tracker7: (SPHIS)
Last semester, and maybe more so this one, I have had some straight-up panic attacks over the amount of work (particularly large papers and projects) required in this program. These have been mostly self-created, if I'm being honest with myself. I can handle the work; I just have to remember to handle it in chunks instead of looking at the entirety of the project. What I also have had to remember is, when I'm piddling around and procrastinating, is ... I like doing this stuff. I like diving into existing literature on the subject. I like figuring out how to pull relevant data out of different reports and studies and synthesizing something out of it. I like putting the words down. 

I have to do a lot of it in the next few days. This is what's still outstanding: Integration final exam tonight. Policy presentation Wednesday. Evaluation presentation Thursday morning. Policy report Friday afternoon. Practicum presentation on the 24th. Social Determinants group paper and presentation on the 25th. And that is it. One way or another, my grad school run is over in eight days. Long nights ahead.

I'm trying to stop griping about this final semester. There is nothing to be done, as Kim Stanley Robinson wrote. Just have to deal with the problems, hit the markers, and get out into the field. Put PhD and other considerations aside and focus on the local, the immediate, the things I can affect. Talk, seriously, with the faculty members who have contacts and experience, and can point me down paths I don't know exist.

In the wider world, there's a lot going on. Under Lord Dampnut's direction, the US is pushing for North Korea to be "handled." There's some reason for concern here - remember, of course, that Dampnut is unstable and aggressive and not very smart, and he's already attacked a Syrian airbase with a shitload of cruise missiles. (He also misnamed the nation the missiles' target was located in, while apparently focusing on the quality and size of the cake he was eating at the time. These fucking people.) North Korea tested a ballistic missile yesterday, but the launch failed; there was talk of a nuclear test (April 15 being a national holiday there), but it seems that nothing came of it.

After seeing the Spycraft 1 game at Conglomeration, and a talk with Erin about it, I've had a hankering for an espionage game start to rear it's head. Despite my love of Spycraft, I don't know that I'd use it. I feel like that's ground I've covered comfortably. There's the 007 clone, Classified, and something else I picked up along the way. Merle Rasmussen and some other folks bought the Top Secret name and product rights from WotC, and are launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund Top Secret: New World Order sometime soon. Always good to have options.

I need to go somewhere. Just go. Driving up to a truckstop 15 miles inside Indiana a couple of weeks ago was, I think, the first time I've left Kentucky since GenCon. Christ, I can't recall traveling anywhere besides my routes to Liberty since Thanksgiving. There's a day or weekend trip coming soon, either to celebrate or deal with the end of the semester.

Chapters

Feb. 14th, 2017 09:32 am
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I've been watching the impending disaster in Oroville, California. A spillway connected to a dam upstream of the city is failing, and there's a very real danger of a catastrophic flood. Something like 190,000 people have been evacuated from the area. Scary stuff, and it brings the Buffalo Creek flood to mind.

This is the 80th anniversary of the great flood that submerged much of Louisville for weeks. We've had some talks about it over at OEP, with a brief review of the current defenses against another flood. Mostly, the floodwall gates were tested and the pumping stations briefly fired up.

This is a reminder to me to rebuild my emergency kit. Add a power source of some kind,

There's another, more imminent, threat on our minds right now. Well, besides Cheeto Benito, of course. In my last entry, I mentioned our MRC training night. We had a presenter from the Kentucky Harm Reduction Council teach us about Naloxone, an emergency treatment for heroin or other opioid overdose. In a thirty-hour span that included our training session, Louisville's emergency services responded to 52 overdoses. FIFTY-TWO. There were two fatalities, one in a fast-food restaurant's restroom, one at Hurstbourne and Wesport. Actually there - three users in a vehicle. Driver nodded off, rolled into another vehicle at an intersection. One passenger died right there in the first vehicle, and another passenger very briefly ran when LMPD arrived. I saw an OD patient carried out of LMPHW yesterday afternoon when I was on my way in for a meeting. This is scary.
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Being out in the rain and cool air weekend before last took its toll. Wednesday morning, I started feeling poorly - sore throat, coughs and sneezing. By Thursday evening, it was a full-on bad bad cold. Managed the symptoms as well as I could, and headed to Liberty after work on Friday.

An interlude: A classmate is getting herself into serious trouble. Worse, she's assigned to one of my working groups, and her loose understanding of plagiarism policy is making the rest of us look bad, as well as have to rewrite a lot of her straight-up copy-and-paste submissions to group assignments. Friday morning, I had an off-the-record chat with the relevant professor. He seemed to know what was up as soon as I entered his office. The student in question is doing the same thing in other classes, other professors know about it, and despite several official warnings, she is continuing, and the School is preparing expulsion proceedings. It sucks for her, but this is something that SPHIS (and UofL) takes seriously, cultural differences be damned.

Anyway, got to the farm in the early evening. Mom&Dad were about to leave for the wilds of, I think, McCreary County, so I laid down for a nap. That nap lasted about 12 hours, interrupted by a few coughing fits severe enough to make for abdominal pain. Had an appointment with a tire shop on Saturday morning. On the way to the shop, some damn stray dog decided to commit suicide-by-Focus and bent a tie rod when it ran under me. No local shops had that part on hand, so Dad and I arranged to trade vehicles for a few days. Back to the hous, and I went back to the couch, and there was NyQuil and football and sleep and hallucinations, I think. UofL beat NC State during a heavy rain, and WKU ran all over Rice.

Hurricane Joaquin has made an ungodly mess out of South Carolina. A 70-mile stretch of I-95 was closed due to flooding over the weekend, and no small number of smaller roads are washing out. State of Emergency, all the heavy stuff. I do not envy anyone involved in this mess.

More adventures in transportation. Driving back to Louisville last night, I get stuck behind a slow car somewhere in Washington County. Finally get room to pass this guy and start making up for lost time around the Washington/Nelson line. There's a lengthy grade, although not too steep, and as I start up it, I smell smoke (distinctive burning motor oil smell) and see flashing lights at the top of the grade. First thought, Oh crap somebody's wrecked out. Got closer, and nope. Some joker in a Monte Carlo is trailing a 35-year-old Chevy pickup that's trailering a junked Camaro. Said pickup is burning enough oil to create a screen behind it - headlight beams visible in the smoke. He can't get much over 35MPH, the stink is getting worse by the mile, and it's a ways before I and this other fella can get enough room to pass. We finally do, and man, that Chevy sounded like it was about to come apart right there on US150. I was quite happy to watch those headlights disappear in my mirror. And got into the Ranger this morning to discover a dying alternator. So, yay TARC and free passage as a UofL student. Dad's bringing the Focus up this afternoon, and I guess we'll swap in a new alternator then.

Thank dog (but not the suicidal one) that the first couple days of this week are our fall break. I've got to be at the front desk, but there's no one around.
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The nonsense continues. My cousin has appeared on MSNBC and other places, and has not acquitted himself well at all. His grandstanding is going to result in a very expensive lawsuit, one the county cannot afford. I'm pretty sure that, from the family perspective, my silence is speaking volumes. Not that anyone except my parents would really care, and, frankly, their opinions are the only ones that I want to engage with.

Well, amend that. There's Cassandra, my fave cousin. She's on the other side of the family, very close to me on the political and social spectra. We're watching this with a mix of disgust and fascination.

Hit-and-miss weekend. Wanted to see Macbeth Friday night, but weather didn't cooperate. Went down to Waterfront Park, saw Jeffersonville's fireworks show and the Bats' as well, and got home in time to see the last few bursts from the JCC. Smoke from the last mixed with the rising mists and the orange glow from streetlights to give my quiet little street a lovely otherworldly look. Tried again on Saturday night, but the concert was not pet-friendly, so we stayed in and goofed off.

Saw Inside Out last night. Not impressed at all.

Ben's wedding is Friday night. This is going to be a fun evening.
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SCOTUS went big in the last few days. The exchange provisions of the Affordable Care Act were upheld, marriage equality was finally upheld nationwide, and Arizona's non-partisan districting committees got approval. A challenge to EPA authority was upheld, so you can't always get the good decisions.

The big shit-losing decision was, of course, marriage equality. We knew it was going to happen, and should have years ago. The people on the wrong side of history have made a godawful stink, with Republican presidential candidates promising an end to activist judges and whatnot, and county clerks in some conservatlve areas refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or to any couples at all. Unsurprisingly, the clerk in my home county has gone this route - he's my first cousin, and you can be certain that I am so very very proud of this (not at all). Governor Beshear issued an order for county clerks to stick to their oaths of office and do their damn job.

Took the GRE yesterday. Results were okay enough, I think. One more hurdle cleared.
tracker7: (SPHIS)
Let's get existential. As in, potential existential threat.

Part of the classwork for Biology for Population Health requires us to develop a portfolio on a particular disease or ongoing health concern. I selected ebola virus disease, and put my request in quickly - EVD's pretty sexy right now, and I expected that it'd be a popular choice, and with the ongoing West African outbreak, there would be plenty of material and information to work with. Along with my individual work on EVD, I'm working on a group project to develop and defend a quarantine program to slow or stop the spread of the disease in a large city - specifically, Lagos. It's going pretty well - just from CDC sources, I have what can be best described as an embarrassment of riches.

The current outbreak is scary. Since the outbreak began in December 2013, approximately 3400 cases have been confirmed, with 1700 confirmed deaths. Suspected numbers are closer to 6200 and 2900, respectively. EVD was identified in 1976, and between that date and November 2013, the combined number of cases from all outbreaks totals just over 1700. 1700 cases in 37 years, versus 3400 in ten months. There's something very different about this one - it's happening in areas of denser population, for starters.

This morning's reading included a scary projection from CDC. If the current rate of infection continues, there will be at least 8000 cases, and as many as 21000, by the end of September. Barring changes in behavior in the affected populations and a significant increase in medical interventions, the projections for Liberia and Sierra Leone combined are between 550000 and 1.4 million by mid-January. Those two countries have a combined population of about 10 million, so we're looking at somewhere between 1/20th and 1/7th of the population infected. Serious? Yes. Very.

One of the discussions going on with CDC and WHO is, like my group project, what happens if the outbreak spreads to Lagos? Cases have been reported and confirmed in urban areas of Liberia (and the attempt at forced quarantine in Monrovia did not go well at all), and the spread in that environment is much, much faster than in the countryside. A large fast-moving outbreak in Lagos has real potential to spread the infection globally, very possibly overwheming existing medical resources in many nations.

Quick comparisons! Liberia's population and land area are very close to those of Kentucky; thankfully, the Commonwealth's medical resources are much greater than Liberia's. The WHO estimates that Liberia has about 65 doctors. Sixty-five. For a population of four million. In addition, there are about 5000 healthcare workers of varying degrees of competency and training in the country. The hospital system attached to the University of Louisville employs over 600 MDs, and it's nowhere near the largest component of the healthcare structure in the Louisville Metro area alone. Hey, speaking of Louisville ... Just shy of 400 square miles (combined city-county government figure) and about three-quarters of a million people (again, combined city-county). Lagos is 385 square miles, and a population close to 21 million. A single large outbreak, or numerous scattered small ones, would be, bluntly, devastating. Lagos sees about 15 million passengers a year pass through its primary airport alone, and FSM alone knows how many land and sea passengers pass through the city.

Development and implementation of a vaccine is unlikely, no matter how many white people are infected. A containment and intensive treatment system has to be developed and implemented. This thing is frightening.
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UofL approved my appeal for financial aid. I'll have to maintain a GPA a full point lower than the goal I'm setting for myself to keep the money coming in - so help me, if I fail at that, my next reasonable step is to sneak onto the Kennedy Bridge some evening and experience deceleration trauma.

But I won't fail.

A Malaysian Airlines 777 was shot down yesterday while flying over eastern Ukraine. From the look of things, it was brought down by a SAM, fired by Russian-backed separatists or, worse, Russian forces just outside Ukraine's borders. I figure it's a terrible mistake, more Iran Air 655 than JAL 007, but that's just some dude's take. 298 deaths, including about 100 researchers and activists on their way to the 2014 AIDS Congress in Australia. Hell of a loss.

Christ, I've been working on this entry for three hours. Skype calls are going fast and furious.

We're a month out from GenCon, and true to tradition, things have been thrown into the air. Unsurprising, but disappointing, one of my GMs has bailed out. He's now blacklisted permanently, and while I understand that life does get in the way, I won't have time to be forgiving for a month or so. Also, there has been a blowup with a licensor, and I'm going to have to cancel nearly a fifth of our events. We're not pleased, but these are signs that our plans for big changes in how we conduct our GenCon operations are steps in the right direction.

19 days until the summer McJob is over. I got my conversion papers last week (convert from staffing company employee to regular); I'll probably file the appropriate paperwork to make a better mark in case I need to go through the agency again, and I just about bet that I'll give my outta-here notice within a day or two of the process being completed.

Whatever. In 38 days, I'll be in class again. Onward, forward, upward.
tracker7: (Comics)
So, Erin called last night - and the timing was rather funny, and with all due respect, it's not really meant for your eyes, dear friends, but someday, the whole story can be told. Maybe. She is, as I write this, attending a performance by the New York Philharmonic at the Norton Center in Danville. On the program for tonight is Pictures at an Exhibition. I am extremely jealous.

Work is going okay. New project lead work tomorrow. That makes me feel a little bit better about job security, but I'm still not relaxed, and won't be until this latest round is hashed out. In the event of job-go-away, there's a good-sized severance package, enough to keep me going here for a while, or resettle me in one of the three cities I'd look at shipping out to pretty quickly.

A fair bit of excitement here in town today. Number One Crush called while it was going down, as she was near The Ridge when, as she put it, half the cops in town suddenly appeared.

tracker7: (Comics)
NFL playoffs started this weekend.  The Ravens played a good game against Miami, and the Arizona-Atlanta game was a lot better than I expected it to be.  The Chargers really should send a thank-you card to the officials who handed them their win over Indianapolis, and loathe as I am to say it, the Eagles looked great against the Vikings this evening.

Spent Saturday with Mom&Dad and The Niece.  She and I spent a good couple of hours giggling like loons over things going terribly wrong on Destroyed in Seconds.

As I'm writing this, Israel has launched an invasion of the Gaza Strip following a few days of airstrikes.  According to every news source I've checked, the IDF has managed to complete cut off Gaza City from the rest of the territory.

The Gog storyline in JSA finally wrapped up.  I liked it, but damned if this thing didn't take about forever.  The last few pages made me giddy - a few panels from the life of Earth-22's Superman, ending with a lovely page of him watching the Legion of Super-Heroes flying overhead.  The new War Machine series got off to, for me, a wobbly start - a bit too much of the old ultraviolence for my liking, but I'm going to give this a few more issues; heck, I stuck with Sean McKeever on Teen Titans for several issues. Didn't find a copy of LSH, though.  Have two more shops to check tomorrow after work.

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The lawyer-vulture ads are yanked.  Many many angry phone calls and e-mails today, and a page's worth will see print tomorrow.  Catastrophically stupid to begin with.

The crash moved a tiny bit closer to me today.  One of the passengers was the father of a guy I knew at UK.
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Local and national media are still focusing on yesterday's Comair crash.  NBC just ran a piece about a former UK baseball player and his wife who were killed in the crash.  Married Saturday night.  Jeez.  I'm really not looking forward to seeing today's H-L.

Went to see [profile] spykeetom last night.  Dinner and prowling around Berea's campus.  Her dorm is very nice, and nicely air-conditioned, too.

I start the pre-move cleaning and packing panic tonight.  Whee!
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I slept astoundingly well last night.  Was awakened by a ringing phone instead of my alarm clock - my mom called at 8:35 to ask if I've seen the news.  No, as I'm still in bed.

Drag myself to the living room, kick over to WLEX, and there's the news.  A ComAir flight from Lexington to Atlanta crashed right after takeoff.  49 or 50 people on board.  Right now, only one survivor is being reported - the FAA is saying "significant fatalities."  The word coming out of Bluegrass Airport is that the plane wound up on the wrong runway (Bluegrass has 4).

More to come.

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