I’ve been meaning to write this since Christmas, but I kept putting it off, so it’s a little late. Haven’t posted in a long time, so it’s going to be long! Here’s a table of contents, just in case… Topics aren’t in any special order. Also I was writing the end in a rush so it’s not as comprehensive as I’d like…
After many, many doctor visits, I’ve learned that I have this random auto-immune disease called pemphigus foliaceus. My immune system basically attacks my skin, so if I don’t take medicine, I get blisters all over. It’s not curable, but it’s controllable.
In September, I noticed that I randomly started getting open wounds on my stomach. At first I thought it was the kitties accidentally clawing me when they slept on me at night, but as I paid more attention I discovered that I actually had blisters for a short amount of time, before my clothes rubbing against them would pop them. At the beginning they only appeared under my t-shirt line, so I thought I might be sensitive to our detergent or something, so we changed it and waited a few weeks but I still got the blisters. Around Thanksgiving I started getting a rash on my face too, so I finally went to the doctor.
Multiple visits, blood tests, and biopsies later, the dermatologist told me I had pemphigus foliaceus. Here’s a site with a pretty good description of it (it’s about the more severe version pemphigus vulgaris, but everything is basically the same except I don’t get sores in my mouth – yay, I guess): Pemphigus Vulgaris Network.
Basically right now I am taking a steroid medicine that has been toning down the blisters and rashes a lot. When I went down to the lowest dose I still got some new blisters, so I’m on a medium dose right now. I’ve been feeling some of the side effects, so it’s kind of messing me up a bit. I haven’t been able to sleep a lot lately as it gives me a bit of insomnia. The doctor said it may make me anxious – so far the only thing I’ve noticed is that on my regular drives to and from work, I sometimes start to feel like all the cars around me are narrowing in and boxing me in, and it freaks me out as I’m driving. Every once in a while the lanes just feel really really narrow and I feel like every car is inches from me. Also the medicine makes me gain weight :( I have to watch what I eat as it makes me really hungry, and even though I’ve been watching what I’m eating I’ve gained 10 pounds in the month since I’ve started the medicine.
However the steroid medicine is bad for you long-term, so I’ve also started a new medicine that takes 6-8 weeks to take effect. Hopefully this one is better – in essence it is turning down my immune system so that it doesn’t attack my body. I’ve always had a weak immune system so now I have to be really careful to eat healthier. I’ve been taking iron, calcium, and vitamin D supplements – I take 7 different pills in one day :( It’s interesting though, because apparently I had slight anemia due to low iron, so I was always tired and feeling faint. Lately, though, I’ve been feeling so much more awake and energetic – I never realized that how I usually felt wasn’t normal! I get up easier, have a lot more motivation to get things done, and feel so productive every day now. The only thing I’m not sure about is if it’s a result of my iron level being normal, or the steroid medicine – hopefully I am still as energetic (but with no insomnia!) after I get off the steroid medicine!
My dermatologist referred me to a dermatology auto-immune specialist at Stanford, so I will be seeing him soon just to confirm my normal dermatologist’s diagnosis and treatment. I have never appreciated health insurance before this. My dermatologist told me that before he referred me he had already pre-authorized the visit with my insurance, so I already know that it will mostly be covered. All the doctors I’ve seen so far (urgent care, normal family doctor, dermatologist, hematologist) have been in the Palo Alto Medical Foundation‘s network, and I am really impressed by how high-tech and efficient everything is. I gave my information once at the Sunnyvale center, and since then every time I go I just tell them my name and show my ID. The Mountain View center has just about every type of doctor in one building, and even the labs are there, so after my doctor visits if I need to get blood tests I just walk down to the lab. The doctors immediately send prescriptions to your pharmacy during your appointment, so as soon as I get home I can pick them up. They’ve also got this awesome online system where I can see all my upcoming appointments, send messages to doctors, see the results of all my blood tests, see all my prescriptions… Everything is so high-tech in Silicon Valley!
These resolutions are late, and I haven’t really started, but putting them here will push me to follow them:
- Eat healthier – more vegetables and fruits
- Exercise three times a week – Tuesdays and Thursdays at work, Sundays at the apartment complex gym
- Get back down to my normal weight (110 pounds)
- Eat out less – try to bring lunch to work more often
- Control my random bursts of spending sprees
- Be more aware of how much of my money goes to what
- Learn more – delve deeper into the new things I’m using rather than only dealing with the minimum
- Be more aware of user experience – it’s fascinating!
- Collaborate more with other people – talk in person rather than IM if possible
- Speak up more with my thoughts and ideas
- Take useful classes that become available
- Work on projects more consistently! Don’t just start them and forget about them for a few years
- Keep up with crafts projects
- Start more technical projects, especially related to web development
- Keep track of project progress, optimally here on Bacon Fried Rice
- Be more productive, do chores more willingly, resist the urge to just lay on the couch and read articles on my phone
- Follow a weekday schedule so I don’t get lazy and do nothing when I can’t decide what to do. Tentatively:
- Monday: Video games! EDIT: and reading
- Tuesday: Crafts project (probably finishing my cross-stitch projects)
- Wednesday: Technical project (discussed later)
- Thursday: Do something with Jack (play games or do a project or something)
- Friday: Free choice
I’m still playing Arkham City right now. I like it, and it’s usually the type of game I really like to play, but for some reason I just can’t really get myself to finish it. I think it’s because it disturbs me. The villains are terrible. I want to just get it over with so I can finally play Assassin’s Creed Revelations.
Uncharted 3 was awesome, but kind of short. Also the ending was very anti-climactic.
I got a DOTA2 key, so I started learning it and playing with Jack. I suck though. Also Jack apparently logged into my Steam account and gave away my two extra keys without telling me -__-
I need to find other games to play with Jack too, I can’t see myself being able to play multiple DOTA2 games in a row without getting bored… We played the Uncharted 3 local multiplayer but now that we finished it it doesn’t have much re-playability.
I’ve been neglecting my projects a lot. I have two categories: crafts and technical.
In terms of crafts, I usually do them with a purpose (cards for people’s birthdays, holidays, etc.) so I guess it makes sense that I haven’t been keeping up with them. However when I was going through my boxes of junk I discovered more than five very large cross-stitch projects that I’ve either started very little of or haven’t started at all. I’ve decided I’m going to focus on those, so my Tuesdays are going to just be cross-stitching. Right now I’m working on one of kitties in a window that I started for Jack two years ago – I wonder how long it will take me to finally finish it!
For technical projects, I’ve decided to pick up web development again. I’ve always been interested – taught myself HTML from a book in fourth grade – but it kind of died off once I got into high school, and all of the programming I did in college wasn’t related at all. However due to some of the stuff I’ve been doing at work my interest has been rekindled – I’m going to write about this in a separate post later so I won’t go into detail here.
I’m in a rush and have to leave so I will just leave with a short note about the kitties. They are still awesome, Jokulhaups is big and heavy and too smart. He figured out how to open all the cabinets so now we have to Velcro them shut. Dragon is so much tinier than Jokulhaups! She loves to snuggle now, every morning she comes up to Jack and asks to be let under the covers. She used to sleep on my pillow every night but I guess snuggling with Jack in the morning was warmer :( She loves sitting with me when I’m at the computer though, so I guess that makes up for it. Here are two kitty photos before I go:
Jokulhaups would like a belly rub please
Dragon says Mini Panda is snuggly and warm
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There are so many good things about The Witcher 2 that end up getting brushed aside due to stupid quirks with the interface or controls. I would say story wise and entertainment wise, it was as good as Dragon Age 1. That is saying a lot, because Dragon Age was the kind of game where I stayed up past 3-4am playing sometimes.
Quests are fun. Story is solid and engaging. There are 2 unique storyline paths and lots of twists and turns. The world is pretty, graphics are OK, and dialogue is fine. It’s an “Adult game” so apparently it needs to have an excess of sex scenes. Everything about this game is top notch, except for some glaringly bad interface problems.
When you want to loot the corpse of the monster you just killed, you have to go up to the remains and left click. Unfortunately, left click is also the button that swings your sword and if you are not exactly over the body, instead of looting you make a lunging sword slash, moving you out of range to loot. If you play this game, I can guarantee this will frustrate you throughout the entire game.
When you loot, it pops up a window of all the items. Unfortunately, it pops up the window in a static location, not under your mouse. You then have to move your mouse to the window and click to collect all the items. Back in the old days of WoW, you had this stupid looting system as well where you had to make additional clicks to loot specific items from the corpse. People got so frustrated by it that they invented mods that would automatically position the loot window to appear under your mouse cursor. Then Blizzard finally invented an option for auto-loot, where you automatically collect everything assuming your inventory isn’t full. This is a change that is absolutely necessary in any game where you loot the corpses of enemies. At the very least, you need to allow a 1 click thing to loot all and not require the user to move your mouse to the small “Loot All” button every time.
Menus and Inventory
This game has possibly the worst inventory screen of all time. When buying new equipment, it’s impossible to compare it to what you are already wearing, so you don’t know whether what you’re buying is better. You can’t sort items, so by the end of the game you have hundreds of crafting items in a random list and you have to manually scroll through it to find the 1 leather piece to finish your armor.
Equipment and crafting diagrams often have long lists of stats or information, which does not fit on the screen. You can’t manually scroll through and read this though. The information slowly scrolls and you have to wait for to get to the part you want to read, like the old scrolling TV Guide channel.
The game is strongly based around taking potions before combat to temporarily increase your stats. In order to do this, you have to “meditate” and then drink potions, which involves two painfully long animations of Geralt first kneeling on the floor, slowly drinking a potion, then cracking his neck due to the toxicity. It’s probably 30-45 seconds of wasted time. All of this can only happen out of combat, so there is no reason to require this mechanic. You should be able to set some hotkeys or at least just click on things to instantly drink potions. It’s just plain stupid.
I played on Hard (they had easy, normal, hard, and some super hard adjective I forget). I did that because I expect that most games nowadays have dumbed down normal modes to accommodate baddies, and I expect their super hard is probably geared towards Witcher enthusiasts that probably have already played through it once. Hard seemed like it would give a good challenge while not being stupidly unfair.
Initially, the game has some really hard sections. The Kayran, the game’s first boss fight, is incredibly difficult. You can only take 2 hits before dying, and there is no healing. It probably took me 20 tries just to get into phase 2 and then another 10 tries to figure out what the heck you’re supposed to do in phase 2. Unfortunately, after that fight, the game starts to become kind of easy.
There are a bunch of fights where you are with allies. You can always trick the game AI into only attacking your allies (who are invincible by the way) and you just come behind and slash at them, with no risk. After a while, you just start spamming left click to whack down enemies as fast as possible. There’s some magic spells which are marginally useful, but since I did sword specialization I stopped using them except for the one that gave me a shield.
Anyway, the game is solid and definitely worth playing. If they fixed up the interface problems, it would be one of the best games I’ve ever played.
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