Category Archives: Oops

When is your health like a plugin? – On diagnosis, technical difficulties, and Band-Aids

Is there anything more annoying than technical difficulties? Technology is meant to quietly smooth the course of our daily existence; it’s a fact of life that we take for granted—even ignore entirely—until it starts to go wrong.

Well, maybe one thing: health problems. A healthy body is similar to working technology: it’s a neutral backdrop to our activities, a nonintrusive vessel for our thoughts and cares and aspirations. No one rejoices in their eyesight till they start to lose it. No one revels in their ability to sleep until insomnia strikes. No one praises their guts for breaking down food until the guts themselves break down. I certainly never realized how healthy I was until, one day, I wasn’t.

Once difficulties begin—with our technology or our health—we realize how essential its function was to our former happiness. And so begins the search for solutions. Step one? Diagnosis.

laptop keyboard and stethoscope

What seems to be the problem?
Photo © jfcherry | Flickr

The first definition of diagnosis, according to good ole Merriam & Webster, is “the art or act of identifying a disease from its signs and symptoms” (and for a good read on the “art” of diagnosis, I highly recommend Every Patient Tells a Story, by Lisa Sanders). But the third definition, “investigation or analysis of the cause or nature of a condition, situation, or problem,” is applicable to technology. That’s why you’ll hear IT people toss around the terrifying phrase “running diagnostics.”

Over the Christmas break, I moved my little baby gluten blog from WordPress.com to a self-hosted site, with some pro bono help from my computer-programming big brother. Although I like the freedom that gives me to, oh, throw affiliate links at you (not that I have, yet), there’ve been growing pains: I’ve had to diagnose and fix several technical issues since the transition.

With a self-hosted blog, you’re the one responsible when problems strike. You’re the patient and the primary care physician. Unfortunately, in my case, you’re a rather bumbling one who looks everything up on Google. The most you can hope for is to pinpoint the general source of the problem and refer yourself to the right specialists.

My latest “symptom,” as some of you are aware, arose this week. Several of my old posts—from June, September, and October 2013—were resent to my subscribers. Everyone who said anything about it was very nice—thank you!—but I felt bad about the spam.

Putting on my doctor hat (is that a thing?), I determined the problem was with Jetpack, the plugin that brought all my old subscribers to my new site without their having to resubscribe, which has been overall handy. A “Happiness Engineer” from their support team let me know they were looking into the problem. In the meantime, I could stop the emails by deactivating the plugin.

band-aid on finger, laptop trackpad

I’m also familiar with real Band-aids on my real fingers. I should not be allowed near sharp kitchen implements.
Photo © Tony Kwintera | Flickr

This type of solution—“We don’t know what’s wrong, but here’s a Band-Aid to get you by”—is depressingly familiar to me from my years with a diagnosis of IBS and, unfortunately, continues to be familiar. “Issues that haven’t gone away after nearly a year gluten-free could be connected with celiac disease; they don’t seem to be connected with anything else; and it might help if I try . . .,” etc.

I obediently applied my blog Band-Aid and emailed subscribers that the problem was fixed. Almost immediately, of course, the “deactivated” plugin emailed out yet another post (the robots really are coming for us). That’s familiar, too. Band-Aid remedies don’t work when there’s a deeper, undiagnosed problem.

Eventually, I received another email from Jetpack: “We’ve now fixed the issue. . . . Sorry again for the inconvenience.” Why it’s fixed, or what went wrong in the first place, I can’t say. My blog doctor clearly subscribes to Sigmund Freud’s belief that “The doctor should be opaque to his patients and, like a mirror, should show them nothing but what is shown to him.”

(Note: the word diagnosis derives from diagnoskein, meaning “to know thoroughly.” Generally it’s not just the doctor who gets to know. But Freud’s been wrong before.)

Lego doctor with laptop

The blog doctor will see you now (but you won’t see him).
Photo © Jay Reed | Flickr

Opacity aside, a diagnosis was apparently made, because the fix is in. Subscribers should—fingers crossed—be able to expect no more unwanted emails from my blog (which is why you should subscribe now, if you haven’t yet!).

Granted, if we sustain the health analogy, this is a bit like saying, “The doctors say I won’t keep projectile vomiting at random times without any warning, so you should be able to sit with me at lunch,” but once we’re discussing vomit I’d say it’s time to drop the metaphor, wouldn’t you?

Tell me—which do you find more frustrating: diagnosing health problems, or diagnosing technical problems? Do you find people take their good health for granted? And what’s all this about doctors being mirrors?

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A Christmas update, with apologies to the Gluten-Free Capricorn

Somehow or other, tomorrow is December 21st, which means T-minus 4 days till we need to have all of our presents not only bought, but also wrapped.

But that’s not all. December 21st is also the first day of Capricorn, which means I owe you all a gluten-free astrology post. Unfortunately, for the first time, this flighty Gemini is blowing it off—for now. I’ll get to you guys soon, I promise! Just been a little too busy to get it together.

What’s keeping me so busy? Well . . .

A little of this . . .

Carols! (Listening in public, singing in private.)

Carols! (Listening in public, singing in private.)

A little of that . . .

Peppermint bark! (Easiest. Candy. Ever.)

Peppermint bark! (Easiest. Candy. Ever.)

Sweater parties! (But not ugly ones.)

Sweater parties! (But not ugly ones.)

And a whole lot of THIS:

google3

google2

google1

google4

Now that's just mean, Google.

Now that’s just mean, Google.

Without lying, I could simply say Capricorns are the best sign ever at being gluten-free, and call it a wrap (seriously, no lingering intestinal damage 1.3 years after diagnosis for those guys—it is under. Control). But you know I’d much rather go on and on about personality traits, celebrities, deities, and all those other astrological tidbits that are quite possibly amusing only to me.

Besides, I imagine that if I’m this busy, then you’re all probably a bit too wrapped up in your Christmas wrapping-up to pay any attention to the blogosphere right now. So, I’m going to hold off till we can all give Capricorns the attention they know they deserve.

Just because I can’t resist, I’ll have one last Christmasy post for you on Monday. After that, I’ll be wishing you a happy holiday and checking out till next year (when Capricorn will totally get its due).

For those of you waiting: forgive my delay. (In the meantime, why not check out the astrological archives?) For those of you who couldn’t care less: forgive me for how close together this means my Capricorn and Aquarius posts will be coming.

Want to be sure you don’t miss “Sprue Stories: The Christmas Edition,” or all the nonsense that will no doubt ensue in 2014? Then join 1,592,337,805 other readers and subscribe via Twitter, Facebook, or email.

And, if you can find the time amidst your own cookie-baking and gift-panicking, let me know what you’ve been up to recently, too (links welcome!).

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Dear Girl Scout,

I misjudged you.

Photo on 4-9-13 at 8.53 AM #3

Thanks for the cookies, and sorry I doubted you.

I still can’t eat them, but my roommates will love them.

Apologetically,
Molly

 

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Epic fail, from Dorne

I know you’ve been dying to know what we made for our Game of Thrones viewing party! We slaved away creating a “Dornish” feast, where “Dornish” really means “vaguely Mediterranean”—or “incredibly annoying,” depending on which of my friends you ask. It’s true, I may have overdone it a bit on significantly intoning “from Dorne” after every recipe name. Also, at least one person pointed out that the TV show hadn’t yet introduced Dorne, so I only knew about its cuisine or even its existence from the Google Books preview of the cookbook. Fine, fine, I’m a total poser. From Dorne.

We had:

– leek, garlic, and chickpea flour flatbread from Dorne
– chickpea paste (hummus) also from Dorne
– goat-cheese-stuffed dates with honey from Dorne
– fiery white-bean-stuffed jalapeño peppers from Dorne
– candied orange and grapefruit slices from Dorne (no, this isn’t annoying at all)
– chocolate Easter dragon’s eggs from Hershey

And, finally, we would have had those gluten-free hot cross buns. I pieced the recipe together from a couple different sources, and they were coming along really well until I left them to rise in a “warm place,” meaning an oven that I turned to low heat and then forgot to turn off before going out to shop for other ingredients. The buns “proofed” at 250 degrees for about an hour. They did rise rather nicely. Unfortunately they also had plastic wrap baked into them.

Since I couldn’t be sure I’d removed all of the plastic, and carcinogens can’t really be picked out with one’s fingers anyway, I of course threw out the buns. I’d have taken a photo first, but I was a bit preoccupied with having a full-scale kitchen meltdown, complete with door-slamming, tears, sinking to the floor, and wailing about how stupid I am. This was among my most disastrous cooking errors yet, and what’s worse, I can’t even blame it on the gluten-free baking learning curve. There is no one and nothing to blame but me and my bad, bad memory (unless it was, uh, brain fog).

Nevertheless, I’ve forgiven myself and moved on. Mostly. I’m still not ready to talk about how much all the wasted gluten-free ingredients cost.

What was your worst-ever cooking error or baking flop? Can you chalk it up to a new cooking style or do you only have yourself to blame? How do you respond to kitchen disappointments?

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