([syndicated profile] epod_feed Jun. 29th, 2017 03:01 am)



Photographer: Dale Hugo 

Summary Author
: Dale Hugo

Alas, my 60-some-year-old black locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia) may be on the way out. Both of the red-belt conk (Fomitopsis pinicola) shelf fungi featured above sprouted suddenly last summer. They're both about 8 in (20 cm) wide and are approximately 8 in (20 cm) above the ground surface. These fungi may indicate that there's dead wood at the base of the tree. Note that the fruiting body on the photo at bottom is brown and rather dried out. This one's on the south side of the tree and receives a lot of direct sunlight. However, its purplish red neighbor (top photo) found on the north side of the trunk, has retained its color.

Other than the unsightly growths, the tree seems healthy with decent growth in the canopy last summer. I estimate that the trunk and branches weigh perhaps 18,000 lbs (8 metric tons), without leaves, and that it's a little over 33 ft (10 m) in height and is 7 ft (2.25 m) in diameter at breast height. It's placed on the southeast corner of our suburban lot where my wife and I have lived for 46 years -- arriving after the tree was already a sapling, but only about 4 in (10 cm) in diameter. Trees grow whether you notice them or not! If this big fella has to go there would certainly be a lot of firewood I could burn and leftover wood for fencing too, but all in all, I hope he's healthy enough to stick around a few more years.

Photo Details: Top - Camera Maker: Apple; Camera Model: iPad 2; Lens: Apple; Focal Length: 2.0mm (35mm equivalent: 44mm); Aperture: ƒ/2.4; Exposure Time: 0.017 s (1/60); ISO equiv: 50. Bottom: Same except - Exposure Time: 0.0032 s (1/315); ISO equiv: 40.

Today was the big day: we signed the contract with an assisted living facility and got the keys to her room. We can start moving things in immediately, she takes up residence July 12, two weeks from today.

Update re beds: D has decided she wants her full bed in there, at least to start, so it looks like we're not getting a temporary or new bed at this time. Thanks everyone for your suggestions! They were very helpful! Also, she has a week to change her mind about this plan.

After the signing, which was a 2+ hour process, we went out for lunch, then adjourned to her place and measured furniture.

Due to dealing with her move, I'm going to be somewhat hosed over the next two weeks. (If you have a favorite moving company that does small moves on the North Shore, feel free to mention in the comments. I have two recs already, but I could stand to get quotes from one or two more. Also, I feel nervous about trying to book movers in 14 days or less, so want a pool of leads at hand.)

I was hoping to get at least one post out this month, but right now I'm so exhausted I can't see straight, and I have lots of patients tomorrow and part of Friday, which is the last day of the month. We'll see.

The good news is that in the middle of July, whatever my availability had been, it (knock on wood) should be substantially improved. Not only will we be getting D settled, I have a bunch of patients all going on protracted vacations, so my clinical caseload will be temporarily lightened.

Once D is moved, we'll need to start worrying about what to do with her house, but there's no urgency on that. I think that while there's some minimal stuff that we'll get out of the way, G and I are planning on taking a nice break from Dealing With Things And Evacuating Houses for a little while.

Of course, all that goes out the window if D's health takes a turn for the worse – or for that matter if any other emergencies emerge. But right now I'm hopeful that later this coming month I'll be able to be around more and be shoving more posts out the door. Here's hoping.
Constant readers will recall that I wrote a three-part post titled, "Why You Can't Find A Therapist, No, Really". I posted Part 1 on Sept 1st and Part 2 and Part 3 on Sept 30th of last year.

The clinic I work for as a contractor recently paid me, for my last pay period, an amount of money that was four times my typical earnings. Admittedly, how much I actually get paid fluctuates pretty wildly, but I figured I would have noticed having either 4x in arrears or having seen 4x as many patients as usual. But I'm paid via direct deposit, and the corresponding statement saying what I was getting paid for is put in my mail box at the clinic, so I had to wait till I was back in the clinic – today – to pick it up and find up why I was getting all this money.

The statement mystified me when I got it. It was two whole pages of pairs of canceled previous payments and replacement payments and at first I couldn't make heads or tails of it, and then I realized that I was looking at a statement where almost all the patient sessions listed had happened in 2016.

As I mentioned, last month, for the first time in decades, we got a raise. A big raise. Not big enough to be adequate, but big enough to be astounding. It was, we thought, effective starting May 1.

No. Turns out the raise was retroactive. To – apparently – Oct 1, 2016...

...The day after I posted the final sections of "Why You Can't Find A Therapist, No, Really".

Rumor has it that the raise – more properly, the increase in rate paid by at least two of the Medicaid providers – happened because MassHealth (Massachusetts Medicaid) leaned on them to do so, to fix the emergent strike.


MassHealth? Are... are you there? Are you reading my journal?

If so, thank you! (If not, still thank you!)

I have a few other suggestions for things you could fix!

For instance: I'm currently doing an amazing job (or so my chart reviewer wrote) doing care coordination with a big medical team involving four clinics, three hospitals, and family all involved in the care for a patient with an emergent psychotic illness. I can do that because the patient has MBHP, and MBHP pays for case coordination if it's extramural. I'd like to point out that it's insane that if I have a 15 minute conversation about the diagnostic formulation for a challenging and high-risk case with an in-house psychiatrist, I don't get paid for it (and neither do they), but if I do the same thing with a psychiatrist at a different clinic, I do. How wack is it that I literally wouldn't be able to afford to spend the sort of time on this case that I did (and continue to!) if the patient hadn't coincidentally decided he didn't like my clinic's available psychiatrist and went and found himself another one through his PCP. Surely this can't be the incentive system you want me or the patient (or the psychiatrist) to be functioning under – one where patients are incented to get their psychiatric care from an entirely different facility from their therapist.

And thank goodness that he had MBHP, as pretty much an amazing fluke. No other MassHealth payers pay for care coordination at all. If this guy had been on NHP or Tufts/BMC when he came down with schizophrenia... I shudder to think. Do you realize how much I've been on the phone with MGH's ER and APS and social workers and psychiatrists at local mental hospitals in the last six months?

Don't you think there should be some sort of provision for what happens when someone presents with a psychotic disorder? Like, when a provider slams the big red "R/o Schizophrenia" button, the payer has to start paying for some case coordination? (I'd also recommend that for substance abuse cases, where patients can manipulate providers around meds; and in mandated reporter cases, where you should probably have payers pay therapists for their time filling in DCF/DPPC/DES or whatever.)

I have to think that the time demands of handling such a high-risk case are part of why some – maybe many – therapist are leary of working with psychotic or other high-risk patients. I've been there. I've twice spent four hours – half a work day – keeping a patient in crisis calm and coordinating with the BEST team and then the hospital, and never saw a dime for any of it. Who wants to bring a patient onto their caseload, for whom the total compensation divided across the total hours of work for that one patient come to less than minimum wage?

And I'm just talking about care coordination – I'm not even talking about CPT 90839 and 90840 which last I checked were still universally unfunded. Funding that would be way cool.

I have many other fine suggestions – I swear many of them even aren't just suggestions you pay me more money! I'm happy to talk more about reforms in mental health care.

EPOD.YosemiteWaterfall2017_2 (1)

Photographer: Thomas McGuire
Summary Author: Thomas McGuire
After years of drought conditions, 2016-17 has been a year of roughly twice the historical average snowfall in the Sierra Nevada. Waterfalls that had flowed below average for years are in flood this year, as shown above at Yosemite Falls, bringing record attendance to Yosemite through May. The observation point near the base of Bridalveil Fall is so wet that tourists are getting soaked, without a view of the falls, due to the heavy mist.

The Merced River has been at or near flood level for weeks. Some campgrounds that are normally open this time of year are currently flooded. Tioga Road across the Sierras, normally closed by snowpack until early May, is unlikely to open this year before the end of June. Across the Sierras, Mammoth Mountain ski area is projected be hosting skiers into August.

However, the winter season rain and snow wasn't enough to end the drought in California completely. Reservoir levels have recovered, but it may take years for groundwater levels to return to normal. Photo taken on May 30, 2017.

Photo Details: Camera Model: Canon EOS REBEL T5; Lens: EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II; Focal Length: 20.0mm; Aperture: ƒ/9.0; Exposure Time: 0.0050 s (1/200); ISO equiv: 100; Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.0 Macintosh. 
siderea: (Default)
([personal profile] siderea Jun. 27th, 2017 09:29 pm)
Oh god I didn't know it was possible to be this wet without actually wading into a body of water.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
([personal profile] purplecat Jun. 27th, 2017 09:06 pm)
People compare Mark Gatiss who stories to the Pertwee era surprisingly often to my mind. I think he's on record as saying it's his favourite era of the show and it's true his stories tend to have a straight up monster or villain but the Pertwee era is typified, I would say, by the presence of overtly political themes (absent from Gatiss') work and a fairly sparse and functional approach to setting where Gatiss' (possibly because of his interest in Victoriana) tends towards the Gothic. In fact, apart from the fact Gatiss doesn't borrow from Horror tropes, I would have said that the Hinchcliffe era was a better point of comparison.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that, no matter what the rest of the Internet might think, I can't really imagine Empress of Mars in the Pertwee era.

More under the cut )

This is, I get the impression, the episode that Gatiss has always wanted to write and I think it shows. It is having a lot of fun, telling a ripping yarn, and manages to feel both like a Doctor Who story and like a Scientific Romance.
([syndicated profile] epod_feed Jun. 27th, 2017 03:01 am)

Suncorona_ 2-4-2017 (4)

Photographer: Greg Gardella

Summary Authors: Greg Gardella; Jim Foster

Shown above is a particularly colorful corona as observed over Reno, Nevada, right after a storm cleared the area. Though this image was taken with a cell phone camera, it looks as it did to my naked eye. However, most coronas aren't as vivid as this one. Coronas result when sunlight is diffracted by cloud droplets, most often in mid-level clouds. These droplets impede rays of sunlight in such a way to generate successive interference rings. Note that smaller droplets cause larger (wider) rings. Always use caution when looking anywhere near the Sun. Photo taken on February 4, 2017.

purplecat: (dinosaur)
([personal profile] purplecat Jun. 26th, 2017 09:23 pm)
We were supposed to be going to Bristol Comic Con but they cancelled the con. So instead we were let loose on the unsuspecting Bristol countryside.

More pictures under the cut )
([syndicated profile] epod_feed Jun. 26th, 2017 03:01 am)

Moon_sun_halo_5 (3)

Photographer: Hubert Drozdz

Summary Authors: Hubert Drozdz; Jim Foster

The image above is a composite of a solar and lunar 22 degree halo as observed 18 days apart, from the same location (Radomsko, Poland), and using the same photographic equipment. The solar halo was taken on March 19, 2017, at 3:30 PM; the lunar halo was captured on April 6, 2017, at 11:00 PM -- the Moon was in the gibbous phase.

Moonlight or sunlight shining through six-sided (pencil-shaped) ice crystals that compose cirrus clouds result in 22 degree halos. Light first passes through the side faces of the randomly oriented (more or less) crystals, is refracted 22 degrees and then exits through one of the crystal's alternate side faces. Though the lunar halo may be more conspicuous than the solar halo, especially if the Moon is full, the colors are harder to detect since the Moon is a weak light source in comparison to the Sun.

Photo Details:  Canon EOS 450D camera; Samyand 8mm (Fish-Eye) lens; Adobe Photoshop CS 4. 

Roll1dx-21 copy

Each Sunday we present a notable item from our archives. This EPOD was originally published June 25, 2003.

Provided by: Robert Moriarity

Summary authors & editors: Martin Ruzek; Robert Moriarity

This picture shows a north facing beach erosion zone on Santa Rosa Island off the southern California coast. The island is part of the northern Channel Islands, a westward extension of the Southern California Transverse Ranges. Distinctive clastic lithologies connect Santa Rosa Island to the California mainland near San Diego, 200 km to the southeast, in the distant past. The islands have been sliced, rotated and translated northwestward as part of the San Andreas fault system. The photo above shows a layer of deformed fine-grained sediment between coarse clastic deposits, now eroding on the beach. Unraveling the story told by these rocks is part of the challenge of geology - perhaps a slumping course debris flow compressed soft intertidal mud or volcanic ash deposits? The best way to find out is to get out your field notebook and hand lens and take a trip to Santa Rosa Island! [Revised June 2017]

Related Links:

kareila: a sea turtle with the text "all the way DOWN" (turtle)
([personal profile] kareila Jun. 24th, 2017 07:02 am)
Continuing to have trouble setting aside time to focus on work with the kids home for the summer.

After taking my mom to her doctor appointment and subsequent errands on Tuesday, I spent most of Wednesday through Friday sick in bed with a fever and sore throat, but no other obvious symptoms. Now I'm finally feeling better, and Robby has decided that since Tropical Storm Cindy's gift of some ridiculous number of inches of soaking rain will prevent him from doing his usual maintenance out at our church this weekend, this is the best time to disrupt the downstairs living area and try to finish constructing Connor's loft bed.

If I didn't have to take the kids to swim lessons today, I'd probably flee to the library and try to get some serious work done. Maybe that strategy will work next weekend, if I can find someplace to go that isn't closed for the holiday.

In other news, Steam is having their annual sale and I've discovered that most of their older LEGO games (pre-Marvel) are PC-only. I really wanted to put the Harry Potter games on my laptop so that I could play them without broadcasting them to the rest of the household. There's also a PC game that Connor wants that is too resource intensive for his poor old gaming PC. But I read on Twitter last night that Starship Titanic is on Steam for $1.49, so I'll get that if nothing else. I've been wanting to play it again ever since I saw Passengers.

I'm also realizing how much cheaper and easier to find the PlayStation 4 is compared to the Nintendo Switch, and that's probably also the better platform to choose if I want to play Kingdom Hearts 3, assuming it ever gets released.

EPOD_EncoreBrilliant Sun Pillar Over Jenison Michigan

Today and every Saturday Earth Science Picture of the Day invites you to rediscover favorites from the past. Saturday posts feature an EPOD that was chosen by viewers like you in our monthly Viewers' Choice polls. Join us as we look back at these intriguing and captivating images.

Photographer: Kevin Povenz

Summary Authors: Andrew McFarlane; Jim Foster

May 2012 Viewer's ChoiceThe photo above showing a breathtaking Sun pillar was captured at sunset near Jenison, Michigan on April 10, 2012. Sun pillars result from the reflection of sunlight off the bottom surfaces (or less frequently, the top surfaces) of plate-shaped ice crystals composing cirrus clouds. These crystals must be similarly oriented and slightly tipped with respect to the viewer in order for a pillar to be observed. The crimson shaft piercing the purple sky made this sunset unforgettable.

Photo Details: Canon T1i camera; Sigma 18 - 200mm lens; Exposure - 0.125 sec. (1/8) exposure; f/9 aperture; 63mm focal length; 100 ISO; Software - Adobe Photoshop elements 9.0.  


Photographer: Rebecca Roush

Summary Author: Rebecca Roush

Gravitational waves are currently being researched intensely at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Hanford, Washington. Construction of the observatory and landscaping around it has resulted in two interesting and related phenomena: first, tumbleweeds can affect the measurements of gravitational waves and second, baling tumbleweeds provides Western Kingbirds with materials to build their nests in the observatory’s landscaping.

Baling machines are used to collect tumbleweeds that gather around the site’s buildings, including the observatory’s 2.5 mile-long arms. If not baled, tumbleweeds have the potential to affect the very sensitive instruments measuring gravitational waves. The bundles are secured with string, which opportunistic Western Kingbirds use to build their nests.

The photo on the left shows the baling equipment and some tumbleweeds beginning to accumulate near one of the observatory's extended arms. Once baled, they're distributed around the surrounding arid landscape to decompose. The photo on the right shows several kingbird nests in a planted deciduous tree on the observatory grounds. Note the red baling twine that the opportune birds have incorporated into their nests, making them look almost like decorations. Photo taken on April 19, 2017. 

([syndicated profile] epod_feed Jun. 22nd, 2017 03:01 am)

LagunaPanorama (1)

Photographer: Daniel Puerta Sanchez

Summary Authors: Daniel Puerta Sanchez; Jim Foster

Shown above is an attention-getting reflection off the still waters of Laguna Larga in north-central Spain. This small lake is one of the eight lakes that form Lagunas de Neila; each occupies a cirque carved by glaciers in the Sierra de la Demanda. While it can be a challenge to discern the reflected image from the actual image when water is calm and clear, the reflected image is always slightly dimmer, except when the incidence angle (the angle made by the camera lens, the water surface and the Sun) is exactly 90 degrees. Note that Laguna Larga has the only floating peat bog found in Spain. Photo taken on April 2, 2017.

Photo Details: Panorama of 5 photos; Canon EOS 80D camera; Tokina 16 mm lens; ƒ/3.2; ISO 800; 1/8000 sec. exposure; Software: Adobe Photoshop CS6 (Windows).

kareila: Sora outlined in silhouette against a heart shaped moon (kh2)
([personal profile] kareila Jun. 21st, 2017 02:36 pm)
I've written several times over the years about how much my kids and I enjoy playing LEGO video games, especially the franchise tie-ins, and I appreciate being able to go back and read those older entries and see how that relationship has evolved as the years have gone by. In particular, it struck me that once upon a time I wrote about how Connor would join me in two-player mode on the Wii, but Will never joined in, although he liked to watch and advise us, and would play the mobile versions of the game on the DS or the iPad.

Well, that has officially changed. After assisting me in various areas of the first Harry Potter game over the past couple of weeks, today Will started a solo playthrough of the second Harry Potter game.

The original LEGO Star Wars, the game that started it all, came out the same year he was born, in 2005. So I feel like my love of these games and the lives of my kids are entwined, in a sense. All these years later, I consider the Harry Potter games to be my favorites, so it's a bit surprising to me to realize that I only completed the second Harry Potter game once, although I've played through the first one four times now. I wish they would release a remastered combined game for the Wii U like they did for the PS4.

As near as I can figure, I own all of the LEGO franchise tie-in games except for Indiana Jones 2 and LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. I even repurchased for the Wii the ones I originally played on the Playstation 2. I haven't completed the more recent ones, though, since I got distracted by the introduction of LEGO Dimensions.

This is the first summer in a while that I can remember not having a new LEGO game to play. LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2, which appears to feature the Guardians of the Galaxy, has been announced for later this year, but it will require me to purchase a newer console, so we're probably getting a Nintendo Switch for Christmas. Connor's already asked for one anyway.

Just for fun, I made a chronological table for the various franchise games - not including the LEGO Movie Videogame, LEGO City Undercover, or LEGO Dimensions and its various expansions.

Read more... )
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
([personal profile] purplecat Jun. 21st, 2017 08:34 pm)
Reading: Still Crime and Punishment which should be no surprise. However I had anticipated being further in than Chapter 5 by this point.

Listening: Stuff you Missed in History Class on William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman. So far he's invented a lie detector and is investigating women's emotional responses to bondage - suddenly Wonder Woman's lasso takes on a whole new dimension. He appears to have been both a feminist of sorts* and a polygamist. The former of which is, I gather, very evident in the early Wonder Woman comics (particularly his belief that the world would be a better place if run by women) the latter somewhat less so.

Watching: We have discovered Stanger Things. Very reminiscent of E.T. (it opens with a D&D game, is set in the 1980s and much of it is short from a child height viewpoint (a characteristic of E.T. according to B.))

*neither of his partners got suitable credit for their, in some cases considerable, input into his work.
([syndicated profile] epod_feed Jun. 21st, 2017 03:01 am)

Hraunfossar1 (2)

Photographer: Gísli Már Árnason

Summary Author: Gísli Már Árnason

Shown above are the Northern Lights and the stunning Hraunfossar (lava falls), in western Iceland. These falls are formed from a stream flowing underneath the Hallmundarhraun lava field -- the stream  empties into the Hvítá River.

As the daylight period lengthens in spring and summer the aurora season comes to an end. This pale green aurora resulted from a moderate geomagnetic storm (Kp6 classification) that occurred in late March. The bright star on the right is Vega, in the constellation of Lyra. The Milky Way is hidden behind the auroral curtain, but the Andromeda Galaxy, the closest major galaxy to the Milky Way, is visible at the lower left. Photo taken on March 27, 2017.

Photo Details: Camera Model: NIKON D810A; Lens: 35.0 mm f/1.4; Focal Length: 35mm (35mm equivalent: 35mm); Aperture: ƒ/1.4; Exposure Time: 5.000 s; ISO equiv: 6400; Software: Adobe Photoshop CS6 (Windows). 

purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
([personal profile] purplecat Jun. 20th, 2017 08:09 pm)
While I was in Texas an old friend and his wife took me out for the day including a trip around Texas' Capitol

Piccies Under the Cut )
([syndicated profile] epod_feed Jun. 20th, 2017 03:01 am)

Tabby Concrete-Sugar Mill-Kings Bay-Sheridan (1)

Photographer: Rob Sheridan

Summary Author: Rob Sheridan

Concrete is a ubiquitous building material consisting of aggregate bonded together by cement. The most common aggregates are sand and gravel, and the most common cements are based on calcium oxides formed by heating ground limestone. It's an inexpensive, durable and waterproof building material strong in compression with strength in flexion commonly added through internal steel mesh.

However, simpler concretes have been crafted throughout post-agricultural human history. Tabby concrete is a unique construct probably brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers from North Africa in the 1600’s. It was used extensively in the southeastern American colonies, taking advantage of huge ancient Native American oyster middens found along the seacoast. The calcium carbonate (CaCO3) shells were ground and heated, releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) and leaving behind calcium oxide (CaO) or quicklime which forms a strong cement when water is added. Before hardening, this cement was mixed with unheated oyster shells as aggregate and layered within wooden forms, creating durable Tabby concrete structures. With a background of bald cypress and Spanish moss, this photo highlights the walls of a long abandoned sugar mill near Kings Bay in coastal southeast Georgia -- its Tabby concrete walls standing tall for nearly 200 years. Photo taken on February 24, 2017.

Photo Details: Camera Maker: Apple; Camera Model: iPhone 5s; Focal Length: 4.2mm (35mm equivalent: 29mm); Aperture: ƒ/2.2; Exposure Time: 0.0083 s (1/120); ISO equiv: 50.