Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Let's talk about happier things

Once upon a time, a project was begun. My husband decided he was fed up with the tile in our bathroom, and he started to change it. I'm pleased to say that last month, the project was finally completed!

(Pictures from the old bathroom, which can be seen by clicking the above link, are on a hard drive somewhere, and I'm too lazy to go find them. Please excuse the slantiness of the pictures - apparently I'm unbalanced.)

The main tile is a rose marble - I thought it would be overwhelmingly pink. But with some small slate tiles for contrast, cream colored travertine to soften some edges, bright white trim, and the silvery paint, I think it turned out really well. We had some long discussions about the shower door (my husband prefers translucent to transparent), but I think the clear glass showcases all his hard work. And the glass block both lights up the shower and adds interest to what was once a blank wall.

In other news, my luck turned around and I was very fortunate to receive on of Mel's Purim baskets!

Oh, the deliciousness contained in one Priority Mail box! Melissa said that everyone should have a weekend of gorging on sugar every once in a while. All I can say is I wish she lived next door, so I could invite myself over every day.

One of my internet timewasters is signing up for and taking various surveys. Survey organizations reward you in a variety of ways; magazines, movie rentals, cash, etc. Using some of my rewards, I was able to purchase Mel's book (Life from Scratch), the complete AbFab collection, and a variety of other things. But as I was the recipient of Mel's mishloach manot, I felt that it was incumbent upon me to pass it on. The remainder of my survey funds were donated to the Red Cross to support their efforts in Japan. The earthquake and tsunami and their aftermath were a stark reminder to me that any society is one natural disaster away from chaos. But, we are talking about happier things...

My daughter and I enjoyed some lovely spring weather this weekend. Multiple trips to the park and some shopping made us both happy. The warm weather will continue for a few more days. And, happily, as I am watching the news today, all of the crime is happening on the other side of the river (i.e. state line), so it won't be terribly busy at work!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It's looking a little dusty around here

My poor, neglected blog...sigh.  It's been a while.

This morning, as I was taking my pre-dawn walk around the neighborhood, I was thinking about the state of medical care in this country.  I have a primary care physician, but I almost never see him.  There are two reasons for this: 1) I am rarely sick.  2) I find him to be generally useless.  I think I find him useless because he has completely bought in to the idea that patients just want a pill to make them all better.  As I was walking this morning, what occurred to me was that it's not so much patients who want a pill to make things better as it is doctors who want the patients to go away.  And they won't go away until they feel at least somewhat better about whatever is ailing them.

I've seen my primary care physician for 3 things.  First, shortly after my daughter was born, I had pain in my hand, wrist, and elbow.  He diagnosed me with De Quervain syndrome, gave me a splint, prescribed ice and ibuprofen, and said it would probably go away eventually.  Second, I went to see him because I thought I had an ear infection.  As it turns out, I injured my ear, probably with a Q-tip.  I got some ear drops for that, and the advice to stop sticking Q-tips in my ears.  How am I supposed to scratch my brain if I can't put a Q-tip in my ears???  (I think anyone who has seasonal allergies will understand what I mean by that.)  Finally, I was in a car accident and I saw the doctor for my whiplash.  It was at that point he started treating me like I was a drug-seeking hypochondriac.  I think I should have told him straight out that I was looking for a physical therapy recommendation, so he could have skipped the ibuprofen and ice routine. 

In contrast to that jerk, I recently saw a surgeon to get my umbilical hernia repaired.  Of course, it was an entirely different sort of situation, since my problem was clear, as was the solution.  But when I asked how long I should take off of work, and what the recovery would be like, the doctor was all sorts of optimistic.  I wouldn't need much more than a weekend and a couple days.  I would be done using the pain medication quickly.  I would be moving around moderately freely shortly after surgery.  I should take it easy, but I wouldn't be an invalid.

After surgery, the hospital gave me 2 doses of pain medication within an hour or so - probably enough to get me dressed and into my car.  They also brought my prescriptions to my bedside - I highly recommend that service!  I went home with 30 painkillers - enough to take the max dosage for about 6 days.  But my doctor told me I'd be done in 2 or 3 days.  So, by day 3, I was done with the painkillers.  I don't like opioids anyway, but I did feel much better.  I had surgery on Tuesday.  I took my daughter to story time at the library on Saturday (there would have been hell to pay if I hadn't - the kid loves the library).  I did a little shopping on Monday (I don't work Mondays anyway), and felt like I overdid it, so I took the following Tuesday off too.  By Wednesday, I was back at work - not doing much more than taking up space, but back at work nonetheless.

The next Tuesday, I had my follow-up visit with the surgeon.  One of his first questions was "So, are you back to work yet?"  Of course!  You told me I wouldn't need more than 4-5 days at home!  It was about that time that I realized that he had made every effort to set me up for a quick and successful recovery.  He told me it wouldn't hurt too much after a few days.  He said I'd be capable of working inside a week.  He told me most people stopped the painkillers after 3 days.  I think it was a concerted effort to create a mindset that would facilitate a more easy recovery.

Contrasting that with my primary care physician, I can only determine that it's kind of a matter of trust.  My primary care physicians trusts only that I will come and complain and want him to immediately fix things.  My surgeon trusted that I would listen to his advice and make the best recovery possible.  If I had problems, they wouldn't be due to having a bad attitude - there would be an actual complication to deal with.  My primary care physician believes that I am not well-informed, nor am I a partner in my health care.  Maybe it's because I never get physicals.  Maybe it's because I refuse to  have my pap smear done there (I have the most awesome OB/GYN ever.  How do I know?  Because he actually read my chart.).  Maybe he's just a paternalistic dickhead who doesn't believe that there are any reasonably smart people within the area he serves. 

I don't pretend to know as much about healthcare as someone who went to med school and has been practicing for a number of years.  But I'm not an idiot either.  I know many doctors are wary of treating patients like partners, because patients are so often ill-informed.  But it can be done in a subtle and reasonable way - my surgeon's method shows that.  I can only hope that more medical offices and hospitals are following that sort of protocol.  An informed patient with realistic expectations is more likely to feel satisfied with their care, regardless of the outcome.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Privacy, please

The other day, I was perusing items in my Google Reader, when, suddenly, items would no longer load.  So, I went to Gmail to see if there was a problem with Google.  Instead of being able to log in, I was directed to another page.  On that page, they notified me that my account had been locked due to suspicious activity.  They noted that, usually, suspicious activity consisted of some sort of Terms of Service violation.  I'm not sure how I violated Terms of Service by clicking on a blog link to like something on Facebook, but that's another story.  Then they requested my phone number so they could give me a call or send me a text to unlock my account.  Now, I don't know if you've noticed, but Google frequently requests your phone number in order to be able to contact you if you've forgotten your password or if there's a problem with your account.  I always refuse.  I'm sure they are aware that I access my Gmail and Google Reader and Google Maps on my phone, so I'm sure that they already have my phone number.  But I haven't given them permission to use it for anything, so they can't do anything with that information.  Because I am suspicious by nature, and I enjoy making up completely ridiculous yet believable conspiracy theories, I assume that the account lockdown was just a ploy to get me to give up my phone number.

I prefer to communicate by email, so I sent one complaint and 2 requests to unlock my account.  It took Google approximately 43 hours to complete the task. [Mel actually noticed that there was a problem - that surprises me.  I am so anti-social sometimes that I used to think I could disappear for more than a week before anyone noticed. (Now I have an almost 6 year old little cling-on, so that wouldn't happen).]  Apparently, had I been willing to give up my phone number, I would have received faster service.  But, as I told Google, if I had to give up my Reader and Gmail...well, I'd have a lot more time on my hands for other things like reading and knitting. 

I don't know why I find it so irritating that everyone asks for my phone number.  Maybe it's because I hate talking on the phone.  Maybe it's because I have a constant stream of voice mail messages from the school district now that my girl has started kindergarten.  Maybe it's because I find the phone so intrusive.  Maybe it's because when I answer my work phone, it generally turns out to be bad news.  Maybe it's because I don't have a landline, so every incoming call has an associated cost.  (I am pretty cheap, after all.)

More likely, though, it's because I know that every company is trying to accumulate data on me in order to market to me more effectively.  I was stunned last night when, after watching Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention and commenting about it on Facebook, Clinton and Obama ads immediately popped up in my sidebar.  It is beginning to make me slightly uncomfortable to watch that tracking happen.  So, Google, no thank you.  I will not give you my phone number.  It's one of the few pieces of information over which I have a bit of control, and I'm keeping that control. 

(I will, however, be exporting my address book, so that if I do get kicked off Google again, I will be able to send out a message to let people know that I haven't disappeared into thin air.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012


St. Elsewhere and I were emailing about siblings and when my response got long and involved, it occurred to me that maybe I had a blogging topic for a change!

My daughter LOVES to ask for a brother or sister.  She used to do it daily, but has slowed down to once or twice a week lately.  Today she was playing with her cousin, and there was much yelling.  I told her that now she knew what it would be like to have a brother.  My mother suggested that I adopt an older brother for her...

My mother is the queen of family planning.  Her philosophy was that each child should have a companion, and so she has two sets of children.  My two oldest sisters are a year apart.  My next oldest sister and I are a year apart.  There are 6 years between the sets.  My grandfather referred to all of us as Pete and Repeat (or Re-Pete, if you will).

It's nice that my mother was able to have a plan and execute it.  Even for her, though, it didn't exactly work out as she intended.  I think she actually wanted to maybe stop at 2...but then 2nd oldest sister started asking for a little sister.  She didn't want to be the baby any more.  Then 3rd oldest sister came along...and 2nd decided that life had been pretty good before 3rd turned up and she would like to go back to that.  44 years later, I believe that's still her philosophy.

The other downsides to my mother's plan are mostly relevant to me.  First, 3rd and I are sometimes still referred to as "the babies."   That's a little annoying when you get to be 20-something and downright absurd when you're in your 40s.  Second, my name was chosen by 1st sister.  2nd and 3rd share the same first initial, and she felt left out.  So, while my mother was in the hospital having me, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd were at my aunt's house.  1st sent my parents a letter with a list of name selections all starting with A, so things would be even.  I'm not a huge fan of my name - I don't really feel like it fits me well.  Everyone else I meet who shares my name is pretty perky and bubbly.  I tend more towards awkward and sarcastic. But I have a story behind my name.  I suppose that's something.

Finally, and most importantly, my companion and I do not get along.  Things were fine until 3rd went to school.  In my opinion, she abandoned me in her quest to fit in with the other kids - her younger sister who had been her best friend suddenly became a major annoyance.  Unfortunately, due to her personality and probably some mental illness, she never quite fit in...and, after multiple betrayals (that stick with me even though they happened when I was 8 years old!), I was not willing to take her into my circle of friends.  We had some knock-down, drag-out physical fights...up until we were well into our 20s.  Now that she lives 1000 miles away and we see each other every other year or so, we get along just fine.  But as companions, it did not work at all. 

In some ways, I feel badly that my daughter will be an only child.  Having a sister has its moments.  But here are the things I know that make me comfortable with what is:

1)  My daughter does like children younger than her...until they can talk back.  Then, not so much.
2)  I'm too old and tired to keep trying, and the added stress would be detrimental to the rest of my life.
3)  When I die, there will be no one to fight with over my stuff...and she will be able to save it or throw it away without having to consult with anyone else.
4)  You never really know what you're going to get.
5)  I'm lucky to be where I am.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

First Captcha, now Wordpress

It would appear that there is a giant conspiracy on the internet these days.  First, it was the infamous Captcha, which annoys commenters everywhere.  Speaking of which, why do those letters have to be all squished and stretched, anyway?  Is there some sort of spambot reading machine that can read the letters if you don't skew them?  NOBODY can read them and we can't all be robots...

And now wordpress tells me that there is a wordpress account associated with my email address.  Yes, I know.  But, wordpress, you never let me log in to that account.  You tell me the username is bad.  You tell me the password is incorrect.  And never before has it prevented me from leaving a comment.

I'm seeing a trend...the internet does not want anyone leaving comments anymore!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Everything evens out eventually...

After that nonsense from last week, a fellow alumnus from my high school helped my mood with this:

I feel better now.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Suddenly I see

Normally, I don't get too excited about what happens on the internet.  But today, either I am extremely irritable (most likely) or the internet is losing its luster.  I saw two posts on Facebook today that almost spurred me to making some really obnoxious comments.  First, there was this from a random relative of my husband's:

"Today someone got a life changing phone call that they have a terminal illness. Today a hero's famliy was notified that their soldier made the ultimate sacrifice. Today a lot of people will hear horrible news, so lets be reminded, we DO NOT have the right to complain about our life or our crummy day. Things are far worse for many. So stop complaining, we have it good. These "bad" days for us, others would die to have."

Um, yeah.  Right now, I'm not terribly pleased with my in-laws anyway.  This little blurb almost made me want to respond that I hope she never has a bad thing happen to her, because my response will be "well, you don't have a terminal illness" or if she does, it will be "well, you didn't make the ultimate sacrifice" followed by "quit your bitchin'."  Really?  Yes, perspective is good.  But we all have the right to complain, because venting is a useful stress reliever.  If you don't want to listen, then get some friends who don't whine about every little twinge or slight misfortune.

The second one came from a friend's stepbrother, and is political.  Now, I belong to a political discussion group on Facebook, and sometimes people say some really outrageously biased stuff.  I don't really know the people in the discussion group - except for a couple people from my high school - so I don't take it personally.  But I grew up with my friend, her sister, and her stepbrother.  We came from a middle class neighborhood in a city full of liberals.  So, I find it incredibly confusing that for some reason they all became raging conservatives.  I feel that middle class Americans who espouse the so-called conservative point of view are acting in direct contrast to their own best interests.  But, whatever.  Everyone's entitled to their beliefs, and I agree that smaller government is good.  I don't want to restrict gun ownership either.  The bad guys always find guns if they want them - the rest of us might as well have the same access.  However, when you share information that is patently untrue, it irks me.

Hate to tell you, Mr. Conservative Obama Hater, but Obama really has no control over the gas prices.  It's the market that controls the gas prices.  Pick on the speculators, instead of the legislators.  Also, maybe I should hook you up with the aforementioned relative - you oughta stop whining about gas prices, as prices in Europe have been in excess of $5/gallon for over 15 years. 

Yep, I'm probably just irritable.  Or maybe it's time to take a break and become a Luddite for a while.  Maybe I should reinstate the baked goods and candy that I gave up for Lent and turn off the computer instead.