Adventures in Tumors

The following may be TMI for anyone who falls into that teeny venn diagram slice where “male” and “wussy” overlap. You have been warned!

So, a little while back, I started bleeding and didn’t stop for 2 months. At points it was very light, but nonetheless, still blood. I’d had a yearly exam 8 months prior, and while I had had to get a colposcopy, everything was relatively fine. Nonetheless, I decided it was high time I got my next exam early.

Lucky for me, the results came back positive, so no cancer for me! However, the doctor recommended that, based on my symptoms, I should get an ultrasound. Got one last week, and just found out the full results today. I’ve got 4 fibroids, which are tumors that live within the uterus, with sizes ranging up to 4cm. According to the internets, fibroids are most common in women in their 40s to 50s, African American women, obese women, and women who eat a lot of red meat. I am none of these things, so I musta hit the Fibroid Lottery! Or there’s a genetic tendency, which I am unsure of and might look into. In any case, three of these fibroids are subserosal, which means they’re just hanging out on the surface of the uterus and not really bothering anything. One of them looks like it might be submucosal, meaning it’s in the lining, and is likely the one that’s causing my nasty little issues.

Anyhow, I talked about options with the doctor. There’s a whole range of things that are generally done for these bad boys, all the way from “nothing” to “hysterectomy”. The latter would be overkill, but there are more minor surgical options to get them removed. However, since my only issue with them at the moment is the pain and the gore, I’m just gonna go on drugs. I’ve historically not gotten along well with birth control (which is often prescribed to regulate bleeding) but I’m going to try something vaguely related – Provera – to see how that works out. If the nasty side effecst of birth control surface, I’ll try Lysteda, which is apparently something you can take just during the week of your period to help things out. And to be honest, the idea of having a period that lasts only a week makes me feel kinda giddy, because for the last year or two I’ve evolved to a 2-3 week kinda girl, which, to be honest, really blows. Also looking forward to not feeling randomly weak and craving steak & spinach salads all the time, because iron. Yay iron!

Anyhow, I should probably be sad that I have tumors, but as I already figured something was wrong with me, I’m just super happy that a.) it’s not cancer and b.) I don’t have to get cut open!

Graveyard.css, or Where I’m Putting Old Code Out to Pasture

So I’ve been doing a lot of code cleanup as of late. Meaning I’ve been going through a rather large CSS file and trimming the fat, not to mention doing a bunch of theming changes. I really hate commenting things out as a regular practice, as it looks ugly and still takes up space. Now and then, sure, but when you’ve got hundreds of lines of code in a single file all commented out, I just can’t deal anymore. And, sometimes I realise there’s a bit of code that I dumped a month or so ago that I’d like to find again. In theory, version control should save the day. Course, looking at my commit messages in Git is all like “Fixed layout on landing page!” with changes to a bunch of different files (yeah, I’m super organized).

I’m doing some fairly major reskinning in an area of a site right now, and while there’s code I’m perfectly happy to just delete, there are some styles that I get paranoid I might regret sticking on the ole chopping block. Also, I’m paranoid of someone above me down the line getting reminiscent for a certain look that I killed off. So I came up with the idea for graveyard files. I’ve got a file, graveyard.css, where I’ve started pasting in CSS classes I no longer have a need for, but am not ready to just delete yet. Graveyard.css isn’t loaded by any page, it just hangs out in the CSS directory with the rest of the files and keeps them company. It caters to my natural packrat instinct, and helps cut down the anxiety that comes with deleting several hundred lines of code.

I’ll be starting a graveyard.js pretty soon as well, as I’ll be cleaning up from some functionality that’s been disabled. And, because every JS directory needs a spare closet.

On C-Levels, and Changing Your Circle of Focus

So I’ve been noticing this thing at various companies that I’ve done work for. So you’ve got a project that’s coming along swimmingly, the team’s cranking out their tasks, and then in comes the person (or people) on top who gives input that completely alters the path of the project, not to mention the timeline. This person’s input has to be listened to, as they’re a CEO/CMO/CTO or an upper-level manager. The project is then derailed – a bunch of work is now wasted, goals become muddled, and the project is suddenly at risk of either missing the deadline or eating employees’ free time.

There’s a lot to be said for being a control freak. It’s great for getting details just right in your work, and ensuring that your work is bug free. If you’re also a control freak for meeting deadlines, you’ve got the golden combination to rise quickly in whatever industry you happen to be in, because others around you will perceive you as a high quality worker who gets the job done. Add in a few other random qualities (the right temperament, decisive, people person) and you can get shoved right up into upper management/C-level areas.

Thing is, it’s not necessarily a good thing to be a control freak once you’re at this point. I’m not sure if this is a small company curse, or is more applicable in a broader sense, but it seems that some management types have a really hard time letting go of the details of the projects they’re in charge of. There’s a level of trust at stake here, too. You likely hired the employees that are managing the project, and intruding on the project at jarring junctions suggests to those employees that you don’t trust them to get the job done themselves. So, you know, keep going this direction and you’re not only likely to get stress/burnout issues from worrying about things now beyond your scope, but you’ll also have higher turnover issues thanks to employees that want to work somewhere where their opinions aren’t second-guessed as much.

I think that, in general, as people move around positions, those of us who desire more control just have a harder time adjusting their circle of focus to the new position. It’s still good to be involved and aware of the work going on around you, but it’s also good to be aware of when your own involvement can damage a timeline as well as completely mess up what was previously a watertight project plan.

Oh hey, I made a sealife painting

So this is the sort of thing that I paint when I want to paint something but don’t have any sort of super strong vision.

sealife

So, yeah, sealife. It’s just pretty easy to sit there and draw fish, I suppose. Sketched this in, then did watercolor with colored pencil on top, and painted in some silver in the background. Believe it or not, there’s blotted blue inbetween the silver waves. The scanner apparently didn’t care for it, however!

How I finally figured out how to deal with stupid overflowing text

So I have randomly come across this issue where I’ve got text that needs to fit into a specific area – not all the text needs to show, but enough of it so you know what’s going on there, content-wise. This seems to happen with table data, and of course I’ve got to deal with how the content moves around on smaller screens – and usually it’s a case of where everything needs to stay on one line. So I’ve done some half-assed php character limiting, where really there was a much more elegant solution sitting out there waiting for me this entire time.


white-space: nowrap;
overflow: hidden;
text-overflow: ellipsis;

I feel kinda dirty about the fact that I discovered this via Yahoo’s homepage, but I’ll take what I can get.

My fancybox stopped working!

So I was randomly puttering around on varoper.com and made the scandalous discovery that, in the art section, none of the images were opening in lightboxes. For shame! First came denial: I went through a brief period of self-doubt where I began questioning whether the lightboxes had ever really worked in the first place. The came the bug-checking. And then came the googling. Apparently Fancybox (the particular brand of lightbox that I’m using) doesn’t work with the latest version of jQuery (version 1.9.0). This thread gave me some options as to how to fix it, and I went with adding the migration script below my jquery script. And, fixed! Woo.

I randomly found a “to-do in 2012” list

These sorts of lists usually end up containing much more optimism than realism, and this list is no exception to that. It was scrawled out in one of my random notebooks. Let’s see what I wanted to get done, versus what I *actually* got done:

  • Finish 2011 NaNo CYOA novel
    Hah. Haven’t touched it since December 2011. Poor little novel!
  • Translate Quest into Spanish
    Talk about ambitious. Didn’t happen.
  • Continue min of once a week food blogging
    I’m lucky if I get one out once every 2 weeks these days. Hard to say why. When actually writing the posts, I enjoy it. But, I’m coming up on 5 years of having that blog now, so I suppose the novelty wore off long ago.
  • Get WP responsive design theme, update it for tastyniblets.com
    Oh hey, I actually did this one. Cross it off the list!
  • Responsive design theme for ptocheia.net (maybe trash current look)
    Another one I actually did. Course, the old look got trashed for a kinda crappy templatey look with a half-assed header, one of these days I’ll do some reskinning.
  • Rapidsthuglife.com: pull data from twitter, blogs, news. Possible scoreboard?
    Heey, we’re pulling data from twitter, 2 blogs, and I’ve got the schedule up which indeed includes scores (when I remember to add them, at least…)
  • MLP/Last Supper painting
    Didn’t happen. Kinda forgot about this idea. A bloody brilliant idea it is, though!
  • Tumblr for ptocheia (& do what with it?)
    “Make a tumblr” is a pretty sad item to have on one’s to-do list. But make a tumblr I did. And I even update it about as often as I update the rest of my blogs!
  • Once a month work blog post
    Nope. No one read the posts I did make, and as I don’t work there anymore, it’s all kinda moot.
  • Revamp varoper.com (D7? Rails?)
    Revamped, yes. Looks better now, and is responsive. The job hunt drove the completion of this one. Never learned Rails, still not sure if it’s worth it to learn Rails. Might convert to D7 at some point though, just for organization’s sake for when I (hopefully) start making more art and adding photos of said art to the site.
  • Get better keyboard/piano. Use it.
    Well, hijacking a significant other’s keyboard counts, I presume? Still have to use it more. I suffer from this problem where I like playing songs I know, I only know how to play a few songs, and almost every one of them are songs that Chris can’t stand. And thus the keyboard sits.
  • 2-3x a week gym
    Yeah right. I am figuring out better methods here, at least. Rather than make myself work out for 45 minutes and then dread going back to the gym, I do 20-25 minute increments so it’s a bit more pleasant and I’m thus more likely to want to do it.
  • Do more things with beans
    I’ve made quite a bit of hummus and refried beans in the past year? Let’s pretend that counts.
  • D7 CYOA module
    Yeah, too ambitious. Ignoring the fact you can probably build CYOA functionality with views and fields anyhow.
  • More Drupal meetups
    Not so good at this. Social groups full of people I don’t know are intimidating. Gotta work on getting over that as well, I suppose.
  • Edit binary shirt
    Wow, I don’t remember if I still own this shirt. Got it like 10 years ago, says “You are dumb” in binary. And it’s kinda big and flappy. Or was kinda big and flappy until I gave it to Goodwill or lost it or whatever. Hmm…

And in conclusion, I only seem to be good at getting things done if they involve my websites. Now, to contemplate making a similar list for next year so I have a list of things I haven’t completed to fondly look back on next January!

Holy Hairclips!

I made a bunch of hairclips.

So many hairclips!

Most hairclips that you buy in stores are a.) overpriced and b.) usually packaged such that colors/patterns I want are inevitably paired with ones that I think look awful. Thus, I made a bunch of my own!

You can get packs of blank hairclips at your local Hobby Lobby (or other giant craft store) for around $4.50. And, if you’ve already got a nail polish collection, you’re pretty much set in terms of painting them. This also guarantees that they’ll match at least something else you own. If you’ve got various craft supplies, you can raid that as well. I did that with the gold-leafed set of clips, as well the one covered in tiny pastel flowers and the one with small fish glued at each end. I’m half expecting the one with the flowers to fall apart at some point – despite the two layers of clear polish I put on it, it’s still kinda flakey. However, if and when that happens, I can just scrape all of the flowers off and use that clip for something else. Yay!

Hiding the node:title field but still having it available (using Omega theme in Drupal 7)

I have a Drupal 7 install for a site I’m building, and am using an Omega subtheme. Due to the site’s layout, I’ve needed to place the node title in a different zone (and am using Views to do this) in one of my content types. I needed to hide/remove the node title from the main content area, but wasn’t sure of the best method of doing this. I could just do a “display: none” in the CSS for that field, but it doesn’t seem like good practice to have two identical H1 tags in the content, with one hidden. I tried installing a module called Exclude Node Title, and that worked for the most part, except I also have the Meta Tags module installed, and the node:title field no longer showed up in the meta title field. Looks like this is a reported bug for that module, so this module may be a solution for this issue in the future. On a related note, I’d love to see the title field added to the “Manage Display” page for every content type! That would eliminate the need for this module.

I had the thought of editing a tpl file to make this work, and figured out that this field lives in region–content.tpl.php. Based on what I’ve found looking around online though, I can’t duplicate this and make a version that is specific to that content type. I did find a workaround for this, however – I created region–content–page.tpl.php (as I’m doing this for the “page” content type), added that to my “templates” directory, and edited the HTML around the H1 tag.

Then, this code goes into preprocess-region.inc:

function [yourmodule]_alpha_preprocess_region(&$vars) {
  $menu_object = menu_get_object();
  if (isset($menu_object->type) && $vars['region'] == 'content') {
    if ('page' == $menu_object->type) {
      $vars['theme_hook_suggestions'][] = 'region__content__page';
    }
  }
}

Clear your caches, and this should work!

On a related note, this may also be something that you can do with the Display Suite module. Though, since I just needed to do something tiny, I figured a chunk of code or two would be a more lightweight solution than adding another module.

The process of the Bellossom painting

So I did this Bellossom painting. Since I took pictures at each step, figured I’d dump them here:

Bellossom step 1

I did a sketch on canvas based off of a few pictures, and the background swirls & petals I just kind of made up. Filled in the alternating swirls with silver acrylic paint.

Bellossom step 2

Did a light wash of color using oils and mineral spirits.

Bellossom step 3 Bellossom step 4

Next layer of oil was thinned with a mixture of mineral spirits plus linseed oil.

Bellossom step 5

Did another layer of oil, then a final layer, each of them having more linseed oil and less mineral spirits mixed in.

Bellossom step final

The silver paint got a nice layer of galkyd plus glitter on top. After that, came more galkyd mixed in with gold leaf bits. Still can’t decide if I should have used fewer, larger gold leaf pieces or not. But hey, it was my first time trying that method, mayhaps next time!