Showing posts from October, 2012

Halloween-A Statistical Analysis

Three years ago, we gave away plenty of Halloween candy to close to 100 trick or treating kids, mostly those of the early teen persuasion. We didn't even live here yet, we lived in the neighborhood, but didn't get foot traffic on our cul de sac.

Two years ago, we had about 10 kids stop by. Last year, the same thing. Both years, we stocked up on candy, thinking we'd have a repeat of 2009. Heck, last year, I added Capri Suns to the mix.

This year, we had more kids ring the doorbell than the past two years combined. We alternated who answered the door, but I think we were closer to 50 this time around. Ed purchased the candy, and we seemed to hit our numbers right, with some left over.

Normally, I'd be on campus for a class tonight, but the professor took the requests of several students who wanted the night off (after he told us we were a week ahead on course materials.) Instead, at 8pm, I went into the bedroom and hopped online for a class session, and I h…

Tijuana Flats, Lakeland


Do Over

That surprise mid-term I had two weeks ago? I didn't do great on it, I didn't do horrible-but I didn't get a score that I would have if I had known the mid term had two portions.

Last week, we got them back. After class, I told the professor that I honestly had not looked at any schoolwork in three weeks and despite checking email and announcements, did not know there was the in class portion of the mid-term. A friend took the class in the spring and they only had the take home. The syllabus did not list the in class (but the online syllabus was updated to reflect this.

I was the first student he'd ever had who had major surgery during the course of a semester, so he gave me the option of taking it again, which I did this evening.

I definitely did better than last time...


Tonight, I spent a few hours with a high school classmate and her husband over in Tampa. There were lots of laughs and quite a few stories from back then and now, catching up on the different things that have happened in our lives.

The funny thing is, back then, we weren't friends. We knew each other, but one would never call us friends. It wasn't until we happened to meet up again online (about 14 years ago), that we both probably were willing to look past the person we once knew and get to know the people we'd become.

I'm glad for that, because we have way more shared experiences and situations than we did back then, and that common ground in this case is typically hard to find. So, when she made an appointment for a doctor in my stomping grounds, she contacted me to see if we could meet.

Yes, I could have spent the time studying...but I'm glad I didn't.


Really worries me.

This hurricane is headed towards Maryland by one projection, Long Island by another. Either way, I'm worried about loved ones.

Now, if only we could figure out a way to slingshot that storm out into the North Atlantic, away from any land!

Stay safe, friends.

Sure, You Probably Know...

Who you're voting for as president, but do you know about the district judges, state legislators or all those pesky amendments? Yeah, even with my attempts to be politically aware, I don't know about all those races on my ballot November 6th.

Thankfully, locally, the League of Women voters put out a guide to all the amendments and what voting yes means, as well as voting no. This can be printed out, which I plan to do, because Ed and I like to go over that ballot.

Here's the thing, they do this all across the United States. You don't have to be a woman to utilize this tool, just head to their website and put in your zip code, to get a guide tailored to your location.

I'm going to review mine tonight and will vote this weekend, thanks to the help of LWV's guide!


My car is dead.

And dead in the it needs $5,000 in repairs that I don't have, won't have, and have no way of getting, either.

The worst part? VW had been told pretty much since day one that my car slammed from first to second gear. This apparently indicated a fatal flaw in the VW Tiptronic transmission. For many years, I'd complain, I'd leave my car overnight so that they could test drive my car and get the whiplash inducing snap of the neck when the car revved to 3000 rpms, then decided "oh wait, you wanted to go into SECOND gear", then slammed back down to about 1500 rpms.

Every single time, I'd get the car back and get the message that they were unable to duplicate problem. Three different dealers, 90-something thousand miles. Until that first visit for a service call, the one where I said 'replace my transmission fluid, it's slamming from first to second gear,' and they came back and told me there was a problem with my transmi…

Say What?

In amidst all the junk mail (yes, we still get a ton of it), today's batch had an advertisement addressed to Jane from the dealer that sold her the van.

You can trade in your 2006 Odyssey, lists how much is left on the loan (which there wasn't one) and other stuff, then, in very large text it says..

'For ONLY 618 a month (for 48 months!). Seriously, 30,000 is a DEAL on a trade in? Then I looked up the model they're selling-it retails for 34,000 around here!

So glad Jane isn't going to get suckered into that one for a vehicle that only has 50k miles...


This food is totally addicting: Once again, online friends mentioned this stuff. Or rather, six months ago, they mentioned Trader Joe's Cookie Butter. As the nearest TJ is two hours away, I was safe-until someone told me that it's a knock off of this stuff!
I bought the smooth last week and really liked it, Ed didn't. Then I found the crunchy in Winn Dixie, gave Ed an apple slice with this spread on it (and he hates apples) and a convert was made. Chef also loves it.

When I bought it, I grabbed a bag of apples, too. Now it-and the crunchy spread are almost gone!

You are warned!

Recipe, S'il Vous Plait: Bolognese Sauce

Back when I was doing Tasty Thursdays at Mom Dot, I put up the recipe for Bolognese sauce and it never made it over here. I don't think the recipe is still on Trisha's site after the revamp, but a blogger I follow (actually, on Twitter) mentioned getting spaghetti squash and needing a sauce for it.

To me, that needs a full bodied sauce, and I immediately offered up my recipe for Bolognese sauce, which is Ed's absolute favorite. She told me sure, and I messaged her with the recipe (Tweeting it would have taken forever!), and since sharing it, I've had a hankering for the rich, meaty sauce. I made some tonight, and figured I would share it here.

This is definitely a food of love thing, low and slow simmering gives you a better flavor. Once you've browned the meat and cooked the onions down, you can even do this in the crock pot while you're at work, the choice is yours. Depending on how long you cook down, this makes 5 or 6 quarts.

Bolognese sauce 1 p…

Cervical Spinal Fusion-Four Weeks Later

I think I can skip the pictures this time around, because there really isn't much change in physical appearance in the past two weeks, other than my hives finally being gone!

So, four weeks after fusing C5 and C6, where am I? I went back to work this past week. Surprisingly, I did 4 of 5 days, laid down for 15 minutes the first day and an hour yesterday, but I actually worked 29 of my 30 hours for the week, something I really didn't think would happen.

What I'd do different is bring my Omni Cervical Relief Pillow with me and spend time laying on the floor after I teach my kids each day. Ten minutes on that pillow does help somewhat in positioning things better and reducing some of the pain.

Yes, I still have pain. Any doctor that tells you that you will wake up from surgery and be miraculously healed is one I would not ask to do surgery. That said, the pain is different. If you used the Likert scale, my pre surgery pain hovered between 7 and 9 on most days. …


I made my Tex Mex chicken today, a recipe I kind of cobbled together when I was writing for Tasty Thursdays for Trisha over at MomDot. It's an easy crock pot meal and once done, the chicken is shredded and can be used in various ways.

GameTeen is kind of picky, so I offered up chicken soft tacos for him, which really was the same thing as the rest of us had (lazy enchiladas), just not baked. Ed and Chef devoured their helpings, then finished off the rest of the pan of enchiladas. If there had been more, I am sure both of them would have eaten. (Not to worry, there's probably about 2 pounds of chicken left, and I can make chicken tostadas with that.

With every bite, Ed was raving about the food. "These are amazing", "I think these are better than I've had in many mexican restaurants", and the corker, "I'd pay for these!", to which I put out my hand and said 'That will be ten bucks, please'.

Then he said he need to have…

Food Plans

I bought some chicken to make a recipe I saw on Pinterest, but in the case, I also saw pork loin on sale-so I bought both. The week has gotten away from me, so this weekend will be spent cooking.

Normally, I do the pork on the grill with my dry rub, but Ed requestd my sweet chili marinade on it instead, so it will take a nice overnight soak. The chicken will have all day to cook in that crock pot recipe. And then, the plan is also to make some crock pot Cheddar cheese soup.

By the time I'm done, I suspect there will be so many leftovers to repurpose that the week won't seem to get away from me.

I Survived Ax Murderers!

Actually, I went over to Downtown Disney and had dinner with four ladies I've known online for anywhere from 5 to 10 years. You know, online friends are really ax murderers and convicts who are trying to do you harm.

The only harm they did was making me laugh so much that I was dealing with the tiniest bit of a headache when I departed. One of the ladies, Colleen, is here with her husband and we were regaling him of online stories. He was game to help us out with our shenanigans of posting pictures to our Facebook group. Good people all around-maybe they left the axes in their rooms?

Oh, and if you are curious, the food at Raglan Road was fantastic. I had a steak salad, which I felt I had to get because it featured a horseradish dressing. Now, I have to email the restaurant, because I NEED that dressing in my fridge. (Understanding that there are usually two or three jars of the stuff in there at any given time-we like the stuff!)


I had every intention of returning to class last Wednesday, but I wasn't feeling so hot and was concerned about getting to Tampa, feeling worse, and being stuck trying to drive home. I emailed the professor, asked about the take home mid term he'd mentioned we would have and he told me that it was posted on the class blackboard.

Once I downloaded it, it seemed ridiculously easy. Yes, there were three questions that included things I needed to do some digging to figure out, but it was okay to use Excel and formulas, so I felt pretty good about it. I got to campus early, wrapped up some things, installed the printer drivers for the common Education printer onto my laptop and then printed out my completed spreadsheets.

Then I got to class early and a couple of people said they thought I dropped the class. (The professor and one other student were the only ones who knew about the surgery). The professor arrives, I walk up to him to turn in my mid term packet and he looked…

Thinking of Unplugging from Facebook

At least until November 7th, that is.

I have friends with a broad spectrum of political views, very broad. I like sharing and discussing with them, hell, the 16 years in the DC 'burbs was fantastic for having in-depth conversations about what is happening in our nation's capital.

This election cycle, though, is my first on Facebook and it is grueling. I'm mostly immune to the mud slinging and name calling, because I don't watch a lot of television and my car radio is tuned to the local NPR station. Most of my news comes from me scanning several sources (Washington Post, Daily News (hey, it's free, unlike Newsday), and various television news sites), so I don't see many political ads.

I am not used to this quantity of hatred-on both sides. Most of the people I know can be respectful of opposing point of views, but the ten percent that aren't have really been so ugly that I probably will have to hide them or go away briefly. And that does include s…

Back to Work

You know what sucks when you're about to go back to work after three weeks off? Insomnia.

Yep, didn't get to sleep until almost 4am, by my estimate-the alarm went off at 7am to get our butts out the door for work at 8am. I made it-and made it through the day with just a 20 minute spell of laying on the couch in the office.

Three of my classes worked in the computer lab while I was gone, with varying amounts of success. I can monitor the classes in the program we use in real time, their teachers cannot-so some students used the time doing other things and others far exceeded what I expected them to do in three weeks. Generally, the ones who sit in the back and are quiet are my rock star performers!

The day started rough, then got better as it went on, but I hit a wall at about 1:30 that I worked through, then at about 2:30, decided if I was going to make it until the staff meeting, I needed to take the stress off the neck, which is when I laid down.

I had to reso…

Three Weeks

Tomorrow marks three weeks since surgery. Tomorrow also marks my first day back to work. In the past, I would have rushed back to work and amazed my doctors and coworkers. Now, I know better-take all the time you can!

So, the progression through recovery, in pictures:
In the recovery room:
Ten days later, when the bandage fell off
I'm still tired and very sore, but the soreness is due to cutting out the pain meds as soon as the ER told me my liver enzymes were elevated. My thought was that I will do my best to tough it out, but it'd probably be better to do that and take as needed in this first week back to work.

What surprises me is that years ago, I spent almost ten weeks at home, healing from a wrist reconstruction and in that time, I plowed through about fifteen books and two video courses (Management principles and Intro to Marketing), that led to me getting CLEP exam credit for two college courses.

I thought I was going to spend soooo much time worki…

Food Reality TV Alert

Yeah, I don't watch a lot of television. If this isn't already obvious, I will prove it by saying I just found out that one of the few reality competitions I watch is launching season five in two weeks!

The Next Iron Chef battles have felled quite a few chefs I thought would be worthy of facing challengers in Kitchen Stadium, but it seems that Food Network agrees. Season Five is Redemption, and several of the challengers are people I was seriously rooting for their first time around, like Jehagir Mehta, Amanda Freitag, and Alex Guarnaschelli. (Though no Anne Burrell)

Here's the thing that gets me. Alex is now the sous chef for her rival, Geoffrey Zakarian in season four. I'm thinking all these battles can really make her a contender. Then again, Anne Burrell had a ton of stadium experience and didn't make it.

I have to admit, though, as much as I adore these two women chefs, I'm kind of rooting for Jehangir, same as I was rooting for Mahneet Choudry …

OPI Gelcolor and Gelish Layering!

If you hadn't gotten the idea how much I adore Katie, my nail tech, I really do. She's a sweetheart and she pampers me and my nails every couple of weeks. Today, she was excited about all the new colors she had to share.

This time, I gave her free reign to play, since she had been dabbling in trying to color match a shade for a client. She also told me that many of her regulars put the same color on every time they come to see her, which is boring. Meanwhile, I can't wait to try something new. And this week, that's exactly what I got!

This was a layer of a bottom coat of Gelish Sweet Chocolate, which on its own looked like a melted Hershey bar. Then she applied a layer of OPI Gelcolor Deutsch You Want Me to get a metallic, coppery shade. What do you think?

Last time I went to have my nails done, Ed commented that he expects manicures to be reds, pinks, and orange-y corals. Meanwhile, the reason I do my nails now is that there is so much more variety in sh…

Ready to Go Back?

I showed up at work today to check in and somehow, I ended up working for an hour and a half. Boy, did that tire me out! Now I'm a little concerned about heading back into the trenches on Monday.

At least I've only got students for four hours each day. I think at the very least, I can handle working the first week back for four hours a day, then maybe do more the following week. I'll play it by ear and see how things feel once I'm there.

Gelish Magneto-Almost 2 Weeks Later

I'm getting a lot of raves for this manicure. I really love the color and the effect, and apparently, it catches other people's attention, too.

There's one area where it doesn't measure up: look what happened while I was cooking this past Saturday:
I wasn't using a knife, I was actually just filling a pot with water to make baked ziti. To be honest, I've done far more kitchen work with CND's Shellac not showing a single sign that I'd spent time in the kitchen. This was underwhelming. That, and the fact that two nails have ripped near the base of the nail leaves me with the impression that the layers are not nearly as durable as CND's Shellac.

I'll probably go with this when the nails are shorter, but I have an average length (for me nowadays, anyway) and I'm being a lot more ginger with what I do with this manicure-which defeats the purpose of getting a two week gel polish.

Your mileage may vary, but I'm recovering from surg…

Video Camera number Three

While having two Macs is really good in most areas, there's one arena in which it can be frustrating, and that's synching with digital video cameras.

Let's see, the Kodak Playsport? Not a problem. The Sony Bloggie-the software only would allow me to download the video files, but I couldn't change the format from portrait to landscape, so I have four videos that are filmed in landscape that look like gravity didn't work when I was on Long Island!

I exchanged the Bloggie for a Samsung, which is a more conventional handheld DVR. I hadn't shot any video with mine, but I did use someone else's up in NY and realized that the SD card wasn't extracting the video onto the Mac. Then, this past weekend, a friend borrowed it to video tape an assignment for her class. That's when I realized that yep, there's a problem.

The answer is that I'm to use iMovie, which I hadn't used before. A little bit of work later, the videos were extracted,…

Song Pop

I've been playing a lot of Song Pop on Facebook, on my phone and on my iPad. For the most part, I'm kicking butt.

But, there are always those categories that I'm going to bomb. Today's Hits, Modern Country, Gospel, Hair Bands and National Anthems are going to do me in every time. Suprisingly, I do a lot better on Rap than I ever expected.

And More Steps Back

Image the hospita1.

I had symptoms today that could indicate meningitis, I had recent surgery, and well, I felt like poop. I followed suggestions and went to the ER.

Thankfully, I am okay, but gosh, it sucks feeling that crappy!

Two Steps Forward...

Yesterday, I woke up and realized that I felt better than I had in a very long time. No pain, just felt good. Honestly, I think it's been a few years since I woke up with no neck and shoulder pain.

Alas, it was a brief honeymoon period. I got a flat on the way home from picking GameTeen up from school. The tire place was having their floor waxed, and I had a little space to sit-for two hours.

Between that and some online stuff (I seem to be Suzanne's free therapy service to a few people!) I am now really SORE.

I think I need to spend the next week holed up in the house, doing nothing. Because that feeling of no pain? It was really nice. I want it back!


We all hold things near and dear to our hearts. Sometimes, the things that cause us the greatest pain become a life's passion. For me, part of the motivation to work on educational interventions for kids with Autism stem from feeling like I'd failed GameTeen. I know I haven't (for the most part), but it's amazing what fuels our pursuits.

Now, a different person, they might take a different approach. They may want to raise money, have walkathons, bake sales, gala affairs, all with money going towards research on what causes Autism. That's a fine pursuit, too-it's just not my cup of tea. I am of the mind that the person with Autism is probably going to be a great innovator, based on those who have been identified as being on the spectrum. Hey, any research is good research, though, so the fact that people want answers is a good thing.

That's my personal crusade. I spoke of my friend Janie's personal passion right now, she's trying to find…

Klippel-Feil Syndrome

I know, you're wondering what the title is, what it means, and why I'm writing about it.  Klippel-Feil is a disorder I would never have learned about if not for one of my dear online friends, Janie's, son being diagnosed with it as a baby.  Jon is 13, a triplet and one very handsome boy.  He also has a tough life because of this rare disorder.

Klippel-Feil is rare, estimated to occur in 1 in about 45,000 births worldwide.  No accurate numbers are known, because there haven't been any studies to determine how often it occurs.  Janie found out one of her babies was in trouble before he was born, so she and her husband had a heads up that there might be medical interventions for Jon, but not exactly what he'd need.

Klippel-Feil causes a myriad of issues, one is 'blocking' of vertabrae, another is scoliosis.  Jon has both.  There are neurological, cardiac, ear/nose/throat and urogenital problems.  Like diseases like Cystic Fibrosis and Down Syndrome, those who …


The nurse practitioner likes my progress. He agrees with the bosses' timetable for me to return (if I still need naps after going out, I am not ready to return yet, IMO) a week from Monday.

I can drive, but shouldn't wear the neck brace for that. However, if I'm a passenger, I need to wear it, as well as sitting at a desk, or while I'm out and about to keep me from doing 'stupid stuff'. Okay, I'll buy that.

The best part? I don't have to wear it while sleeping! After last night, that was very good news, because I apparently tried to burrow into the chair I'd been sleeping on to avoid sleeping on my side and might have tried to bend my neck at a 90 degree angle. That doesn't work, even without a plate in one's neck.

I got home after running errands (and seeing my students briefly), took the neck brace off, and promptly slept for three hours. It was glorious.

Maybe I'll be on the mend quicker, now that I can resume the p…

Allergies Again

I hate sensitive skin.

I have a rash all over my neck, chest, cheeks, and upper back. At first, I thought I was allergic to the Norco I was given, but I realize that it is from the pads on the neck brace.

Since I got home, I've tried to have some fabric between my skin and the pads, but apparently, I'm moving around way too much in my sleep and the fabric isn't cutting it.

Hopefully, tomorrow, I might get early release from this neck brace. Otherwise, I'm going to need to find a bunch of Howard Wolowitz dickies to cover me!

Spinal Fusion, A Week Later

Or, 'What they don't tell you until you get to the hospital!'

When you have neurosurgery, the doctors are very careful. Seriously careful, because they don't want to render you paralyzed from a misstep. So, there are things you don't consider until the neurosurgeon assisting your doctor comes in to see you and has some hardware.

For instance, the doctor assisting came in with some electrical leads he attached to both of my arms. Since I'd had the numbness and most of the issues one has with a herniation at C5-C6 deals with the arms, these leads would be electrified and checked throughout surgery, to make sure my nerves were conducting the way they should be. He told me I would have contacts screwed into my skull, too. So, here I am, a week later, with a bunch of sore spots on my arms and head. (about 6 on my head and four on my arm).

The ones on my arm have bruised, similar to what you see with an EMG or IV insertion. Yes, I bruise easily, but th…