cold snap, Christmas day, doctors, a month on mastodon


Merry Christmas! Freezing outside this morning so Muffin and I were in no hurry to emerge from under the covers.

It was a very quiet drive when I moved from my stealth overnight spot to this library w/wifi this morning. ELP is a family-oriented town with many children so I suppose everybody was home santa-clausing it up. I only saw one other vehicle on the road during the 3mi relocation.

I don’t mind being alone on holidays. I am solitary person, and all the noise and drama of holidays can be a bit much.

the recent chilliness

El Paso was only mildly affected compared to other places in the country. Got down to 17F here with interior temps in the van around 27F. Enough to freeze my plumbing (no damage I am aware of).

increased crockpot usage

In order to get some “free” heating I’ve been running the crockpot with the slightest provocation.

On Saturday I bought a half-gallon of milk on sale. Normally I don’t do this because

  1. I can’t use that much milk
  2. the container does not fit in the fridge
  3. I carry evaporated milk for when it’s required

But temps were so cold I could keep it on the counter. Used milk in my coffee each morning, which I normally do not do. The real reason for the bulk buy was to make a pot of rice pudding:

rice pudding

3.5hrs of heat (696.5Wh) made welcome heat and the end result made excellent dessert last night. And breakfast this morning.

Today I have black beans going in the crock. It’s a bit warmer today (not technically freezing!) but 5 hours of radiated heat is still welcome.

black beans

The black beans are invisible against the black crock (and under the onions and bacon) but I promise they’re there.

cold feet

The worst part of the cold snap was perpetually-cold feet. The floor of the van is not insulated so the toes were suffering. At some point I realized I had a small heating pad that I could put under the “desk” and put my feet on. Only 20w on low, woot!


I am here in ELP because I wanted to talk to my (new) primary physician about some odd neurological symptoms. Over the past couple of years I have chalked them up to past injuries, age, and coincidence. I no longer believe them to be coincidence so I drew up a timeline and went in to see the Dr.

Let me preface this talking about what I do and don’t need from a physician.

  • do need
    • interest in patient health
    • curiosity in diagnosis. Interest would be ok, but curiousity is ideal
    • straight information
  • don’t need
    • hugs or bedside manner
    • sugarcoated information

By the time I actually go to the doctor I have done some reading and done some crude informed-layman-grade differential diagnosis. For this reason I am “three for three” on my previous presentations: shingles, kidney stones, and lyme disease. Those might be easy ones, but my point is I’m paying attention and expect my doctor to do likewise.

Unfortunately, this particular dr visit was less useful than with an automated chatbot. Dr was overly focused on an entirely-unremarkable lab result sheet, which was only slightly changed from before and which I can look up online. Very few minutes were spent on report of new symptoms and the doctor expressed zero interest and asked zero questions. She literally spent more time looking at my unremarkable colonoscopy images from 6 years ago than at me in person.
I suspect the doctor was not interested in medicine but her family pressured her into it (a la Tiger Mom).

I did get an MRI referral out of it, which was IMO the appropriate next step at least. She suspects two unrelated conditions that when combined address some of my symptoms; thus cervical spine and and thoracic spine MRIs. I suspect one of a couple conditions, either of which explain all the symptoms, and for which a brain MRI would be most useful. And maybe a thoracic after that.

I suspect it will be a long haul to get it figured out. Luckily it’s all “things that are unpleasant or annoying” rather than “things that will drop you in your tracks while you’re eating an ice cream”.


I’ve been on Mastodon for a month and it’s so much healthier than twitter. 90% less jerk behavior and 100% less spam. Better controls for manageing one’s timeline.

I still post blog links to twitter but will likely discontinue that at some point.


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