Today, I did layouts. Well, actually I drove in the snow on errands, which involved a lot of slipping and sliding and cursing and so forth, but once I got back from that trek into the Great White North, I did layouts. My husband is thinking that we might wind up moving to Arizona shortly, to be in-house at his game company. While I am not getting excited, since we’ve contemplated moving everywhere from Chicago to Pennsylvania in the last eight years, and are still in Minnesota, I confess that the notion of an area where you almost never have to drive on ice is appealing. Then again, it’s been about fifteen years since I lived in Arizona, and I know that my mind has glossed over how bad the heat was, so in the not-particularly-likely event that we did wind up moving there, I’m sure I’d be longing for the frozen waste soon enough.

Actually, most of what I remember is painfully sharp grass, a sort’ve spartanly beautiful scrub desert, and a searing, diamond hard sky. And lots of Southwestern kitch decor. You…will…learn…to…love…the…chile…pepper!

Annnnyway, like I said, still only a remote possibility, so don’t anybody go gettin’ excited or anything, since while I am not terribly superstitious, I do believe in jinxes. Even if there’s no overriding universal intelligence, I sneakingly suspect that one will come together out of the aether, organize itself spontaneously in violation of most of the laws of physics, and hold together just long enough to screw with me, before collapsing back into nothingness. It’d be my luck.
Less whine, more layout.

Once upon a time, many moons ago, I was talking with my mother about art. She said something encouraging about whatever I was doing at the time (which was dreadful, I’m sure, since this was years ago) and I, having something of a notion that it wasn’t very good, said “Come on, Mom, you’re just saying that because you’re my mother. You’re like, required to be supportive or something, no matter what.” To which she replied, “That’s not true! Have I ever once told you that you could sing?”
Sing a song of misplaced ambitions…

Damn those non-vampires!

Damnit! I love the show CSI with a passion, but tonight they let me down.

Basic, entertainingly gory premise–doctor with porphyria trains her Great Dane to attack joggers, harvests their organs and makes protein shakes out’ve ’em. Deprived of this sustenance, she’s guaranteed to die horribly in prison. Great premise. Just one problem.

Contrary to all those great theories about porphyria causing vampirism legends, drinking blood doesn’t do you jack all good–I mean, you get plenty of iron, sure, but you might as well just eat your Wheaties like the rest of us. Porphyria (there’s a couple of variants, but some of the really rare ones include photosensitivity and severe skin lesions) results from a genetic failure to make an enzyme that produces heme, which is needed for hemoglobin. To fix this, you can get transfusions, and blood products and all kinda good stuff to keep heme in your blood–there’s a slew of treatments in this day and age, it’s generally not fatal. Drinking other people’s blood won’t do you any good at all, because digestion breaks down any possible useful stuff to be had in the blood–you don’t get heme by drinking blood, you get some basic proteins, and probably any diseases your victim might’ve been carrying. You could guzzle the blood of the peasants by the bucket (and some of them probably did) and while it might feed your fetishes and your sadism, it won’t do a damn thing for the disease. On the other hand, in the Middle Ages, it probably wasn’t any more dangerous than drinking the water.

Many of us have doubtless heard the vampires-had-porphyria theory. It was a great theory. However, it probably ain’t so. A lot of the key elements to the theory, like vampires only going out at night, and the pallor and so forth are owed entirely to Bram Stoker and crew–prior to him, vampires could go abroad in daylight without a problem, weren’t disfigured to any great extent, and were believed to be red-faced from drinking stolen blood. Porphyria fits Count Dracula just fine, but not Vlad Dracul, nor any other legends. Some much better researched theories in a similiar disease vein were put forward in a book called “Food for the Dead” which explored deaths by “consumption” (generally believed to be tuberculosis, which was epidemic for many centuries) and some rather peculiar folk beliefs, such as that if someone died of consumption, they would come back from the grave and drain the blood of their relatives. Since tuberculosis is contaigous, other members of your family were indeed likely to get it, which fed the theory. (In case you’re ever in this situation, the folk solution is to dig up your dead relative and cut them open–if there’s blood in the heart or any other organs, or if they’re pink cheeked and rosy, they’ve been feeding on you, and the only way to survive is to burn the offending organ. Or you could try seeing a doctor.)

Damn CSI. They’ve failed me. *sob*

Oh, and my cat is currently fine–I won’t bore you with the details of his urine sample, since I can’t imagine anyone finds that thrilling (I mean, I’d like to think that I could make a urinalysis fascinating reading, but c’mon, I know my limits. I’d have to cast the whole thing as an epic poem between the Crystals and the White Blood Cell Count, and nobody wants that.) but it seems to be nothing that can’t be fixed with a specific diet and some antibiotics. Thanks to everyone who’s expressed concern–I appreciate it!

Taking the cat to the vet this afternoon…more urinary problems. Urrrgh. I feel as if I’m standing on top of a slope looking down at a rather steep drop-off. “Yup, this is what’s gonna end up killing him someday. I will spend money and grief keeping him as far up the slope as possible, but sooner or later…”

Happy thought. Hopefully it’ll be something perfectly minor, they’ll yell at me for him being grossly overweight, and we’ll come home a few hundred bucks lighter, some pills and the memory of a catheter heavier, and all will be well.

On a not at all lighter note, I went out to Cub for groceries today, and there was a shooting, while I was there. (No, I didn’t see it.) I heard a fight break out near the front, did the usual head-turning hum-what’s-all-the-screaming-about, then kept shopping. I’m not a rubbernecker type–unless someone’s actively bleeding to death and the only other people available are mentally defunct, asleep or dead, my limited medical knowledge won’t do a damn bit of good, and crowds never help anybody. By the time I got to the checkout, EMT’s had been and gone (there were three or four still there) and the boys in blue had swarmed. According to the cashier–never the most reliable of witnesses–the fight had escalated, they’d been told to leave, and one guy shot t’other one in the mouth outside the store. He didn’t get five feet, of course–they’ve got cameras everywhere, and it was broad daylight, and the cops had already been called for the fight but it was a little surprising to be wrangling my cart through the parking lot, swerve around a parked cop car to avoid traffic, and realize that there’s a dude in the backseat, less than two feet away, doing the standard COPS beat-head-rythmically-against-glass thing, who presumably had just shot another human being about ten minutes prior. Things like that make me want to yell “What the hell were you THINKING? You can’t possibly believe that you could cause a scene and then shoot a guy in broad daylight, on camera, and get away. I mean, I’m sorry if you’re poor and uneducated and the Man has sat on you, or whatever the sob story is, but there’s lack of education and then there’s just plain native stupidity. What the hell is wrong with the hard wiring of your brain that cause and effect no longer are functioning in there!? How stupid must you be?!”

It’s things like this that make me vaguely hope he was on crank or meth or something, because it’s so damn depressing to think that one’s fellow humans are that astonishingly stupid. That, or I wonder if some people just get a lot angrier than other people–the maddest I’ve ever gotten, I never hit walls because I’m smart enough to know that hitting the wall will hurt me and cause structural damage to the wall, while not doing anything to affect the cause of the frustration. If I must do something hysterical, I will cry, since it’s easy to clean up. But I know plenty of other people who, in a rage, will smack furniture or whatever, who don’t seem any dumber than the usual run of people. So I dunno–it’s possible that I deal with it better, or I’m repressing it all in something that will eventually erupt in a homicidal explosion. Or it’s possible that I simply don’t get that mad–I mean, I will display fits of temper where people walk around me on eggshells in terror of what I might say, but I never get into a screaming, blistering rage where I can’t control my actions, the way that some people appear to.

The maddest I can ever remember getting was–this is embarassing–over ammonites.
Mad about ammonites!

Well, by now, everybody probably knows that the shuttle Colombia and all crew has been lost. I’ve been wandering around trying not to cry for most of the morning, but it’s mostly a losing battle.

Bloody hell.

All that I can think of to say is the usual protests in defense of NASA, which I have enormous respect for–space flight is extraordinarily dangerous by it’s very nature, and the fact that in 42 years we’ve had what–three?–fatal incidents is staggering. NASA’s safety record is astonishingly good. What I remember about the Challenger was how badly it set back the space program, and I pray to whatever forces watch over manned space flight that it doesn’t happen again. If people in Congress use this as yet another excuse to gut NASA’s budget…well, it’d be a bloody poor sort of memorial.

The only thing that keeps me from total despair on that front is that other countries, like China, are actively working to develop a space program, and while the U.S. government won’t lift a finger these days to fund space flight for it’s own sake, the money will flow like wine to make damn sure that we’re the top dog. I don’t know much about the space programs in other countries, but I wish them all the luck and speed possible.

For the loss of human life today, it’ll take better people than I to say anything useful about it. There’s never enough brave people in the world, and losing so many in such a fashion hurts us all.