Friday, October 29, 2004

Rave of the Day for October 29: 

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water....the bunnies have returned from summer vacation! Here is their 30-second rendition of "Jaws"....


Hawaii, Part 2: Second day on the Big Island 

Awoke early the morning of October 4th. It was one of those good news, bad news situations. Being awake early was good because it meant I would have more time for sightseeing, but the reason I was awake was due to a headache. My left eye was red, swollen and itchy for some reason. The really cool thing, though, was that unlike most days that I don't get any sleep, I didn't have any nausea from the gastroparesis. I believe this was due to the fresh papaya I had the night before. I was so encouraged that I ate either papaya or pineapple every day for the rest of my trip, and the nausea stayed away.

Since I had some time to kill before my scheduled helicopter tour of the island that afternoon, I took the camera and walked around the condo to get pictures of all the flowers around the complex. The plumeria blossoms look just as lovely as they smell, and the distinctive hyacinth, Hawaii's state flower, can be very photogenic. The wind from the day before had died down, so it was easy to get good shots.

After I'd made my way around the complex, I came back to the condo to see if Dan was ready to go. He was, and we still had another hour or so before our tour, so we went to the nearest beach to look around. Anaehoomalu Bay, or A Bay as the locals call it, is lovely....just enough trees and rocks to make the scenery interesting, and enough sand for castles and setting out a mat to lie upon in the sun. The waves were very gentle, perfect for wading and swimming. Because the beach is behind the Marriott hotel, it's not overly crowded in spite of it being open to the public (I guess people think the hotel owns it). We took pictures and wandered around until time to leave for our tour.

I had arranged a full two-hour helicopter ride to explore all of the Big Island by air. We were a total of seven people to a copter including the pilot and grouped according to weight to ensure safety. Dan and I were in the back, but the helicopter had lots of windows, so were were able to easily see out no matter where we were. We had headphones to shut out the noise, and the pilot's voice went over a PA system into the headphones so he wouldn't have to shout. Neither Dan nor I had been in a helicopter before....Dan found the quick dives, turns and extreme close-up views unsettling, but I was thrilled (I like roller coasters and things).

The first places we looked at were the massive mountains Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Mauna Kea was obscured by clouds as it often is, but we were able to get above Mauna Loa's clouds and see its summit. You can truly get an appreciation for the size of Mauna Loa, especially its width, when you see it from the air. It takes up much of the island.

I was surprised how quickly we reached Kilauea. I was also surprised to find out that it was so far inland, as most of the articles I'd seen about it showed lava flowing into the sea. The pilot told us that unlike Hollywood's portrayal of volcanos erupting from their summit, many eruptions occur in cracks along the mountains sides, far from the center. We did see a considerable amount of smoke coming from the crater that day, but the red lava floes were some distance away. The pilot knew just where to look and circled the most impressive areas a few times so that we all got a chance to see and take photos.

Some of the more interesting sites weren't just where eruptions had occurred, but where small groups of trees and homes had been spared....some were islands or narrow strips of color amongst huge seas of black rock. And the floes that had reached the sea in recent years were especially impressive, rough black cliffs against which the brilliant blue waves crashed. A few places have become black sand beaches, and unless there are new eruptions in those areas, more beaches will form over the coming years. The coastline was just breathtaking.

We stopped briefly in Hilo, the Big Island's largest city, to re-fuel. About 30 miles north of Kilauea, it is surprisingly lush and green, being near the rain forest portion of the island. This city would no doubt be even larger than its present day size had it not been for some tragic tsunamis claiming both life and land. These occurrences are rare, fortunately, so the city has had time to bounce back somewhat.

Part two of the helicopter excursion was scenic in a different way. We got to see the awesome north coastline stretching out toward the horizon. We also got spectacular aerial views of waterfalls that are generally inacessible on land. We went right up the lush green cliffs so close that I half expected the waterfalls to splash on us. We saw areas that were formerly sugar cane fields (the sugar cane industry is pretty much gone from Hawaii now) filled with alternative potential cash crops such as Austrailian eucalyptus trees. We got a good look at the Waipio valley, a relatively unspoiled area with very limited access for tourists. Everything was so very green that it seemed to belong to a different island altogether from the first half of the flight.

As we made our way to the northwest part of the island and headed back south, we flew over the Parker Ranch, home to a great deal of Hawaii's beef supply and the paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboys. It is by far the largest cattle ranch I have ever seen.

Before we knew it, we were going back down the Kohala coast and approaching the helipad. I was surprised how easily a helicopter lands, sitting right down in a small circle painted on the pavement. I was a bit stiff from sitting so long but didn't mind a bit. Dan I think was happy to have his feet on solid ground again as the ride had unnerved him.

After we returned to the condo, Dan decided he wanted to rest while I wanted to explore the sights north of Waikoloa. So after I had some lunch, I hopped in the Kermit-mobile and found a good oldies station on the radio. I found the Jeep Wrangler suprisingly easy to drive....good acceleration and tighter turns than I was expecting.

My first detour from the highway was to find Hapuna Beach, a popular place for both locals and tourists. The road there was great fun....lots of ups and downs and twists and turns, and only one lane wide in some places. The beach itself was very nice....large enough for sunbathers, and the waves were sufficient for boogie boarding without being dangerous. I took pix for awhile and listened to the people around me....someone answered their cell phone with "Aloha", and some people were talking to each other in what I believe was "pidgin", a hybrid slang borrowed from many languages. Also, I heard English spoken in many different accents.

As I headed further up the coast, the highway I was on split, and I accidentally made a wrong turn and ended up at Kawaihae Bay. I decided to take a look around as long as I was there. There was a small beach there, and it was actually grey sand...it looked exactly as though someone had mixed salt and pepper together. I found this so interesting that I decided to take some sand home with me, so I gathered up some and put it in a sandwich bag. As I was doing this, I saw part of the sand appear to move on its own! Turned out it was one of those small crabs like the ones I had seen at Napoopoo, except this one was speckled just like the beach it was on! I took a few photos and watched the locals fishing on the pier and playing basketball on a lot near the harbor.

When I got back on the highway, the sun was beginning to set. I found the side road to a beach I wanted to visit, but it had closed for the day. I pulled up to the gate next to a lady who had also pulled over to take pictures of the sunset. She and I chatted for a bit....she was from Homer, Alaska and was heading back the next day but wanted to enjoy one last Kohala sunset. I got some nice shots of the sun on the water and trees in silhouette.

I made one more stop, at a beach called Kapaa, where you can see Maui on a clear day as it is only 20 miles away from there. It had gotten too dark to see much, though. I stayed until the sun had completely set and then head back south to the condo.

I experienced quite a feeling of freedom, driving back down the coast, singing at the top of my lungs to "Revolution" by the Beatles. It just doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Rave of the Day for October 24: 

The Rave is baaack! Figured since I had such a crummy experience with the airline, I'd vent my dissatisfaction via this funny provided to me by Ducky....

Signs You Chose the Wrong Airline
"If there's a mechanical engineer on board, or even someone who's mechanically inclined, please report immediately to the cockpit."
Four states and a seatmate's life story later, you realize the plane is not on I-95 just to taxi to the runway.
The complimentary beverage is Zima laced with horse tranquilizer.
"...and a special welcome to the Association of Parents with Colicky Triplets!"
Relaxing music for take off is Buddy Holly's Greatest Hits.
Phish Air's complimentary bong hits are soured by overwhelming stench of patchouli oil, sweat and nine-year-old Birkenstocks.
The pilot for your trans-Atlantic crossing? Captain Nemo.
"And we'd like to welcome all our friends from the Islamic Jihad soccer team..."
"We only have one peanut, so just suck on it for a minute and then pass it back."
During her pre-flight demonstration, the flight attendant accidentally inflates her colostomy bag.
"In case of a water landing, that tubby guy in seat 19F will double as a flotation device."
After a flock of birds slams into your window, and during an attack of vertigo, you begin to think "North By Northwest Airlines" was a bad choice.
"Our in-flight movie this evening will be camcorder footage from my daughter Ashley's Little League game last night."
The pre-flight safety video shows a pair of lips, an ass, and the word "Goodbye" printed in twelve different languages.

Hawaii, Part 1: Arrival and first full day, Big Island 

It has already been a week and two days since I got back from Hawaii, and I have not yet had the time or energy to write anything much about my trip aside from a few brief e-mails. I have, however, been reading bits and pieces of Mark Twain's "Letters from Hawaii" and have decided to do something similar to what he did: recounting the visit roughly in chronological order punctuated by stories with certain themes. I'd better get started before I forget everything.

We left for the Big Island on Saturday, October 2nd. I was lucky enough to have a relatively hassle-free journey to the concourse at my hometown airport. Used express check-in. The security line was long, but not slow. Was able to get a seat on the shuttle. And our gate was on the near end of the terminal for once.

The only real hitch at our airport was that the gate number had been changed at the last minute. The gate we had originally been assigned was switched to a flight for Honolulu instead of Kona, but since everyone around us was talking about going to Hawaii, I didn't notice. Dan figured out the change while I was on a potty break, and we had to rush a bit to get to the proper gate before boarding.

The plane was a 767...over 40 rows of seating, but far from roomy. My seat was too high for me to put my feet flat on the floor, and the seat ahead of me as too close for me to straighten out my legs very much. I tried to get up frequently to stretch, but there was hardly any room in the aisle. Not exactly the ideal situation for someone with arthritis, edema and fibromyalgia. I started getting sharp pains in my hips, lower back and feet after two hours, and my toes went numb after four hours. By six hours, I was in tears from the pain.

The food situation was rocky as well. The flight attendent in my section was rude....when I told her I couldn't have wheat and asked what brand of tea they had on the plane, she said she didn't know and walked away and started serving someone else! The airline had discontinued gluten free meals, so they offered a diabetic meal instead. The broiled chicken I was given would have been perfect except for one thing....it was sitting on a bed of PASTA! So I couldn't eat it. There was also bread included in the meal, but fortunately it was wrapped separately, so I was able to give it to Dan without it touching the rest of my food. I did appreciate the fresh fruit, though, and ate a little bit of the spinach salad.

Dan was happy that they showed movies on this flight....two of them in fact. The screen was in front of the center rows, and I was in a window seat, so I could hardly see a thing. Also, there was a short in the headphones, so I couldn't pick up much of the music either.

We arrived at Kona's Keyhole airport right on schedule. I limped down the steps off the plane onto the tarmac and marveled that the air already smelled different, even on the hot pavement. The atmosphere was sweet and full of promise.

The airport was small, and most of it was outdoors, meaning that areas either had no roof or no walls. This took some getting used to, but I soon discovered that many buildings in Hawaii were like this, especially restaurants. In fact, since smoking in restaurants was illegal, whenever you walked into a restaurant, instead of asking you, "smoking or non-smoking", they'd ask you, "Inside or outside?" After awhile, it began to make sense to me as the cooling breezes that were almost constant made air conditioning unnecessary for the most part.

The nice thing about small airports is that it's pretty much impossible to get lost. We were able to find our luggage and the rental car company shuttle easily. There was quite a wait at the rental car outlet because we had been the last ones off our full 767, and I was limping pretty slowly. We had reserved a Jeep Wrangler (a free upgrade as part of the vacation package we had purchased); the one we were assigned was bright green, so we promptly named it the Kermit-mobile. After some delay figuring out how to open the back to load our luggage (neither of us had ever driven a Jeep before), we at last climbed in and we were off on our next adventure: to find our accommodations.

We had reserved a condo in the Waikoloa resort area about 15 miles north of the airport. There is only one main highway circling the island for the most part, so no worries there. The drive to the entrance was scenic in an unusual way: most of the area is black lava rock, miles and miles of it, with a striking mountain, Mt. Hualalai, partially obscured by clouds in the distance. Other visitors and locals have endeavored to break up the monotony of all the black lava fields by spelling out messages with white rocks that are quite easy to see on the black lava. Some messages are greetings, others proclamations of faith or love, and others are just plain funny. There are also, believe it or not, donkey crossing signs. Apparently some time ago a herd of jackasses was left to roam wild and have been dubbed the "Kona nightingales" for their obnoxious braying. This is no myth as Dan saw three of them near the road a few days later.

The Waikaloa resort is sort of startling, such luxury amongst the lava fields. Our condo complex was fairly far down the entrance road, so we ooo'ed and aaah'd as we drove past a Marriott, a fancy shopping complex featuring art galleries and high fashion outlets, elegantly manicured grounds and golf courses, and rows of flowering trees that smelled like heaven. I almost felt like an intruder, so unaccustomed I was to the opulance of the surroundings. Our condo was on the third floor of one of the buildings, accessible by elevator. I was able to remember the number because it was 311 just like the rock band.

The condo was pretty amazing: it was a one-bedroom and larger than many apartments I've lived in. It had a lanai that went from the dining area to the living room with a view of that mountain we had first seen at the airport. There was a full kitchen including a dishwasher, a washer and dryer, and the TV had cable programming, which of course pleased Dan mightily. We brought in the luggage, and after a decent interval of admiring the place, we set off for the nearest town to find a full-service grocery store.

Waikaloa Village isn't that large, so I didn't think we would need directions to find a grocery store. Wrong! Somehow we got trapped in endless cul-de-sacs of a residential area. The homes were very nice to look at, I'll admit, but I hadn't had a decent meal all day and really needed something filling to eat.

Finally, we found our way out, but only saw one restaurant, a bar and grill that mainly served sandwiches. We pulled into the local gas station and asked the attendant if there was anyplace with a more extensive menu. The lady there recommended the restaurant at the golf course, which did not require reservations. This turned out to be an excellent choice. The wait staff was very accommodating and talked to the chef about the ingredients in the fish sauce before my order was prepared. I had sauteed opah with a lemon cream sauce topped with macadamia nuts. Awesome.

Now that my tummy was happy, I was ready to peruse the grocery store. Bought a half dozen eggs and some chicken breasts for some easy main dishes; and asparagus, corn and lots of fresh fruit for side dishes. To my surprise, I found a gluten free frozen dinner and gluten free health bars. I also got some "on the go" foods like yogurt, string cheese, Fritos and a large bag of macadamia nuts. Just enough food that I didn't have to go out to eat if I didn't want to, but not so much that I would have to haul any of it with me to the next island.

Naturally, we were beyond exhausted by the time we dragged ourselves back to the condo. We unloaded the groceries and vegged for the rest of the evening. Took some time to read the guest book in the living room that had been signed by previous occupants. There were people from Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and of course several from California. I sat on the couch to plan where I wanted to go the next day and promptly dozed off.

Woke up fairly early the next day as my brain thought it was four hours later. Dan was already awake and sitting on the lanai. I joined him with my guide book and picked out a few places I wanted to see that day. It was a bit too windy to lounge long out there, so we went inside, tidied up, grabbed some snacks and jumped in the Jeep heading south.

The first place I wanted to see was Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, the sacred place of refuge that had been made a national park. The Big Island doesn't have billboards on its roads and the directional signs are few and far between, so there was some guesswork involved, but we made it there. We got a brochure and read the signs about not disturbing any of the endangered Hawaiian green sea turtles who might come up on shore.

The first thing we noticed was how peaceful it was; the main sound was the waves breaking against the lava rock coastline. Some of the grass huts had been re-constructed so you could get an idea of what they were like before modernization. There were replicas of the watercraft the natives used, fishing implements, etc. There were game boards for konane, the Hawaiian version of checkers, ready to play. And they had replicas of wooden statues that guarded the sanctuary; some were imposing, some funny.

I was snapping pictures like a madwoman, goofing around with all the different settings on the digital camera and then playing them back to see how they had turned out. I was quite shocked to run out of batteries all of a sudden. Turns out I was supposed to fully discharge the rechargable batteries before charging them up again; I hadn't done that, and something called the "memory effect" shorted them right out! So I was only halfway through the park and totally without the ability to take any more pictures. We hopped back in the Jeep to try to find a place that sold batteries. The nearest place was a gas station about 15 miles away that fortunately had two sets of the batteries I needed. I bought both sets, determined not to get caught again.

When we got back to the park, we noticed a bunch of people standing on the rocks near the water staring at something. They were watching the honu (turtles) swimming near the shore. And while I watched, two of them came out of the water and crawled onto the beach! This was a real treat. One was fairly large, his shell about two and a half feet long, and the other was a bit smaller. They didn't seem to mind all the nearby spectators or all the photos we were taking.

After a thorough tour of the remainder of the park, we headed for a nearby sight: a famous "painted" church. St. Benedict's is small but disctinctive; inside, simple wooden pews offset brightly colored Biblical scenes on the walls and painted palm trees on the ceiling. The altar has a Hawaiian touch with the statues of Jesus and Mary garlanded with fresh flower lei. Definitely worth the detour.

On the way to find a local beach park, we came across some unusual wildlife: wild roosters crowing at a most annoying volume, feral cats, and, believe it or not: a mongoose! I believe those orignally come from India. And these bright yellow birds I had never seen anywhere else.

The beach was near a town called Napoopoo. As I approached one of the black lava rocks, I was startled to see that a piece of the rock seemed to move! A closer looked revealed that it was actually a pitch black crab no more than three inches wide. Whenever he stopped moving he seemed to disappear. An excellent example of how nature adapts to its environment.

On the way back to the main highway, we decided to stop at a coffee plantation. The main office contained a gift shop with free samples. I tried a chocolate-covered coffee bean and was instantly hooked! The smell in there was delicious as well. There was a huge roasting machine in a separate room behind a glass window, but it wasn't being used at the moment. I bought a large bag of freshly roasted coffee for a friend and small bags of chocolate coffee beans and macadamia nuts for myself.

After a few wrong turns, we ended up in the town of Kailua-Kona (known by locals simply as Kona). We went to Ali'i Drive, famous for its shopping. I was famished and getting dizzy in the heat, so we decided to eat at their Outback Steakhouse as I know I can get gluten-free meals at that chain. Unfortunately, though, their restaurant was for dinner only and not scheduled to open for another two hours. We grabbed some soft serve at a nearby Dairy Queen so I wouldn't completely pass out and sat for a bit. I felt a little better after that, so we did some window shopping. I went into some art galleries that had fantastic work by local artists.

Our last stop in town was a store called Hilo Hattie's. It's full of Hawaiian goodies, especially "aloha wear" of all kinds. Dan found a shirt he liked, and I snagged a small bottle of gardenia-scented perfume. But neither of us could resist the jewelry. I fell in love with a pair of earrings shaped like plumeria blossoms, made of white gold with pink gold in the center. I also picked up some teardrop-shaped earrings made of black coral (Hawaii's state gemstone). Dan found a really cool ring with two black coral stripes on it.

By this time it was wayyy past time for me to eat, and I was too tired to cook, so we headed to the restaurant at the condo complex. Found out much to our surprise that the restaurant was no longer in business. We went to the Waikoloa resort shopping district to see what they had. There was a steak place that looked promising, and it was empty of customers because most people were on the beach to watch the sunset. So we got right in, and I was able to get fresh broiled ono, which hit the spot.

Back at the condo, I was wiped out, but it was only 7pm, so Dan and I put on our swimsuits and walked to the pool. On the way there, we saw several frogs, taller and much thinner than the toads that freqent my yard at home. Dan thought it was pretty funny that I freaked out when one jumped toward me.

The pool was very nice....a bit cool, but a good place to unwind. Had to watch my footing, though....the bottom was paved with mosaic tiles that were quite slippery. There was also a hot tub nearby, which I really needed. Dan gave me a shoulder rub, which helped reduce my headache quite a bit. Quite the experience, looking up at the stairs and inhaling the scent of plumeria as I relaxed. Left before I got too sleepy to walk back, watching carefully for frogs.

For my last meal of the day, I scrambled some eggs and cut up some papaya I had bought. I'd never eaten fresh papaya before....this was a real treat, a slice of paradise, if you will. Soon after, predictably, I fell asleep on the couch with the guidebook in my hand.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Got back this morning on an overnight flight after two weeks in Hawaii. I've been awake since 10am yesterday morning. Am marveling that one can be this tired and still be conscious.

Absolutely cannot sum up the trip in a single post, or even two or three. Found out that my great great great uncle, Mark Twain, had to write no less than 25 journal entries to adequately describe his Hawaii experience. I may have to do the same.

For now, just know that I'm in love with the place, had the vacation of a lifetime, and will come back to tell about it after I go to sleep for about three days.

Aloha ahui ho!
(goodbye until we meet again)

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Rave of the Day for October 2: 

Thought I'd throw in one last bit of airline humor before I take off, so to speak.....


Customer: Hi. How much is your paint?
Clerk: We have regular quality for $12 a gallon and premium for $18. How many gallons would you like?
Customer: Five gallons of regular quality, please.
Clerk: Great. That will be $60 plus tax.


Customer: Hi, how much is your paint?
Clerk: Well, sir, that all depends.
Customer: Depends on what?
Clerk: Actually, a lot of things.
Customer: How about giving me an average price?
Clerk: Wow, that's too hard a question. The lowest price is $9 a gallon, and we have 150 different prices up to $200 a gallon.
Customer: What's the difference in the paint?
Clerk: Oh, there isn't any difference; it's all the same paint.
Customer: Well, then, I'd like some of that $9 paint.
Clerk: Well, first I need to ask you a few questions. When do you intend to use it?
Customer: I want to paint tomorrow, on my day off.
Clerk: Sir, the paint for tomorrow is the $200 paint.
Customer: What? When would I have to paint in order to get the $9 version?
Clerk: That would be in three weeks, but you will also have to agree to start painting before Friday of that week and continue painting until at least Sunday.
Customer: You've got to be kidding!
Clerk: Sir, we don't kid around here. Of course, I'll have to check to see if we have any of that paint available before I can sell it to you.
Customer: What do you mean check to see if you can sell it to me? You have shelves full of that stuff; I can see it right there.
Clerk: Just because you can see it doesn't mean that we have it. It may be the same paint, but we sell only a certain number of gallons on any given weekend. Oh, and by the way, the price just went to $12.
Customer: You mean the price went up while we were talking!
Clerk: Yes, sir. You see, we change prices and rules thousands of times a day, and since you haven't actually walked out of the store with your paint yet, we just decided to change. Unless you want the same thing to happen again, I would suggest that you get on with your purchase. How many gallons do you want?
Customer: I don't know exactly. Maybe five gallons. Maybe I should buy six gallons just to make sure I have enough.
Clerk: Oh, no, sir, you can't do that. If you buy the paint and then don't use it, you will be liable for penalties and possible confiscation of the paint you already have.
Customer: What?
Clerk: That's right. We can sell you enough paint to do your kitchen, bathroom, hall and north bedroom, but if you stop painting before you do the bedroom, you will be in violation of our tariffs.
Customer: But what does it matter to you whether I use all the paint? I already paid you for it!
Clerk: Sir, there's no point in getting upset; that's just the way it is. We make plans based upon the idea that you will use all the paint, and when you don't, it just causes us all sorts of problems.
Customer: This is crazy! I suppose something terrible will happen if I don't keep painting until after Saturday night!
Clerk: Yes, sir, it will.
Customer: Well, that does it! I'm going somewhere else to buy my paint.
Clerk: That won't do you any good, sir. We all have the same rules. Thanks for painting with our airline.

Paradise on the horizon.... 

Been sooo busy that I haven't mentioned my trip for awhile. I leave 11:30am Saturday and will return 9am on Thursday, October 14. A Jeep Wrangler awaits us at the airport in Kona, Hawaii, where we shall drive to our *luxury* condo. Woooooohoooooo!

We're doing a helicopter tour of the Big Island on Monday and a glassbottom boat tour of the Kona coast on Tuesday. The other days we'll make up as we go along. Depends on how we feel.

On Thursday, we'll fly to Honolulu, where we'll get a proper lei greeting and will be able to arrange to attend a luau if we wish. We're staying in a condo within walking distance of Waikiki Beach. Plenty of people-watching and shopping to do there.

On Oahu, I'll learn how to snorkel in a nature preserve and visit a marine park to see dolphins up close. Also, Dan and I will go on a cruise around a mostly uninhabited bay to see dolphins in their native environment. I also want to see the sights of Honolulu and maybe the north shore (to watch surfers) if I have the energy.

Got a few last minute things to stuff into the carry-on bag, and then it's time for me to grab some zzzzzz's while I'm still in my own bed.

Bonus Rave of the Day for October 1: 

Since I'll be on a plane headed to Hawaii in 12 hours from now, how about a little airline humor? This comes from Ducky's Daily Grin....

Murphy Laws For Frequent Flyers

• No flight ever leaves on time unless you are running late and need the delay to make the flight.

• If you are running late for a flight, it will depart from the farthest gate within the terminal.

• If you arrive very early for a flight, it inevitably will be delayed.

• Flights never leave from Gate #1 at any terminal in the world.

• If you must work on your flight, you will experience turbulence as soon as you touch pen to paper.

• If you are assigned a middle seat, you can determine who has the seats on the aisle and the window while you are still in the boarding area. Just look for the two largest passengers.

• Only passengers seated in window seats ever have to get up to go to the lavatory.

• The crying baby on board your flight is always seated next to you.

• The best-looking woman on your flight is never seated next to you.

• The less carry-on luggage space available on an aircraft, the more carry-on luggage passengers will bring aboard.

Neuropsyched out.... 

The whole thing ended up taking five and a half hours. Apparently my medical/mental history takes a lot more time to document than the average person's.

The actual test part was conducted by the doc's assistant, who was also very nice. I studied psychology (minored in it) in college, so many of the tests were familiar to me, and some of them were actually fun for me. The only one I really hated was the "personality" test, where you answer melodramatic questions designed to elicit whether you might be bipolar, paranoid/delusional, compulsive, etc.

I did extremely well on the word tests, so no change there. I was a bit relieved and hope that they compare the tests I did poorly on to my word tests rather than comparing me to the population at large, where I might be considered only slightly below average. To me, the memory loss seems very dramatic, but maybe I did better there than I thought?

The areas where I really struggled were ones dealing with recall of spoken words, recall of photos and one where you had to do math in your head. Oddly enough, my recall of written word is just fine, and I think I got all of them right. I proved I am completely ambidextrous by doing the pegboard test once with each hand and got the exact same score on both.

There was one I'd never seen before, where the word for a color and the actual ink used to print the color didn't match (the word "green" printed in red ink). You had to read the list of words as they were written, which I was able to do. But then you had to say what color the ink on each word was, and I kept messing it up and reciting the word instead.

But even though some of the tests were fun, they were also extremely exhausting. I'm not sure the fatigue affected the tests as much I as was expecting. I know I did have a headache when I finished, and I was feeling a bit weak and disoriented as well.

So I don't know if the memory problems will be considered significant in terms of the test. I will find out the results in a few weeks after I get back from vacation. I'm both hoping and not hoping that it will show that the illness is adversely affecting me, if that makes any sense.

Pain level: 7
Fatigue level: 9

Friday, October 01, 2004

Rave of the Day for October 1: 

While I may not be healthy, at least I can take comfort in knowing that I don't have any of the following maladies, ha ha. Thanks to Ducky for supplying this funny.....

Little-Known Handicaps
Yield Deficit Disorder (YDD)
This affliction, which disproportionately affects women and the elderly, is serious and can be life threatening. Those with YDD experience perceptive problems which prevent them from entering a traffic stream already in motion. Typically, the sufferer moves in the yield lane at one to two miles per hour hoping for a two *hour* or two *mile* lull in traffic. When this does not occur, the YDD patient simply closes his or her eyes and begins moving into traffic while praying fervently.
Cerebral Phlebitis
The primary symptom of this male-only disease is an enormous swelling of the head. If left unchecked, it can affect brain functions, causing the sufferer to inaccurately recall past performance in job-related activities, social situations, and even the size of certain reproductive body parts. The only known cure for cerebral phlebitis is a risky procedure known as a "Marriage of Equals." This is an extremely dangerous, open-heart operation which often fails.
This inexplicable disease affects only individuals who are directly in front of me at the Kentucky Fried Chicken buffet, or similar food bars. It causes them to take the last piece of Original Recipe chicken, the last scoop of stuffing; basically, to load down their plate like Fred does at the beginning of the Flintstones when the Bronto Ribs tip over his car. The bingivits sufferer goes on to find a seat, leaving me with some soggy, vinegar-soaked greens and jiggling Tahiti Salad to choose from.
Also known as "hardening of the cereal," this frightening male condition results from leaving the cereal or other late night snack out on the coffee table overnight. In the morning, the crusty remains are harder than diamonds, impenetrable by soaking or even repeated and vigorous fork-jamming. Frequently, the only solution is a dangerous "bowl transplant" which involves trying to replace the bowl with an identical one without your wife knowing it. Sadly, in most cases the new bowl is rejected.
Post-Traumatic Dress Syndrome
This debilitating disease strikes women, primarily in the child-bearing ages. After a choosing an outfit to wear for work or play, the afflicted woman simply *locks up* in fear and delusional paranoia, muttering about the unsuitability of the chosen ensemble. During a flare-up, if the patient's spouse asks "what's the problem?" or speaks at all, this triggers a massive escalation of the condition which can be life-threatening to the spouse, and will cause the patient to shout "I HATE MY CLOTHES!" and lock herself in the room. There is no cure, other than more and more dresses or an evening's worth of uninterrupted compliments and reassurance.

Neuropsyche test.... 

Having a four and a half hour evaluation done Friday morning. I did a Google search on the test to get a general idea of what I'd be doing...I must admit I'm much more intrigued than concerned about it. Mainly it's to find out if the Sjogren's is causing any neurological symptoms of a serious nature.

I am predicting I'll start off a bit slow as I'm sort of thick-headed in the mornings, then improve as my brain gets warmed up, and then possibly decline once I get tired. That has been the norm for me in general. I talked with the doc conducting the tests, and he seemed very nice.

Pain level: 6
Fatigue level: 9

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