Archive for the ‘General’ Category.

Get A Pap Test

If you are female and thinking of not getting a regular pap test / pap smear, please reconsider. You already know that cervical cancer is both very common and very treatable and it has no symptoms until it has already done a huge amount of damage. The test is definitely uncomfortable. But this may help:


Facebook post by Verana Faye

Verana Faye, March 2, 2020 ·
This morning I went to the doctor to get a referral for a dermatologist. At my appointment they let me know I was due for a pap smear and asked if I wanted it right then and there. My initial reaction was nervousness and resistance. I have really disliked pap smears in the past and have found them to be quick, cold, and even traumatic at times. Then I remembered the article I posted recently about some practitioners at Planned Parenthood who are now inviting women to insert the speculum themselves as a gesture of autonomy and consent. I suddenly got excited and decided to ask for this.

I was greeted by a young resident who told me she would be giving me the pap smear. Within a few minutes we were talking about menstrual cups and Thinx menstrual panties. So far this was already going very differently! I then told her about the article I had read recently and asked her if I could insert the speculum myself. She was a bit taken aback, but seemed to also get excited.

“I am not quite sure how it will work, but let’s give it a try!”

I was curious about the confusion because to me it felt very straight forward, but her willingness and curiosity brought tears to my eyes.
We worked together. We took it slowly.

I told her how I wanted it to go, and she made sure all the tools were in place before applying the lube on the speculum for me. I leaned back, took a slow breath, and inserted the speculum myself. I then took another deep breath and handed it to her to complete the exam. She talked me through what she was doing. And in no time, we were complete.

I sat up and she looked me in the eye and said, “I would love to give women that option in the future. Can you give me some feedback? How was that for you? What felt good? What would you have wanted different?” I got to share. I got to talk about my experience and let her know how there were a couple of places where I would have loved her to invite a deep relaxing breath or an additional instruction or invitation.

At the end, she turned to me one last time and said, “Thank you for advocating for yourself today.”

I felt fucking powerful. I could feel her feeling powerful too. I felt us rise together in that tiny room for those precious moments. I feel so grateful for her openness and for the opportunity to work together with other women to change the way we engage with our bodies and with “standard” medical care.

Right now Mercury is retrograding over my natal Mars. This is an acute time for me to be more direct and action oriented with my communication. Though it also may be a time for heated conversation, it is also one for reform and personal and collective liberation. The planet Neptune is also in a square to my natal Mercury. This is a much longer transit, lasting several years. This is a once in a lifetime time for me to heal some old, confusing threads around communication, and how my voice impacts and influences space and spirit around me. I am so grateful to feel these influences so strongly today and for the grace and clarity with which I asked for what I needed. This has not been easy for me in the past and I bow deeply to life for the weavings and harvestings of today. ❤
Art by Amelia Rankine

Zoom Meetings

Zoom meeting are just modern seances.


The Best Pair of COVID Charts I’ve Seen

This is looking very good!

via CovidTrends and Google


The US COVID death charts are following… probably.

Bluetooth Earbud Tip for Zoom

I recently got some bluetooth earbuds for using on Zoom for Windows. Here’s a super tip

Bluetooth connects to computers 2 ways. “Headset AG” or “Headphone stereo”. AG is 2-way (the earbuds are headphones and a microphone) while regular is 1-way (the earbuds are just a headphone). The problem is that when you do it 2-way, the sound quality in both directions is much lower, telephone quality.

The tip: set ALL of your sound outputs on your computer to go to the “regular” bluetooth device and use the microphone on your laptop. Now you have great sounding wireless headphones. It can be tricky to figure out how to change all the outputs. Here are the key ones for me:

In Zoom:

I selected the Speaker “Headphones (Mpow Flame Solo Stereo)” and not the “Headset (Mpow Flame Solo Hands-Free AG Audio)”. And the the microphone, I selected the one built into the computer “Microphone Array (Realtek High Definition Audio”.


In Windows, Click on the Speaker icon in the tray to get this menu and…


then click on the correct speaker like so:

Now (hopefully!) all of your audio outputs will go to your earbuds in high quality. Enjoy the cordlessness!


Facebook and Imgur Fasting

I’m taking a 3 day Facebook and fast. Interrupting the Doomscrolling cycle will be good for my mental health.

(reminder to my future-self.. I keep scrolling, thinking I’m looking for the positive story that will give me hope and set me right. What I end up doing is building a catalog of negative stories that drive me further to look for the balancing positive ones. Hence, the doomscrolling cycle)

COVID Projections

I place this here as a reality check to myself, suggesting how long this pandemic still has to go, and as a landmark for when some anti-vaxxer says something like “Nya nya, see? The infection rates fell on their own. I knew I didn’t need to get vaccinated!” To which I respond with this quote from on 2-3-21:

– We estimate COVID-19 herd immunity (>70% of population immune) will be reached in the US during summer 2021 (Jun-Aug 2021). At a high level, herd immunity is a concept in which a population can be protected from a virus if enough people possess immunity.

– At the time herd immunity is reached, roughly half of the immunity will be achieved through natural infection, and the other half will be achieved through vaccination.

– New infections may become minimal before herd immunity is reached. But due to imported cases and localized clusters, it is unlikely that new infections will drop to zero until at least 2022.

– Deaths may drop to low levels even earlier (May-Jul 2021), in part due to a vaccine distribution strategy that initially prioritizes high-risk individuals. Once deaths fall to minimal levels, we may see a relaxation of restrictions.

– Summarizing the above findings, our best estimate of a complete “return to normal” in the US is mid-summer 2021 (June/July 2021).

– We estimate roughly 70-75% of the US population (230-250 million) will receive at least one dose of the vaccine by the end of 2021, with children being the last group to receive it (fall 2021).

– We estimate around 30-40% of the US population (~115 million) will have been infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus by the end of 2021. That is an additional 50 million infections since mid-December 2020.

– This translates to a final US COVID-19 death toll of roughly 600,000 (±100,000) reported deaths, or ~300,000 additional deaths since mid-December 2020.

(Frank T. pointed me to this source, thanks Frank!)

Presidents and GDP

“Follow the money.”

I have several times promoted the idea that the president’s political party has no influence on the US GDP or any other major economic indicator. I used as evidence some charts and discussion I’ve found online and eyeballing of Federal Reserve charts. I think I was wrong! I came across an article today that says my eyeballing skills are not as good as I believed! The research and newspaper article says, among other things:

Since 1933, the economy has grown at an annual average rate of 4.6 percent under Democratic presidents and 2.4 percent under Republicans, according to a Times analysis. In more concrete terms: The average income of Americans would be more than double its current level if the economy had somehow grown at the Democratic rate for all of the past nine decades.

I’m blown away at this analysis! I always hand-wavingly-guessed that Republicans had an edge when it came to sound fiscal policy. Republicans wear suits better (remember Alex Keaton on Family Ties?)… “greed is good”… all that! But this research turns the idea on its head!

The research paper uses some economics theory and math to say (warning, economics geekery. read the paper for more info):

…it appears that the Democratic edge stems mainly from more benign oil shocks, superior total factor productivity (TFP) performance, a more favorable international environment, and perhaps more optimistic consumer expectations about the near-term future.

The research was published in the peer reviewed American Economic Review in 2016.

– The research article, Presidents and the US Economy: An Econometric Exploration (local copy)
– The New York Times article: Opinion: Why Are Republican Presidents So Bad for the Economy?

COVID Vaccination #1

Is Zicam Homeopathy or Medicine

Our doctor recommended Zicam.

It is a “1x” homeopathic dilution of zincum gluconicum.. Normally I would say that homeopathy is absolute rubbish…. no let me revise that statement and say firmly, “homeopathy is absolute rubbish.” But a “1x” dilution is a 1 to 10 dilution… which is to say that 10% the ingredients are actual… ingredients. That sounds like MEDICINE. WTF?

I HATE that this company is touting actual medical studies and co-mingling it with the notion that it is homeopathy. It isn’t. Or maybe it is. The box says “This product is not required to go through the FDA’s New Drug Application approval process.” Hey FDA, you’re screwing up!

Seeking Smartlock Recommendations

ISO recommendations for a smartlock for an external door. Especially looking to make sure our doors are locked at night with an app.