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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Attack of the Hives


I had hives one time. Horrible experience  I feel for those who have it chronically; I can't imagine going through that for the rest of my life. My attack of hives was an interesting case. It happened one night during the weekend. I started getting these large welts on my stomach that itched something awful. I didn't think much of it until it happened again the next night... and the welts began to appear randomly. I looked at pictures, and noticed they muchly resembled hives. So, I began elimination therapy. I started making my own laundry soap (which I still use now, since it's a lot cheaper and seems to be just as effective at cleaning my clothes) and washed my sheets and clothes with it. I pretty much figured it wasn't a food allergy or anything of that sort (I'm not allergic to any foods that I know of). I'm only allergic to nickel and something in certain powdered deodorants. Nickel causes small itchy wheels to form, and the deodorant causes an itchy rash.

Anyway, nothing seemed to be working. I would randomly get these hives attacks and they would spread. Sometimes I'd get them down my neck and chest and arms. Other times, my stomach and legs, and yet others my back and buttocks. Then I realized one day as I was continually scratching my head that yes - I even was getting hives up there. I began to troll the forums, looking and just reading about this condition (that's where the "research" part of me comes in). When I got an attack of hives all over my body after a long, hot shower is when I began to learn about a form of hives called Cholinergic urticaria, but I didn't fit all the symptoms. As I asked people on the forums and explained my symptoms (in which I learned that I was getting hives attacks not just at random, but the parts of my body that were exposed to direct heat.) that I might have a rare version called localized heat urticaria. Being the cat/lizard that I am, I refused to give up my heat sources, even though it was directly causing my hives - albeit I would still get random attacks too. I had some benadryl so I tried taking that. I needed to take 6 in order to feel the effects (it quite literally knocked me out) AND stop the attacks. That's when I went to the pharmacy here at the hospital and bought some Allegra while I was at work (This was Friday - a full week after it started.)

Now I have an answer to the nurse's question of "Do you have any allergies?" I do now. Allegra. Yeah. Within about an hour of taking my dose, I not only began to get a hives attack along my jaw line, but my upper lip began to swell. I looked up Allegra side-effects. The lip swelling and hives were under "get emergency medical help". Yippie. I wasn't in any danger though. But I'd had enough. I walked over to Family Medicine where my PCP was, and requested an emergency appointment to get some steroids. I was not going to go through another weekend of this.
So, when she saw that I'd tried just about everything, she prescribed the steroids and thank God they worked. I don't know what I would have done if I had to deal with heat urticaria chronically. That's severely ironical, and quite honestly, mean :P

I haven't had an attack since, and I am eternally grateful for that!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Raising Awareness of Gallstones


[Note: First and foremost, this is my journal. I try to make it interesting enough for others to read, but if it's boring then... oh well!]

I know what you're thinking - why would I need to raise awareness of something that's pretty gosh darn common? Well, real gallbladder attacks might be common, but gallbladder "annoyances" might be shrugged off as something else.

I was diagnosed with gallstones back in February of 2006, after a massive attack that felt like I was being repeatedly stabbed in my upper right abdomen (right under my breast). I was living with my parents at the time, and I awoke to a nasty feeling in what I thought was my stomach. (realizing later that no, your stomach is on the left. Your liver is on the right.) It felt like bloating or acid. I took some pepcid and tried to go back to bed. The pain increased; I took some Advil but the pain got so bad that I got scared and woke my parents. They took me to the ER, and pumped me full of I think dilaudid (which I forgot to tell them I was sensitive to [narcotics] and threw up within a couple hours into my ER stay.) They did an U/S and pronounced me with gallstones, gave me a prescription for Vicodin (and anti-nausea meds) and sent me home.


Courtesy of WebMD

Apparently, gallbladder surgery is pretty commonplace now. When I went to see my doctor and requested my first refill of the Vicodin (I believe my first script lasted until 2010), she asked me if I just wanted to remove it. I'm like, why? I've had maybe 2-3 attacks a year, and you want me to remove my organ? One reason I was so hesitant was because I'd worked with someone who'd had hers removed and she had to take some kind of medication for the rest of her life. Not to mention the possibility of chronic diarrhea due to the bile going straight to the intestines. I was not interested. I'm still not. It's just not worth it for the meager amount of attacks that I have - even with my sensitivity to narcotics.

However, I realized as I've lived with this condition for several years now, that massive gallbladder "attacks" aren't the only thing that I have to deal with. I also get a lot of just... annoying pains. Stabbing pains that aren't as bad as full-on attacks, or a feeling of bloated...ness. And the strange thing about gallbladder attacks is that it's kind of a referred pain, meaning sometimes it feels like the discomfort is coming from somewhere else. Every time I have an attack I always think it's my stomach first. And like a few days ago when I had one, I never managed to get the stabbing "omg kill me now" pain, but more of a dull ache that felt in the vicinity of my liver, and yet... I still thought it was my stomach for over an hour. I'm down to just taking 1/2 a Vicodin when they occur, and taking them has nothing to do with the pain itself. The gallbladder "freaks out" when a stone gets stuck in the opening to the duct, and that's what causes the pain. The Vicodin calms this reaction down (since it's a narcotic and works on the brain) and the stone gets unstuck by itself. This is why Advil and things don't help.

The pain of a gallbladder attack is no fun - it's been described as similar to a heart attack, and, at least in my case in 2006, the pain wasn't going to stop until I took something for it. So, my point is, if you happen to notice those symptoms and wondered what they could be, I might have just planted a seed. Hopefully I've helped someone, and told an interesting story about myself in the process :)

EDIT 10/2016: I finally saw a general surgeon about my gallbladder, and it just affirms my belief of not going through unnecessary surgery to remove the organ. He could not guarantee the outcome of how my body would react without my gallbladder, and it wasn't worth the risk. After 10 years, the attacks basically go away, but he did warn me that my gallbladder was a ticking time bomb, and I would get a stone stuck in a duct (a life threatening condition) eventually. It was not a matter of if, but when. That's okay. I work at a hospital and live 5 minutes away from one. I will take my chances!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What I'm _________ December Edition



Eating: Holy crap. Someone went to a lot of trouble to make a ton of different cookies and brought them to our office. There are shortbread cookies, sugar cookies, peanut butter, chocolate chip... zucchini bread, nuts, FUDGE. (I'm usually not drawn to fudge, but this stuff was good!). I've been gaining weight like nobody's business, I'm sure. By the way, this was the first time I've ever tried zucchini bread (chocolate loaf no less!) And it was really good. I'm pleasantly surprised.

Drinking: After my failed attempt at making Alton Brown's gummy worms, I made lemonade out of lemons by making cherry limeade out of the leftovers lol. I started with cherry-flavored jello, and put it into sugar "molds" (I also added citric acid for that sour flavor), but they never set right. So I scooped up all that half-set jello sugar and thought "what can I possibly do with all this? I don't want to throw it away..." it was 4 cups of sugar per sheet pan! So then I was all like "well, I have lime juice... and it's already nice and sour..." BINGO. Justin and I have a glass occasionally, and it's delicious.

Watching: Once Upon a Time. Originally, a friend of mine told me all about the show when it first started. It piqued my interest, but I just never began recording it. Then just a few weeks ago, my parents told me they really liked it and were watching it. So, I decided to get caught up. Almost there... about 5 episodes to go. I'm really liking it so far. I love to hate Regina, and the man that plays Rumpelstiltskin is epic. (holy crap, the word Rumpelstiltskin was on Chrome's spell-check list. Ha!)

Listening to: Besides mentioning yet another Hatsune Miku song that I have on eternal repeat, I will instead mention TSO, or Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I actually listen to them all year round... I don't have a season for holiday music. But my catch is that I hate regular Christmas music. Yeah, you heard me. I'm only 28 years old and I'm already sick of the same old boring music. Only playing it once a year isn't even a good enough span of time in between. But I really like TSO because it's more rock music than Christmas music. My favorite ones are Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24 (includes light show!), First Snow, and A Mad Russian's Christmas. Also, here's a cool house to another TSO song. I also like non-typical Christmas music, like The Kinks "Father Christmas" and "Christmas Wrapping" by the Waitresses.

Reading: I've discovered a new author that I enjoy. I already read "Born At Midnight" by C.C. Hunter, and now I'm onto his/her second book "Awake at Dawn". I'm really liking this series so far. Synopsis: To the outside world Shadow Falls is just an ordinary camp for troubled teens nestled deep in the woods. But the kids at Shadow Falls are far from ordinary. They’re supernatural. And from the moment high school student Kylie Galen enters this world of fairies, vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters, she’s had one burning question: What am I?

Writing: Bah, I'm up to page 91 on my Werewolf story. I haven't written hardly anything because I'm kind of stuck and dealing with a lot of other shit in my life right now. But I'm not giving up on it like my other... 20 some-odd stories lol.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Honestly, I have no idea what this thing is or how it works. But I guess I was nominated by a fellow blogger friend of mine for it. So, thank you Michelle, I appreciate it :). Even though I don't know you very well or what you're going through, it's nice to read about it. And your recipes make me drool!

Part of the rules is that I have to post the picture,
I guess.
More like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Another rule of this nomination is that I have to list 7 things that you don't know about me. Since this blog is also read by some of my family, that task is pretty much impossible; so I'll just go with what most of you don't know about me :P

1. My favorite pet in the whole wide world was a duck. I own a cat now that I love with all my heart. But before then, it was Chipper the duck. A lot of people in school made fun of my love for this animal. Nobody understood how I could love waterfowl. Well for one thing, he grew up with me, so he didn't run when I came inside his cage. I held him and pet him and talked with him. I pretended to help him fly even though he couldn't, and I took him for walks just like a dog, but without a leash. He was always there for me when I had a crappy day at school. And when he got eaten by a predator my heart was broken. I cried for days. And if you think ducks can't make good pets; that they have no capacity for emotion or to love, you would think differently after seeing Robin, his mate, sitting inside the small house that we kept their food dry in. Ducks hate things above their heads. But there she sat the day after his death. Unmoving, silent, sad, traumatized. I still miss my Chip-chip.

Chipper is the mallard. Or what is known as a 
Rune Duck, when not wild

2. I have Arachnophobia. It's not 100% debilitating, but it's close. As a small kid, I used to capture spiders in jars all the time. Then one day, all of a sudden (this may have to do with watching the movie of the same title!) I became scared of them to the point where I would freak out and hyperventilate if one got in my way. I'm not scared of all spiders. I just scream in surprise and then avoid them. Or kill them. But hobo spiders scare the f out of me and I can't STAND them being anywhere near me. They come indoors during the summer to look for mates. And they. Are. HUGE. Also dangerous, since they're related and sometimes mistaken for the Brown Recluse. They're funnel web spiders and run like a mother - yeah. They're fast. And I scream and run and hide. Nothing scares me like that. I care not for bugs, rats, or snakes. Just spiders.

3. I talk to myself all the time, even when I'm not alone. I'll mumble my thoughts aloud because I just take comfort in it, I guess. I give my thoughts a presence if I give them a voice. Even if no one hears them but me. 

4. I sing. I'm no Mariah Carey, but I think my voice is decent. I probably also think I'm better than I actually am, but at least I have the wherewithal to know that I'm not good enough for American Idol. I record myself singing many different things. As long as it's with music, I sound pretty damn good. If I mute the music and listen to just myself... eek, not so much. I actually posted my best work on youtube for all to hear. I'm normally embarrassed to hear myself sing, but this song is very special to me. Please read the synopsis and you'll understand why. 

5. I'm kind of a geek. And I like geeks. I used to be a huge Star Trek fan when I was in school. I was the Kevin Bacon of Star Trek. I could link just about anything to Star Trek in some way. I had a huge crush on Julian Bashir of Deep Space Nine. I wrote story after story after story. I basically began my whole writing career off Star Trek alone. I dabbled a little in Dungeons and Dragons, but I didn't last very long. I'm creative with my hand, not necessarily with the quick wit that's required for D&D. I play World of Warcraft. I love RPG's. I have my own Warhammer army. I started that because my husband got into it, and trying to be the good wife, I tried to share his interests. I found more pleasure in painting my figurines than actually playing the game. Strategy was never my strong suit. 




6. I love doing research. I didn't realize that everyone wasn't this way until I had a candid conversation with Justin's friend, who says he hates it. Research is how one learns and expands knowledge. It's all I've got now that school is out. A lot of the things I know are self taught. When I needed to upgrade my computer and I was looking for what to buy, I delved deep into the recesses of how computers work. I learned about RAM and what they call "timing"; the 4 numbers you see when you're looking at a stick of RAM on the internet. I learned about what makes processors fast. You could say that I make "informed" decisions. As long as what I'm reading doesn't completely baffle me, I'll work it out. 

7. I have more friends on the internet than I do in real life. This has always rang true for me. The internet has always been my social outlet of choice. It's harder to be judged here. I've had many a relationship here. I used to visit chatrooms when I was in high school. I don't do that anymore - every time I try I just can't get into it like I once was. I had so many friends there who I was able to tell my problems to. They listened. That's what I needed most. I met my soul mate and fiancee there, before he died tragically of a heart attack in 2005. I have two friends in real life but I rarely speak to them. They've hung on from High School, and I know Mary attempts to reach out and I love her for it; but she has a kid now, and is going to school. The internet has always been my constant. The people are different from long ago, but the relationships I hold still remain the same.

And now, the last rule. Apparently, I have to nominate 7 other bloggers this honor. Unfortunately, I don't know 7 other bloggers; I don't follow a lot of people. But I do follow one, and even if I had more to choose from, I'd choose her anyway. Anne is one of the bravest people I know. She's been through so much in her life and she has not given up. Her blog, Starving Writer at Large, is about faith and mental illness and being able to write. Anne, you deserve this award even more than I do! Love you, girl.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I Think I'm Addicted to Caffeine

It's strange. I didn't think it was possible. But maybe that's because I used to only drink about 24 oz of coffee a day.

And then I switched to tea.

I don't normally drink the tea for the caffeine content like I do coffee, except for in the morning with my breakfast. The rest of the day, I'm drinking it for the health benefits and the fact that it's flavored water (I need to get my water intake somehow!). And even though tea has at least half the amount of caffeine as coffee, I'm drinking at least twice as much. I'm at 3-4 16oz cups a day (although I only use 1 tea bag for 16 oz of water). And if I still can't wake up, I have some coffee as well at work.

Here's what happened.

I woke up today after about 8-9 hours of sleep. I was still tired, but I got up anyway because we needed to go grocery shopping. Justin was still sleeping though because he went to bed late, so I made myself an egg mcmuffin (if I said 'egg muffin' instead, what would you think of?) and a cup of tea and settled in for a couple of hours of Once Upon A Time (great show by the way. I'm half way through season 1 already). The tea I chose this morning wasn't my normal faire of Bigelow Vanilla Chai Tea. It was a loose leaf organic chocolate chai blend from Marlene's. I have no idea of its caffeine content. Just as Justin was about to get up though, I became soul-crushingly fatigued. I had a pressure headache that felt so different than anything I'd ever felt before. And the fatigue was new too. I've been lazily tired before. I've even yawned myself to death and had droopy eyes. That's normal for me. But this... my headache was causing me to feel as if I could barely stand. Barely walk. It was kind of scary. I decided to take a couple of advil and see if more sleep would help. Justin went out for a bit and I thought that if I could sleep until he returned, my headache would be gone and I'd feel better. But nope. Although extremely fatigued, I didn't really fall into REM while Justin was gone and woke up when he got back. Still with the headache. 
So, I reached for the caffeine. The only source in my house is through tea, so I made my strongest kind: the vanilla chai. Almost instantly after I drank it, the headache disappeared, and the first thing I thought was "uh oh".

I had thought I was immune to the addiction. After all, I drank coffee every morning and skipped weekends without any consequences. But I guess I just hadn't been drinking enough before. I still find it odd, though. I'd had caffeine this morning. Oh well. It's still worth it. The tea is very much worth the cost of the caffeine addiction. After all, I do seem to have a bubble of immunity from getting sick! It wakes me up and keeps me well! Win freaking win, in my book!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

20 Days Until Destruction

Not that I really believe that we'll all blow up on 12/21/12, but a question was posed by a friend of mine:

"If you only had 20 days to live, what would you do?"

And it got me to thinking. Well, it got me to think that I should be thinking. I'm just going to write this post as I go and see what spews out... a lot like my stories!

I'm not afraid of death. I'm afraid of dying, because dying can be sad and painful. But I'm not afraid of death itself. And unlike people that believe in God, I don't have much faith about their being a Heaven, yet I'm still not afraid of death. As the logic goes, when you're dead, you're dead. You can't care. Cold? Maybe. I'd like to believe that I'd see Josh again. That would be the only thing I really care about. That and seeing Chipper, if ducks have a place they go when they die :P

But, back to the question at hand: What would I do if I knew the world was ending in 20 days? That makes a big difference when you know as opposed to not knowing. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd do much at all. I'm not a risk seeker. I don't really have a bucket list because I'm boring, I guess. I'd like to see Japan. I'd like to scuba dive. I'd want to visit my favorite places again probably. The mountains, the ocean... I'd probably go see Yellowstone National Park. Maybe I'd even travel to New York and meet Anne, go to Metaphor and Graffiti (Jehangir Meta's restaurants) I'd also go eat at Do or Dine, Justin Warner's restaurant.  This would all be if money was no object I suppose. I don't think I even have enough credit to cover all those expenses.
Oh, I suppose I'd mention that I'd want to be with Justin. I know most everyone knows by now that we've separated. I won't go into details, but I don't hate him. I'll never hate him; and I still in fact love him. And if there really was only 20 days left, I would rather be with him and my parents than anyone else.

I'm not sure if I'm alone in thinking this, but if the world was "ending" on 12/21/12, I would think of straight blowing up, or something similarly devastating. I wouldn't care. What would scare me would be post-apocalyptic conditions. I would rather die I think, than try to survive in a world destroyed. I suppose all the planets are going to be aligning on 12/21/12, which hasn't happened in... I don't even know. I read on foxnews.com that NASA was debunking all the destruction stories, but they never mentioned that one. (Although they did mention the polar shift, which has happened to our planet before and could happen again at any time). I read that the planets' aligning could be bad. Something about the gravity and blah blah I can't remember what I read.

Anyway, I'd like to know what everyone thinks. Comment and let me know what you would do with only 20 days left. Thanks!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

No 'Poo

No, this has nothing to do with bodily functions. The term stands for "no shampoo". I learned about this method through a blogger friend of mine, and it intrigued me. Apparently, you can wash your hair with nothing but baking soda and water, and condition it with nothing but apple cider vinegar and water. We all know how many uses baking soda has besides a simple baking ingredient, but I had no idea that it could wash your hair.

I'm not at all shocked that this exists, though. After all, I make my own laundry soap, and it works rather well. (1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, 2 tbs oxy clean, 1 bar of soap. Grind and serve about 2 tbs per full load.) I started doing that back when I thought my hives might be caused by my laundry soap (that's another show! *wink*). Anyway, as far as I can tell, it works just as well as the store bought stuff I used to buy.

But I digress. I am completely taken back; shocked, amazed, astounded by this no 'poo thing. I've done a half-assed version of it for a week now and I am impressed almost beyond words. And what I mean by "half-assed" is that I was too afraid to try the ACV conditioner. My hair is thick and curly and gets impossible tangles without the use of conditioner so I was afraid to take that step. However, I am using a simple recipe I found online of 1 tbs baking soda to 1 cup water in a squeeze bottle as my shampoo. And just as the other blogs I've read claimed, it allows you to go longer between hair washings. How is this? Well, regular shampoo (and I was apparently using once of the worst kinds: Pantene) strips the shaft of all the oil that your hair produces. Then, you must condition some of it back in, otherwise your hair is a nasty, gnarled dry mess. But, why strip out all the oil? One must think in terms that the oil is a good thing, it's there for a reason; not that it's some nasty buildup that needs to be all washed away. When you wash your hair harshly with chemicals that strip all the oil out of your hair, it goes into overdrive to create more oil. By day 2 of no washing, it's already horrible. The baking soda method washes your hair very gently, and when everything is said and done and your hair is dry, there is still some oil left in the shaft. Not a lot, mind you, but enough. Because your hair follicles don't go crazy trying to re-coat your hair with oil at record speed, you can go longer between washings. And I've proven this for myself by my routine. I'll tell you a little secret. I take my showers at night before I go to bed, and I routinely take one every Thursday night. But, occasionally when I have a nothing-to-do weekend, which is very frequently, I won't take another shower until Sunday afternoon. Gross? Maybe. Normally, my Sunday afternoon my hair is a greasy mess. But today? It wasn't nearly as bad. After a week of washing with baking soda (every other night I might add), I can already feel the lack of excess oil being produced by my follicles.

But the million dollar question is: how much oil is left in your hair? I'll equate this to something you might know about. [Let me tell you right now, if you're a beauty queen that can't stand your hair being even the slightest bit oily (and I don't mean greasy) then this is not for you. But you have to remember that oil is not a bad thing, here.]

I like the feeling of slippery conditioner in my hair. I believe that as long as I can feel it, then I know it's in there and doing its job. Some conditioners (although this is probably more relative to the shampoo brand I use now that I think about it) you can feel, and some, when you put it in your hair, it "disappears". You feel as if your scrubbing nothing around on your head. I hate that. I realize now that my hair, after being stripped of all its oil, was soaking up that conditioner like a sponge and that's why I couldn't feel it in there. Ever since I started using baking soda as my shampoo, I still use the same Fructis conditioner I had before, but suddenly, instead of not being able to feel it in my hair, my hair is slippery. Why? Because some oil is still there, and my hair doesn't need to soak up nearly as much as I use (or had used. I usually go through a bottle of conditioner twice as fast as a shampoo bottle).

My hair looks and feels no different than before, after it's dry. It's still soft, still silky and smooth (especially when straight) and clean. I can't stress that enough. It is being washed, and it is clean. But it can also last longer between washings, and the natural oil it produces helps protect the shaft from breakage and sun damage etc. Plus, I'm not spending  money on expensive shampoos, and an as an added bonus, not flushing nearly as many nasty chemicals down the drain and into our rivers and lakes. It's good all around.

I urge my readers to try this. You can go whole hog and do the ACV as well for your conditioner if you choose, however I've read warnings that your hair takes several weeks to adjust to the fact that oil isn't being stripped away, and it may still over-produce for a while. If you can handle that as your hair adjusts, great. Otherwise, my hybrid method is a great alternative. My hair seems to have adjusted almost immediately. If I added ACV to my routine at this point, my hair probably wouldn't even have to go through that phase.

Here are a couple of articles to get you started!

No ‘Poo: Get Beautiful Hair with Just Baking Soda & Vinegar


Who’s up for “no-pooing?”

Let me know what y'all think!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dissection Stories

It just kind of came up in random conversation. Okay, no, it didn't. I brought it up because I was feeling left out that some people were seemingly way ahead thanks to school programs and I got jipped by going to shitty-ass Burley-Glenwood Elementary. But, since I brought up the subject, it brought back some fun memories of my school days. Some of the very few, I might add.

WARNING. NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH.

My first dissection was in the 3rd grade. Yes, you heard right. We had a science class in the 3rd grade, and we got to dissect a pig's eye. No see, this was before we moved and I went to shitty-ass Burley-Glenwood. Nothing this cool ever happened in that school. Anyway...
My science teacher was scary cool from what I remember. She had a hole in her throat because she smoked too much and sometimes she would talk out of the tube in her throat.

Can you believe I still grew up normal?

So anyhoo, we had to choose partners for our dissection. Because I was pretty much the 2nd least popular student in the class, I got stuck with the least popular student in the class. Not even I liked him. He was a total dumbbutt. The teacher warned us before we got started that if we were prone to throwing up, to just sit this one out. I knew I'd be fine, so I waited for my eyeball. The task was to get the lens. Which tuns out, wasn't very easy, as a black liquid substance leaked out of the eyeball as soon as you cut it open. The entire thing was covered in "ink". I tried to find the lens but at this point it was pretty much impossible. Oh, my "partner"? Went flying out of the classroom and puked in the garbage can outside. Sissy. So I just poked and prodded at it until we were done. Pretty cool.

We dissected a clam in like, the 7th grade or something. Basically just opened it up and poked around inside. I didn't have a problem with it because I knew clams couldn't "feel".
However, I did have a problem with a worm. In High School, my biology teacher, who I was brown-nosing friends with, tasked the class with dissecting a worm and writing a short report. The problem was, the worm was still alive. And I absolutely refused to dissect a living thing. She warned me that if I didn't do it, I would fail the class. She assumed I would fold, as I was getting about 107%. I didn't. Not wanting her top student to fail, she told me that I could write an external report on it instead. And then I asked her if I could let it go when I was done. Reluctantly, she agreed. And I did - right out by the football field. I was proud of myself that day.

You might be thinking: how did you handle the frog then? All high schools had to dissect a frog! Yes, that's true. We were slated to dissect a frog soon, and I had no idea how I was going to get away with not doing that assignment. Now, if the frog were dead, I wouldn't care. In fact, I'd probably be quite fascinated with the whole thing. But I'd heard that they were just asleep, so you could see their heart beat etc. I don't know if this was true or not, and we never got to find out, because some douche in another class had "played with his dissection knife" and ruined it for everybody. I got off lucky that time.
Marine Biology was my hardest dissection ever. We had to dissect a clam, but instead of 7th grade "easy mode", we had to label and classify each part of the clam. Back then, this gave me a new-found respect for surgeons, because even with just a simple clam, pointing out organs and knowing what they are is much harder that it sounds.

Yeah... that's about how I remember it lol

So, those are my dissection stories. I hope I didn't gross you out too much!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Review of the Amazing Spider-Man


I know this is a little late in coming, but I hadn't seen it in theaters thanks to my stubbornness. Plus, I don't normally write reviews on movies. I don't even leave comments or stars on things like fandango. But, Spiderman (the idea) is one of my favorites of all time. Spiderman as a concept beats out every other super hero I've seen to date, and yes, that includes the Avengers (which I also didn't see in theaters thanks to my hatred for DC comics). Spiderman as a super hero has depth and feeling, which was portrayed well in both incantations of the movie. I didn't watch The Amazing Spider-Man in theaters because I didn't want to be betrayed with something I already loved. I liked Tobey Maguire as Spiderman, and I loved the concept of it. No, I've never read the comics. But it made more sense to me that hell, if he could climb walls, shouldn't he be able to freaking shoot some webbing? That whole idea that Peter Parker had to create a device with which what he should already have been able to do, turned me off of the movie completely. And I know that's how the comics were; but I didn't read the comics, remember?

Anyway, as much as I'd want this to be a straight up review of a singular movie, I have to compare the two, because the first version is one of my favorite movies. TASM (The Amazing Spider-Man) had some awesome points, and some downfalls. And now that I've seen this movie, so did SM, really. TASM touched on some points that SM missed completely, but I think it was because both the characters that portrayed Peter Parker were completely different. I felt as if TASM was more real. As a teenage boy, I feel that this movie would be how he would react if this happened in real life. Even though I hadn't read the comics, I appreciated the throwback to his sarcastic nature; it was one thing I missed in SM. However, as uplifting as it was to have the whole city rally around him there at the end, I felt as though a major piece of the plot was missing without Jonah Jameson and his damning newspaper articles about "the menace to society". We almost had that in Gwen's father, but even that turned out okay in the end. I think how the city thinks he's a menace is one of my favorite parts about Spiderman as a character. This is one of the things that create depth and realism of character and plot.

One thing that I think SM did better was Uncle Ben's death. All Peter was concerned about was getting money. He'd had an argument with his uncle and said fuck it - I'm going to let the guy get away. Although I have to admit, the Uncle Ben in TASM took his own advice when saying that if you can do something, you should, and tried to grab the gun. But SM was more convincing, because Uncle Ben was an innocent bystander. He'd done nothing but wait by the Library to pick up Peter, who had lied to him about where he was in the first place. It put more guilt on Peter when he was shot dead. Plus, we had that whole telling Aunt May that'd he'd killed his uncle moment (which I honestly can't remember if that was in the first movie or the second). I also have to point out a major plot fail in TASM. He got the antidote in a second before it was released, *slow clap* because he could have done it right after, too. Duh. lol

Okay, this review is already long enough, geez. lol But I have to tell you, I loved this movie a lot. I loved it a lot more than I ever expected to. Andrew Garfield is an amazing actor. He sounded so goddamn believable. And, he's freaking hawt. He might be my new crush lol. Also, I must point out that this is the first time EVER, in ANY movie, that I noticed the clothes. Wardrobe department gets an A+ on this movie. I give it 4-1/2 stars out of 5. Both Peter Parkers were extremely different people and you can't compare the two. So how Andrew Garfield played his version was spot on. I enjoyed his character much better than Tobey's. That's just my personal opinion. And also, Garfield is sexier. Just sayin'. lol

Look at all those layers. He must be hot. *chortle*

PS - the whole "I can sew my own awesome costume" bugs me every time. lol


Sunday, November 4, 2012

What I'm __________ November edition

Watch me do this again before the month is over lol
Not a lot has changed for me, but that's how I am :P

Listening to: Hatsune Miku. I actually discovered her a few months back, but the cool thing about Miku is that many different people can make her music, because she doesn't exist. Yes, you heard me right. She is what is known in Japan as a Vocoloid. A software program, whose voice is made by a real person, but can then be manipulated however an artist wants to make music. I've been discovering people's music of her, and some of it is really good.
She's extremely popular in Japan. Ever famous for their Anime, Japan has created a drawing of her and people have re-created it all over. She's in games, and comes with 3D rendering software that you can make her dance with her music and everything. She's even done live concerts. Yeah, live concerts. And they go crazy over it. Look at this: 



Eating: Um... my tuna sandwiches. I just mix chopped celery, chopped onion, relish and mayonnaise in with canned tuna and call it good. As long as I have Dave's Killer Bread to go with it. That stuff tastes amazing, and is so healthy.

Drinking: Still tea. Lots and LOTS of tea. In fact, I've replaced my morning coffee with tea. I'm hoping it's what's keeping my husband's sickness away from me. I have a bubble of antioxidants lol  "Tea leaves contain bioflavonoids (antioxidant plant pigments), amino acids, vitamins C, E, and K, caffeine and polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates such as cellulose, starch or glycogen). The benefit to tea drinkers is an improved immune system from beneficial intestinal microflora along with germicidal activity against bad bacteria. All tea leaves contain natural fluoride, and in conjunction with the flavonoids, helps to prevent tooth decay." (Site Healthynutrition.me) To use up my leftover heavy cream from a recipe, I've been putting in about a tbs into my tea. It's a bit fatty but it works well. Also, I bought some loose leaf black tea that was called "Coconut Cream" as it has flecks of dried coconut in it. Man, that stuff is the bomb.

Watching: Next Iron Chef: Redemption. The new season kicked off tonight. I'm rooting for the cute one. I guess his name is Marcel. He's one of two that is new and didn't come back from a previous season of NIC. To me, he looks like a werewolf, or what a werewolf as a human could look like. I've been reading too much. lol



Reading: Which brings me to... lol I'm in the middle of one of Kelley Armstrong's new series "The Darkness Rising" trilogy. She'd came out with her 2nd book of the trio a little bit ago; "The Calling". It's not my favorite, but it's still really good. No werewolves. At least... not yet. ;)

Writing: I'm still working on my "Werewolf" story. I'm 82 pages in now, and I figure it'll probably be over 100. I keep wanting to write, but once I get home at almost 6pm each day I've just run out of steam. I know exactly where the story is heading and I'm itching to write it... yet it's difficult to do. I'll keep chipping away at it though. Little by little I'll get it done!

Most Excited About: Holy moley, a new episode of Mythbusters is coming out on November 18th and I CAN NOT WAIT. I don't think I've ever been more excited about anything in my life, not counting each time I've met Alton Brown :P. Because, Alton Brown is a GUEST! This is the epitome of geeky awesomeness. This is drowning in hilarious science. They rarely have guests on Mythbusters, and I love that show a lot, so to bring Alton into it is just... the best thing to happen to TV since the DVR. I can not express how excited I am about this! Must... share... photo...






Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mystery Box

video

Best line/scene in all of Family Guy history. Just sayin'

(I'm posting it here because youtube and Fox are dumb. It's a SCENE. Not like I'm posting an entire episode. Get off your money-grubbing asses and go deal with stuff that actually matters, Fox.)


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lizard

Thought I'd write about an event in my life that I remembered from when I was kid. I used to keep journals when I was young, and I have at least two full ones. Unfortunately, I didn't date this entry, but I remember it being summer so it happened from my last entry which was in August 1996. I was going into the 7th grade so I was 12. I'll write it exactly as it is in the journal.

Mom found a lizzard in the garden, Isaiah (Izauh) caught it, And I Put it ina bucket. We put her (hint) in the water we picked her up and Isaiah found something swimming in the water, it was a baby lizzard! amazing! Buy the next day, She had another but that was all. if you shone one in the light right you would see a prity green spot on it. We declared it a her. And the other a boy. 2 days later the girl died gave her a sarimony and finaly let the Brave mother go. the baby went 10 minutes afterword.
It was sad to let them go but its beter than leting them die. Maybe in a year or two I'll see him. And when I ceach a lizzard or a snake I'll let them go on the same day. I called the baby lizzard Jarry. And the mother Ms. Brave. I'm glad she lived through that whole situation. In a way I'm glad I let her and her baby go. I know it was the right thing to do. I think its better to make someone or something happy than sad. I know I can't see a smile on a lizzard when it's happy but when I let it go I'm sure It whould be the happiest thing alive. I hope ms. Brave is happy, I keep on telling myself it was the right thing to do and I know it was. I'm happy and sad right now mostly happy because Mrs. Brave is happy. I did the right thing.

#EndLifeLesson


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The "House" on Huson

I'd like to take a moment and reminisce fondly on a place I used to live... okay, not so fondly. I know I'm not the only one out there that lived in less than... accommodating conditions. And I'm not harping on those that have had it worse; or even have been homeless - which I thankfully have never been. My parents have told me stories about how they used to live "back in the day". Dad seemed to have it worse, with pizza boxes as furniture and a bedroom that was so small that you had to crawl over the bed to get to the dresser. Even my sister, who is 10 years older, lived in an old Victorian convert that everyone on the top floor had to share a bathroom; and it didn't even have a shower in it. So, this isn't really about complaining, but more like just remembering how it was for me at the old place on Huson St.

I find it hard to believe that this "house" didn't start out as a house and was converted to 5 apartments. I've had it told that back when this place was built - the 50's or 60's I think, that people wanted to build apartments that looked like houses, or some jacked up shit lol. But even if that was the case, I would think it would have been constructed better. If this place was actually built as apartments, then that architect needs to just... go away lol He was a idiot. I'll put this out in bullet point to make it faster.

1. Two water heaters, located in the basement, for all 5 apartments to share (it was always fun when I would get ready to take a shower, hear the water turn on downstairs, and stomp away because I would have to wait until they were done)

2. The stove was shoved against a wall where the broom closet door hit it and it wouldn't open more than 7-8 inches. The funny part was that the broom closet was as deep as the stove, and practically inaccessible thanks to that feat of architectural engineering.

3. No dishwasher. (Yeah, I know. QQ more lol)

4. The windows were 70-90 inches long, but only one small portion of it would open. They swung outwards, and you had to tie a string to the handle in order to close it, or use the metal arm. Oh, and on windy days, good luck keeping them open.The screens were specially made with holes in them and little minnie screen doors that slide open for the handles. Ha. I can't even find a damn picture of one on google they're so damned obscure lol. The window in the bedroom started at 5 feet off the floor; I could barely look out of it.

5. No vent fan in the bathroom. I mean, wtf? Who purposely builds a bathroom and doesn't put an air vent in there? I mean, it had a window at least. Maybe this was designed before air vents? o_O

6. On that note, the bathroom was on the slanted roof side, and so the shower curtain rod needed a chunk of wood bolted to the ceiling in order for it to be flush. It made the rod shorter than normal height, and mom sewed my cloth shower curtain about 3 inches shorter so it wouldn't pool all over the floor. Whenever I bought a vinyl shower curtain I'd just put my scissors to it.

7. We had a midget door from the bathroom that was our "storage space" - a piece of the attic. (the people on the first floor each had small units in the "basement") You couldn't even walk erect in there because of the slanted roof.

8. Was the house grounded? Dad never got a straight answer from the landlord about that. Most of our outlets were so old that they didn't have the grounding hole. (don't make fun cuz I don't know the technical term lol). When I bought an adapter to expand how many plugs we had, I had to saw off the grounding metal part in order to plug it in. In fact, I had to buy converters for the things like our computers. Seemed kind of unsafe. o_o

9. That gas heater was a pain in the ass. This isn't really a fault of the apartment... a heater like the one we had was just an idiotic idea to begin with.
A radiant heat, natural gas heater in the living room that had a vent into the bedroom. I think it was supposed to heat both places at once but I was never sure. I can't believe they still sell these. For one thing, even though they're natural gas, it still requires an electric spark to turn on, so you know, no heat when the power is out. Also, the pilot light is always lit, and you can always feel the heat coming out of it, even in summer, when we're already roasting on the top floor of an apartment that has magnifying glass windows that let in all the suns rays. We used to put a towel over it to try and block the heat. We'd thought about just snuffing out the light - but even dad wasn't sure if he could re-light it. We'd also thought about canceling service through the summers, but they charge to re-do the pilot light. And we paid like $10 a month to keep the damn gas flowing even though we never used the heater. So, whatever. We suffered lol.

10. And last but not least... drum roll please...
One time, the landlord called me and asked if I'd flushed a tampon down the toilet within the last couple of days. When I'd said no, she told me not to ever, because it plugged up the pipes and it backed up into the basement unit's bathtub. Apparently this happens on occasion. Lovely!

(PS - that reminds me, the toilet didn't have a stopper. I'd never in my life had to deal with an overflowing toilet because they would always stop. Not this one. I had to call Justin in, in a panic to ask him how to stop the water. By then, it was all over the bathroom floor. The downstairs neighbors called the landlord who called me, saying that water was leaking from their door jams. Yeah.... sorry bout that! lol)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What I'm __________

A blogging friend of mine had a neat idea, and I'd like to try it out. I might try this once a month or so, depending on if my tastes change. But basically, I'll fill in the blank with what's going on in the moment. I like this idea a lot because I often attach new songs that I fall in love with, to memories. (Because I listen to these new songs non-stop on eternal repeat for days). An unintended side-effect of that was when I would listen to that particular song in the future, it would pull up that memory.
For example, the song 'Begin' by Riyu Kosaka, reminds me of Pokemon every time I listen to it, because that song was on eternal repeat whenever I would play Pokemon on my computer.
So, here it goes.

Listening to: Without You by David Guetta, ft. Usher. (watch the music video. It's so cool) Not something new, but I'm re-falling in love with it. David Guetta is a new one for me. He's not a singer, but a composer, I guess. He writes the music, someone else writes the lyrics and sings it, or something. I have another song he's done too if you like that one. It's called Everybody Knows Me ft. Niles Mason.

Eating: This one would be pretty unchanging. Once I find something good to eat, I don't much change up my routine. Right now I'm enjoying my Kirkland weight loss shakes for breakfast, but I make them a lot better. In a blender, I add ice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a teaspoon or so of almond butter (peanut butter works wonders too) and mix it up. It makes almost 20 oz and fills me up pretty much until lunch. It's tasty.

Drinking: Tea!!! I just read an article recently that suggests milk in tea might decease the antioxidant effects, which would really suck. But I'm actually enjoying a few different flavors. I loooove chocolate hazelnut. Also Chai is good, and Chai Vanilla. I can do green tea too, but again, it needs non-fat milk. Oh, and Splenda.

Watching: All the new shows are out for the season, so what am I watching? How I Met Your Mother, which I've already been watching since its inception. The Tivo has kind of left me out of the loop regarding any new series that come along because I never watch live TV. (like, EVER.) I would have also said House and Eureka if they hadn't ended last year. Still a sad panda about that. Once HIMYM ends, I won't have anything but my Inside Edition. Sigh. Oh, and I'll say Next Iron Chef, once that starts in November. And whenever the American Version of Being Human begins... I just have a season pass on my Tivo, so... lol

Reading: Alpha and Omega: Cry Wolf by some chick I don't even know. I didn't buy the book. I'm more than half done with it and it's okay. I'm really picky about my werewolves, I guess. I "grew up" with Kelley Armstrong's version of werewolves and so far, by far, they are the best. So much so in fact, that her books inspired me to write my Feral trilogy. My longest story ever.

Writing: Which brings me to what I'm writing! Now that Kelley Armstrong has ended her 13 book series, I decided to kind of start where she left off, in a way. I've borrowed her characters and her world, and began writing my own story. It's no where near as good, but I'm liking it so far. For lack of a better idea I'm just calling it "Werewolf" for now, and I'm 70 pages in. It'll be a story probably under 100. Slightly more maybe if I can think up some good plot points.

Most Excited About: Moving! Dear me, it's bittersweet. I love this apartment a lot. I mean, it's 920 square feet, which is huge, 2 bed, 1-1/2 bath unit. It's on the top floor, but only one flight of stairs up, and it's a corner unit so we only share one wall with the neighbors and we have extra windows. We have one assigned parking space that is within steps of the stairs, and covered for free. Plus, we're in the North End, which is a safe, beautiful area. Within minutes of Point Defiance Park. The downside is the price. We just can't keep living here. We had a roommate for 2 of the 3 years, and we attempted to stay here on our own w/o him and we've struggled a bit. I mean, I just paid $94 for w/s/g, and that's up by $10 this month. Why? I dunno, cuz whoever charges for the sewage jacked us? It's ridiculous. Anyway, we're moving a bit more south, near the mall. It's not that great of a neighborhood, but it's not horribly dangerous either. Not like Hilltop or the South End. I like the place a lot... we're sacrificing on space major, loosing the extra bedroom completely, but it was built in '99 so everything is basically new and efficient. Rent is over $100 a month cheaper, Electric will be cheaper, and Thank GOD there's a $56 flat rate for w/s/g. In addition, we actually get some amenities like a small gym and a tanning bed.

So that's it for this month! Tune in next time for What Amy is Doing (and why we care!) *grin*



Friday, October 5, 2012

Anzu the Ass Bird

This is my geek post for the month. Or the year. Or whatever. I play World of Warcraft. Yeah, I'll admit it. I fell in love with RPGs back when Josh and I got together, and MMOs are just RPGs with other people. The chatting part fit well with my wall flower persona of not having any outside friends or social life.
But right now, the game is really beginning to piss me off. I keep fighting the same boss over and over again, trying to get this mount to drop, and it never does. Now that mounts are shared account-wide, I've got 5 different characters running this dungeon every day (which you can only run once a day). But, the mount has only a 1.6% chance of dropping (according to wowhead.com)


This is why I call him "Anzu, the Ass Bird". The mount he drops... is him. That guy ahead of me, that's what my mount would look like, and to me he looks fucking awesome. (Yeah, that's one of my characters: a level 85 Worgen Death Knight.) If none of this post makes any sense to you then, well... just look at the pretty birdie.


I'm lucky enough to be able to run this dungeon all by myself, so I don't have to compete or roll for it if it does drop. But, I've had such bad luck with these things I'd be surprised if I'd ever get it.
Waste of time? Maybe. He doesn't even fly, so I'd hardly use him. But I'm jelly when I see other people with him :P
Wish me luck, because dammit, I could sure use it!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Grief Stricken

We had a slight disturbance at work yesterday that caught us all off guard, and I can't seem to stop thinking about it.
If you follow my blog, then you know about Dr. Saffari and what such a great guy and Doctor he is. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, please read this post). He works incredibly hard and cares for every person that walks through our front door. And it's not very often that he takes time for himself. After our PA up and left, Dr. Saffari was the only doctor that was available for consults in the hospital, and who could be paged for orders and questions etc. He never took a day off for those nine months. And to this day, he works non-stop to help his patients. But he did recently take a vacation to Italy; a much needed one, a couple of weeks ago.

Yesterday, we heard some horrible news that one of our long-time patients with ovarian cancer, died around 9am in Hospice. He'd been her doctor for years, and she'd been in decline for months. While I barely knew her, we were all saddened by this news. After lunch, our receptionist got a call from the patient's son. What he said shocked her so badly that she had to run to our RN for advice and to get it off her chest.
He had said something to the effect of:

"Because Dr. Saffari went on vacation, my mom is dead. So f*ck you."

And hung up.

Now I understand all too well how grief can consume you. I understand that he was angry at the world for his mother's death.  But this... is just wrong. Dr. Saffari took care of her. He had never given up. She was even still on chemotherapy, I believe. But she was loosing her battle. There was nothing he could do.
But, how dare he take time for himself. How dare he have a wife and children that he normally never gets to see, and take a much needed respite from his taxing position.
Again, I want to point out that anger is one of the 5 stages of grief. It's not bad or unusual to be angry, even at things that you wouldn't normally blame. But there is a big difference between sitting with your anger - even venting it to friends and family, and actually calling up our receptionist and saying that. 
Our RN told Dr. Saffari what he'd said. I don't know why he needed to know. He already feels guilty for taking any time for himself because he knows patients are in need of his help. As the day wore on, I knew the man's words had affected him deeply. He tried to hide it, but I could tell.

As most of you know, I've been though this myself. When Josh died, I went through every stage of grief. I was angry at myself because I believed that I caused his death by being negligent in his health. I also blamed the Urgent Care that I'd taken him to. He'd waited for over an hour to be seen. At this point, no one knew he'd had a heart attack, but nurses were manning the front desk. They watched him suffer in the waiting room. They saw his pale, pallid face. They should have known, I told myself. I was angry, sure. I will never go back to that particular Urgent Care ever again. At one point, I never wanted to go to any of them again. Negligent, incompetent people, I thought. But after he died, did I call them up and cuss them out? No. Did I scream at any of the nurses or doctors at TG for "letting him die"? No. In fact, the very next day when my parents took me back to get my car, I insisted on buying two cards: one for the ICU who took care of him in his last moments, and one reserved for this particular nurse that helped lighten the mood in the ER and had Josh smiling for the last time in his life.

I know that everyone handles grief differently. I know it can be difficult no matter what the circumstances. But I believe he could have, and should have, held his tongue. It's possible, I've done it. Dr. Saffari will reflect on his words, and it will be burned into his memory for all time, because you couldn't pause for one brief moment and not dial those numbers. He'll feel horrible about having any time to himself, because that's who he is. 

My advice... think about what you say. Pause, take a deep breath, and remember that your words can be immortalized for all time and can change people's lives forever.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The First Two Children of Trouble


I'm going to try and make this brief. I know it's hard for me to do that, sometimes!

So, child number one came screaming into our lives after Justin cut his wrist - no not the underside, but the top; with a boning knife. If you know anything about kitchen cutlery, a boning knife is the last knife you want to cut yourself with. A sharp chef's knife will leave paper cuts. A boning knife will literally slice you open. Filet is another term for this particular knife. It was Monday morning, and I was getting ready for work. I work near St. Joseph Hospital, so that's where I took him. We had managed to stop the bleeding by wrapping it up tightly with a wrap, but the cut was really bad. The ER didn't think it was a big emergency, so we waited. I'd parked in my work space across the street, which turned out to be a good thing because after the doctors got a look at him, they decided he needed surgery because he'd managed to sever the tendon that allows you to make a thumbs up. I stayed with him until he was wheeled into surgery about 2:30, and then I went to work. I needed to get stuff done, and there was no point in sitting in the waiting room when I worked right across the street. It was only an hour 1/2 later that I was called back, and he stayed in the hospital until Wednesday. The good news was that this time off for him uses my EIB - emergency illness bank, which accrues (albeit at a slightly slower rate) with my PTO. My boss told me that I could use it to care for Justin, which was really cool.
So, everything was going to turn out all right. Justin's surgery went fine (he'll still need physical therapy), and he was going to still be able to work, since it was his left arm that got cut.

And then the second child of trouble snuck in slowly, like a prowling tiger.

Justin got called into the office that Thursday the 20th. Since he works for McDonalds, "the office" meant the place they do education; and where they fire people. The meeting wasn't until noon, and we were both convinced that he was going to get fired... peg him on something, who knows what. I was at my wits end. At one point during work I had a small panic attack. We were trying to plan on what we were going to do if he got fired. He was telling me they wouldn't approve his unemployment, which would be more than detrimental, since we are barely affording to live here as it was. And our lease isn't up until December.
Turns out, it was just a transfer. A bad one (as in, they're trying to get rid of him and telling him he may do better somewhere else. As in: "this is your last warning, buddy"). However, this transfer came with an horrible side-effect: he doesn't start work there until October 1st. Coupled with the days off from his injury, that left us 2 weeks without pay. He's the bread winner because he works full time. I only work 32 hours and the medical/dental/vision gets taken out of my paycheck, so it's pretty shitty income.
So, now we had a new problem. 2 weeks without pay would leave us basically unable to pay all the bills. What were we going to do?
A friend suggested the Cornerstone Club. It's part EAF (employee assistance fund). Workers contribute to this fund out of their good will, and it goes to helping employees in need. Unfortunately, you only get to use it once in your career. But, I didn't know where else to turn. Finally, out of desperation, I called HR. She told me one of the requirements to get the EAF was to have already cashed out some of your PTO.

Wait a minute - you can cash out your PTO? I had 127 hours worth!

Apparently, once a year, you can cash out up to 80 hours of PTO. I was saved! Since I only work 64 hours a paycheck normally, this was going to be a nice bonus; and we definitely needed it. I couldn't believe my luck. I was so happy I even thanked God. I'm not religious by nature; although I am agnostic. I just wanted to thank... something. And hopefully, Justin will do better here, in his new environment; in many more ways than one. We shall soon see.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Good Eats Dies with Scripps


I honestly believe in the three children of trouble. Or as I like to say “Shit happens in threes!”. Sometimes, a person can just pick two random bad things that happen over a span of time and say “yeah, I’m waiting for number three” and then as a pessimist, would soon find it. However, sometimes shit really does happen in threes, and this is a good example.

I’ll talk about the first two children later, after I feel more stabilized. But right now, I’m pissed over child number three.

As some of you may know, I've started a little project (little. Ha!) to post all of Good Eats onto Youtube. It became somewhat of an obsession a couple years ago, when we bought our first Tivo system and I realized that I could transfer shows from the Tivo onto my computer (which I think that alone makes it worth every cent). I started saving all the Good Eats that played. And soon thereafter, Youtube decided that it was going to expand its services and allow videos longer than 15 minutes. That’s when I posted my first Good Eats video a year ago. It’s an arduous process that takes anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes to upload and takes most of our bandwidth. And then, Food Network decided it hated Alton Brown and moved Good Eats over to the Cooking Channel. I suppose it fits better over there, since FN is turning into a reality TV, competition-based food channel anyway. But unfortunately, The Cooking Channel is a premium channel. So now, suddenly, Good Eats was very inaccessible to the main public. Its not on DVD except for the first 2 seasons (they do have random DVDs by category, but not all of the seasons) it’s not on Netflix, it’s not on Hulu, its shows aren’t archived at FoodNetwork.com, and it barely plays on FN; I think one or two episodes a week at most. Not to mention it’s not played in many other countries (or so I’m told from comments on my Youtube channel.) So, it became my solemn duty to put all of them online (I have about 240 out of 252). I’m not the only one that has episodes up, but I am one of the few that have them not split up, and in HD.

And here’s where the third child comes to play. Obviously, I do not own Good Eats, so it’s technically a violation to post them. Anything posted from Fox or NBC gets a warning almost immediately. They’re right on it. Scripps… plays the game a little differently. They’re some selfish pr*cks (excuse my language). Just about every popular show you want to see, past or present, can be found to watch somewhere, legally. Except for Good Eats. Scripps is so selfish, they won’t even allow it to be posted on Youtube, even though I’m not profiting from it. I realize that they’re allowed to be – they own it or license it or whatever. But why? Why make it inaccessible to the public? If the show was on DVD I wouldn’t even bother. Alton gets the money from the DVD sales and I wouldn’t take that away from him. But it’s not on DVD, so it’s quite unfair to everyone who likes the show. And it’s Food Network that is cheap and lazy and won’t make the DVDs.

So, finally, Scripps caught up with me. I got a violation notice from Youtube and had to take down Ginger: Rise of the Rhizome. If I incur any more violations, then my account will be shut down. I don’t know how Scripps finds these episodes (it’s not like its hard), but so far it’s only been the one. Now it’s a waiting game. I COULD take them all down myself and keep my account. Or, I could wait it out. I really don’t want to lose my account, though. I have many other videos that I posted and liked and favorited. If they shut me down and I have to make a new account, I suppose I could do that, without the Good Eats, of course. But it’s just the principle of the matter, you know? I almost want to start up my own website and post them there, but if THAT gets found out, I think the penalties would be a lot worse, and it’s not worth it.

I love this show so much and I wanted to just be able to share it with others. It’s good to have around as a reference guide, and it was nice to know that if my hard drive crashed I would have them saved on Youtube. But I guess Scripps thinks differently.

Wish me luck.


This is my example of fair use. Unfortunately, it would 
be taken down with everything else.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Foray into Oregon

I've been to Oregon before, but not this deep. The farthest I've gone is to Astoria, which if you don't know, is on the very tip of the state. Well, this time I wanted to go to Portland (oooh, so much deeper). I'd been wanting to see it for a while, but never really had a reason to go. But then I kept hearing Voodoo Doughnut this and Voodoo Doughnut that, and I was like - FINE - doughnuts it is! Okay well, doughnuts are all fine and good, but don't really create a whole day's worth of activity. So, I added a stop to Cannon Beach. I'd heard from a friend how awesome it was there, so I decided to add that to the trip. Then, I started looking on Groupon and Living Social for any deals or things to do in Portland, and discover that Ivories Jazz Lounge was having a half off meal for two at their restaurant. Sold.

The trip itself was very boring so there's not a lot of ground to cover. I drove us down to Cannon Beach. We ate at the Driftwood Restaurant (both having Chowder sourdough bowls, which weren't as good as Duke's), walked across the street and bought a couple shot glasses at a gift shop, and then found our way to the beach. Unfortunately, the clouds were looming.


Haystack Rock
This has to be the most expensive view in Oregon

I wasn't used to seeing a beach that wasn't flat. It intrigued me that we were sea level, yet looked like we were up in the mountains (with the low clouds hanging onto the cliffs). If you go to Ocean Shores, everything is flat. The beach, the town, and everything up to it. Quite boring, really. And the sand is much grayer up there.

Anyway, so after we dumped the sand from our shoes, we headed to Portland. Justin drove this time, because I hate driving in big cities and I've heard horror stories of Portland. The drive to Portland was cool; a scenic drive through the mountains. I'm unsure of our elevations... I think at one point we were at 1500 feet. We were learning quickly about how people suck at driving in Oregon. On our way down to Cannon Beach I kept complaining about the slow drivers... we had one lane roads with an occasional passing lane up big hills, and it was almost torture. It was SPEED 55 and people were going 45, maybe 50 if we were traveling downhill. By the time Justin took over, we realized that this was going to be a trend. The best we could do to keep our sanity was make a running gag that all of Oregon was tl;dr with all their road signs. (For those not internet savvy, that's shorthand for "too long; didn't read".) It was hilarious. The signs we found included:

SLOW
TRUCKS
SPEED (In WA, we say "Speed Limit ____" In Oregon, it's just "Speed")
DIP
BUMP
CONGESTION
ELK (They say elk, yet have just a picture of a deer. Because, you know, we know what elks look like but we need a picture for deer)
ROCKS
SLIDES
and then, we saw:

LOGGING TRUCKS

Whoa, whoa! Too many words!

The funniest one though was whenever we would enter a work zone. In Washington, we've got a NOTICE: Traffic Fines Double In Work Zones. In Oregon, we would see 'FINES DOUBLE'. That's it. Short and to the point, I guess! Justin would make fun of the signs like "RIGHT LANE ENDS", he would say, "It should just say 'END'." - Hey, we had to keep entertained somehow!

So anyway, we get to Portland and realize that Damn, Voodoo Doughnut is like, popular.


We were waiting about 20 minutes in 80 degree heat. The sun was relentless - I'm surprised I didn't get a sunburn. Justin and I both agreed that we would never wait in this line for one doughnut. (When we left with our order, the line was even longer than it was when we got there, so obviously it stays this busy pretty much all day long). We ordered several different kinds of doughnuts. They really like to add cereal toppings and I'm all for that. I got one with Cpt'n Crunch, one with rice crispies, and one with Cocoa Puffs, plus several others.

The Review:
Our Groupon consisted of soup, salad, a glass of house wine (or $5 towards a glass), 2 entrees, and a shared dessert for $30, normally $60. The soup was carrot ginger. It was, um, okay. I chose the muscat wine cuz I need something super sweet in order for me to even be able to drink it. Justin got the Pinot Grigio, which was sweet but not sweet enough for my liking. Justin ordered the Jambalaya, and I got the Filet Mignon. The Jazz band began playing a bit later after we arrived and it was nice. Their drummer was blind, which was totally awesome. (Not that he was blind but, well, you know). When our food arrived, I became the critic. Not that I want to be - I go into restaurants with no preconceived notions. But I could see why the place needed a Groupon to drum up business, as it were. My filet was rare... I'd ordered medium rare. The red potatoes were under-cooked, and the green beans were basically just blanched and set on the plate (still very stratchy, almost raw). This was the first time I'd ever sent any food back in my entire life. And no, I wasn't an ass about it or anything. I could have eaten it rare - I wasn't that bugged by it. The reason I sent it back was to let the chef know to check his food before sending it out. They should know to temp, or at least judge by touching, how cooked a steak is. Justin's meal had a flaw as well: clumps of rice in his Jambalaya that weren't cooked all the way. My problem with this place was that these were rookie mistakes. I'm not talking about "oh, the sauce was too spicy for the beef" and shit. This was basic stuff, here. The dessert was good though. Justin said "Well, you can't really mess up a brownie sundae". I answered with "Well yeah you could - with the brownie!" At least it was only $30. I would have been very upset to pay $60 for that.

After that, Justin drove us home. The pavement really is quieter on the other side of the bridge, and that's not a metaphor! "People know how to drive here!" He said. Also, we made it about 400 miles before the gas light dinged at us. We still hadn't made it to Olympia, and of course my sophisticated computer likes to say "FUEL RANGE: LOW" when it gets to the point of panic. Thanks for the help, computer. I began to freak because the last thing we needed was to wait for a fuel up from Progressive at 10pm at night. So, we pulled into a Chevron and paid for just 2 gallons of gas - enough to get us home and to a less expensive option the next day. So, we basically did the entire trip on one tank of gas, which was pretty cool.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Crapsman... said the blind woman

I say A+ for my title.

Anyway, I had a very interesting couple of days. It all begins about 2 weeks ago when I thought I felt and noticed my driver's side front tire getting low. Not being one to procrastinate, I waited until 2 days before our drive to Portland to fill'er up.

[Justin and I, we like to be prepared, even though we have roadside assistance through our insurance. Why wait two hours for something you can do yourself? So, we have spare tires, jumper cables, a jack, and air compressors for flat tires. I don't want that fix a flat shit. That's in emergencies when you know something punctured your tire and you're going to replace it. A slow leak is different. And once, I filled it up with air just to get it to Les Schwab.]

So, we have an air compressor in each car. In Justin's, the cheaper Craftsman model that gets about 150 PSI and takes forever to blow up a tire. In my car, a more expensive 300 PSI Craftsman that's much better. So on Thursday after work, I pull out my compressor, and what's this? The 12V d/c adapter is in pieces. (I learned later on the Sears website that this is quite common. WTF?). I try to piece it back together, but I must not have all the pieces. So, I say screw it, and go grab Justin's compressor. I plug it in, and nothin. Nada. Zip. I'm already about to bang my head against the wall but wait, it gets better!

I had never looked inside a 12V adapter before, but I got my chance with the broken one. I realize that maybe I can take apart the crappy compressor's adapter and see what I'm missing, you know, since it's obviously broken anyway. Turns out, I'm missing a glass tube. I take it out of that one (which by the way looks really growdy and unusable from some kind of corrosion) and put it in the good compressor. Plug it in. Nothing. (And yes, everything I tried in my car, I tried in Justin's.)

So now, apparently, I have two broken compressors.

The next day I go to work and begin doing research. I need to buy a replacement compressor immediately because I'm going on my trip on Saturday. And we all know what happens when you go on a trip ill-prepared. I obviously want to avoid Crapsman, as my dad says, so I'm trying to find something else. And I've been chatting on and off with my dad this whole time. I get on the Sears website, click on a compressor to see if it's available at the store, and see this:

Directions: To replace fuse, unscrew tip of plug, remove fuse and replace with like amperage.

Say what? Those things have a FUSE? Is that what that glass tube was? Hello!

I call dad immediately.

"Have you ever replaced a fuse in a 12 volt thingie?"

"A 12 volt what?"

"...a thingie."

"Yes, I've replaced many fuses in 12 volt thingies."

After work, I head to Schucks - sorry, "O'Reilly" Auto Parts to find a replacement fuse. I'm hoping this is the problem, as my Crapsman at Sears will cost me about $50 to replace. The guy says I need to know the Amps the fuse is. Since I don't have the compressor with me, I'm forced to go home, and call my dad again.

"Can you tell when a fuse is broken?"

"Yes, unless it's broken where you can't see it. But, you can wrap it in tinfoil and it will work regardless."

Ah, you learn something new every day. This was the info I was fishing for. So, I rap it in tinfoil, and of course, nothing. So, it's not the fuse.

[At this point, I should have known what the real problem was. But I was blind to it.]

Finally giving up on my Crapsman, I drive out to Autozone to buy a replacement. (They have the Slime brand. Sounds trustworthy, don't it?) I drive home (stupid) and attempt to plug it in. Nothing. I growl and stomp over to Justin' car. I know what's wrong now, but I want conformation. I plug it in, and nothing. I wiggle it, and it comes to life. A-ha. (Side note: Justin's car is an '89 Chevy Celebrity. The d/c adapter is a little roomy and the connections don't sit right. I'd forgotten this fact since I no longer drive the car.) I stalk up to the house, grab the Crapsman, and plug it into Justin's car with a wiggle. It comes to life.

So, I was right. It was the fuse. Just not the one in the d/c adapter.

I attempt to plug in my GPS charger, which has an indicator light and get nothing. And, this is now the 2nd time my cigarette lighter fuse has burned out. I drive back out to Autozone and tell him "I need to trade this for a 20 amp fuse." Problem solved. I'd learned about the fuses in my trunk from a similar experience about a year ago, probably trying to do the same thing. I was able to say, charge my phone, but anything requiring a lot of power would flat out not work. Believe it or not, there is a fuse specifically for those two cigarette lighters alone. At least they're cheap. A hell of a lot cheaper than a Slime Air Compressor!

Look at it. I trust this brand completely.