Saturday, June 28, 2008

Technicolor Symphony

We had our last couple annual work parties at the Reagan Library. They were adult only dos in the evening and while fun in their way, different from Friday's party. This year's party was along the lines of "picnic", only with the picnic on steroids. Work paid for admission for every employee, one adult guest, and any dependent children to go to Six Flags Magic Mountain. (More flags; more fun!)

They have a picnic area for group functions like this and they served us lunch and provided some entertainment during the food and work sponsored a raffle. I'd filled up on chicken, hot dogs, potato salad, corn, a couple of wrong tasting coca colas, and a cherry popsicle. I actually won something in the raffle for the first time (I still maintain I have bad luck at raffles, on the whole), but I got exactly the right thing - a bluetooth accessory so I can use my phone in the car hands free. It had been my plan to buy something like that as using my little wire doohickey is more likely to get me to crash than just holding my phone. And as of July 1 we have to go "hands free" with the car phones in CA. IMHO, it's just promoting more wireless industry (yay! My work supports wireless! More money for us!) but won't change accident rates. I think they'll go up temporarily while everyone learns their new interface then will go back to what they were. The conversation leads to far more distraction than the holding of the phone. It's just as bad having a rider in the car. But whatever, I won! I won!

I had a devil of a time finding someone to go who would ride rollercoasters with me. Finally, I hooked up with some colleague's relatives, some of whom I'd met before, at the picnic area. We took off after lunch, left my pregnant colleague guarding her nieces and nephews in the kiddie area, and rode Goliath. That coaster has one heck of a first drop. Naturally, we were in the front seat! It was also great because there was almost no line. We skipped over a couple lesser roller coasters (I now wish we hadn't) to go ride Katsu. The people I was with didn't let me look at the seats until we got up there.

There was a real line for Katsu. It wasn't helped by the fact that they intermittently stopped running one of the two trains for reasons that weren't well communicated, and seemed a little sketchy. At least for one of them, someone passed out and it took more than 5 minutes for them to get some EMTs up to haul the faintee off the ride. You'd think if they had issues like that, they'd have someone on call that would come quicker, but this is Six Flags, not Disney, and you'd be wrong. We got to the front of the line in 22 minutes. It took us another 44 to wait for less than 10 cycles of the train at the turnstiles of a 90 second ride. At this point, I had put in my time and was going to ride it even though you ride hanging face down.

The restraints were surprisingly comfortable, non-chafing, and the ride was really quite cool from the front row. Until about 3/4 of the way through. At that point it switched from an exterior loop to an interior loop putting us from stomach to back then stomach again. I probably would have been good still, but then they hit the breaks with us heading slightly downhill right after and my stomach shifted and my inner ear said, "this ain't good". I got off the ride with a shaky smile and had to immediately navigate stairs. By the time we got to where you can buy your picture from the ride, I couldn't even stand long enough to see the picture. I sat over in the corner near the edge of the sidewalk and tried not to move.

There was nothing for it but to boot up the hotdog, corn, and cherry popsicle. Probably other stuff came up too, but it was less identifiable, and I got most of it to go off the edge. If this was Disney, one of the 4 workers whose line of sight I sat directly in would have sent housekeeping over to finish cleaning off the barf. But this was six flags and one worker came wandering by, looked concerned, talked to my very patient friends, and went to find someone. They clearly ignored her. I don't know how long I sat there, but it was a while before I could move.

What I want to know is why a 15 second disruption of my balance can cause me to be a shadow of my former self for hours. When I lived on a boat for 3 days at fitness camp, I had used a transdermal scopalomine patch that worked wonders. I felt totally fine the whole time. But it was 2 weeks before I recovered my "land legs". I literally felt like I was rocking for that whole time. That can't be right. I'm a little strange with motion sickess. I didn't get it until I came down with mono at college. So now I get on a boat, think, "wow, this movement is so relaxing! why am I sick?" And I don't have coping skills for when I do. Maybe if I'd spent more time getting excessively drunk (felt exactly the same) I would also know better, but I avoid overindulgence.

So the rest of the day was kinda weird. We had some dinner, but I could only handle fries after about an hour of sitting with a cold liter of water. It wasn't all that hot, but I still drank 2.5 liters of water in addition to 2 smallish cokes and a sprite with the picnic. And I couldn't move very fast. About the time everyone else's temper was fraying, I started to come back to life. I thought I could maybe handle another "regular" rollercoaster that just goes forward, but the fraying kept going and we all decided to take off.

One of my new buddies was local and directed me to the nearest DQ where I got myself a strawberry sundae and an Orange Julius and drove home the 'back' way along 126 and down Grimes Canyon Road. GCR is one of my favorite drives - it's twisty and wIndy and a little scary, but not death defying like the 23 is from PCH to the 101. (It has shoulders and lines and everything!) Even so, it's not illuminated so it can be tricky in the dark and the couple of times I had to hit the brakes instead of downshift, my stomach let me know that I wasn't quite ready for more rollercoasters yet. It was made up for by the fact that my favorite song on Cake's "Comfort Eagle" album, "Symphony in C" came on right as I hit the start of the grade going up and there was open road in front of me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Conspicuous Consumption

We've been having some discussions recently on our book club board about who does and doesn't "need" a gas guzzler. I made some comment about buying a Hummer is essentially saying "I can afford to waste resources" as a form of conspicuous consumption. And for the most part, I don't know anyone who needs one full time, unless it comes with armor. But I thought about it a little more and decided that I wouldn't turn down a free Aston Martin or Ferrari. I probably would turn down a free Hummer (or resell it fast) but mostly because I'm not fond of them and really don't want to spend that much on gas for something I don't love. I'd rather spend my money at the spa.

This summer I wound up buying a certificate allowing me four 30 minute trial sessions of 4 different therapies at a local spa for next to nothing. Certainly for less than any one "treatment" lasting an hour. They do it to introduce people to their services and hope they come back for full price. And since it worked well last year, they tried it again and I get to reap the benefit. So far I've had a facial, a massage, and now, the water spa.

I'm not sure who thought up the water spa, but it is conspicuous consumption at its finest in the middle of a dessert. You get into a pod with a liftable lid, not unlike a tanning bed, but more round and more wet. They turned on soothing music and put essential oils in a tray for the steam to disperse. There are pads with holes in them to lay on and they can vibrate. The holes allow water jets to come up from the backside. Then there are various nozzles from the top too. There's chromatherapy and whatall. A vent blows mild air on your face which is outside with a little curtain to stop the water. It's ok as these things go, I suppose.

I have to say, being locked in a pod all by myself wasn't great for me. Plus, I was kind of over it in 12 minutes (there was a countdown timer) but I wasn't willing to give up my next 13 minutes even if the shoulder blade jets were just annoying. I suppose for someone who has a houseful of kids, neighbors, or invalids to care for, or works in retail, it would be a very pleasant escape from people. But I don't need any help being away from people. I can get all of the alone time I desire and then some. One reason I like massages and the like is that I don't get a ton of human touch in my regular guy life. While chiropractic almost falls into the "spa" category, it's at least partially medicinal. Massages are a little more luxury than not. So I pay people to touch me and that helps. This water thing? Not as much.

Plus, some designer went through significant trouble to make sure there was no way that any water jet would hit any good parts. (Yes I tried.) I understand that asking a masseuse for a happy ending changes their job description. But for a mechanical device designed for a nekkid body alone in a private room? I think they could have thrown in at least a little extra action, no extra charge. The lack of it felt more conspicuous than if if there had just been a little something-something. Just saying. (Sorry if you read that, dad!) It did get me wondering if they missed because they recycled the water or if it just went down the drain as I sat there sucking water out of the dessert for nearly a half hour. For no real good reason.

It wasn't all bad though as I felt relaxed enough on the way home to feel somewhat indifferent to navigating a couple of corners as sharply as I could have. And then took some leisurely time to put together a "Perfekt" shelf from IKEA. It's the 9" by 39" with 2 drawers and slots for 8 wine bottles. It's together and it looks good and will work for me when I mount it sideways between two other 15 inch horozontal shelves. I do find it ironic that this is now the second of two in the "Perfekt" design line that I've had to return.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Once More with Pictures

To see the photos from yesterday's adventure and today's little stroll, pop over to this link:
Booksigning Photo Journal

Yeah, I know I'm not doing a fantastico job of keeping the blog anonymous, but I try a little and just link out to pictures of my face.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I'm a Doing the Things That I Wanna Do

Road Trip! Had a blast driving down to San Diego with my Orange County Housewife friend today. Whole day full of happiness reported here in either excruciating detail or glossed right over. We headed to the Janet Evanovich Fearless Fourteen booksigning, and due to my getting up a half hour late and the hot weather making people act abnormally (aka, they got out on the highways earlier in the day) and back up the freeway (not the abnormal part), we got to the booksigning early enough to get a good view for the Q&A, but late enough we couldn't skip out for lunch first. We ran into another couple of book club ladies there and had a grand ol' time.

But it was HOT. The car said 106F when I parked it in full sun. (Only option!) Even with the windshield reflectors and a towel over the steering wheel it was almost too hot to touch a couple hours later). The bookstore had the AC set to 60F, but that only helps so much when you pack in 300 people. (JE is popular.) For the most part though, I still dig the hot. It's a dry heat, see.

I drove down to the OC with the windows and sunroof all the way open, my sundress flapping in the breeze and 2 follow up applications of SPF30 to my left arm. I usually keep bottled water in the car and move a few to the passenger compartment before heading out so I can drink it when I start to get cranky. But all the water was still 90F last night so I refrigerated a few and packed some healthy snacks in a cooler which was wise. When I realized I wouldn't be having lunch before the 2pm signing, I ate some veggies and loquats to tide me over.

The booksigning was fun. JE stood on a chair so people could see her and, perhaps, hear better although turning up the speakers worked better for the latter. The Q&A questions were pretty much all from the FAQ except for "When will Stephanie go FTA?" to which she replied, "Oh, she won't. ... ... I'll have to think about that." This time I wasn't 454, but 346 or so - and then the book club people who spotted us gave us some numbers that moved us up about 120. We browsed. My friend was amused at all my supplies - like my bag carrying handle. I bought some more Emma Hollys I hadn't seen on my local Borders's shelves. Between the Q&A and our time to get in line, I went to the car twice. Once to get coupons and drop off something. Second, to get the &($&# coupons. Again, the sunlight still makes me happy in these small doses.

When we were getting our books signed and 40 pictures taken, my friend mentioned that it looked like she had Sunday off. She said no, she's going to be up in MY TOWN at that little bookstore I can walk to. It wasn't on her national website because the store only holds, like, 12 people. So I might walk there tomorrow morning after driving 370.5 miles "for the booksigning" in SD. Heh. Is that irony? Prolly.

After the booksigning my friend and I were *starving* but I had a bee in my bonnet about going to a diner I saw last night on the Food Network. I had the address and a handdrawn map (I was too lazy to wait for the printer to fire up). We found a pre-opened Thomas guide at the bookstore and sat on the floor planning how to get there and found it was only 10 miles down the freeway we were on and I bullied my friend into going there instead of one of the chains I could eat at any day of the week.

I do not know what got into me but I ordered a Monte Christo. With fries. Yeah, I think it's the last fried thing (except for zucchini or something made by a friend just for me) this year. They did a decent job of it and the fry batter was tasty. I ate some fried batter and tried mostly to pull the insides out to cut some bulk. The Studio Diner makes some of the best fries I've ever had: Light, crispy, hot, perfectly salted. And tasty. Too bad it came after I ordered a chocolate milkshake. Because I sucked that thing down like there was no tomorrow and refilled my glass from the surplus (still leaving at least a whole other serving), and drank the refill to. Then my tummy started to hurt. My friend tried to be sensible and got a portabello mushroom sandwhich. It also came with great fries but had approximately 8 tablespoons of butter on the grilled bread. Then she got the brownie dessert. Having eaten dinner like locusts, we got through about 1/20th of the dessert then her tummy hurt too and we had to leave it there, still with 3 uneaten scoops of ice cream and the remainder of my milkshake.

By using a freeway that I recognized from my SD vaca about 3 Augusts ago, we were able to scoot from there over to Con Pane near Shelter Island about 10 minutes before closing. I picked up 3 loaves: Grueyre & chive, raisin & hazelnut, and sourdough. I had them cut and put in plastic bags for freezing. Now that I have a freezer, the Con Pane run has longer lasting benefits. My friend, who also loves their food, was so stuffed from the diner food it was all she could do not to run screaming at the smell of more food.

To round out the day, we went over to Coronado to sit on the beach and read. My friend actually did this. I had to go to the bathroom. So she walked with me as I dragged her to the bathroom and some of the shops at the Hotel Del. We deliberately didn't take money with us, but I saw some sandals I wanted which I could wear with my touchy feet. So I went back to the car to get my credit card and a book to read on the beach, which I had forgotten. Meanwhile, my friend went to set up shop "between the wedding and the hotel". I started heading over to meet her when I realized I had forgotten my #%(@ book again, so I went back to the car. Again. Then when I finally met up with her, I didn't even crack it open! (More irony? Or just giving her some alone time on her grand day out?) We just wound up chatting more as the sea layer visibly rolled in and blocked out the sunset. It was like watching a massive, dark fog overtake the earth and quite interesting to see. Bostonian that I was/am, I still lay out like I'm worshipping the sun as the sky fades to grey. (If someone can figure out the correct tense for that sentence, or the whole paragraph, do tell. I can't.) We both of us then went back and bought us some sandals.

The ride home was uneventful. Someone else might not think so but this is probably my most calm friend to ride in my passenger seat. Aside from the casual, "watch out for the van trying to sideswipe us", when a van suddenly swerved into our lane. Which is cool. I'm good with people making comments that keep us alive and unscratched. As to the rest, she probably stays distracted by the conversation as we talked nonstop the whole day, just like last trip. It's fun to hear her adventures with the school board and whatnot. Totally different from my life, except that we both read a lot.

After dropping her off (she loaded me up with used books before I escaped), I had to switch on the radio. As I was nearing the end of my ride, all 3 stations played Weezer's Pork & Beans in succession. 103.1's signal started to fade at the end of the song, so I bopped over to KROQ which had it in a Weezer block. When they went to commercial after the block I switched one more time, and you guessed it. Same song. You'd probably never guess that it was the same song played 3 times within a 15 minute span on 3 stations with only other Weezer songs in the interim that actually prompted me to sit at the 'puter and relate most of the day to you all.
But it was.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Living Loquat

At the farmers market yesterday, I was able to get some good prices on apricots, strawberries, and loquats. I've only recently discovered loquats when a colleague brought some in to work from her neighbor's tree.
close up of orangeish loquats
Loquats look like apricots with one pointy end and are a sweet fruit but aren't otherwise similar. What they do remind me of though, in consistency (juicy pear-like), seeds (round central cavity with large wedge shaped seeds) and skin (thin), is a fruit I bought from a market in the south of France. To this day, I still don't know what this fruit was, but it was the size of an orange, medium orange in color, almost perfectly round, yet otherwise very loquat like. I ate it with the skin on, but someone local told me to peel it first. Eh. It was fine. The Clustrmap at the bottom shows I get the occasional European reader. If you know what fruit I'm talking about, I'd sure love to know.

While I'm waiting for the universe to get back to me on that, I'm off to gas up for my trip to San Diego tomorrow. $4.639/gal! A book club friend and I will be hitting up a Janet Evanovich booksigning and sunning ourselves and eating from the best bakery in the US. The last time I went to one of JE's booksignings (book 12), I was in stop and go traffic for 3 hours and got there right at 7, was number 454 in line or thereabouts, and got the dratted thing signed by 10:30pm only because a good hundred or more gave up. The good part was meeting the friend I'm going out with tomorrow for book 14.

Based on traffic woes from out last trip to SD, we're going to try and leave early so we get there by 11am and hopefully miss most of the traffic. I don't know about the coast roads, but I've definitely noticed that the freeways are relatively clear on weekends until about 11, at which point they start to gum up. By noon, they can be at a standstill and stay that way until about 7pm. So, 2 hours to SD or 5-7 depends on when *I* wake up, not really my strength, so wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Budget Color

At the strawberry festival, one of the dancers had fantastic short red hair. I actually asked her later about her cut (retired uncle) and color (clairol). Since I've had such trouble with color at the salons recently (scabs on my head after), I decided to do the home job and try my luck with the Clairol color. I picked out a natural medium auburn (#111 improved shade!) and did the allergy test and strand test. I didn't really learn anything from either of these things - kinda sorta allergic, but not so much that I would be worried, and I wanted to leave it on a long time but could take it off early if I had to.

Also to extend my time, they recommend not washing your hair for a day or two to build up natural scalp oils. I looked really skanky at work, but so far so good. I made it through the whole color time with only a couple itchy patches. It's a darker color than usual because at the salon they bleach my natural color simultaneously in order to make it lighter and brighter, but I think it'll work. Certainly my head won't look all dingy now.

I think I did a good job. Salons keep the grey streak in the front from getting color by slathering it in conditioner and rolling it in foil, then avoiding the roots there. I figured this might work elsewhere and ran conditioner around my hairline before starting the application and once again after I cleaned up the edges with ammonia so I wouldn't look like I lost a fight. This seemed to work pretty well too. Then I sat and sat and sat (and did slitherlink puzzles), then rinsed and rinsed and rinsed. And did I mention rinsed?

So while it looks good today, I'll have to see how long it lasts and how much it bleeds out. It was cheaper than a salon by $50 to $90, making it actually possible for me to afford every 6 weeks rather than squeaking it in to the budget every 6 months. I didn't appear to be allergic enough to have bad problems. But it's kind of a pain in the butt and I find it a joy to have other people wash my hair and look for any excuse to not get stuck doing stuff alone in the condo if I can include other people in my activities.

I did manage to avoid the temptation to cut my own hair. Despite good results doing this in the past, I'm worried it'll look like an unfortunate "summer cut" that'll require extensive growing out and I want to at least look like I can afford a professional.

Todays good things:
  • My hair is not dingy and there are no scabs.
  • My filling at the dentist went smoothly and quickly. I was able to get back for group lunch at SoupPlantation which I've missed the last couple weeks due to appointments.
  • My boss is back. We do one-on-ones most every tuesdays. She's just really savvy about the way things work there and I always feel more on track after I talk to her.
  • I got some great emails today.
  • Gay Marriage has been legal in CA for just over 24 hours and so far we have not turned Nevada into beach front property.

Monday, June 16, 2008


When I start feeling 'meh' I stop doing stuff. Like blogging. Yesterday, I spent the day between vegging on the sofa and doing ab exercises to make up for the couch surfing. I also went out to buy TP because it couldn't be put off any longer. I also stared at the 'puter thinking "I have nothing interesting to blog about". But that's not quite true.

One thing that might have helped is calling some people, but aside from my dad, it didn't occur to me until too late to hit the eastern seaboard folks so I made do with bartenders to get dinner and a show. When I moved out here, it felt so strange to just up and call people on the phone because I was used to dealing with friends mostly in person, and if not in person, via email. And phoning seems so intrusive and falsely urgent. So I kept up a little, but not enough, of the emailing, and floundered around wondering what to do with myself. This weekend was a bit of a return to that - I let the fact that the date was otherwise occupied throw me for a loop and didn't think so much about what I could do as what I couldn't. But now I've thought of a coupla things.

First, my incessant doctors appointments continue. Today I picked up custom $500 orthotics from the podiatrist for running. Then I got my lung CT scan (that's a CAT scan if you're old school), and while the tech was copying my files to a CD for me to take home, I went to the allergist. I wish I could say that I spent the rest of the time doing a great job at work, but mostly I spent a lot of time scrolling through cross sectional pictures of my lungs and spleen. (For those who haven't seen Encino Man, there's probably nothing wrong with my spleen. I actually don't know where it is. I'm pretty sure it's fine.) It's just that the doc or radiologist saw something funky in my lungs from the abdominal CT so they wanted a chest shot. Why not? What's more X-ray damage after a scan at the chiropractor, updates at the dentist, and the ab CT scan going to do? Heh heh.

Second, it belatedly occurred to me that I started this blog to keep myself cheerful. Even on days when I have no energy or feel sorry for myself, something good is going on. And I can & should post my 3 or more happy things, even if I'm not otherwise happy.

  • 3 babies! A college dormmate had her second and I got the forwarded announcement, a favorite author posted about her grandbaby. Neither of these would be enough degrees close enough to count for my running total from the last few years (well, one might), but it does lead into the phone call I got from a bff announcing some good news (which I probably shouldn't share until the timing hit's the standard safe point but I couldn't resist).
  • It's really cool to see my innards! And said bff has radiology connections so I can likely get a second set of trained eyes on them.
  • The elusive orthotics are now in my possession.
  • Burger Express makes *the best* avocado hamburger.
This weekend:
  • I have weekends. I earn enough $$ that I don't have to take a second job and I can lounge around feeling sorry for myself to my heart's content.
  • I think I've figured out a new space plan for the living and dining room that I'm pretty excited about. Haven't started moving stuff or painting or anything, but it'll be good.
  • While I was feeling sorry for myself, I went out into the lovely sunshine and got myself a smoothie. Then I did a lot of ab crunches and plank poses, reminding me of how little time it really takes to do them and how superior I feel when I do do them.
  • I was recognized at a couple of my "regular" haunts and had fun talking to the bartenders. My favorite guy is at the local place I walk to. I made him laugh and he made me a drink that almost put me under the bar but still tasted fantastic (not always my experience, since I prefer the fruit). But don't worry about me drinking myself delirious - I had the one drink on friday, extra strong but still just one, and saturday's bar "drink" was beer boiled shrimp. With a glass water and a plate fried scallops. Sunday's big drink was the cranberry smoothie.
  • Yanno, I do live in a really lovely part of the world, weather wise. Snake wise, and spider wise, there could be some improvement, (I hacked down part of a spider hiding bush, but don't say anything) and I am working on the friend and dating thing, so it's really hard to take my self pity seriously. Change is good, right?

I'll try to go back to more regular blogging, not obsessing on my mediocre but perfectly "normal" testing health, but at least doing my 3 good things every few days. FYI, comments make me happy too.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oh, my spleen!

I keep checking here thinking there will be some update. I wonder, why hasn't anything popped up? Until I realize that I have to do the updates and I haven't really felt like it. Even though I did find a second greek fest and dragged the date there for lamb, dolmathes, and baklava on sunday.

I'm not sure if it's the UTI from hell, or what, but I am not doing well. I have burning in my lower abdomen all the time. I have back pain that I'm pretty sure is my kidneys. I have a swollen lump in my neck that could be a tonsil, could be something else (anything but adenoids, which I no longer have) and it's sore too. I've had blood drawn again this week, peed in a cup for the 4th time in a month, and today am getting a CT scan of my abdomen. Hopefully one of these tests will show what is wrong.

I also picked up some sleeping pills at full cost while the insurance company gives the pharmacy the runaround, so I can get some damned sleep. The burning pain keeps me from sleeping well. I didn't sleep much on monday night which left me mostly useless yesterday. I got home and went to bed at 7pm. I had to wake up at 8:15 and 9:30 to take calls from work, but after that I was dead to the world until 7am today. I'm still not sure if I'm foggy from too much iffy sleep all at once or if I just feel bad generally. So I came here to bitch about it.

I did get my cortisol test back and my AM level was 22.1. It listed "normal" as 4-22. I can't find anything on the internet about what a "high" reading really is. Is 23 high? Or is 50 high and 22 is an also ran? Also, it was taken on the first day of my period, so would it be affected by other hormones? I'm glad I picked up the number from the doc since they just told me it was "normal" and let it go. I think 22 of 22 is high enough to justify calling the endocrinologist. If only I don't feel too crappy to go to the doctor.

For the record, the title is from Encino Man, I think.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Since I moved out to Ventura County which has some admirable green space regulations and lots of farmland from my old town near Boston that was almost completely paved over, my allergies have kicked up. I also don't have a good handle on the allergy seasons in SoCal, or even what grows here. Aside from the purple flowered trees in May, and the fruit I get in my friends' yards.

So in addition to the other stuff I'm trying to sort out, I'm getting allergy testing, which I've had a couple times before so I can get allergy shots for the first time in my life. Antihistamines are no longer cutting it. To figure out what one is allergic to, allergists give skin tests. Most people show a skin reaction to most allergens if the allergens break through the skin. This allergist is really comprehensive and does 3 rounds of tests. The first puts 12 rows of 3 items on each arm with a drop of allergen and a little scratch for the first two tests. Each row is marked with black marker. You can tell I reacted where they skin tests look different from my freckles. When they get really, really bad, they look like this.
ragweed allergy responses

This is 2 ragweed responses of "4+", the highest rating. Anything even remotely called ragweed, I'm insanely allergic to it. Fortunately, there's about as much ragweed pollen in all of CA in the whole year as there is on Labor Day in Minnesota. I was pretty much useless from mid-August to the first frost when I lived there because of the ragweed misery. Now the thing that gets me worst is cats. Strangely, I didn't react to cat on the scratch test, but I did respond to dogs. I do not display allergic symptoms to dogs or houses with dogs, but I can barely enter houses with cats.

For the last round, they do a few _injections_ of allergens that tend not to work as well on just scratch tests and other things they want to be sure of. Like things a patient reports being allergic to. For instance, cats.
arm with varied and sundry red welts

That giant, red skin surrounding the giant swollen bump bigger than a Sacajawea dollar? Cats. Yep. I'm allergic. House dust was almost as bad, but I only barely reacted to one of the dust mites tests and not to the other, which the doctor found most curious. Maybe he was just trying to make me feel better. I do not appear to be allergic to rats or hamsters. I'm not sure how I feel about being injected with rat allergen.

After the scratch tests, which looked amazingly like mosquito bites, I tried my home remedy for mosquito bites on the allergy tests and it worked like a charm. Adolphs 100% natural meat tenderizer which is essentially papaya extract (papain) mixed with salt. Make a paste with water, use the salt to scratch the heck out of the itchy bumps while rubbing in something to tenderize the allergen. It did not work quite as well on the injected allergens but did help. My upper arm still swelled up to be one giant red patch bordered by cats and house dust and whatever was near my elbow there (feathers! I remembered). I was supposed to start my allergy shots this week, but couldn't bring myself to go until my arm stopped itching.

Then to cap off my week, since I'm finally off the antibiotics, I went in for my various and sundry blood tests to see if we can figure out why I'm getting fatter. Namely blood glucose and cortisol. I had to fast first (no big shakes, just have to remember to eat dinner early instead of late), but I hadn't realized it required 4 blood draws over 3 hours. With REALLY BIG needles. Hopefully I'll learn something. But I just couldn't face 3 new allergy shots today on top of all that.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Burn Baby Burn

It's good to know that my lizard brain is still working well enough to rouse me from a deep sleep when I smell smoke. I was roused enough to be able to run around and sniff all the rooms to try and figure out what was on fire. Once I confirmed that the smell was sharpest in my living room, I checked the halogen torchiere, and sure enough, its secondary function as bug zapper is working well. I pulled the charcoaled little body out and the smoke smell ceased.

One thing I do worry about with all these newfangled low-power lights - they won't zap the bugs! While it might be good not to have dead bugs in ones kitchen fixture, it does make it easy to keep onesey-twosey bugs from becoming a nuisance if you just have to tip them out of the torchiere every once in a while. Probably the LED lights using almost no energy by comparison will save me enough money I can buy a flyswatter.

I also managed to burn myself. One was the steam burn the microwave steamer bags warn about. I grabbed the bag right when it was done and my wrist was over the side steam vent. YOUCH. Naturally it happened because I was rushing to go somewhere that involved using a mouse. I was late this time because I was doing burn first aid. It's ok now, but it's still heat sensitive.

Then there's the sunburn. I walked around the other day in a wide necked top. But I stopped the SPF15 face lotion at the bottom of my neck. So I got this wacky red ring around my neck that reminded me of the sci-fi miniseries V was on when I was in fifth grade and the human lady got knocked up by the alien and the sure sign of the alien baby was a lizardy-skin ring circling her neck that closed off when the baby was due. I remember even in 5th grade thinking it was kind of a crap program, but I think I remember a lot of things I learned at that age and it stuck.

Anyway, here I am with an alien burn circle around my neck and I can't stand it. So saturday, I slather SPF30 on the burn, and go read in the sun for a while. Between my sunscreen and shade hat, I managed to fill in around the burn so it's all pretty uniform except for a couple of straps, which at least looks normal and not alien. Although I did go a little overboard and fry my knees and shoulders, just a bit. They're already browning up and should be non-burned by tomorrow, but they're still abrasion sensitive today as I found out when doing my body-rev abs stretch that involves pressing shoulders into the carpet and I felt every fiber.

There were interesting things about the tanning. One is that I started packing up when my skin started to feel hot, but dangled my legs in the pool water for a while while sitting in the shade. The parts of my legs that were in the water, despite the exact same sun exposure as the knees, did not burn. Apparently applying cool water for 15 minutes works to prevent sunburn from worsening. On my back, I thought I'd left it a little too long, and I was right. Now that I know to watch for that sensation (first noticed consciously on the beach in Marseille during the eurailing tour) it's really handy. I know that when the skin starts to tingle, I have to cover up or reapply sunscreen pronto to avoid burning. Or, apparently, get in cool, shady water.

That's not to say that life is all bad! These burns weren't hardly noticable, comparatively.
  • I've worked my way through most of Robert Crais's back list. I'm enjoying it, but his books put me in kind of a weird funk afterward that I don't know is good for me even though I get like that after I read really good authors. I'm trying to think of it as zen time to reflect, rather than funky time. Spin becomes reality.
  • Suz Brockmann will be doing a virtual signing for her next book. I've ordered one for me as of an hour ago, since it comes with an extras booklet again, yet I think I should order one for someone else. But since most of my local friends are due to their being Suz fans themselves, they'll already be getting one. At any rate, it comes in July!
  • The weather is beautiful. Not too hot, not too cold, sunny, friendly. Perfect to work on my tan!