Book Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles, #1)Hound­ed by Kevin Hearne
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I just can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s well-plot­ted. There’s an excel­lent cast of char­ac­ters, and they devel­op in inter­est­ing ways. The world-build­ing is won­der­ful­ly rich. 

I have the same incred­i­ble, bub­bly feel­ing that I did when read­ing the very first Dres­den Files nov­el by Jim Butcher–gimme more! For­tu­nate­ly, there are already three more books avail­able in the series (Hexed, Ham­mered and Tricked) with a fifth (Trapped) on the way.

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Watching Telly

I have spent most of today screw­ing off shame­less­ly. It felt good to do that for a change, after study­ing every day for weeks. I watched Sher­lock, Har­ry’s Law and Wal­lan­der. I fin­ished read­ing Hound­ed by Kevin Hearne, then start­ed Hexed. I did go to the library and pick up more books for study­ing, but then I put them aside to begin tomor­row. I went shop­ping with my moth­er. Basi­cal­ly, I did noth­ing that I had to do, only things that I want­ed to do. It was lovely!

Addition: Task Card Template

I’ve updat­ed the arti­cle on our card sys­tem and added a Word doc­u­ment that has blank task cards, to help peo­ple make their own cards. That has been request­ed by sev­er­al dif­fer­ent peo­ple over time, and I final­ly found the orig­i­nal Word doc­u­ment, which made it eas­i­er to do so.

I’m con­sid­er­ing fur­ther updates to that sec­tion, as some of the resources I orig­i­nal­ly linked to have dis­ap­peared and it seems to need more expla­na­tion. I’ll think on it a bit more, though.

Long Day

I spent so much time on var­i­ous bus­es today (or wait­ing for them) that I read half of Fifty Shades Dark­er and all of Fifty Shades Freed, then start­ed the first book of the Iron Druid Chron­i­cles by Kevin Hearne, Hound­ed. I can’t say how grate­ful I am to have my Nook on days like this. 

I’m exhaust­ed, though, and for the first time in a while I feel on the verge of a flare. I just can’t get warm and I don’t feel like I’ve real­ly recov­ered from a hypo­glycemic episode ear­li­er this evening, but I don’t want to eat any­thing. Every­thing hurts more than usu­al and I feel too tired to sleep, if that makes any sense. I can’t begin to count the num­ber of mis­takes I’ve had to cor­rect while typ­ing just this short post. Please for­give me for whichev­er ones made it past me.

Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

I did­n’t intend to read this book, as I’d large­ly heard snark about it. A dear friend rec­om­mend­ed it, though, so I final­ly gave it a read.

The writ­ing def­i­nite­ly needs pol­ish and a good editor–I could­n’t pos­si­bly give it more than 3 stars due to that alone. The sexy is there, though, and that’s the whole pur­pose of the book. It does fol­low most of the tra­di­tion­al romance tropes, which explains most of its accep­tance, but the addi­tion of spici­er sex seems to be what has every­one talk­ing. (I’d call it spicy more than tru­ly kinky.)

The entire plot takes place in just three weeks, which isn’t bad in the romance world. That does­n’t leave much time for char­ac­ter growth, but there is a lit­tle. That brings the book up a star from where I’d put most romance novels.

If you want some light, sexy sum­mer read­ing and don’t mind the fact that this is so very obvi­ous­ly a self-pub­lished first nov­el, go for it. Some peo­ple will want to read it just because of all the uproar, I imag­ine. If you’re look­ing for lit­er­a­ture or true erot­i­ca, pass this one up.

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Book Review: JavaScript in Easy Steps

JavaScript in Easy StepsJavaScript in Easy Steps by Mike McGrath
My rat­ing: 1 of 5 stars

This book isn’t worth the paper on which it’s print­ed, unless you’re already a devel­op­er. If you aren’t, don’t both­er. McGrath intro­duces con­cepts with lit­tle to no expla­na­tion, tells you to type some­thing in, says it should do X, then moves on to the next thing. An aver­age of two pages per con­cept, with the code descriptions. 

He does­n’t address best prac­tices (at least, not a quar­ter of the way through the book). He always puts the scripts in the head of the doc­u­ment, which is (accord­ing to oth­ers I’ve been learn­ing from) a bad idea unless there’s a good rea­son for it.

Along with all that, there’s sup­posed to be a web site that goes with the book, where you can down­load the sam­ple code. There’s no men­tion of the fact that the site is only acces­si­ble to those in the U.K. Why do that, then mar­ket the book in North America?

I think it deserves no stars, but GoodReads won’t let me do that.

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Fibrant Living: Being an active part of your own health care team, part I

I start­ed a new series at Fibrant Liv­ing today about being an active part of your own health care team. It’s impor­tant for any­one, but vital for those of us with com­plex or chron­ic conditions.

I got to go to the library again today, thanks to Steven! We also had a great lunch at John­ny’s Piz­za. I have enough of my cal­zone left for anoth­er two meals, in fact (at least). 

Now I have five more books with which to con­tin­ue my stud­ies, so I should get on with it!

Being an active part of your own health care team, part I

Peo­ple who have chron­ic or com­plex health issues need to take an active role in their own health care. That does­n’t come nat­u­ral­ly to every­one, and in fact it runs counter to the tra­di­tion­al way of inter­act­ing with “Doc­tor God” that I, for one, learned from my own par­ents. In this series, we’ll talk about some of the things we can do to take an active role in our own health care.

First, we’ll talk about med­ica­tions. Many of us take a cock­tail of med­ica­tions and sup­ple­ments every day, pre­scribed by every­one from our pri­ma­ry care providers to pain man­age­ment spe­cial­ists, rheuma­tol­o­gists, aller­gists, and neu­rol­o­gists. Keep­ing up with them can be trou­ble­some. Just remem­ber­ing to take them can be difficult!

I’ll be hon­est: if I don’t set up my big week­ly med­ica­tion box as well as my small­er one once a week, I’m just lost. I found it online (I no longer recall where) and it is divid­ed into nice, large com­part­ments with four sec­tions for each day of the week. The lit­tle box is just for my thy­roid sup­ple­ment, which has to be tak­en as soon as I wake, apart from any­thing else and before I eat any­thing. I use those box­es and alarms in my phone to remem­ber to take my meds, and I’m ful­ly com­pli­ant. Before I set up that sys­tem, I just could­n’t man­age to remem­ber any of my med­ica­tions until I was already in real­ly bad pain or hav­ing symp­toms that remind­ed me of some­thing else I’d for­got­ten to take.

If you set up a med­i­cine box and reminders, you only have to think about what to take when once a week. You can even get a care­giv­er or oth­er helper to do the set­up for you, if nec­es­sary. I usu­al­ly check my drugs a cou­ple of days ahead of time to be sure I don’t need any refills.

Speak­ing of refills, run­ning to the phar­ma­cy can be real nui­sance when you feel like crap. It’s so much nicer to have your med­i­cine come to you! If your health plan offers a mail-order phar­ma­cy option, check into it. It can save time and mon­ey, since most health plans offer low­er co-pays when you use the mail-order option. Add in the fact that you can often get a 90-day sup­ply of med­ica­tion rather than a 30-day sup­ply that way, neces­si­tat­ing few­er refills, and it’s a no-brain­er. Some drugs, of course, are lim­it­ed so you can’t fill them that way, but use it when you can.

It’s impor­tant to keep every mem­ber of your health care team up to date on the treat­ments you’re receiv­ing, espe­cial­ly the med­ica­tions and sup­ple­ments you take. It’s also impor­tant to have a list with you, in case you’re in an acci­dent. If you get in the habit of doing so, you’ll nev­er again have to rack your brains while try­ing to remem­ber how that weird name is spelled or what the exact dosage of those three dif­fer­ent white pills you take is. That’s just not what you need to be wor­ry­ing about dur­ing an emer­gency, especially.

Good doc­tors will look at your med­ica­tions before pre­scrib­ing any­thing new, check­ing for known inter­ac­tions, but few of them are real­ly well-edu­cat­ed regard­ing med­ica­tions, and too many of them just know what­ev­er a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sales­man has told them. That’s why a good phar­ma­cy with a phar­ma­cist you can trust is vital. I can­not stress this enough: get all of your pre­scrip­tions filled at one pharmacy!

Even with a good phar­ma­cist on our team, it’s extreme­ly impor­tant for us to read up on the med­ica­tions and their inter­ac­tions. Read what the phar­ma­cy gives you with your pre­scrip­tions, but also con­sid­er using a site like Medi­guard to track what you take. They’ll let you cre­ate a pro­file and save it, then they’ll noti­fy you of any new infor­ma­tion about your drugs, like recalls or new notices regard­ing inter­ac­tions. All you have to do after the orig­i­nal entry is add new med­ica­tions or remove the ones you’re no longer taking.

With today’s econ­o­my, I hear from many peo­ple who aren’t tak­ing all the med­ica­tions they’re sup­posed to be because they can’t afford them. I can’t stress this enough: talk to your doc­tor! She may know about ways for you to get the drugs you need. She may have access to sam­ples. She may be able to switch you to a cheap­er alter­na­tive. She’ll prob­a­bly be will­ing to help you get help from a patient assis­tance pro­gram if you find one at NeedyMeds (it’s always worth check­ing there!). If there’s real­ly no way for you to get the drug, it’s often impor­tant to taper off slow­ly instead of quit­ting it all at once. Either way, your doc­tor must know what’s going on with you. Don’t be embarrassed—everybody is hav­ing finan­cial issues right now.

If you’re on Medicare, every state has an “extra help” plan that helps cov­er med­ica­tion co-pays for Medicare par­tic­i­pants who meet cer­tain income guide­lines. Those pro­grams aren’t well-adver­tised, so you could qual­i­fy right now and not know it! Call Medicare to find out.

Fibrant Living: Fight Brain Fog!

Over at Fibrant Liv­ing, I’m talk­ing about ways to fight brain fog. That’s a prob­lem for peo­ple with chron­ic pain, depres­sion, and oth­er dis­or­ders, and I’d love to hear about how some of you deal with it.

I’m in a good mood. It’s a love­ly day, I’m learn­ing things, and I’ve got things to look for­ward to. How about you?

Fight Brain Fog!

Or, at the very least, give your­self more resources to fight it!

Cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties are like mus­cles, in that they have to be devel­oped and exer­cised reg­u­lar­ly, even stretched to keep them flex­i­ble. We can’t nec­es­sar­i­ly avoid the cog­ni­tive deficits that come with some of our ill­ness­es, or as a side effect of our med­ica­tions. What we can do is improve our fac­ul­ties, giv­ing us a bet­ter lev­el of over­all func­tion­ing despite those deficits.


Ways to Improve Your Men­tal Fit­ness
is an excel­lent arti­cle on the sub­ject. I rec­om­mend read­ing it and not­ing some new things to try.

Per­son­al­ly, I find that doing things like a Sudoku or cross­word puz­zle or a cou­ple of rounds of soli­taire Mahjongg each day help me “wake up” my brain and think bet­ter. I’ve long wished I had access to the Nin­ten­do brain train­ing game (Brain Age? some­thing like that), as it sounds like just the thing.

I real­ly wor­ried about tak­ing col­lege cours­es, because I know that if I had to take an IQ test these days, my score would be marked­ly low­er than it was pre-FMS. Hap­pi­ly, I found that tak­ing the cours­es helped me to regain some men­tal agili­ty. I still have mem­o­ry prob­lems, and all bets are off dur­ing a bad flare—but I def­i­nite­ly feel that I’m cop­ing bet­ter on a day to day basis.

Now that I’m not in school for­mal­ly, I’ve been learn­ing to pro­gram. It’s anoth­er kind of think­ing, and one I’ve thought about acquir­ing for years. It has­n’t been easy, but I’m doing it, and it cer­tain­ly is stretch­ing my men­tal muscles.

Mak­ing music is anoth­er thing that works for me. I’ve been re-learn­ing to play the ukulele, some­thing I orig­i­nal­ly learned in the sec­ond grade. I used to know how to play piano, flute, and oth­er instruments

I’ve always been a singer, pri­mar­i­ly, though

, and I’m sur­prised at how much I’ve for­got­ten about read­ing music. I “know” the notes, but I’m so slow that I have to stop and think, “Now, wait, that’s two lines below the bass clef, so…” when it used to be as easy as read­ing any Eng­lish text. The more I work with it, though, the more I find the exer­cise of think­ing in anoth­er lan­guage to be use­ful as an exercise.

What are you doing to stay sharp? Have you tried any of the activ­i­ties rec­om­mend­ed in the article?