Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Tripods

As a kid, I was a voracious reader. The Nancy Drews got read over and over and any printed material in the house did not escape my attention. When money was tight, Mom ditched the Newsday subscription. Six months later, she started it up again because she could see how much I missed having the paper to read every day. I was 11. Around that time, one of my mom's friends gave me some college psychology texts and those got devoured as well. This love of reading comes from my Dad, an extremely prolific reader.

When I started middle school, 'required reading' was a new concept, but not one I disliked. One of the first books that was assigned was "The White Mountains" by John Christopher. I loved it. It was a gripping sci fi story, set many years in the future. I polished it off in one night, even though the teacher gave us two weeks to complete reading. During class the next day, Mr. Deck informed us that if we liked the book, there were two more in the series (this being 1978, the prequel had not been written). After class, I asked for the next book. I think he was slightly shocked that I'd read the book in one night.

Over the years, the storyline came back to me and I'd halfheartedly searched for them. Prior to the internet, the main source for the out of print books was used bookstores. The ones I'd visit when I thought about locating these books didn't have them. Two or three years ago, someone from one of my internet groups was looking for reading for her preteen boys. I suggested the series and she came back to report that her boys loved them. (thankfully, she isn't a part of that group anymore-drama queen doesn't even begin to describe...)

I tucked that information away, as my kids were slightly too young for the books. Two more times, the books came up in talking to coworkers and again, the books were well received by the kids. I added them to my Amazon wish list, mainly to remind myself that I wanted them. Searching Amazon showed "The Tripods" a BBC series based on the books. Not a surprise, since these books were written by a British author.

Recently, in an effort to encourage older son to search for things, we've begun going to the library. He tends to reads books until they fall apart (offered as evidence is all of our paperback copies of Harry Potter, read to pieces). His efforts centered on Star Wars and Pokemon offerings, but I did pick up the first book for him to read.

No, he wasn't interested-but I reread it myself and once again, I enjoyed the book. The next visit to the library found me getting the second book, "The City of Gold and Lead" and the prequel. Things being what they are today, I remembered the BBC series and mentioned it here on the blog. Off to You Tube I went, where I found the episodes in pristine shape. So far, I've seen nine of the episodes (10 is not available on there and I don't want to skip over it).

Kudos are in order to the BBC. For the most part, the series is nearly exact in the storyline of the books. The production values are incredible, though I think the second book will fall into the realm of cheesy brit sci fi. Now that I've viewed the shows online, the DVD set is on my list of wants, along with copies of the books.

In searching further, there is a website devoted to the series , www.thetripods.org
I haven't had the chance to delve into it much-but I will. The one piece of news I found quite interesting is that Disney, through their Touchstone division, has purchased the rights to the books and is producing a movie for 2009 release. It should be really interesting to see what a substantial budget will do-and whether the movie will follow the book as well as the series seems to have done so far.

Personally, I need to find episode 10 to watch...and find used copies of the DVDs...and find more information about this Touchstone production...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Almost the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything...

41. Yep, one year away to being the answer! :)

The day was nice, got to spend the majority of it with Ed and the kids. Ed got new glasses, we went out to dinner and got free ice cream at Cold Stone. (Score, I forgot the rest of mine was in the freezer!) Then we headed over for a dip in the pool after Ed went to work, since I was unencumbered by an Unna Boot. It sure felt good.

Funny moment: Youngest son decides he wants to have a race, so he, Michael and older son race to the opposite end of the pool. Michael handily getting down there, younger not far behind, and older (walking) not much behind him. Once at the opposite end, younger asks why I'm not racing, and Michael responds "Oh, she was down to this end and back before we even got here." Love that sense of humor!

On another subject, we've been visiting the library a lot lately. It's a good way to pick up DVDs I don't want to spend money to rent. My thought was to get older son to search better by having him look through the book offerings on the Alicat and then have him try to find said book in the stacks. He'll look for his shoes levitating in midair, so this is not a wasteful activity.

Anyway, he tends to read sci fi, pokemon and those game strategy guides over and over. I thought perhaps I'd introduce him to a sci fi series I'd read when I was 12, The White Mountains by John Christopher. No luck-he was less than interested in it. What the heck, I decided, I'll see if the books stood the test of time. (this after suggesting them as good middle school reading for others a few times). They definitely are geared towards a middle schooler's reading abilities, and definitely good storytelling.

After reading the White Mountains, I picked up second book in the series, "The City of Gold and Lead" this past week for rereading. It could have been folly, what with having a date with Harry. Well, that book was demolished in under 48 hours (it'd have been less, but work and sleep had to happen). The second book also is well crafted. Ironcally, though, I picked the books up for one son and the other's curiousity was peaked by the cover of the prequel. He asked about it. It interests him, so back I go for the first book to read aloud. While I'm at it, I have to pick up "The Pool of Fire", the last book in the series.

Apparently, there was a BBC series based on the books that was produced in the 80's. I wonder if it'll be low quality BBC programming a la the Hitchiker's series (styrofoam wig form for Zaphod's second head-good casting, dudes) or will it be like Dr. Who and get some efforts on the SFX front?

I suppose some searching is in order...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Diet Sodas are EVIL

Many of you are aware of my severe allergy to Nutrasweet. Giggle's husband discovered that this was the trigger for her numerous migraines and she passed the information on to me. I remember exactly where I was when we were talking and she told me she hadn't had a migraine in a week (Barnies, Dulles Town Center in line to order a Mocha).

We both experienced an amazing thing in that the removal of aspartame from our diets meant we hardly get migraines. The down side for me was that I switched to regular soda instead of cutting it out and quickly gained 50 pounds. I still miss my Fresca, btw. If I have so much as a sip of diet soda, within 5 minutes I experience symptoms and if I don't act, a raging migraine occurs.

Now, Newsday has some proof of Nutrasweet causing problems:

http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-sci-soda24jul24,0,1193801.story?coll=ny-top-headlines&track=mostemailedlink


I could go on and on and give testimony about how much weight I've lost with the near elimination of the artificial and processed crap that fills our supermarkets, but this article alone gives a lot of leverage without me saying a word.

My meal is in front of me with a glass of water-and you know what? I like it. It's better for me, too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I hate my leg

I am in a world of HURT tonight. The latest RSD flare up has been a doozy. I cut off the boot the other night, and the nerve endings are so toasted from the previous boot that the slightest pressure or touch on the leg makes me want to climb the walls. Somehow, the leg has scabbed up around the back (where I pinched it a few months back and caused severe pain then) and where the faulty valve is. So we have insult to the injuries.

There was a doctor's appointment scheduled for this morning. When I scheduled it, Nurse M and I thought we'd be rehashing the nerve block. Instead, I spoke to her on the phone about the pain and the cancelled procedure. She's at the bottom of her bag of medical tricks. I've been prescribed vicodin for so long that they fear federal scrutiny of my file. She finally suggested today (knowing how I feel about it) that I take disability from work until I can work without using painkillers to get through the day.

She was confused by the fact that I've been in the office at least once a week for months and haven't hit my deductible (two different components of my plan, unfortunately). I mentioned the call I received from the case manager and that I plan on calling my insurer to track this woman down. Nurse M asked if I could get a letter from the insurance company stating that they refused to waive the deductible for the nerve block to put into my file.

I think I know how she is thinking. If Dr. J submits paperwork for me to take disability, I may magically get approval for the nerve block. It's less expensive to waive the deductible than to pay 60% of my salary for one month. Here I was just thinking about the medication component-and doing so to suck it up and make it through work.

Why am I bothering? I am barely getting through the day and tonight's agony is because I was so focused on being the dutiful employee. I didn't want to leave them shortstaffed. No, that's not my priority anymore. It's getting this damn thing over with. It sucks not being myself, not being active and relegated to sitting on the damn couch and in such misery.

Updates coming after I reach the case manager. Please pray that they see things towards making me healthy, which will also save them a boat load of money.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Interesting

The sitemeter has been a source of great interest for me. It shows me where people are visiting from, how long they visit and what brought them here.

For instance, that recent post about Ratatouille spoke of the movie trailers. Someone googled "Mr Magorium's Magic Emporium" and my blog was one of seven hits. The person didn't stay long. Well, if that's all you're looking for, that's fine.

Another person googled about DVT and Joe Namath, and I was among the pages and pages of hits. She mentioned having a similar DVT history in a comment to me, but hasn't returned since. That's a bummer, because it's always good to have someone with shared health expereinces. You tend to learn from each other (or in my case, Giggles is a wellspring of RSD info and I haven't given much back-YET).

Some of the locations are curious. I kept coming up with Phoenix and wondering who the hell I knew there. Then I clicked on the map dot and found out that it's where a friends employer registered their IP addresses with ARIN. I have a friend who works for ARIN, and even though they are based in Northern Virginia, they show as the eastern shore of that state.

Those map dots center on LI, and I think I've figured out who has Optimum Online and who's using Verizon based on the times that they show up to read this thing. I could be wrong, though.

Then there are the puzzlers and you know me, I like to figure them out. Many of the hits are one offs-they read it once and I never see them again. Dots from far flung places, like Cape Town, South Africa, Romania, Buenos Aires and a few others. Okay, something brought them here, and it's probably Blogger's 'next blog' button. I like using that button myself, it's brought some great reading-and some crap, too.

Then I see repeats and I'll figure them out.

Maybe they've got sitemeters, too and they're figuring out who's there...

What Flair

There are many lessons to be learned about RSD, and yet another one presented itself. It seems that if you've had a bad flare up due to Unna Boot issues, it's probably not a good idea to put another one on until things resolve.

The most recent boot was trouble from the get go, but in a different way from what I'd experienced before. The top of the foot was fried from shoving the shoe on it. As such, it was hypersensitive to anything touching it, and I spent the entire time this current boot was on pulling down the gauze and the outer layers when they inevitably crept further up the foot. Last night, I finally cut the thing off, because I'd had enough. The vicodin and the Lyrica weren't even cutting the pain, a sure sign that I needed to do *something*.

Now that the boot is off, I'm experiencing the lovely and all too familiar pain of anything touching my leg and foot that cause the foot to feel like it is on fire. Remember how I'd told of the one and only false alarm I'd had thinking I had a clot? The site of that vericose vein knot is one of the trouble spots in this flare, but it is not the only place that hurts. The top of the foot, the band around the back of the calf, that knot and the ulcer are all letting me know in no uncertain terms that I shouldn't shove my foot in a shoe OR put a new boot on so soon afterwards.

Oh and my DM doesn't like when I wear an ankle length skirt or light colored, ankle length pants with my Crocs. Apparently, this is 'flouting' the fact that I'm wearing the shoes. Uh, okay. Maybe I thought the apparel choices were nice items to wear to work. It almost makes me think that if my nerves weren't so tender, that I should walk in with an Air Cast on my leg and ask if that's a better solution. A call to HR is probably in order, but to do so may mean career suicide. Ugh, why can't this be simple?

The day passed with no call from the Neurologist's office, so no, the nerve block did not happen. Life goes on. Apparently, so does this RSD flare, too.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Of Birthdays, Bookstores and the Boy Who Lived

Friday night, I took the boys to our very first Harry Potter release party. Younger son was given the option of choosing the activity for his birthday, but when I mentioned this possibility, there was no question of where he wanted to be for his 8th birthday.

We have a tradition of going to dinner at the birthday celebrant's restaurant of choice. Interestingly, when first asked what he wanted for his birthday dinner, he said chicken with honey mustard sauce at home. We make Outback's Alice Springs Chicken and this was his initial choice.
He later changed it to dinner at Cody's Roadhouse. As has become the norm lately, he and I conferred with each other and shared a meal. This works out well for both of us, as I no longer eat a normal adult size meal and he has grown beyond the chicken finger/hamburger/macs and cheese kids meal options.

Another tradition we've created with the boys is that instead of buying them gifts and wrapping them, we take the birthday boy to pick out the present(s) of his choice. We do have a budget in mind, and both boys usually fall below this. I think this sprung from Ed and I both being sensitive to the desire to get the boys something they truly want.

Once we finished with our shopping, where the birthday boy chose a Lego Mars Mission set and a Gamecube game, we headed home for Ed to get ready for work and the boys to dress as Harry Potter for the Book release. Activities include a look a like contest and older son frequently is told he looks like Harry. We dress him as pre Hogwarts Harry, put a lightning bolt on his forehead and hand him spectacles. Younger son, well, the curls are unlike any HP character, and he wants to be Harry as well. That's fine.

We head over to Books A Million. Once in the door (at 9:30), we are asked to pull a pin out of the Sorting hats held by two hostesses. Young son and I get Slytherin (boooooo) and Older son gets Gryffendor. I opt to keep up with him. The store has stations for the four houses of Hogwarts-and our first stop is the trivia competition. When the Gryffendors are done, he ends up being the winner. This means that later, he'll battle the winners from the three other houses for a place at the front of the line and a Harry Potter Scene it Game.

Next up, we head over to the look alike competition. In the previous group, the winner was a young lady who looked amazingly like Hermoine, robes and all. We arrive there and the contestants are asked to line up. Son is the first in line and is asked to perform his character. For not having seen anyone else do this, he ended up doing a great job doing an Expelliarmus on the Slytherin Prefect leading the competition. He receives O.W.Ls of O and E for this task. At the end of the competion, he was in third behind a Harry in full robes and a 3 year old who was runner up purely on the cute factor. Younger son decided that he'd portray Draco Malfoy. Had I known this was the plan, he would have been dressed up and had a ton of gel slicking back that mop of hair. Oh well.

Next up was wand making. After the wands were made, many kids had duels throughout the store. While one child was doing a wand, the other was getting a slytherin snake on his forearm. At 10:30pm, the house winners were called back for the trivia competition. Ultimately, he got a very tough question and he was out-but you don't really want to play trivia against an Aspie on a favorite subject! His other three competitors were adults-so for him to be there was pretty impressive.

As soon as I realized that he hadn't won, it was time for me to find a place in line. I ended up next to a lady who'd been at all the activities with us-she was noticeable thanks to a stylized HP with lightning bolts tattoo on her arm. We ended up chatting about this and that, she's just moved here from Montgomery, Alabama. Sooo, we talk about there, where to find the good pizza, que and chinese here, and where to find favorite stores of hers. She asked where the nearest location of my store was, lol. I suspect I'll see Melinda sometime in the near future.

The manager of the store would give us periodic time checks, the boys would check in with me here and there, though younger son was not doing this as frequently as his big brother. With 15 minutes to go, the line that snaked through the aisles started to condense down. By my estimation, there were about 400 people in that preorder line.

Next thing you know, we're counting down to midnight and Melinda and I were pretty loud whooping it up when at last it was midnight. The line moved fast and as we get up front, staffers got pictures of my Harry look a like, with me holding our four vouchers behind him. The time: 12:09 (we were probably around 125 to 150 in that line). Amazing organization from the staff at Books a Million. On the way out of the mall, we pass Borders (the other way out would have been past Barnes and Noble). Both stores suffer from poor location or poor parking-and that Borders had people inside, but that line was NOT moving like Books a Million, and the lot was the usual bottleneck.

Here I am, 103 pages from the end of the last book. It'll be finished tonight. I made predictions about who the two JK Rowling talked of would be. I have to tell Ed not to read this entry yet, because I was right on both counts. It has been extremely difficult to put down, so I went to work today with two hours sleep (full disclosure-the darn leg was partially responsible). It was worth the sleep deprivation!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bad Girl, no Nerve Block

I won't be getting the Nerve block. Not anytime soon, anyway.

My health insurance is a PPO plan. If you go to plan doctors, you have a $25 copay. If you use a plan doctor for surgical procedures, it's a $100 copay. I'd though that the nerve block would fall under this umbrella, since I'd be be booked into a surgical suite and under anethesia.

No, my insurance covers the nerve block under the other half of the policy that is subject to the 80/20 rule. What this means is that I must pay a $500 per person deductible (and I received a 5:45 phone call that payment is due when services are rendered). I don't have that kind of money, which means I will be living on the Vicodin and Lyrica until the pain goes away or we come up with the money. At least any other nerve blocks done in the same calendar year will be paid at 80%.

Argh. My only option was to cancel Monday's procedure. After last week's call to the insurance company's 24 hour nurse line, I received a call from a nurse case manager. She explained that the company offers this service to ALL their subscribers for free, but it's not widely known that it is available. Anyone can ask for one to be provided. She said she'll check in with me periodically to discuss my care options and answer questions. When she called me the other day, I was driving and unable to write her phone number down. She said she will call me sometime this week to follow up and make sure I get her number. When she calls, I'll ask about this.

Wouldn't it make more sense for them to pay for a procedure of this nature to get me off of long term RSD meds and painkillers? Drugstore.com shows that my Lyrica prescription would cost 223 a month and I've been on it several months now. While the hydrocodone is a generic, again, it's been filled regularly since December.

I hope that in discussing the financial ramifications with the case manager, we can have a meeting of the minds on these things. Like that spa I'd mentioned a while back. If they want to pay for my physical therapy long term, that's great, but a spa tub large enough to do the recommended exercises would probably cost them less in the long run.

Will the case manager assignment ultimately help them AND me? My goal is to be off drugs and pain free, theirs is to spend as little as they possibly can. I think we've got the same goal, we're just looking at it from different perspectives.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Banks Banks Banks BANKS!!!!

If you were around when I had the practice husband, you probably got subjected to our excitement on various shows or music. His preference for making everyone listen to the three Johnny Clegg CDs over and over didn't scare everyone away, fortunately. For the record, I happened to like the CD's, I just couldn't convince the man that common courtesy dictates that you ask your guests what THEY'D like to listen to.

One show I absolutely adored and shared with everyone was a video of a Showtime special entitled "Steven Banks Home Entertainment Center". In it, one hour of comedy ensues when we watch a young man in his apartment in his attempts to write a speech for his boss to give to the stockholders and board of directors. Doesn't sound that funny, does it? I assure you, it is.

It never failed that someone would come visit us and that video would come out for viewing. We would all roar at this man's comic genius and musical abilities. 18 years later, I still sing songs from the show. Alas, in the acrimonious split, husband 1.o decided to take possessions out of the house after assuring me he would not. Among them was probably the copies of Steven Banks, as I don't recall seeing the show afterwards.

For years, I tried various means to track this down. I used Alta Vista, Dogpile and eventually Google to locate Steven Banks. Wikipedia and IMDB tells that the man's talent is now in use on some of the funnier children's programming on Nickelodeon (he is the head writer for Jimmy Neutron). That this show never made it to mass release is a shame. I don't know if his contract with Showtime gave them all distribution rights and they felt it unworthy.

For some reason, I decided to You Tube "Steven Banks" and I was thrilled to find that another fan of the show posted the special in seven segments. If you give yourself an hour and refrain from drinking beverages while viewing, I think you'll find little about the show that doesn't make the trip to 2007 well.

So go to You Tube, search for "Steven Banks Home Entertainment Center", forgive the VHS quality and laugh your butt off at this show...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Countdowns

This is a week for countdowns:
Days till younger son's birthday :2
Days till we attend our first Harry Potter book release party: 2
Days till my nerve block (and please, oh please let the thing work, dammit): 5
Days till my birthday: 8


We went and preordered our two copies of Deathly Hallows yesterday at Books a Million. The local mall has a Barnes and Noble on the entrance road that is such a pain to get out of that I no longer visit there. There's a Borders on the opposite exit of the mall, which is okay, but now IN the mall is BAM. So yesterday, we went over and preordered the books, once I determined that my young birthday boy is jiggy with the idea of spending the waning hours of his day waiting for the next book.

There will be a Harry look a like contest, and young son, potentially showing his skill as an events promoter, immediately told older son "You look just like Harry! You MUST enter this contest!". It was quite humorous. About ten minutes later, he comments that he should enter, too, since he's as skinny as Harry. Yeah, but there's this mop of curly hair that would rule out any serious chance of winning. Out came the hair straightening iron and voici, the child has straight, unruly hair. Add some eyeliner to the forehead and we've got a small version of Harry.

The store will have stations set up throughout for each of the books and activities for the kids. We lunched at Cheesecake Factory yesterday and the boys split a slice of cheesecake, since they'd already had lunch at school. Of course, now I'm being asked if they can get cheesecake while we wait. Uh oh, I am sooo screwed. Suppose I should make the child his requested birthday cake: coffee cheesecake. :)

The leg this week has been quite interesting, so I am counting down the days until I may have some blessed relief from the pain. Cross your fingers.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It really IS a small world

I attended college on Long Island. Hell, you all know this. It is a fine establishment for higher learning, despite the derogatory nicknames the school earned. In a nutshell, you got out of it what you put in. In my case, it was a great place and I wish that I'd been more responsible with my meager pay and finished the degree (six lousy credits, I tell ya...)

At work, we ask all our guests for their emails. Today, a woman shared her email with my coworker and I heard "at NCC.edu". I made the comment "You wouldn't happen to be employed by my alma mater, Nassau Community College?"

She was. In fact, the one department (besides Theatre and Dance) that I spent a lot of time in was Psychology. (No, they didn't examine my head-I heard that, Bob! And no, that wasn't the voices, either.) She has been an instructor in that department since 1975. I'd mentioned the professors I'd had and I have to say I loved every psych class. I did well, even in the first year when I majored in party.

We kibbitzed for about ten minutes: the profs I had, who is still at Theatre and Dance. The instructor I had for Abnormal Psych has since retired, and while he was MY favorite, apparently he was reviled by most of the student body. I can see that-he was very tough on the grades. She said he must have loved me if I enjoyed the class and did well. Let's see, a member of my household was schizophrenic, hearing voices and having a psychotic break that semester. It really drives home the lesson, let me tell you!

It was really cool to hear that the majority of those professors are still there, twenty two years later.

Suzanne service announcement

Normally, it'd be a Public Service Announcement, but it's only serving me. With the current health issue, one side affect has been insomnia. This is also apparently a common occurance when you take Vicodin. As a result, sleep usually doesn't come before 3am. Sometimes, I am up until 4. I hate it, but I'm dealing with it as best I can.

It's been mentioned in the blog entries, but I think this problem may have appeared as a sporadic event, rather than the daily occurrence that it is. I ask you, my friends, to call me AFTER 12 noon. This way, if I've had a rough sleep night, I'm awake and moving on with my day. It also saves you from feeling bad for waking me up.

To both of you who have woken me this week, you're fine-I realize I hadn't made it clear that this is what is happening...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Another day, another leg update

Last night, I got three hours sleep. The burning sensation was like the little engine that could and what it could do? Drive me completely and batty. This morning, I made the decision to cut the top, stretchy layer of the Unna Boot off. I wish that I could report that this brought an immediate end to the pain I'm experiencing. It didn't, but it did bring that burning feeling down to a dull roar.

Off to work I went, with three hour's sleep. I think I would have a valid excuse to be extremely crabby and rude to people, but I wasn't. Instead, the customers were both crabby and rude to me without any good reason. My coworkers were great, as always-they could see my poor attempts to hide the pain today and would 'buddy up' as I was helping the problem people today.

The nerve block is 8 days away, yay. In talking to Giggles, her impression was that relief from a nerve block is only 2 to 3 weeks. Of course, this sent me digging. There are several types of nerve blocks used, and the one my doctor will be performing seems to have an efficacy of 10 weeks. Let's hope that I am above average and get more time out of the torture of general anethesia.

Onto another topic, how many other people are picking up their copies of Half Blood Prince for a refresher this week? It'll be my break time reading for the next week. Friday night will find us at the local Books a Million. I'm preordering two copies and this entitles us to use their express pick up line. However, they are having the usual book release festivities. The store will give away a copy of the book to the person who looks most like Harry. Older son is a shoo in, even his little brother told him we HAVE to go, because he'll win.

Now, younger son is excited at the prospect of spending the night of his birthday at the event and decided he'd like to enter (in his words, he's as skinny as Harry). His curly locks are not going to get him very far, so tonight we used my hair straightener to tame the curls. His hair IS like Harry's, it goes all over the place when straight!

The time has come

The past two nights have been very rough. New symptoms have emerged with the foot that concerned me. The foot immediately below the Unna Boot has a burning and hot sensation, but it's cool to the touch. There isn't any redness or specific pain site, other than Vern doing his knife throwing into my calf.

The odds are good that there isn't a clot brewing. This morning my nurse practitioner concurred At 3:00 am, so did the nurse at my insurance provider's 24 hour Nurse hotline. She even said I was extremely self aware after I triaged and said I'd ruled out a clot, that I'd palpated and found no tenderness or warmth and that the Hohman's was negative. The current pain keeps me from sleep. It makes me extra vigilant this weekend. If things get really bad, I'll cut the boot off. I really don't want to do that unless absolutely necessary, since it makes a huge difference in the healing of the wound.

However, the pain reminded me that Dr.K's office had cancelled my appointment to meet with him to schedule a Nerve Block. After playing pass Suzanne to several different departments, I finally got Endoscopy and they scheduled the Nerve Block for the 23rd (no preliminary appointment, the initial consultation was considered as such). Actually, I was given a choice, but who wants to go under general anethesia for their birthday? Yeah, me neither. The irony here was that while I was scheduling, Nurse M was leaving me a voice mail replying to the 3am voice mail I left her.

Now into a big unknown. I sure hope that I escape the 2% fate for once in my life and that this Nerve Block actually works. If I were an average person, the nearly healed wound would mean that the RSD would be going away. Alas, I am not average-the RSD gets worse.

The nerve block, as I mentioned, is done under general anethesia. Oh joy.

I'll keep y'all posted.

(btw, who the heck is reading from South America, Bucharest and Spain? And the the 25% of my readers not using Firefox, get with the program!)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Harry Potter (some spoilers ahead)

After not seeing three movies on the big screen and seeing the last at the $2.00 movie theatre the week before it came out on video (which was pretty cool, btw), we saw Order of the Phoenix on opening day.

Over the years, the lesson has been a hard one: never, EVER go into a movie and expect a faithful adaptation of the book. I'd been burned many times. Patriot Games, Raise the Titanic, The Firm and others left me yelling at the screen, furious that the director ruined the book. As a result, I've learned to be a lot more forgiving. I now walk into the movie expecting nothing more than approximately two hours of entertainment. And so it was with Order of the Phoenix. Two and a half hours is not enough time to cover 900 pages. It ain't happening, folks.

We were smart-the tickets were purchased online. This is a nifty feature. We still paid less than the after 5 price for the showing. The 2:30 show did sell out-there were only six empty seats in the theatre. All we had to do was slide the credit card into the little automated ticket machine outside the entrance and bingo-4 tickets popped out. Into the multiplex we go, where we find TWO queues for later showings, the next one (3:30) already had about 40 people in line. There were comments as we passed "how are THEY going into the show NOW?" 10 minutes prior to showtime. Magic, you fool! :) That right there made the extra 4 dollars worth it!

So we got there with enough time to find seats together-in the front row. That's okay, beats the last family outing to the movies, for Cars we had to split up. At 2:30, the promos begin. One is for a Walden Media epic, "The Compass". It looks REALLY good. Another looked promising with a story about the Loch Ness. There were a few other promos, but nothing else stands out at the moment (forgive the RSD-I've got colander brain).

Then, the main attraction, Harry Potter. This was the darkest of the films so far, which is like the books. In the interests of brevity, many elements were left out (Ron and Hermoine as prefects, NO Quidditch, Dobby, Firenze, etc). The ill fated Harry/Cho romance played out a little differently-there just wasn't time to bring in the incidental characters to make these things work the way they do in print.

In all of the advance previews, both Ed and I thought they screwed up in casting Luna Lovegood. The young lady playing her is much too pretty compared to JKR's descriptions (brunette and homely). However, this young lady captured the flakiness of Luna very well. For Hogwarts to be based in England, this is the first student with an Irish Brogue!

Similarly, Delores Umbridge was perfectly cast. The woman was spot on in her malevolance at Harry in particular and all of Hogwarts students in general. Her punishment to Harry comes back to haunt her in the Forbidden Forest, after all, he must not tell lies. (IMO, the funniest line in the movie). Helena Bonham Carter appears to channel Robert Smith of the Cure's 80's makeup and hairdo and gives Bellatrix LaStrange proper attention as a evil whack job.

Which brings up another point. There was more humor in this movie. Several scenes had the whole audience cracking up, and one had a collective "DUH" (though I said "No Shit, Sherlock")
There is an IMAX 3D version of the movie. I'd like to see the IMAX, but I'm on the fence whether these scenes have to be viewed in 3D.

I had some fear that this movie would be too scary for the kids. They've handled things well on the TV at home, but sometimes seeing it larger than life is intimidating. They did fine, in fact, they both loved it. I still feel I did the right thing by not bringing them to PoTC2 in the theatres, as the CGI created scarier creatures. Perhaps OotP wasn't as scary, as theyd already seen the Dementors and Voldemort in the last film (also viewed on the big screen).

One son has already asked if we can go see it at the movie theatre with the tables. He wants to see it at the $2.00 movie theatre! It was explained that it won't be there for a long time, but he's fine with that. Heck, I'm with him-enjoying some beer and snacks while watching this again sounds like a good date to me!

In short, if you're a book to movie purist, you'll be frustrated. If you can let the changes go and enjoy the movie on its own merits, GO. You'll enjoy the fast paced storytelling that OotP contains.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Will someone tell Vern Troyer...

to stop stabbing my leg?

I've got another RSD flare going on. It's a minefield. Just when I think I've figured out what's triggering it and eliminate it, I get another flare and have to figure out why. I have my suspicions about what caused this one. If I'm correct, I will have to either get a pair of cheap shoes in two different sizes OR really insist that I have to wear the Crocs. I suspect that I'll need to contact the pain management doctor and the podiatrist to have three doctors saying the same thing in various notes.

This reminds me that I have to call and schedule my appointment to schedule the nerve block. I had one in May, but the scheduler goofed and gave me an appointment with the wrong doctor-so of course, instead of giving me one with the right doctor, they just cancelled it outright. Bah.

At least with the vascular group, I enjoy a standing appointment for the Unna Boot. Heck, the valets know my car and know me-there's never a question of where I'm going and that I am eligible for the service. There are distinct advantages to being there every week-the reception staff can finally find my hyphenated name without asking for my social, the nurses get me in a room quick and they know the drill (take off boot and prep bath for foot while waiting for exam).

So, while the wound is healing, the rest of the problems seem to be sticking around...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

July 3,1976

When I wrote about my Star Wars experience, I knew I'd write this one. Alas, it got away from me and is a week later than originally intended.

My mom worked nights as a waitress. If you're good at it, you can make enough money to support a family and pay a mortgage. Mom was very good at it. Rough work, though, and it meant being away from home five nights a week. We were very lucky, after my mom and dad split, Dad would still be at the house when Mom worked. The split shift parenting they did was kind of unusual. We spent a lot more time with Dad as kids.

So Mom would do her best to make things fun every once in a while, because it really bothered her to be away from home so much. During the summer, this meant getting a membership to Newbridge pool and going down there once or twice a week. At least one of those trips would be in the evening, and we'd battle the green flies and enjoy the pool in the evening dusk.

On July 3rd, though, Mom came home from work and woke us up around 4am to drive down to Jones Beach. We drove in the night, windows in the car wide open and the air coming in was filled with the scent of the ocean. She talked on this drive of when she was a kid newly recovered from Polio.

Papa would drop Mom off at the Field 9 beach house with nothing but her roller skates and a towel. She'd be in her shorts, t and swimsuit, and she'd walk in the sand all the way to Field 4, which was about a mile. Then she'd spend several hours roller skating, and walk in the sand back to Field 9, where Papa would pick her up after finishing his shift at Grumman.

She was telling us about this, but my older brother and I were questioning her. There was a beach house at Field 9? Dad's favorite beach was Field 6, since it had the shortest walk to the ocean. We told her there was no 9, and she was disbelieving. For years, if she took us to the beach, we would arrive at the water tower and go around the traffic circle to arrive at Field 4's huge parking lot. (In contrast, those summer Sundays at the beach with Dad meant arriving at Field 6 before 7am, lest it be closed) So, Mom hadn't been out that way in years.

It's now about 5:30am and the day's first light is beginning to appear. We drive down to where this beach once was and pull over on the side of Ocean Parkway. Now, there are only dunes and a narrow beach where Mom tells us there was yet another one of Robert Moses' art deco marvels, with a saltwater pool, changing rooms and a concession. We get back in the car and backtrack to Field 6's parking lot.

Daylight begins to reveal what Mom had brought us down to the beach to see. New York Harbor was hosting Operation Sail, with many tall ships from around the world arriving to celebrate the American Bicentennial. Her thought was that with us being less than 30 miles from NYC, we'd get to see some of the tall ships without the crowds of Manhattan.

She was right. For the next couple of hours, we sat on the beach and watched about 8 or 9 ships on their way to this huge event. We sat and talked and talked and watched the ships, with Mom reminiscing about the beach when she was a kid. It was a once in a lifetime event, and she had a unique way of bringing it to life for us.

Of course, hunger pangs hit all four of us at some point. When there were no longer any ships to view, we headed back to Merrick for a big breakfast at Marybill diner. This was a rare treat and oh so good. That morning was a gift of seeing the ships, as well as learning more about what Mom had gone through as a child with Polio. The breakfast afterwards was just icing on the cake.

Looking back through the eyes of an adult, I am happy for the experience. The world has changed a lot in the 31 years since that day. An event of that magnitude will never happen again, and I'm sad for my boys that I can't take them to see the tall ships. I just hope that something we do today will be looked on as fondly thirty years later.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ratatouille

Tonight, I took the three boys to Ratatouille. Younger son had a friend sleeping over (well, that was the plan-he missed dad and went home) and my two. As is typical, if older son didn't come up with the idea, he's a stick in the mud. I hadn't seen much in the way of previews of this one, mainly because I don't work for Disney anymore and I honestly do not turn on the TV myself the majority of the time. Until last week, it hadn't even clicked that this was Pixar's newest offering.

We got to the theatre in the middle of the first preview and that movie looked interesting. Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman, "Mr. Magorium's Magic Emporium". Then one for "Underdog "(ugh-didn't like the cartoon and now it's live action?), and then a promo that made me a little sad. It's the promo for "Wall-E" that started out telling of a meeting in 1994 between John Lassetter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and the late Joe Ranft. See that one phrase "the late Joe Ranft" still upsets me-he was one of the main contributors to the success of Pixar's animation efforts and you hear his voice in many of their movies (Heimlich, Wheezy, and Lenny among others). Time will tell if this one will be among the successes that Pixar produces.

Then the short. Pixar has kept up a great tradition of old time movie making in that they have a five minute short before every feature. Once again, words are not part of this short-nor do they need to be. "Lifted" is hilarious and had the full theatre cracking up at its end.

Now the feature, Ratatouille. This, in my opinion, is the best Pixar movie yet made. Technically and visually, they've raised the bar and met their standards of beating the last movie. I've always wanted to visit France, and this movie makes the longing to visit Paris grow-it is amazing how realistic they make it look. The French Tourism Board should be kissing the feet of those involved in animating their country! There is a caveat with this one, though. The G rating? It's suitable for kids, but it's not at all a kiddie flick. The storyline is too complex. That said, if your child can follow a Harry Potter or Star Wars movie and not lose interest, you'll be fine.

Our budding chef was probably more intrigued by food as a career after seeing the movie. After working in a few restaurant kitchens, I'll say that the depiction of that enviornment was spot on, though many kitchens don't have that much room for the staff to move around in!

A word of warning, there is a 'happy ending' type scene that leads one to believe the movie is over. Nope, got about 25 minutes after that, but in true Pixar fashion, it is great storytelling from start to 'fin'. Go, see and you WILL enjoy. My stick in the mud son, who protested vigorously that he did NOT want to see it, was the first to rave on and on about the movie once we'd left.

Now, off to look up the recipe for some ratatouille...

Three days off

I have been bestowed a three day weekend from work. Right now, we are three managers running the place, when it's usually five that cover floor leadership. It can wear a person out, so the Assistant Manager/Acting GM (for another three weeks) has been awesome. He took a three day last weekend to close on his house. Then he gave me this weekend, and the other manager next weekend.

Ed's working two of the three days, so that kills going anywhere. Instead, I let younger son have his first friend sleep over tonight. Dinner will be fondue (at son's request) and we'll go see 'Ratatouille'. As for the rest of the three days, we shall see. If I were inclined to drive over to St. Pete this afternoon, we could get tickets to the IMAX sneak peek of Harry Potter on Monday night. I'm not. Instead, I'm going to see if I can buy advance screening tickets for Wednesday afternoon.

BTW, if you're a Harry fan, go to Yahoo Movies and click on HP. You'll see a link for an exclusive trailer, but it ends up there's a dozen posted. The more I see, the more I can't wait...

Friday, July 06, 2007

I've got another one for the weird file...

I had an eye exam yesterday. Since I turned 40, the vision ain't what it used to be, so I schlepped over to the vision place everyone else in the household has been to. The reading glasses should be ready in two weeks, fortunately, my distance vision doesn't need any help at this time.

The addition to the strange file: when the optometrist was viewing my left eye, she spent a LOT of time on it. She said that the eye was fascinating, because she'd never seen the vasculature of the iris. Most people, you can only see the pigmentation. She'd never seen this before and told me it's extremely rare.

She also took the time to go through the eye chart letter by letter with the left eye. It had been 20/200 at one time, now it's 20/100, but when I'm allowed to 'bring the eye in' on the chart, it's 20/30. Cool.

It should be interesting to see how much time it takes to get recognized by people who know me with the new short hair and the new glasses on!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Wine and Foodies

I resurrected the food blog. The rash made me do it...

http://wineandfoodies.blogspot.com/


I'll be adding it to the links on the right. Of course, if Ed disagrees or has additions to the list, they'll make the addendum...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Time to give it a go again...

Sorry for the lack of posting. Yes, getting *those* comments again. For a readership of oh, 15 people, y'all do get kinda mouthy when I don't post in a couple of days. Why don't all of you start your own blogs, huh? Just kidding. Honestly, I was kinda in a funk after the last entry, because I saw my future flash before me and it did *not* thrill me. Suffice to say, it'll get better-it has to.

(and on a tangent-why is it that Trillian uses a doorbell chime when people log OFF?)

Anyway, as much as my writing must thrill some people, I'm going to give another try at a food and wine blog. The last venture into multiple blogs resulted in blogger hosing up bigtime-I hardly posted for about six months because it was such a pain to access the account. It is now linked to my gmail account and is running smoothly. Did I say that? Yes, I did.

The food and wine thing will be resurrected in the next week or so. It'll catalog the tasting notes for the wines we drink for the most part, but the food notes will come about when we have occasion to dine out or happen upon some local good eats place (like the awesome BBQ joint we have the next town over), or even when younger child makes an amazing meal in cooking school. This past week, they totally nailed chicago deep dish-it tasted like Uno's.

If you want to follow along at home, most of the wines are from PRP, and they're a direct wine merchant. We've gone to the red side, so comments will typically be about those. Most of the whites that will receive comments are German.

Food comments will also encompass relevant TV, shows, commercials, blah blah blah.

Why this and why now? It really bugged me that we couldn't get the "Yum" thing going because of the blogger glitch. Second, a coworker told me of his music blog that netted him lots of free music, for the oft chance of him reviewing the music on his blog. Interesting-think there's a chance that a 40 year old from the burbs could get a shot at the "Next Food Network Star" by having a blog about food and wine? I know that's not a realistic career expectation, but hey, I can give it a try, can't I?