Flu Pre-Pack Winter 2010 Update

I have to thank the folks at Making Light for their flu pre-pack entry. I’m very susceptible to horrible respiratory consequences from flus and colds, so often am put out of commission for several days. The flu pre-packs have saved me at least three times—and this most recent illness period, of which I am still in the middle of, and which I blame myself for not getting a spring flu shot, has really proven the worth of such a thing.

However, there are a few items I didn’t know were useful, and I ended up having to go out and get them while I was very weak (I did this at 6am so that there were very, very few cars and no waiting at the local friendly market).

Anyways, an updated flu pre-pack for 2010, mostly for self-reference.

What I Had on Hand

  • Ibuprofen (fever reduction and pain)
  • For Reals Sudafed (thank gods I decided to get a 24-pill pack ahead of time)
  • Benadryl (haven’t had to use it yet for any weird allergies)
  • Mucinex (hoorah for expectorants that work!)
  • Propel Fit Powder™ water beverage mix (so I don’t screw up mixing salt and sugar myself, not good during flus or colds or indeed any time at all)
  • Emergen-C (it works better on an upset stomach and doesn’t require all that strict a mix, great when you’re out of it)
  • Small bucket with matching small garbage bags (unfortunately, I was in denial about how little my stomach could handle food… but it’s beside the bed now)
  • LOTSA paper towels, kleenex, and toilet paper (I usually get the last two in bulk from Amazon.com, about twice a year; I get a 6-pack of Bounty select-a-sheet from Target once a year, when I feel like driving 100 miles to the nearest one).
  • Vitamin C tablets, 200 chewable 500mg tablet bottle
  • Instant digital thermometer, easy to use
  • Peppermint tea (stomach; Steven Smith’s brand delivers the most punch by far, though expensive, followed shortly by Harney & Sons’ version, less expensive)
  • Chewable Pepto Bismol tablets (stomach, OMG)
  • Ambien
  • A million Halls spearmint cough drops

What I Removed

  • Robitussin (not effective enough and makes me throw up)
  • Canned chicken noodle soup (BPA. You should REALLY worry about it in cans, not water bottles, because of how canning is done in America)
  • Saltine crackers (too salty, even the low-salt versions for some reason)
  • Notebook (replaced with iPhone)
  • Commercial water bottles

What I Added

  • Instant chicken noodle soup in packets (just add boiling water, no need to attempt to mix water/microwave/heat on stove)
  • Nile instant soups (for when my stomach can handle somewhat fancier soups, also just add boiling water)
  • Pyrex 2-cup measuring cup, life-saver when reducing boiling time of stuff; I can only sit or stand for a few minutes at a time right now
  • Electric kettle, boils water up quickly a treat
  • Water crackers (more digestible for me)
  • Digestive biscuits (not sure if they help, but they are a nice, yet still bland, treat; non-chocolate obviously)
  • Bigelow’s I Love Lemon tea, which is PACKED with lemon and is awesome for sore throats, I never realized quite how awesome and convenient it was
  • Rubbermaid “Chug” reusable water bottle (it’s PP plastic, which is very reusable, as opposed to PETE plastic, common in commercial water bottles, which you do NOT want to use repeatedly)
  • Cheratussin (codeine for calming the cough, thank gods it works even if for such a little time; prescription)

I am currently too weak to complete this list with links. At some point I will return to this. Feeling somewhat better today (the 28th). Still need to rest, though, I tend to fool myself more often than not when judging how sick I am.

A Strange Little Career Budding

I have some advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the publishing game.

The biggest advantage is that I don’t write to live; it’s something I do on the side of a healthy and interesting job.

The biggest disadvantage is that my wonderful job results in a direct conflict of interest when it comes to entering a publishing contract with publishers.

This pushes me out of the traditional arena, effectively, where people are quite welcome to point and laugh, and they should do so. They’re quite justified.

But I have a plan. Although Phase A, Get Better at Writing, is still continuing.

For Phase B, is to get work out there of a suitably high enough quality into ebook formats that I generate myself (another big advantage; I don’t have to pay others exorbitant amounts to do this). I’m not going to try to get into circulation through the normal way, with physical books and book store distribution, because that’s not feasible for one author.

For Phase C, let the marketing fall where it may. Mostly it would occur via networking and word of mouth, and hopefully during my trip through phases A and B I will have been able to get advice and… mumblemumblemumble ssszzzzzz


The Gift of Fear: a Review and Meditation on Kindle Exclusiveness

Interesting. The Gift of Fear is now a Kindle exclusive book. I don’t mind that, seeing as a Kindle book can be read on multiple platforms (PC, Mac, iPhone, the Kindle readers of course, and who knows what else, though at this point perhaps never a Nook or Sony Reader). And the paper version has been available for quite some time, and has been for a while. I have one under the bed, for specific kinds of emotional emergencies, like intense, paralyzing paranoia.

I strongly recommend this book, not exactly because it covers coping with the after-effects of abuse in particular, as much as explaining why fear should not be… ah… feared or shameful. Abject fear can be a killer’s greatest weapon against you, not to mention a long-term abuser’s; but you can also use fear to your advantage, letting it be a warning but not freezing you when you most urgently need to act.

And yes, it’s a horrible fact that this book has this large of an audience, this large of a sucking need in the world, but it’s neither a hoax nor an over-dramatization, and it’s definitely not one of those get-rich-quick schemes that only wants to take advantage of the fearful. I’m saying this bit because people who’ve never been in these situations tend to scoff at the book, which I suppose is the privilege of people who’ve never had to be afraid for their lives.

As for the Kindle-exclusive strategy: this kind of strategy may not work for other authors, but it will likely work to de Becker’s advantage, because he’s a top-tier author and this is a rather famous book in a lot of circles, and thus his platform and audience and marketing is more or less already there—which is not necessarily the case for others. And as mentioned previously, a Kindle book can be read on multiple platforms now, so the audience is certainly not limited to those who only have Kindle readers.

Yes, I’m Shutting Off Google Buzz

And after I spent time trying to get my Tea site hooked up to it, too. Oh well.

By the way, simply turning it off won’t work. See these instructions from cnet.

Also, you probably have to accept that Buzz will get you whether you opt-out or not, because Google is determined to beat out Facebook and Twitter at their own game, even when running several furlongs behind.

I’m not a graybeard, but even I could tell them that trying to catch the competition is no way to beat the competition. The way to beat the competition is to find a niche where they aren’t.

I’m still using other Google products, though. Their TOS’s haven’t gone bat-crazy over insisting on geolocation status, and you can turn off sending debug information in Chrome. For now, anyways.

Google Buzz: We Will Know Where You Are.

Up until yesterday I was somewhat cautiously using the Buzz Mobile App to post Buzz updates from my iPhone.

This morning I found, when trying to post, that I was being asked to agree with a TOS wherein, among other things, it stated that my current location would be displayed whenever I posted to buzz via the Mobile App.

And there was no way to opt out of it, unlike with Twitter and many of the Twitter apps. Or, hell, Facebook even.

My favorite quote from above: “Consent to the collection, use, sharing, and onward transfer of your data, including but not limited to voice and location data….”

Some of that I’ve always understood in Google apps before, because if you don’t allow them to store your data, they can’t do anything for you. On the other hand, I’ve never seen a Google app TOS before where they didn’t let you hide information that they didn’t need to get the job done. Like location when I’m not trying to use Google Maps.

The thing that worries me is if Google was already doing this, but hadn’t thought up the warning until this morning.

As y’all may know, while I do advertise my location as “Bainbridge Island, WA”, that’s one thing versus the GPS-triangulated location of the street corner I happen to be at. I have stalkers on my tail, and as such I do not post my precise geo-location on every Tweet.

Even Apple understood that, and let me turn off location services when I take pictures, wherein they don’t insert geo-location into my JPGs, and I don’t upload a YouTube of me throwing their iPhone through the wall. In fact, Apple let me turn off location services entirely, only to be turned on with the appropriate dialogs when other iPhone apps asked for it. A polite “no” didn’t freak out most non-map apps. I mean, why does an I-Ching program really care about where you are anyways? Or a camera?

It’s a simple arrangement.

Not simple enough for Google, apparently.

Yes, I do have a filter on my privacy. Some things I’d like to make public. Some things I want to keep private (it takes extra money to do so at times, but it’s doable). If a service refuses to let people make that nuanced distinction outside of “well, just don’t use us then!”, that’s either pretty damn arrogant or pretty damn lazy.

Google, you may intend no evil, but that doesn’t mean evil is never a result.

WTF. Just WTF. Just… WTF.

Not being reported in US papers, I have no idea why, but it is being reported in a populist right-wing British paper:

A soldier waterboarded his four-year-old daughter because she was unable to recite her alphabet.

Joshua Tabor admitted to police he had used the CIA torture technique because he was so angry.

As his daughter ‘squirmed’ to get away, Tabor said he submerged her face three or four times until the water was lapping around her forehead and jawline.

Tabor, 27, who had won custody of his daughter only four weeks earlier, admitted choosing the punishment because the girl was terrified of water.



On the other hand, my father used to slam my fingers in a drawer ((Also a common torture method, but not as bad as waterboarding.)) when I didn’t get my math homework 100% correct, so I guess this is just a sign of the times.

Note: Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish.

iPhone Games I’ve Started to See in My Dreams

My, I never realized I’d end up using my iPhone as my Most Commonly Used Game Console. But then again, I don’t play anything other than turn-by-turn video games.

I always kind of thought “seeing Tetris blocks fall when I close my eyes” was… more… a figure of speech. Turns out to be far more than that.

Here are some I’ve just started seeing in my head, usually when I’m trying to fall asleep, and sometimes I dream of playing them.

div.iphone img.alignleft { border-width: 0px; }
div.iphone img.pad { padding: 14px; }
div.iphone div.entry-row { padding-left: 160px; }


This is the best tangram puzzle game implementation on the iPhone. And, I daresay, anywhere. Including real tangrams. The graphics, the intuitive controls, the fact that you can turn the music off and listen to your own (not something to be overlooked), and the fact that new puzzles are added every few months. It comes with over 200 now.

Boggle (Official)

It’s ideal Boggle solitaire (and should, be after all, being official). It has everything, including the shaking-of-the-boggle-cube, which is not to be underestimated when implementing a word game. Includes little achievements to unlock, and some interesting variants that could only be implemented with a timer on an iPhone, like Portal Boggle (cubes at the beginning and end of words you make swap places).


If you’ve ever played the card game by Reiner Knizia, you know that it’s an addictive trick-taking game in the manner of hearts, except better. For instance, all three normal suits can score negative points, but you can shoot the moon in any of them (indeed, strategy centers around shooting the moon). And that’s just the start. It’s Evil Hearts with more strategy. The iPhone game is solo.

Rummikub (Official)

I don’t like playing Rummikub in person, because there is a lot of tile manipulation involved. Which is quite fun, but still: tons of tiles, tons of manipulation. This little app makes the manipulation intuitive and cool, and the little tile sounds are wonderful, as is the animation. As in real life, you’re best off with three—in this case virtual—opponents.

WordSearch [AFKsoft]

There are a lot of find-words-in-a-grid games in the App Store, but I currently like this one best. A lot of strange categories to please any geek (dinosaurs? constellations? greek myths?), as well as daily Small/Medium/Big-sized puzzles with results that go to a leader board server. It’s simple, and it doesn’t have eye-breaking backgrounds unless you want it to.

i.Game 16 Mahjong

This is real Mahjong, the rummy and, basically, discard deduction game, not that solitaire tile-matching thing. Mahjong has multiple variants, and this is Taiwanese 16-tile hands. The AI is not all that great, or so reviews say, but at least this app is stable. Mahjong tile sounds? Satisfying check. The games, like real-life Mahjong, can take foreeeeeever, but it auto-saves and picks up games easily. I suck at Mahjong, but am addicted anyways.

Button Men

The classic game of beating people up with dice of various polyhedral shapes. You can play it solo, or play with two in pass-and-play fashion. Comes with Soldiers and Vampires, along with a new exclusive set (so standard, swing, shadow, and poison dice). They plan to do more, so I hope one day for speed dice! There are individualized taunt and beaten messages for each Button Man you play against, which I really like.

I usually played Niles back when I had the buttons. Which might tell you everything you need to know about me.

Mach Dice

I quite like this die roller app. Does any number of polyhedral dice you like, including funny sizes (like 14 and 16) and the lesser sizes (like 2). Realistic rolling engine. Eats up CPU and memory like anything, but still very stable and better than rolling 15 d10s manually. I wish you could add custom dice (like Battlelore or Heroscape dice), but otherwise it does quite a good job. And now I have a war game that requires 2-sided dice (at one point 20 of them were required ((The single unit being attacked did end up requiring this much to bring it down. Fickle, fickle dice.))), so this has become an invaluable app.

A Story With a Dark Twist: Shadow Unit Season 2 Episodes

These are just all the episodes, including the Christmas Special; all the other specials will be coming in their own pack, maybe next week, because I need to turn my attention to tea tasting now.

Shadow Unit Season 2

This batch, unlike Season 1, is done with the New and Improved S∂ Method for Constructing Ebooks, which is quite fast and reliable, except that I end up having to correct a lot of HTML because Adobe Digital Editions is very fussy. If I tune my scripts better, it’ll be faster, but I’ve been a bit lazy (which of course, ends up with more work…).

Anyways, I hope you enjoy them. I don’t know when Season 3 will start, but it’d be nice if I tuned my scripts before then….

Get Out the Abacus and Count This: Shadow Unit Season 1 Available As EPUB

This was made possible via Calibre, which has a rather spiffy converter from Mobipocket files (suitable for Kindle) to EPUB files (suitable for Sony Reader and Stanza).

Note: This is, as the file name indicates right now, a beta version. Please file complaints as appropriate (preferably as comments to this blog entry). Once I get the kinks straightened out, I’ll put out a final EPUB version, a new Kindle version (not that much different), and a Microsoft LIT version. The conversion turned out not to be as seamless as I hoped, especially in the case of



Sorry about that.

Shadow Unit Season 1

By the way, if you’re a Kindle reader and you haven’t read Shadow Unit yet, Season 1 for Kindle (and other Mobipocket readers) is available at the same link above.

If you’re a stanza user, you can add the following URL as a library: http://www.spontaneousderivation.com/stanza/ .