Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tinnitus or headache?

My ears have been ringing more than usual lately.  It's a high pitched whine so similar to the sound of a cricket that one night I got out of bed to go find the noisy insect.

Oddly, discovering that it was my own ears made the noise a little more tolerable.

But the tinnitus makes having the occasional live cricket chirping in the house unbearable.  Last straw.  Camel's back.

Some of the listed causes of tinnitus are the overuse of OTC medication, specifically aspirin or ibuprofen.

That puts me in a quandary.

I have come up with a regimen that is keeping me as headache-free as I have ever been.  Aspirin plus ibuprofen before bedtime.  If I do that, I don't wake up with a headache or neck ache.  If I don't take them, I wake with one or both.

One article said that it would take 12 aspirin a day to cause tinnitus.  I take only the two.  Once in a while, two more during the day.

So maybe it isn't the aspirin.  I was checked for TMJ years ago. Didn't have it.  No waxy ears.

I've had headaches since I hit puberty.  So being headache-free even part of the time is not a status I am willing to give up.

Day time noises usually mask the sound.  At night, I sleep with a fan to create white noise.  My main concern is whether the tinnitus will lead to permanent hearing loss.

Tinnitus.  Or headaches.

Not a good choice.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Amazed by Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, AZ

For my recent birthday, my friend, Sarah, and I went up to Camp Verde to the Out of Africa wildlife park.

I was a little leery when I saw the road into the park was dirt.  But the park itself was amazing.  

The park people have things planned for you to see as much as possible.  First there was a Safari tour.  This drove through an open area where the animals are loose and the people confined to the tram.  The guide, Courtney, was entertaining and fun.  

I’m sure Courtney’s spiel was well-rehearsed, but the delivery made it seem spontaneous. My favorite part was the warning about not putting fingers out toward the zebras or ostrich. She said, You’ll only make that mistake once. Or 5 times if you’re a slow learner (as she counted down on her fingers.).

All day, it was obvious that the people working here love the animals. They have 2 male giraffes that they have to keep separated to prevent fighting over a non-existent female.  She said male giraffes cost $35,000 but females are $100,000.  If I ever win enough in the lottery, I will buy them a female giraffe. We saw a giraffe up close and Courtney even had it take a cookie from her mouth. 

Zebras were next, then an ostrich.  Courtney said her favorite animal was Chili Pepper the ostrich.  She brought the ostrich all the way around the tram so everyone could see it up close.  She had beautiful, thick eyelashes. 

 Lions, Ibexes, and some strange animal that looked like a long-horned cow, but wasn't.  One zebra hangs out with the antelope instead of the other zebras.  There were many more, but I've forgotten their species.  I tipped Courtney and thanked her for an entertaining tour when we debarked.

Then there was a “train” ride to farther points.  The driver was chatty but not as entertaining as Courtney.  But the animals were amazing.  The first was a huge Bengal tiger, a cross between an orange and a white.  The driver got out and encouraged her to come closer by throwing her little bits of meat.  Then he encouraged her to stand up at the fence by holding meat above her head.

She was huge! And beautiful.  I didn't get a picture because there were too many people and the posts in the train were in the way. Next time I will know to sit on the right side of the train. 

We saw more lions, panthers, black bears, tundra wolves, a brief glimpse of an Australian porcupine, emus.   One set of tigers were hiding, as was the grizzly bear.  But the driver coaxed the white tiger, Chalet, up onto the roof of the shelter by throwing food.  She was magnificent.  She shared the area with a lion.   Next, there were lemurs and prairie dogs.

 The habitats were large and well tended.  There were various kinds of shelters and most had pools of one size or another. The animals looked extremely well cared for.  Many are quite old, which is a testament to the care they get.

Got off the train in time to see a critter show.  If we had been closer, we could have pet the bearded dragon and the cavie being demonstrated.  Sarah and I were more interested in the bunny inside the fenced area nearby, and the two hyenas walking the fence a mere 10 feet from us.  The hyenas are bigger than I realized.

We wandered a bit, to get some better pictures and views of the animals.  There were overlooks providing great views of the lions, tigers, and panthers, and the emus close up. 

Grabbed something to drink then found a shady place to wait for the Tiger Splash show.  Tiger Splash show was awesome.  There was a larger grassy area with a 20-foot-high fence, and a big concrete, in-ground pool in the center.  They brought Chalet, the white tiger, out to the arena 15 minutes or more before the start of the show.  

She ran with some of the kids along the fence.  She wandered the perimeter of the arena.  She backed into the pool a couple times to cool off, and to get a drink.  

The show was very entertaining.  There were 7 people in the arena.  The announcer, two women who picked up pieces of the inflatable toys and popped them when necessary, and 4 guys who played with Chalet.  

They must have gone through a dozen large inflatable toys.  The toys were dangled from long poles.  One of the guys would tempt Chalet by dragging or hovering the toy.  Once he got her interest, he would take off and jump into the pool.  Sometimes she dived into the pool and grabbed the toy.  A couple times she stopped at the edge and waited for him to come back out.  They did various configurations of this for 30 minutes or more. 

They would pop the toys while Chalet was chewing on them.  That was to get her more interested in the new, bigger toy being offered.  The crew was very careful about picking up all the bits of torn plastic.  Oft times she reminded me of Bogie, pulling pieces off the toy, holding it protectively under her paw.

The guys were very aware of what they were doing, but one even grabbed her tail and wound it like a toy wind-up when she wouldn't be tempted by the new toy.  Another time they were playing tug of war and he grabbed her tail “to help”.  Still, they were careful to stay out of claw reach.

We wandered a bit more after the show, looking at the Barbary lion, his mother (age 21!), and other animals.  It started to rain.  We took shelter under the lip of a lean to.  But the water was dripping off. So we high-tailed it to a tram stop with a bigger dry area. 

When the rain slowed, we wandered towards the entrance.  We almost passed a lion without seeing it.  Sarah caught it in the corner of her eye.  The female was laying up against the fence no more than 6 feet away from us.  It bothered her not at all when we stopped to take pictures of her.

As we wended our way, the rain got harder.  That wasn't a problem.  It’s when the lightning cracked and sounded like it was right over head that we decided walking might not be the best idea.  A Safari tram was coming by and stopped to pick us up.  This was faster, but not drier.  The rain came in through the open sides.  And when the tram turned one way or another the collected water rain under us.  We debarked in the pouring rain, soaked almost through.

And laughing about it.  

We plan to return again this fall when the weather cools off.   Next time I am taking my DSLR camera with the telephoto lens.  

I am going to get some awesome pictures!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why must software companies change the UI?

I like to think of myself as flexible and adaptive.  I'm pretty good at picking up new technology.

However, there are limits.

Last week I upgraded two of the software tools I use for work - Visual Studio 2012 and Telerik Test Studio 2013.

And I wondered who the designers had talked to before changing the UI?

It certainly wasn't me.  Or my coworkers.  Were any customers consulted?  Any customers over 25 years old?

The new flat, black and white UI is hard to read.  It's hard to identify the icons.  The font is smaller.  It looks like the UI from the Windows 3.1 days.  Wait.  Even that included some color.

And I wondered, Why?

Why change the UI at all?  Was there something fundamentally wrong with the old UI?  I didn't notice any problem.

Is it necessary to change the UI just to convince people to upgrade?

I know that many times the UI changes are driving by marketing concerns.

But, shouldn't usability be considered?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Regressing to childhood - sort of

I was thinking the other day that my life is so predictable that blog topics can be difficult to think of.

My life basically consists of work, dogs, TV, and books.

I wondered if I had become too settled, too boring.  Had I reached an age where it was just easier to not look for adventure?

Then I remembered how I spent my days when I was in elementary school.

School, dogs, TV, and books.

I'm not changing.  I'm not settling.

I'm regressing to the person I was at my core.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Two dogs, two sleeping choices

I have a low-profile, king sized bed.  Angel can easily get onto it but she prefers the floor.

Maybe it has something to do with the fan, barely seen at the left. 

Bogie, on the other hand, gets quite comfy on the bed.  

Fortunately, there is still plenty of room for me. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

My upcoming birthday has me bothered

Turning 40 didn't bother me. Turning 50 didn't bother me. 

For some reason, my upcoming 59th birthday bothers me. 

I am disappointed in myself.  I always claimed the philosophy that getting older is better than the alternative.  It seems I don't believe it myself.   

Movies like RED and Invasion Roswell don’t help.  Loved RED.  Invasion Roswell was a cheesy SyFy movie. 

What they both shared was aging characters. There were frequent reference to the “old” guys, “gramps”, “behind the times”, etc.  These people are my age!

Sixty seems to be society's cutoff for “old”.  And despite the fact that I am in better shape now than I was at 48, or even 38, it appears that I am buying into this ageist attitude.   

I find myself using my age as a rationale to myself.  “I’m pretty good at Combat for a 58-year-old”, "I'm pretty flexible", etc. This has never been the case in the past.  I think even in my own mind, 60 is the tipping point to old age.  Bah. Humbug.

I think about retirement a lot more now, maybe because I enjoyed my laid off time. Or maybe because it seems "time" to think about it.  I worry that I won't be allowed to work until I can afford to retire.  

Will some employer look at me and decide I'm too old to bother with?  I worry, even though this hasn't been the case in any of the companies where I have worked. 

Things I used to just accept, I now attribute to age.  Neck aches. Aching knees.  Occasional insomnia. These conditions have been with me for as long as I can remember.  I had knee problems as far back as my teens.  Now I see them as inevitable signs I am falling apart.  

The only real symptom I can attribute to age is the change in my eyesight.  I have at least 6 pairs of reading glasses scattered around the house.  However, until I got Lasik 14 years ago, my eyesight had always been bad.  Just near-sighted instead of far-sighted. 

I am trying to focus on the good things about getting older - I don't care as much whether everyone likes me.  I am (usually) happier than I have ever been.  My accumulated experience comes in handy with home repair, pets, and people. 

Logically, I know my being bothered is ridiculous.  I just can’t seem to stop the feelings. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

My self-confidence is easily affected.

I find it dispiriting how easily my self-confidence can be affected.

My self-confidence is shaky, at best.  I am getting better at believing I am a smart and worthy person.  I have good friends who have better taste than to hang around with a loser.

But it takes so little to make me feel inadequate.

On Friday, the automated testing I had completed for Internet Explorer was not working so well on Firefox. This was expected.  What I didn't not expect was to encounter a message box that I cannot identify.

The test is worthless if I can't identify this message.  And I felt worthless for spending 8 hours investigating this issue and not finding a solution.

This feeling was despite the fact that I have not ever been a Web developer and know nothing about how Firefox is coded.

It is also despite the fact that I have only used the Telerik automation tool for 7 weeks.

And I have never had to identity forms or objects.

So there is no reasonable expectation that I should know how to handle this issue.

But I still felt stupid for not being able to.