Thursday, April 28, 2011

Help with buying a new Kindle, please?

I'm looking at getting a Kindle. I already own many Kindle books which I now have on my free version of Kindle for iPhone.
The new Kindle with Special Offers--henceforth referred to as KwSO to save typing--is only $114 dollars and is supported by ads at the bottom of the screen. It appears that the only difference between it and the regular new Kindle (for $139) is the ads, but with the cheaper one you get-wait for it--special offers (some decent sounding money savers which I would almost definitely use). Neither of these have 3G wireless, but with the wi-fi, I wouldn't much care. I'm not one to buy on the run when it comes to books, as it were.
For $189, the Kindle 3G + WiFi offers an extra 2/10 of and ounce in weight and a shorter battery life. Um, what? Okay, it also offers free 3G wireless with "global wireless coverage" in 100 countries and territories. (Is that really "global?" Anywho...) Since I don't "buy on the fly," as I mentioned, and the KwSO holds 3,500 books (the same as all of the other versions) this seems unnecessary. Am I missing any functionality that warrants paying the extra $50 to have the 3G other than the "need" to access more than 3,500 books on the go?
Lastly, there's the $379 Kindle DX. The extra $190 gets you a larger screen (which also means 10.2 ounces heavier and 5/100 of an inch thicker), an all around shorter battery life (wireless on or off), automatic screen rotation rather than manual for, I guess, the super-lazy, and... well, that seems to be it. Is the $190 worth, basically, just a larger page? (Especially when that means it will take up more packing space and also weighs in at over a pound, which seems a bit sucky for arthritic wrists such as mine...) Not to me, especially since I am currently unemployed and about to embark on an expensive journey to my undergrad degree.
So. The choice is KwSO for $114, Kindle WiFi for $139 or the Kindle 3G for $189 (currently being offered with a $25 gift certificate).
Have I missed any features?
If you were me, which would you buy?
UPDATE in repsonse to a question:
There is internet browsing ability on both the wifi and the 3G + wifi versions. So internet browisng on the go for the extra $50, yes. But I have an iPhone on which I do that now and it would be with me anyway.
From Amazon: "Special offers and sponsored screensavers display on the Kindle screensaver and on the bottom of the home screen—they don't interrupt reading. "

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

O hai! Iz u my dokter?

OK, so. I hate being vulnerable, and feeling ugly or gross makes me feels very vulnerable. But I have this rash, these hives, this swelling, this peeling, burnt looking skin and it's not getting better. In fact, each phase has been uglier and more gross and more painful and humiliating than the last. So, I'll lay the whole thing out here for a few reasons.
  • I feel like if I talk about my most vulnerable moments that I will eventually realize I shouldn't feel bad about normal bumps in the road.
  • Maybe one of you has gone through this same thing or something similar and can share some advice.
  • I'm pissed off about the whole thing and maybe putting it out there will calm me down a bit.
Early in the year I had a rash on my chin and the right side of my face. It looked kind of like ringworm which is not a worm at all but a fungus. It is related to the fungus that causes women's yeast infections, thrush, athlete's foot and the yeast infections babies get with diaper rash sometimes. I used several things to treat it and it went away.
I used the following treatments:
  1. Twice a day I applied Skinbiotics Treatment Oil by Derma E which is tea tree oil and oregano oil, both anti-fungal and tea tree oil is also an anti-bacterial.
  2. Twice or three times a day I applied Nelson Bach USA Pure & Clear Acne Gel which contains tea tree oil and calming homeopathic ingredients.
  3. I continued my acne routine which is the kit by Nature's Gate called Natural Results Acne Treatment containing a cleanser, toner and lotion. I made to sure to remember to do the routine twice a day, every day, even though I'm usually a bit lax with it. The salicylic acid in the kit is anti-microbial and the ingredients are calming, soothing and moisturizing.
  4. In between the toner and moisturizer steps above, I wiped a cotton ball with colloidal silver all over my face and let it mostly dry .
  5. I drank 10 drops of NutriBiotic Grapefruit Seed Extract in water three times a day.
  6. I took 15 drops of BioAllers Allergy Relief Mold Yeast and Dust Allergy Treatment under the tongue every four hours.
  7. I drank a ton of water. Way more than my normal amount.
  8. And I tried to cut back on sugars as much as I was able.
The rash seemed to disappear and I continued the treatment for about two extra weeks just in case there was still something in my system. That brought me to the middle of February.

Then, the weekend before last, I got a small rash on my chest. The area covered was about as big as my hand and the bumps appeared to be hives. They varied in size between two or three times the size of goosebumps to slightly smaller than a pencil eraser. They itched. Not horribly, but as much as you expect hives to itch.

I happened to have a dermatology appointment due to my ongoing hormonal acne (for which I am now trying spironalactone again; I had used it years ago for polycystic ovary syndrome) and showed them the rash. I mentioned I had had an unknown rash on my face a few months before and that this rash itched. They--the resident and attending--diagnosed me with folliculitis even though it doesn't look like folliculitis I've ever seen and this was on an area where clothes don't rub and I--obviously--don't shave. I have been around no new environments, tried no new products of any kind, had no new foods and didn't think I was under any new stress or anything. So I thought, "Fine, I'll take the two doctors' word for it and use the 10% benzoyl peroxide body wash" which is the first line of defense for folliculitis, though you may be familiar with it solely as an acne product. They said use it at bedtime and wash with my normal stuff in the morning.
The first morning I woke up with a slightly red, slightly dry and tight (even though I had moisturized with the advised cream), somewhat larger patch of rash. "Hm, maybe it has to get worse before it gets better?"

The second morning everything was the same as the first, but the rash had spread on my chest, and further up my neck. "Weird."The third morning my skin was "severe sunburn red," dry as hell, flaking, burning and painful. The rash had spread up neck to my face. That night the entire rash and inflamed areas itched like hell. I'm talking crazy making itching. Over the course of this rash I had been taking benadryl to no avail and it still didn't help. Not even the benadryl spray or hydrocortisone gel. I had an event to go to that night so I slapped some makeup on and tried to be brave. It wasn't to bad. [This picture is from Monday but is indicative of Saturday as well.]
Sunday and Monday were pure hell and the call I put into my dermatologist's office Monday wasn't returned until 4:55. I didn't hear the phone ring. I saw the message from the resident who said he needed me to call him back, but he was done at 5:00. By the time I called it was too late. Meanwhile all day and night for those two days, I continued using Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion for cooling and itch relief, Aveeno Anti-Itch Concentrated Lotion for skin protection and itch relief and moisturizing with La Roche Posay Lipikar Body Balm (which, incidently, costs the same for a huge-ass bottle in France as the little tube costs in the US: RIP-OFF!). The glycerin in the lotions always burns a bit at first as my skin is highly sensitive, but, let me tell you, I've never experienced burning this bad. But I powered through those first few minutes because it seems every lotion has parabens, glycerin, fragrance and/or petroleum derived products and they all burn, but glycerin is the only one I don't get a reactive rash after using it.
All the while, since shortly after the rash started, I have been waking up with swollen upper and lower eyelids and lips. The doctors did not seem concerned at all about this. Not that it wasn't related to the rash, but that it is perfectly normal to start waking up with swollen eyelids and lips all of the sudden. The swelling is worse on some days by others and looks not all that bad--but still noticeable--by the time I photograph it.
This morning I called the dermatologist's office again and the girl I talked to yesterday (to leave a detailed message for the resident) told me that he said if the benzoyl peroxide was too drying then to use Cetaphil cleanser (which contains SLS, which I normally avoid like the plague as it also badly irritates my skin) instead and to keep moisturizing. "Great," I said to the woman, "And what do I do to get rid of the rash since I can't use the benzoyl peroxide and Cetaphil obviously will not clear up the rash, even if it is folliculitis, which I highly doubt it is at this particular point in time as I did when he diagnosed that." She paused and admitted he did not give any pertinent directions as regarded the rash. She asked me what drug he had given me for the itching. "Um, none? And it is about ten times worse than it was." She paused. Then she took thorough notes on the call and said either she or the resident would call me back today.
It's now 6:26. I think I'm not getting a call back. What do you think?
But just in case this plague is somehow related to the February plague, I've taken it upon myself to add steps four, five and six back in for now.
The phone literally rang as I typed that last sentence and it was the resident, who seemed to remember nothing about my case, insisted it was probably my "acne acting up on [my] chest neck and face." I said, "But it looks nothing like acne, it itches like hell and I've never had more than a half dozen to a dozen spots at one time in my entire life, much less a full face, neck and chest eruption resembling poison ivy at this point in appearance and itchiness even though I've been nowhere near the plant since last spring." Doctor: "Sigh." Me:"..." Doctor: "I guess I can fit you in tomorrow.Can you come around 3?" "No I have another very important appointment then, but it's in Hershey so can I come right afterward?" "Sure, I'll let the nurses know to put you in for about 3:45."
So. At least one more night of this hellish itching and Hellboy redness. Dude better give me something other than a damn wash or I'm kicking him in the balls and telling him that pain he feels is acne.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Old Playboy vs New Playboy

I just read an article on Bust's website [NSFW] about a Tumblr [NSFW] consisting solely of pictures of vintage Playboy models.
It's weird: When I was a child I remember all of the feminists talking about how these images promoted unhealthy body images for women. I would sneak peaks of my grandpa's Playboys whenever we visited my grandparents in Chicago, where my grandpa was also a member of the Playboy Club, which was the first of the clubs. I thought these women were beautiful and glamorous and thought, "I hope I look like that when I grow up."
Fast forward about thirty years and you'll find me saying, "The women in Playboy promote unhealthy body images for women." I created a memory that the women from the '70s and early '80s Playboys were not so different than those today. Mostly white, mostly blond, mostly fake tanned and fake titted and mostly unnaturally thin. The only thing I remembered was that the whole infatuation with hairless vulvae did not exist back then. (Translation: There were lots of large, scary, unruly bushes back then; even in Playboy.)
Trotting over to the Tumblr [not kidding: NSFW] page, I found myself pleasantly surprised. These women may not be fat, but some are certainly zaftig by today's standards in media-- soft porn or otherwise. I even recognized my upper arms on one woman, my breasts on another, my bum on another and on and on. Yes, the women had large breasts most of the time, but there were also women with fairly small breasts and, as far as I can tell, these breasts were original operating equipment. Yes, there was an obsession with tan lines back then, but they were so much cuter than the orange fake-bakers of today's Playboy who want us to believe they all live near nude beaches or something.
These images were so much healthier for girls and boys as far as realistic expectations. So why did my generation and the one before ours corrupt these fairly wholesome, healthy looking images into the plastic looking women of today? And if Playboy and other nude magazines keep going at this rate, what will the women look like ten, twenty, thirty, even 75 years from now? Will it circle back around or will bizarre fetishes continue to force the models to deform themselves until they are almost not even human anymore? When Mr. Hefner created his visions for Playboy, it was supposed to be wholesome, girl-next-door nude fun. “Clean sex has greater appeal than tawdry sex,” he said. So how did the fetishes for hairlessness and oversize breasts (along with other fetishes which used to have their own, special magazine) creep in? What will it take for it to creep back out?
At this point in history, I doubt Playboy will ever go back to the au naturel girl-next-door types since they are competing with the abundance of internet porn creating stiff--er, no pun intended--competition for the Hefners to keep up with if they want to make a buck.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

It's the Ciiiiiircle of Liiiife

It's a lazy Sunday on the couch with the Times and I happen to glance out the window just as a strange "pop" emanates from the waste vent pipe on the roof of the service garage down the block. I see something that looks strangely like a bird arc out of it and hit the ground. Then I notice the hawk--I'm not sure what kind, but not an overly large one--which has been sitting on the roof of a neighbor's house swoop down and snatch up the bird, which is about ½ the size of the hawk. The hawk must've heard the trapped and/or injured bird and was waiting for a solution to how to get this easy prey.
The hawk clamps in its jaw the bird by its midsection. Nate and I listen while the bird expires. Sad squawk-y screeches and then nothing. The hawk is being vigilant all the while, it's head moving around to keep an eye out for predators and rival hawks, I guess.
Finally, he clamps the bird in his massive claws and starts plucking and eating. He plucks a bit, feathers flying and floating on the breeze; then he eats a bit, stringy, bloody grossness hanging from his beak.
We live in the suburbs of a large city. Less than a mile from three different "ghettos." We never saw anything like this when we lived on the farm in Lancaster County. The chemicals had killed off all but the mice and the barn swallows and barn cats there. Since we've moved here, I've checked many birds off in my birding book. I've known squirrels well enough to name them and be sad when they stop coming around and have had the pleasure of sitting on my back porch at dusk and watching "our" bats keeping our large yard relatively free of bugs.
The world continues to amaze and educate me.

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