gearing up for the holidays at work

‘Twas two days before Christmas, when all thro’ Web Teks
Not a worker was working, not Tom and not Zack;
vacation requests had been duly considered
in hopes that somebody would do something billable;

the workers were tapping away at their desks,
while daydreams of holidays danced in their heads;
and Sarah in her Ugg boots and John in his sweater,
wishing their employees would do something better;

when in the cafe there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the glass door I flew like a flash,
To see several pans falling down with a crash;

the sun shining brightly this Chesapeake morn–
bet you thought I would rhyme that line with the word ‘pr0n’–
illumined the car of our great boss Dyanne,
its trunk open, showing lots of food and some pans;

And there she stood, Dyanne, her hands on her hips,
“Could you help me?” she asked, and I jumped to assist;
More rapid than eagles she tossed me her tools,
and she named ev’ry one as to my arms it flew:

“Now, Toaster! now, Hot Plate! now, OJ and Cups!
On, Pancake Mix! Butter! on, Bread! Knife that cuts!
To our cafe please take them, and carry them well,
Then send out the guys to give me a spell.”

All laden we carried in food and supplies
equipping Dyanne to cook before our eyes;
so into the cafe went her griddles and meats,
to make us a holiday breakfast replete

with omelettes to order–cheese, ham, peppers, too–
fresh pancakes, hot bacon, and toast made just so.
As I went to my desk and I sat down to write,
Dyanne started to mix a meal sure to delight.

She was dressed in her apron from ECPI,
and her smile was clear on her face and her eyes.
a whisk for the eggs she held loose in her hand,
a spatula near to flip cakes in the pan.

Then she called out our names: “Karim! Charles! and Jeff! too,
come down and get breakfast: I’ve finished your food!”
As co-workers arrived, they joined in on the fun,
and placing their orders, each and every one,

The omelettes were awesome, the pancakes divine,
and the bacon and sausage were  certainly fine;
with syrup, toast, butter we garnished our plates,
then we sat down for breakfast: we ate and we ate!

After all had completed and eaten our fill,
we thanked our kind boss, praising her chef-ing skill.
And we heard her exclaim, as she cleaned up from brunch:
Happy Christmas to all! In two hours, it’s lunch!”

mathematics is beautiful #4: chronic pain

Tonight’s infographic is all about chronic pain. Note the visualization in the center, where only one little person out of more than 7,300 is highlighted, and compare it to the visualization above it, where it shows one person out of three. For every person who dies due to an overdose of opioid pain medications, another 3,029 Americans are suffering from chronic pain.

Those 3,029 people have to give a urine sample each time they need to see their pain management specialist. When they experience excruciating breakthrough pain, they are turned away at the emergency room as drug-seekers. Most of their doctors don’t know how to help them, and so these patients come to believe at least once in their journey that their pain and disability are their own fault. We need to change this conversation.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

say THIS not THAT

What a workweek!  Last week I got a new project assignment, and have spent most of the weekend, workdays, and worknights crafting a slide deck for a software pitch, including making lots of graphics.  So these statistics infographics I’d been making every day — suddenly I had no creative energy left in my body, heart, and mind.

Tonight’s offering is, instead of a stats graphic, a chronic illness graphic. You can be equipped with better words, instead of saying frustrating or offensive things to a friend who has a disability, a chronic condition, an invisible illness.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

you know you have IC/PBS when…

Yesterday I had a stomach bug, so between waking up at 4am and going to bed at 9pm, I drank one 16-ounce bottle of ginger ale… and nothing more. I hoped this wasn’t going to send my bladder into spasm, because I normally drink a full glass of water each hour between breakfast and supper. Alas, it did cause a Painful Bladder Day, so to keep the mood light, I’ve been playing with this list throughout the day.

  1. You never go anywhere without an extra pad. Or ten.
  2. A colleague raises an eyebrow when you excuse yourself from a meeting for a bio-break.
  3. For the third time.
  4. In an hour.
  5. You get really good at not doing The Peepee Dance.
  6. Or you’ve had so much experience that you add artistic flourishes to your Peepee Dance, rendering it unrecognizable as such.
  7. Your underpants drawer has Nice Panties, Period Panties, and orange Pyridium Panties.
  8. For that matter, you buy all your towels and sheets in shades of orange.
  9. You never go more than 10 minutes without drinking some water.
  10. You keep your urology office’s number on speed dial.
  11. You can’t remember the last time you had OJ.
  12. You keep strategic stashes of towels. And wipes. And extra pads.
  13. You never ever let your pyridium run out. Or your prelief.
  14. You have expert knowledge on the acidity of foods and beverages.
  15. Your urologist’s nurses recognize you and call you by name.
  16. You reflect nostalgically on the days when you could eat Mexican food.
  17. You throw out all your pantyhose and leggings.
  18. ….

So what have I missed?  Let me know in the comments (or on social media)!

homework day

I am working on a master’s degree in math, taking only two classes per semester since I’m working full time. Interestingly, this program schedules the classes for 75 minutes, twice per week, rather than having one long class each week. I probably retain the information better this way, but it makes working on homework through the week problematic. Mondays and Wednesdays, I work and then take my class from 5 to 6:15, and then go home tired and not really wanting to hit the books.  Tuesdays and Thursdays, I get home from work around 5:30, eat dinner, and then have class from 7 to 8:15; that brief period between dinner and class doesn’t seem like enough time to get into homework in any meaningful way.  But I need to come up with a more effective way to spend 30 to 45 minutes each evening on schoolwork, even if it is reviewing my lecture notes against the textbook or something like that.

All of this means that Saturday is Homework Day for me. Kristin and I usually start the day by having an in-the-car picnic breakfast at a pretty little park, doing a little Pokemon-hunting, and then heading to my favorite library a couple blocks away. I’ll work until lunchtime; after lunch, I settle in to the couch to do more homework during the afternoon football games. It’s been a good rhythm, and even though I tend to dive completely into the work, I try to come up for air and spend some time with Kristin so that she knows I love her more than I love math.

Today, Kristin is at a conference, so it’s been an all-on-my-own Homework Day.  My Lyft to the library took me through the sbux drive-through, so I had coffee and pastry as I started homework. I got most of the way through it before getting another Lyft to a Panera, where I could have lunch while camping out on their wifi. Just finished the numerical analysis assignment (Euler’s Method – yay!), so now it’s on to my statistical modeling homework (ANOVA and corrections and contrasts – yay!)… and then a project in each class.

The mathing has gone pretty well for me today, so I’ve felt great. It feels like I’m starting to really get my feet under me this semester, and I feel a lot less out of control. This is good, because work is about to get insanely busy.

So that’s Homework Saturday. Nothing exceptional, just a sunny day, lots of mathing, and a great mood.

disability and shame

TIL that I have a substantial amount of shame all knotted up with my disability.


Shame. Photo by maureenml0521.

A disclaimer, before I tell the story: this came about because of a disappointment. Because I know that a couple of my colleagues follow me on social media and read this blog, I want to make my purpose for writing this post very clear.  This realization came about because of a disappointment. It’s a disappointment that was not intended in the slightest, a disappointment that I had the ability to turn around, a disappointment that I don’t blame on anybody because it’s just a thing that happened.  What I want to explore here is not the sequence of events, but my own internal response to them, the affect that I have felt and some of the sources of that pain. But to get to that, I kind of have to tell the story.


Last week, I was asked to help write a proposal. So I poured time and energy into it, and I had a lot of fun working on it, and I thought it was a kickass document. The sales team thought it was pretty kickass, too, because they not only said so publicly a few times (yay!), but they invited me to the presentation with the client.  I was so touched by this gesture. I hadn’t been invited to anything like this here before. How exciting–and flattering–that they wanted to include me!

Here’s where the disability piece comes in. I have vertigo. I have vertigo every day, severe enough that it causes me to fall, severe enough that I am on the edge of vomiting at least once a day, severe enough that I can count the number of times I’ve driven in the last three months on one hand. Continue reading →


This past weekend, I came across a quotation about migraine. A World Health Organization study had said that a person experiencing severe migraine is as disabled as a person experiencing dementia, active psychosis, or quadriplegia. I read it out loud and said, “Well, clearly mine have only been moderate.”

Then I realized that I’ve driven myself to work three or four times over the last three or four months. That’s pretty disabling.

Continue reading →