor of a series of graves excavated by Johann Georg Ramsauer in the mid 19th Century.  The records were apparently never published, but survived as folios.
Really, really awesome (to me at least). Field records can be that way, especially when dealing with highly decorative or "artistic" assemblages, but making these pit burials beautiful and alive was probably far more challenging. Very cool.



I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

This is based on multiple blog posts I've input.  Vaguely tempted to try some of my academic papers.  Honestly not sure how to feel about this.  Everything I've heard or read about Wallace's work has turned me off, big time. 
At least it wasn't Dan Brown.


Ancient Letter to Pharaoh Found : Discovery News

Ancient Letter to Pharaoh Found : Discovery News

Apparently addressed to Akhenaten, it's Akkadian written in cuneiform (which was the common language of diplomacy at the time) and was found outside the city walls of Old Jerusalem.
Only a few words can be made out, so I think it's time for a rousing game of mad-libs.

Here are the words if you're too lazy to read the whole article:
“you,” “you were,” “later,” “to do” and “them,”

My tentative reconstruction:
Dear Akhenaten:
You look like a freak in all your depictions. What the hell is up with that? Also, you were supposed to help me whup up on my neighboring city-states, but you just keep sending me letters blathering about the sun disk and telling me "we'll take care of it later, it's on my to do list." I'm getting tired of waiting. Those asshats at Gezer keep talking smack and saying that we suck. I seriously hate them. Please send lots of gold and an army so that I might smite their asses in your glorious, moobied name.
Vassal King Who Will Be Ignored


I Fail at Blogging!

Still alive.  Totally forgotten to post.  Probably just as well as I haven't been up to terribly much.  Well, I have, but it's gifts for people who might read this so I can't exactly go on at length.   Health has been being varying between okay and stupid and annoying lately.  This is to be expected with both Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Functional Movement Disorder, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating at times.  While there may be noticeable waves and troughs over time, the general trend should be toward improvement.

The Wii Fit Plus is still a huge success as far as I'm concerned.  I use it nearly every day (I usually take one day off a week).  I started out at about 5 minutes, moved up to around 7, then up to 10, and last week up to 15.  I have seen some improvement in my stability and balance and coordination.  My neurologist was impressed.  Unfortunately, it seems 15 minutes was too much, so I've dropped back down to 10 for another week and will try ramping up again, maybe in 2-3 minute increments. 
I've been trying to get in a daily walk of at least 10 minutes but have slacked off on that lately - it's been insanely hot.

I've been experimenting with taking butterbur root extract supplements to help prevent migraines (it works as a calcium channel blocker, which may help).  I'm not sure that it's doing much, as I'm still having at least one migraine every 10 days.  The weather has been dreadful, with lots of thunderstorms recently, so that may also be contributing in a big way.  I'll keep up with the butterbur as it doesn't seem to have any ill effects to see how I do long-term.

My sleep schedule, which was doing so well for a few months there, is now royally screwed again.  I stopped using my SAD-lamp thing once spring/summer was well underway, but I am beginning to suspect that I should go ahead and keep turning it on when I first get up anyway, even if it seems fairly bright in the living room to help reinforce the message to my brain about when morning and night actually are.  Being overtired and in pain also contributes to insomnia, so all that together probably explains the suck.  Still annoying as hell.  It saps a great deal out of my already tiny amount of productivity to be awake(ish) at night and sleep all day. 

The latest crap is that my acne has gone nuts and the occasional weird insanely itchy rashes I get on my ankles have gone full on wacked.  I have a dermatologist appointment this week.  I wouldn't care so much about the acne, but it hurts like hell and is spreading down my back and chest.  There's another annoyances too that I can no longer handle with OTC stuff, so off to the doctor.  Possibly related to the Plaquenil I've been taking (which was supposed to *help* with some of the rashes).

Plaquenil is driving me nuts in other ways too - my GI tract is not a fan.  Still planning to stick it out the full 6 month trial (that will end in September), but I'm not seeing a huge improvement.  I think I might be better off with a daily OTC anti-inflammatory and treating the arthritis and rashes on their own as needed.  It certainly doesn't seem to have helped with fatigue.

I am planning on meditating daily now to put my zafu to good use.  I've found a ton of guided meditation podcasts through iTunes to work with, so that should be fun.  Oreo likes to come be near me, but not bothersome, when I meditate, which I think is adorable. 
I've also found sitting on the zafu to knit or crochet for brief periods is surprisingly comfortable. 

In other news, I love PaperBackSwap.com.  I now have a huge pile of to-be-read books and have sent many of my own no-longer-wanted books off to happy new homes.  Awesomesauce.


Yet Again, I'm Glad I No Longer Have Cable

So far as I can tell, this is not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but wasn't intended as such. Ima go rock back and forth in a corner and cry now.
Bonus points for the truly ridiculous descriptions available in the episode guide plus the suggestion that viewers might also enjoy shows about ancient aliens.

Hilariously, I think I was one of many people who received email invitations to apply/audition for a place on the show. I'm fairly certain I read the message, giggled, and deleted it, but I'll have to dig through old archives to be sure, just in case there's some added hilarity.

Another silver lining to my lack of cable access is probably the fact that it will keep me from live-blogging the shows via Twitter and getting sued. :P