22 February 2010

Gadgetty Girl

I got a new phone. I didn't really need a new phone, but I really wanted one. I tend hoard birthday and Chanukah presents. Maybe "hoard" isn't the right word -- more like delay the gratification. I'll say to TheHusband that I don't want a present for a birthday or two, but then cash in on a bigger present -- quality over quantity, I guess. I didn't get a birthday or Chanukah present knowing that I wanted a phone with internet capability. I don't need a phone that can check the internet, I just really want one, and I've wanted one for about 3 years.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I got one. I've played people's iPhones and had phone envy, so I seriously considered getting an iPhone. But I didn't want to switch to AT&T. Their network in the DC area is okay at best, and I've been generally happy with Verizon. In fact, I've had a Verizon wireless account since 1996. I have had various Palm OS-based products for over 10 years now. One of the most valuable products for me is Epocrates -- a program that provides basic information on drugs (a la the PDR), but it has an excellent drug-drug interaction database that I consult frequently. I used to carry a PDA and a cheap cell phone, but about 5 years ago I got a Treo 650 (bought used on eBay), but I never had the data plan ($45/month was too rich for my blood). When that one died of a terminal interaction with a parking lot, I got the Treo 755P but still no data plan.

But I really wanted to be able to check the internet anywhere in my house, so when my "new" Treo started dropping calls, freezing, and generally being annoying, I decided to "use" my delayed presents and get a new smartphone (apparently they aren't called PDA phones anymore) with a data plan. TheHusband was amenable to this so I immediately started my research. One of my coworkers got the Palm Pre (Sprint) last summer, and I liked what I saw. I played with a friend's iPhone and liked that too. I immediately dismissed any Window-based smartphones (look, I'm a Mac-head, Palm-user at heart). Serendipitously, Palm launched the Palm Pre Plus -- a new Palm-based smartphone for Verizon. I decided on that one, especially because I wanted to stick with Verizon wireless.

Then TheHusband expressed interest in getting a smartphone for himself. After I picked myself up from my faint, I dragged him right off to the Verizon store. The visit to the Verizon store just cemented my desire for the Palm Pre Plus, but TheHusband was undecided. Since we could get the rebate automatically if we bought it online, I thanked the guy behind the counter and we left. I felt bad that he didn't get credit for the sale, but I am so bad about sending in rebate paperwork that buying on line made sense. After much cogitation and decision-making, TheHusband decided on the Samsung Rogue for himself. He didn't care so much about the internet, but he wanted something with a keyboard so texting me back wouldn't be so annoying. He wanted to be able to put in his own ringtones, which his old brick-like phone (dated 2000) wouldn't let him do. He wanted to be able to input contacts. He didn't care so much about Wi-Fi, which was a deal-breaker for me.

I love my new phone. It does everything I want. It's cute. I can surf the web in before I go to bed. I have some objections to it -- I do not want to store my contacts and appointments in the "cloud". Neither Google nor Palm needs to know that much about me. I am a casual user -- I don't use the phone for business purposes. I can't check my work email with it, which is fine by me. I found a program that allows me to sync my phone to the old Palm desktop program that I've been using for years. I miss a couple of the PalmOS games that aren't available (yet?) on WebOS. I used an encrypted software program to store passwords and other importnat information. I loved that program. It does exist in a WebOS version, but instead of syncing to my own computer, apparently it syncs to the comapny's central server instead. Ummm, no, I am not putting my passwords and other important information on some random server. Nope, no way, no how. I will wait for a time to see if that company comes to its senses and comes out with a PC desktop for syncing, otherwise I'll find another encrypted program.

TheHusband doesn't love his. he likes the phone except for the volume. He has incredibly acute hearing, but the speaker on his phone sucks. SUCKS. If he can't hear it, then it is just too soft. He even has trouble hearing the damn thing ring. So he will be heading to the Verizon store tomorrow to see if the phone has a bad speaker or if that is what you get with the Rogue. We are still within the 30 day trial period, so exchanging it for something else won't be a big deal. I won't be sorry if he trades it in, to be honest. He decided to call the phone "Sarah" after Sarah Palin, because she's such a rogue. I have been tempted to stomp on the phone simply because of that.

21 February 2010

Crazy friends and pathetic husband

As the follow up to Snobliteration, my best friends from college came to visit. They have 2 daughters, one of whom is a few months younger than ThePinkThing, and the other is 3 years younger. Last time they came to visit for a weekend, their YoungerGirl had to be forcibly removed from TPT's bedroom, due to incessant talking at bedtime. TPT still remembers that moment fondly. Having no siblings, she seems to take joy from younger siblings getting in trouble. To be honest, so did I as a kid, but that was because if a younger sibling in my house got in trouble, it was my brother. Always amusing.

Anyway, these friends had had long-standing plans to visit last weekend, and they weren't going to let a foot or four of snow stop them. They trekked down from NY on Friday, just in time for bedtime. Of course that delayed bedtime until well after 9 pm. Annoyingly, if TPT goes to bed especially late, she always gets up much earlier than usual. That morning was no different -- they were trekking downstairs at 6 am, much to our dismay. Quite a bit of Saturday was spent in the snow -- everyone except me. Wasn't up to that. They tried sledding, which didn't quite work out. They tunneled in the snow. They made a snow fort. All in something like 3 feet of snow. Crazy people. But I love them.

These are the friends whose house we were visiting last summer, when TheHusband went to the ER with possible appendicitis (it wasn't). Three summers ago, when we were staying with them, TPT had to get stitches. She was jumping on the bed with their OlderGirl and fell, hitting her face on the headboard. Two summers ago, TH lost his glasses in the lake, when he was standing on a dock, sneezed, and ploomp went his glasses into the water. Never to be seen again, mind you. I am surprised that they ever let us come visit or even want to see us. This past weekend was no exception. TH got food poisoning. His Saturday evening was spent either doing nasty stuff in the bathroom or sleeping in the recliner. Sigh. Not the best of visits.

Next time we visit them, I'm leaving TH home.

20 February 2010

Lots of snow and the electricity carrot

So I haven't been blogging much lately (duh). This is due to a combination of inertia, work overload, and general crabbiness. If I'm crabby, I see no reason to share it, even if misery loves company.

Also, we were slammed with snow. Snoverload 2.0. Snowmaggedon. Snobliteration. SnowhelpmeGod. Whatever you want to call it.

We got almost 3 feet of snow in the space of about 24 hours on Feb 5-6. I know that the Minnesotans, Alaskans, and Michiganders who read my blog aren't fazed by that amount of snow, but for heaven's sake, this is Montgomery County MD. Where they have a total of like 15 snowplows. And a policy to plow the main roads down to wet pavement before entering into the neighborhoods.

This wouldn't have been a big deal, but my neighborhood lost power sometime that Friday night. We were trapped, because I couldn't slog through almost 3 feet of snow. We have a fireplace, but it does nothing to warm the house. We have a gas stove and a gas hot water heater. But it was too cold to take showers, because we couldn't dry our hair. And coming out of the warm shower into the frigid bathroom was painful. A bunch of our neighbors bailed by walking (slogging) through the snow about a half mile to a main road where they had someone pick them up. Not us.

We stayed. It got really cold. By Sunday, the house was the same temp as the outside. It wasn't so bad during the daytime, but the nights were horrendous. I have never been able to sleep with the covers over my face; I feel like I'm suffocating. But I couldn't sleep with my face out of the covers. because it was too freaking cold. So I didn't really sleep.

Sunday was especially hard, because the power came back on for 30 minutes, then went back off. Up to that time, ThePinkThing had been the model of good behavior. After the electricity carrot had been dangled in front of our faces then yanked away, she had an absolute tantrum. The laying-on-the-floor-and-kicking-her-feet kind of tantrum. I didn't blame her. In fact, I had a small tantrum later that night, when I was literally shaking with cold, unable to sleep and completely miserable. I just waited until I was alone to have it.

We were finally plowed and shoveled out on Monday and went to relatives in the next town. They had heat. And light. And food. And their 5 year-old granddaughter, who was ecstatic to see another kid. And a comfy bed without 5 layers of blankets and 3 layers of clothing. I was actually hot at first. I felt bad about leaving the cats behind, because they are pampered inside-creatures who were confused as to why we were freezing them near to death.

The power came back on on Tuesday afternoon, after almost 4 days. It happened to come back on while we were home picking up the cats. TheHusband was going to take them to the vet to board them while we stayed with our relatives. But then the electricity carrot was offered once again, and this time it wasn't cruelly taken away. We waited 2 hours before committing to stay at home. No biggie, you say -- we could escape if the power went out again. Yeah, but you see we had another blizzard on Wed 2/10. Howling winds, whiteout conditions, another foot-plus of snow. But thankfully this was lighter, fluffier snow. Not the heavy wet stuff of the prior weekend. Our power stayed on. Some neighborhood kids came by and asked if we want to be shoveled out around noon on Thursday (YES!). The street was plowed sometime that evening. We survived.

We learned something too. We need to have either a generator or a kerosene heater, just in case this happens again. I want to buy some old-fashioned hot water bottles. Since we have a gas hot water heater, we could fill them and be a bit warmer at night. I realize that I will never live in Alaska, Minnesota, Vermont, or anywhere where they get boatloads of snow. I'm just too wimpy to handle it.

19 February 2010

Bad patient

I've been a bad patient lately. I still haven't started physical therapy, a month after the neurosurgeon instructed me to. Work has been busy, and I never seem to remember to call during daylight hours. But I called today, and I'll be starting in about 10 days. I know that going back to work full-time in January set me back some -- I had no transition. I had been working 2 hours per day, then BLAM! I was working 8 hours. Given my current position, it has been hard to work a reduced schedule. Everyone wants something from me. And if they don't want it now, they want it tomorrow. It's nice to be popular, but there are limits.

But this isn't why I am a bad patient. I am about to willfully disregard the instructions from one of my doctors. If y'all remember, I had a deep vein thrombosis in my right leg, part of which migrated to my left lung (pulmonary embolus) as a bonus a week after the surgery. That blood clot bought me 6 months on rat poison ... er, I mean a blood thinner (Coumadin or warfarin). They want my level between 2.0 and 3.0. It's been 2.5 or 2.6 since early December, and I have forgotten my Coumadin dose only twice since I started taking the stuff. The hematologist put me on a crazy regimen -- 6 mg on Sun and Wed and 4 mg the rest of the days. But it clearly works, since my levels have been perfect. Today I had my blood checked, and the result was 2.8. I figured that he'd leave the dose alone. But I got a call from the nurse this afternoon instructing me to increase the dose to 6 mg alternating with 4 mg. I thought what the hell? but didn't say that out loud. I asked her if she was sure if that was correct, as my levels have been rock-solid on the other dose. She said that that is what she was instructed to tell me.

I have an appointment with the hematologist this upcoming Thursday, and I have decided to ignore his instruction. I am going to keep taking the Coumadin as I have been until I talk with him. I am not sure if I received instructions meant for a different patient, which would make sense. I have enough medical knowledge (duh) to make my own decisions, although I hate it when my own patients do that. We'll see what he says on Thursday.

01 February 2010

Fighting over Fresca

I love Fresca. You know, that kinda tart, grapefruity soda that people either love or hate. I think more people than not hate it, but I've loved it since I was a kid. My mom would drink it sometimes, and I would snitch some from the bottle (I wonder if she ever figured that out...).

I am not a big soda drinker at all -- soda's fizziness annoys me and makes me burpy. But I do keep a 12 pack of Fresca in the house for those times when I want some soda. (aside -- TheHusband, OTOH, is a total soda-hound, with Pepsi being his libation of choice.) Funnily enough, it came out the year I was born, so we will both be 44 this year. Yay, us!

Prior to 2005, Fresca (at least in the US) came in only one flavor -- grapefruit. In 2005, black cherry/citrus and peach/citrus were added. I think that the black cherry version is an abomination (and I usually like black cherry stuff), but I adore the peach-flavored Fresca. If I had to rank the Fresca flavors, it would be 1st--peach/citrus, 2nd--citrus (original grapefruit), and a far distant 3rd is the cherry version (blech). Oddly, there are other flavors marketed in non-US markets, including a frightening-sounding "grapefruit mint". Grapefruit mint? WTF?

Anyway, there is a sort of point to this discourse on Fresca. It involves a fight over a single can of Fresca. About 4 years ago, I had the great pleasure to attend a real Hollywood premiere of a movie. I know the person who wrote and directed that movie very well and was honored (and totally juiced) to be invited. I flew out to LA from MD on a Tuesday evening, attended the premiere on Wednesday night, and flew back the next day. A whirlwind.

But not only did I get to go to this premiere, I got to go in the limo with writer/director, his family and other friends. One of the other people in the limo was my brother (of the bicycling-across-America fame). I think I've been in a limo only two other times in my life (other than the beaten up ones that take you to-and-from airports in NYC area). This was a king of limos -- a white, stretch Cadillac Escalade. The damn thing was as big as a Rose Bowl Parade float and had about the same turning radius. Only slightly worse than my Mazda station wagon, actually, but that's a separate issue. I needed a freaking stool to get into it, because I am short and it was HUGE.

There were about 10 people in the limo on the way to the premiere. We cracked open a bottle of champagne, but I, my brother, and the writer/director really don't drink alcohol. Not from any moral reasons on my part -- more because I just never really developed a taste besides get-drunk-on-it-while-in-college. Then we discovered a can of Fresca. And a fight ensued. Between me, my brother, and his friend Nina. Literally. Each of us wanted the Fresca. For our own. Grudgingly, we split the can amongst the three of us, while the rest of the passengers probably looked on with bemusement. "Fresca instead of good champagne? What the hell is wrong with them?" is probably what they were thinking. But, yes, Fresca over reasonably good champagne. And no regrets.

And I watched the movie with my eyes closed, because it was a scary movie, and I'm a wimp. The Fresca didn't fix that.