ESO and the kitchen sink…

I promise, this post will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! Mwahahaha…

– serious face –

One of the things I love about ESO [Elder Scrolls Online] is the powerful, and very flexible housing system. All my gold goes on recipes for housing ‘furniture’. But while I can make a great looking bath tub, complete with steam rising from the water, there is no recipe yet for kitchen sinks, or bathroom sinks for that matter. And don’t get me started on the lack of loos!

Ahem. In an odd twist, the very lack of a kitchen sink has generated more innovation amongst ESO housing enthusiasts than just about anything else I can think of. And I’m obsessed as well. 🙂

The video below [not mine!] shows how to create a couple of kitchen sinks from other ‘things’. When you smoosh these things together, you get some amazing results:

Smile. 🙂

Meeks


New Composer – Nick Murray

Just discovered Nick Murray via Soundcloud, of course. 🙂 This video clip is from the 2018 Winter Olympics. It’s called ‘Born to Fight’:

There are heaps of other tracks as well but Born to Fight is my favourite at the moment. Awesome music to write to!

cheers
Meeks


Success and Plan B

I’ve admired Arnold Schwarzenegger for decades, literally. Not because he was the world’s best actor -rolls eyes- definitely not because of that. No, I admired him for making the American Dream work for him. For being smart enough to succeed at every impossible task he set for himself.

But…it was not until I saw this video that I realised how utterly driven he was and is:

I understand driven. My father was driven. My ex is still driven. Me? I guess I’ve always been driven too, but not to succeed in the accepted sense. All my life I’ve wanted to be the best person I am capable of being.

I won’t bore you with a whole lot of personal history, or philosophy for that matter, I’ll simply tell you about a Greek concept called ‘Eudaimonia’:

According to Aristotle, every living or human-made thing, including its parts, has a unique or characteristic function or activity that distinguishes it from all other things. The highest good of a thing consists of the good performance of its characteristic function, and the virtue or excellence of a thing consists of whatever traits or qualities enable it to perform that function well.

https://www.britannica.com/topic/eudaimonia

Having been brought up as a Catholic, my definition of Eudaimonia has to include ethics, so part of what I strive for is a kind of moral goodness. I don’t lie, I don’t cheat, I’ve never stolen anything in my life, and I try very hard never to hurt anyone, either physically or emotionally. But not doing something is not enough. I also try very hard to ‘right wrongs’ when I can. That’s why Twitter has become the forum where I try to counter false information. And because I have enough to live a modest, contented life, I try to give to the less fortunate, when I can. To be kind. To put others first, because that is my definition of love.

Another part of my Eudaimonia is to develop all the talents I was born with. That’s where my writing comes in. I love being told that someone enjoyed my writing, and I would love to be a best selling author. But…popular and financial success has to be according to my rules. No compromise. For me, writing has always and will always be ‘Plan B’.

I guess a lot of you are thinking that I’m trying to be some kind of latter day Mother Theresa. Believe me, I’m not. My reasons for all of the above are quite selfish, you see one of the things I discovered while doing a philosophy degree was that Eudaimonia can be measured…by the death bed test.

Morbid? Not really. The death bed test goes something like this: a man [or woman!] is dying. As they lie there, waiting to throw off this mortal coil, they think back over their lives, over everything they have ever done. Being Eudaimon is to find that you have no regrets.

That is my Plan A – to have no regrets. Much as I still admire Arnold Schwarzeneger, I wonder if he will have any. He’s accomplished most of what he set out to do, but what price did he have to pay for that success? And how clean are his hands?

I don’t believe Schwarzeneger would take what was not his, but I don’t think he gave much of himself either. Will he be remembered by those he leaves behind as a loving man, or as a self-centred, selfish one?

Someone once said that I was a ‘difficult woman’. That’s true. But I try very hard to be a good one.

I’d love to read your comments, but not about me. I’m simply the counter argument to Schwarzeneger’s view of life, and the meaning of success. Let’s talk instead about life, death and the meaning of the universe.

Hugs,
Meeks


Masks – how NOT to fog up

Yes, I admit it, I wear glasses, and yes they do fog up when I’m wearing a mask, so I thought this method looked promising. I haven’t tried it, yet, so I’d love some feedback:

cheers
Meeks


I love you Warrandyte!!!

Almost exactly a month ago, I drove in to Warrandyte to pick up some necessary prescriptions from the chemist. A month ago I was the only person wearing a mask.

Today…every. single. person. I. saw. was. wearing. a. MASK!

Thank you, just…thanks 🙂

love
Meeks


Shigeru Umebayashi – composer

This track from Ghost of Tsushima introduced me to Shigeru Umebayashi :

Thank you Soundcloud!

Then, like a hound dog on the scent, I went looking for more and found the soundtrack for In the Mood for Love. Now I am in love.

Enjoy,
Meeks


WHAT IT IS REALLY LIKE TO BE INTUBATED AND PLACED ON A VENTILATOR Written by a nurse who works with ventilators: “Here you go folks… for those people who don’t understand what it means to be on a ventilator but want to take the chance of going out without a mask. For starters, it’s NOT an oxygen mask put over the mouth while the patient is comfortably lying down and reading magazines. Ventilation for Covid-19 is a painful intubation that goes down your throat and stays there until you live or you die. It is done under anesthesia for 2 to 3 weeks without moving, often upside down, with a tube inserted from the mouth up to the trachea and allows you to breathe to the rhythm of the lung machine. The patient can’t talk or eat, or do anything naturally – the machine keeps you alive. Medications must be given to paralyze the person so they do not struggle or try to breathe on their own, which would work against the machine. So first they are rendered unconscious, sedated, and then have their muscles paralyzed. The discomfort and pain they feel from this means medical experts have to administer sedatives and painkillers to ensure tube tolerance for as long as the machine is needed. It’s like being in an artificial coma. After 20 days from this treatment, a young patient loses 40% muscle mass, and gets mouth or vocal cords trauma, as well as possible pulmonary or heart complications. Older people lose more muscle mass quicker. It is for this reason that old or already weak people can’t withstand the treatment and die. Their bodies can not handle the trauma of all these procedures and stresses it places on their already sick body. Many of us are in this boat … so stay safe unless you want to take the chance of ending up here. This is NOT the flu. Add a tube into your stomach, either through your nose or skin for liquid food, a sticky bag around your butt to collect the diarrhea, a foley catheter to collect urine, an IV for fluids and meds, an A-line foley to monitor your BP that is completely dependent upon finely calculated med doses, teams of nurses, CRNA’s and MA’s to reposition your limbs every two hours and lying on a mat that circulates ice cold fluid to help bring down your 104 degree temp. Anyone want to try all that out? Stay home and wear a mask when you go out! Stay safe and well!” What this article doesn’t say is that the patient can hear everything that is said so if the staff carelessly talks about death, the patient panics. If the sedatives are lessened, the patient panics because he can’t breath or talk or, in his case, move. When they begin to lower the pain medications, the patient screams in his head but can’t make a sound. When they take out the tubes it’s extremely uncomfortable. A trachea may replace the respirator, the patient still can’t talk or eat without a tube. Your child, your spouse, your parent, suffers from covid 19 alone in the hospital. The victims are not limited to strangers. When you choose to crowd, unmasked, into newly opened stores for some irrelevant purchase, ask yourself if it’s worth a lifetime of knowing your child suffered, maybe died, alone.

I’m reblogging this brutally honest description of what’s involved when someone is put on a ventilator because the hard truths have to be spoken, again and again and again until the complacency stops.

Phoenix Rainez

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For Victorians Only

If you thought you were safe from Covid-19 because you live in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, or out bush somewhere, think again. DHHS publishes a table of case numbers by local government area, but the table is waaaaay down the very bottom of the daily report. I’m ashamed to say I only found it today myself, so I thought it might help if everyone could check their own area.

[Note: On the DHHS website, the table is sorted by number of cases. I copied the DHHS table and sorted it by locality to make it easier to find your own area]

New cases of Covid-19 by locality name

LGAConfirmed cases (ever)Active cases (current)
ALPINE10
ARARAT50
BALLARAT2411
BANYULE288147
BASS COAST61
BAW BAW93
BAYSIDE6326
BENALLA30
BOROONDARA15152
BRIMBANK730481
BULOKE00
CAMPASPE50
CARDINIA5324
CASEY296149
CENTRAL GOLDFIELDS10
COLAC OTWAY4646
CORANGAMITE10
DAREBIN19391
EAST GIPPSLAND21
FRANKSTON6218
GANNAWARRA20
GLEN EIRA9028
GLENELG65
GOLDEN PLAINS96
GREATER BENDIGO144
GREATER DANDENONG11884
GREATER GEELONG10429
GREATER SHEPPARTON171
HEPBURN20
HINDMARSH00
HOBSONS BAY13373
HORSHAM107
HUME728338
INDIGO00
INTERSTATE857
KINGSTON8242
KNOX5526
LATROBE134
LODDON41
MACEDON RANGES188
MANNINGHAM9340
MANSFIELD41
MARIBYRNONG205117
MAROONDAH4020
MELBOURNE542281
MELTON318195
MILDURA50
MITCHELL349
MOIRA110
MONASH11849
MOONEE VALLEY473227
MOORABOOL129
MORELAND429238
MORNINGTON PENINSULA8014
MOUNT ALEXANDER71
MOYNE10
MURRINDINDI20
NILLUMBIK5524
NORTHERN GRAMPIANS30
OVERSEAS50
PORT PHILLIP11142
PYRENEES00
QUEENSCLIFFE00
SOUTH GIPPSLAND94
SOUTHERN GRAMPIANS20
STONNINGTON15539
STRATHBOGIE20
SURF COAST144
SWAN HILL62
TOTAL77443995
TOWONG00
UNKNOWN4946
WANGARATTA20
WARRNAMBOOL50
WELLINGTON130
WEST WIMMERA10
WHITEHORSE9749
WHITTLESEA379245
WODONGA10
WYNDHAM756474
YARRA218126
YARRA RANGES5726
YARRIAMBIACK10

I live in the Shire of Nillumbik, and guess what? Yup, we have 24 active cases. I was shocked. This virus is spreading like a grass fire.

And now a basic little chart of how the new cases have been rising since May 1, 2020 [that’s when I started recording daily cases on my spreadsheet].

This is a link to the Daniel Andrews update posted 2 hours ago. In that update he confirms that one of the men who succumbed to Covid-19 overnight was in his 40s. Bear that in mind as you read the rest of this post.

And finally a plea : if you won’t wear a mask to protect others, please wear one to protect yourself.

Quite apart from the threat of fines, evidence is growing of long term health problems in many of those who get Covid-19 and recover. According to data from Italy, 87% of recovered patients in the study had some symptoms/health problems for up to 2 months afterwards. Only 13% reported no symptoms/problems at all.

The following graphic is a screenshot taken from the Med Cram video on ‘Long Haulers’ – i.e. those who continue to have symptoms after the virus is gone:

The next graphic is from the same Med Cram video:

Breakdown of data regarding Covid-19 ‘Long Haulers’

What the graphic shows is the breakdown of the data. These are the important bits:

  • 143 recovered patients were studied
  • all of the patients were sick enough to be admitted to hospital
  • the median age of the patients in the study was 56 [median means that there were just as many patients younger than 56 as there were older than 56. So it’s not an ‘average’]
  • 13% of patients studied had no symptoms/health problems after recovering from the virus
  • 32% had 1-2 symptoms/health problems for up to 2 months after recovering from the virus
  • 55% had 3 or more symptoms/health problems for up to 2 months after recovering from the virus.

So, if you get sick enough to be hospitalised, you’re going to feel pretty awful for quite some time afterwards. But who is this ‘you’?

To find out, I searched for ‘long haulers’ and ‘covid-19’ on Youtube. I found so much more than I ever expected. This video is about a 38 year old woman who’s been battling the after effects of Covid-19 for months:

This next video gives some info about how many ‘long haulers’ there are:

We have to rethink our response to Covid-19. It is not just a danger to ‘oldies’. It is not just a danger to people with co-morbidities. It is a danger to all of us, of any age.

Next time you go out, ask yourself if you want to become one of the ‘long haulers’. If the answer is no, wear a mask and stay away from those who don’t.

cheers
Meeks


Motivation and muddying the waters

The iVokh are winged, sociopathic aliens, but their motivation is not that different to our own – pride, a Machiavellian lust for power, fear, hatred – and none exhibit those emotions more clearly than the Yellow. As the most powerful Healer in the Guild of Healers, its power is absolute, but only in the Settlement. While its rival, the Blue, remains free, danger could strike from the shadows at any time.

The following is a critical scene from the second book of Vokhtah in which the Yellow’s Assistant brings the news that the Blue may be dead. But it learned this news from someone who might be a Trader. The distrust between Healers and Traders goes back generations, and the Assistant itself was once a Trader.

To get at the truth, the Yellow uses its power to feel the Assistant’s emotions while it’s being interrogated [think paranormal polygraph test], but it’s the Yellow’s own emotions that colour how it interprets the results.

This is a critical scene, and I need fresh eyes to see if it makes sense, if the motivation and the thinking it engenders ring ‘true’. All beta responses gratefully accepted!

Scene in the Settlement between the Yellow and its Assistant:

The Yellow’s eyes narrowed to hard, vertical slits as it stared at the head beneath its hands. A Trader, on the very last day of Tohoh, and carrying the chain of a dead healer who might have been the Blue?

Sitting back on its haunches, the Yellow wiped its hands in the sand as it tried to sort fact from fiction. It very much wanted the Blue to be dead, but that was no secret. Was it being told what it wanted to hear, or was its Assistant reporting what actually happened? Yet if the Refugee really was a Trader, then the story of the Healer’s death was almost certainly a lie, but to what purpose?

“Where being this…Trader now?”

“With other Refugees, Master,” its Assistant said eagerly. “Thinking might being useful…”

Useful, yes, but to whom? If the Blue died while travelling with the caravan, why not simply return the chain it was wearing? Passengers died in the Wild all the time. No one would have given it a second thought. Why lie about how it died? It did not make sense unless the Traders wanted the Guild to think the Blue was dead. But again, to what purpose? They gained nothing from-

but what of Blue?

The gears inside the Yellow’s head seemed to click and whir as the events surrounding the Blue’s disappearance suddenly took on a new significance. First the report of a stolen chain. Then a few days later, the return of the missing Timekeeper’s ladle, along with the description of a ‘tall, thin Messenger’ who had paid for passage on the last caravan of the season…with a blue gem shard. Clearly, the so-called Messenger had been the Blue, and now it was beyond reach.

But what if the Blue had not left with the caravan at all? What if its disappearance had been nothing but a cunning charade? What if it had been hiding in the Traders’ Quarter ever since, spinning a web of deceit to undermine the Guild-

Ki!…not Guild, the Yellow thought, its stomach suddenly churning with bile. Self!

The two had been rivals for decades, and the Blue had always hated being second best. It would never just slink away. It would want to revenge itself on the one who had brought about its downfall, and what better place to do so than in the Quarter? Close enough to sneak in and out of the Settlement, but the one place no one would ever think to look. And, of course, the Traders would not be averse to undermining the Guild as well, especially if they were paid well enough.

It all made perfect sense, except for one thing: why had the Blue waited until the very end of Tohoh to have the chain ‘delivered’. It would have been far better to have the Trader bring the chain into the Settlement while there were still genuine Refugees to mask its arrival.

That was what the Traders had done in the past when they tried to infiltrate the Settlement. Waiting until the last moment, and then sending in a lone Trader was simply stupid. They must have known the Guard would turn it away…

but guard being Assistant

The sense of betrayal was so overpowering, the Yellow almost lost control and killed its Assistant there and then. Leaping to its feet, it retreated to the other side of the cavern and poured itself a cup of pippa juice, sipping slowly until the bloodlust subsided. Killing its Assistant before extracting every last detail would not be wise…

especially if being others

Because Messengers were never assigned to gate duty. Yet that was precisely where the Yellow’s Assistant had been sent, by the Master of Acolytes. Coincidence? A desire for maximum humiliation? Or a sign that the Master was part of the plot as well?

The Yellow put the cup down with exaggerated care and forced itself to breathe, long and slow. It had not clawed its way to the top of the Guild hierarchy by being precipitate. Its Assistant might be capable of conspiring with the Blue, but the Master of Acolytes possessed less guile than a rock. That was one reason it had never been elevated to the Council, that plus the fact that it had never shown the slightest interest in politics. Every speck of energy it possessed had been expended on finding a healer-seneschal. And it had not deviated from that obsession despite decades of failure and the open contempt of most healers. Making a fuss in public was very much in character, plotting in private was not.

Yet if the Master was not involved in the Blue’s plot, then the Assistant could not be involved either because it could not have known that it would be assigned to gate duty. Of course that did not preclude the young fool from helping one of its own when it saw the opportunity, but again, the Blue would not have known that. So why would it initiate a plan so likely to fail?

To successfully infiltrate the Settlement, it would need everyone to believe that it was dead, without question. Yet this botched plan had done the exact opposite, raising questions where there had been none. It would have done far better to simply leave the chain somewhere for the guards to find. The gate guards were not known for their intelligence, but even they would know better than to leave seven starrock links out on the…

“Takh preserve!”

Shock held the Yellow frozen for a moment. Was that it? Was the Trader supposed to fail? Was it supposed to be turned away…after it delivered the links? Because of course the guards would take the links to someone in authority, and of course that someone would try to discover who the dead Healer had been.

Once the links were connected to the Blue, its supposed death would be accepted as fact because there would be no one to interrogate. In the meantime, the so-called Refugee would be safe inside the Trader’s Quarter, mission accomplished.

A cunning plan, and worthy of the Blue, but something had gone wrong. Instead of being confronted by a stupid gate guard, the Trader had been met by a Messenger with divided loyalties, and now that Trader was languishing inside the Settlement with the rest of the Refugees!

A trill of pure delight burst from the Yellow’s cilia as it stared at its Assistant. Far from being a conspirator, the young fool may have inadvertently helped foil the Blue’s plot!

But only if being true, the Yellow thought as it strode across the cavern and dropped to its knees in front of its Assistant. Arranging itself comfortably on the sand, it reached out and initiated the truthsaying once more.

“Why hiding Master’s visit?”

“Not hiding! Just…not wanting to bother Yellow with…”

The Yellow felt a surge of contempt rise and fall beneath its fingers.

“With?” it asked gently.

“Having great respect for all Healers! Truly. Especially Masters but…”

Again that surge of contempt.

“Speaking freely.”

A swell of anger rose beneath the Yellow’s fingers before its Assistant finally spoke again.

“Everyone knowing healer-seneschal being impossible! Master being-…”

The angry out-pouring cut off mid-word, but the seething anger continued for some time as the young Trader struggled to control its feelings. It clearly blamed the Master of Acolytes for its current predicament.

Well pleased with what it had learned, the Yellow sat back on its haunches and considered its options. It was convinced its Assistant knew nothing of the Blue’s plot, but the young Trader might still prove to be useful in other ways, at least for the moment. None of the other Messengers knew how Traders thought. That could be important during the interrogation. If the Trader could be convinced that its story was believed, and it was then allow to escape, the Blue might feel safe enough to return to the Settlement. A lot of ifs and mights, but well worth the effort if the Blue could be killed once and for all.

“At first light should visiting Healer from South. Finding out if chain being one stolen by Blue.”

“Thanking, Master! Thank-”

“Then should visiting…Refugee. Finding out if truly being Trader.”

“S’so! Not being disappoint-”

The flood of gratitude turned into a squeal of pain as the Yellow sank its claws into the body beneath its hands. The squeal turned into a high pitched keen as it dragged its claws through the soft flesh. The wounds were not fatal, but the scars would demonstrate what happened to any iVokh who dared to cross the most powerful Healer in the Guild.

Thanks for reading,
Meeks


Milk and Chocolate Shortbread

This is another Offspring special, a basic shortbread recipe with added chunks of Plaistowe dark cooking chocolate. My contribution was the milk. 😀

The photo is a little washed out because it was taken at night with a flash. The shortbread actually looks more like this:

For those who have never tasted shortbread before, it’s an odd combination of dry, crumbly texture that literally melts in your mouth. It’s very easy to make and we love it. If you want to try it yourself, the recipe follows:

Traditional Shortbread [with added chocolate]

Note: the recipe is on the back of the McKenzie’s rice flour packet, and you will need rice flour in addition to ordinary wheat flour.

Ingredients:
  • 225 gm of plain flour [all purpose flour], sifted,
  • 115 gm of rice flour, sifted
  • 115 gm of caster sugar, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 225 gm of unsalted, room temperature butter [do NOT use spreadable butter as the oil and/or process used changes how the butter works in recipes].
  • about 1/4 cup good quality cooking chocolate, chopped into smallish ‘chunks’. We used Plaistowe cooking chocolate because it’s actually good enough to eat on its own so long as you don’t like your chocolate very sweet.
Method

Pre-heat oven to 150 C. This is a slow oven.

Grease your baking tray [we didn’t, we lined it with baking paper instead].

Combine both flours, sugar and salt in a bowl.

Rub in butter and knead gently until a smooth dough forms.

Add the chopped chocolate and gently mix into the dough.

The recipe says to transfer the dough to a floured surface and ‘shape as required’. That basically means you can cut pretty shapes out of it. We don’t do any of that. We place the dough directly onto the baking tray and spread it out by hand or with the back of a spoon until it’s about the right ‘depth’. Shortbread should not be thick! 1/2 an inch is more than thick enough.

Prick the dough with a fork. We also ‘score’ the surface lightly with a knife. This makes cutting the cooked shortbread easier.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until a light, golden brown. The end.

A tip from us: leave the shortbread on the tray and gently cut along the scored lines while the shortbread is still a bit soft and pliable. The shortbread will firm up as it cools. Cutting it once it’s cold and crumbly is…not very successful.

And there you have it. Another day, another treat. If you have favourite treats of your own, please link to them in comments. Oh, and if you have favourite cups or dishes to go with the treats, please link them as well.

Cheers
Meeks


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