Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Winston and Beyond: Leaf-watch 2015

As much as I love time in Florida, with plenty of big-skies, lakes and ponds, back-porch sitting, library raiding, and Family Football Saturdays... my heart is just a smidge sad to miss some of the best leaf-weeks of the year...

Monday, September 28, 2015

Music: the Avetts and Isbell

the week in which my parents are off to see music at Rupp and football at New Commonwealth... and I am cat-sitting, and writing it about on my blog.
#jealousnotbitter #bringmebackatshirt

Avett Brothers: I And Love And You

Jason Isbell: Alabama Pines

Extra credit: The fall and rise of Jason Isbell

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Wildcat Football: Missouri Gameday

Who Are The Missouri Tigers
Who are they? I'll tell you who they are not. not South. not East. Yet somehow in the SEC. Insanity.

How To Go Bowling
hint: Mizzou is one of four tossup opportunities

Kickoff: 7:30 @ New Commonwealth

In other news, I want a sticker that says I read KSR when the Rubio interview would've crashed the server

Friday, September 25, 2015

Deals: Ends Today - $67 Prime Membership

Here's how to trick Amazon into renewing your Prime membership for $67:

It involves cancelling a membership, buying a gift subscription, and then sending yourself the gift subscription the day the membership will expire... which is too complicated for me in a very Marty Mcfly time warp way, but seems well worth bribing a sibling for help...

WTINW*: Failing Forward

I look fine. I seem fine. I know this.

Not that I would want it to be so obvious that I couldn't fake my way through 'normal' once in a while.

But there are times when it would be helpful for people to have some sort of idea that I'm moving slower for a reason... Not moving out of the way for a reason... [Even more of a] scatterbrained airhead for a reason...

Like today, when I realized after 10 minutes of standing in line at Sbucks that a: this was one of those days when standing in line for 10 minutes without something to hold on to was not going to end well and b: that my keys had disappeared.

No worries, though, they were safe in the car... in the ignition.. with the car turned on. not the engine, though, just the battery. so... could have been worse.

could have been much worse -- I'd also left the doors unlocked.

It's hard to explain exactly what's different about the way my mind works these days. I mean, people leave keys in the car all the time. Or get to the store without their wallet. And I certainly had my share of those incidents before I was sick.

But it's not really the end result that's the problem... it's the moment when I'm sitting in the car, ready to get out, and Can't Figure Out the steps that need to happen for things to work out well. Or when I'm leaving the house and Can't Figure Out the things that I need to take with me.

It's not the mistakes or the forgetfulness -- it's that my brain isn't able able to put things in categories, or in the right order; like I'm dyslexic with words, numbers, and life. Ask me to subtract units of time sometime, it will be highly entertaining.

But for today I will take the win with a good laugh and be grateful; at least I'm failing forward...

*Ways That I'm Not Well: the ridiculous ways in which life is different even though I look the same. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Movies and Math: Traveling Salesman

Stay with me on this. We end up at one of my most favorite movies... eventually.

Suppose there are two groups of problems in the world -- ones that are quickly solved, and ones that are quickly checked. Which is a weird way to classify things, but Sudoku is a great example -- it is really easy to see if you filled in the puzzle right, but it takes much longer to solve it.

The thing is... even for computers, it takes much longer.

The crazy thing... is that not only do we not have a shortcut for solving it -- we don't even know if a shortcut exists.

So that's the "P vs NP" question. Which is terrible Math Slang for "does every problem that is quickly checked also have a quick way of solving it?"

The craziest thing... is that this question effects all sorts of stuff. Everything that's encrypted depends on it, because in theory anything can be decrypted if you just have enough time. But without a shortcut, things are 'safe'.

So if someone could prove this, it means that there would be proof that encrypted things could be quickly decrypted and 'unlimited power' and  'all would be lost'. Maybe. Possibly. But it could mean a lot of good stuff, too -- like faster genome sequencing...

This video from a much smarter person does a much much better job explaining it:


All of which is the basis of:

Travelling Salesman

The story of 4 math geniuses and a politician.

The mathematicians have not only solved the P=NP problem, but they've built a magic computer program that will unlock almost anything. So now they sit in a room and argue ethics -- there exists a magic box of power; who should own it.. what sort of oversight should there be.. should they even be allowed to tell anyone it exists.. all they did was create it; but if it's used for evil, won't they be blamed...

In short, it's about the intersection of math, compsci, politics, and ethics.

2 good articles -- one from Wired and one with Heavy Math


Which finally gets us to:

One of my favorite movies from way back. More action than TS but almost the same premise, with an all-star cast and Robert Redford as a completely believable math geek.

Sneakers, it's been way too long. we should hang out. (I'd tell you to text me, but you wouldn't know what that was in 1992..)

Friday, September 18, 2015

MinM* Movies: Undiagnosed Medical Refugees


Everything I've said and felt over the past 2 years in one movie trailer.

Undiagnosed Medical Refugees: a documentary
Who the undiagnosed are, what they struggle with, what they need from the medical system, and how they hope to be treated now and into the future.

*Misadventures in Medicine

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Movies: American Grand

American Grand

The restoration of a vintage Steinway.

Presented in a sort-of scatteredbrained style, which well reflects the spirit of this charmingly quirky team of Musical Mechanics.

Things I learned:
How to organize a group: "So whoever's not doing anything... do something." 
On how pianos work: "There are mysteries in life; this doesn't need to be one of them." 
There does not seem to be Drop Testing in piano building, but they do have Torture Testing. (It involves Rachmaninoff.) 
Physics for Musicians should be a class. And it should mostly be labs. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Music: Rend Collective

From a good friend (alias: the Cancer Dietitian): God-music from Ireland that could be cousins with Mumford and Sons.. already added to #drivingmusic and #wishfulthinkingrunningplaylist

Rend Collective

The Album with Finally Free: The Art of Celebration

The new one just out: As Family We Go

Does Ireland have hipsters? or are Irish hipsters just Irish? These are the kinds of questions that keep me up at night..

Friday, September 11, 2015

Marking Year Plus-14

“A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors,
the men it remembers.” John F. Kennedy

14 years, and it is still gut-wrenching and horrifying and I can still barely stand to watch footage from that day. But to forget would be worse. To forget would be to lose sight of that unifying moment when we were all New York; all Pennsylvania; all the Pentagon; all Americans.. all under attack.

We are a nation increasingly divided, with an increasingly short attention span. But in truth, we are better than this, and that day was proof. When we have to be, when there is no other choice, we are the best of people and the best of nations, and to remember that day is to remember not just the terrible and horrifying but the light and good and generous and brave and best in us.

9/11 was such a clear picture of evil -- but, too, an incredible picture of hope and heroism. And part of the process of bringing good from what is terrible is to recognize wrong for what it is, to lift each other up, and to share in gratitude for the many many heroic acts, great and small that happened that day and in the days since.

It was one of those rare moments that is bigger than all of us, and shared by all of us, and because of that, can still unite us and inspire us to see and do good in the midst of a broken world. #remember911

This year, Winston's 9/11 ceremony has been moved to the 12th and combined with a JROTC challenge. Which is fine, but I wish they had kept something -- anything -- on Friday morning, even if it was just a few council members, a flag, and a moment of silence.

Stranger to me is the lack of events at the Carolina Field of Honor, home of the triad's 9/11 memorial (including a piece of steel from the towers). But the FoH didn't hold a Memorial Day ceremony, either, though, so my confusion abounds re: Triad Park.

Winston-Salem Commemoration and Public Safety Challenge 
The 9/11 Public Safety Challenge, a new event that combines the city’s 9/11 commemoration with a competition for high school Junior ROTC units, will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, in the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex. 
“Communities are remembering 9/11 with 5Ks and days of service and in many other ways. We decided to transition our community 9/11 commemoration to an event that connects our high schools with the public safety agencies in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County."

Walt Whitman
I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name. 
Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane,
   unruly, musical, self-sufficient,
I see that the word of my city is that word from of old,
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays,
Rich, hemm’d thick all around with sailships and
   steamships, an island sixteen miles long, solid-founded,
Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender,
   strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies,
Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown,
The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining
   islands, the heights, the villas,
The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters,
   the ferry-boats, the black sea-steamers well-model’d,
The down-town streets, the jobbers’ houses of business, the
   houses of business of the ship-merchants and money-
   brokers, the river-streets,
Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week,
The carts hauling goods, the manly race of drivers of horses,
   the brown-faced sailors,
The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing
   clouds aloft,
The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the
   river, passing along up or down with the flood-tide or
The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form’d,
   beautiful-faced, looking you straight in the eyes,
Trottoirs throng’d, vehicles, Broadway, the women, the
   shops and shows,
A million people--manners free and superb--open voices--
   hospitality--the most courageous and friendly young
City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts!
City nested in bays! my city!

New York: The Center of the World (1946-2003)
Epilogue to the epic Ken Burns documentary, New York.
A biography of the towers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Local: Bookmarks

September has long been known as The Best Month Ever to be a Winstonite. Fact. Proving my point, this weekend's agenda includes Caleb Caudle at the Garage, the National Folk Festival just down the road, and the Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors turning downtown into Literary Heaven.

Among the illustrious authors converging on the Twin City: David Baldacci and Pat Conroy

But part of the joy of Bookmarks is finding new (to me) authors and books for the home library, and these seem like good candidates to add to my 'to read' stack: 

Robert Beatty
His novel, Serafina and the Black Cloak (Disney Hyperion, July 2015), is a spooky mystery-thriller about a brave and unusual 12-year-old girl who lives secretly in the basement of the Biltmore Estate during the time of George and Edith Vanderbilt. 
Leigh Ann Henion
Leigh Ann Henion is the New York Times bestselling author of Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer's Search for Wonder in the Natural World. It's the story of how she chased eclipses, migrations, and other natural phenomena around the globe to reawaken her sense of wonder. 
Ron Rash
In his new novel, Above the Waterfall, he returns to the Appalachians with a story of a tight-knit community rife with secrets and suspicious of outsiders.
Robert Weintraub
He is the author of The House That Ruth Built and The Victory Season, and he is a frequent contributor to The New York Times sports pages. 

...Next weekend hosts the Air Show and the Texas Pete Culinary Extravaganza
September. I'm tellin ya.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Music: Rhiannon Giddens

Soon to be headlining the National Folk Festival in GBoro,
Founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops,
Opera major out of Oberlin...

Rhiannon Giddens
Album at Amazon: Tomorrow Is My Turn

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Glimpses of Fall: Game Day

Labor Day weekend, a/c off and windows open, College Football kickoff... it might finally be Fall.

Official-unofficial schedule from Sea of Blue

KSR guide for being there

Garden & Gun's College Football By The Numbers

Everything you need to know about the Louisiana Lafayettes

Next Week! Sept 13th kicks off Hoops season early, with The Best Idea Since March Madness: Kentucky vs UNC Alumni Game. Also, there's probably a football game somewhere...

Friday, September 4, 2015

MinM* Books: Every Patient Tells A Story

Every Patient Tells a Story: 
Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis
Lisa Sanders, MD

I'm not sure where I first heard of this book, but in preparation for a recent spinal tap procedure, decided I needed a couple books-with-pages to read (as opposed to activities with screens). And it was a good choice. The author consulted for the show House, and it includes a lot of interesting cases she's encountered.

It was good to read about others' journeys through diagnostic limbo. And it provided some good insight into the art and science of the practice of medicine.


But at the same time part of me wanted to say "seriously??" The more I learn, the more I realize that my situation isn't really that rare at all and that makes it even more utterly frustrating. Clearly there should be some sort of procedure or checklist or official guidelines for anyone who has been sick without answers after a given amount of time. Clearly.

My frustrations about medicine aside, there were some good takeaways:
  • "The patient's story is often the best place to find [the] clue. It is our oldest diagnostic tool. And, as it turns out, it is one of the most reliable as well. ...anywhere from 70 to 90 percent [of diagnoses] are made on the basis of the patient's story alone"
  • "Far too often neither the doctor nor the patient seems to appreciate the importance of what the patient has to say in the making of a diagnosis"
  • However: Despite the importance of the patient's story, doctors overwhelmingly interrupt their patients and stop them from giving full accounts of what brings them in.
  • "As a result, doctors and patients often have a very different understanding of the visit and the illness".
  • The death of the physical exam and the rise of diagnostic testing: "as it turns out, tests and their results are not nearly as crisp and clear as many patients (and doctors) assume them to be .. the testing process can actually slow or sidetrack the diagnostic process in some cases" and "tests don't make a diagnosis - thinking does."
  • A story about teaching doctors to be better observers, with a trip to an art gallery
  • And an excellent chapter on medical technology and the rise of google.

And it helped further refine my growing plan for world domination the fixing of medicine:
- Guidelines and Procedures for identifying and treating long-term undiagnosed patients (meaning: there should be some.) 
- Leveraging new technology -- doctors have rejected older computer-based diagnostic systems because of the cumbersome interface -- having to type everything in for each individual patient. As the Internet of Things grows and becomes better connected, and cloudspace can consolidate records over different practices, hopefully an enterprising startup will build a better mousetrap soon. 
- Care Management Coordinators -- Someone to manage a patient's care across doctors and hospitals, who would be able to identify which doctors would need to be seen, schedule appointments, keep an eye on prescriptions, give helpful tips (and possibly hand-holding) during difficult procedures. The role of medical caregiver has grown to the point that it is a full-time job for family members, and often exceeds their abilities. I'm not sure what group this profession would extend from but I'd bet money Nurses or PA's would be best at it.

*MinM: Misadventures in Medicine

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Travel: Asheville - Grove Park

Casting all newly minted resolutions for balance and moderation out the window (I believe they landed along I40 somewhere near Hickory), I found myself amid favorite haunts last weekend.
Because: Asheville.
And also: Mountains.
And of course: Family.

The trip included two wonderful sunset dinners at the Grove Park, my first visit there post-sick.

And it turns out, for food allergies, there is almost no place better. They immediately understood and explained in detail how they handle food prep and avoid cross-contamination. A

nd instead of having to pick the most boring salad on the menu and pleading a dumbstruck waiter for a very plain piece of chicken, they actually encouraged(!) deciding on dinner like a normal person and then made suggestions for how they could adjust the order. And were quick to go back to the kitchen to ask questions if there was something they weren't sure about.

Such a relief and a treat to feel like I could eat dinner without keeping my fingers crossed the whole time. And warm GF/DF bread to start with... 2 hours is not that far to drive for dinner, right?

Still, while wandering the inn, we couldn't help but notice some (ahem) redecorating... I assume, part of the centennial renovation that was finished late last year.

And I'm afraid it just has to be said -- What on earth they were thinking, with the new furniture in the Great Hall!?! Unfortunately, no pictures, but the words Big Mess seem appropriate. About as far away from Arts and Crafts as you can get -- plush, puffy, high-backed, awkward couches that just look ridiculous when you walk in expecting Stickley chairs.

And I did find proof that the columns used to be stone...

But all of that pales to Gas Logs in the fireplace!?!


I suggest they go back read their own book -- Grove Park Inn Arts and Crafts Furniture

More inspiration: Historic construction photos

As I've become more aware of Accessibility Issues, I've also got to say, not the easiest place to navigate. I love GPI and (obviously) wouldn't change it, but uneven floors, a sprawling footprint, hidden (secret) handicap parking (I guess they just want everyone to valet), so many stairs... it is not an easily accessible place. And it takes going with a plan, and being prepared to take the long way around, or settle for one favorite view instead of all of them...

But life is pretty good if you are getting to spend a few cool late-summer nights wandering the inn, watching the sun sink behind the blue ridges and calling back so many memories you feel a right to complain about the furniture as if it were your own great-aunt's living room.

GPI, it's been too long. We should do this again soon.