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The Alternate Phantom Menace
Gripe by The Centaur
August 21, 2004

Somewhere in an alternative universe, there is a version of Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace starring Haley Joel Osment as Anakin and Robin Williams as Jar Jar.

And it rocks.

In that universe, George Lucas broke his hip just before filming began and handed the directorial task to his good friend Steven Spielberg. Busy with his own projects, Spielberg hired M. Night Shalayman to smooth out some problems in the script, and Shalayman in turn introduced Spielberg to Osment, starting a collaboration that would later continue in Spielberg's critically acclaimed movies Artificial Intelligence in 2001 and Harry Potter in 2003.

The real turning point in the production was the hiring of Robin Williams to replace Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks. Spielberg was reluctant to replace another of Lucas' chosen cast but after repeated attempts to tone down the character, Best's creative differences with Spielberg reached the breaking point and he quit the production. Almost simultaneously, Lucas suggested Williams to Spielberg for some role after seeing him perform at a charity fundraiser at Skywalker Ranch, and Williams heartily agreed.

The completed film was two and a half hours long and made over seven hundred million dollars in its domestic release. Lucas, Spielberg and Williams threw their marketing weight and star power behind the film, but it was Olsment's Oscar-winning portrayal of Anakin Skywalker that generated real audience buzz. Fleshing out a role already greatly expanded by Shalayman, Olsment brought quiet dignity and heartrending pain to the boy who would be Vader, and became the youngest winner of the Oscar for Best Actor.

While Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace would go on to win nine academy awards, the biggest upset of Oscar night was Robin Williams' shutout for his portrayal of Jar Jar Binks. Acting largely from an improvised script, Williams brought both gravity and humor to the role of the exiled Gungan warrior --- providing a much-needed element of comedy in Spielberg's often grave treatment of the fall of Naboo --- and later proved the perfect foil for Olsment's tortured Anakin in his moving death scene at the hands of Darth Maul. However, since the physical appearance of Williams' character was computer generated, he was technically shut out of the category of Best Supporting Actor, despite the extensive write-in campaign on the part of the Academy voters.

After recuperating, Lucas returned to the executive producer role on the Star Wars saga. Despite his injury, he had remained intimately involved with the production of the movie and was pleased with the final outcome, despite his initial resistance to changes made by Spielberg and Shalayman. Shalayman and Spielberg both attempted to bow out of the saga, reluctant to continue without the magic of Williams nor Olsment, who could not realistically return in later sequels. However, after intense personal lobbying Lucas convinced both Shalayman and Spielberg to return to the project, and work on the sequels began in earnest.

Episodes II and III are being filmed back to back in Tunisia and England as we speak. However, despite the critical buzz already being generated about the project and the remarkable collaboration of the three directors, there is little doubt that the Star Wars creative team will be hard pressed to top Jar Jar's poignant death scene in Anakin's arms. As Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn watched helplessly on, young Skywalker is first touched by death as Jar Jar utters words that echo later in the series:

"Remember, Ani. Inna Force, I be with you always."

-The Centaur
Renaissance Engineer

A Strike Against Taurlink
Gripe by The Centaur
April 23, 2004
Ah, the lovely state of tech support these days. Admittedly, I've had great experiences with tech support for *large* products produced by *small* companies --- toys sold to the tune of $100K a pop, feeding 100 or less mouths. But as soon as you get to products and services produced by 100K employees at a company charging less than 100 a pop ... welll... things can get difficult.

Here's an example, taken from a tech support chat session about a problem with a large Internet Service Provider we'll call ... "Taurlink". Since this is fairly recent, and I remember what I was more or less thinking while the conversation was ongoing, I've filled my thoughts in in italics.


Welcome to TaurLink TechChat!

Some guy from tech support will be with you shortly. Your chat session may be monitored out of habit, but don't be worried about your privacy: no-one ever reads logs anyway.

'HelpGuy' has joined the channel.
HelpGuy: Thank you for contacting TaurLink TechChat, how may I help you today?
TheCentaur: Hi, Guy. I have a problem with running CGI scripts on my web hosting account that I've been unable to debug. The short story is that I can run very, very simple scripts (hello world) but when I try to run TaurLink's provided code samples, they fail witn a 500 error.
HelpGuy: Can I know which script you are unable to run?
TheCentaur: Ok ... one moment...
HelpGuy: Sure.
TheCentaur: Ok, here's an example.
HelpGuy: TaurLink does not support custom scripts.

WHAT did he just say?

HelpGuy: Please check if you can use the Mailto script or not.
TheCentaur: Go back to the previous note. "TaurLink does not support custom scripts."
TheCentaur: Is this correct?
HelpGuy: Yes, I am sorry it is correct.
HelpGuy : Please check with the script from the link:
HelpGuy: http://help.TaurLink.net/websupport/startersite/mailto.html
HelpGuy: Once it works all the scripts should work.

Ok, that's nice that they have a testing script. But right now I'm not trying to run "custom scripts" ... I'm running code examples THEY provided ME!

TheCentaur: Are you aware of the CGI hosting help at this URL: http://help.Brainboing.com/docs/002/mime-n-cgi/BEHHBCEF.php3

That's a code example they provide, that doesn't work, that this guy's telling me he won't help me debug? Get real!

TheCentaur: Is this still valid?
HelpGuy: Yes, you can use that.
HelpGuy: It has the information on the scripts.
TheCentaur: Let me be sure I understand you correctly: TaurLink permits, but does not support, custom scripts.... and mailto is a good example of a script that *should* work.
HelpGuy: Yes, TaurLink allows you to use custom scripts.
HelpGuy: However, it does not support it.
TheCentaur: Ok.
HelpGuy: I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you.

Do you? Do you have ANY IDEA how close I am to typing
[Ctrl-Alt-G(oogle)] "internet service provider perl cgi" [RETURN]?

TheCentaur: I will try out the mailto script ... just a moment...
HelpGuy: Sure.

Ok, Guy, you may not be aware that I've got the site open in my FTP window ... and there is no frigging mailto script, so unless I don't understand CGI, this ain't gonna work.

TheCentaur: The mailto script does not appear to be in the scripts provided in dresan.com... where is the source for that?
HelpGuy: You need to create the two html pages and include the code that is there in the link.
HelpGuy: I am sure it will work.

[Gritting teeth] OK-now-working-through-whole-example, step by step, just because you say so. Create a web page, containing a form, pointing to the mailto script, which doesn't exist, uploading, uploading, opening in window, trying ... ok failure, just as expected, because there is no frigging mailto script for the CGI server to run.

TheCentaur: I assume you mean the link <form method="post" action="http://www.domain.com/cgi-bin/mailto" >
TheCentaur: where domain.com is my domain name?
HelpGuy: Yes, it is your domain name.
TheCentaur: Ok, just to confirm ... I have an FTP window open to the cgi-bin directory of dresan.com and there's no mailto script (and I get a 404 error when trying mailto in the URL of a browser). Should it be working anyway?
HelpGuy: Once you create the html pages it will work.
TheCentaur: One moment...
HelpGuy: Sure.
TheCentaur: Uploading now...
TheCentaur: ... uploaded.
HelpGuy: Okay.
TheCentaur: Testing...

And of course, it doesn't work, because there is no frigging mailto script for the CGI server to run, a fact which does not change just because I rewrote my script.

TheCentaur: Ok, when I ran it I get: http://www.dresan.com/cgi/mailto
HelpGuy: Okay.
TheCentaur: HTTP 404 - File not found Internet Explorer

There's a long pause. Guy appears to be processing this.

Hm. I have an idea.

Perhaps my website, which is pre-TaurLink, is missing files he expects me to have! Perhaps that's the confusion. Maybe if I ask the nice web guy he'll recognize the problem and load my site up with the right stuff.

TheCentaur: Dresan.com is a fairly old web site ... I originally got it via Brainboing before you became Taurlink. Could it have an outdated collection of scripts?
HelpGuy: No, the address is not what you are entering.
HelpGuy: The html page should be one of the pages of the website.
TheCentaur: Ok.
HelpGuy: When the visitor submit the form then it will work.

[grit-grit-grit] Aaalright. Stay with me, Guy. Let's go through this step by step, just so you understand.

TheCentaur: Ok. Here is what I did:
TheCentaur: (1) I visited and read the URL: The page HTTP 404 - File not found Internet Explorer
TheCentaur: Shoot
TheCentaur: try again :-)

[laughs] Egg on face --- make sure the URL actually copies this time, centaur, or how can he follow you? Better start over, from step one.

TheCentaur: Here is what I did:
TheCentaur: (1) visited url: http://help.TaurLink.net/websupport/startersite/mailto.html
TheCentaur: (2) copied first code sample to test1.html
TheCentaur: (3) updated "domain.com" references in test1.html to point to "dresan.com"
TheCentaur: (4) copied second code sample to test2.html
HelpGuy: Okay.
TheCentaur: (5) uploaded to dresan.com via LeechFTP
TheCentaur: (6) visited http://www.dresan.com/test1.html
TheCentaur: (7) entered stuff into form and hit send
TheCentaur: (8) got a 404 error on http://www.dresan.com/cgi/mailto
HelpGuy: One moment please while I check it.

Suuuuper long pause.

TheCentaur: Maybe I made a typo :-(
TheCentaur: Inspecting the source of test1.html, it seems like I've got the right URL. Did I read it wrong?

The long pause... continues.

TheCentaur: My hypothesis is that the mailto program is simply not present in the cgi-bin directory of dresan.com.
HelpGuy: Kindly hold on.
TheCentaur: Perhaps this is because dresan.com was created back in the days of Brainboing? I see a whole bunch of cgi* programs in that cgi-bin directory.
TheCentaur: Ok, sorry...
HelpGuy: One moment please.
TheCentaur: Ok.

Typing over each other here ... best wait for Guy to catch up. Is there something that I can debug here? What about these other old scripts. Ferret, ferret, ferret ... hm, there's at least one script that works, the site counter (which I don't use, but hey, it works).

Waiting... waiting... ok tired of waiting now..

TheCentaur: Note that the "counter" script seems to work.
HelpGuy: Yes, both the scripts should work.
HelpGuy: The mailto will also work.,

KA_GOTD_AMN_FUKKIN_BOLL_SHAT! ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? ARE YOU EVEN PAYING ATTENTION? NO, the mailto script will not MAGICALLY start working just because I found a DIFFERENT script that DOES work ... because the mailto script DOES NOT EXIST!

Whooo... deep breaths, deep breaths.
Let's explain this as to a novice.
TheCentaur: Guy, the contents of the cgi-bin directory are: cgicso, cgiecho, cgiemail, cgifile, counter, justcgi.pl, simple.pl, and test.pl
TheCentaur: There is no mailto script.
HelpGuy: It is not required there.
Alright, the novice doesn't want to even listen. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt. What if I'm wrong?
[Ctrl-Alt-G(oogle)] "cgi scripting standard" [RETURN]
Browsa... browsa... browsa... Google sez: no fuckin way.

HelpGuy: I suggest that you recreate the two html pages once again.

Smiles patronizingly. Ok. I can play this game. How would I do it? What can I check? What could I have done wrong? Perhaps Guy, uberwebguy who can make scripts that don't even exist run, can perhaps work this out for me? Here, Guy, check this out?

TheCentaur: Ok. Perhaps there is a typo in my form: <form method="post" action="http://www.dresan.com/cgi/mailto" >
xenotaur@Brainboing.com: Can you see what's wrong with that?
HelpGuy: It appears to be correct.

Shocked, shocked am I that ten years of web experience could enable me to enter a form.

HelpGuy: Please recreate the 2 html pages once again.
TheCentaur Alright.
HelpGuy: Okay.

Suure. Why the fuck not? Hey, I've done this what, three or four times now? I've gotten good at it. It should only take ... timing...

TheCentaur: Created form.html.
TheCentaur: Edited to point to right domain.
TheCentaur: Created thankyou.html
HelpGuy: Okay.
TheCentaur: Uploading...
HelpGuy: Okay.
TheCentaur: ...done.

...aaabout a minute.

HelpGuy: Let me check it.

Oh, there's no need, Guy. I'd ALREADY checked it. And this is what I found:

TheCentaur: Verified form presence: http://www.dresan.com/form.html
TheCentaur: Entered values, hit send...
TheCentaur: And 404 error.

Again: shocked, shocked am I.

HelpGuy: Kindly hold on.

Suuuuper long pause.

HelpGuy: Thank You for waiting.
HelpGuy: I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you.
HelpGuy: I am escalating the issue and it will be resolved soon. Please allow 2-72 hours for the issue to be resolved.
HelpGuy: Please do not delete the two test1.html and test2.html files.
TheCentaur: Ok.

He finally gets it. THANK YOU.

TheCentaur: Before you go, I want to bounce an hypothesis off you.
HelpGuy: I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to you in this regard.
TheCentaur: No problem.
TheCentaur: Thank you for helping.

At this point I start to type my hypothesis about the presence of the script files he was expecting. Halfway through that sentence... and I mean, just a few seconds....

HelpGuy: You're welcome and thank you for using TaurLink TechChat. Should you need further assistance, please feel free to contact us again.
HelpGuy: Thank You for your patience and understanding.
HelpGuy: Have a good night.

Uh, Guy? Didn't you just read me say "I want to bounce something off of you? Quick, type:
"Hey, wait!" [RETURN]

Chat session has been terminated by the site operator. When you close the chat window a survey window will open. Please take a minute to fill in the survey and let us know how your chat session was.


Thirty minutes later....
To the web hosting team,

I recently had a chance to chat online with one of your
technical support representatives.  Upon the termination
of the call, your site attempted to pop up a chat survey
window but was blocked by a pop-up blocker.
However, I saved that chat session, appended below.
And I have the following comments:

1) Thank you for making technical chat sessions available.
Talking with TechGuy. helped me realize what was wrong
- namely, that I was trying to use code samples from


when I needed to look at the more modern help at


This dialogue enabled me to get more debugging
information about my problem, construct several
useful working hypotheses, and has given me new
potential actions to try to resolve the problem.

2) Update your web hosting help for former Brainboing customers. 
This is the biggest thing that led me astray.
The code samples I found there


do not appear to work. At one point I carefully tested
this particular code sample and could never get it to run
in any permutation.  After talking with Guy, however,
I was able to find some useful code to use as a starter.

3) Make sure that your technical support representatives listen carefully to their customers. 
I understand that many users often make bad assumptions
which lead them to make mistakes which lead them to
assume that you guys have done something wrong
when you haven't. I know I fall in this category
from time to time.

However, with all due respect to Guy, I empathize with
techncial support representatives and myself have some
experience with server-side software, and so had carefully
read the available online documentation and attempted to
run code examples before I ever contacted you guys. 

Now, that doesn'trule out a short between my screen and
my keyboard or some other id10t error on my part, but, I
must admit that it was somewhat trying for me to be asked
repeatedly to run the mailto script when I was looking at the
cgi-bin directory in my FTP client and could see that the mailto
script was not there.  Now, Guy suggested that it didn't
need to be there, and perhaps I don't understand how
your common gateway interface is configured, and if so,
I apologize, BUT then you should reword the following

What standard CGI scripts are provided by TaurLink?

TaurLink provides the following ready to use scripts:

  • mailto
  • appendto
  • counter
so as to unambiguiously state that TaurLink is not actually
providing the scripts.

However, I think the simpler answer is that if the script
isn't in the cgi-bin directory, it won't run.  And I think that
might be traceable back to the fact that this is an older account,
originally set up on Brainboing, that may not have had mailto
installed in it.  Or maybe there's some other explanation.

4) Make sure that your technical support representatives listen carefully to their customers. 
I quote the following section from the chatlog.
TheCentaur: Ok.
TheCentaur: Before you go, I want to bounce an hypothesis off you.
TechGuy: I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to you in this regard.
TheCentaur: No problem.
TheCentaur: Thank you for helping.
TechGuy: You're welcome and thank you for using TaurLink TechChat. Should you need further assistance, please feel free to contact us again.
TechGuy: Thank You for your patience and understanding.
TechGuy: Have a good night.
Chat session has been terminated by the site operator. When you close the chat window a survey window will open. Please take a minute to fill in the survey and let us know how your chat session was.
Now, I'm sorry, but "Have a good night" is not an appropriate
response to "Before you go, I want to bounce an hypothesis off you."
In all fairness, I don't think Dan even saw that, as he responded quite
well to my "Thank you for helping."  However, I must be honest and
say that it left me somewhat vexed.

5) My experience with the CGI features of Brainboing/TaurLink web hosting has been underwhelming
From limited documentation, non-working code samples, lack of
response to my earlier emails, and finally to the difficulties I had
in communicating the problems I was having with my scripts,
I am seriously questioning why I spend money on this service.

To be more blunt; when I heard:

TechGuy: TaurLink does not support custom scripts.

You came within thirty seconds of losing a customer.  I feel
like shouting "But I was calling you with regards to YOUR
PROVIDED CODE SAMPLES!" followed by a long stream
of cusswords, but that's not fair to you or TechGuy.

Now, on one level I understand where you're
coming from; and this policy is not TechGuy's fault.

Nonetheless it is completely unacceptable.

I have a choice in selecting a web hosting provider, and
based on my previous good business relationships with
Brainboing I have chosen to stay with TaurLink.  However,
what I am paying my web hosting for is to get scripting
access, and if you cannot provide it, there are other
choices available.

I look forward to your response.
Dr. Anthony G. Francis, Jr. ~ Software Engineer
 xenotaur@Brainboing.com ~ http://www.dresan.com/
  5 King's Tavern Place, Atlanta, GA 30318 ~ (404) 483-8215


Taurlink did not adequately respond to my complaint.

Actually, it's worse. My first response was entered into a comment form, which promptly ate it without sending it. I re-wrote the response (above) and DID get a response from TaurLink Tech Support ... asking me to return for another chat session to "work through" these issues interactively.

Which of course I HAD JUST DONE. There was no indication they had actually READ the response ... just went with their standard reply:

"In order to help you these issues as efficiently as possible for both yourself and TaurLink... we suggest TaurLink TechChat!"

I'm sorry, I'm not going to play that game. I have a choice for my hosting providers. f@nu fiku will be hosted on another provider, and if that provider works well I'm pulling the plug on Taurlink as my web hosting service provider.
-The Centaur
Renaissance Engineer

A Strike Against Blogger
Gripe by The Centaur
March 16, 2004
Strike one against blogger.

I haven't been using it for a week and already I have problems. I can no longer publish blog entries to my web site.

I'm not sure of the cause yet, so I'm going to do some research and give them a few days to work out the kinks.

But, regardless, this is pretty stale for week one.

Little Soho Midtown Street Fair
Pointer by The Centaur
March 14, 2004
A quick note --- the community of merchants at Georgia Tech's new Technology Square at 5th and Spring Street are sponsoring a street festival. Sandi and I just returned from two days showing her art. Even though Georgia Tech is on spring break and the advertising for the fair was pulled at the last moment, we got a lot of foot traffic and Sandi sold one of her newest paintings.

The organizers of the street fair are determined to make it a success --- they want to turn 5th Street into a popular Midtown walking location on the weekends and plan to hold a street fair like this every weekend. They are actively seeking artists, musicians, vendors, and passersby to help turn this festival into a really big thing. Email rgarrison135@aol.com if you want to set up a table.

It runs from noonish to fiveish on Saturdays and Sundays. So check it out!

Dresan Today ... An Experimental Weblog
Weblog by The Centaur
March 10, 2004
Check out Dresan Today, my new weblog --- as well as the home for my experiments with weblogging software.

Manually adding entries to this site is a pain, which is one reason I tend to write big chunks spaced out over a long period of time. I've been meaning to set up software to help me automatically add updates to the Library for some time now, but between work, art and writing it's been a challenge to find enough time to work on the prototype AND work through the limitations of hosting the software on my web provider's account.

SO today I decided to cut the Gordian knot and experiment with the freely available services. The http://www.dresan.com/daily/ directory will house both my current weblog Dresan Today as well as any experiments I'm doing with weblogging tools.

Currently, I'm experimenting with Blogger, which is quick and easy to use, free, configurable, and (most importantly) doesn't require any software running on my web provider's server. This is exactly the feature set I wanted in my roll-your-own blog (not counting source code availability, extensibility, wiki features, and a searchable database of blog entries on my home machine) I decided to give it a shot. Since it took less time to set up the blog than it took to create this "normal" entry in InterDev, I think it is definitely worth a try.

So see what's on Dresan Today!

She Was Dancing All That Time
Gripe by The Centaur
February 7, 2004
SO Mom contracts pneumonia early in January, and life goes on hold.

I've learned a lot in the last month: "pneumonia" is not so much a disease caused by an agent, like SARS or Alzheimers, as it is a physical condition: buildup of fluid in the lungs which impedes the ability to breathe - often progressively, sometimes fast. Sometimes this condition is caused by a virus, sometimes by a bacteria, and sometimes just by inflammation; but for smokers, people over 45, or those unlucky enough to be both, it can be VERY difficult to fight off.

And then there are the complications. Forget bedsores and rashes, arms scarred from IVs and throats raw from intubation, or even the simple indignity of a nose dried out by the omnipresent oxygen tube; the real fun is still to come.

Pleurisy, another "process", arises when fluid collects between the lung and the chest wall, making what little breath you CAN draw an agony; it becomes worse when the pneumonia infection leaks in, filling the space with pus. You have to drain that out surgically, in a procedure called a VAT (Video Assisted Thoroscopy) which is far better than cracking the chest wall open but still leaves the patient with tubes draining fluid slowly, slowly, from a hole in their side.

Which opens the door to staph.

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aurorae --- MRSA or, more poetically, drug-resistant flesh-eating bacteria. A third of us have *some* strain of staph colonizing our bodies peacfully at any given time; but given the right conditions, staph can turn nasty, blooming into an itchy red rash which is ripe to infect others or, worse, slip into a healing wound to cause blood poisoning (septicemia or bacteremia).

But a bacterial infection is not an annoying neighbor named Ted or his ill-behaved dog Spot, to be easily cured by a restraining order or a stiff whack with a newspaper. An infection is an entire *population* of a particular type of bacteria, millions of them, breeding and reproducing according to Darwin's law of evolution by natural selection.

In the hospital environment, Darwin's law rewards the toughest individual bugs --- the ones who can colonize and survive on the insides of IV tubes or cling tenaciously to an ill-washed hand, the ones that inflame your body with infectious sores so they can spread like wildfire --- and the ones who can surivive the typical spectrum of antibiotics that the hospitals typically use.

Hence MRSA --- a description of a particularly nasty evolution of staph, typical to populations of individuals in close contact like prisoners, drug addicts, high school wrestlers ... and hospitals, where it colonizes health workers and attacks vulnerable patients.

Doctors are aware of this now. They're careful with the antibiotics they *do* have, using only the ones they need. And they bring in the big guns only rarely in an attempt to keep knowledge of their arsenal from the mindless gene-memories of their bacterial foes. And they try to alert their patients --- use all your antibiotics, as prescribed, so that your body isn't left with a tiny residual population of the most resistant bugs.

Oh, and they wash their hands. A lot.

Staph still slips through, of course; but they stop it, most of the time. But you can't *count* on them to stop it, unless you or your loved ones take charge of your care. The doctors care about you --- really, they do, even the ones you wonder about --- but they have ten, twenty, fifty or a hundred patients to consider, and if they see something unusual --- a fever, restlessness, unexpected difficulty breathing --- that could ... just ... quite ... fit into the normal progress of a disease, they'll assume the treatment is working and will stay the course.

And of course they have to contend with a vast number of fools, both patients and family, where by fools I mean those people who don't really want to know what's going on and don't really want responsibility for their own health care decisions. So even if you do ask, the doctor is likely to tell you "she's getting better".

Only you can know your loved one's health condition. Only you can see that this fever IS unusual, see that this restlessness IS getting worse, see that she is visibily NOT improving --- and it is up to you and your relatives to read up on the condition; to assess that more needs to be done; and to send in your very own IFFM (Infinitely Formidable Family Matriarch, in our family my father's younger sister) to bust the doctor's heads and get them to call in the specialists your loved one needs.

So your mother's getting better. And you do what you can. You HAVE to do for her, but you CAN'T do to much. If you DO too much, you're likely to wind up in the hospital yourself, puking your guts out because of the stress, doing no-one any good. So you need to get help. But you can't do everything --- not even you and her cousin and the IFFM and all the aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews can do everything. Even when you have to turn to outside help, they can't do everything.

You can hire a sitter to stay the night with her so she doesn't pull out her IVs, leaving you to go get a good night's sleep, but then the sky can fall and the roads turn to deadly sheets of ice and you're left with the realization you, yes you, are the only one who can stay to help her. But even then, sooner or later, you WILL have to leave her, even if only for a little while, to put food in your belly. And when the roads clear, you'll have to leave her longer --- or you'll have no job to go back to, and no food to put in your belly even if you want to.

But somehow it all gets done. Someone's there to stay with her almost every day, to the point that she sometimes asks the nurse to put up a NO VISITORS sign. But even then, you can't do everything. She will say and do things she would never otherwise do, demanding the impossible, the contradictory, the unbelievable. Her loving friends will leave in tears, distraught because she says they're not doing enough for her ... after they've just stayed the whole night watching her to make sure she didn't pull her IVs out in her sleep.

But it does no good to get upset. Stand up and take it calmly. Comfort the caregivers: remind them that pneumonia and pleurisy and surgery and septicemia are wearing her down, and making her say and do the impossible, the contradictory, the unbelievable. When she recovers, she will be back to normal.

In fact, when she recovers, if she's lucky, she'll remember none of it. Don't be upset when she asks if it's the first time that you've been to see her since she's been sick, even if you've already stayed three weeks at her side. She will get better. She'll recover from the disease and the drugs and the surgery and tell you about how she remembered going to all those parties.

The ... parties, you ask? Oh, yes, she says. Just a few weeks back --- when YOU remember a tube stuck down her throat and her tongue dried to sandpaper and her arms restrained to the side of the bed because she kept trying to pull all the tubes out in her sleep --- SHE actually came home from the hospital.

While all of YOU waited, breathless, in the ICU waiting room, not knowing whether she was going to live or going to die, SHE had already *gone* home. And she *partied*. She went to her birthday party (six months away) and to her sister-in-law's birthday party (also six months away) and to a homecoming party thrown by her brother in law --- but when she left the party, she left her presents, and could you call the restaurant and see if the presents were still in the lost and found.

You'll tell her what really happened, and tell her how worried you were; and she'll roll her eyes at herself and tell you how she thought she had just gotten back into the hospital, but how she knew that it was just the cocktail of drugs they had her on that was messing with her brain and if she could just get those out of her system, then she'd REALLY get better.

Then the pain and fog will lift and, energized, she'll tell you to gather her bills, to pay her taxes, and to check out a probate issue that needs to be settled --- and at once you can see she's still sharp as a tack.

And you'll smile. Because you can see she's coming back. Because you know she's going to be OK. But most of all, you'll smile because you now know that all that time she was writhing in the ICU, she really wasn't in pain. She was out partying.

And she was dancing all that time.

Sighting SQM

- Strange Stars I
- Strange Stars II
- Strange Impacts
- Strange Atoms

Making SQM

- At Brookhaven...
- The Fears
- Debunking Them
- More Fears
- More Debunking
- The Results
- Quark-Gluon Plasma at CERN
- The Results at CERN


- Neutron Stars
- Strange Stars
- Gravastars
- Black Holes
- Or, Take a Trip


- Strange Quark Matter
- The Standard Model
- More Readings
- Or, Hurt Your Head

Recent Links
Game AI Pages
- Steve Woodcock
- John Laird
- Boids!

Game Resources
- Gamasutra
- Game.Ars
- Adrenaline Vault

Choose your grade:
- Grapes
- Pianos
- Volkswagens

Cryonic Resources
- Alcor
- The Cryonics Institute
- Older Approaches

Cryonic Skeptics
- Scientific American
- The Skeptic Files
- Quackwatch

Cryonics As...
... As Possible
... As Engineering
... And Religion
... As An Ambulance Ride to the Future

Weblog Software
- Greymatter
- Slashcode

Web Comics
- MegaTokyo
- Sluggy Freelance
- Argon Zark

Physics Sites
- String Theory
- Science Fiction Writer's Resource
- The Mars Society

The Library of Dresan
The Library of Dresan ~ (C) Copyright 2002 Dr. Anthony G. Francis, Jr. ~ All Rights Reserved
Writer / Artist / Producer: Anthony Francis