Seriously Considering Being a Vegetarian

The moral dilemma and yuck factor of meat has really begun to hit home with me lately. I’m losing my enjoyment of meat, not because I dislike the taste but because I’ve become more aware… More aware of the significant negative impacts the meat production industry has on the environment. More aware of the horrific cruelties suffered by the animals. More aware that the flesh that ends up on my plate is full of anti-biotics, hormones and pesticides. (And I can’t help but wonder how that might have contributed to my disease!)

Just today, in my normal course of surfing the web, these links crossed my radar:

Mystery Meat Macrophotography – Mmmm, processed meats! Except for a single hot dog last summer, I haven’t eaten any in a very long time… at least 8 months or more.

Top 10 Reasons Not to Eat Chicken – I knew all this too and we are still eating chicken. In fact, buying it from a supermarket whose factory poultry farms have been filmed undercover to expose their unsavory practices. Everytime Mel buys their chicken, I tell her I wish she hadn’t. I need to just refuse to eat it.

A few years ago I read Fast Food Nation – an excellent book – and as a result can count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten fast food since. I just won’t do it now.
I’m currently reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma and haven’t even gotten to the section on meat yet. I’m still reading the first section about corn and even that’s not pretty. The agricultural and farming practices in this country are seriously fucked up; all shaped by goverment policies and subsidies put into place since the end of WWII.

I suspect by the time I’m done with the book I won’t be eating meat anymore.

Coming Up for Air

Or, where the hell has that Lazydog been?

Make yourself comfortable, this is going to be a long one. Grab a cup of coffee or something, ok?

For the last seven months, according to the in-game age meter, I have logged over 800 hours playing GuildWars. GuildWars is known as an mmorpg – a massive multi-player online role playing game. It is without question it is the most seductive and addicting series of games I’ve ever played. When I say series, I mean there are three versions of the game plus an expansion. One can start with any one of the three, and once your character reaches a certain level, “map travel” to any of the other two or the expansion, if you have them installed.

A friend who plays all kinds of games of that type – World of Warcraft, Never Winter Nights, Oblivion – introduced me to GuildWars. I was at his house one day and his wife showed me the game. They’d just gotten the three versions (known as campaigns) in a multi-pack from Sam’s Club for $50. Later that day, I handed him $100 and told him to go back to the store and get me two sets. Since Mel and I had played Diablo2 together for a number of years, I was sure she would be interested and it would be something we could play together since we hadn’t done any of that kind of gaming together in over a year.

GuildWars Mesmer characterI installed the games and played for a bit. The 4 year old laptop I was using was struggling and eventually bit the dust. I didn’t have desktop computers that would run the game; those were 7 years old and had been purchased then Diablo2 came out, for that reason. Since it was till summer and I was busy, I took a break for a while. Then in late August I got a hoopty new latop courtesy of my employer and reinstalled the game software. Oh, this was SO much better!

This game is typical of its genre in that you choose a character class (profession) and then work towards building it by way of leveling up, gaining additional skills and equipping your “toon” with increasingly better armor and weapons. I’d chosen a mage type character, a domination-magic-based, staff-fighting profession called Mesmer.

GuildWars is visually stunning, the graphics are the best I’ve seen in a game of its type and that’s what initially attracted me to it. The game scenery is amazing. In most parts of the game, the game soundtrack is awesome, hauntingly beautiful music. The game can be played in many, many ways with the primary being player-vs-environment (PVE); the role playing aspect where your character follows the storyline by completing quests and missions. You can play with other players by forming parties or you can use non-player characters (NPCs) to move through the game. Aside from this, there is player vs. player (PVP: one on one, four on four), guild vs. guild, alliance battles, in-game games, just plain wandering around killing monsters, and more. Something to suit everyone. While not as large as WoW, GuildWars has about 4 million players.

The social aspects of the game are great and I’ve met many nice people from all over the world. I have some 45 people on my friends list and there’s usually always someone on to play with. I’ve joined a guild and my guild leader has helped me through many difficult parts of the game. In return, I’ve helped him recruit for the guild. I’ve also learned a bit about role-playing, not something I’d ever really done, and now my character has a life of her own.

I’ve tried to interest Mel in the game but she has pronounced it too complex. Though she has promised to try again at some point, I am not hopeful because there’s a fairly steep learning curve and computers cause her anxiety as it is. I do wish that she’d play with me though because in our earlier years together we used to play other computer games together on winter nights and they were some of my favorite times.

By October, I was hooked hard core and now play on a daily basis, often for many hours a day. Not only has this blog been dark as a result, I am not proud to report that many other things have suffered as well. Sleep has suffered and with it my committment to taking my dietary supplements (because I can’t get the timing right anymore) and getting any sort of exercise. Work has suffered as I drag myself through the days, often too tired to be much more than minimally productive. Mel has suffered, literally becoming a gaming widow. Her emotions regularly cycle between disgust, annoyance, anger, resignation and occasionally, encouragement, when it suits her to have me at home on the couch and pacified.

THIS IS BAD, VERY BAD. I KNOW. So, what the fuck am I doing? I’ve given this some thought…

I’ve always claimed to not have an addictive personality but I really do. I was addicted to cigarettes for years, I’ve been addicted to sweets, I’ve been addicted to other games. This time around the game came along right after I’d been immersed in multiple sclerosis research. I’d spent a few solid months consuming much that the internet had to offer about the disease and trying to decide what my best options were. I made decisions and began to work my plan. Once that happened, the need for the rabid research was gone and I got tired of defining myself as someone with ms. After a while, I felt better and felt like what I was doing had the potential to work. However, I was still experiencing symptoms and would occasionally run up against my limitations, which is and has been depressing.

At the same time I was developing a different online persona in the form of this game character. She could be anything I wanted her to be and clearly, she is a fit, kick-ass fighter who does not have ms. For the most part, the people I play with in game do not know this about me and even if they do, since they don’t know me in real life they have no reason to feel sorry for me the way my friends and family have.

This is the height of escapism and I have loved every minute of it. Given that depression can be an actual symptom (depending on the area of the brain affected) as well as a reaction to having the disease, the game has been a great distraction from that depression. Perhaps I’d have been more depressed if I’d not had the game, though I don’t know.

I understand now why people used to call the game EverQuest “EverCrack” – GuildWars is also that addicting. Except now I am having trouble stopping and I NEED to stop. Never mind that I don’t want to, I need to. I need to catch up on three months worth of Quicken entries and do my taxes, I need to clean my house, I need to exercise regularly (or I’m never going to be able to hike the Burren when we go back to Ireland in June), I need to catch up at work, I need, I need, I need…

I may need to remove the computer from my house for a while though I’m not sure that’s the answer because it would be every bit as tempting in my office. Regardless, the self-bargaining process begins… any ideas for me?

How Ironic

Every third Thursday, the neurology practice I go to holds a support group meeting for their MS patients. They typically have a speaker—a specialist from within the practice or someone from the university—give a lecture on some aspect of MS.

It’s usually interesting and I learn something. The only thing I don’t like is that the events are sponsored by a pharmaceutical company so they’re always sure to let us know that pizza, fruit tray and trinkets are provided by XYZ pharmaceuticals. (Uggh, why must *everything* be commercialized?)

Anyway, the last meeting was held the day after that conference I went to in Rochester ended. My own neurologist was giving a lecture on cognitive function and memory issues for MS patients. It was a topic I was interested in and I really wanted to hear what he had to say…

But I freakin’ forgot to go!

Is it just me…

Or does anyone else think Ellen Degeneres is being ridiculous?

Now, I haven’t followed this whole incident too closely but from what I can tell, Ellen fucked up. The woman SIGNED a CONTRACT that said, if for whatever reason, the dog adoption did not work out that the dog should be returned to the rescue organization.

This is for the protection of the dog. Mel and I signed a similar contract when we adopted Molly. Basically it says you can’t give the dog you adopt from a rescue organization away and it has to be returned to them. Otherwise, they have no control over where it ends up which defeats the purpose of the rescue to begin with. Think about it. Typically, dogs that are rescued have issues and if the adopter passes the dog on to someone else who isn’t fully prepared to deal with that they may give the dog away again or take it to a shelter. So the dog ends up right where it started and is not any better off.

Did Ellen really need to make this public? Does she think the rescue organization will bend to her pleas because she’s a public figure and people will take her side? Or maybe, as Mel suggested, the blubbering baby routine was nothing more than a publicity stunt anyway.

Bah, pffft. We’ve lost a bit of respect for her over this silliness.

Down the road… learning stuff?

This week I’m at a conference in Rochester, for the second year in a row. So far, the best part has been having a hotel room to myself. My own bed. No dogs, parrots or Mel banging around. Quiet… aaaaahhh. Of course, I miss them. 😉 That’s not to say that I haven’t learned something and am enjoying the conference, too. I am, really.

The best presentations I’ve seen thus far have been centered around blogging and using WordPress as a content management system. It’s a hot subject right now as higher ed institutions try to incorporate blogging into marketing efforts by putting up student blogs and publishing their print magazines online. I wish that I could do more with that at work but the combination of the gun-shy administration (“What, let students blog on our website?”) and not having the right technology (LAMP) makes the sale pretty difficult at the moment.

Tonight I’ll be having dinner (Indian!) with some fun folks from the company we purchased our online calendar system from. We’re in a beta program with them right now for another product so I deal with my account rep and the product support specialist a lot. They’re both a hoot and I was pleased when they said they wanted to take their favorite client to dinner. Should be a good time.

After that, assuming we don’t drink too much, it’ll be back to my nice quiet room for some time with my current online obsession.


If there’s anyone even checking this blog anymore, I want you to know that I’m still here and planning to be back more regularly soon. You know the deal… life gets in the way.

Work has been hell and will continue to be through the end of the year as my employer prepares for its centennial year. All kinds of extra projects are being handed out to everyone.

One of my parrots has been ill for nearly three months. She got an aspergillus (mold) infection that has required twice daily nebulization treatments (for the first month) and daily oral medications (ongoing). Keeping weight on the bird has been a nightmare. The vet bills have reached almost $2k at this point and the most recent round of blood work shows values worse than the previous test. Yet, now the bird seems almost fine. Go figure.

The gas company tore up my driveway to fix a gas leak. The contractor they sent to fix it was asked for an estimate to replace the entire driveway but they never got back to me. Finally, the gas company sent a check to buy out on the portion that would be attributed to their damage. However, there is another gas leak in the same area and I don’t want to have the work done until they fix that too. Their position is that it’s too low of a priority to fix because it’s not a significant leak. Bleh, like I want them to come f*ck up my new driveway once they finally decide to fix it… So I am in the wait and argue game.

On the positive side, my MS symptoms have become less frequent. The biggest problem is hot weather which can make it hard for me to walk and easy for me to piss myself if I’m not careful. I’m much better now than I was this spring.

I also managed to clean out my home office this summer, netting about $750 between eBay and two garage sales. You can actually see the floor in that room now! There’s still quite a bit to be done in there – I’d call it halfway finished – but the difference is encouraging.

I became an aunt for the second time on Father’s Day. Today, my brother, his wife and my two nephews are in Newport, RI where my brother is making his fourth attempt at a spot in the Olympics for sailing.

My brother left for the Navy on Tuesday. As he’s the youngest and most spoiled, the service ought to help with that “silver spoon” mentality. 😉

That’s it for now! I hope you’re all well.

You want eight?

Shit. I’ve been away so long. Okay, here goes:

  1. HABIT/FACT: I am a major procrastinator. Yeah, I know it’s supposed to be a little known tidbit but since I’ve been gone so long from the blog I just figured I’d start with that as my excuse.
  2. FACT: I lived in Colorado for a year as a kid. It was when I was in the 2nd grade. That year I learned how to fish and ski, chipped my front tooth on a cafeteria table and laughed when my younger brother – who was five – got run over by a bus. It just seemed funny to me when mom told me, I think I saw it in my head like a cartoon. Mom got mad and slapped me.
  3. FACT: I’ve never had to wear a cast. The only bones I ever broke were some small ones in the top of my foot, owing to a water skiing accident when I was 16.
  4. FACT: I’ve never been written a ticket for a moving violation… yet.
  5. FACT: I can move my big toe and 3rd toe in tandem while the 2nd, 4th and little toe stay still. On both feet. I’ve never met anyone that can do this. When I was a kid I used to distract my grandma from the TV by putting my feet up on the coffee table and moving those 2 toes. She’d laugh and laugh.
  6. HABIT/FACT: I cannot stand a dirty fridge and clean it nearly every time new groceries come into the house.
  7. FACT: I’ve seen over 50 live music shows since I was a young teen. Among these: The Rolling Stones (2 or 3x), David Bowie (3x), Rush, The Doobie Brothers, Journey, Fleetwood Mac (2x), Neil Young, Midnight Oil, Indigo Girls (3x), BareNaked Ladies (3x), Annie Lennox, Sting, Neil Diamond, Simon & Garfunkel, Journey, Styx, Rusted Root, Jewel, U2, Laurie Anderson, Grateful Dead (3x), The Cult, The B-52s (2x), Foreigner, The Tragically Hip (4x), Sarah MacLachan, (2x), Moody Blues, Tori Amos, Supertramp, KISS, Melissa Etheridge, Santana, and much, much more.
  8. FACT: I have never passed on a chain letter in my life, before or after the inception of email technology. So…

I can’t even begin to tag 8 people for a meme that’s almost 2 weeks old. Sorry MJ and Chari.