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I’d rather be… December 12, 2006

Posted by marymac in knitting, yarn.

I’d like to be making something out of this yarn right now:

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Or this one:

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The Calmer! It would be so nice to be making something out of the Calmer right this minute:

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But alas, I’m still working on super-seecrud project #23157, and tonight as I was knitting along with my beloved Denise needles, the little connector piece on the cord snapped. Suh-napped. My favorite extra-long cord, too (before it comes up in the comments: I know they have great customer service and have already emailed them). So I dug out another cord and moved the super-seecrud project over, but I must’ve been so flustered that I didn’t secure the needle tips properly and one end came off of the cord as I was knitting along again. No dropped stitches, fortunately, but it wasted a ridiculous amount of time. Also, my darling Kacha-Kacha counter wandered off in the commotion. I’m not sure I can knit without the Kacha-Kacha counter.

At least I have chocolate in the house.

ETA: The Kacha-Kacha has returned! Woot!


One of these things is not like the other. December 7, 2006

Posted by marymac in Excuses for not posting.

As I continue to be sidelined by a job where they actually expect me to work, and the plague (plague, sinus infection — tomayto, tomahto), and trying to come up with new and clever text messages to send Monkee, and the blogpost-eating interweb, today is Choose Your Own Blogventure Day here at StoryValue. Enjoy!

Choice one: Who says feminists aren’t funny? (Alternate title: You can take the woman out of the women’s studies program, but you can’t make her shut up.)

Choice two: Holidaze Meme ganked from the loverly Peri:


25 Years December 1, 2006

Posted by marymac in activism, Feeling historical, I'm so deep.

I remember a time before, when the scariest thing about S-E-X was that girls could get pregnant, and boys could make girls pregnant. And you could get mono from kissing, and maybe VD, whatever that was, from S-E-X.

I remember a time before, when people were starting to get sick. But it was only certain kinds of people, and if you interact with any of them you would be fine.

I remember a time before, when a child got sick and got kicked out of school, and then a celebrity got sick and people started to notice that something was going on.

I remember a time before, when the President of the U.S. couldn’t or wouldn’t mention in public the name of a disease that had taken the lives of thousands of people.

I remember a time before, when there was no Quilt. Before all those names, all those faces, all that grief was spread out for everyone to see. And I remember when it grew and grew and grew until the whole of it was just too much to view at once.

I remember a time before, when the medication wore people out physically, financially, and emotionally because they had to take SO DAMN MUCH of it, ALL DAY LONG, and it hurt as much as it helped and the best anyone could hope for was that it would slow down the inevitable.

I remember a time before, when volunteering to work with people who were Positive meant driving them to one medical appointment after another, and visiting them in the hospital, and being one of the only people willing to touch them, and keeping them company while they waited for the disease to take them.

I remember a time before, when I visited one of my dearest friends in the hospital and hoped he’d make it out. And he did.

Twenty-five years since the first AIDS case was reported, and it’s still affecting millions of people every day, all over the world.

December 1st is World AIDS Day — please take a minute today to think about how we can make this a time before… before the AIDS Pandemic came to an end.

World AIDS Day website:
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s excellent World HIV/AIDS Timeline: http://www.kff.org/hivaids/timeline/hivtimeline.cfm
The AIDS Memorial Quilt website: http://www.aidsquilt.org/
Information on the AIDS Pandemic: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5531a1.htm

Support World AIDS Day

Bomp-chicka-wow-wow…. November 28, 2006

Posted by marymac in yarn.

I don’t normally do this kind of thing (I know, I know, that’s what they all say), but one of my co-workers gifted me with some fancy-shmancy yarn yesterday (she’s destashing, or possibly giving up knitting [no, I don’t know how that works, either] or something — whatever, the yarn is mine now). So in lieu of the usual well thought-out prose (yeah, yeah — less thinking, more proseing), StoryValue would like to present… yarn pr0n.

Just as a reminder, I am a lousy photographer to begin with and I took these photos in my poorly-lit apartment, so if this was pr0n pr0n instead of yarn pr0n, it would be the kind where the camera shakes a lot and the woman with fake boobs and too much makeup is only wearing a teddie when the pizza guy shows up at the door. Not that I know anything about that sort of thing. *polishes halo* Also, Blondie and Buffy should know that I’m really, really sorry to do this to people who do not knit.

Aaaanyway, the yarniness (click for big!):

Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky Hand Dyes in pink. I have no idea what this is going to be, because I’m not into the bulky yarns and there are only four hanks. Perhaps I can find some deserving person who likes pink out there….

Mission Falls 1824 Cotton. It looks kind of green in this picture, but the color is a little more khaki in real life. I have four balls of this — I think it’s going to be a little something for my nephew, possibly Cargo.

More pink! This is Rowan Calmer, which I’d never petted before. It is loverly. I have Plans for the Calmer, but I can’t tell you what they are. (Well, I can, but then I’d have to kill you, and I’m trying to keep the yarn clean.) Moving on….

Frog Tree Alpaca in purple,

and purpler.

No idea what’s going to end up happening to this stuff. I only have a few balls of it altogether.

Alchemy Yarns Bamboo. One teeny hank, and who knows what it will be. But it’s purple and soft and my friend insisted I take it.

Then we have some Rowan Cotton Rope.

Lots of Cotton Rope. If I liked to wear green and was possessed of less boobage (and less me-age in general), it would make a nice tank top or something. Which means I have no idea what it’s going to be.

And finally, there’s this:

I have no idea what this is. It seems wool-ish, but there’s no ball band and my friend doesn’t remember what it is. She insisted that I take it because it would make a really good baby hat (see nephew comment, above). I’m not generally a fan of the variegated yarn, but who am I to argue when it comes with the rest of this loot?

That’s it — I’m all pr0ned out. Stay tuned for more of your regularly scheduled ranting.

mmmm….booooook….. November 20, 2006

Posted by marymac in books, Feeling historical, Me me me!.

When I was a kid, I was afraid to close my eyes in the bath, which made rinsing my hair a long, complicated process. (Don’t laugh — it isn’t even the looniest of my childhood fears, I promise.) This was because of my dad’s little habit of watching horror movies while my (very young) person was in the room and (he thought) preoccupied with a book or a game or a fight with my little brother (also, we only had one tv with cable and he liked to be the boss of it). I have, however, always been good at multitasking and absorbed a lot more than he realized at the time.

The movie that inspired The Bathtub Thing is The Changeling. It’s about a guy who moves into a house where a kid was drowned in the bathtub and Scary Stuff happens. Or something — seriously, even now reading the plot summary creeps me out, so you’ll have to do it yourselves. I’ll wait here under the covers. With all the lights on.


See? Scary, right? Even people who like that kind of thing say so. You’d be traumatized, too.

The thing is, it’s just movies. I can read scary novels and not bat an eye (okay, yes, Lord of The Flies freaked me out, but that wasn’t really written as a horror novel per se). I read every ghost story collection on my elementary school library’s shelves before moving on to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, and (of course) Stephen King. Meeting the devil in the New England forest, hearts that continue beating after being buried under the floorboards, psycho killer clowns — no problem. As long as I don’t have to see them anywhere but in my head. (I know they say that what you imagine in your head is always worse than what they can show you on screen, but my imagination is apparently really good at applying petroleum jelly to the lens so that nothing is too sharply focussed. I can’t explain it.) (This also helps when reading long, boring descriptive passages in highfalutin’ books, in case you were looking for tips on getting through, say, Dickens.) (Who wasn’t highfalutin’ in his day, but that’s another post — or just click that link.)

I grew out of most of my childhood fears eventually (I know you were concerned); my reasoning is that I started to acknowledge all of the real-life scary stuff in the world. These days I’m more likely to avoid the news if I don’t want to be frightened than to worry about what might be hiding in the closet (having the box spring on the floor eliminates that pesky monster under the bed thing). And if I want to read something scary I’ll find a memoir or a history (though to be honest I mostly read stuff that I don’t think will freak me out because I’m kind of an NPR junkie).

And then sometimes somebody comes along and combines it all for you in one package. Max Brooks’ new book, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is a novel (in case the “Zombie War” part didn’t give that away)…and a history…and a memoir. Of something that hasn’t happened. Yet.

Presented as an oral history written by a former employee of The United Nations Post(Zombie)war Commission whose survivor interviews were deleted from the UN’s final postwar report for being too “personal”, World War Z describes the Zombie War from the first reported cases of the disease that caused the dead to reanimate to the aftermath of the strategic plan that allowed the living to survive. Each interviewee “speaks” with a different voice, and the attention to reality-based detail is incredible — obviously, one suspends one’s disbelief when one reads fiction — especially science fiction — but if you’re capable of believing that war and disease (and poor governmental responses to both) exist, you’re capable of believing in the premise of this story.

Be forewarned, though, World War Z isn’t a light read — realistic descriptions of military strategy and political maneuverings can get dense, and you may need to refer back to earlier chapters to refresh your memory about who is speaking at a given time (the book is presented in three parts: before, during, and after the height of the conflict).

I’d love to tell you that if you like x genre of books, you’ll love this one, but I think the genre of “future histories” is pretty small. I will say that you don’t have to be particularly fond of horror novels or zombie tales to enjoy it (though a high tolerance for gore is probably a good idea; about what you’d need for any graphic war story should do it). Oh, and this is definitely a book for grownups and/or those grown up enough to handle some of the more disturbing aspects of war (and I’m not just talking about violence here).

Rating: Four out of five zombies jamboreeing (back to back, belly to belly…).

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And you can knit while you stand in line. November 6, 2006

Posted by marymac in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

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I know there hasn’t been much knitting content around here lately (or any content at all, for that matter). There are knitting progress pictures someplace which I will post when I can locate them, but everything I’m working on right now is some kind of super-seecrud project, so I can’t tell you much about the stuff. (Starsky is still in the time-out corner — I’m working my way around to forgiving it for allowing me to mess up the neck and shoulder shaping on one of the fronts. Also, searching for my attention span in order to get it right next time.)

Meanwhile, in case you haven’t heard it from eleventy-thousand other people already, tomorrow is Election Day in the US. If you’re not registered to vote right now, well, you’re out of luck for this election, but if you need to know where your polling place is or what questions are on the ballot, check out Vote411.org from the League of Women Voters (we love the League of Women Voters).

I’d like to be one of those noble people who says: “Just get out there and vote! I don’t care who you vote for!”

I’m not. I care who you vote for. But I’ve decided to try to be the bigger person and conserve my Big Meanieness until after the election. (Okay, I’m always the bigger person…. I’m trying to be one of those noble people.) So go. Vote for whomever you want. We’ll discuss the wisdom of your choice later.

They call it Filler, Filler…. November 3, 2006

Posted by marymac in Excuses for not posting, Me me me!.

Oh, hello.

Yes, I know it’s a little dusty around here. Work has been super crazy busy with extra crazy on top, so at not-work I’m only capable of writing about a paragraph at a time. I suppose that would make an interesting series of blogposts, but it could also get confusing (especially if I didn’t post them in order… I wonder if there’s a National Make Other People’s Life More Surreal Day….).

Anyhow, in lieu of a real post:

48 Things You Could Care Less About

  • 1. First name? marymac (well, Marypossiblynotmac). Technically hyphenated, but I smooshed the two names together in, like, kindergarten when I got tired of people calling me “Mary”.
    2. Were you named after anyone? My father and his mother always assumed I was named in part after her because her first name was Maria, but my mother insists that they’re just saints’ names.
    3. When did you last cry? Wednesday.
    4. Do you like your handwriting? Everyone I knew was obsessed with their handwriting from about sixth through ninth grade. That’s probably the last time mine I cared about it in terms of more than basic legibility.
    5. What is your favorite lunchmeat? Prosciutto made by my uncle.
    6. If you were another person, would you be friends with you? I don’t know where I would meet me, but probably.
    7. Do you have a journal? Many, many journals.
    8. Do you still have your tonsils? Yup.
    9. Would you bungee jump? No. I might be convinced to jump out of an airplane, however. (I have done a high ropes course and some rock climbing. Not afraid of the heights.)
    10. What is your favorite cereal? Banana Nut Crunch.
    11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Not unless they’re tied very, very tightly.
    12. Do you think you’re strong? Depends on the context.
    13. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Banana. (With walnut smoosh-ins. From Herrell’s.)
    14. Shoe size? US Women’s 10
    15. Red or pink? Both, but more red.
    16. What is your least favorite thing about yourself? I’m a Big Meanie.
    17. Who do you miss the most? My grandma.
    18. What color pants, shirt and shoes are you wearing? Red shirt, blue jeans, brown shoes.
    19. Do you want everyone to send this back to you? 42!
    20. Last thing you ate? A sandwich.
    21. What are you listening to right now? Co-workers talking about Excel. …I mean, nothing! Birds!
    22. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Burnt Sienna.
    23. Favorite smell? Lilacs
    24. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? Don’t remember.
    25. The first thing you notice about people you are attracted to? Eyes.
    26. Do you like the person you stole this from? Yes!
    27. Favorite drink? Shirley Temple. With extra maraschino cherries.
    28. Favorite sport? Baseball. Though my obsession with World Cup soccer last summer makes it a close second.
    29. Eye color? Buh-rown.
    30. Hat size? Dunno.
    31. Do you wear contacts? No. Tried them and hated them.
    32. Favorite food? It would be cruel to have to choose one over another.
    33. Scary movies or happy endings? Happy. (Honestly, I kind of prefer “realistic” — definitely not scary, though.)
    34. 42! (There was no question here. I know not why.)
    35. Summer or winter? Fall and spring, baby.
    36. Hugs or kisses? Depends on who’s doing the hugging and/or kissing. I come from a Kiss Hello people, so I’m very good at the airkissing.
    37. Favorite dessert? Cheesecake
    38. Who is most likely to respond? 42!
    39. Least likely to respond? 42!
    40. What books are you reading? Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. Little Children by Tom Perrotta is next, I think.
    41. What’s on your mouse pad? Can’t remember the last time I used a mousepad.
    42. What did you watch last night on TV? Ugly Betty and the first five minutes of Grey’s Anatomy.
    43. Favorite sounds? Waves hitting the shore.
    44. Rolling Stones or Beatles? Beatles
    45. The furthest you’ve been from home? Italy.
    46. What is your special talent? Thinking too much.
    47. Where were you born? Bridgeport
    48. Who sent this to you? I stole it from Theresa.
  • The Knittyheads Take WEBS. October 25, 2006

    Posted by marymac in knitting, WEBS.

    As I may have mentioned here before, I live in Greater WEBSville (pop. all the fiberfreaks fit to knit (crochet, weave, spin, etc.)). So when through the magic of the interweb a plan was hatched for Deb to come up from Debland for a (much too short) visit, complete with trip to WEBS, I jumped on that bandwagon faster than you could say …erm… “Two Weeks in a Row at WEBS.”

    I was not the only one. They came from all over.*

    When I arrived at the store (a little late, but hey, the post office closes early on Saturdays), I made my way to where all the chatter was coming from — The Warehouse.

    l-r, that’s The Debness Herself, Bitterknitter and her camera, Theherocomplex (hiding behind Bluepeninsula), Periwinklepoodle, and the back of Bryghtrose‘s head. (As always, clicking will bring bigging.)

    Leaving Deb to wander the warehouse, some of us made our way back to the main part of the store and did some browsing.

    l-r, the backs of Ariel‘s and Bryghtrose’s heads, Theherocomplex not behind anybody, Enallagma9, and I think that’s Bluepeninsula’s hand fondling the yarn over on the right.

    That’s Ariel in her cat ears (Ariel hasn’t spent enough time in Northampton to realize that cat ears are nothing — last year there was this person who was always riding a bicycle around town in what appeared to be a polar bear suit. And then there was the guy dressed as a lobster….), surrounded by the back of Sunidesus‘ head, the back of Enallagma9’s head (are we sensing a theme yet?), a teeny bit of Bluepeninsula, Lindydiva in her beret, and I think that’s a teeny bit of Periwinklepoodle over on the left.

    Yes, I could crop, but then you wouldn’t see the store, right? That’s Bluepeninsula, the front of Bryghtrose’s head(!), Ariel and the ears, and Lindydiva’s back. Note the size of Lindydiva’s shopping basket.

    Now note the size of Deb’s shopping basket.

    On the left is the lovely Rae, who hatched this scheme with Deb in the first place and I don’t know why there aren’t more pictures of her. I think she was hiding.

    But it’s not over yet.

    First we have Deb doing some more filling of her shopping basket….

    …and then talking on the phone. Oh, but this is no ordinary phone call — someone may have decided to call Monkee so she could share in the fun. Wave to my phone, kittens. (Yes, we caused a big line at the cash register. No, the woman behind Deb isn’t pleased.)

    We did all emerge triumphant eventually. Even Deb**.

    Sometimes the paparazzi just won’t leave a girl alone.

    *This is a lie. They didn’t come from Norway or New York or Texas or North Carolina. We weep, we wail and gnash our teeth, we pine.

    (Okay, in this case I believe we are mostly maple-ing, but you get the idea.)

    **Click the link for action shots.

    Underwire, Part II October 18, 2006

    Posted by marymac in activism, knitting, WEBS.

    So my last post went over like a lead balloon. Either that or everyone has forgotten that I’m here. Everyone but Laura, of course, who being all science-y and whatnot was so fascinated by my lead balloon-ness that she even commented. Or maybe that was just for Barbie.

    Well, I am unoffended. I am undeterred. I am unable to shut up. (But I have pictures. You love pictures, right?)

    Anyway, as I was saying last time, giving of yourself is a good thing and blah blah blah high-horsecakes. So a couple of weeks ago (yup, we’re back in the Wayback Machine again — fasten your seatbelt, Sherman*) when I stopped in at WEBS, which happens to be one of my local yarn stores (and the one that gets most of my yarn money), and was reminded of their “Knit For Hope”, I decided to go.

    Knit for Hope is an annual WEBS event — they provide yarn, patterns and yummy treats (and lots of coffee), and knitters show up and make scarves and chemo caps for a local organization that provides support services for cancer survivors. You’ll have to take my word for the fact that I started a scarf at the knit-in and managed to finish it in time to drop it off in the collection basket the following Saturday (more on the following Saturday soon, if you’re not tired of hearing about it from everyone else) despite my Wicked Slow Knitterness, because dark purple yarn + 1×1 ribbing + indoor photography + nighttime = photos of a purple fuzzy blob.

    I do have photos of the event, however…. (click for big)

    Happy, happy knitters! I don’t know why everyone looks so solemn, but I promise that I did have their permission to take the photos and post them here. Except for the guy by the food table. The weird black slash on his right arm is because he had some kind of reflective stuff there or something and I was too lazy to figure out another way to make it less distracting (I think I may have managed to do the opposite, though). Yes, that’s sock yarn. And half of the Wall O’ Needles and Notions.

    More happy, happy knitters! The happy knitter on the right is Kirsten, who works in customer service at WEBS but wasn’t working that day except when people kept interrupting her to ask for things or to ask her about the lace shawl pattern she wrote (she’s one of WEBS’ in-house designers, too). She taught the drop spindle class I took at WEBS a while back and is just fabulous, even when she’s pretending that she doesn’t know I’m taking a picture of her. Be nice to Kirsten when you call WEBS, people — customer service is a hard job. Also, yes, that’s the other half of the Wall O’ Needles and Notions.

    I didn’t manage to get the photographic evidence, but someone said there were about 50 people at the knit-in. And the following weekend there was certainly a piled-to-the-top basket of completed hats and scarves that people had dropped off.

    And to make it all even more exciting, the Monsters of Teen Craft tour was also making an appearance at WEBS that day, so I got to meet Kim Werker and Shannon Okey, who are both incredibly cool and funny and who agreed with me that Ariel wouldn’t complete so many socks if her feet weren’t so teensy.

    Kim with Humphrey, the tour mascot. Isn’t he cute? I haven’t crocheted anything but edgings in a while but I totally want to make an amigurumi now because Kim was giving out postcards with patterns for them. (That thing in her other hand is the beginnings of a crocheted chemo cap, in case you’re wondering.)

    Kim’s parents, visiting from New York.

    After a while, Shannon got out the wheel and gave Kim’s dad a lesson:

    She offered to give him a turn, but he said the wheel wasn’t a “power tool” so he just wanted to watch. Shannon tried to convince him that one could motorize a spinning wheel as a do-it-yourself project, but he wasn’t buying it.

    Yay for WEBS for hosting such a great event! Yay for Knitters (and Crocheters) for being such cool people!

    *I wonder if anyone but Blondie and me gets that reference. I hope so, for it will make me feel less old.

    Underwire, Part I October 16, 2006

    Posted by marymac in Excuses for not posting, I'm so deep.

    Note from The Management: Due to a combination of some kind of plague being a little under the weather, work that actually requires…working, and (mostly) a lazy streak a mile wide, posts here at Story Value are about a week behind. If you’re looking for my pictures of Yarner’s Adventures at WEBS, you’ll have to come back in a couple of days and put up with what’s here in the meantime. If you must have some current news, visit Shetha and say hello to Mister Gabriel, who just arrived last week. (I know he’s cute, but please try to make your way back here eventually.)

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled rant.

    At some point when I was a student at Hippie College, I learned about my mother’s breast cancer. Of course, by the time I found out about it Mom had been cancer-free for five or six years already. When she was diagnosed and all through her treatment (a lymphectomy followed by radiation) my father told my brother and me vague things about cysts that needed to be removed. We were eleven and fourteen at the time.* Mom just went along with him — even now she still refers to “when I had my operation” instead of using the c-word, because talking about that sort of thing is Just Not Done.**

    Anyway, the truth finally slipped out one day while I was on the phone from college begging for money from Dad. “Oh, that was when Mom had breast cancer,” he said casually. As if this was old news. Turned out, he and Mom and pretty much everyone else in the family had decided that my brother and I were too young to know/understand what was really going on when Mom was sick, so they just didn’t tell us.

    I was fortunate in that I was young and healthy when I learned the truth and I’ve been able to make sure my doctors know that I have a first-degree relative who’s a breast cancer survivor so we can all be aware of things that might increase my risk (for instance, some studies have shown that oral contraceptives can increase your risk of breast cancer, others show no connection — these things are good to know).

    You may already know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the US, and as someone who was unaware for longer than I’m happy about, I am certainly a proponent of awareness. So I could tell you all about doing regular breast self-exams (BSEs) (warning: boobies in that link), and where to get a free “shower card” (meaning you hang it on your shower head to remind you) with BSE instructions. I could help you find a way to donate money to the cause by clicking, by shopping, by more shopping, or by…. well, this is getting kind of silly, now.

    Here’s what I think: It’s important to pay attention to your body, and if doing a breast self-exam is the only way you’re gonna pay attention to what’s happening to your boobage, then by all means do it. But no less an authority than breast cancer researcher Dr. Susan Love says that “getting acquainted with your breasts” is the most important thing, whether or not you perform a formal BSE in the shower on the appointed day every month. There’s also some question on whether mammograms are useful in women under 50 (I know you’re all spring chickens out there, but if you have a first-degree relative [like, say, your mom] who had breast cancer, they do encourage you to begin having mammograms when you’re ten years younger than she was when diagnosed).

    And then there’s the shopping.

    I’m all for solidarity. If you want to wear a pink ribbon or have one tattooed on your forehead or decorate your rec room with them, you should absolutely do it. But as the “bad girls of breast cancer” over at Breast Cancer Action say, Think Before You Pink. How much money from that pink or pink-beribboned Thingamahoozis you’re buying is actually going to fight breast cancer? For that $400 Dyson, it’s $40. And 3M’s swell pink sticky note campaign? In 2004 they spent $500,000 on it — and donated a total of $300,000 to the cause. Cui bono***, as the lawyers say — who benefits — the researchers or the corporation?

    If you want a pink vacuum cleaner, you should have a pink vacuum cleaner. If you want to help prevent and cure breast cancer, write a check, donate your time, make something people can use. Urge researchers to look at environmental factors. Support survivors, and remember those who didn’t survive. Get angry, and kick some ass.

    More in Part II, In Which We Put Our Money Where Our Mouth Is.

    *Yes, a fourteen-year-old should probably have been able to figure out what was going on, but would you go looking for a possibly fatal disease if you didn’t have to? This was BG (Before Google), so one believed what one was told or one did hours of research at the library.

    **She uses it for other people, too: so-and-so’s husband had “an operation” (prostate cancer); my aunt had “the operation” (breast cancer)….

    ***As if the world needed any further evidence that I am acquainted with entirely too many lawyers.