Monday, September 30, 2013

Eight Years

Eight years ago:

-my mom had terminal cancer.

-my mother in law and sister in law were preparing to move to Florida.

-we lived just outside of Tampa.

-I worked for Disney.

-My chronic health issues were just a blip in the past.

-Ed was unemployed.

-the boys were in elementary school.

-going back to school was just a dream idea.

-I liked to write, but other than the occasional short store and humorous email to friends, I didn't consider it something I 'had to do'. And now:

-three family members here in Florida have passed away.

-we live in Lakeland.

-I work for a university.

-My chronic health issues have announced their presence with authority quite a few times.

-Ed has been working the same job for six years solid, I was unemployed for three years.

-both boys are in HIGH school!

-after years of having time and no money, or money and no time, I returned to school and finished two degrees and am 6 courses into doctoral studies.

-I've written this blog for eight years, and for the past five, every single day.

The blog has introduced me to new people and made me comfortable with my abilities in writing. While what I say every day isn't of the same caliber of my school writing tasks, it has definitely helped me to refine my skills in that area, too. I've become the 'red pen of doom' for most of my friends, a few colleagues, and even a professor. All because I was urged to start a blog eight years ago.

While I think my days of daily blogging may come to a close soon, blogging has become so much a part of my life that I don't think I will ever go long without putting something on the electronic paper in cyberspace.

Thank you for indulging me in my narcissistic rants, Interwebz.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Does Anyone Else Hear Peter Brady

When they think of pork chops and applesauce?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Chalk Another One For "I'm Happy I Have Boys"

Because I highly doubt they'd want these:

Friday, September 27, 2013


There's this thing about chronic health issues: they can be dormant for ages, heck, for years, and lull you into a false belief that you won't be affected ever again.

Then you get blindsided

Back in 2002, I had a few months of 'the spinnies', as GameTeen had dubbed them, which ultimately was diagnosed as Benign Paroxymal Positional Vertigo (BPV or BPPV). Despite an MRI of the upper brain, and several tests, my doctors weren't sure what caused it. The MRI was too high on the brain to visualize the Chiari malformation, so it would take another few years to find that. The thing is, if we'd seen it then, then we would have known what was causing the vertigo.

The first episode lasted about three months, with many long spells of Objective Vertigo, where everything around me was spinning at various degrees. I equated it to records, spinning at 16, 33, or 45 rpm. I learned what could cause an OV flare, like tilting my head upwards more than 5 degrees, or being tired. Still, the only reminder I've had is that when I lay down, my room spins slowly a couple of times. That's become so normal that I don't even register it.

Until today. Ed and I went to an IEP meeting at GameTeen's school, then went and picked up a friend for lunch. We were there eating lunch, and all of a sudden, I got a bit of a spin. These have happened when I've moved my head too quick, so I sat still.

It got worse. In under a minute, I went from everything being okay to the whole room spinning around at 45rpm. Closing my eyes made it worse. It was so quick that the nausea came up violently. I said the room was spinning, Ed asked if I was going to be okay and I said no, I'm going to lose my lunch and I got up and weaved my way to the restrooms. I probably looked drunk to anyone else.

It is no fun to be sitting in a bathroom with the world spinning and your body isn't able to make sense of it. I probably was in there for a good ten minutes, unable to move, head against cold tile because it was the only thing that seemed to keep it from getting any worse. Finally, I was able to regroup and get myself up and out onto a chair in the lobby.

Ed dropped off friend, we got home and I crawled into bed and slept for hours. Now I feel wiped out, as if I had really exerted myself today.

At my initial visit with my most recent neurologist, he seemed really concerned that I'd had vertigo (this was before he'd found the Chiari), but the fact that I hadn't had a major episode in over five years seemed to make it a blip on the radar.

Now I'm waiting to see a new neurologist with the same group. I was supposed to see her next week, but they had a conflict and now I don't go until the middle of November. I'd meant to call them the other day and remind them that while I'm new to her, I've been a patient in their department since 2007 and they have several MRIs and EMGs, plus notes from two different colleagues who have left for other opportunities.

It is now my first order of business on Monday morning. It could be a sign the Chiari has changes, I have no clue. In the meantime, unless someone else drives, I'm staying home all weekend.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

One Year Later

The spinal fusion was done a year and two days ago. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have waited so long to have this done.

My pain level averages a 3 out of 10 on most days. Immediately prior to surgery, I was usually a 7 or 8, and having a hard time doing even the most basic things. A year later, I have far more good days than bad, pain wise.

That's not to say that it is all smooth sailing. As is common with those with RSD, having surgery exposed me to a spread of it. Yes, mine spread to both hands and I'm waiting for the appointment with the neurologist to discuss our treatment options. I walk around with frozen hands on 95 degree days, how many people can say that? At least these are not manifesting like the leg-they're twitchy and cold, but not electrically charged like my leg.

Still, the day to day is better than I could have expected. That's more than I could have asked.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Road Not Traveled

I always have had an interest in psychology, in analyzing situations, and where it comes to people, trying to figure out what makes one tick or can be the best way to resolve an issue they're facing. For a long time, that made me think that pursuing a career in psychology would be a good fit. Over time, though, I realized that I'd want to fix the problems for my patients, and I dropped that concept. (It was also clear that I would bring their problems home with me-not a good thing.)

Still, over time, friends old and new will come to me when they need to sort through a problem, because I will pose the questions a skilled therapist tends to ask. A friend working towards a degree in that discipline has said the field would be perfect for me. While I enjoy it, that's not a passion-I just like to provide a fresh perspective when called upon for that task.

This week seems to be one where I've been called on to take on that role several times. I got a panicked text from a former coworker. She had a situation with her child that was really worrying her, the school honestly dropped the ball in handling it, and she told me when we spoke was that her first thought was to call me. Her rationale was 'Suzanne will be able to hear it out and break it down for me in a way I will understand.' Which is rather funny, because last year, we were butting heads more often than not.

So, even though my path went left, sometimes, I do seem to detour onto the path to the right.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It is Easier

To write up an eBay listing for stuff that you own and are looking to get rid of, or stuff that you sold for many years and are extremely knowledgeable about, than it is to list stuff that you know what it is, but nothing about the market for the item.

A friend has never sold anything on eBay. Purchased, yes, but not sold-so I am tasked with listing the things and well, the listings are not my usual descriptive sales spiel. I didn't realize how difficult it is to list stuff you're not personally invested in!

We'll see how this goes.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Online Communities Really Can Get Neighborly

Back in June, a friend introduced me to Tim Minchin (which I've mentioned here a couple of times.) What the friend didn't do was introduce me to the fan community for Tim, I found them on my own. A few friendships have been struck, and the ones who hang around on social media are just a fun bunch of people.

What I didn't expect is for one of those members to seek me out to offer me a pair of tickets to see Tim perform live. Now, that would be really, really cool-but it's in Leeds, England. A bit of a commute to accept those free tickets.

Still, it was a very sweet gesture and very flattering. I like interacting with the dozen or so active fans on the interwebz social media sites. I just didn't expect them to be that generous.

Now, if the prize patrol wants to show up in the next few days so that I can buy a plane ticket and go, I'm happy to give you directions...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

His Highness

Nails Outside My Comfort Zone

Allen keeps telling me I am in a rut with my nail colors. I think this is definitely not my usual color range...

"I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world..."

Friday, September 20, 2013

The view when I left work

Lockdowns are not fun.

At least this one ended with nobody hurt. Still, kind of scary that they didn't find the guy.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

On The Right Track

I created a project plan for my Flash class. The majority of it was done far in advance, the the night it was due, I tweaked it, added a flowchart and some storyboards and submitted it.

It got a perfect score.

I really expected it to get dinged on some small facet that I'd overlooked, but it seems that I hit all the marks on the rubric. Yes, I've gotten perfect scores before, but usually on these types of things, there is room for improvement, a component you didn't address, a detail that is essential to the product that you knew about, but forgot to add to the document. This time, that didn't happen

Part of it was because I interviewed an actual client who will use the product at the end, and we were able to meet all of his needs AND the tasks that I need to do in the course nicely. The other part definitely was due to the medication. The best part is that several of the elements will be really easy to execute.

What's funny is that in the past, the course was taught by a professor who liked to make things much harder than they really are. A friend took the course with that professor and was given a zero on an assignment for 'plagiarizing code'. Now, most of you don't know what this means, but the programmers are laughing-code is code, it has to have an exact syntax. So, if you want to run a query, you have to use the same code, no matter who you are.

This semester's professor is taking an opposite tack. He's telling us what we need to turn in, where to find resources, but basically, we have the freedom to explore and find what we need without micromanagement. While I like a course to fall somewhere between these two extremes, I suspect that by making us do the legwork to learn, we'll all retain more of the course content.

Well, I'm pretty sure I will, and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Sea of Black

If you're going to cattle call interviews for say, medical school, a piece of advice for you.

It is suggested you wear a suit in a neutral color. Of course, this means EVERYONE wears black. I mean everyone. So, you want to be memorable, the one who stood out, right?

Get a nice medium GRAY suit. It is still neutral, but they'll be able to pick you out in a crowd. Isn't that what you want?

Monday, September 16, 2013

I Love When I Already Have

The needed items for a class!

Tonight, I have to turn in my design proposal for the Flash class, including a Storyboard for one of the components of my educational module. I was going to create one from scratch, then I realized, wait a minute, I already DID the necessary work for this client at the beginning of the summer!

Just saved myself an hour's worth of work mocking up pages...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ikea As Is

Scored once again!

Found a floor model Omar on display, which was two of the tall wine racks and one narrow shelving unit placed together for $79. Normally, those three pieces go for $170, so I jumped on it. While I was paying for sodas for me and my friend after purchasing it, Allen noticed six people commenting about it. Then another four while I went to go get the van, and another five while it sat atop the van and I went back inside to buy straps to hold it on the car for the 45 mile ride home.

Yep, others could see the deal I jumped on! I can't exactly say 'no assembly required' as it shifted during the drive and some things will need to be readjusted. However, I now have a home for ALL the wine bottles and storage for the booze stash we got when Sweetbay closed back in February. Chef already said the K-cups and coffee items should go on one of the shelves.

Love it when I find something we'd wanted in the As Is!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Late night snack

A town isn't too bad if you can get late night gyros.

Friday, September 13, 2013

An Abundance of Apples

I got the Macbook that had coffee splashed on it repaired. That means we have one MacBook that is Ed's, two that are mine and we each have a desktop. The house is full of Apples.

We love it.

Last week, Chef came into my room and was chatting with me as I did my usual organization of my desktop. With Mac, you just drag and drop into folders and he'd never seen that done before. As all my needed software is on the newly repaired machine, I suspect the the kids will have limited access to the newer MacBook, so that they can learn both platforms.

It is kind of amusing that just over three years ago, I wanted my first one sooooo badly, and here we are, a Mac-centric home.

Two Weeks In

Two weeks of meds, three weeks of classes.

At this stage of the normal semester, I'd probably be about three chapters behind on reading, and I am actually through all of it and finding it easier to read longer stretches without the 'squirrel' break or five. I am current on all reading. In tonight's class, she assigned more reading, but we have two weeks. It will probably be done Sunday.

There was one assignment I hadn't done, and that had more to do with getting the text a week late, then losing a study evening (and start on the debate topic) to the car issue I had. Tonight, the professor offered up that if we participated by midnight tonight, we would still be eligible for a grade. I actually went in and read all the debate posts and decided that I didn't want to jump into the fray.

The fact that I didn't do the assignment has nothing to do with the ADHD or usual lack of focus. Rather, it was that I *could* focus on all the posts and felt that what I would say had already been stated, the dissents for and against were taking the issue much too personally, and after five people on each side started their post with "FINAL STATEMENT", whatever I said wouldn't be appreciated.

Ed suggested that I couch it in exactly those terms, but it's probably better that I say nothing than say that!

It is quite a switch to not be behind and opt to skip an assignment. Overall, the assignment is not going to make or break my grade and in the two weeks since beginning medication, I can apply that logic instead of freaking out that I must do all the things I possibly can because of the feeling that I am going to drop one of those damn balls I'm juggling and this course might be the one. No, now I am experiencing a calm that has not been known before. If asked, I will tell the professor why I didn't participate.

I don't miss the panic that OMG, I need to get this done because it will compensate for some other thing I will forget to do.

On another note, when I titrate the dose up to the intended adult dose, I notice that I'm sleepy and hungry all the time for the first couple of days of the increased dose. The first two times, I napped on those days, but this time, it fell on a weekday. I ended up in bed at a decent hour, which made me realize that since starting the medication, I am sleeping better. That's not one of the functions of the medication, so on the surface, it may seem strange.

At my intake, I told the doctor that sleep is difficult, that my brain never shuts off. So, while the medication isn't supposed to have a direct sleep benefit, the fact that my thoughts aren't all ricocheting around my head nonstop ultimately means that my brain isn't overloaded, which results in sleep.

When she gave me the medication, it was a trial. If it worked, then I had ADHD. I really didn't expect such a dramatic change in such a short period of time-and there's another increase coming the day after tomorrow. The proof is at the same time amazing and startling.

Why the heck didn't I ask for help years ago?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Scamp Approves

My friend A lives in a tiny apartment. I hesitate to even call it a studio, for it is a closed in carport. We're talking small.

He has one tiny cabinet to store all his food. It overflows, and he just reoriented stuff throughout the apartment and was looking for a shelving unit to store dry goods. I mentioned my small footprint shelves that I got from IKEA last year that is used in my bathroom to store toiletries. The Ikea website showed just a blonde wood, so I texted him a picture of the finish on mine, a honey brown.

A liked, and we spoke of going over to Tampa this weekend to get him the same thing. He responded 'Yay', and I sent another picture:

With it, a message "It has the Scamp seal of approval."

A laughed. We both are warped.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Working Below the Surface

Every once in a while, a student comes to my team for help. Today, a first year student wanted some help getting his Calendar in our Learning Management System (LMS) into Windows 8. Well, that can't really be done, but all students have a university specific Google Mail account. I tell the student I'll see what info I can come up with and get back to him.

There was nothing that covered syncing in the way we needed it that was quick and easy to follow-so I created a tutorial, using my student account. It worked great, I got my LMS calendar into my student email calendar. Sweet. Then I found a way to delete it, because I never use the Google calendar.

However, I have an Outlook account at work. For months, I've had work email go to the student account and one or two student things come to Outlook-and I never stopped to consider that somewhere, student services got that information. That while I don't link the two accounts, the University does.

Yep, that lovely tutorial ended up syncing my LMS calendar to Outlook-including all the activities of SIXTY classes I administer in some way. And there is nothing in Outlook to allow me to unsync those course events from my Outlook. Which means that when my boss looks at my calendar, it appears that I am attending many lectures-some simultaneously.

Well, I have a tutorial for the first year students. Now I just need to find one for me to get all these events OUT of outlook...

Monday, September 09, 2013

Anatolia, Jacksonville (Mandarin)

For Donna's birthday gathering, we dined at Anatolia, a Mediterranean/Italian restaurant in the Mandarin section of Jacksonville. Donna was looking forward to finally trying the place, as she'd heard raves about the food. Me? I was all about the fact that it was Turkish/Greek food.

When you walk in, there is a large lobby area with a large bar, and several couches and comfortable chairs if you're waiting for the rest of your party. The bar was rather busy, and the bartender was an absolute sweetheart. The beer selections gravitate towards domestic and light, but they had Efes, which I got for Ed, and they had the Pinot Grigio that Donna had requested. Price for two drinks was just under $10, which is absolutely reasonable, IMO.

Anatolia's has a regular dining room with a baby grand piano, and the pianist was playing some pleasant background music. We were ushered to a nice sized party room, which can be closed off for events. Two servers assisted us, and promptly brought baskets of a delicious crusty bread to go with the olive oil dip on the table (that had sun dried tomatoes and fresh rosemary in it-must try doing this at home!). The beauty of this place is that the servers checked in with many in the party to get drinks. Alas I never got asked, but I was pretty busy with getting pictures.

Once we had everyone there, we ordered appetizers. Ed, the boys and I got Saganaki. It was served with a flaming flourish and was a larger portion than we've received elsewhere, so we shared with others. Theirs isn't overwhelmed by the Ouzo, instead, it had a hint of lemon flavoring and was fantastic when placed inside the rustic bread.

Chef and I ordered Lamb Adana, which came with rice and salad and was seasoned and charred expertly. The picture makes it look small, but trust me, there was about half left over of my portion. Ed ordered Ossobucco, which he thoroughly enjoyed. GameTeen first contemplated Gnocci with blue cheese sauce, then opted for Chicken tenders. These are not from a bag, they are fresh breaded and generously portioned. They were served with crisp french fries. This portion was also very large, with Chef having one left over.

While our servers were fantastic, I think that larger parties kind of befuddle the kitchen, as half the table had food a solid 15 minutes before the rest despite all ordering at the same time. Still, the servers and food were great, so I would not hold this against them. I doubt this is an issue for a normal sized dining group.

I will say this: if Donna wants to go back to Anatolia with us when we're in Jacksonville, I would definitely take her up on the suggestion.

Anatolia Grill and Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Aloft, Jacksonville

In the years that we've gone to visit Donna, we've stayed on the cheap and as the kids have gotten older, and we've gotten pickier, we've stayed at decent quality hotels, like Hampton Inn.

Gone are the days were we can muddle through on two full size beds for four people. Chef is now taller than both of us and GameTeen is about a half inch shorter than Ed, we need bigger beds. I was ready to book at the Hampton Inn again, then Donna and I were talking about options, as a friend of hers offered to get us a friends and family rate at the hotel she works at, but it was in downtown, about 20 minutes from Donna's place.

We talked about two boutique style hotels near her in Southside, and I looked over both websites, ultimately choosing Aloft. I'm glad we did, we got great value, a LARGE room, friendly staff, and great basic amenities for $80 a night without using our AAA discount. All four of us were pleased with Aloft and if there's one in locations where we plan to visit in the future, it'll probably be our first choice for accommodations. Take a look.

There were two things I wanted to take with me: the lemongrass air freshener they use in the lobby (oh my word, it smelled incredible), and one of those blue loungers by the pool. Unfortunately, Ed and the boys told me they'd notice me hauling one to the back of the van...

So glad we've got someplace we like to stay when we're in Jacksonville that won't break the bank.