Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just so you know

Healing blisters ITCH!!

(I can't really do this post justice without TMI.  Let's just say I'm having a hell of a time figuring out how to place the bandaids on the open blisters without having them also stick to some closed blisters.  And I can't find a pair of shoes that'll work here, either.  This is so annoying.) 

Monday, July 26, 2010

24 Hours in Baltimore

Through a very effective (and, I'm told, purely accidental) application of cross-family guilt, my mother convinced my cousins to attend a family reunion in Baltimore this weekend, thereby prompting my aunt to guilt me into attending as well.  Excepting, since I was out sick earlier this month, I really couldn't justify taking any more time off work, so I had to fly in on Saturday and fly out on Sunday.  As it turned out, my flight on Saturday was scheduled to arrive at 6:09 p.m., which was my precise departure time on Sunday.  So I was looking at precisely 24 hours in Baltimore.

(My boss quipped, "That might be just enough time to spend in Baltimore.")

Flight out was eventful only in the sense that it was so oversold, I couldn't get a pre-assigned seat, and had to get one at the gate.  Fearing the worst (getting kicked to a later flight and having even less than 24 hours in Baltimore), I woke up extra early to arrive at the airport well in advance of everyone else on flight, where I watched my name slowly move up the monitor from "no seat assignment" to the very last person on the "assigned seat" list.  It was a center seat, but at least I was on the damn plane.

My father is the eldest of four siblings.  Reunion in Baltimore was attended by 3 of the four of them, all but two of their kids (i.e., my cousins), various spouses, and, where applicable, their grandkids (of which there were eight).  It was fairly impressive when you think about it, as we live on three different continents.  I haven't seen a few of the cousins in six years or more; most of their kids I'd never met at all.

Saturday night, after a barbecue at my aunt's house, a few of us (me, three cousins, two spouses) decided to go out.  As I learned later, we probably should have been a little more decisive on the where part before we left.  We generally figured on getting some food or drink or whatever -- but it turned out that two of 'em wanted dinner and two of 'em wanted drinks and two of us were just along to hang out with everyone else.

There was also some getting lost involved.  Well, no, that isn't exactly true.  We knew exactly where we were, we just sorta mis-guessed where our destination was.  Which ended up with us parking ... well, thanks to Google maps, I can now confirm that we parked a half-mile from our destination.  (Which was uphill from where we'd parked.)  Now, my cousins were all wearing nice, comfy walking shoes, and I'm the idiot in the three-inch heels.

We finally get to where all the bars and restaurants are, and it's nearly 11:00.  The kitchens are closed in most of the bars -- which are all playing loud music anyway, which isn't conducive to conversation -- and the restaurants are closing, too.  We're about to give up when we stumble upon the "No Way Jose Cafe," which is actually just starting Happy Hour.  We can be happy.  So, we settle in for some Mexican cuisine, while I subtley kick off my shoes and do a blister check.

It isn't pretty.  Two blisters have already burst, and I've still got that half-mile walk back ahead of me.

But, on the plus side, we've got a pitcher of Sangria.  

I'm not much of a drinker by nature, and, in fact, have never actually been drunk.  And, seeing as I drink so rarely, I haven't built up much of a tolerance.  I can get buzzed on one drink, and I've never had more.

I realize I have a half-mile walk ahead of me to get back to the car, and one thought is in my head.  That thought is the expression "feeling no pain," and that I should give it a try.  I ask my cousin to pour me some more sangria.  

I spend a delightful hour or so catching up with cousins who live on the other side of the planet.  It's a bit embarrassing that we know each other so little, so we're sort of catching up on the basics (like what we all do for a living, and what their kids' names are) and we end up bonding over the usual things people in my generation bond over (like the fact that my cousin's husband and I both have the Motorola Droid, except his was marketed in Israel as the "Milestone," and its keyboard is bilingual).  Yeah, tech is universal.  Wasn't too long before we were all bitching about Microsoft.  Hey, Zev, pour me another half-glass, will ya?

I did, in fact, make it back to the car without hobbling or bitching, although by the time I got back to my hotel and surveyed the damage, it looked pretty bad.  Good thing I travel with about a half-dozen of them high-tech blister bandages in my bag.

Did not go right to sleep, though, because I had less than 100 pages left of the book I'd been reading on the plane -- and I'd actually been reading that book since my last trip and really wanted to finish the damn thing.  Took longer than I thought, but once you hit that "point of no return" with a book, you're going to keep reading until it's done, even if that means you'll be up till 3:00 a.m.  Which I was.  I kept telling myself that this made sense since it was only midnight in "my" time zone, but since my alarm was going off at 9:30 Baltimore time, that was small consolation.

(How bad were my blisters, exactly?  Well, I woke up in the middle of the night because one of the bandages had started to come off and feeling the sheet rub against the open sore was actually painful enough to wake me up -- even in my state of exhaustion.)

This morning (and, honestly, I can't believe it was just this morning), we all gathered again at my aunt's house, this time for brunch.  (I switched shoes.  I always bring a second pair of shoes when I travel, even if it's just overnight, just in case there's an unfortunate blister incident.  And, yes, this was a lesson learned from experience.  Remember that Kennedy Center trip, mom?)  More getting caught up with family I rarely see.  (Not hungover, but exhausted because of the whole book thing.  And, might I add, when I finally finish a 700-page book I've been re-starting for more than a year, I expect the damn thing to be brought to a conclusion, not a "if you want your questions answered, read the next book" type of ending.)

[We pause here while I search Amazon for the second book, and discover a bunch of negative reviews saying he didn't answer the questions in that book either, and just sorta wussed out when it came to the ending.  Well, that just saved me quite a few hours.]

All right, where was I?  Baltimore.  Hugged everybody goodbye with vague promises of seeing them sometime within the next decade, and headed to the airport for my 6:09 flight.

Which was delayed.  Because the incoming flight came in late because of the storm.

Yeah, 102 degrees and a freakin' rainstorm.  THAT, my friends, is humidity.

So, I cool my heels at BWI ... which is apparently the Thurgood Marshall International Airport, although I never would've known that if the security line hadn't gone past a hallway with a bunch of offices where I saw it on one of the doors.  

United has oversold this flight too.  I'll get on it, but I'm in the last "boarding group" because I have an aisle seat.  And before my group gets on the plane, we're told we all have to gate check our roll-aboards because there's no more overhead bin space and ...

... we pause for a moment of anger-bordering-on-rage here, because this little detour probably added between 1/2 hour and 45 minutes to my travel time, when you add up how long the flight was delayed while we waited to gate-check everyone's bag, and the time I spent going to baggage claim at LAX rather than just leaving the damn airport...

Dear United Airlines:  WTF do you think is going to happen when you charge people to check their bags? A planeload of people trying to push the limits on what they can carry on.  FIRST, stop everyone at the gate whose "personal item" is a second carry-on in disguise.  SECOND, have your flight attendants watching people on the plane, and DON'T LET people put their personal item in the overhead space.  When I was walking off the plane, I saw tons of backpacks and shopping bags up there which totally belonged "under the seat in front of you."  I really don't blame my fellow passengers here as much as I blame United for not enforcing the rules, and thinking that gate-checking the bags of everyone with an aisle seat is a good solution.  Bastards.  

So, yeah, I part company with my bag, which irks me quite a bit -- but eventually I get it back at my destination.  Finally get home (insert here the first two shuttles to the parking lot being full, and the valet bringing my car out and then misplacing my keys), took out my trash at 11:00 p.m., hugged the cat, and now have to get ready for bed as I've got to be at work early tomorrow morning.

I started a new book on the plane ride home.  Don't let me near it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Plumbing Follies Part ... Eight?

Yeah, so, last night, the kitchen sink clogged.  Poured half a bottle of Drano in there and then I had a sink full of Drano-scented water.  Called a plumber (new guy, found him on Angie's List) and made an appointment for first thing this morning.  (Then I thought:  curious cat plus poison water equals bad idea, so I balanced some cookie sheets over the sink -- figured that it would keep her out of the Drano, and if it didn't, the clatter would wake me up.)

Which was why I found myself, at around 8:15 this morning, standing outside while new plumber snaked the line.  (And it took about 50 feet of snake before he finally found the hair clog.  I blamed it on the cat, but I'm not sure he believed me.)

And while we were outside, the plumber did what every workman does ... looked at the previous guy's work and said it was wrong.  Specifically: the circulation pump on my tankless water heater.  Said it was the wrong type of pump.  I didn't really want to have this conversation -- I'd gone through quite a hassle when the contractor installed the circulation pump last year -- so I told the plumber that once he finished snaking the line I had some other work for him to bid.  New plumber, who apparently speaks Subtext, wisely changed the subject.  

He bids the other work, and his price is reasonable.  I tell him we'll do it, then go off to work.

I can't let go the bit he said about the circulation pump.  He said that you don't use a continuous circulation pump on a tankless water heater -- you should use an "on demand" circulation pump on a tankless heater.

I google this.

My research discloses that he's right.  While a continuous circulation pump is possible on a tankless water heater, it:  (a) drops the warranty on the water heater from 10 years to 3 years (as you're using the water heater full-time rather than intermittently); (b) eliminates a lot of the advantage of having a tankless water heater, as it pretty much turns your pipes into "a hot water tank"; and (c) is generally acknowledged to be all kinds of stupid.

Am absolutely hopping mad that my contractor installed a continuous circulation pump, rather than installing (or even suggesting) and on-demand pump, or even one on a timer.  No, I've got my (gas) water heater keeping the water in my pipes at a toasty 140 degrees at all times, with a circulation pump happily keeping it circulating (via electric power) at all times.

New plumber is now bidding an on-demand circulation pump (which, obviously, would have been oh-so-much easier to install during the bathroom remodel)  I'm working on the nasty letter to the contractor demanding he pay for it.

Am also wondering exactly how much power that circulation pump is using, as my electric bills have been extraordinarily high. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm gonna have to go with sewer backup

OK, so my toilet wasn't flushing to great (glugging noises) and my shower wouldn't drain.

(My shower often needs a shot of Liquid Plummer.  My luscious locks tend to find their way into the drain.  But the toilet simultaneously?  That doesn't seem right.)

But, I used a plunger on the toilet and a bottle of Liquid Plummer, followed by a bottle of Drano, in the shower.  So far so good.

Of course, there was also that small puddle of water on the floor under the litter box in the tiny bathroom.  And when I lifted the lid, the toilet in there looked like it had some brown water within, which was odd, as the only one who uses that bathroom is the cat, and she hasn't mastered the toilet (and certainly hasn't learned to put the lid back down).

So, I suspected sewer backup, but it still seemed a bit odd, as water seeks its own level and the toilet bowl is definitely not the lowest water in my house.

Today, I happened to take a peek in the guest bathroom.  Where the tub has, er, dried brown gunk all around the drain.

Yeah.  There's only so far denial can go.  Just bought me some sewer-line root-cleaner. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another Epiphany!

(Man, I just keep coming up with them.)

(Actually, I hit upon this one a few days back, but the 'blogging thereof got lost in the process of being ill.)

I suppose this is the sort of thing that I would've figured out about 20 years ago if I'd ever bothered with therapy, but -- for the first time in my life -- two thoughts which probably should have been put together all along finally found themselves in each other's neighborhood.

Thought One:  I did not have a really good time in Fifth Grade.  I was the youngest person in my class by a lot (thanks to being born in the summer and skipping a grade) and, given that my athletic abilities are generally at the low end of my age-range to begin with, I pretty much sucked on the playground.  Was downright awful compared to my classmates.  Seemed that everyday, our class would find ourselves playing handball.  (The Elementary School version with only one wall.)  We played on a rotating basis where the winner stayed in, so I inevitably ended up playing against one of the two best kids in the class -- who would defeat me soundly with a few aces in a row, call me names, make me cry, and then call me more names based on making me cry.  It never ended well.

(By that point in time, I had decided to become a lawyer when I grew up.  I very much looked forward to one day seeing those bullies on the other side of "will the defendant please rise?")

Thought Two:  I try to avoid playing games unless I have a reasonable chance of winning.

Seriously, you'd think I would have hit upon the obvious causal connection here fairly early on, but I missed it completely -- just thought that I hate to lose because, really, who likes to?  But, having figured this out, I've actually started doing something about it -- you know, like telling myself that when you're playing with friends, losing is no big deal, and that the fun is in the game itself.  Intellectually, I've known this all along, but subconsciously, I think I might have needed reminding.

(Man, the human psyche is a weird and wonderful place.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is a bug

There is, according to my doctor, a nasty little bug going around.  I got me some antibiotics to kill it dead (and a diflucan chaser), and a low-dose steriod.  The latter was offered "if I'd like to function."  Why yes, I thought, I would like to function.  (Reference the bit about me not working at home hardly at all when I normally work at home quite a lot when I'm sick.)

So, I called the office, telling them I'm hoping for functionality tomorrow and my actual attendance on Wednesday.  Am now I'm tossing back a late lunch (as half my pills must be taken with food) and hopefully getting down to the business of getting well.

Place Your Bets!

Gargling with salt water worked so well yesterday, I didn't experience the sore throat for most of the day.  Woke up this morning (well, middle of the night) and the damn thing was back.

This makes it Day Three.

The bottle of DayQuil, 24-hour Nurse Line from my insurance company, and nurse at my doctor's office all agree that I need to see the doctor.

(Or, more precisely, that he needs to see me.)

So, what have I got?  All symptoms seem to point to bad cold over strep or flu, but I assume the doctor will do a strep test (and possibly a blood sample for a mono test).  Anyone have any guess as to what medical science will diagnose?

(Oh, goody.  11:00.  Time for my next salt-water gargle.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

And Speaking of Dayquil

OK, I normally take my cold medicine in caplet, gel-cap, liqui-cap, or plain old tablet form.  Something I can toss back with a cup of water.

My friend, who very kindly did a supply run for me, picked up liquid Dayquil.

No problem.  I'm a grown-up, right?  I can toss back a shot of medicine, right?

So, I fill the little cup (which is 30 ml -- surprisingly larger than I'd hoped), put it to my lips, and am immediately brought back to my childhood when my mother tried to get me to drink a tablespoon full of whatever vile cough syrup she'd picked up at the pharmacy.  (A taste/scent memory I thought I'd forgotten.  But now that I think on it, I can even recall the codeine version.  Shiver.)

I eventually get it down, with large gulps of tea, and take a good long look at the label.  What do they put in here that makes it so icky?  Menthol?


But the inactive ingredients do include the bizarrely generic "flavor."

They put flavor in this, did they?  You mean this was intentional?

It Doesn't Matter

Perhaps it's just the Dayquil talking, but I think I've had a bit of an epiphany.

To review:  I generally bring work home when I'm sick.  This way, I can save my "annual leave" days for vacation.  I came home sick on Wednesday and did a half day on Thursday and a half day on Friday.  Saturday, I woke with the mother of all sore throats, and didn't do any work.  (Didn't exercise or shower either.  It was clearly a "take care of myself" day.)

The sore throat continued this morning, and now I'm taking the matter of getting well seriously.  Dayquil every four hours, and a salt water gargle every hour.  No more messing around.

I suppose I'll never really know if I would have been exactly where I am now had I not worked on Thursday and Friday and instead concentrated all efforts on hourly fluids and lots of sleep.

But what I do know is that, without having done much work, by the time I get back to work (sometime this week -- hopefully, say, Tuesday), I'll be behind schedule.  Or, at least, nowhere near as ahead as I should have been.

And I was already behind on my theatre critic-ing, and now I've missed two more shows, putting me even more behind.

(And the social life is taking a hit, too.)

I was starting to get a whole lot of annoyed over this, and that's when the epiphany kicked in.  I'm talking about missing less than one week of my life.  One week out of 42 years.  It isn't going to make or break me, one way or another.  And, I mean, once I'm back in action, if I actually focus my efforts on doing what has to be done -- sleep, exercise, actually work when I'm at work, see shows, get reviews written, and so forth -- it won't take really long to get back on track.  I'll just have to drop the time-wasting on the internet, and the watching of too much GSN.  Can probably take care of things within a coupla weeks.

So I should probably just not sweat getting behind, focus on getting well, and just not worry.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Still Sick

Did not see that one coming.  My cold had been steadily progressing ... first worse than kinda better.  It broke from the achy stage into the congested stage yesterday, so I reckoned that I'd wake up this morning feeling great but sounding like shit.  You know, when you're coughing a lot (and/or your voice is gone), but you feel about a million times better than before.

Instead, my cold threw a curve at me:  wicked, wicked sore throat.  My throat lozenges (which I generally swear by) only took the edge off.  Neither tea nor soup provided relief either.

(Oddly, food did.  The wonton soup was of marginal success, but the moo goo gai pan actually helped, temporarily.  But, really, how much goo can one girl eat?  And I ate my last popsicle,* so I'm back on ice cream.  I'm clearly doing the whole "feed a cold" thing, but I'm already up three pounds since I first got sick.  And today, I felt so crappy, I didn't even exercise.)

I have a theory about this particular sore throat, actually.  Apparently, a sore throat in the course of a cold is a matter of drainage -- and the one thing that has changed before this cold is that I've started sleeping on a super-flat pillow.  (I'm a stomach sleeper, and the flat pillow helps.)  I think I'm going to try to prop it up a bit tonight to help increase the downward flow, as it were.

There was also a moment of panic about a half hour ago when I went into my medicine chest and discovered no damn decongestant.  No idea how I was going to make it through the night without some of that, and I didn't really feel up to throwing on clothes and trudging out to a pharmacy this time of night.  Luckily, I remembered I keep an emergency stash in my travel kit -- two doses of Nyquil liqui-gels.  Score!  Hopefully, that'll get me through the night -- although I'm not entirely sure I'm looking forward to what tomorrow morning will bring.

*Not technically true.  Technically, I have a couple of the orange ones left.  But they taste kinda like wood, and leave a weird aftertaste.  I don't recall orange popsicles being this vile.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


There was much I'd been thinking about posting, but I'm home sick today.

In my standard way, I've postponed this particular illness to a more convenient time.  It hit me yesterday morning when I was just about finishing up something for work (which technically isn't due until Monday), at which point my body said, "Aha!  Several days when nothing important is happening!  Time to yield to the germs!"  So I finished that up, turned it in, and ran for home.

Of course, there's never any time when nothing is happening, so I'm missing out on at least one play (perhaps more), a couple of dates,* and potentially a friend's birthday party.  I also brought a ton of work home so I could get a jump start on all the stuff with a mid-August deadline, but I'm kinda wiped out and have very little interest in anything other than soup.  And tea.  And popsicles.

*Let's play, "How long does it take for my mom to read this entry?"