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Gwen Patton
Works at Revolution Earth Press
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Gwen Patton

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I.
HATE
Being.
Sick.

Cough. Hack. Wheeze.
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:( Feel better, sweetie.

Gwen Patton

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Ow.

BAD pain night. I've taken extra meds, I have my TENS on, I'm laying back and trying to stay still, and...

OW.

This is my chronic pain that has variable severity depending on the day, the direction of the wind, the humidity, the phase of the moon, and probably what coffee was last ordered at the closest Starbucks for all I know. I can go a day or two with just so-so pain, easily kept in check by my meds, but every so often I'm swatted down by NASTY, SNARLING PAIN through most of my body from the short-circuits in my neck.

OW!

Ok, going to stop typing now.

#owOwOW  
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I have great experience with self-control, because my pain makes me anti-social. It can make me very touchy even when the drugs are working...just because you don't consciously feel the pain because of painkillers doesn't mean the pain is no longer there and it isn't putting you under stress. On the standard 10 point scale, my usual level of constant pain is around a 3 or 4. When it's getting nasty, it's up around a 5 or a 6. But sometimes it can spike up to a 7 or 8. Tonight it's creeping up near a 7, so I'm controlling my emotional state by main force of training. Biofeedback and neurofeedback training, along with Zen and aikido techniques do help some, but not with the pain so much as helping me cope with it.

I HAVE felt level 9-10 pain, but not usually from my neck. I've had two kidney stones in the past couple of years. Now THAT hurts. They had to give me frequent shots of Dilaudid to block THAT pain, and anti-emetics for the projectile vomiting. :P

Gwen Patton

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So many people appear to be misunderstanding what I post today, it's making me want to tear my hair out. If they aren't mistaking my position to the exact opposite of the one I hold, they're missing the point entirely. If they get the point, they draw the opposite conclusion from it.

But the ones that are making me annoyed are the ones who appear to be deliberately misinterpreting what I say. It's like I say "the sky is blue", and the comments are along the lines of "why do you persist in your belief that the sky is red? Don't you know it's blue?" It's intensely annoying, and my patience is very thin. I've already blocked one person today because he insisted on misinterpreting my point THREE TIMES in one thread, making it clear that he either wasn't paying attention or was deliberately trolling me.

Using Hanlon's Razor, I have to assume that they're simply being dense, and frankly, ain't nobody got time for that.

#ARRRGH   #AssholesDoVexMe  
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Amen.

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I just purchased a cute little DMR (Digital Moble Radio) amateur radio. I'm hoping it lives up to the chatter about it as a useful way to reach out long-distance, as there is a HUGE digital link network that goes internationally. I haven't been doing a lot of radio stuff lately, but this promises to be an interesting mode that I frankly admit I haven't kept up with. It'll be fun to learn!

Any other hams interested in reading up on this, check out http://www.dmr-marc.net/ for lots of stuff to read.

http://www.amazon.com/TYT-MD-380-Moto-TRBO-Radio/dp/B00X6FYWWS
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A couple of hams from the TYT-TYTERA Yahoogroup have already sent me code plug files to get started with. So I should have no trouble getting on the  air with this rig when it arrives. That was incredibly friendly of them!

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Here's a matching pic to last night's from the porch camera.
Maggie took a nice video with the GoPro, but this is just the security camera.
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https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MargaretLeber/posts/FDHDwh6Cnnp

and 

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MargaretLeber/posts/WGdQ4vCMsAN

Gwen Patton

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Because it is awesome.

h/t  +Justin Butcher
#AlanRickmanRIP  

https://youtu.be/eob7V_WtAVg
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Gwen Patton

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The Digital Mobile Radio explosion.

Ham radio has been analog-based for pretty much forever, but has been slowly embracing the whole digital, computerized thing over the past handful of years. HF transmission methods such as RTTY have grown into robust low-power modes like PSK31, and the Internet has started connecting hams to their shacks from remote locations and one repeater to another for a while now. IRLP and Echolink have made it possible for people with Technician-class licenses to be heard worldwide while staying within the limits of that license, and the club I belong to added an Echolink segment to each Sunday morning net, so the retirees who have moved away from Philly can still connect with their friends. I even maintain a copy of Echolink on my phone, just in case.

Then the big radio manufacturers started messing about with digital audio over the air.

Icom has D-Star, Yaesu had WIRES, which became Fusion, and there's probably a couple more in there, proprietary modes that required you to buy not only that company's repeater hardware, but invest in that company's radios to USE those repeaters. It was a "walled garden" approach that frankly turned me off. So color me surprised when I heard about another digital entrant that wasn't quite so proprietary.

DMR, standing for Digital Mobile Radio, is a system that was first designed by a European group, but was embraced by a number of manufacturers, notably Motorola. It started as a business-oriented system, for those industrial-looking bricky handy-talkies without a display or even a frequency readout, used by factory workers, truck drivers, and sometimes by police, firemen, and other emergency services. They didn't need a display because you rarely changed channel, and they had to be programmed by a computer back at the office so no one would fiddle with it and get a radio off the channel designated for their company or organization. It was a very utilitarian system, not really the hobbyist sort of thing. At least, not at first.

You see, the DMR protocol itself is not a "walled garden". It's fairly open, though some of the equipment manufacturers put in some proprietary features that suited their particular needs. Motorola set up the MOTOTRBO system, Hytera has their own system, and it pretty much didn't address ham radio at all. But even though a Motorola repeater wouldn't network with a Hytera repeater, the RADIOS used the same system, and weren't as locked in as, say, D-Star or Fusion. You don't have to buy a Motorola radio to connect to a MOTOTRBO repeater. So long as it's a DMR protocol radio, you're golden.

Then the Chinese got in on the act. What they did with the Baofeng and Wouxun radios -- dirt-cheap UHF/VHF analog transceivers -- they suddenly did with DMR. It's very popular in Europe, so there was a market to exploit, and exploit they did. But still, not a lot of people had heard about this mode. Then some ham hackers managed to break into the software on a cheap Chinese DMR handheld, and a video presentation of their efforts -- which are just the earliest proof-of-concept sort of thing and NOT a finished-product concept at all -- and even though their work wasn't all that useful to the average ham, it DID suddenly call attention to the DMR thing.

And suddenly, all those hams who really thought digital audio over the air was a really cool thing, but hadn't gotten into it because they didn't want to get locked into Icom or Yaesu's walled garden philosophy suddenly had an option. Or rather, many options, as Chinese manufacturers were starting to pump out DMR radios that would work on various DMR networks for about a third to a quarter of what other more established brands would cost.  

A Motorola DMR radio could cost $300-$800 on eBay...but a brand new Tytera MD-380 DMR device was between $110-$150, and worked just fine with the MOTOTRBO and Hytera repeaters! Heck, they're still able to talk to analog repeaters too, so they serve double duty. You still have to program them with a computer instead of right from the radio, but unlike Motorola, which charges $80 for the programming cable and $250 for a couple of years' license on the software, a Tytera's programming cable costs about $10, and the software is free.

The upshot was cheap entry-level equipment to get access to a worldwide network of interconnected repeaters, giving the ability to talk with digital quality to people all around the world from a handheld radio...and STILL not exceed the license limits of a Technician-class ham license. No real static problem, clear voice, no more weak and barely audible signals, and CHEAP. And unlike a cell phone, you don't have to know who to call, and you don't have a monthly bill. You can turn a knob to talk on a worldwide or nationwide channel, announce your presence, and chat with whoever happens to answer. Fun!

Did I mention it was cheap? Well, it is.

But that has caused a bit of a stir. The supply of DMR radios has gone a little peculiar, as they're being snapped up as fast as they can get shipped. I got my DMR handheld, a Tytera MD-380, about a week and a half ago, on Amazon. My partner tried to do the same, but ran into a problem. The first place she went to had her thinking it would arrive yesterday, but she got an email saying they hadn't shipped it yet, and needed to push the date by a week or so. They were out of radios, you see, and now it's Chinese New Year in China, and if you don't know, the entire country SHUTS DOWN for about two weeks when that rolls around. So she went to another company, who shipped her the wrong radio, a VHF model instead of UHF. She's going to have to return that one when it arrives.

So I lent a hand and ordered her a Retevis model that's essentially the same radio as the Tytera with a different brand name on the case. It should be here tomorrow. It didn't even cost a different price.

But if you're wanting to get into DMR, you may find getting a radio a bit challenging for a couple of weeks, until the Chinese come back from their holiday and start shipping again.

http://www.dmr-marc.net/
How to get started using DMR.
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Make sure there's a DMR repeater in range of your place first!

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Whew.

The landscapers came out and freed us from the drifts in the driveway. Two with shovels and one with a snowthrower carved a canyon from the street to the backyard and dug out a big area for the cars to get out. They dug around both the van and Maggie's car right down to pavement just as neat as you could ask for.

We are free! Yay!
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Gwen Patton

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Saturday Evening picture from the porch camera. The neighbors' cars are almost buried under a humongous drift that has about 4 feet of snow in our driveway, and on the upper right you can just see our mailbox, starting to be swallowed by the snow.

We had a bit of a scramble over here, as I sat down for some lunch. The sump pump was running. And running. I knew that sound, it was the sound of a pump that isn't getting rid of the water. I checked downstairs and sure enough, the sump wasn't emptying. So Maggie went out and checked, finding that the outflow pipe was completely encased in a block of ice. She had to hack it off a fair bit up, then hit it with a heat gun to get the water flowing again. When it finally cut loose, it blew a 6" plug of ice out onto the ground. I heard when it let go, the straining sound of the pump stopped and I could HEAR the free flowing begin. I ran downstairs and checked, and the sump emptied as I watched.

Whew.

We caught that one in time.
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Friday night, just before midnight. Image captured off our front porch camera, that's why it's a little washed out. The graininess is from snow flying sideways.
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Gwen Patton

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In the "Oh The Irony" category, we have Chick-fil-a ditching their cole slaw to sell a new side dish, a "Superfood Salad" containing KALE.

I guess Chick-Fil-A decided to "Eat More Kale" after all, eh?

#EatMoreKale   #OhTheIrony  

http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Food/Menu-Detail/Superfood-Side
https://www.eatmorekale.com/im-2-0-chick-fil/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pete-mason/eat-more-kale_b_1469661.html
Chopped Broccolini<span class='reg'>®</span> and kale blend, tossed in a sweet and tangy maple vinaigrette dressing and topped with flavorful dried sour cherries. Served with our roasted nut blend.
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"Have you seen the price of arugula lately?" --Barack Obama
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Cartoonist with a Disability
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  • Revolution Earth Press
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Disabled webcartoonist on the East Coast
Introduction
I used to work at a company that did phone support for software, and did SF and fantasy writing on the side. Then I had a quiet argument with my trunk lid in a 40mph wind, and the trunk lid won.  I can't work anymore because I can't predict when I'm going to be in too much pain to do anything, and typing a lot is too painful.  So now I do a webcomic, Jenny Everywhere's Infinite: Quark Time, as my creative outlet.

I have also been an advocate for responsible self-defense and a firearms instructor.  My favorite martial art is Aikido, and I play Go.
Bragging rights
My webcomic is now a year old, and the first 28 weeks are out in print. Was International Media Spokesperson for the Pink Pistols for most of a decade.
Basic Information
Gender
Female
Our old supplier was playing stupid games with billing and delivery, so we ran out of oil right after a big snowstorm. We had been researching local oil suppliers in the area and found that Walton had the best deal and looked very reliable from reading reviews. I called and talked to a salesman who was extremely friendly and helpful. When we suddenly ran out of oil just a couple of days later, I called him on a Saturday morning and by shortly after noon we had a technician in our driveway. He had about 10-15 gallons of oil in his truck which he put in our tank, then he primed and restarted our furnace. Monday morning bright and early we had a delivery from Walton to fill our tank. But we found that we weren't getting heat or hot water so I called them back. A tech came out only an hour later and he found that the oil had actually run out before that delivery, so he had to reprime and restart the furnace. I highly recommend Waltons for oil service. They're responsive, friendly, and very concerned about giving their customers the best service they possibly can.
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