31 July 2009

No, really, I'm not crazy

I picked ThePinkThing up from camp yesterday evening and freaked out one of her counselors. You see, I left a flesh-eating bacterium on TPT's carseat and she was happy about it.

Huh? Now you're thinking I'm out of my mind. I'm really not. You see, I love flesh eating bacteria (Strep pyogenes). I also love rabies (Rabies virus), mad cow (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), and Influenza A (orthomyxovirus). Now you're thinking she's gone off the deep end. I can hear you thinking it. Really I can.

Nope. I'm sane. Or mostly sane. I just love microbes in their giant friendly form. Giant Microbes to be exact. They are the stuffed animal version of various germs that you may encounter during your lifetime (e.g., the common cold), germs you hope never to encounter (e.g., Ebola), or other cells that you can't live without (e.g., red blood cells). They even have other critters such as algae, mosquitos, and bed bugs. I've sent out Ebola (to Janiece), swine flu (to my aunt who had it and recovered), and pneumococcus (to a friend who recently recovered from pneumonia).

Being a doctor with a vivid imagination, a love of anthropomorphizing inanimate objects, and a reasonably strong stomach, these are the stuffed animals for me. I currently own a neuron (duh, of course), rabies (in honor of Jenny McCarthy), the flu, mad cow (it eats brains, I couldn't resist), and flesh-eating bacteria (it is the funniest one, in my opinion). The flesh-eating bacterium is my favorite, and it is the source of much fun between TPT and me. It's name is (appropriately) Fleshie. Fleshie loves TPT and stares at her. (Fleshie is a girl, according to TPT, as is Mad Cow. Rabies and Flu are boys. Don't ask me.) Fleshie frequently asks TPT if she (Fleshie) can eat her (TPT). TPT always says no. If Fleshie becomes too obstreperous, she gets banished into time-out (the laundry hamper). Sometimes one or two of the other germs are also banished into the hamper. Then they get into a fight in the hamper, with me animating all of their voices. I always have a rapt audience, who doesn't hesitate to wade into the fray. It entertains us both. TheHusband is amused and not infrequently bemused.

TPT is kinda pissed that all of the "giant germs" are mine. I promised her that if she learned to swim by the end of the summer, we would buy her two germs for her own. The other day we went to the web site to see what they have, and so the TPT could pick some potential germs for herself. I went along their catalog alphabetically. TPT wanted to know the real name of each germ, what each one does to people, and if they can kill you. This was all fine and good until I got to Chlamydia. It totally stopped me in my tracks. O.O How the hell does one explain an STD to a 6 year-old? I got out of that sticky situation by saying that it causes boo-boos on a vagina or a penis, but can't kill someone. Thank goodness she didn't ask how it gets there... As we scrolled through the rest, I skipped gonorrhea and syphilis. Once was enough. TPT wants Epstein Barr virus. Why? Because it is pretty. God help me.

Anyway, back to why "they" think I'm crazy. As I said at the top of the post, I left Fleshie on TPT's seat. She immediately picked Fleshie up and made her "bite" me. So I grabbed Mad Cow out of the bag and had Mad Cow "bite" Fleshie and TPT. The counselor looked on in bemusement. When TPT explained, she didn't look any less concerned. I am sure that she went back to the other counselors and told them that TPT's mother is crazy... She is probably right, but at least I am having fun. I doubt it will scar TPT.

Have a nice weekend. I'll be back on Wednesday!

30 July 2009

Another WTF moment

This is one of the dumber things I've heard in the past couple of days.

Joseph Cohen is a Boston cab driver. On Sunday, he picked up a family at Logan airport and drove them to their home in the Boston area. He helped them unload their luggage and then drove off. A few minutes later he gets a call from the cab pool that the police are looking for him. Apparently the family forgot their sleeping 5 year-old in the back seat. He drove back to the family's home and handed the sleeping kid back to the parents. The father was so grateful that he apparently gave Mr Cohen a $50 tip.

Why is this a WTF moment, do you ask? It sounds like a story with a nice happy ending.

Well, the next day the cabbie gets called up on the carpet and told (by police, mind you) that his license would be suspended for three days because he didn't do a thorough check of the van. WTF? He appealed, and when he showed up the next day (with a lawyer) he was given a warning instead.

"We are very happy that the baby was safely returned to mom and dad," said Elaine Driscoll, a police spokeswoman. "That said, it was an important opportunity to remind cab drivers why we have a rule that dictates they must check the back of their cab after every fare." Was this all about making this cabbie an example? I think that's insane -- that shit never works.

Note that the parents, who in my mind are ultimately responsible for their child in this situation, were not charged with anything. If I had been the kid's parent, I would have been down at the police station telling them that they should leave the guy alone... Then again, that would've annoyed the cops, and I would've been charged with child endangerment.

H/T to Yahoo

29 July 2009

Beware the Spinal Trap

In April 2008, Simon Singh wrote a piece for the Guardian that was critical of chiropractic "treatments". His assertion was that chiropractic treatment is not supported by evidence. The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) responded to this article by suing sued Mr Singh personally for libel. They initially refused to publish a rebuttal to his criticism, or to provide any evidence supporting the effectiveness of their treatments. Eventually the BCA produced a list of studies which supposedly supported chiropractic treatments, but all of them were problematic. Steven Novella at Science Based Medicine discussed these studies at length here. Unfortunately, in England the burden of proof in a libel suit is on the accused party (i.e., guilty until proven innnocent) and the judgment in the initial trial was that Mr Sungh was guilty of libel, based on a narrow definition of the word bogus.

Bloggers are being urged to repost an edited version of the article that got Simon Singh in trouble today. I found a copy of the original article but I am posting the edited version mostly to protect myself, just in case.

Beware the spinal trap
Some practitioners claim it is a cure-all, but the research suggests chiropractic therapy has mixed results – and can even be lethal, says Simon Singh.

You might be surprised to know that the founder of chiropractic therapy, Daniel David Palmer, wrote that “99% of all diseases are caused by displaced vertebrae”. In the 1860s, Palmer began to develop his theory that the spine was involved in almost every illness because the spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body. Therefore any misalignment could cause a problem in distant parts of the body.

In fact, Palmer’s first chiropractic intervention supposedly cured a man who had been profoundly deaf for 17 years. His second treatment was equally strange, because he claimed that he treated a patient with heart trouble by correcting a displaced vertebra.

You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact some still possess quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything, including helping treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying – even though there is not a jot of evidence.

I can confidently label these assertions as utter nonsense because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world’s first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.

But what about chiropractic in the context of treating back problems? Manipulating the spine can cure some problems, but results are mixed. To be fair, conventional approaches, such as physiotherapy, also struggle to treat back problems with any consistency. Nevertheless, conventional therapy is still preferable because of the serious dangers associated with chiropractic.

In 2001, a systematic review of five studies revealed that roughly half of all chiropractic patients experience temporary adverse effects, such as pain, numbness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. These are relatively minor effects, but the frequency is very high, and this has to be weighed against the limited benefit offered by chiropractors.

More worryingly, the hallmark technique of the chiropractor, known as high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust, carries much more significant risks. This involves pushing joints beyond their natural range of motion by applying a short, sharp force. Although this is a safe procedure for most patients, others can suffer dislocations and fractures.
Worse still, manipulation of the neck can damage the vertebral arteries, which supply blood to the brain. So-called vertebral dissection can ultimately cut off the blood supply, which in turn can lead to a stroke and even death. Because there is usually a delay between the vertebral dissection and the blockage of blood to the brain, the link between chiropractic and strokes went unnoticed for many years. Recently, however, it has been possible to identify cases where spinal manipulation has certainly been the cause of vertebral dissection.

Laurie Mathiason was a 20-year-old Canadian waitress who visited a chiropractor 21 times between 1997 and 1998 to relieve her low-back pain. On her penultimate visit she complained of stiffness in her neck. That evening she began dropping plates at the restaurant, so she returned to the chiropractor. As the chiropractor manipulated her neck, Mathiason began to cry, her eyes started to roll, she foamed at the mouth and her body began to convulse. She was rushed to hospital, slipped into a coma and died three days later. At the inquest, the coroner declared: “Laurie died of a ruptured vertebral artery, which occurred in association with a chiropractic manipulation of the neck.”

This case is not unique. In Canada alone there have been several other women who have died after receiving chiropractic therapy, and Edzard Ernst has identified about 700 cases of serious complications among the medical literature. This should be a major concern for health officials, particularly as under-reporting will mean that the actual number of cases is much higher.

If spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost certainly have been taken off the market.

I personally have seen two strokes (due to verterbral artery occlusions) that I believe were due to chiropractic.

H/T to one of my neurology heroes Steven Novella at Science Based Medicine.

It's coming... (Updated)

The delivery people just called. Our new washer and dryer will be here within the next 40 minutes.

I am a bit dubious, given my prior experience with Sears washer/dryers and their delivery. There is also a new potential confounding factor. I looked up the specs online, and the online specs show the washer as 2+ inches deeper than the specs in the store said. I am now not sure the washer will fit in the closet. If it does fit in, we will probably have to permanently remove the closet door. I'll let you know in a bit how it all comes out...
Updated at 3:00 pm

It's here and installed. The specs online appear to have been incorrect, becasue it fits in the same spot as the previous one. TH "debrained" the old washer dryer by removing the motherboard. We paid $250 for that board about 2 years ago, and it is in good shape. If we can get something for it, that'll be great.

I'll be doing a load or three tonight.
Updated again, July 31

I've done 6 loads so far. Both the washer and dryer work really well. No internal problems to report. Annoyingly, the deliverymen installed the set further to the left than the original unit was. Because of the location, I can't open the detergent drawer all the way. It will have to be shifted over to the right eventually. Even TheHusband (with strict instructions) has run a load.

28 July 2009


Aren't I cute??? Actually one of these is me, and one is TPT. We're both cute, right? Right? Thought you'd agree.

Anyway -- happy birthday to me!

27 July 2009

My first phone call in the new building

So my brand-new office building comes with brand-new phones (and phone numbers). These phones are complicated and have all sorts of bells and whistles. And I mean bells and whistles. We can choose from a multitude of ring tones, including two that go "Are you there?" (0ne male and one female). Who the hell would ever choose that ring? And who the heck thought that one up?


On my way back from a meeting, I stopped by to ask a favor of a coworker (TM). He said fine and that he'd be in my office "in a jiffy." So I came into my office and was looking at my bookshelf (deciding what to put on which shelves). All of a sudden someone shrieked "ARE YOU THERE?" from directly behind me at the top of her lungs. It practically scared the pants off me, and I shrieked. Of course, there was nobody there. TM had snuck into my office while I was at the meeting and changed my phone settings to that stupid ring tone. He waited until I was in the office to call me and heard me shriek from two doors down. He insists he didn't turn the volume up, and I guess I believe him. Maybe. Moral of the story -- don't let the kids play with your telephone...

I told this story to ThePinkThing, who thought it was hilarious. Ha-ha. What is really weird is that she isn't fazed by a phone with a ring tone that says something. When I was a kid, telephones had rotary dials and cell phones were the stuff of Buck Rogers. Need I say more?

26 July 2009

So now it's the washing machine...

Okay, this homeownership stuff is for the birds. Now it's the washing machine that is in the process of crapping out. It is a 9 year-old Maytag Neptune stacked washer-dryer that I have not loved from day 1. It is one of those Maytag frontloaders that has a problem with mold, which I have kept under some control with hot washes and bleach, and keeping the washer door open when not in use. The unit has a backstory which is complicated and annoying.

Our house is almost 50 years old, and we bought it from the original owner, who had gone into a nursing home. The son took care of the sale, and he was one cheap bastard. Any repairs that had been done prior to the sale were shoddy. When we bought the house in 2000, it had not been updated since the 1970's, other than some of the kitchen appliances. The stove, oven, dishwasher and refrigerator were all new, but each was the cheapest one available from Sears (why yes, I did check, thank you). The washing machine was aqua colored and didn't work. (It was aqua!) There was no dryer. So TheHusband and I went to Sears to buy a washer and dryer. I had already done my homework and picked out a Kenmore frontloader that I liked along with the matching dryer. I liked that the washer had a see-thru door -- I like watching laundry get washed. They could be stacked, which I also liked. And last but not least, it was on sale. So we paid and set up a delivery date.

When the truck arrived with the washer and dryer, I was really excited. I was tired of going to the laundromat, which I had been doing for a couple of weeks at that point. I can't carry heavy things with two hands due to balance issues, so going to the laundromat was extra-annoying. I watched them unload the pieces off the truck and thought "that looks weird." They were at the bottom of the driveway and from the front door, I could see that the dryer looked strange. It had a black mark on it. When they got the dryer up to the front door, I could see what that black mark was. It was a gash of about 6 inches. In the side of the dryer. Right through the casing or whatever you call the metal outside part. I said "WTF?!?!" Or words to that effect. The delivery guys basically said "I dunno. It has your name on it, we're just the delivery guys."

Not shockingly, I refused delivery, and called Sears right away. "Really? It had a hole in it?" said the Sears CSR. "Yes." I replied. "So sorry. We'll send out a new one." So then I had to wait another week for that one to be delivered, because I wasn't about to cancel patients, and I lived far enough from my office that I couldn't just zip over.

Skip to one week later... Yay, the Sears truck is here!!! I watched them unload the washer and dryer again from the front door. What do you think I saw? Yes, you're right. A dryer with a big gash in it. I didn't even let them wheel it up to the house; I went down to the truck and told them I wouldn't accept the same broken dryer. Different guys, same reaction.

I called Sears again, got a different CSR and was VERY snippy on the phone this time. I told them that I wanted a washer and dryer that were not broken before delivery. "Really, we delivered the same broken one? That's terrible. We can have one for you in 2 weeks." I blew a gasket "Two weeks?" I shrieked. "I've been waiting for almost four weeks for a washer/dryer. I am not waiting another two weeks." So they said they could deliver it the upcoming Saturday. I had to work that day, but TheHusband would be home. Fine, it was his turn to hang around the house waiting for delivery guys.

Cue to 3 days later, Saturday... At about 10:30 I got a call from TheHusband telling me that he had freaked out when Sears had attempted to deliver the same broken dryer again. Now Sears had two incredibly irate people calling and shrieking. And you gotta give credit to large faceless uncaring corporations -- they really don't care about the customer. When TH called to complain about receiving a broken dryer for the 3rd time, he was told that was because we kept refusing it -- they were delivering "our" washer/dryer. When he asked snidely if there were no others of those W/D pairs in the state of Maryland, he was told that there were, but they were all slated for other customers. He said that we'd rather have a different washer/dryer at that point. Someone else could have "ours". The woman on the other end of the phone replied in a shocked tone "How would those people feel? They'd be getting broken merchandise." He yelled back at her that he knew exactly how they'd feel. When TH was telling me about this conversation, I thought he would burst an aneurysm.

After much shrieking and carrying on and comments about bait-and-switch, we got offered an upgrade at no extra cost to the one-piece full-sized stacked Maytag Neptune unit. It didn't have a glass door, but we'd be getting it for $600 less than its advertised price. It was delivered about 10 days (grrrr) later in one piece and unbroken. But I've never loved it. And it turned out to have that mold problem.

It was repaired once before ($250). But now the repair cost will be at least $500, which is almost the cost of a new washer. So we are off to Home Despot or Lowes or a local appliance store (if they exist anymore). We have opted to replace the unit with a stackable washer/dryer pair. That way, then next time one breaks, we will only have to replace one unit, not both.

I just can't even imagine what appliance will crap out next...

25 July 2009

A century of blog posts

This is post #100. I'm impressed with myself and shocked I've kept it up, actually. Of course, I don't really have anything in particular to say today.

I am spending this weekend with my cousin (aka Cuzzy). I will be resting, reading, shopping, eating (sushi -- yum!), swimming, and "making art". I'm excited.

What are you doing this weekend? (Besides the trollops, who are hanging out being trollopy -- we know what you're doing...)

23 July 2009

Random WTF-ness related to my new building

Random WTF comments/moments:
  • To the lady in the green skirt who walked into the building "with" me this morning: If you are going to elbow past me (almost knocking me over) to get in the front door of the building first, please do not turn around and smile at me afterwards. It doesn't make it any better, and I won't smile back.

  • Why do the toilets in the new bathrooms douse my behind more effectively than the sink faucets wet my hands? The toilet flush and the sink faucets are automatic. The toilet inevitably flushes at least once while I am sitting on it, and not infrequently twice after I'm done. This is saving water? The faucet sensor is pointed in a direction that must change everyday and makes no sense anyway. I put the soap on my hand then stand there waving my hands under the faucet (feeling like a moron), trying to get the water to turn on. Not infrequently it catches sight of my hands and turns on just as I am moving my hands to a new spot, so it turns right off. Grrrr.

  • To the driver of the giant SUV with Virginia FOP tags -- just because you are a member of the Fraternal Order of Police does not mean that it is okay for you to park in a handicapped spot. Why yes, all those dirty looks were meant for you.

  • To the people who designed the building -- are you color-blind? My floor is the "green floor". They chose a reasonably nice set of greens, ranging from a dark olive to an unobtrusive lime. But why would you think those colors go with tan and brown speckled carpeting, hmmm? While I suspect you chose the carpet to minimize dirt showing, it still looks weird. And whose idea was the orange floor? Perhaps orange for an entire floor (with that same brown speckled carpeting, mind you) was a bit much...

  • And to the people who run the building: if you think that we will refrain from playing Hollywood Squares or Tic-Tac-Toe in our inner atrium office windows, then you're smoking something...

  • Why is it that I am not allowed to bring my little digital camera into the building, but I can bring in my cell phone which has a built-in camera? Why? Because I am not on "the camera list", that's why. That literally makes no sense.
But regardless of all of the whining and whinging above -- the building structure overall is great. It feels completely weird to work in a state-of-the-art space which is light and somewhat airy and is a nice combination of future and past (e.g., modern clean lines alongside exposed brick). Even the phone system is cool, although the story about my first incoming phone call is for another day...

20 July 2009

Space -- the Final Frontier (it really is, you know)

I did see the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. I really did, but I don't remember it. I was a few days shy of 3 years old on July 20, 1969. My parents woke me up and plopped me in front of the TV, but I have no recollection of it. I've seen the pictures -- me sitting in front of a big greenish-looking, very curved TV screen, set in a wooden cabinet.

My equivalent to the moon landing (in my memory) was the first shuttle launch. I watched it on the TV in my parents' bedroom, before school started that day. It was mind-blowing to a science fiction fan like myself -- we were heading out into space in a reusable rocket! I remember thinking "maybe I can take a vacation on the moon, when I'm old, like 40." Unfortunately, I am now over 40, and I can't see touristy-space travel for regular folks during my lifetime. Maybe in TPT's lifetime. I hope she goes to the moon, space stations, Mars, wherever she wants to go. I also remember distinctly when Sally Ride went up in Challenger. At that point, I really wanted to be an astronaut, but knew that would never be (if only because I get seasick on a calm lake, along with specific health reasons). However, my abiding love of science fiction and interest in space has never dimmed.

The closest I've come to space was having the opportunity to watch a real shuttle orbiter launch. One of TheHusband's best friends (and now a good friend of mine) has worked at NASA for years. NASA workers apparently can place their names on a list for shuttle launches -- names are picked in a lottery-like fashion. Well, her name came up in 2000. I was at work in September 2000, when something like the following conversation occurred:

    (ring, ring)
    Neurondoc: Hello?
    TheHusband: Hi. I'll be home late tonight.
    ND: Okay.
    TH: Oh, I talked to C today. She called.
    ND: What's up?
    TH: She wanted to know if we were interested in coming down with her to see a space shuttle launch. I said it seemed interesting but that I'd have to discuss it with you.
    ND (after my jaw hit the desk and my eyes bulged out of their sockets): You didn't say yes?
    TH: No. Why? Do you want to go?
    ND: YES! YES! How come you didn't tell her yes? What if she asks someone else? I want to go. I'm dying to go!
    TH (clearly thinking that his wife has gone off the deep end): Well, how was I supposed to know without talking to you? You always get mad if I make plans without telling you about it first. I'm sure she hasn't asked anyone else yet. She said she'd wait to hear from us first.
    ND (irrational, as any wife is allowed to be): This is different. You should've said yes right away!
    TH: Then why don't you call C and talk directly to her.
TH gave me C's number and I called her directly. In the intervening 7 minutes since TH had talked to her, she had indeed not asked anyone else, so we got to go to a shuttle launch and sit in the NASA bleachers with the other "VIPs" (not the families of the astronauts -- they are segregated in a separate area, ever since the Challenger disaster). It was amazing. We were as close as one gets to a launch -- 3.2 miles from the launch pad. The viewing site is near the Apollo/Saturn V Center, and the launch was from LC-39A, about 3.2 miles away. If you look on this map, you can see where we sat (next to #1) vs. where the launch pad was (#13).

The launch was STS-97, Endeavour's 15th mission, with planned liftoff at around 10 pm on 11/30/2000. We had to be there a few hours in advance to catch the bus from Kennedy Space Center's main parking area to the viewing site. We had special tickets which allowed us onto the grounds of KSC -- the rabble wasn't allowed in -- and these tickets also got us onto the buses.

It was a night launch, which was good and bad. The launch site was well-lit, as was the area/bleachers where we sat. But we couldn't see the launch area or the shuttle well, as you can see in this picture (the shuttle is the biggest tiny light blob [right-most, bottom]). It was colder than we expected (it's Florida, right?), so we ended up buying one of those mylar space blankets, which kept us warm. The atmosphere in that area was really electric. People were milling around, sitting down, visiting the Apollo/Saturn V Center, taking pictures, chatting.

We climbed up to the second row from the top of the bleachers, figuring to get an unobstructed view (and 4 seats together). We chatted with the people around us. The family sitting behind us was at their 3rd launch -- they still hadn't seen a shuttle actually lift-off, because the previous 2 times they'd come, the launches had been delayed. There was an enormous digital countdown clock (for some reason, I don't have a picture of that), and the actual launch communication between Cape Canaveral and the shuttle itself was broadcast over large speakers. I am not much of a photographer, but I have a little knowledge of film cameras (we bought our first digital camera about 6 months after the launch). I bought high speed film (1000 speed), because I knew a flash would be useless.

Endeavour lifted off on the first try, which was beyond-words-amazing. It actually was bright as day for a few brief seconds...

    Unfortunately, since Launch Day was the 1st day of our vacation, everything after it was a bit of a let-down.

    One funny coincidence -- I was talking to one of my regular patients about 3 months later, and he had been at the same launch, but along the causeway, about 6 (?) miles away.

    18 July 2009

    Busy weekend

    My back is feeling well enough, so what did we do today? We cleaned the basement, the linen closet and some of the family room. Tomorrow we will tackle the piles in the living room and dining room.

    The amount of crap that has built up is positively amazing and is a testament to my rather high tolerance level for clutter. Eventually, the crap level in my house exceeds my tolerance level, and it gets cleaned up. I wish several things: that my tolerance level was lower (so things wouldn't get quite so cluttered), that I had gotten into the habit of putting things away after using them (that's a hard habit to change), and that I just didn't accumulate so much stuff. One of my sisters-in-law has the least cluttered house ever. It is nerve-wracking for me to stay there, because I always feel that I am messing stuff up. But it does inspire me to try to be neater. Unfortunately, that part wears off quickly after a visit.

    Make hay while the sun shines, I say. My back will probably start hurting again, regardless of what I do, and I took it easy yesterday and Thursday.

    TheHusband is the brawn -- he does the lifting and carrying. I sort the crap out and give orders (the brains?). He says that I get to be the Rear Admiral this weekend. That's fine, because he is not a full Admiral. I'll allow him to be a (Navy) Captain. After all, that's a promotion from his rank when he left the Navy (Lt, j.g.).

    16 July 2009

    Needle #2 (Updated)

    By the time you guys and gals read this, I'll be at the NeedleDoc having epidural #2. I'm hoping this one is more effective. If not, I'm dubious about going for the 3rd epidural. It may be on to facet blocks, which are more painful.

    I want a bionic spine. Just sayin'
    Updated 11:19 am

    I'm home now. Holy crap, Batman, that sucker HURT! I don't know if it was because I didn't take any Valium this time (wtf was I thinking), or if it was because he went one level up (since the prior one was unsuccessful). Regardless, it hurt, even though I squeezed TheHusband's hand the whole time. If I get another one, I will be drugged to the gills. And if he suggests facet blocks, Valium and I will definitely be friends. And at least I don't have to walk on the evil treadmill tonight.

    I know: whine, whine, whine. It isn't cancer, but I am tired of back pain. I just want to be normal again.

    14 July 2009

    Lost tooth

    ThePinkThing finally lost her first tooth last night. It's really been bugging her that her friends who are 6 months younger have lost several teeth already. But I figured she'd be late to lose her teeth -- she was late to get her teeth. Her first tooth came in when she was around 11 months old. That (in hindsight) was great -- she never really fussed when her teeth came in, maybe because of her "advanced" age. At the time I wondered if she would ever get teeth or be wearing dentures at age 4. But, since her teeth came in on the late side, I expected them to start to fall out on the late side. At one point I told her that I didn't expect her to lose her first tooth until she was 6½ and she is just a few days over that today. Good guess, Mom! Her dentist told her (when she showed him this loose tooth in early March) that she would lose it on July 4th. He was not far off. Amazing.

    She called my father (an oral surgeon) to tell him that her tooth was really loose last week. He told her to save the tooth for him to check out. She got all horrified on the phone and told him that she was giving it to the Tooth Fairy (if she came to take it) and no way would she save it for him.

    Anyway. TheHusband, ThePinkThing and I made a bet early last week as to when this tooth would fall out. TH guessed last Friday, I guessed yesterday, and TPT guessed tomorrow. When we got home last night, TPT came over to me to tell me that I "was out of it" since the tooth hadn't fallen out. I said that it could still happen if I yanked on it. Her eyes got big, and she opened her mouth obediently. It was hanging on by a thread and came right out. She ran inside the house to tell TH that the tooth had fallen out. While drooling blood. Yuck.

    We decided that I didn't really win the bet because I helped the process along.

    We shall see what the Tooth Fairy will bring . TH and TPT emailed the Tooth Fairy (shockingly the destination email is mine) just to be sure she knew to stop here last night. We put the tooth in a little jewelry bag I found (TH's offering of a ziploc baggie was summarily rejected by TPT ["How can the Tooth Fairy get that open?"]), and I suspect that the tooth is gone and something else has taken its place...

    13 July 2009

    Virtual Farming

    One of the things I do enjoy about Farm Town is how different my farm looks depending on what crops I've planted and how far along they've grown.

    (Pumpkins not quite ripe, busy pattern)

    (Busy pattern close up)

    (With trees, pumpkins finally ripe)

    (Trees off, pumpkins ripe)

    Close up of pumpkins pattern

    Fun with the fields -- one can write seekrit messages...

    Brainz!!! (aka Zombie farming)

    Just when I was just starting to get a little bored by Farm Town, they've gone and done another upgrade. Now I can plant cotton, carrots, peppers, and raspberries.

    Mmmm, carrots...

    Blueberries and pineapples are as yet unavailable to me. Mmmm, pineapples. I love pineapple, fresh canned, frozen. Yum. And so now I have a new goal. And at least this is something I would eat if it were real...

    12 July 2009

    11 July 2009

    What does my dinner choice say about me?

    TheHusband was home late last night, so ThePinkThing and I ate on our own. TPT and I had artisanal pasta (thanks to the lovely Janiece) with Classico Sundried Tomato Alfredo Sauce, English hothouse cucumbers, and chicken nuggets with barbecue sauce. And we drank RED soda. Dessert was popsicles.

    I am sure that the above combination of foodstuffs says something, but I just don't know what.

    10 July 2009

    Moving Day! (Updated)

    My office is relocating today, while I am working from home. I was only responsible for packing up the contents of my personal office. We had to be packed and out of the office by 5 pm yesterday evening, leaving the door unlocked. (If we leave it locked, they won't move our stuff.) Thankfully, I will be getting a new chair at my new office -- this one was evil, uncomfortable, and made the most alarming creaky noises.

    We were instructed to label everything that we want the movers to move, including the electronic equipment. So, as you can see from the picture, I slapped a label on everything -- monitor, keyboard, docking station, even the mouse and power cord (my work laptop is here in my house). I even labeled one of my coworkers. Do you think they'll pack him in a box and throw him in the back of the truck? I'll see him at the new (work) digs on Monday, regardless of how he gets there. However, I'm worried that if he stays there too long, the giant virulent (virtual) dust bunny that he appears to be sitting on might eat his brainzz. And then who would do his work? _____________________________
    Updated 7/17/2009

    Just a quick update to show how moving crates can be used creatively to move items from one office to another... Note that the virulent dust bunny was not transported in the move!

    09 July 2009

    He's HOME!!!!

    I'm so strong I can turn the earth diagonal!!!

    My brother's epic journey is over. Donny arranged for about 20 friends to be waiting for them at their house with a finish line and confetti. I am sad that I couldn't be there to see him land, so to speak, because I am so happy! What a journey and experience -- his blog will need much updating.

    It took 59 days from start date to the end date (including today). Alternatively:
    • 1 month, 28 days
    • 5,097,600 seconds
    • 84,960 minutes
    • 1416 hours
    • 8 weeks (rounded down)
    Now I might have to go walk on the treadmill. :-)

    (Picture shamelessly stolen from brother's Facebook page)

    07 July 2009


    I'd have to agree.
    (Thanks to xkcd...)

    06 July 2009

    I'm in love

    It's all TheHusband's fault. And I am not referring to him. I'm in love with an artificial "brain", because TH has built me a new computer. This is the 3rd computer he's built for me, and it is the smartest, speediest, and cutest desktop computer ever. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we went to MicroCenter the other day to replace my wheezing and intermittently blind laptop with something a bit more reliable and less capricious (and non-portable).

    The only part of my desktop that I picked out was the case. A computer has to look decent, besides work well, right? Right? I HATE putty-colored electronic equipment and believe that whoever came up with that beyond boring beige color should be forced to live in a house with putty colored walls, ceilings and floors. My new case is black and silver and has an emblem that looks like an ancient Roman helmet. Being a former classicist, that immediately attracted me. As for the innards -- I left that completely up to TheHusband and joined ThePinkThing in the aisle that had the black light, so we could admire our t-shirts and shoelaces...

    Look, innards!!!

    The computer has a 500 GB SeaGate hard drive, because TH will only use SeaGate or Western Digitial drives, having had unfortunate experiences with other brands. The chip speed is 2.67 GHz, which is about 50,000 times faster than the aforementioned wheezing laptop. It has a bunch of RAM (beats me how much), and a DVD writer, and multiple card-reader (for those little camera card thingamajigs). It has USB ports galore, and probably some other important features that I have no clue about. Mind you, this computer is not being used by a gamer/artist/photographer/etc, so all this computing power is probably wasted on me. But, boy, it zips along, and I'm having fun. Barring any dreadful accident to it, I suspect I will have this one for at least 5 years.

    04 July 2009

    2nd to last biking update, I promise (Updated 7/6)

    Even though my brother has made it to California, he still has a ways to go yet, to get home, and he's moved on from San Francisco.

    Sun 6/28 -- Fallon, NV (113 mi)
    Mon 6/29 -- Fallon, NV (rest day)
    Tues 6/30 --Hope Valley, CA (99 mi)
    Wed 7/1 -- West Sacramento, CA (138[!] mi)
    Thur 7/2 -- San Francisco, CA (95 mi)
    Fri 7/3 -- Santa Cruz, CA (81 mi)
    Sat 7/4 -- Big Sur, CA (77 mi)
    Sun 7/5 -- San Luis Obispo (113 mi)
    Mon 7/6 -- San Luis Obispo (Donny-Day!)

    Anticipated arrival in LA is Thursday, July 9. When he came out almost 2 months ago, he brought a suitcase in which he schlepped his stuff. It is still in our basement. We will ship it home for him on Monday. I wonder if he or the suitcase will arrive first?

    03 July 2009

    I'm sure there's a story behind the scenes waiting to come out

    Sarah Palin has announced that she will step down as of July 26. I have to admit that the salacious part of my mind wants to know who she's been having an affair with. (These governors seem to be a swinging lot: McGreevey, Spitzer, Sanford...) Another part of my mind is happy because she really just seems so moronic. The last part of my mind hopes that she's not doing this to set herself up for a run for the presidency in 2012. I am not a Sarah Palin fan by any stretch of the imagination. But I am even less impressed by someone who would leave such an important job in the lurch, so to speak. It doesn't speak well for her character, tenacity, loyalty, or integrity. Why would I want to someone to be President who walks away, midway through a single term as governor, without having really done anything, perhaps in order to set up a national political team?

    02 July 2009

    He did it!!!

    I am doing the Snoopy happy dance! My brother made it to the Golden Gate Bridge this afternoon! He left my house in the DC area on May 12 and reached San Francisco, today, July 2. He made it in 52 days (including start and finish dates).

    • 1 month, 21 days including the end date
    • 4,492,800 seconds
    • 74,880 minutes
    • 1248 hours
    • 7 weeks (rounded down)
    I am uncertain of the mileage, but he biked somewhere between 3700 and 4000 miles. I am exceedingly proud and impressed and can't wait to see the pictures.

    Now it's on to home (and Donny) in Los Angeles.

    Off to visit that doctor I spoke about

    Today is the day. Wish me luck. By the time you read this, I will be hopped on drugs and hopefully enjoying my epidural. And specifically not thinking about all of the potential serious adverse events that may occur with an epidural steroid injection.

    01 July 2009

    Cheap Soda

    No, I didn't say cheap date. Or cheap beer, either. I said cheap soda. You wonder what the devil does she mean by that? I mean exactly that. TheHusband has cheap tastes in junk food. Actually, he is not a foodie at all. In general, it doesn't bug me, although I wish that he enjoyed ethnic food more.
    But back to the point. TheHusband loves a soda called Cotton Club Cherry Strawberry. We can only find it in Cleveland, not in Columbus, and we couldn't even find it on-line. When we think about it, we call my mother-in-law a week or so before we go to Cleveland, and she sends my stepfather-in-law (SFiL) out on a reconnaissance mission. The last two times we were in Cleveland, none was found. This time, SFiL located a new source, and he and TH bought the place out. Twice. We came home with eighteen (18!) 2-liter bottles, and each bottle cost a whopping 79¢!

    The soda is okay if you like sweet, moderately fizzy soda that tastes RED. It really doesn't taste like either cherry or strawberry, or even a mixture of the two. It just tastes RED. Sort of like how red sucking candies or red lollipops taste RED.

    Anyway, ThePinkThing likes to drink this stuff as much as her father does. What kid doesn't like soda, right? That's part of it. But the rest of the lure of the cherry strawberry soda has to do with the fuss we make about it. We call it "Dadddy's Private Stock" or "PS" for short. And she and I make a point of sneaking it when he's not home. Of course, TPT is 6, and can't keep a secret for the life of her, so she always tells. Then TheHusband looks mad or horrified or surprised. She thinks it's hilarious. We thinks it's funny and both play along. And she gets to drink soda. Win all around.

    Tonight, as I was writing this blog post, I googled Cotton Club and found it for sale on a site I'd never seen before, called sodafinder.com. I might have to eat my words, now. The stuff's going for $22 per 12-pack! Now TheHusband wants to sell the remaining bottles on eBay. If he does, I'm going to tell on him, and ThePinkThing will be pissed...

    What is special about today?

    It's 12:01 am on July 1st. What am I forgetting? I know that it's a special day.

    Is it Flag Day? Nope, it's June 14th.

    Ah, it's Bastille Day! Nice try. That's July 14th.

    Right, it's Kiss the Mayor Day. Well, it is Kiss the Mayor Day on July 1st but only if you are playing SimCity2000, SimCity3000, or SimCity4. And I'm not playing any of those games right now. So that's not it.

    Ah yes, it's somebody's birthday. Somebody with wild hair. (Not you, Husband) Somebody who likes to cook and bake and read books. Somebody who made me very welcome just a short time ago.

    Happy Birthday, Michelle. Now don't eat your cake all in one sitting.