Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Song of the day

Items at the end of the tunnel appear much closer than they are

I apparently got my financial aid award today, not that I can see it. It's in my new student email account that I can't access. Apparently, I'm supposed to receive a crucial bit of information by mail five days after receiving my acceptance letter. And since I received my acceptance letter on Saturday, I suppose that will probably get to me...oh, any day now, I guess.

Not that it matters. I've already decided that I'm not going to try to make this all work in the next week. Oh, I could probably do it, but I'd also likely screw myself over in the process somehow. I've had this asshole supervisor for a year and a half, and lived with this air pollution for over three years; I think I can deal with it all for another four months, if I have to.

I'll still go through the process of reworking the award, though. Might as well get it all done now, so that if anything weird crops up later, I won't have to worry about additional things. I'll go through the motions, finish everything, make a show about how it's too late, and then ask if I can push it all back a semester.

Then, once all of the financial aid stuff is done, I'll start planning on moving to Buffalo sometime in mid-May.

I've been thinking about taking a short trip there in April, just to meet with people face-to-face and get a feel for the campus. I want to discuss this "study abroad" thing with the French department and the financial aid office, since I'm not sure how that's going to work out. And I want to talk to the geography department to see what they're like and how to go about doing my graduate school application. I haven't decided for sure if I'm going to do it, but I'm definitely leaning that way right now.

(I put "study abroad" in quotes because I'm not sure I consider Canada to be "abroad". I suppose it is, but it just feels silly to refer to it that way. I guess from my perspective, it really is a foreign country, as much as it doesn't feel like one. Most of the time, it just seems more like some quirky states, to be honest.)

In any other situation, I'd be fleeing for my very sanity. But in this case, I'm not sure scrambling around to get to Buffalo in the dead of winter is the best idea. One, my brain would not be ready for studying, since I'd have a mental trail of work and moving and logistics and, and, and.... And two, who knows what kind of living situation I'd end up in if I didn't take some time to figure that part out?

The apartment situation in Buffalo is...well, weird. I'm both fascinated and appalled by it, to be honest. The majority of apartments there seem to be in old converted large Victorian houses and mansions, which is odd enough. But then landlords seem to think that kitchen appliances like stoves and refrigerators are "amenities". Some rental places just don't have them in their kitchens, in fact, and that's just downright bizarre to me.

You can tell the quality and age of the house by the kitchens and bathrooms. They are the most used rooms, and if the previous tenants or owners didn't take care of them, it shows. You can throw down a rug and slap a coat of paint on a room to spruce it up - it's just four walls, a floor, and a door, after all - but you can't do that in a kitchen or a bathroom. Cabinets, counters, flooring (tile, wood, linoleum, etc.), sinks, and appliances in the kitchen all cost a lot of money to repair and replace, and a lot of people won't bother with that, if they don't have to.

I won't even consider looking at a place online if it doesn't have both kitchen and bathroom pictures, in fact. I almost don't even have to look at the rest of the place to tell if it's a decent place to live - the kitchen and the bathrooms tell you almost everything you need to know. And that's not even factoring in personal preferences for decor, functionality, space, set up, and so on.

The other weird thing with Buffalo is that no one seems to have a firm grip on the housing market. You can get vastly different quality of apartments for the exact same price - you just have to look around a bit. Some dumps are extremely overpriced, and some stunners are seriously underpriced. And there doesn't seem to be any kind of rhyme or reason to it, either, since it doesn't seem like neighborhoods matter much.

And, as is oddly the case in a lot of places, renting a house tends to be cheaper than renting an apartment. I still can't figure that out, to be honest. Why a three-bedroom house can be the same to rent as a one-bedroom apartment, I will never really understand. The only reason I'd even consider renting a house is because I'm going to need a garage for my old classic car, which is why I was looking.

So...yeah. My new life's on hold for another four months. The only consolation I have is that maybe a chance at a different new life will pop up in the meantime. Otherwise, at the very least, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. And I think I'm okay with that for right now.

Quote of the day

"If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life." -Oscar Wilde

Monday, January 16, 2017

Song of the day

Got the eccentric part down, anyways


To fully enjoy this scene, you must keep in mind that this takes place during Prohibition.

I love this movie. It's not necessarily one of my favorites, since it kind of drags on, but it has its moments. I always wanted to be the fun and eccentric aunt that Rosalind Russell plays here. I feel like I haven't quite lived up to that, though. Oh, well - such is life, I guess.

This is from Auntie Mame (1958), and it's based upon a book that the boy in the movie wrote.

Aging is fun, isn't it?

Caffeine may counter age-related inflammation
“More than 90 percent of all noncommunicable diseases of aging are associated with chronic inflammation,” said the study’s lead author, David Furman, PhD, a consulting associate professor at the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection. More than 1,000 papers have provided evidence that chronic inflammation contributes to many cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and even depression, he said.

“It’s also well-known that caffeine intake is associated with longevity,” Furman said. “Many studies have shown this association. We’ve found a possible reason for why this may be so.”
Ah, yes. Chronic inflammation is becoming an increasingly constant friend of mine. Too bad caffeine dehydrates me, or I'd drink a lot more of it. I kind of like not having torn cuticles around my fingernails and chapped lips, you know? (Those are big signs of dehydration, in case you might've missed that.)

Part of the problem, of course, is where I live. With the chronic inflammation, I mean. The higher air pollution rates here affects my chronic bronchitis quite a lot, which adds to the inflammation.

To the point - and I wish I was exaggerating with this - that all I have to do is accidentally breathe in a liquid and I'm screwed for a good week or two, especially if I'm already feeling rundown.

Case in point, Thursday I went out to lunch with some coworkers for Filipino food. As we were leaving the restaurant, one of my coworkers made a joke, and I'd accidentally breathed in a bit of my own saliva while I was laughing, which then caused a coughing fit. Totally normal for most people upon occasion, so it shouldn't have been that big of a deal.

Except, of course, it was a big deal. I now have an intermittent cough which could've blown up into something a lot worse if I hadn't slept most of the weekend away. I'll have to be careful about how much sleep I get this week, because if I don't get enough, it will come back with a vengeance. So, you know, that's fun.

Part of that was due to my drive down to LA on Wednesday, since that put some added stress on my body. And there are various colds and flus being passed around at work, as usual, that I'm constantly having to fight off. So while I wasn't exactly rundown before, my drive last Wednesday certainly didn't help any.

Just breathing the air here causes unnecessary inflammation for me, and exacerbates a chronic condition. The couple of coworkers that know that I'm trying to leave who keep asking me if I'd stay if our supervisor left are always sort of surprised when I tell them no. They can't pay me enough money to keep me here; I'd need at least double my current pay so I can live in a brand new apartment that's pretty much sealed with an air purifier going on constantly - and my supervisor would need to be gone, too, naturally.

So that brings up the question of how could I possibly live in Los Angeles if air quality here is such an issue for me. The difference is geography. San Jose is a the bottom V of two range of hills; the air gets stagnant here all the time, so the pollution piles up and doesn't entirely go away. If I leave my apartment windows open, I get a fine layer of black soot from mostly car exhaust on my windowsills after a few days.

LA, on the other hand, gets the breezes directly in from the Pacific Ocean, so the air is moving more. It makes a big difference for me, actually. LA still has its infamously smoggy days since it's surrounded by mountains, but I would also have the option of living closer to the coast, which is impossible to do where I currently live. The commute would suck no matter where I lived there, but at least I'd potentially have the option to live someplace where I could sleep with cleaner air.

I currently try to mitigate what I can by taking natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric or vitamin D3, and stuff with lots of antioxidants like tea and dark chocolate. Then I make sure I get as much sleep as possible, since that's usually the biggest help. For me, and likely for most people, it's sleep that will make or break you when it comes to chronic inflammation.

I try to avoid over the counter pain killers (many of which are also anti-inflammatories) when I can, but that's not usually possible since I get migraines so often. Incidentally, caffeine enhances the effect of those, and is in the over the counter migraine meds that I take. If pain, like from cramps, gets bad then I try to drink more caffeinated stuff with the pain killers and that helps.

The one thing that I didn't see in this article was the fact that some other scientists are starting to think that a lot of mental health issues are due to chronic inflammation. If they're not caused by it, they're at least definitely affected by it. Depression and anxiety are the two that come up the most often in those studies. In a lot of people who have those issues, reducing the inflammation helps reduce the symptoms - sometimes to a significant degree.

The one thing to keep in mind with all of this is that it's natural for a human body to have a certain level of inherent inflammation. There are more bacteria and virus cells in the average human body than human cells, after all. You have to have that in order to have a functioning immune system, in fact. It's when that inflammation goes above where it should that it becomes a problem - for you and your immune system.

Quote of the day

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe