Showing posts with label a complete list of things i have seen or not seen is available in my blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label a complete list of things i have seen or not seen is available in my blog. Show all posts

Monday, April 23, 2018

"What if I never get better?" is a valid question

Frustrated with the persistence of some of my post head-injury symptoms, I googled what if I never get better.

The first page of results was all pages about depression, reassuring depression patients that it will get better at some point and that if life feels hopeless, that's just the depression talking.


If the first page of Google results represents the zeitgeist, this is a problem.

The full scope of human experience includes situations where you never get better. Sometimes you might spend years or even decades not getting better.  It's not necessarily depression talking, sometimes not getting better is simply an objective reality, and people need to figure out how to live with that, not to be patted on the head and told they're depressed.

This would also make me reluctant to mention to a medical professional when I'm afraid I'll never get better. I'd be concerned they'd get distracted from the thing that's causing me despair and instead start treating me for depression - confusing things by introducing new medications and such, when what I actually need is a timeline and a flowchart and a series of possible outcomes and perhaps to be informed of the existence of assistive devices or palliative options.

***

This is all the more important because, since I started writing this post, I've seen an optometrist (given that my remaining symptoms are visual) and it looks like there's a decent possibility that my problems can be solved with different glasses, and/or vision therapy (which I didn't even know was a thing, but is kind-of-but-not-entirely like physiotherapy for the eyes).

I don't want to fall into the trap of getting overoptimistic, but this is the first time since I hit my head that there seems to be even a remote possibility of just maybe being happy or comfortable at some point in the nonspecific future!  I'm still waiting for the glasses to be made, so keep your fingers crossed!

And this is all significant because it comes from treating me like I'm never going to get better.

I didn't approach the optometrist with "what if I never get better?" - I approached him from the point of view of "this is what I'm experiencing, can we diagnose and/or rule stuff out?" But a productive "what if I never get better?" conversation would have had the same outcome:

Me: "What if I never get better? What if focusing on the computer screen is hard work every single moment of every single day for the rest of my life?"
Doctor: "We'll see exactly what your eyes are doing, and then look into making you glasses to adjust. If you never get better, you'll wear different glasses that do some of the work for you. In parallel, we can also give you some exercises for your eyes, so you can work proactively on making this specific symptom better."
Isn't that a better outcome?  And more hopeful than platitudes and/or psychological treatment that don't address the underlying issue?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Disappointed with Fresh's latest menu update

I've finally had a chance to try every new item on Fresh's menu, and I'm not impressed. All of the new items are less yummy than the items they removed. The only new item that makes me go "Yay!" is the essential greens, but that's an appetizer-sized dish at an entree-sized price. Meanwhile, several of my favourites are gone. (holiday wrap! mega life salad! jerusalem bowl!)

Also, there are now fewer wellness choices on Ritual (which is significant because that's the only nutritional indicators we have), and the only new item that's a wellness choice is the dragon broccoli, which is too spicy for my refluxy self.

Fresh has been a favourite since they moved to my neighbourhood, so it's disappointing that this latest update made it meet my needs less well than before.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Things They DID Invent: shut up and pregnancy test

Something I'm sure I've blogged about before but can't find the post: when I was younger, many of my peers and I had the experience of medical professionals interrogating us about whether we were pregnant.  They'd start with "Is there any possibility that you're pregnant?" and then, when you said no, they'd say "How do you know?" They'd ask about the details of your menstruation and the choreography of you personal life and basically it was a whole gauntlet - which is particularly upsetting when you're a teenager (especially a teenager who feels too young to have sex), if your parents are present, etc.

Because of this, I've long advocated for simply doing a blood or urine test for pregnancy without belabouring the point, rather than interrogating the patient at length if you aren't going to take her word for not being pregnant.

I'm pleased to announce that when I was in the hospital with my head injury, they did just that. They did a number of blood tests to rule out heart attack, do a blood count, test for nutritional deficiencies, etc., and one of the tests they did was a pregnancy test.  They didn't even mention this to me - I didn't even see it until I was handed my printed-out blood work results.

Obviously pregnancy needs to be ruled out when a female patient of child-bearing age faints, probably on a more solid basis than recent menstruation or lack of reported recent exposure to sperm. So instead of interrogating me, they simply did the test that they would have had to do anyway.

I'm very glad they did it this way, and I hope they do the same on minors and other more vulnerable patients.

Monday, April 02, 2018

My emergency room experience

When I fainted and hit my head, I went to the emergency room at Sunnybrook.

Upon arriving at the emergency room, you swipe your health card in an automated kiosk, select a category into which your complaint falls, and describe it in a few words. The kiosk then issues you a number.

You sit down in the waiting room chairs, and the numbers come up on these big screens above small glassed-off offices. When your number comes up, you go talk to a triage nurse. It took less than 10 minutes (and perhaps even less than 5) for my number to come up.

The triage nurse listens to your problem, asks questions, takes your vitals, takes down all the information, takes your vital signs, and enters everything into the computer so you can be appropriately triaged.  Then I was sent back to the waiting room. Some other patients were sent into the other "zones", which have different waiting rooms, and I don't know what happens to them after that. (You can google Sunnybrook emergency room zones for more information - no point in me trying to explain it here when I don't have any information that hasn't already been put on the internet from more reliable sources.)

Soon after speaking to the triage nurse (maybe 5-10 minutes, definitely under half an hour), the receptionist calls your name, and you check in. They scan your health card, take your information, emergency contact, name of primary care physician, and issue you a wristband.  Then it's back to the waiting room.

What happens next depends on the particulars of the patient's condition. For me, another nurse called my name, and took me into a room (two examining tables/beds divided by a curtain) where he took my blood and took an EKG. This was about an hour after I arrived.  Then I was sent back to the waiting room for the longest wait of the day.  I later learned that this blood work was the primary diagnostic tool in my case, so even though I was sitting around for four hours, my blood work was at the lab.

After four more hours of waiting, they finally called my name and brought me into the "orange zone", where I was seated in another small waiting area. This made me nervous, because a lot of the patients in this area were in beds with machines and/or IVs hooked up to them. I could overhear that one patient had had a stroke, and another patient's family members were crying. It turned out this was a kind of mixed-use area - the people in beds were ER patients who were going to be staying in the hospital overnight, waiting for a bed to open up in the appropriate ward. They were also using this zone for patients who didn't need actual treatment, which is why I was there.

After sitting around in the orange zone waiting area for a bit, a nurse talked to me, asked me to tell my story again, re-took my vitals, and told me that my tests had come back normal so I just had to talk to the doctor and then I'd be discharged.  Then he sent me back to the orange zone waiting area.

After some more time waiting, the doctor called me and took me to a stretcher in the hallway that could be curtained off.  He asked for my story again, asked me questions, talked to me about my test results, did some non-invasive clothed physical exams (including stroke screening and palpating my abdomen). Then he gave me discharge instructions about how to take care of the bump on my head and what signs to seek further medical attention for, answered my questions, and sent me home.

My total time in the orange zone was 1-2 hours, my total time in the ER was about 6 hours. This was on the Saturday afternoon of a long weekend.

***

A bit about the physical environment:

The Sunnybrook ER is on the ground floor. The main entrance is on the first floor (which is one storey higher than the ground floor), so you have to go down a storey if you come in the main entrance. I don't know whether there was another easier way to access the ER.

The waiting room chairs are padded (with a vinyl-like upholstery that appears to be easy to clean) and have high backs. I can't tell you if they're comfortable to lean back on because I had an enormous bump on the back of my head. They were more comfortable than classroom chairs, church pews, or the chairs in my doctor's waiting room. I've previously blogged that ER waiting rooms should be sleepable, so I was surprised to notice that there was one (but only one) recliner-style chair that appeared to be sleepable. I'm not sure if it was there intentionally for sleepability or it was just an extra chair that they put there for more seating. In any case, I didn't try it out since other patients needed it more than me, and I couldn't lean my head back anyway.

The waiting room was very crowded (on the Saturday afternoon of a long weekend), and some patients' family members were sitting on the floor, or standing. I suspect some patients took those wheelchairs by the entrance so they'd have somewhere to sit, and after a while uncomfortable-looking folding chairs started materializing from somewhere.

There are washrooms right in the ER waiting room - two accessible family-style washrooms (i.e. with the toilet and sink behind the same door). They weren't always perfectly clean - sometimes there were puddles of water or bits of paper towel on the floor - but they were always well-stocked with toilet paper, soap, paper towels, sanitizer, etc. so our washroom experience could be as hygienic as possible. Despite the crowded waiting room, I never noticed a line for the washrooms. There is also sanitizer available in the waiting area.

There are vending machines selling water, juice and pop (just inside the doors of the ambulance entrance, by the security booth). I didn't notice anywhere where you could get food within the immediate vicinity of the ER waiting room, but I didn't ask either. There is a food court on the main floor between the main entrance and the elevators, and Google suggests that there are other sources of food elsewhere in the hospital, although I didn't investigate. Some patients' family members went and fetched food from the food court, and I suspect one person somehow had food delivered.

There are multiple password-protected wifi networks with "Sunnybrook" in the name, and no open networks. I didn't inquire about whether we were allowed to use any of them, or try to guess any of the passwords. I googled around the idea after the fact and the internet suggests that one is intended for patients and visitors, but I have no firsthand information.

There are a few wall outlets in the waiting room, but the waiting room was not designed with the assumption that everyone will have a device to charge.

I saw the triage nurses give a basin-like thing to one patient who thought he might vomit, and a blanket to another patient who was shivering, so it's possible other items for the patient's comfort might be available upon request.  No one gave me ice for my head bump, but I didn't ask either.

***

The best thing about this ER visit is that every single person I dealt with had outstanding bedside manner.

The triage nurse, young enough to see me as non-young, who squeezed my hand reassuringly when I confided that I had never been in a hospital before and was frightened, even though she's in a hospital every day and, I'm sure, sees hundreds of people with more cause to be frightened than I have.

The nurse who did my blood work and EKG, diligently requiring me to remove only the minimum clothing necessary and exposing only the minimum skin necessary (and covering exposed skin up as soon as the procedure permitted, even when the body part in question was just my calf), despite the fact that we were behind a curtain and my style of dress makes it apparent that I don't come from a more-modest-than-average cultural tradition.

The orange zone nurse, who patiently answered all my questions about what test result numbers mean even though they were normal and I didn't have to worry about them, and took the time to explain to me why I was in this section with stroke patients and people on tubes and machines.

The doctor, who sat down with me, looked me in the eye as though I had his full attention, and patiently answered every single question about what might have happened and what do I do next and how fainting works and how head lumps work and what they tested for and how they ruled out certain things, even though he was also in charge of all the stroke patients and people on tubes and machines - and even took the time to reassure me that I had done the right thing by coming to the hospital and when I should go to the hospital under similar circumstances, even though we could both see that I was the least important patient he was treating that day.

Even the security guards, who were kindly and patiently giving people directions and answering questions about where you can get food and drink and bathrooms and how the sign-in kiosks work, in between actual security guard emergencies.

Several years ago, I fell down an internet rabbit hole of reading ER nurse blogs, and I found that some of them were kind of . . . contemptuous, I suppose, of their patients. On their blogs, they dissed patients for being frightened when their condition wasn't serious, or for coming to the ER for something that isn't an emergency, or for bringing their mother even though they're a grown-ass adult. As someone who met these criteria (I didn't bring my mother, but I was considering calling her because sometimes I want my mommy when things are scary), I was kind of worried about how I might be treated in the ER. So I am quite pleased that every single person I dealt with at Sunnybrook was outstandingly kind and caring. This makes me feel far safer and more confident for next time I need hospital care.

And I sincerely hope there isn't ever a next time.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Schroedinger's concussion

My contemplations of whether I underassess my own pain aren't purely academic.

A few weeks ago, I fainted and hit my head.

At the hospital, they seemed much more interested in the cause of my fainting, but ruled out a concussion because I did not report any of the symptoms on the list.

And I did not report any of the symptoms on the list because I did not perceive myself to be experiencing any of the symptoms on the list.

Nor did I perceive myself to be experiencing any of the symptoms that I was told to seek medical attention for if I should experience them in the days that follow.

But I wasn't functioning at 100%. I was moody and my eyes got tired easily. Focusing visually was harder work than usual.

About a week after the incident, I found myself crying myself to sleep because I hadn't been diagnosed with a concussion - if they'd told me I had a concussion, I reasoned, I would have rested my brain and probably felt better by then!

Then I realized I didn't need a diagnosis to rest, so I spent my weekend doing strict brain rest like you're supposed to do after you have a concussion.

It helped enormously, but didn't completely fix my problems.

So I scaled back my work and other responsibilities and made myself a program of brain rest that could fit around my work and other responsibilities. (Working from home was a lifesaver here!)

And it helped, slowly but surely.

It's been a month. I'm doing significantly better, and I'm still not completely 100% yet. Most days are better than the day before, although sometimes there's weird slippage. (For example, today my eyes were extremely fatigued in the morning, and I haven't a clue why.)

I have no idea if I had a concussion or not, and I don't know if I can ever know.  I can't blame the doctors for not diagnosing me, because they asked me if I was experiencing symptoms, and I reported what I perceived. I wasn't trying to be brave or tough or heroic by minimizng what I was experiencing, I was accurately reporting what I perceived.

And I can't help but wonder if my own perception has been skewed by my experiences with menstrual pain. And if it hadn't been skewed, might I have reported symptoms and been diagnosed with a concussion? And gone home with doctor's orders to rest, taken a few days off work, and been completely better by now?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The final score in the laptop battery management match-up

I bought my laptop in December 2010, and started indiscriminately plugging it in whenever possible, without regard for any battery management strategy. The battery stopped working in April 2013, for a total of 2 years and 4 months.

Then I started putting the laptop in airplane mode whenever it was plugged in, and completely draining and recharging the battery on the rare occasions when I needed to work from battery. The laptop lived until November 2017, for a total of 4 years and 7 months.

Shortly before the laptop died, the battery status said something to the effect that my battery wasn't working at top performance and it was time to get a new one, although I could keep using this one for as long as it lasted. (I don't have the exact message.) It didn't display this message before the previous battery suddenly stopped working. (I noticed there was a problem because the battery light was suddenly blinking orange.) I currently don't know whether the battery had anything to do with why the laptop stopped working.

Therefore, based on my one-person study, airplane mode is better for laptop batteries (at least the kinds of batteries computers used in 2010) than leaving it plugged in indiscriminately.

Note that this is the exact opposite of what all Dell online support said, but consistent with what every in-person tech said.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Nerdview: fire alarm edition

When there is a fire alarm in my building, the concierge announces "There is an alarm condition on the 3rd floor."

That's what his panel says, I'm sure, but that's not what's relevant to residents. A more user-friendly way to explain it to us would be "A smoke detector has gone off" or "The fire alarm has been pulled."  Or if you don't know, even just "The fire alarm has gone off on the 3rd floor" would be clear and idiomatic. All we want to know at this point is whether it's near us.

Then once the fire department gets here and makes sure everything's fine, he announces "The alarm has been reset to normal condition."

Again, I'm sure that's what his panel says. But that's not what's relevant to residents.  A more user-friendly announcement would be "There is no emergency, the alarm is over, you can all return to your apartments." 

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Journalism wanted: what are tests of the Alert Ready system testing for?

Working from home, I sometimes have the TV on during the day.  So every once in a while, I see programming get interrupted with "This is a test of the Alert Ready system!", where there program is interrupted with an intrusive beep and the screen turns red, announcing that they're testing the system.  It's similar to this youtube.

What I want to know: what are they testing for? To see if it shows up? Does someone have to look at all the TV channels to see if it's working? And is that why it takes so long?  Or is there more to it than that? What things could possibly go wrong that this test could detect?

I'd love for someone to write an article about this!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Why do politicians want people to telephone them?

Recently, a greater than usual amount of instructions for political activism has been reaching me, and a common theme seems to be to telephone politicians. The instructions are to tell the person who answers the phone that you would like the politician to take or stop taking a particular action, and tell them any personal stories that support this request.

But why on earth would the telephone be the optimal medium for political activism?

If you telephone an elected official's office, someone has to answer the call. If you tell them an anecdote, someone has to write it down.  If they have a case tracking system, the person who answers the phone has to enter their notes into the case tracking system. The whole process moves at the speed of human speech, and is subject to transcription errors on the part of the person answering the phone, and dictation errors (as well as general human error and any lack of preparedness that's borne of inexperience) on the part of the person making the call. This is especially egregious because less-experienced phone-callers have to write up a script for themselves, which they read to the phone-answerer, who transcribes it into whatever system the political office uses.

But if you send them an email, the message will reach your political official (or enter their automated system) in your own words, either by copy-paste or through an automated algorithm. No human intervention, no possibility of human error, and also no staffing expenses to deal with your inquiry. It's faster for political staff (reading is faster than typing) and might also be no less slow for the citizen if - like me - they'd have to write up a script before making a phone call, or - like me - they can type at the speed of speech anyway. There's no human error, because your very own words either reach the politico directly or are entered into the automated system. From the point of view of the politico, they can get their constituents' POV straight from the constituents' mouth, and/or get their constituents' POV without having to pay the salary of political staff who run itnerference.

So how did it come about that a telephone call is considered the most effective way to reach politicians?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

City Shoe Repair in Eglinton station has moved to 2200 Yonge St., 2nd floor

Looking for the awesome shoe repair place that, until very recently, was in Eglinton station?

They've moved to the 2nd floor of the Canada Square building at 2200 Yonge St.

If you're standing in front of their old location, go up the stairs to the southwest corner of Yonge and Eglinton, then up the next set of stairs (or the escalator) into Canada Square.

Then keep walking south through the building (parallel to Yonge, away from Eglinton). Go past the little stairs that go down to the lobby, past the elevators, and keep going. It's, on the left side (closest to Yonge St.) about three storefronts past the point where you start thinking "Did I miss it?" You can see the big red boot through the store windows. If you reach TPH The Printing House, you've gone too far.


The nice people at City Shoe Repair have saved my ass and my shoes multiple times, including when my shoes literally fell apart while I was walking down the street and when my boot wouldn't unzip leaving me stuck inside it.  So hopefully I can use my googleability to help people find them now that their new location has less foot traffic.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

In which Reitman's breaks my heart again

I blogged before about how Reitman's broke my heart by discontinuing my jeans.  Just weeks later, they've done it again.

During my chafing-induced frantic acquisition of yoga pants, I found an absolute treasure at Reitmans: cotton yoga pants with pockets, styled so that (I was able to convince myself) they looked like real pants rather than activewear.  A strategically placed seam at the front emulated (from a distance) a crease that might be ironed into a pair of dress pants, and the drawstring at the top was easily covered by my shirt.  They worked with sneakers and a hoodie, they worked with boots and my good coat, they worked with everything.

I promptly purchased two pairs and, once I realized my jeans were discontinued, started using them as my go-to casual pants.

Then, after only a couple of months of using them as my go-to pants, they got a hole in the crotch.  And when I went to buy more pairs, I discovered that they, too, have been discontinued.

This is particularly frustrating because they were barely a year old, and I had only been wearing them as my go-to for a few months. (And wearing them during the hour or two a day when I'm out of the house.) I definitely wore them for less than 300 hours in total, and quite possibly as little as 200 hours.  I definitely washed them less than 5 times, and quite possible as few as 2 times.  And yet they wore out.

If they were still commercially available, I wouldn't be complaining on the internet. I would shrug my shoulders, say "Meh, 21st-century fast fashion, what can you do?", cheerfully buy a few new pairs at whatever the price and keep wearing them forever. They're that awesome!

But the fact that they wore out after only a couple of months' regular wear means that, if I wear them regularly, I only have a couple of months before they're forever lost to me. So now I have to ration every step and every wash. Every time I decide which pants to put on, I have to think about whether today's activities are worth the wear and tear on the pair of pants I really want to wear, or whether I should wear a suboptimal pair of pants to save my favourites for later.  It's so disheartening! I think about the decades of statistical life expectancy I have left, and cringe in dread of having to keep myself properly clothed for that many decades.


And the thing is, I actively want to buy all my clothes at Reitman's and never shop anywhere else again!  I love clothes, I hate shopping, Reitman's has always been reliable for me, plus Reitman's is literally the closest clothing store to my home.  All I want is to walk into Reitman's, pick up the reliable standard pants that have always worked for me and whatever pretty tops and skirts and dresses they have this season, hand over my credit card, and be home in half an hour. I don't want to shop elsewhere, because it's more work and less predictable.

But Reitman's is making this impossible, by discontinuing the clothes that work for me and not having a comparable replacement.

If they're going to discontinue the clothes, at least make the last batch sturdy enough to last. If they're going to make them so flimsy they get holes in only a few months, just keep them in stock and I'll keep buying them!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

King Charles III (and some thoughts on cultural references)

I recently saw the movie King Charles III. The premise is that, after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles ascends to the throne and causes a constitutional crisis by refusing to sign a bill into law.

The plot I could take or leave, but what made this movie particularly interesting is that it's written in a Shakespearean style, using blank verse, iambic pentameter, asides to the audience, etc. So watching it was akin to being one of Shakespeare's contemporaries watching a Shakespearean history play.  In fact, as I was watching it, I kept finding myself noticing references that would need to be footnoted if this were taught in schools centuries in the future.  But for me, they were just common knowledge with a soup├žon of tabloid gossip.

It might be interesting to show this movie to students learning Shakespeare, just to give them that experience.  Anyone who can name or extrapolate from context the names of most of the people in this photo already has the necessary cultural references.

***

When I studied Shakespeare in school, the plays came in these books with extensive footnotes explaining the wordplay or cultural references that weren't part of our vernacular. The teachers said that in Shakespeare's time, everyone understood these references, with tone, delivery and connotations suggesting that if Kids Today would just be more diligent, we'd understand it too just like in the Good Old Days.

But as I watched King Charles III, I realized that those were just their modern cultural references at the time - contemporary slang, basic current events, current social media use patterns, the sort of celebrity gossip you pick up from seeing tabloid covers while waiting in line at the grocery store, etc.

Similarly, when we did an extensive unit on Greek and Roman mythology in Grade 8, the teacher said that people used to know all these references, again with tone and delivery suggesting that our lack of knowledge of these references that are apparently so crucial and vital and baseline to our culture made us somehow subpar.

But the 90s Jane Austen movies, and some subsequent reading on the concept of neo-classicism, made me realize that this whole Greco-Roman thing was basically a trend too. It was that era's equivalent of Simpsons references and/or dank memes. The flowery, wordy reference-laden Romantic-era writing style was that era's equivalent of today's dense, reference-laden hip-hop lyrics. And people were familiar with them simply because they had consumed the era's popular culture, just like how people who have seen the Marvel Thor movies starring Chris Hemsworth might pick up a thing or two about Norse mythology.


I think if our teachers had presented these aspects of the curriculum as a glimpse into the popular culture of the olden days, we would have found it much more approachable and much more interesting.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The origin of mansplaining and bootstrapping?

A while back, this story circulated where a male employee and a female employee switched email signatures on their shared inbox:




My first thought was that nothing like this has ever happened to me, but in the shower today, it occurred to me that this might explain another phenomenon I've observed.

When I ask for something that's perfectly reasonable and then don't get it, older men within earshot of my complaints often respond with "Well, did you ask?"  Of course I asked. And I didn't get it. That's why I'm complaining about it.

For example, when Dell said they couldn't sell me an extended warranty as promised (which, BTW was two years ago and I'm still using the same computer - they could have gotten hundreds of dollars each year and absolute loyal out of me by extending it), I kept getting "Well, did you tell them that you'd been sent this personalized offer?  And that you had a confirmation email?"  Yes, I did. And it didn't get me what I wanted. That's why I'm complaining about it.

For as long as I can remember, I've been baffled at this "Well, did you [do the most glaringly obvious first step]?" with tone and delivery suggesting that they think this is a whole solution.

But in the shower, it occurred to me that maybe, in the world of the men who say these things to me, the most glaringly obvious first step is the whole solution?  Maybe they live in a world where all they need to say is "I have a confirmation email" and people agree with them?

I don't know how to test this, but if it is the case, I wonder if there are any other disadvantages I might be experiencing that I don't perceive?

Also, might this be part of the origin of mansplaining?  If things tend to work out for them when they try the first obvious step, they might arrive at the conclusion that someone who's having problems hasn't tried the first obvious step?

And more broadly speaking, this would probably be the root of punitive "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" policies - people in positions of greater privilege have things turn out right when they do the basic right things, so they conclude that people who have things turn out wrong aren't doing the basic right things.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

It should always work this way





Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Things that are harder to clean than their counterparts

1. Glasses from Pearle Vision. There's a Pearle Vision right in my neighbourhood and they had frames I actually like for a price that's actually lower than my insurance limit (!!!) so I thought I had it made, but it turns out I have to clean the lenses more often than my previous lenses from LensCrafters. And yes, I did ask for the kind of anti-glare lenses that stay cleaner.  And they do stay cleaner than the kind of anti-glare lenses that don't stay cleaner. But nevertheless, I'm still cleaning them more than my LensCrafters lenses.

2.Glass cooktops. The stove on my new apartment has a glass cooktop, unlike every other stove I've used in my life, all of which had electric coil burners. (I have never at any point had a choice in the matter.) And it turns out the glass is impossible to keep clean. Every spill or drip creates a disaster, and while I've been able to get rid of 97% of the mess with a combination of purpose-built products and internet tips, I can never remove every trace of evidence. And even if there are no spills or drips and you just wipe it down, there are streaks left like cleaning a window.  The first time I cleaned it, it wasn't particularly dirty, but wiping it left streaks that made it look worse.  I don't recommend it to anyone, and can't fathom why my builder thought it would be a good idea.  (On top of the cleaning problems, the burners also either heat more slowly or produce less heat - haven't figured out which yet - so I have to relearn all my cooking patterns.)

3. Caesarstone counters. My new apartment has caesarstone counters, whereas the old one had granite. (Again, I didn't have a choice in the matter in either apartment.)  Everyone along the way and the entire internet told me that caesarstone is way easier to keep clean than granite, but I've found the opposite.  With granite, I spray it with a cleaner, wipe it down, and I'm done.  With caesarstone, wiping it leaves streaks so I have to sort of polish it with microfibre cloths (like cleaning glasses) after I've actually wiped the dirt off.  On top of that, the slightest mess is readily visible. If a bit of water drips on the counter and I don't clean it up right away, there's going to be a visible mark on the counter until I do clean it.  At one point early on I must have put a hot pot on the counter (I don't consciously remember doing this, but it's the only explanation) and it left behind a circle that can't be cleaned off.  This got me a scolding from my mother for not using those things people put under hot pots, but I've never had to do so before. Everywhere I've lived, I simply put pots wherever they landed naturally and they didn't hurt everything. But this caesarstone is such a hothouse orchid that one mindlessly placed pot in my first week living here caused permanent damage.

I know I'm the only person on the recorded internet saying this, but based on my first hand experiences I do not recommend caesarstone counters. Granite is far easier to care for, as is what ever that plastic-like stuff they used in the 70s is called. Caesarstone has no discernable benefit.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Boys' entrance and girls' entrance

The school in which I attended middle school was built in 1929, originally intended as a high school. It was a brick and stone building, built in an architectural style that the internet tells me is called Collegiate Gothic.

At the front of the building are two imposing-looking entrance doors.  Carved in the stone above one door are the words "Boys' Entrance".  Carved in stone above the other door are the words "Girls' Entrance."

The mystery: the school has always been co-ed.  (It's been co-ed throughout living memory, and a search of newspaper archives can find no hint that they ever changed it to co-ed.)

Each front entrance door leads to a stairwell, both of which are identical. You can go up to the second and third floor or down to the first floor. Each stairwell let out in the same hallway, about a classroom length apart.  There were no hints inside the building that it had ever been divided into two and then later merged (and the interior of the building was such that it was clear when you were entering one of the wings that had been added later etc., so I doubt they would have removed any sort of dividing wall without leaving evidence.)

The gender segregation of entrances was never enforced within living memory.  (We actually used the back doors a lot more often because they were more convenient.)  The signs were only still there because they were carved in stone and it's hard to uncarve stone.

But the mystery remains: why have gender segregated entrances leading to the exact same hallways in a co-ed school in the first place?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Warning: Charmin Essentials Soft toilet paper is NOT the same as Charmin Ultra Soft

I have brand loyalty to Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper.  It is the most comfortable toilet paper I have ever experienced, so I use it all the time as a small daily luxury.

Last time I went shopping for new toilet paper, I saw this package with the great big word SOFT, so I figured it's my usual Charmin and they've changed the package as they do from time to time:

However, once I got it home, I quickly realized it isn't anywhere near the same toilet paper - it feels like sandpaper on my pampered anatomy!

It turns out Charmin Essential Soft is a rebranding of Charmin Basic - the less comfy discount brand!

Charmin Ultra Soft is still called Ultra Soft, and its packaging looks like this:


So if you're picky like me, don't be fooled by the word "soft"; the word "ultra" is important.

Mnemonic: yellow packaging = yellow flag

Saturday, March 04, 2017

What I didn't expect about living in a concierge building (#FirstWorldProblems)

I knew that one of the services a concierge provides is that if you receive a package when you're not home, the concierge will sign for the package for you.

What I didn't know is that even if you are home, the delivery person will still leave the package with the concierge.

I guess it makes sense from the delivery person's point of view - I'm sure they're on a schedule and otherwise evaluated for speed and efficiency, and they'd much rather just dump everything at the concierge desk than buzz or knock on the door of each apartment that has a package on the off chance that someone is home in the middle of the day. And I'm sure that if I asked my concierge to send a particular delivery person up to my apartment (for example, because the package is large and unwieldy) they'd do so.

It just never occurred to me that living in a concierge building would put an extra step between me and my deliveries.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

How Reitman's lost my loyalty and broke my heart

I have had brand loyalty to Reitmans for my entire adult life, ever since I discovered their Comfort Fit pants.  These are these only pants in the world that don't gap in the back when I sit down, which is particularly important because I have a desk job.

There were also Comfort Fit jeans, and they were a revelation!  The dark wash boot cut style not only fit comfortably, but was perhaps the single most flattering garment I've ever owned.  I look tall and toned and fierce wearing them, and feel bad-ass walking down the street!  In recent years they've been using a lower-quality denim that wears out faster (and, inconveniently, seems to wear out in the crotch first), but no biggie, I can just pop in and buy another pair of the same.

But this time, I couldn't.

There are zero boot cut comfort fit jeans, and zero dark wash.  There was a straight leg style, but it wasn't a true straight leg - the ankle was skinny and I could barely get my feet through. They looked exactly like the hideous cheap fake jeans from Biway that the kids on welfare wore in my preteen years.

Which means there are now zero jeans in the world that will fit me comfortably and make me feel good about myself.  And my old ones got a hole in the crotch, so now I don't even have the option of wearing jeans.  At all.  Ever.  An entire baseline category of clothing is unavailable to me.


***

This has been happening to me more and more often. Clothes that make me feel good about myself are taken away, and no workable replacement manifests itself. Victoria's Secret changed my underwear, and I still haven't found an alternative that's as good. Smart Set made shirts that were flattering to me, then they closed down. I normally adore Fluevog shoes, but everything this year has pointy toes and I don't think my black ankle boots are going to hold out long enough for their silhouette to evolve again. Lord and Taylor made cashmere gloves that actually fit me (even though they were a bit too delicate and I only got a year's wear out of them), but then this year they didn't make them any more.

Despite my best efforts to take care of my clothes (even my mother thinks the extent of my air-drying is ridiculous!), they're wearing out.  And I'm afraid once I lose the clothes that make me feel good about myself, I'll never be able to find a replacement and I'll never feel pretty again.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Profiled

Last spring, I experienced thigh chafing for the first time in my life.

Due to my disproportionately long inseam and dislike of the current trend of tight pants, it turns out that on most of my pants the gusset fell below the bit at the top of my thighs that was chafing, meaning that the legs of my pants couldn't serve as a barrier to protect me against the chafing. What few pants I owned that did have a high enough gusset were made of unpleasantly rough or unbreathable material, which may have even made matters worse.

I clearly had immediate need of softer pants, and they probably needed to be more fitted so the gusset would stay right at the very top of my thighs and protect the area being chafed. But the last thing I wanted to do when every step was painful was go pants shopping!  So I went to multiple websites with generous return policies and ordered multiple pairs of yoga pants, one of each plausible pair in my usual size and one a size smaller.

Over the next few days, a wide selection of yoga pants arrived at my door. I tried them on and kept everything that worked for me.  It turned out my idea of going a size down was unnecessary (I hadn't bought new yoga pants in years and they're more fitted now than they were last time I shopped for them), so I returned everything in the smaller size and some of the things in the larger size.

Shortly after that happened, I started getting coupons and offers and recommendations for maternity wear.  I guess I triggered an algorithm somewhere - frantically shopping for yoga pants and opting for the larger size in every case is totally something a pregnant lady would do! 

This was all about nine months ago.  And now I'm getting coupons and offers and recommendations for baby things!  Even though I haven't bought yoga pants or maternity wear or anything comparable in the meantime, apparently online shopping algorithms are the kind of people who count months.

I wonder how long this will persist for? Will I be getting offers for toddler things for a few years, followed by back-to-school offers and high school graduation offers?  Will they start trying to sell me those conception monitors if I don't shop like a pregnant lady for a few years, on the grounds that my non-existent child should have a sibling?

Maybe I should use Privacy Mode when googling for baby gifts just in case...