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BEYOND THE FRINGEFAN
has not been terribly happy with the past fall and winter, and is vastly relieved to see springlike weather finally arriving. He's enjoying it while he can; this being New York, it'll be too hot and humid in a matter of days, and the air conditioners will come on at the N.Y. Cadre (((718) NY-CADRE); firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nycadre.org). This is Beyond the Fringefan #397, for readers of APA-NYU Volume 8, #4 (e-APA-NYU #72) and others who put Slinkys in their shoes so as to walk with a spring in their step, published April 2010 as a combined production of Quick Brown Fox Press and Syscrash Consulting, both subsidiaries of . Cartoon above from Frank and Ernest by Thaves, 24 March 2010. All uncredited material copyright ©2010 by Marc S. Glasser. Member fwa.
IF YOU'VE USED UP YOUR SICK DAYS, CALL IN DEAD: Donna spent most of the past month more or less safely ensconced at the Ditmas Park Rehab/Care Center on Ditmas Avenue, about a mile and a half from the Cadre. There were assorted less-than-ideal bureaucratic idiosyncrasies, as there always seem to be in places like this, but after a week or so, she finally had things arranged so that she was getting the right meds at the right times, and the nurses who changed her dressings in the morning did so in time to let her get to her PT (physical therapy) and OT (occupational therapy) when she was supposed to. Her wheelchair was in need of some repairs, and the PT staff was working on getting her a loaner so that I could take it in. Time for something to go wrong somewhere else.
I started feeling rotten while working late Wednesday night 10 March, and after throwing up a couple of times Thursday morning, I e-mailed my boss to let her know I wouldn't be in, and went off to see my doctor. It felt a lot like what I'd had a month earlier that had landed me in the emergency room on Valentine's Day, and I was anxious to avoid a recurrence of that. My doctor said that, unfortunately, the immunity to viruses of this sort that one develops by actually being sick with them only lasts a few weeks, so it was entirely possible it was the same virus or a close relative. He recommended Gatorade or generic equivalent, both to stay hydrated and to maintain electrolyte balance, so I lived on diluted sports drinks and acetaminophen for a day or two, and didn't do much but take Donna's wheelchair to Gem Mobility in Flushing and back. Then I realized (with input from Donna) that by suppressing fever with the acetaminophen, I was likely preventing myself from killing the virus with heat. So I quit the acetaminophen, piled a few more blankets on the bed, and prepared to settle down and be feverish. Right about then is when the nor'easter knocked out our power.
In fact, about 200,000 people in the metropolitan area lost power, according to some estimates. It wasn't a vast monolithic blackout, but a patchwork of local ones caused by downed power lines, trees falling on transformers, and the like, all over the boroughs and the 'burbs. That scatteredness made it hard—and time-consuming—to fix; Con Edison had crews out and about, fixing one outage and moving on to the next. Con Ed's computer system, which I was able to access by phone, kept making random predictions as to when our block's power would be back; meanwhile we had no lights and, even worse, no Internet access. Our oil-burning furnace is electrically ignited and controlled, so there was no heat or hot water, and the house was getting steadily colder (it wasn't just the fever).
[Nick Simicich later remarked, by e-mail, "Here in Florida, well, short power outages are considered more or less normal. One or two a day are not uncommon. After Wilma, there were people in my development who didn't have power for several weeks, and who had to stay in a shelter.... After the worse hurricane I went through in Boca, we had power back after three days - and then a neighbor tried to remove a partially downed tree and dislodged his underground utilities....We didn't get our power back for 10 days, as I recall.... All I can say is, 'An advantage of living in NY is that it seems unusual to be without power for a day or longer.'" I guess he's got a point there.]
Ultimately, we got our power back in about three days with little real damage except to a few things in the refrigerator and freezer. (I didn't open either appliance during the time the lights were out. The freezer in the basement is guaranteed to keep things frozen for two days in the event of an outage. It seems to have held out into the third. Judging by the condition of the ice cream in the freezer of the kitchen fridge, though, we may want to jettison a couple of packages that were in there.)
Oh, and just to add insult to injury, on Wednesday, the night after our power came back, I was driving to Ditmas Park Rehab to deliver some supplies to Donna, and got into a fender-bender. Well, more accurately, a door-cruncher. Someone made a left turn from Foster Avenue as I was driving up Flatbush Avenue through the intersection. No one was hurt, but Daisy's driver's-side door took the brunt and will definitely have to be replaced. The sliding door behind it will need some sanding and repainting, too. Where do I go to quit the cast of this melodrama?
The hospital, as I mentioned last time, had demanded, when we checked Donna in, that we pay in advance an amount equal to our copay plus Donna's maximum out-of-pocket for the year under our current medical insurance, totaling over $1700. This amount was not unreasonable—one hospital stay with surgery would certainly cost enough that we'd end up owing that much—though I thought the timing was. It turns out that, in spite of what the people at United Healthcare told me at the time (and now they're telling me different), I should not have paid all that money then. The hospital took its sweet time sending the paperwork in to United, and meanwhile several assorted labs and doctors within the hospital began billing United for their own individual fees. We now have to pay our share of each of those individual bills—more than $500 so far—and once they stop coming, we have to ask the hospital to refund us the total.
Comments on APA-NYU, Volume 8, #3 (e-APA-NYU #71)
ICONOCLAST (Joel Nelson):
- So, having given up your home Internet access, have you once again developed a life? /*/ I take it that your perusal of 5% of The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon did not convince you that you wanted to get hold of the first book in the series and catch up on all the backstory you'd missed? /*/ It does seem that when disease transmission is a risk, all thoughts of being "green" go out the window. It's astonishing how much trash is produced in handling both in- and outpatients, taking in all the non-reusable equipment and layers of sterile packaging and such. There must be a way of reducing the waste generated without compromising patients' health. /*/ (¢APA-NEWS) "Taco Bell enabled me to add Mexican food to my diet of burgers and fries..." There are those who'd dispute whether what Taco Bell sells is really Mexican food. (But what do I know? The other week I went to a Tex-Mex place run by Chinese folk near where I work, and ordered a tofu burrito.) /*/ (¢Blackman) I just tried uploading a recent APA-NYU hardcopy file to Google docs and then downloading it back to my machine, without doing any editing at all, and found that the formatting (page size, headers, positioning of inserted pictures) got substantially changed in the process, so I think I'll not be using Google docs for a while. /*/ (¢me) "Wouldn't it be kewl if a bunch of people spread out over Interstate 87 would form a chain to move stuff from Canada to the City so that each need do only a twenty-mile round trip instead of one person having to do a six-hundred-mile one?" It would be an interesting thing to do, but the work of finding 30 people spaced at 10-mile intervals along I-87 who were willing to take part in such a scheme, and coordinating all the transfers, would take more time and effort than just driving up and back. What would probably work much better would be finding a bunch of people in The City who all wanted some merchandise available only in Canada, and letting them split the cost of car rental and gas and meals for one or two of them to spend the day or weekend doing the driving and shopping.
LSD* ONE MORE ROUND (Ariel Cinii):
- "*Life Sucks, Don't it?" Lately I have trouble arguing with that proposition. /*/ Happy Trans-anniversaire! But I would have thought that word would refer specifically to your life-changing surgery of a couple of decades ago. /*/
"[In the movie Cop Out] There's even an annoying criminal foille who shall surely appear in the sequel..." What's a foille? /*/ "My first thought was that now they needed a footbridge across the remaining stream of Broadway traffic [at Times Square]. But I don't think they'll do it." There are a vast number of intersections around the city where I think they ought to build footbridges; thousands of lives could be saved annually. I don't know why no one ever even raises the issue for discussion in a public forum.
JAMISON, TAKE E-LETTER (Mark L. Blackman):
- "13 bean soup (isn't that bad luck?)" Depends on the availability of Beano and good ventilation. /*/ "acto _BABYLON 5_, every race has a dish akin to Swedish meatballs." And why not? You want to do something with the leftover scraps of meat that don't look as pretty as a sirloin steak or a prime rib but are perfectly nutritious. Don't waste food! Children in Andromeda are starving. Less credibly, acto the Hitchhiker's Guide, 85% of all known worlds have a drink whose name sounds like "jynnan tonnyx." /*/ (¢self) "Hard Copy Edition: The zine title was in a cursive font, Brush Script MT. But, as my current 'arsenal' lacks that font, the MS Word version of the e-apa doesn't display it for me (what about youse?); the PDF version, yes." Both my machine at home and the one at work have Brush Script MT installed; I thought it was a standard Windows font, until I found out you didn't have it. The converter I use to create the PDF versions takes the non-standard fonts and converts them to graphics so that they'll display properly on any machine. (That's why I recommend that people print out the PDF rather than the Word file.)
Late update: Donna was sent home from Ditmas Park on the evening of Monday 5 April and is getting used to being on her own schedule once more. She's supposed to be capable of climbing a full flight of stairs now, but is still working her way up to moving back in to her bedroom upstairs.
>Portions of the preceding wonder where the power brokers are when we need them.<
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