Monday, December 27, 2010


At times this year it seemed as if we wouldn't even get the tree up.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


mid-November -- how did we get here?

Anything I say will sound like whining, even if it's meant to be a simple factual statement of what's going on. So, briefly: I'm busy to the point of being overwhelmed. I was holding up OK until last week, when Mom went in for emergency surgery and some other things cropped up, too.

Nothing to be done but pray, and wait, and manage what I can.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Last week was the seventh week of the school year. It amazes me that much time has gone by already -- much of it was a blur. But it was a turning-the-corner week. Even though I don't know why, I won't question it.

I think even though I didn't admit it to myself that the thyroid cancer panel was making me nervous. I had no need to be, Thursday evening was just a very good event. The three doctors spoke knowledgeably, the sizable audience asked great questions, and they all went so late that I didn't have to speak much at all. I said a few words at the end about the group and the work we do, inviting everyone to come for help and support. It was off-the-cuff and quick, but it seemed to fit, and everyone was pleased. Especially me, and not just because it was over.

At school, I'm finally relaxing enough to slow down, and we're trying new things to help improve retention. I am not proud; I make mistakes -- and one big mistake I made was thinking that, in taking their notes, that the students would be getting a fair ways up the learning curve with their content material. Not so, at least not at the pace we were going. Test scores were pretty discouraging, but class averages are still C or above, so it's not a complete disaster.

Still, I'm getting a better handle on discipline and relaxing into the material more. I know the kids a lot better now and am beginning to better understand what they need (as opposed to what I think they need) to actually learn. So we'll keep trying new things, and we'll see how it goes.

As for the post title -- it's a near-mythical state, when work is effortless and everything just ... flows. I hit it nearly every day this week. It's awesome, especially when the majority of the class is there with you. Then the bell rings...

Yeah. I'm still working on time management, but I bought a timer and that's really helping a lot.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Living with Thyroid Cancer

So, in addition to teaching full time now (!), volunteering in my church's religious ed dept, and co-facilitating a monthly thyroid cancer support meeting, I'm on tap later this month to get the patient's perspective on living with thyroid cancer as part of a panel discussion. (whew!) Here are the details, from the official flyer produced by The Cancer Center at Chandler Regional Medical Center:

“Living with Thyroid Cancer”

A Community Event

The Cancer Center at Chandler Regional Medical Center is pleased to host “Living with Thyroid Cancer”, a community educational event where the latest medical information regarding thyroid cancer will be shared by leading experts in the field. We are fortunate to have gathered physicians in the field of thyroid cancer to speak and share information about the latest medical treatment and management of thyroid cancer. In addition, a thyroid cancer survivor will share her experience living with this lesser known, complex disease.

When: September 23, 2010 6-8 pm

Where: The Cancer Center Lobby at Chandler Regional Medical Center
1875 W Frye Rd
Chandler, AZ 85224
(SE corner of Dobson and Frye Rd)

Target Audience: Anyone interested in learning more about thyroid cancer including current patients, survivors, family members and friends.

Cost of event: FREE

RSVP: Please call ResourceLink at 877-728-5414 or email to register (required).

Audience will be provided the opportunity to ask their topic related questions of the physicians during this event. Light refreshments will be served.


Me again. We'll have an endocrinologist, a radiation oncologist, and a head and neck surgeon (and me) speaking and available for questions. I'm already collecting my thoughts and building up the outline of what I'm going to talk about: adjusting to post-thyroidectomy life with a "new normal", tinkering with medications, some common side effects, like salivary gland issues and voice problems... I get 15 minutes, which seems simultaneously infinite and way too short.

Monday, August 02, 2010

summer's gone

Poof! It's over, faster than I could have believed -- I have a job (!!!) and it starts tomorrow. So, before I forget it all, here's the recap of vacation that was, picking up where the last post left off.

Definitely too much sugar.

We went for ice cream at Smitty's Homemade Ice Cream in East Falmouth several times. Their ginger ice cream was fantastic, I only lamented they were out of peach so I couldn't get a ginger-peach combination.

The not-so-big-anymore Rock

We made our annual pilgrimage to Beebe Woods (pdf),but this time made the much longer hike to the Ice House Pond. It was OK, but we decided that next year we'd wear our bathing suits and go swimming in the Punch Bowl instead. The 300 Committee has done a fabulous job making trail maps available.

Waiting for lunch, why not pose for a family photo?

We did rent bikes again, and this time made it all the way to Woods Hole. The Shining Sea Bike Path is spectacular. The only real glitch was that DS1's bike got a flat, but I took it back to the shop and exchanged the bike for another, and then caught up with the family later on. We had a great lunch at Pie in the Sky, then wandered around Woods Hole before biking back. Just a lovely, lovely day all around.


This tiny rabbit hopped across the backyard. He was so small that at first I thought he was a chipmunk. Clearly destined to become some predator's evening snack, this little guy was so clueless he was actually hopping towards us. We scooped him up in the container and dumped him back into the woods near where he had hopped out, hoping he would find his way back to his family. We seem to have some kind of futile baby-animal rescue attempt every other summer or so. We know it's pointless, but we have to do it anyway.

Because everything is hysterical when you haven't had any sleep

We let the kids have a sleepover downstairs. You would think that, since they're spending weeks together, they wouldn't have anything left to talk about into the wee hours of the morning. You would be wrong. DH & I got to sleep upstairs while the kiddos stayed up till all hours, playing Truth or Dare and repeating endless Chuck Norris and Yo' Mama jokes.

Another summer classic: Jump!

I lost track of how many times we went to the beach! It was just enough to have fun, nowhere close to getting sick of it. I finally remembered to take out the camera and get some pictures, including this now-mandatory shot of everyone jumping off the block at Chapaquoit.

Dear friends

I took DH up to Boston so he could catch his flight back home -- sadly, he couldn't vacation as long as we could. We had a fantastic lunch at Erewon of Siam, a Thai restaurant in Waltham -- coincidentally the same restaurant we went to when we were discussing whether or not to move to Arizona, fifteen (!!!) years ago. Absolutely the best pad thai I've ever had. After lunch we drove to Logan and switched the cars, and then DH headed off, and I struck out for Sudbury, to meet my old Marsoft co-workers. It had been a few years since we'd been able to get together, but it never matter with friends as close as these. I think we've known each other for 20 years now.

One of the top sunset spots on the Cape - Chapaquoit Beach

I'm not sure what else was going on this particular day, but we went for a night swim. Maybe this is the day we went to the movies? We went to see Sorcerer's Apprentice because we thought it was going to rain, but it never did. The days are all mixed up now, not that it matters. Anyway, we were all restless so after supper we went to the beach, and it was hands down the most epic night swim ever. There was a wedding party finishing up photographs on the beach, with the incredible sunset and surf behind them -- what a fantastic idea, although luck had a lot to do with it. The water was warm, the tide was very low so there was no problem with anyone being over their heads, and the waves were fine for jumping. An amazing night.

Atop Big Blue

We took two cars up to Canton and hiked up Big Blue -- the red dot trail, which has a few challenging spots, but nothing too difficult, at least for walkers. There were a couple of mountain bikers coming up behind us, and those guys were really an inspiration, they way they muscled over those rocky trails. The weather station at the top was closed, so we came right back down again, and then drove out to Saugus to have lunch at the Hilltop Steakhouse. The kids loved it, and it seemed just the same to me as it was when I was a kid. That was our only trip across the bridge the entire trip, except for to and from the airport.

Pummeled, but loving it

Another beach day, excellent waves again. On this day the kids all decided to let the waves pound them as they lolled in the surf. It did not look like fun to me, but I'm not a kid anymore.

Millstones, etc

My brother took his family to the waterpark in Wareham for the day, so we were on our own. We had a low-key day, a visit to Spohr Gardens, and then a trip to Mashpee Commons to get a snack at Cupcake Charlies, featured on Cupcake Wars, one of the reasons why DD is obsessed with cupcakes recently:


That's a red velvet (DS1), a chocolate cupcake made to look like a Hostess cupcake with a cute name I can't remember (DS2), a peanut butter chocolate cupcake (DD), and a lemon drop for me. They were delicious, and as is usually the case with cupcakes, left us wanting more.

Hiding from the rain

I wanted to take all the kids on the Discovery oceanography cruise, so we piled in the beach car and drove into Falmouth, then took the Whoosh down to Woods Hole. We had lunch at Pie in the Sky, and while we were there, the sprinkles became light rain became heavier rain, and our trip was cancelled. We were disappointed because it wasn't really raining that hard, but everyone else had backed out, and there weren't enough passengers left to take the boat out. I put the boys back on the bus to town after arranging for a pick up for them, and the girls and I checked out the shops and galleries, and got a coffee at CO2 (the second Coffee Obsession) before we headed back ourselves.

There's no such thing as too much cream cheese frosting

DD had been talking about making red velvet cupcakes literally for weeks, and I was fortunate to find the no-taste red food coloring at Wal-Mart. They came out fantastic, and disappeared within 2 days.

Wing's Island

The Louisiana Contingent left, and the kids were at loose ends with themselves. We drove to Brewster in surprisingly light traffic, and visited the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, which is charming. But even more charming was the easy, beautiful trail hike across Wing's Island. I wish they had been in a better mood, but they were more up for lunch at Kate's Seafood than the hike. Me, I liked them both just fine.

Early sign of fall's approach

Oftentimes the hips are more beautiful than the roses, to me.

Last beach day

The day before we left, I practically had to drag the kids to the beach. They were spent, especially since we had already visited my friend R's beach for a long afternoon just the day before. But when we got there, all that resistance was forgotten -- the waves were huge! My sister was with us, and we had a blast. I treated the kids to one last splurge from the ice cream truck, and no one wanted to leave.

Sand, sea, sky

Of course there was a lot we did that's not shown here, but really, this will be plenty to stir the memories. Tomorrow I dive into the new job -- by this time next week, my first day as a full-time teacher will be over!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

on Cape

Arrived Wednesday, had ridiculously delicious fried seafood at McMenamy's. Put the screen door in the kitchen door and marginally improved the air flow upstairs -- the house was like a hot box. No air conditioning! Yikes. We all slept down in the basement that night, it was too hot to sleep upstairs.

Thursday was getting settled in, and beach in the afternoon. Friday was spider patrol (downstairs), shopping, laundry, and beach in the afternoon. Saturday I was up early and raked the side yard, and it was nice when my oldest sister came down early and kept me company, and convinced me to use the tarp to drag the leaves into the woods instead of raking them down. Then I did spider patrol (upstairs) and a lot of other straightening-up things because there was a party: a bridal shower for my nephew's fiancee. It was a nice, low-key affair.

Three sisters

My older sister came a little late, after work, but stayed much later. I had great visits with both of them.

Today I was up early with DH -- he went to play with golf with one of my brothers. I decided to make blueberry cake as the rest of the house slept. It was a generally lazy day but in the afternoon we went into town and rented bikes, and hit the Shining Sea bike path.

It was gorgeous.

We just got the bikes for an hour, a sort of trial run -- DS2 has just learned to ride, and DS1 was very reluctant (if not downright negative). Still, we all survived, and for the most part had fun -- I hope we get to do it again.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

recapping CT

Absolutely breathtaking -- second place winner
Blue Ascension, Robert Noreika, Rocky Hill, Ct

We just got in from an after-dinner trip for ice cream to Bloom Hill Farm, where a small (small?!) dish of Reese's Madness more than satisfied the chocolate/peanut butter lover in me. We're heading to the Cape tomorrow, and the kids noted that "we've only been there once this year," so of course we scheduled it in.

This has been a pretty busy week, with a special focus - but here it is in a nutshell.

We arrived late Tuesday after a long and uneventful travel day. Perhaps the only thing of note is that National Car Rental service does not automatically include your husband/wife on your rental contract, as most (all?) of the other companies do. If you wish to be listed as a driver, it's an additional $10/day. I wasn't happy to find this out at the counter when we were picking up our car. I didn't yell or anything, but I guess I was sufficiently annoyed ("Well, hon, I guess you're driving, and we're never renting from National again...") that they waived the fee and enrolled us in their Emerald Club for free. I didn't ask for or expect anything and I certainly wasn't making a scene, they just proactively handled it.

Wednesday we had a bit of a late start, not surprising due to jet lag and general inertia, but DH and I took off for our annual trip to Mystic. On the way down we stopped at Saltwater Farm Vineyard, new this year and just delightful.

The hangar/winery and vineyards at Saltwater Farm Vineyard

We found Mystic as lovely as ever, with The Mermaid Inn as welcoming and stuffed full of delicious offerings as we could ever want. This did not prevent us, of course, from going to dinner at the S&P, where we enjoyed the splendid views and even more splendid seafood.

S&P Oyster Co, our dinner spot

The gazebo at The Mermaid Inn

After our three course breakfast in the morning, featuring the world's best granola and absolutely insane pecan-encrusted Challa french toast, we ambled into Mystic to peep at all the beautiful things in The Company of Craftsmen, which is my favorite store in the entire world, and to view the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts juried art exhibition at the Mystic Arts Center. We love that our annual visit coincides with this exhibition every year -- there are always extraordinary pieces to see.

Just one of the pieces I wish I could've bought

When we finally tore ourselves away from Mystic, we went straight to Maugle Sierra Vineyard, our favorite from last year and still deserving of that spot for their delicious and reasonably priced wines. From there, stops for lunch and shopping and finally back to the in-laws.

Friday was a lazy day until we realized that a huge heat wave was coming in, so we rousted the kids out and climbed Talcott Mountain again. It's a great afternoon hike, and the weather was perfect.

Heublein Tower, looking gorgeous as usual

Friday afternoon I piled (nearly) all the girls into the rental car to go see a matinee of Eclipse... my excuse: it's a cultural thing. How can we criticize it if we haven't seen it? Besides, I enjoyed the humor they injected this time around, and the fight scenes were much better. Friday night everyone went to hear the concert and see the fireworks at Talcott Mountain. The kids loved it, it was the first real fireworks show they had ever seen in person.

Saturday, we moved into full swing for the big 50th Anniversary party. DH's brother and his family had arrived from OH while we were away, so the house was full and we had plenty of help, tucking away all of the travelers' things in various closets and backrooms, dusting, vacuuming, and all the usual flurry of activity that precedes a big event.

The party was wonderful, with a big white tent and tables set up in their gorgeous backyard. The weather was very hot but fortunately the humidity held off, and the party was in the evening so the temps were moderate by then. We all feasted on lobster catered by Clambake Connection and enjoyed seeing all the friends and family. I took very few photos and won't bother posting any that I did take -- just a few of the kids and their uncles playing double ladderball while waiting for the guests to arrive. DH had prepared a really touching speech and delivered it beautifully -- not many dry eyes in the crowd! His parents were really pleased.

After the party, all the girls descended on the kitchen while the guys broke down the tables and chairs outside. There were an extraordinary amount of lobsters left over, along with huge trays of steamers and mussels, corn on the cob, and watermelon. The shellfish was all shelled while the corn and watermelon were cut from their cobs/rinds for easier storage. Many hands made light work.

That was Sunday, and ever since we've been in a bit of a daze. The OH folks headed out Monday, and the rest of us lounged around and went for dinner at DH's brother's place. Today was another low-energy day, reinforced by the nearly 100-degree weather. It was simply too hot to do anything outside. This afternoon we caught a double feature at the Connecticut Science Center's 3D theater, Wild Ocean, which was only slightly preachy, and Dinosaurs Alive!, a really neat overview of current work in paleontology, with nifty CGI dinosaurs. We were surprised to see feathered velociraptors and coelophysus, along with nimble postosuchus, which Walking with Dinosaurs had depicted as clumsy and slow. It's really interesting how much the thinking has changed in just a decade.

Tomorrow: packing, and driving to the Cape, and cooler temperatures, but not so cool that we can't go to the beach!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

things work out

I set myself a task of "getting the word out" about ThyCa East Valley while the kids spent their mornings at school. I admit to some procrastination about it, but finally this week I put together folders with samples of the patient pamphlets we provide, the Low Iodine diet guidelines, the resource list, plus ThyCa cards and several of my own business cards. I used MapQuest, Google Maps, and my own insurance company's list of endocrinologists in the East Valley, and mapped out a route that took me to all their offices so I could drop off the packet and ask them to let their patients know we exist.

The first day's driving around taught me I need to do due diligence before I start driving around. Some doctors have moved their practices, one seems to have completely evaporated -- and two addresses I accidentally put in Chandler when they were really in Mesa, which didn't help.

Eventually I got around to everyone that's still here, leaving Banner Baywood, the farthest out, for Friday. Banner Desert has a Cancer Center, and I met the ACS rep who works there -- she was delighted to get the information. I learned in one of my (long) drives that Banner Gateway doesn't have a cancer center - yet -- they're building one in partnership with my old friends, M. D. Anderson, that will open in Fall 2011. So before heading out to Banner Baywood, I checked it out on the web, which really gave me the impression that they had cancer services similar to those at Banner Desert.

The reality is, there is no Cancer Center nor are there Cancer Navigators or any other care providers specifically dedicated to cancer support at Banner Baywood, or if there are, no one at Banner Baywood knows they exist, including the people at two different information desks and in the HR department. I ended up leaving my information for the oncology data services guy, who for some reason was out of his office, but the staff that was there thought he was the closest to what I was looking for.

That was frustrating, and the frustration continued when I tried to locate the doctors that both the online directories and my insurance insisted had practices and offices at Banner Baywood: one doesn't exist, one is a cardiologist, who for some reason is showing up in various directories as an endocrinologist.

In all, I spent more than a half an hour there being bounced from office to office only to find out that there really wasn't anyone there for whom my information was in any way useful.


The signage at the hospital is not as clear as some I have been in. The first door I entered, I thought it was the main entrance, but it was in fact outpatient registration. The woman at the desk referred me to another woman in the office around the corner; she was helpful, calling HR to see if they had any information that could help me. As she spoke on the phone, I noticed she had a tiny little scar below her throat, from a fairly recent surgery. After I thanked her, I asked her if she didn't mind, would she tell me about her scar?

She had thyroid cancer, and was about to go for RAI. She had never heard of ThyCa, and never talked to anyone about what to expect from her disease or how to manage it. I gave her my card and encouraged her to check out the ThyCa website and to call me if she had any questions or just wanted to talk. She took my card and placed it very carefully in her wallet.

I ask, "What are the odds?" but I don't think odds comes into it, with something like this. There was no reason for me to walk in that particular door -- it was, in fact, a mistake. There was no real reason for the first woman at the desk to refer me to the second woman, either -- she should have sent me to the main information desk, which was one entrance over. But I did go in that door, and I was referred to the second woman, and I noticed her scar, and gave her my card.

An hour on the road, another 30+ minutes wandering around, redeemed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Amitriptyline helped the headache, but put me in a permanently pissed-off state. Plus, my throat is absolutely killing me -- the drug intensified my relatively mild dry mouth problems to the point where I have no saliva to swallow. Ick.

Very pleased, though, with the neuro's office. I called at 10AM and explained the situation, got a call back at 1PM with orders to discontinue, and a new prescription was phoned in -- we're giving Depakote ER a try, we'll see how that goes.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

as usual

Every test came back normal. That's good news, of course, but frustrating since I don't feel well.

Today is my first day on amitriptyline. It's supposed to prevent the headaches, which the neuro is convinced are migraines. It's main use is as an anti-depressant, but off-label use as a migraine preventive goes back at least 10 years.

Main side effects: drowsiness and dry mouth -- check and check. I took it at about 10PM last night, hoping to abate morning drowsiness. I got up with the kids at 6:30 and got them off to school, and promptly fell asleep on the couch from 8:30 to 10. It didn't really help that much, I still feel background fatigue. I'm also grouchy but that could just be because I'm irritated that there's nothing "officially" wrong and that doesn't align with what I'm experiencing.

Apparently it takes about a month for the amitriptyline to actually do anything regarding preventing the headache. We'll see if I last that long with it.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

neuro tomorrow

Later today, actually.

If it were something really serious, they would have contacted me already.

That's my theory and I'm sticking with it.

(Still no word from the gyn, but working on the same theory there, too.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Lunch at Joe's Farm Grill today -- absolutely fantastic, again, and now I've figured out how to order so we only get twice as much food as we need (it's unavoidable), as opposed to 3x.

Life is like a bag o' peaches? If only.

After lunch, went over to the Farm Stand and bought some peaches. They don't look like much, but they are absolutely incredible. The best peaches I've had in years, possibly ever.

But we didn't know about that until after dinner. To pay for the peaches, I needed some smaller bills -- it's honor system, and I owed $4 but all I had were 5s, 10s, and 20s. I went into the Coffee Shop directly across the courtyard, appreciating very much the gorgeous sky blue scooter perched in the first "scooter parking only" slot right by the door.

First thing, when you open the door, is the incredible coffee aroma, of course. It amazes me you can't buy a coffee-scented candle. It's one of the most delightful scents. I just wanted to stand there and inhale for a while, but the kids were waiting, so I went up to the counter to get some change -- and that's when I saw the cupcakes. Insanely beautiful cupcakes -- I knew we couldn't leave without trying them.

I got my change, paid for the peaches, and told the kids they had to see these cupcakes, and they could get one if they wanted. DS1 chose the coconut, which resembled a pink snowball only made with real coconut and some kind of edible sugar glitter; DD chose the "vanilla glam", a vanilla cupcake with gorgeous pink frosting and the same glitter; DS2 chose the "cookie dough", which tasted, amazingly, like cookie dough with some cream cheese/buttercream frosting, sprinkled with mini chocolate chips. These cupcakes had the unique property of tasting even better than they looked, and they looked fantastic. They had quite possibly the most delicious frosting I've ever tasted. I think it had marzipan in it.

We had leftovers from lunch for dinner.

amusing & not so amusing

Things heard at the gynecologists today:

"Well, your uterus is still gone."

"I'm not feeling anything, but I'm sending you for an ultrasound to make sure there's no mass there..."


"... your symptoms are the kind of thing that could be caused by a mass."

Undecided on the use of the euphemism.

Not looking forward to chugging 44 ounces of water tomorrow, either.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

a list

* Relpax helped yesterday, but I suspect getting more than 5 hours of sleep helped more, today.

* Brain mri: not a bad experience at all. The longest pass was only 5 minutes, which is quite tolerable. Plus, there was a constant gentle flow of cool air through the machine so I didn't feel enclosed at all. If it weren't for the ticking, humming, and thumping, it would've been restful. About 30 minutes before the contrast, 3 passes afterward, about 45 minutes total. Results next Wednesday.

* First meeting today was very productive, planning a thyroid cancer panel at the Cancer Center at Chandler Regional Medical Center, Thursday, Sept 9, from 6-8pm.

* Got a 98% on the final I took yesterday, must wrap up my other class... kids last day is tomorrow, they will be done before I will, but I should be able to finish everything up on/before Friday.

* The checkout clerk at the grocery store called me "Miss".... something about the tank top + sundress I was wearing, or maybe she just wasn't paying attention? Or maybe she knows women my age get a kick out of it...

* Aren't cherries supposed to be good for arthritis? I'm eating way too many... they are irresistible.

Tomorrow, much to do, again -- another appointment, DS1's Golden Scholar presentation, last-day-of-school lunch at Joe's Farm Grill, trying to nail down that schoolwork...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

nothing ventured --

Trying the Relpax today. For the last 3 days the headache has wobbled at around a 2-3 on the 10-point pain scale, but today it ratcheted up -- I may have found my trigger: stress -- suffice it to say, extended family worries, pending exams, and a bit of fussing with the kids this morning are not a good combination, so at 9AM I took my first pill. Now, an hour and a half later, it does feel somewhat better, although not all gone.

I can take one more at 11AM, and probably will. I feel just a little like I'm wrapped in cotton wool, sort of muffled, but not sleepy or dizzy or nauseated or any of the other horrid side effects listed.

So far.

I question the wisdom of taking a final while experimenting with the new medication, but at this point I don't really feel as if I have much choice.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Headache (mid-March), rheumatoid arthritis (April 6), UTI/UTI-like symptoms (5/3)

Seems like longer for the UTI stuff, glad I checked the dates.

Friday, May 21, 2010

a long month

Continuing my impersonation of a healthy person, even while all this stupid health stuff continues in the background:

- I had a wonderful student teaching experience for my Adolescent Behavior class. Really, it could not have been better. It was a little crazy, since I took on a lot more responsibility than was required for the class, but my mentor teacher was very encouraging and I valued the opportunity to work with her and get the benefit of her experience for as long as was feasible. So a 20 hour requirement turned into nearly 4 weeks, and instead of 2 lessons I taught an entire (small) unit, and instead of teaching just 2 hours I taught 6 classes a day, 7 days of instruction. Loved it, loved confirming that yes, I can handle it physically. Kind of annoyed that it has taken me so long to get here, but at least I'm here.

In other news, the kids all passed their karate tests and have moved up to purple belts, and they totally aced their Arizona Study Program piano tests, with Superior grades on their performance exams and nearly flawless written theory test scores. DD and DS1 are both recognized at their schools as Golden Scholars, and DD's band concert was terrific. DS2 had a research project on Ferdinand Magellan, and DD had one on Betsy Ross which required a costume... which induced me to get out the sewing machine. Been a long time since I sewed from a pattern, but the little hat, scarf, and apron all came out great and she looked terrific.

On the medical front:
- came down with a UTI on my first day of actual teaching. Instructive, as this is something that's common for teachers. Schedules are very tight, and we don't get to go to the bathroom whenever we want or need to... which can lead to things like UTIs. Obviously I'm going to have to watch that. I actually went to the mini-clinic at CVS over the weekend while the van's tires were being rotated, but then I went back on Tuesday to my regular office for a follow-up, because I'm still feeling off and I'm having flank pain. I've had flank pain before, I've even had PT for flank pain before, but the exercises aren't helping. The PA assured me I don't have a kidney infection, but I'd feel a lot better if the flank pain and other symptoms just went away. The PA seemed sure it was muscle pain, but I haven't been doing anything that would stress those muscles, so I don't know. And even if teaching and being at school was messing me up (which it never did before when I was subbing), I've been home now since Tuesday and it's no better. It's probably just my fibromyalgia, acting up for no reason.

- the hip is a lot better, the bursitis is gone, the muscle/tendon thing is still there but seems to be getting better. I honestly don't know. It's a range of motion thing and I can certainly live with it. I'm just grateful that the bursitis has resolved.

- the RA is still kicking my butt on a daily basis. Hands are the worst. Arthrotec 75 2x/day is helping quite a bit, particularly with the gastroparesis, but I'm still having pain every day. I tried the pain meds (Ultram) one day and they did nothing, but I only took one and I suppose I should try two, as per the prescription. I didn't feel loopy when I took it but I did have a bought of dizziness the next morning -- unrelated? Don't know, but do know that dizziness is a known side effect. Also have Arava, which I'm not taking, for several reasons including I work in schools so being immuno-suppressed isn't the best idea, and that it takes about 3 months to start working, and when you stop taking it, it circulates in your systems for months or years afterwards. I'm not sure what the upside is supposed to be, but for now I'm holding off on it.

- The left eye-headache thing: saw the TMJ doc, and he thought it was muscle tension related and gave me trigger point injections in my neck. These did nothing (and apparently will cost me $358, as opposed to the $144 quoted at the office, but I don't have a bill in hand yet, so we'll see). He stressed my PT exercises which I am doing -- no effect. Dr. O, the ENT, ordered a sinus CT scan, it's completely clean, and then did a bunch of exams in the office, exhausting his expertise. He's thinking cranial nerve involvement, and referred me to a neurologist. Saw her this morning, she was very thorough, and, as expected, ordered the MRI. She thinks it's probably migraines even though they are not manifesting like typical migraines, but we need the MRI to rule out lesions. Exam and symptoms rule out a problem with the optic nerves, and the sinuses, inner ear, and muscle tension have all been ruled out also.

She gave me Relpax to try for the pain when it's bad, like now (about a 5) -- it never goes away completely, it will fade to a 2 (more like insistent pressure than actual pain, but I notice it). I can't figure out what makes it worse or better, which is annoying. If I knew what was causing it, I'd stop doing that!

DH started MediFast this week. He doesn't need to lose much weight at all, really, but he needs to change his relationship with food, and that's not something I can do for him. He'll be working with these folks for a year. I think it will help, and I'm doing what I can to support him. In the beginning things are rather stringent, so I made him a stir-fry last night of garlic, mushrooms, broccoli and spinach, which he really enjoyed.

I'm still slogging through my two classes -- not much left to do now but I asked for and got a 1 week extension. If I were feeling better I could have pushed and finished everything by tomorrow -- maybe. Far better to take the extra week and not stress so much about it.

DD and DS1 will be taking classes in June, math for DD and Latin 1 for DS1 -- it's only Monday - Thursday from 8-12, and it will give them something to do, so I'm not terribly traumatized by it. DD is a bit annoyed, but she'll survive. DS1 seems not to care at all, although he is excited about starting Chandler Prep in August.

By the time vacation gets here, we will have well and truly earned it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

over to the Dark Side

Migrating to a new platform is going to take a while, and it seems as if the first step to do that would be converting my ftp-published blog to a Blogger-published blog anyways, so here I am.

How odd. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Marginally better.

I had to over-hydrate myself this morning for a blood draw (6 tubes - whoa), and found my eyes didn't burn so much. Of course, it's cloudy and cool today, and the pollen count has fallen from its insane peak, so that's probably helping, too. It's not as if my eyes aren't dry, they're just not completely parched and painful.

My RA was only bad in waves today, or maybe because I was busy I was just able to ignore it better. I do hate it when my hands throb.

My hip: meh. My left piriformis is killing me, in spite of fairly scrupulous efforts to never, ever twist my hips. I catch myself crossing my legs occasionally, and immediately uncross them. The muscle (and it's only the one) hurts worse than the joint, most of the time. I still have very limited range of motion. This is the first time I've had something happen where it really is affecting my quality of life other than just overlaying everything with a haze of pain. I really miss being able to sit cross-legged! There's no way I could do that now with the hip the way it is. Still haven't found a good way to stretch the piriformis with my limited mobility. BioFreeze.

Sinus pain/pressure: much better today -- yesterday I thought it would about kill me, it was a throbbing 7 most of the day, but that's because I didn't get nearly enough sleep the night before. I got a good 7 hours last night and I'm sure that helped a lot. Today, only mild pressure and short-lived pain reaching only a 3 or a 4. I'm tired now, and I can feel it more. I discussed it with DH, and we've both decided it's not brain metastases (heh), but it could be cluster headaches. Hope it's not, but I do have a history of migraines.

Energy level was OK today, I didn't have to work so hard to push through the fatigue. Mentally I feel quite sharp even though I feel physically exhausted, which is OK -- I hate it when the brain fog sets in, at least now I can still think.

I have to look at the calendar and figure out when everything started so I know what to say when I see Dr. C, the TMJ/headache specialist on Wednesday. This has certainly been going on long enough.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

even the tiny green ones are fuzzy

Hope springs eternal.

barely an inch long

No, not olives!

If they survive the heat of the summer and we get enough of a cold snap in the fall, we might just have a little peach crop this year.

quite a spell

I've been taking Arthrotec since Saturday, and haven't really noticed much improvement. Sometimes my hands are better, but they still bother me throughout the day. Although they don't appear as swollen, they still hurt. Some days (yesterday, for example), my eyes are fine; this morning, I could barely open them, they were so dry. That's what I get for neglecting to put drops in before I went to sleep. As far as I can tell, that problem is unrelated to how well hydrated I am, the pollen count, or cosmetics.

The hip is a problem. Tuesday's modified workout (no bike, no running) seemed to help everything else and not aggravate the hip. I worked out somewhat less carefully yesterday, hoping for more improvement, only to be rewarded with an excruciatingly painful hip. Tylenol, ice, and Lidocaine patches are barely taking the edge off. Sitting, standing, and lying down are equally painful. At the same time, the muscle problems that usually accompany my bad hip are not bad at all -- I think the Arthrotec is helping there.

In other news, the hip x-ray was normal. I don't think bursitis shows up on x-rays. I'm relieved that there's no bone damage or bone metastases, although it would be weird if there were, considering how suddenly this all came on.

My theory is that I just overdid it in my preparations for Easter, when I was very active and on my feet for two very long days. My symptoms didn't kick in right away -- Easter was a great day, it was really not until Tuesday that I started feeling miserable -- but that's the only "event" I can point to that might have triggered the flare. OTOH, I have vacuumed the entire house before without these horrible effects, so maybe that's not it.

The Arthrotec is definitely helping my neck, although I've a muscle in my left shoulder that feels rock-like most of the time, no matter how much I stretch and massage it. It also seems to be helping my stomach, at least on the gastroparesis front, although it does make me feel pukey for a couple of hours after I take it, even taking it with food. That side effect is supposed to diminish after a week -- here's hoping.

The blocked/congested left sinus situation persists; the Arthrotec is taking the edge off that, too. I'm wearing my speaking splint on the theory that it's TMJ-related, but so far it hasn't made any difference at all.

The purpose of this is not to whine, the purpose is to keep track of my various symptoms during this active treatment phase so I can see what, if anything, is working. Here's the whining part: I'm not sleeping well (no surprise), and I still haven't heard about either my practicum placement or my job application.

On the positive side, RE classes are swiftly drawing to a close, and DS2 will receive his sacraments April 24. I made the most awesome "donut muffins", cinnamon butter puffs from my beloved The Breakfast Book. And I've backed up my entire website in preparation for porting this blog to another platform. I've been taking naps in the morning to make up my sleep deficit, and I feel very lucky that I'm able to do that. I have only 2 lessons left in one of my courses, and 4 in the other (of course there's also that practicum to get out of the way.) School will be out before we know it. I'm really looking forward to summer.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

staying on top of things

The shooting pains in my hip this morning convinced me to call my rheumatologist. I had perfect timing in calling, because they just had a cancellation so I'm getting to see her tomorrow afternoon. That's practically a miracle. It has been quite a while since I've been in (12/08), so they've sent me a new patient information packet to fill out -- I'm not looking forward to doing the pain inventory right now, mostly because it's pretty bad. I was trying to scale the hip pain and decided on a 6 (1-10 pain scale), which for me, means that it was so bad that I couldn't sit still, I kept moving trying to find a position that would relieve it. Nothing worked, although it did calm down a bit (the ibuprofen takes the edge off), so now it's about a 4, constantly calling attention to itself.

My hands are bothering me, too, to the point I haven't even been putting my rings on at all, although I have them on now -- but I can feel them, they feel heavy around my finger, and the hands themselves are at least a 4, too. Sheesh.

At least today my neck is not too bad... it occurred to me that the pain in my sinus might be TMJ-related, although I have absolutely no TMJ-related symptoms, my jaw feels fine, no clicking or anything like that. Plus I am religious about posture these days, especially the set of my shoulders, because my neck injury has been flaring up a bit.

Anyway: Day 4 of the Z-pack and while the sinus pain is somewhat reduced, at times it hurts just as much as ever, regardless of the ibuprofen status. I'm not holding out much hope for that Z-pack, but I am considering calling Dr. C and getting an opinion from him. I need to go dig out my speaking splint and start wearing it, and see if it makes any difference, and I'll continue with my neck/shoulder exercises too -- not that they are helping, but they're certainly not hurting.

My stomach is 'eh' these days. Easter was ridiculous, how much I ate -- and drank (mimosas!) -- but I didn't feel sick at all. I've been good since then, although not totally low carb (6 jellybeans last night, a couple of tiny lemon squares in the afternoon) -- but not crazy eating, either. I'm not paying any attention to my weight since my hands are so swollen, I have no way to evaluate how accurate it is, but it is nearly as high as it was when I started my "diet". Some days I feel normal, like I can eat anything I want and be fine, other days I feel as if nothing's working properly and I should stick with a liquid diet. (On that note, the Gold Standard vanilla ice cream flavor whey + cocoa + DaVinci sf dark cherry syrup = insane deliciousness.) I actually bought gum today, in the hope that chewing some would help my stomach wake up while I was out doing errands today.

I applied for my dream job on 3/31, still haven't heard anything. Still haven't heard about my practicum placement, either. I don't like waiting.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

latest ows

A couple of things I need to keep track of...

I have an eye/sinus thing that's well into its third week. I let it go for a while but then it became painful -- I thought it was just a temporarily blocked tear duct, but then it moved into my face and is not fun. I broke down and went to the doctor last week, he started me on anti-biotic eye drops on the theory that whatever it is started in the eye. Instructions were to give a good 5 days, and if it wasn't better, to start the Z-pack. I started the Z-pack yesterday. No appreciable relief yet. My eyes are very dry and gritty -- I'm using the Refresh tears more often than I ever have before, but the eyes still burn all the time.

Coincidentally I had a follow-up with my ENT today, who anesthetized my nose and then scoped it (very cool gadget, that) and didn't see a thing indicating any kind of infection. No swelling, inflammation, discharge, nothing. He did say there could be a sub-clinical infection in the sinus which he wouldn't be able to see with the scope, so we should give the Z-pack a good 10 days to work -- and if it's not better by than, he'll send me for a CT scan.

I don't want a CT scan, for many reasons. First of all, whenever I hear the word "scan" my brain automatically goes directly to "metastases", which is absurd, but I've been living with cancer for five and a half years now, and that's just the way my brain works. Second, CTs are expensive, and third, it probably won't show anything. The ENT mentioned the possibility that it could be a nerve problem. On a certain level I'm pretty happy that everything looks OK up inside my head (at least the parts the doctor could see - nasal passages, ears, throat, heck even my eyes look fine), while at the same time I'm wishing this was just a simple, treatable sinus infection. It's not, and I know it's not, because I've had plenty of sinus infections in my day, and I can't recall a single one feeling like this and not responding at all to Sudafed, mucinex, sinus rinses and ibuprofen. All that OTC stuff gets a handle on congestion, drainage, and inflammation, and helps clear out the sinuses so they can heal -- and none of it has helped a bit this time.

So I'll just wait and see. Perhaps whatever this is related to this:

I'm in a wicked flare the past couple of days. It may have started before Easter but I was too busy to pay it much attention, but I'm hurting everywhere now, even on a steady diet of ibuprofen. I'm just keeping my rings off because my hands are swollen and I don't want them to get stuck. My left hip is particularly bad -- it has been bothering me for a few weeks now with limited range of motion, but nothing too horrible. I figured I'd pulled it working out and it would get better, but it hasn't. Pain in the joint has been increasing, which sucks, and now all the muscles in my butt/hip on the left side are all seized up. Which came first, the muscles seizing up or the joint pain? They are definitely related. I'm doing my best not to torque my hips around, which means sleeping with a pillow between my knees, never crossing my legs, and not curling up in a chair or on the couch or anywhere -- I can't tuck my feet under me or sit cross-legged and man, is that annoying and tiring and worst of all, it's not helping.

Stretching: the ones I can do aren't helping, and the ones I want to do I can't do because of that range-of-motion problem I mentioned. Copious amounts of Biofreeze gel help. I spoke to the 24-hour on call nurse at Blue Cross and she recommended I see the rheumatologist, but I kind of want to see the sinus thing through first. (Now I sound like my mother, who doesn't want to multi-task health issues.) Perhaps I'll call tomorrow.

Sleeping OK. Feeling a bit pukey from the antibiotics (I think, it feels different from the gastroparesis pukiness. No actual puking, though, as has been true for the last ~20 years.) Ate way too many sweets (too much in general) over Easter -- which may have contributed to the flare -- and am now back to eating sensibly. Was hoping that would have a more immediate impact on my general condition, but so far, no such luck.

Monday, March 29, 2010

diet, gastroparesis, etc

March 16th: cooked a bunch of new stuff, ate way too much, felt sick all night.
March 17th: diet!

Wait, how could I start a diet on St. Patrick's Day?

Honestly, it wasn't a problem. I didn't want to eat anything on St. Patrick's Day. I felt so miserable I was compelled to do something. A huge internet search led me to a new gastroparesis blog with some good suggestions.

Since the 17th, I've had protein shakes for breakfast and lunch, and then whatever we're having for dinner, although I've been watching portions, especially carbs. I decided to do this for two reasons: first, because I felt so very sick on the night of the 16th. It really upset me that just eating what for many people would be a normal dinner would make me so sick. Second, on the morning of the 17th, I stepped on the scale and looked at a number I hadn't seen since my pregnancy days. Clearly I had to do something to get things under control. I wasn't paying attention to what, when, or how much I was eating, and in spite of occasional bouts of misery, I had been gaining weight. A pound here or there every three or four months doesn't seem like much, but they were creeping up.

My gastroparesis seems to be responding well to this regimen. Not having to digest solid food for most of the day seems to make handling dinner not as much of a problem, although I am nibbling Trader Joe's candied ginger or Ginger Chews nearly every evening. The ginger was a piece of advice I picked up from Crystal's Living with Gastroparesis blog (linked above), and it has really helped.

So my stomach's doing better and I'm back to the weight on my driver's license, down 9 pounds since the 17th. It has been quite a while since that was true. (I'm not sure it was true on the day I got the license.) I'd like to lose a little more for bathing suit season (here's hoping we have some beach weather this summer), but mostly I'm happy I don't feel like puking all the time. Now that I'm back down to what is technically my "normal" weight, I'm curious to see what happens. Since I've cut back my carbs my appetite is pretty much gone -- but at the same time, I don't get that horrid nausea I used to get first thing in the morning when my stomach was empty.

Interestingly, I seem to have the worst gastroparesis symptoms when I eat more starches. I'm still taking digestive enzymes and omeprazole (Prilosec acid-reducer) twice a day. I tried peppermint oil but that seemed to make my reflux worse (a noted side effect), and I experimented with Betain to see if my problem was insufficient acid as opposed to too much, and that was definitely not the case. I've ordered some Iberogast after reading what Crystal had to say about it, it will be interesting to see if it helps when it arrives.

You'd think after nearly two weeks I'd be sick of the shakes, but I try to vary them. I'm also like them because they are fast and easy, and they don't make me sick. That last is a huge plus, and explains a lot of my fondness for them. Also, the Gold Standard Whey is a very good tasting whey protein shake mix, with a pleasant mouth feel (some leave the inside of your mouth feeling like it's coated with plastic.) Some shake recipes:
- coffee instead of water, sprinkle with cinnamon
- coffee, add a scoop of cocoa powder for a mocha
- add a scoop of cocoa powder and a tablespoon or so of peanut butter
- add a scoop of cocoa powder and some sugar free black cherry syrup (I have been corrupted by Starbuck's new Black Cherry Mocha. It's insanely delicious, I just wish they had a no-sugar option.)
- orange Powerade Zero instead of water to make a creamsicle shake

If you use cocoa powder or peanut butter, you have to leave it on the blender for a while. I usually throw in a couple of ice cubes and let it blend while I'm puttering around in the kitchen -- a good 3 or 4 minutes, at least. It gets nice and frothy, which makes it easier for me to drink. I'm thinking of trying cream cheese to see if I can get a cheesecake flavor.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

signs of Spring

The neighborhood turtle comes out to bask in the warm afternoon sun.

And (finally!) blossoms appear on my peach tree.

new cure for hiccups

DS2 (9yo) gets the hiccups all the time. If he laughs for more than 10 seconds, he gets the hiccups. Sometimes he'll just get the hiccups for no reason. He used to get very frustrated because often it would take a while for them to go away -- the usual tricks of drinking water and holding his breath were useless.

Both boys had their well visits with the pediatrician last week, and the only issue that I had on my list to ask about was DS2's hiccups. Surprisingly, the doctor had some practical information and advice.

Information: frequent hiccup sufferers like DS2 are often shallow breathers. Hiccups are spasms of the diaphragm, the thin sheet of muscle below your lungs that we use to fill them with air. If your breathing is shallow, your diaphragm isn't getting a good workout, and it's much more likely to spasm.

Advice (the cure): Fill your lungs. This is the important part: being careful not to let any air escape, draw even more air in, so your lungs feel over-full. This has the effect of pushing down on your diaphragm. Hold for a moment, then release the air slowly. Repeat the process for best results.

DS2 reports great success with this technique. Not all hiccups are caused by shallow breathing, but it certainly won't hurt to try this technique next time you get them.

Friday, March 05, 2010

the LeapForce experience

About six months ago, I got a contract with LeapForce to work at home as a search engine evaluator. I've written about this before, and consequently I've received a handful of emails from people asking me how it worked out. I don't mind answering LeapForce-related questions because I had a lot of questions before going ahead with the contract, and I found other people's comments to be very helpful. At this point I thought it would be better to update the blog with my experience rather than having to keep sending individual emails to curious folks. This post is substantially copied from emails I have sent.

In short: I have found LeapForce to be 100% legit and on the level. I will risk breaching my confidentiality agreement to say that for a 6 month contract negotiated in October 2009, they paid me $13.50 per hour. Note that does NOT include taxes or Social Security, and LeapForce does not withhold anything. You will receive a 1099 statement of your earnings. It is up to you to keep track of your earnings and make sure you put enough aside to cover the taxes and other fees normally withheld.

I did run into a couple of issues. Occasionally there are no "tasks", that is, there isn't any work to do. Saturday and Monday mornings were the worst for this, but at most other times of day, including late at night, there was usually plenty to do.

You do have to keep very careful track of your time worked, to the minute. It is generally easy to do because you're doing everything on your computer, and most computers display the time in the lower right corner. So just make a note of when you start and when you finish, because each entry on your invoice must be to the minute. LeapForce's AtHome website has an invoice application that helps you to keep track of your hours. I recommend entering your time(s) at least once a day.

Keep in mind that this work is self-selecting. If you take the test and it makes you think your head is going to explode, this is not a good job for you. Initially I thought it was fun, but it can be repetitive, and you have to make a LOT of decisions rather quickly. LeapForce has "task per minute" (TPM) expectations of productivity which I think are reasonable, but some people commented that they disagreed. Your TPM is displayed in a little indicator on your LeapForce toolbar, and if it's not green you know you're being too slow. It seems odd to think that an innocuous little indicator going from green to yellow to red could cause your stress levels to rise, but it can. Somedays I dealt with it, other days it really got on my nerves.

For my first six weeks working, I didn't have too much trouble with making the tasks per minute targets, and I didn't have any problems getting my invoices approved. Subsequently I did have a problem getting my invoice approved when I included time I worked on "experimental" tasks. These tasks were supposed to take around 20 minutes, but I could not get them approved on my invoices no matter what explanatory notes I attached (as directed) and I ended up just dropping them. Overall I'd say that I wasted about 3 hours of my time on them, and since those particular tasks were holding up the rest of my invoice, I just deleted them and decided never to do "experimental" tasks with big warnings about how long they were going to take, again. (Other experimental tasks were shorter and I had no problem getting the time for them approved.)

About adult content: when you apply, you tell them up front whether or not you're willing to deal with it. I said I did not want to see that kind of thing, and generally I didn't. However, in some lists of results, a pørn site would occasionally show up. You can never be sure whether or not you're going to run into something like that, just like in a web search you're doing yourself at home. Very infrequently, a query would show up in a task that was clearly looking for pørn, and then you're kind of stuck: if you release the task (drop it), you don't get paid for any of the work you've done on it. So if you've invested 20 minutes in a task and hit a pørn query, you have to decide whether you want to kiss that 20 minutes' pay goodbye, or just evaluate the pørn query anyway. This did not happen often, but it did happen at least once or twice over the few months I was working for LeapForce. It is entirely possible that I've misinterpreted this policy, but I seem to recall getting a warning about not being able to bill any of that task's time if I were to drop it. It didn't happen often enough to me for me to pursue this for clarification.

I will say, the few times I sent email correspondence with a question, I received helpful replies with good turn-around time. They also sent checks right away after the invoices are approved.

Finally, pay attention to the small print: you have to work at least 200 tasks per pay period (month) to keep your contract current. Around Halloween and the beginning of November, I was very busy and didn't put in many hours, and they suspended my contract. They said I could re-qualify if took the test again, but I decided not to. I had to wait until December 1st to submit my invoice, which was annoying since I was no longer working; this further delayed my last paycheck.

Having my account suspended for not working the task minimum annoyed me, and I never really got over that. The experimental task issue and the TPM-pressure added to my negative impression. Neither of these was that big a deal, I just didn't want to deal with it anymore for the relatively tiny sum I was netting after taxes. I think this could be a great job for many people, but it's not one I would do with kids around to see the computer.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

whither the blog?

Recently I checked my gMail inbox to find a message from Google: they will no longer be supporting FTP-published blogs. Originally the day of execution was set at March 26, but apparently there were enough screams from the FTP-publishing crowd that they pushed it back to May 1.

You may not know or care about blog publishing, FTP-based or otherwise, but I did when I set up this blog, and I still do. The biggest change under the new Blogger regime is that all blogs must be hosted at Blogger. That means all the content you place on your blog will reside on Google's servers somewhere, servers that you have no access to, other than through the Blogger software that Google makes available to you.

Now, Blogger is (so far) a free service provided by Google, but this looks like a power grab to me. Why do they want to host all blog content? Their explanations for what they're doing have to do with the percentage of FTP-published blogs (they say 0.5%) versus the amount of resources they devote to maintaining the FTP-publishing platform, which is many times that -- but let's face it, if it were 2% of their resources, that would be 4 times 0.5, and they could justifiably say that four is "many".

We all know there are millions of blogs out there where some goof published a single post and then never looked at it again. On the other hand, most FTP-published blogs are owned and operated, and updated frequently, by people who actively manage their web content, and for whom a blog is only part of what they're doing with their domain. I like having that level of control, and I especially like having my blog files on a host that I can access -- and back up -- whenever I feel like it, using simple tools like FireFTP.

I'm still trying to decide what to do with this blog. When I first started it, my children were very young and I was consequently stuck at home a lot, and it was a good outlet. Then when I was diagnosed with cancer, it was an invaluable tool, allowing me to document my diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. I still check my own archives for dates of procedures and specifics of treatment. Over the past few years, it has devolved into a sort-of diary, and I update most about vacations and special events that I'd like to remember. Even that usage has fallen off, as I use Facebook to update family and friends now.

Another consideration that weighs heavily on me is that I'll soon be looking to re-enter the workforce as a teacher. Anything I post on this blog is available to everyone to read, and it would be foolish for me to use this blog as a place to vent, as I have some times in the past. I'm trying to decide whether or not it makes sense to port this blog to a new platform, or to just leave it for now, hoping that Blogger won't someday discontinue their support for already-published, no longer updated, FTP blogs.

I don't trust Google to keep the read-only functionality in place, and I don't want them hosting my blog. I'll have to investigate what it will take to move to WordPress or TypePad or one of the other blogging platforms. I'm not holding out much hope that they'll back off from this decision (even though the release of their porting tool just hit a snag) -- since we've never paid for this service, we FTP-publishers have zero leverage.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Top 10 things '24' has done to piss me off (so far)

(Spoilers, in case you didn't know it)

10. Continued abuse of the "events occur in real time" conceit. Apparently, everything in New York City occurs within five or ten minutes of everything else. This is less egregious than it was when CTU was in L.A., but it's still laughable.

9. Letting CTU be redesigned by rejects from Top Design. Glass walls everywhere, again? Orange? Humongous room-sized displays so that every analyst, janitor, and visitor in the room can see the classified data you're working on? Please.

8. Amping up the Hispanicity of Freddie Prinze's character, Ortiz, by having him pronounce Hispanic last names as if he were speaking Spanish. I realize that Prinze may actually be Hispanic, but that's not the point. He played Fred in the Scooby Doo movies, and I don't think it gets much more Anglo than that. And over-pronouncing "Torres" is silly.

7. Arlo using security drones to spy on sunbathing women. We're not supposed to like Arlo, but every time he's on screen he says or does something obnoxious, and using the drones to play Peeping Tom is too much to ask me to accept. This is the kind of guy who downloads porn and asks co-workers if they want to watch. And he's working at CTU? Don't these people vet their employees? Oh, wait.

6.a. Miscasting Katee Sackhoff: the character as written should be, well, more girly. It's difficult if not impossible for any viewer of BSG to forget Starbuck, and so it's just weird to see Sackhoff batting her eyelashes, cringing, and getting flustered when some two-bit creep starts hassling her. When we heard that Sackhoff was going to appear this season, it's safe to say we assumed she'd be a field agent, a role which suits Sackhoff's physical presence more than the mousy data analyst role does. Does anyone believe that a woman with that face and body would have such a milksap personality?
6.b. Writing Sackhoff's character with such an impossible-to-believe backstory. She has a not-so-buried secret past? Don't these people vet their employees? Oh, wait.

5. Farhad walking away from the accident scene even though CTU and the police had set up a cordon to catch the would-be assassin. What, they couldn't look for 2 different guys? He was wearing a white suit! It's not like he was going to be able to blend in.

4. Agent Freckles has a deep cover with the Russian Mafia? No. The Irish Mob, sure, with her coloring she could pull that off. But there's no way Russian hoods would hang out with her.

3. Jack's completely fine after getting pounded on by the burly NYPD moron. He should have broken bones in his face after that.

2. The new head of CTU is written as more interested in covering his own ass than in realistically assessing and neutralizing any threats. Who put this guy in charge? He's ridiculously blinkered. Prime example: he knows the reporterette, Meredith, is lying about something. But when she finally breaks down and admits her affair with Omar, does he check to see whether the biometric data indicates she's lying? No, he does not. He thinks she's just blowing smoke, but he doesn't even bother to check his own data. Also, I get that he's a really tall guy, but in the fourth hour he started doing this hunching thing that's annoying. Stand up straight, Hastings. You look obsequious to your superiors and condescending to your employees.

1. Writing a NYC cop into a terrorist situation and having him go along with the terrorist's demands. Davros pulls the gun on the cop and his wife and all of sudden starts speaking in a (what we now know to be Russian) accent. At that point, the cop knows he and his wife are dead, so why did he go along with Davros? No way, no how would one of NYPD's finest give in so easily, even if his wife got shot in the leg. She's already dead, she just doesn't know it yet. If he goes along with the terrorist, not only will he and his wife be dead, but the terrorist's targets will be, too. The only chance he has to save either himself or his wife is to fight back. If he gets himself killed in the process, at least he hasn't helped the terrorist advance his plans.

Yeah, I'm still planning to watch the rest of the season. There's enough good (or at least OK) stuff for me to hang in there, but I'm not sure I'll be in for the long haul if they don't clean up some of these messes.

where did that month go?

Anniversary Roses -- 15 years!

Lots of stuff going on, mostly good, some minor irritations. Top of the list: Sonora Quest did not send my blood work out to CA for testing after my Thyrogen trial, so I don't have my results yet. Oh, they ran the test themselves and everything came back negative, but their tests aren't as sensitive and are not comparable to my previous results. And the order specifically asked for it to be sent out, so they really have no excuse. My endo said she wants to get them to pay for another Thyrogen trial, which would be OK with me (I guess) but I doubt they'll do it any time soon.

I hope to do a series of catch-up posts in tribute to a really nice Christmas season, but I'm not particularly motivated so it will probably be a while. There are a couple of situations (like the thyroid cancer tests) that are still up in the air that are a source of stress, but mostly I'm just cruising along working on my two classes, and hoping to wrap them up in the next week. I have a sense of making slight progress, so I'm not quite treading water these days, but yeah, that's pretty close to where I am.