Monday, February 27, 2006

Rave of the Day for February 27, 2006: 

Saw this article last night about the mayor of Vancouver. He seems like a really cool guy. I think most of us could learn a thing or two from him....

Vancouver's mayor stresses ability over disability

Maybe I'll start referring to going on disability as a career move.....

Having my psycho analyzed tomorrow..... 

The neuropsyche exam is at 8 o'clock in the freakin' morning. Actually, I should be happy about that, because generally my brain does not engage until at least 10am. Naturally, Dan will be taking me. I've asked him to come in with me to find out how long they expect this thing to take. It's scheduled for eight hours, but I need to find out if it's really going to be that long so I can give Dan a time to come back and get me. I expect he's gonna go back home and sleep after he drops me off. I would if I were the chauffeur, heh heh.

My primary care doc is concerned that I'll suffer another flare as a result of this exam. Actually, I'm still in a flare from the FCE, but I know what she means. It is a real possibility. I tend to get very exhausted from a simple in-person conversation, so what's gonna happen if my brain gets drained for eight hours? The four-hour test I did in October 2004 was sufficient to wipe me out.

Consciously, I'm not worried about this test because you can't really study for it, it doesn't cause physical pain, and I actualy find psychological stuff interesting. But sub-consciously, I must be stressed because I'm having food cravings (I don't actually get hungry anymore because of the gastroparesis), both while awake and while asleep. I'm having dreams about eating burgers, real pizza and other items that have had to be banished from my diet. And during the day, I still want to keep eating after I've eaten my allotted amount, which is not good. Right now, I'm obsessed with the idea of steak and a sundae for dessert, which could be arranged I suppose. Maybe if I still want them next weekend I'll cave and have a little something.

The sub-conscious stress part likely comes from knowing that my long-term disability insurance company wants to "prove" I have a mental illness rather than a physical one via this test. The "personality" profile can certainly be mis-interpreted quite easily if someone wants to use it against you. If I agree that I am depressed, the LTD guys can shout, "AHA! This is the source of the problem!" If I deny I am depressed, they can still shout, "AHA! She's in denial!" The real truth is that I'm depressed about not being able to work and about how I am being treated by Social Security and the LTD guys. As awful as it was to work while I was so sick, I still felt like I had some control over my destiny. Now that control has been given to agencies I can't trust. The LTD guys can limit my benefits if they believe I have a mental rather than physical illness.

The other sub-conscious fear is that I'll have an unsually clear-headed day and test better than I did a year and a half ago. I know it seems I should be happy about something like that, but I also know that the LTD is hoping like crazy that's what will happen so they can announce that I am malingering and deny my claim. I know I'm not stupid, and I don't particularly want to be stupid. But I also know that neuropsyche exams have built-in checks for exaggeration of symptoms, so, like the FCE, I must do my best even if it makes me quite ill to do so. The old trained poodle jumping through hoops analogy comes to mind.

I did actually discuss these things with my shrink, including the fact that the last test showed above average intelligence, so of course I wasn't believed when I claimed that I have cognitive problems. The thing is (and I know how narcissistic this sounds), when I was healthy, I was much more intelligent than I am now, and since I have no tests showing my IQ when I was healthy, no one knows how much I've lost. I described to my shrink the extent of the photographic memory I used to have, how many things I used to be able to do at once, the sort of vocabulary I had, how I was six grade levels ahead of my classmates in certain subjects when I was in school (there was no such thing as advanced placement when I was a kid, and the school didn't let kids skip a grade). She concluded that I may have once had an IQ of about 130. But when I was tested in October 2004, I was assigned an IQ of 112. That's still quite good, but it's a far cry from when I could remember just about anything I'd seen in print.

Dan agrees that I seem to have lost a lot of knowledge that I had when he met me. I could shop without a list, remember the exact content of conversations or articles I'd read, proofread without a dictionary, write original poems, remember his appointments for him, remember phone numbers and birthdays, and I was a regular trivia maven. Now I'm doing well to remember what day it is, much less whether I've had a shower that day. I have to keep all my meds and supplements in pill minders so I can check to see if I've taken them or not (and even then it doesn't always help). I never had been able to learn my cell phone number even though I've had it for five years. I haven't been able to complete a poem since last May (I had to look that up just now). As for trivia, spelling, vocabulary, sometimes the info comes to me and sometimes it doesn't. And I require a list for three items or more. I feel like a neon sign with a short in it. Very annoying.

And speaking of things I've forgotten, I'm past due for my next meal. Anyone know how to make scrambled eggs and cream of rice taste like steak and a sundae??


The last Olympic event had an appropriate ending. The 50k men's cross country, which is about 30 miles on skis, had several athletes all bunched up as they got close to the finish line. Suddenly, Italy's Giorgio di Centa sprinted past the competition, winning the gold by less than a second! And one last time, the crowd went wild. The medal ceremony took place right before the closing of the games.

The closing ceremonies were about as odd as the opening, except that this one was more obviously like a Fellini movie. Apparently, this weekend is Carnevale, a festival held throughout Italy. So there were people in the audience wearing angel and devil masks, hundreds of performers dressed as though they were in the circus, and even athletes wearing clown noses, which I thought was great.

There was also the requisite amount of traditional ceremony, with the Olympics president declaring the games closed, the Canadian flag going up with an opera star singing the anthem, and the Olympic flag being passed from the mayor of Torino to the mayor of Vancouver, where the next winter games will be. There was some concern about how Sam Sullivan, Vancouver's mayor, would heft and wave the flag as he is a quadriplegic. The man is incredibly resourceful, though, and had a specially made flag stand attached to his wheelchair and then drove the chair in circles so the flag would wave. Sullivan, by the way, had been a skier until an accident on the slopes at age 19.

There was the usual parade of international flags carried by athletes. Each nation competing picked one athlete to carry their flag. The US chose Joey Cheek, and he seemed more than happy to do it. Later, the rest of the athletes came into the stadium. The musical accompaniament for the parades was amusing; pop Italian such as "Volare" and "That's Amore". One of the more bizarre musical moments, though, was a marching band of clowns playing "YMCA".

There was confetti, juggling, gymnastics on trampolines, a choir of children dressed as angels, and clowns climbing out of tiny Fiats. The most surprising feat, though, was the use of a powerful vertical wind machine to hold performers aloft as they floated like birds. One had skis on his feet and another pantomimed snowboarding. That looked as dangerous as some of the Olympic events.

Ricky Martin performed live, which got the athletes dancing. How I would have loved to have been there, wearing a clown nose, of course.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Rave of the Day for February 26, 2006: 

Since I picked on lawyers a few days ago, now I'm gonna pick on doctors. Seems only fair. Thanks to Joan for sending this....

Doctor Terminology
(What doctors say, and what they're really thinking: )

"This should be taken care of right away."
I'd planned a trip to Hawaii next month but this is so easy and profitable that I want to fix it before it cures itself.

"Welllllll, what have we here...?"
He has no idea and is hoping you'll give him a clue.

"Let me check your medical history."
I want to see if you've paid your last bill before spending any more time with you.

"Why don't we make another appointment later in the week."
I'm playing golf this afternoon, and this a waste of time.
I need the bucks, so I'm charging you for another office visit.

"We have some good news and some bad news."
The good news is, I'm going to buy that new BMW.
The bad news is, you're going to pay for it.

"Let's see how it develops."
Maybe in a few days it will grow into something that can be cured.

"Let me schedule you for some tests."
I have a forty percent interest in the lab.

"I'd like to have my associate look at you."
He's going through a messy divorce and owes me a bundle.

"I'd like to prescribe a new drug."
I'm writing a paper and would like to use you for a guinea pig.

"If it doesn't clear up in a week, give me a call."
I don't know what it is. Maybe it will go away by itself.

"That's quite a nasty looking wound."
I think I'm going to throw up.

"This may smart a little."
Last week two patients bit off their tongues.

"Well, we're not feeling so well today, are we...?"
I'm stalling for time. Who are you and why are you here?

"This should fix you up."
The drug company slipped me some big bucks to prescribe this stuff.

"Everything seems to be normal."
Rats! I guess I can't buy that new beach condo after all.

"I'd like to run some more tests."
I can't figure out what's wrong. Maybe the kid in the lab can solve this one.

"Do you suppose all this stress could be affecting your nerves?"
You're crazier than outhouse rat.
Now, if I can only find a shrink who'll split fees with me ...

"There is a lot of that going around."
My God, that's the third one this week. I'd better learn something about this.

"If those symptoms persist, call for an appointment."
I've never heard of anything so disgusting. Thank God I'm off next week.

Ohno, the Olympics are almost over! And the future might not bode so well for Bode.... 

Gotta admit I've been rooting for Apolo Anton Ohno. He could have gotten so discouraged by not qualifying for the finals in the 1500m short track skating early in the games that it affected his other races. There are several similar scenarios in this Olympics. Instead, he managed to pull himself together for the 1000m and was pleased with his bronze medal effort behind his rivals from South Korea. He didn't whine about third place not being good enough, and willingly shook hands with those who had out-skated him.

So I watched the 500m with great interest, wondering if there would be another skating showdown between Ohno and South Korean Ahn Hyun-Soo. There almost wasn't one. Ohno came in third during a qualifying round and would have been eliminated if there hadn't been a disqualification of the second-place finisher. Luck continued to be on Ohno's side when he drew lane 1 in the final (the inside lane is the easiest one from which to get a head start). Then there were TWO false starts by other skaters. False starts can be very unnerving in a short race like this where there is little time to catch up if you fall behind. But Ohno didn't seem rattled, and when the starting gun went off, it was like he was the bullet shot from it. He was in first place during the ENTIRE race! Ohno and the crowd erupted. And Ahn, who came in third, came up and shook Ohno's hand.

But it wasn't over yet. The next event was the 5000m relay, which is so confusing that I only recommend viewing it when sober and free of headache. The Canadian team and the South Korean team switched back and forth between first and second, and the Americans and the Italians were in a battle for third. Ohno, who was the final skater for the American team, managed a last-second burst of speed and secured the bronze for the US. South Korea emerged the winnner with the Canadians a very close second. Lots of smiling, cheering and waving of flags after it was all over. Great conclusion to short track for these games. I am so glad I watched.

Less inspiring was the men's slalom. Torino had gotten three feet of snow in the past 24 hours, which made the first run uneven and quite treacherous with unexpected soft pockets of snow. The first guy out of the gate, Italian Giorgio Rocca, crashed face first, and he wasn't the only one to have problems with the course. American Bode Miller messed up just a few seconds into his run and was out. He only finished one of the five events he competed in, but he didn't seem to care. I personally think he came to the Olympics to party, not ski. But to be fair, seven other skiers were unable to complete the first run. American Ted Ligety had an excellent time on his run, but didn't realize until he had completed it that he had straddled a gate, which disqualified him.

The second run was set up differently, allowing for more speed and less uncertainty. There was another disqualification for straddling a gate. This time it went to Kalle Palander of Finland. The final result was an Austrian medal sweep, not surprising given their general dominance in the sport.

And it was a victory for the Canadian women in the 5000m speed skating. Clara Hughes had a sudden burst of energy and passed German legend Claudia Pechstein with only two laps remaining. Canadian teammate Cindy Klassen snagged the bronze, her fifth medal of the games. She and Hughes giggled like school girls during the medals ceremony and began singing the Canadian anthem together, swaying back and forth.

Over all, I enjoyed the heck out of this Olympics. Of course, this is the first one since 1992 where I was home during prime time to watch. But even so, a good time was had by me.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Hail to the queen of giant slalom..... 

She likes to wear a toy tiara, a good luck charm she got from a coach. Now American Julia Mancuso can actually claim to be skiing royalty. She won the gold, a pleasant surprise.

The course was hazardous, thick with fog in places and uneven with freshly fallen snow in others. Homestate fave Lindsey Kildow bowed out as she was still hampered by back spasms caused by a crash at the beginning of the games. Another local athlete crashed on her second run but amazingly escaped injury. And the defending Olympic champion, Janica Kostelic of Croatia, did not ski due to illness that has been bothering her throughout the games.

With Kostelic out of the race, Anja Paerson was expected to win. But she had an inexplicably poor second run, which left the door wide open for Mancuso, who had the fastest time in the first run. Mancuso managed to get down the course in one piece without sacrificing too much speed. And she wore her tiara on the podium.

Holy cow. Just thinking about the 10,000m speed skating exhausts me. That's six MILES of skating in one race. But Bob de Jong from the Netherlands made it look easy, or at least as easy as 25 laps can look. He was consistent throughout, which is a monumental challenge in a race this long. His biggest competition, American Chad Hedrick and Dutch skater Carl Verheijen, skated against each other in the final pairing. Hedrick started strong, but the fatigue of competing in four other events caught up to him, and he dragged terribly toward the middle of the race. That is, until Verheijen caught up to him with three and a half laps to go. Then as if on cue, Hedrick put on a burst of speed and fought with every ounce of strength to stay ahead. He finished ahead of Verheijen but nearly four seconds behind de Jong. So now Hedrick has a medal in each color. Interesting note: rival Shani Davis was in the stands, cheering Hedrick all the way.

Joey Cheek has been selected to carry the US flag during the closing ceremonies. Awesome choice.

I wore a tiara as a flower girl in my aunt's wedding. Wish I still had one to wear around the house. Queen of the castle, ya know.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Words to live by: can I afford this?? 

Watched part 2 in Oprah's series "The Debt Diet", or most of it anyway. Dan called during the last 15 minutes, so I missed that. The three families who had been featured last week were each assigned an expert to help them manage their debt. This week, they went over the numbers and started setting limits. It wasn't pretty.

I applaud Oprah for doing this because it has been a real eye opener. I have always joked that Americans have lifestyles to match their paychecks. I know I began to live more extravangantly when I began making good wages. But I had no idea how many people actually EXCEED their paychecks, every month, even when they are earning well. And it was a real shocker to see just how spoiled a middle class person can be.

For instance, one family was spending approximately $425 PER PERSON, per WEEK, on food alone! Even with my higher priced gluten free foods, Dan's convenience foods, and my outrageously expensive supplements, our monthly total combined is probably $425. But this family ate out every meal, every day. I hear complaints about how much money people waste eating out, but this made me understand the reality of it.

The first family featured on today's show was the one with the most money coming in, over $100,000 per year. Oddly enough, they were also the family most clueless about what a disaster their finances were. If someone dropped by my house to help me determine my assets and debts, it would take perhaps an hour to get the numbers together. With this family, it took over 12 hours to figure this stuff out with the help of the financial expert! They were finding UNOPENED bills from three YEARS ago! Once they calculated what they owed and how much they'd been spending, the financial expert began setting limits. They were told that they could no longer keep five vehicles. They had to get rid of either two or three of them, I forget which. What amazed me was that this alone saved them something like $600 per month. They had to trade an expensive piano they had leased for a cheaper one, which saved them $2000. They got rid of their big screen tv because they already had one in every room. That freed up $2700. And they had to cut their $130 per month cable bill to $50.

The woman in this family had the hardest time adjusting. She'd been accustomed to spending $500 to $1500 a WEEK in CASH! Her cell phone bill averaged $250 a month. So she was given an allowance of $20 per day, which is about twice what Dan and I spend in cash. She whined and complained and at the end of the first week had still spent almost $250. Her husband did very well, only spending about $40. And she got into an argument with the financial expert about all the money she was spending at the salon, refusing to come in less than once a week to get her hair done. She did have the final say on that.

Oprah mentioned something that I think by and large has been forgotten in this country. Before you purchase anything at all, ask yourself: can I afford this? A question so simple that it seems almost an insult to ask it, but a question that unfortunately most of us don't have an answer to. Yes, it is wrong for companies to let us borrow more than we can afford, but it is even more wrong for us to try borrowing it in the first place. This is even more difficult for those of us who can no longer work, but it is probably a lesson most people can benefit from.

If you live within your means, you'll find more meaning in your life.

Rave of the Day for February 24, 2006: 

Is the following in poor taste? Possibly. Is it funny? Absolutely! Thanks to Joan for this gem.....


The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department issued a statement today saying Vice President Cheney broke no law by shooting a lawyer instead of a quail over the weekend. 
A TPWD spokesman noted that, in Texas, lawyers are not considered game creatures, and are thus not subject to seasonal limitations or bag limits. It was further noted that lawyer hunting was encouraged as the state is overrun with the pesky creatures. 
A local food critic said that, contrary to rumor, lawyers do not taste like chicken, but rather like bovine dung which is a major component of their composition. 

Skating shakeup and a speedy hurricane...... 

I predicted correctly that results of the women's free skate would depend on who could skate cleanly. I just didn't envision it being the debacle it was. I don't know if it was exhaustion from trying to stay consistent during a four minute program or just nerves that made these women self-destruct, but some of these efforts got downright ugly. It just hurt to watch the ones who lost heart after a failed jump and then just went through the motions for the rest of the program.

With the top scores being incredibly close, it very nearly was anyone's gold to win. Emily Hughes had a few mistakes, but nothing disastrous, and placed a respectable seventh. She is young enough to probably attend another Olympics, so she'll be one to watch in the next few years. Same with 16 year old Kimmie Meissner, who also had a few bumps in her program but otherwise skated quite gracefully. She took sixth and will probably view Torino as a learning experience.

The highest American hope for a medal was Sasha Cohen, who had first place by the tiniest of margins going into the long program. But in her warm-ups, she was falling, and when she took the ice to perform, she looked scared, with none of the confidence she'd appeared to have in the compulsories. And it began to be a self-fulfilling prophecy because she fell, not once, but twice at the start. I was sure she'd completely implode like I'd seen several women do earlier, but she didn't cave. Instead, she kept her speed and her spins and her excellent choreography. I didn't think she'd end up on the podium, though.

As soon I saw the third-place Japanese skater, Shizuka Arakawa, land her first jump cleanly, I knew she had a good chance of overtaking the lead. She had seen Cohen's crashes, and instead of doing the triple-triple jumps originally planned for her program, she switched to the safer triple-double. No bobbles, no awkward transitions, no loss of speed toward the end of her program. Just elegance, flexibility, confidence. She was quite beautiful to watch. And the judges were appropriately generous. The only question was whether Irina Slutskaya would land a triple-triple and gain more technical points.

It was not to be. I thought it would be a cinch, since the Russians had won all the other figure skating golds at these games. But Slutskaya fell, and this seemed to just deflate her. The rest of her program was slow and uninspired.

So Arakawa got a much-deserved gold, much to her and and all of Japan's delight. This was Japan's first medal of the games, and their only gold in figure skating. I was shocked that Cohen still received a silver despite her two falls. When interviewed, she said the medal was a "gift", and frankly, I have to agree. But even more shocking was Slutskaya taking the bronze. She seemed dazed.

I watched men's freestyle aerials with interest. Not only is it a fascinating event, but there was an American in the finals, and it was none other than Jeret "Speedy" Peterson, who was just itching to perform his trademark trick, dubbed "the Hurricane". The move is the most difficult in the sport, consisting of three somersaults with FIVE twists. He probably could have medaled had he done one less twist and landed well, but he went for the gusto. And he looked GREAT in the air! Problem is, he put a hand down to steady himself on the landing, and his competitors were sticking their landings. So the judges had to knock his score down for that. The end result was seventh place, but that seemed just fine by Speedy. He's way cool in my book. And I predict the freestyle aerials in the future are gonna contain more twists, heh heh.

No appointments for me tomorrow. Maybe I'll practice doing "Hurricanes". Or maybe I'll just fall on my butt a few times to emulate the skaters. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

MORE doc appointments on the horizon..... 

Saw the physiatrist today. He said that my right SI joint is unstable, and all the injections in the world aren't going to help until I stabilize it. That is why it has been getting worse and worse, because it won't stay in place anymore. When I was healthy, I was getting a lot more exercise, and I would only have problems when I misaligned it by falling, lifting too much weight, etc. Now my body is deconditioned and my legs, hips and back muscles are very weak. My back gets misaligned just by leaning too far in a certain direction. So I have to go to physical therapy.

I know I must have given the doc a dirty look because he said it's completely up to me to get better because I'll have to do the work. I'm already exhausted in general and wayyyyy burned out on medical treatment in particular. But he told me that my back will only get worse if I don't take care of it now, and I could lose even more mobility. I really don't want to be in a wheelchair fulltime.

So I will call the physical therapy place tomorrow and get set up. Dan is pissed because I keep promising him that the appointments he has to take me to are going to taper off eventually, and they never do. I need to do therapy for one to three months before I'll be ready for more injections. At least insurance will be covering this.

I also need to call the person tomorrow who will be conducting my neuropsyche exam next week. I still haven't got any info as to her location, parking, whether I get a lunch break etc. I am just looking forward to getting this crap over with.

Finished reading Harry Potter volume 5 this week. Didn't like it as much as "Goblet of Fire". Am bummed that the author bumped off Sirius Black, although I can see how this would give Harry Potter even more motivation to go after Voldemort. This is not to say that I did not enjoy the book, but I do hope I like volume 6 better. I don't have that one yet; I am waiting for it to be published in paperback.

Am reading a book on Social Security disability. While it is written in plain English for those without law degrees to understand, it is not exactly entertaining reading. But as I intend to review it for But You Don't Look Sick, I will peruse it from cover to cover, even those parts that don't apply to me like SSI and obtaining benefits for children.

Tired, sore and have a headache. And I have MORE therapy ahead of me?? Sigh.

Note to self: don't watch relay speed skating with migraine! 

Ewwwww. It's hard enough to keep track of what's going on when in a good frame of mind. In short track relay, four teams skate at once and tag by pushing their teammate. Then the people who are going to be next skate in the inside of the track to get in position. There were too many bodies moving at once. I don't even remember who won the women's race I saw tonight, because there was a disqualification. I think the US took fifth??

Easier to follow, and far more entertaining in my book was the women's freestyle aerials. You ski downhill and then up a ramp wearing skis but using no poles, do the most elaborate stunts you can while in the air, and land on the skis rather than on your ass or your face. Easy, right?? Not when you're about five stories in the air twisting and turning and trying to figure out how to finish right side up. Do any of these women have any cartilage left in their knees when their career is over? Australian Alisa Camplin would probably have to answer that in the negative. She had knee surgery just four months ago and was elated to take the bronze with a good jump and reasonably clean landing in the final run. There were three Chinese women in the finals that I saw. Unfortunately, the leader in the first round, Guo Xinxin, did a face plant on her last jump, which knocked her out of medal contention. But her teammate, Li Nina, did manage a silver medal despite back problems. The best jump on the final run that I saw belonged to Swiss Evelyne Leu: a triple backflip with three twists. It earned her the gold. Sweeeet.

Took a nap after aquacise today for three hours, which means I slept a total of 11 hours today. And still I'm exhausted. I think it's all the toxins released during yesterday's massage. Sheesh.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Post-Katrina update in my own state..... 

After watching the heart-wrenching stories on Oprah yesterday and the much brighter news on her show today (families are starting to move into her Habitat for Humanity homes now), a local tv station did a follow up on the some of the people who survived Katrina six months ago and ended up here. The news is mixed. Some settled in, found jobs and are trying to make a go of it here. Others STILL haven't gotten a penny from FEMA, cannot work, and have no idea what's going to happen to them. About 160 families here are expected to lose funding for housing next month. Local charities are trying to help them.

Oprah says the plan of her Angel Network is to build a total of 250 homes. They are nice houses of manageable size, all supplied with the essentials from Target and a furniture company. My only regret is that there are thousands of others who will still have nowhere to live, who think their own nation has turned its back on them, who will never have a home of their own again.

In other news, I am still quite sore from yesterday's massage. I'll have to ask the therapist to take it easier on me next time. There are areas that feel bruised, believe it or not. Aquacise today was painful, but my range of motion was better than before the massage, so that's progress. Tomorrow, no exercise because of two appointments, but I will try stretching on Friday and see if I can get through it with no tears. If can manage that, I will step back on my Gazelle this weekend.

Will probably watch about three-fourths of tonight's prime time Olympic coverage because "Lost" will be on, at leat I THINK it's a new episode. If it's not, I'll just flip back to NBC. I'm not even sure what sports are on tonight.

Ok, so monkeys didn't fly outta my butt, but I feel almost as sore as if that had happened, heh heh.

So far, short good...... 

My Olympic viewing was interrupted by an excellent episode of "Boston Legal", but I did see two of the three Americans in the women's short program skate. The first was Kimmie Meissner. I'd never heard of her, but she skated amazingly well for being just 16 years old. She landed a triple-triple combination and got good marks. I missed Emily Hughes skating, but found out she placed seventh. I did see Sasha Cohen, who skated last. Not only did she skate cleanly, she was vibrant and smiling and seemed truly happy to be there. And to my total shock, she took first place over the favorite, Russian Irina Slutskaya! Her margin is, though, a mere .03 of a point. So it's just about anyone's guess who will medal on Thursday after the long program. Probably any of the Americans who skate cleanly. Can Cohen pull off two great performances in a row? We'll see.

Watched the men's 1500m speed skating. Much was being made of the Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick rivalry again. Both were expected to skate well. I was actually rooting for Joey Cheek, but he just couldn't keep up the pace and came in ninth. But along came Italian Enrico Fabris. He didn't start off all that speedy, but he had an amazing last lap, and no one else could match it. To the surprise of everyone except perhaps the Italians, Davis took second and Hedrick third. Davis at least finished this race smiling and gave Fabris a big congratulatory hug. And the Italian crowd went wild. Good show.

And the Americans took silver in women's bobsledding, sandwiched between ecstatic German and Italian teams.Yayyyy!

In other news, I saw the primary care doc today. I'm gonna go back on the Klonopin, at least until my next appointment with the sleep specialist. I hate how it makes me dopey during the daytime, but nothing else works as well on the nighttime twitches. And the doc said that if the Lyrica stopped working, raising the dose probably won't make it start working again, so I'm going to discontinue it. So I'm back to no daily pain reliever, which sucks to no end. My gastroparesis has gotten so bad that I can't even tolerate Dilaudid anymore, and the Lyrica was the best thing I had found for nerve pain. I still have Skelaxin for muscle spasms, but I've been taking it every day since the FCE, and my stomach is starting to hurt really bad, so I'm gonna have to lay off it for awhile.

I had an hour-long massage today with a new therapist. She's really good, but I think she did too much because I'm really sore tonight (and of course I can't take any medication for it). She was amazed how many active trigger points I had and recommended I not wait too long for my next appointment. Problem is, my chiropractor doesn't work Tuesdays anymore after this week, which was the day I always came in, so I had to agree to see the other chiropractor in order to get the same massage therapist. Also, I have a neuropsyche exam next Tuesday, the dentist the following Tuesday, and the gastroenterologist the Tuesday after that, so I can't get back in for a month anyway. I hope to God my flare disappears before then.

Oh, and I had called my rheumatologist's office to see if they had gotten the FCE report from my long-term disability insurance company? They hadn't and will be requesting it. Interesting. The stupid insurance company practically strong arms my rheumy into writing a script for the exam and then they don't send him the results. Do they think I'm so stupid that I wouldn't try to find out what it said?? Don't answer that.

Soooo exhausted, but I need to stay up at least another half an hour. Think I will avail myself of Icy Hot patches and a moist heat pack before I retire. And maybe aquacise tomorrow will help.

And maybe monkeys will fly outta my butt.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oprah makes me sick..... 

Well, not Oprah herself, actually. It was what her camera crews revealed in Louisiana and Mississippi where hurricane Katrina did its damage six months ago. I knew from local news reports that many evacuees who had come to my state were running out of funding for housing and that many had given up on ever returning to their old neighborhoods. Now I know why they have given up.

Most of the national media shines its spotlight on New Orleans. That's fine. I realize it's Mardi Gras time, and the city desperately needs to portray an image of rebuilding. I had no idea that not only are parts of Louisiana and Mississippi not rebuilding, but that no one is even clearing away debris or dead bodies. A reporter drove for miles and said she did not see a single working bulldozer. She showed where damaged refrigerators left behind by the flooding still contained rotting food. And even though the ground all around the debris is contaminated and the government has said it's unsafe for habitation, there are people living in shards of apartments with no roof, no utilities, no sanitation and nowhere to go. Others are in "temporary" trailers right on their contaminated land, many with kids who cannot play outside. And what's scarier is that NOTHING has happened in the six months since the hurricane. Photos of the piles of debris taken right after the storm are nearly identical to what they look like now. Even the areas that were marked as potentially containing dead bodies. With nothing moved, one can only presume the bodies are still there. Approximately 2000 people are still unaccounted for.

Why is nothing happening? Many of the people interviewed said they had seen no one from FEMA since October, and they seem to be forgotten. Others who have telephone access cannot get clear answers as to when they can get a temporary trailer to live in. There are tent cities with unsanitary conditions a short drive from empty trailers, and no one seems to know why the trailers can't be matched up with the tent, hotel and apartment occupants who are losing their FEMA funding. Where are they supposed to go? Back to their contaminated pile of rubble??

It would be easy, living several states away, just to shrug and ignore it. Or condemn the displaced by thinking they should just all get jobs and shut up about it. There's a problem with that thinking. First of all, many of the displaced are either children or are disabled. Second of all, the businesses aren't being rebuilt either, so there is no place to work. One of the reporters pointed out an empty WalMart as well as empty restaurants, grocery stores and other potential employers. And imagine if you had lost everything you owned of monetary value, had been evacuated several states away, and had no idea when it would be safe to return home? You'd probably wait for awhile for the chaos to die down, wait some more while you establish some ID and an address (most places can't hire you without those) and then wait even longer to get hired someplace.

The very worst, though, was the story of the two brothers who discovered they had flat-out been lied to. They and their mom were on the roof of their house when it was washed away by flooding. They survived, but their mom died on that roof awaiting rescue. They had to leave her when they were evacuated. They contacted authorities to try to recover their mom's body, but they were told it could not be found, even with the detailed location information they gave. They were told a ten mile radius had been searched by dogs. They finally decided they were being lied to and went back to the wreckage of their house to looks for their mom's body. Within five minutes after getting there, they saw it: the top of her skull was clearly visible in some debris, not covered by any wreckage, exactly where they had told the authorities she was.

The US functions as the world's policeman and rescuer. Why can't we do the same thing within our own country? There is no excuse for letting Mississippi and Louisiana rot this way. None at all.

Ice dancing with the stars..... 

The stars tonight were the American pair of Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto. Russians Tatyana Navka and Roman Kostomarov were heavy favorites for the gold medal, and they did not disappoint. But the US had not won a medal in ice dancing in 30 years. Belbin and Agosto did a catchy flamenco routine with complicated lifts showcasing Belbin's flexibility. But there were one or two slight missteps in the footwork, so their score came down a bit. The Russian pair was not perfect either, but they were more experienced and it showed. Still, the Americans were thrilled with their silver medals, acknowledged all the fans in the stands and were generally quite gracious.

One sad note to the competition: the Canadian couple who had that scary crash last night had to sit tonight out. No broken bones, but nasty bruising serious enough to sideline them. And a strange melodrama took place after Italians Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio had their crash yesterday. Fusar-Poli appeared to be angry with her partner and wasn't warming up with him, interviewing with him or even speaking to him. I wondered how they were even going to skate together without a temper tantrum of some kind. So the ice seemed even more cold than usual when they began their routine, and Fusar-Poli had a puss on for the first few minutes. But they began skating more and more in synch with each other, and Fusar-Poli finally smiled. By the end of the program, they were gazing into each other's eyes, and after they finished, they hugged. The crowd roared in response. No medal for Italy, but I don't think they minded so much.

The pair from the Ukraine took the bronze. I don't think their program was that strong, but maybe I was just distracted by Yelena Grushina's costume. The front was mostly sheer material with white cups on her boobs covered in fringe. None of the rest of her costume had fringe on it, so it just looked like part of a stripper's outfit. I would say this Olympics has to be the worst in terms of skaters' costumes. The silver medal winner in men's skating wore a shirt that was zebra print on the front, bright blue on the bottom of the sleeves, and bright orange on the collar and back part of the sleeves. Ack!

There were three athletes from my home state competing today, but two didn't do very well. Lindsey Kildow, however, did compete in the super-G despite lingering pain and stiffness from her crash. She managed to finish seventh, which isn't bad considering she still can't go completely into a tuck position.

Today the men did the giant slalom. This was Bode Miller's fourth event in the games. He did manage to finish both runs without disqualification. His second run had an impressive time, but it didn't hold as the Herminator, Joel Chenal of France, and Austrian Benjamin Raich all blasted through the course even faster. Bode ended up tied for sixth.

Tomorrow I don't know if I will watch all of the prime time coverage. Depends on whether "Boston Legal" will be on.

In other news, my tax refund has safely made its way into the savings account. Yayyyyy! To celebrate, I asked Dan to buy a candy bar for me (Hershey's Special Dark is gluten free) since he needed to go to Wallyworld for essentials (TP, shampoo, soap, etc.) anyway. Just don't tell my gastroenterologist I'm gonna be eating chocolate, heh heh. I'll ration it into small portions and eat it early in the day so as not to cause any trouble.

I did acquire a new album and some refill pages at the scrapbook store with my gift card. There is still a little bit of credit left on it, so when I get the time, I'll pick up some fun stuff like background sheets and stickers. I worked on my current album tonight and am about halfway through putting together the pages for the Fibrohugs conference in Colorado Springs in September 2002. What's really sad is that in the three years since I took the photos, the hostess of the conference and the wife of Fibrohugs' webmaster have died. At least I have pix of them laughing and enjoying life.

Drove myself to and from church last night and thought nothing of it. And then on the news, I saw that there was a fatal accident on the same stretch of highway I had been on about an hour before. Kinda creeped me out as I realized that if I'd decided to hang around and chat for awhile longer at church, perhaps I would have either been involved in the crash or at least would have witnessed it. Guess it just wasn't my time to go.

Started a review of "Night" by Elie Wiesel for But You Don't Look Sick, but am having trouble getting it done. I need to sit down maybe on the weekend and try to put something together without distraction. I want to get it finished before the month is over since it's supposed to be for February.

Have a double-header tomorrow and on Thursday. Tomorrow, I see the primary care doc about my meds and then FINALLY go for an hour-long massage/chiropractic visit. The new massage therapist is named Shannon; I hope she's good. On Thursday, I go to the physiatrist about my low back problem and then see my shrink. With all these appointments, I hope I am finally able to get rid of this horrible flare that the FCE started three weeks ago. I missed aquacise this morning because I couldn't get out of bed; I finally had to ask Dan to help me get up around 1pm so I could eat on schedule (bad for the diabetes if I go too long without eating). The pain is still bad enough to make me cry. Rotten price to pay for a stupid test.

Could be worse, I suppose. At least I'm not trying to recover from landing hip-first on ice.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Rave of the Day for February 20, 2006: 

Actually, these sound a little closer to Shoebox greetings, but they are funny either way. Thanks to Dr. Karen on this one.....

The Dysfunctional Section of a Hallmark Store.....

1. I always wanted to have someone to hold, someone to love. And now that you've come into my life...
(Inside card) - I've changed my mind.

2. I must admit, you brought religion into my life...
(Inside card) - I never believed in Hell until I met you.

3. As the days go by, I think how lucky I am....
(Inside card) - That you're not here to ruin it for me.

4. Congratulations on your promotion. Before you go....
(Inside card) - Will you take the knife from my back? You'll probably need it again.

5. Someday I hope to marry...
(Inside card) - Someone other than you.

6. Happy Birthday! You look great for your age..
(Inside card) - Almost lifelike!

7. When we were together, you said you'd die for me...
(Inside card) - Now we've broken up, I think it's time to keep your promise.

8. We've been friends for a very long time...
(Inside card) - What do you say we stop?

9. I'm so miserable without you...
(Inside card) - It's almost like you're still here.

10. Congratulations on your new bundle of joy....
(Inside card) - Did you ever find out who the father was?

11. You are such a good friend. If we were on a sinking ship and there was only one life jacket...
(Inside card) - I'd miss you terribly and think of you often.

12. Your friends and I wanted to do something special for your birthday...
(Inside card) - So we're having you put to sleep.

13. Happy Birthday, Uncle Dad!
(Available only in Alabama, Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas and certain areas of Southwest Michigan and the Carolinas)

14. Looking back over the years we've been together, I can't help but wonder...
(Inside card) - What the Hell was I thinking?

15. Congratulations on your wedding day!...
(Inside card) - Too bad no one likes your husband.

The harder they fall...... 

One of the reasons I find ice dancing less exciting than pairs skating is that there are no throws, taking the element of danger out of the sport. Or at least I THOUGHT ice dancing wasn't dangerous. After watching the last five couples in the original dance competition tonight, I have changed my mind.

I have to admit that I had never seen the original dance segment before because I always grew bored with the compulsories and figured the rest wouldn't be very interesting either, so I had always switched it off. But I had left the tv on tonight after some speed skating, and the segment coming up included the Americans, so I took a peek. I was surprised to discover that in the original dance part of the competition, the partners don't have to stay in constant contact like in compulsories. They can also do lifts during their routine, choose different kinds of music, and do non-traditional footwork. This is much more the kind of stuff i wanna see.

So there I was, greatly enjoying the routine of the Canadian pair of Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, when the unthinkable happened. Toward the very end of their performance, Lauzon was spinning Dubreuil around in a lift they'd probably done a million times, when all of a sudden, Dubreuil lost her grip and went crashing to the ice! She got up and did the final moves of the routine, but she had landed hard on her right hip and knee and could not skate off the rink without her partner's help. Lauzon had to carry Dubreuil off the ice, and later, she went to the hospital. How scary! And potentially horrible because there is still a third segment of skating to be completed.

I don't know if the next couple had seen the Canadians fall or if they were just victims of bad luck, but ANOTHER fall near the end of their routine! So it was no surprise that the next two to skate, Russians Tatyana Navka and Roman Kostomarov, began their routine unusually tentatively. But they relaxed during the second half of the skate and got the highest point total of the night. Then the Italian faves, Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio, took their turn. Unlike during the compulsories, Margaglio seemed slow and out of synch with his more exuberant partner. They made me uneasy, and sure enough, THEY fell too! Fusar-Poli looked absolutely furious as they tumbled out of first place (literally!) and into seventh.

The last to skate were the Americans, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto. They came into the original dance placed sixth, which made them seem unlikely for medal contention, that is, until the calamities of their competitors. Both skated extremely well with confidence and skill and smiles throughout. The crowd that had been stunned by the Italians' fall finally realized halfway through the Americans' routine that they were seeing something special and began to cheer again. Their score was good enough for second place, which give them a chance for a medal going into the free skate. The only trail by 1.38 points, which is awesome.

Should mention that I have had help with the Olympics blog entries. I've been going to Olympics websites and cutting and pasting alll the athletes' names. There's no way I can remember, let alone spell, all the names, so this way, I know I've gotten them right, heh heh.

And I'm never going to think of ice dancing as a safe sport again.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Rave of the Day for February 19, 2006: 

I've heard variations of this one before, but it's still pretty funny. Thanks to Deb for sending it....

I am passing this on to you because it definitely worked for me and we all could use more calm in our lives. By following the simple advice I heard on a Dr. Phil show, I have finally found inner peace.

Dr. Phil proclaimed that the way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started. So I looked around my house to see things I started and hadn't finished; and before leaving the house this morning I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Baileys, a bottle of Kahlua, a package of Oreos, the remainder of both Prozac and Valium prescriptions, the rest of the Cheesecake, some Saltines and a box of chocolates.

You have no idea how freaking good I feel.

Bode bobbles, Cheek cheers, Apolo almost....... 

Lots o' stuff to watch tonight, like the conclusion of the women's Alpine combined. The Americans weren't really in contention for a medal, so the battle for gold was between Janica Kostelic of Croatia and Anja Paerson of Sweden. Kostelic won despite being ill and is now the first woman to have four Olympic gold medals in Alpine. Marlies Schild of Austria was a surprise second, leaving Paerson with the bronze.

The men's super-G also had unexpected results. Apparently, 17 skiers had completed the course when the race was postponed due to the weather. Those who had aready skied had to start over, which upset the man with the fastest time. Maybe he was still upset when the weather cleared and he had to go again, because he completely missed a gate for no reason anyone could see and was out of the race. Bode Miller, who had not been one of the 17 to ski earlier, inexplicably lost his balance mid-course. He didn't fall, but he did go through a gate and veered off the course, so he was out too. That left medal contender Hermann Maier of Austria, also known as the Herminator, with one less obstacle to the gold. Then along came Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway. He seemed unlikely to win because he'd injured his knee earlier in the week, but he still came out .13 of a second ahead of the Herminator. At age 34, Aamodt now has a record eight Olympic Alpine medals. Good show.

I have to admit I get some of the speedskating events confused. There's 500m, 5000m, 1000m, 1500m. There might even be more than that, I'm not sure. But I do remember being impressed with Joey Cheek's surprise gold in the 500m and his announcement that he would be donating his prize money to charity. So when I found out he was doing the 1000m, I watched for him despite the fact that all eyes were on the rivalry between Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick. The big controversy is that Davis had been counted on to be on the pursuit team, but he claimed he had never committed to it, so he didn't do it. Some claim that's why the US team didn't win, but I personally think there's some sour grapes in that sentiment. Anyway, it set up harsh words for Davis, particularly from Hedrick. And I suppose that's why when Davis won the gold in the 1000m, making him the first African-American to win an individual gold, he wasn't exactly shouting from the rafters. But Cheek, who won a silver, was appropriately pleased and made up for the stoic Davis. And Cheek will be donating the prize money for this award to charity too, which makes him golden in my book. A nice distraction from the petty in-fighting amongst his teammates.

There was another 1000m race, this one on short track speed skating. And another rivalry, this one between American Apolo Anton Ohno and the South Koreans, particularly Ahn Hyun-Soo, with whom Ohno had the famous collision four years ago. Both made it to the final race, as did American Rusty Smith and South Korean Lee Ho-Suk. But unlike four years ago, this race was clean with no collisions. Both South Koreans edged past Ohno, leaving him essentially no room to pass. But Ohno honestly didn't mind getting the bronze, and he was respectful of the South Koreans' win. That's what I call good sportsmanship.

Still freakin' cold here. It got to -13 last night, and the high temperature today was 7. But tonight will only go down to 0, and tomorrow it will be in the teens. And then it's supposed to warm up to the 30's and 40's we are accustomed to during the day.

Probably will miss half of the prime time Olympic coverage tomorrow night because of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "Desperate Housewives" on ABC. Gotta admit that network has excellent counter-programming.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Bonus Rave of the Day for February 18, 2006: 

More funnies from Joan.....

As You Slide Down The Banister Of Life...

1. Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert have written an impressive new book.
It's called "Ministers Do More Than Lay People."

2. Transvestite:
A guy who likes to eat, drink and be Mary.

3. The difference between the Pope and your boss ...........
the Pope only expects you to kiss his ring.

4. My mind works like lightning.
One brilliant flash and it is gone.

5. The only time the world beats a path to your door is if you're in the bathroom.

6. I hate sex in the movies. Tried it once. The seat folded up, the drink spilled and that ice, well, it really chilled the mood.

7. It used to be only death and taxes were inevitable. Now, of course, there's shipping and handling, too.

8. A husband is someone who, after taking the trash out, gives the impression that he just cleaned the whole house.

9. My next house will have no kitchen - just vending machines and a large trash can.

10. A blonde said, "I was worried that my mechanic might try to rip me off. I was relieved when he told me all I needed was signal fluid."

11. I'm so depressed.
My doctor refused to write me a prescription for Viagra.
He said it would be like putting a new flagpole on a condemned building.

12. My neighbor was bit by a stray rabid dog. I went to see how he was and found him writing frantically on a piece of paper. I told him rabies could be treated, and he didn't have to worry about a Will. He said, "Will? What Will? I'm making a list of the people I want to bite."

13. Definition of a teenager?
God's punishment for enjoying sex.

14. As we slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.

Rave of the Day for February 18, 2006: 

Nothing like a little bra humor to warm up the old funny bone. Thanks to Joan for the giggles.....

What Religion is Your Bra?

A man walked into the ladies department of a Macy's and shyly walked up to the woman behind the counter and said, "I'd like to buy a bra for my wife."

"What type of bra?" asked the clerk.

"Type?" inquires the man, "There's more than one type?"

"Look around," said the saleslady, as she showed a sea of bras in every shape, size, color and material imaginable.

"Actually, even with all of this variety, there are really only four types of bras to choose from."

Relieved, the man asked about the types. The saleslady replied: "There are the Catholic, the Salvation Army, the Presbyterian, and the Baptist types. Which one would you prefer?"

Now totally befuddled, the man asked about the differences between them.

The Saleslady responded, "It is all really quite simple..

"The Catholic type supports the masses.
The Salvation Army type lifts the fallen,
The Presbyterian type keeps them staunch and upright, and
The Baptist makes mountains out of mole hills."

Have you ever wondered why A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, G, and H are the letters used to define bra sizes?
If you have wondered why, but couldn't figure out what the letters stood for, it is about time you became informed!

(A} Almost Boobs...
{B} Barely there.
{C} Can't Complain!
{D} Dang!
{DD} Double dang!
{E} Enormous!
{F} Fake.
{G} Get a Reduction.
{H} Help me, I've fallen and I can't get up !

They forgot the German bra.

Note to self: do not showboat before the race is over! 

Major shock during the women's snowboard cross. The only American competing, Lindsey Jacobellis, was way out in front and heading for her gold-medal finish. But on her second to the last jump on the course, she grabbed her board like she was on the halfpipe, skidded back on her heels and crashed off the course. She got back on the course, but not in time to beat Switzerland's Tanja Frieden. So what could have been an easy gold turned into a puzzling silver medal. Jacobellis claims she was not showboating, but it did appear that she was celebrating her victory a bit too soon. So the USA's gold medal run in snowboarding comes to an odd halt. Interesting note: the woman who did win the race is the girlfriend of the man who won yesterday's snowboard cross, Seth Wescott.

Watched some of the men's skeleton. The Canadians kicked ass in this, taking gold and silver. Whoosh! The winner was 39 years old. The closest the US came was sixth.

Home state fave Lindsey Kildow, still not fully recovered from the disastrous crash during a downhill training run, wiped out during the slalom and will be out for the conclusion of the combined Alpine. She admitted before the race to being in a great deal of pain in her hip and back and not being able to ski her best. So she will rest up on Saturday before her next event on Sunday. I admire that she even tried the slalom and hope for the best on Sunday.

Ok, I admit that ice dancing is my least favorite form of skating. Since they all are pretty much doing the same thing during the compulsories, I can't tell a bad routine from a good one, no matter how much the comentator tries to explain it. So I was really only watching to see how the Americans did since the US press was making such a fuss over them. Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto came in sixth after compulsories, which doesn't sound so hot until you find out that they are only 1.42 points out of first. The big surprise and delight of the competition were the Italian pair Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio, who came out of retirement for one last go at the gold. They were unfamiliar with the new scoring and so had no idea they were in first place until they were told. Good for them. Italy is ecstatic and so are they.

The cold wave here continues. It is a record low -9 with a windchill of -25. It is expected to reach a real temperature of -12 before sunrise. My hands ache horribly in every joint, as do the knees, feet and elsewhere. Chip's having a hard time too, getting up slowly and not moving around much. Dan talked to the vet, who told him to bring the dog in to make sure his hip dysplasia is not worse. I hate to see the poor pup suffer.

I wonder if Lindsey Jacobellis has ever heard the saying, "don't count your chicks before they're hatched"??

Friday, February 17, 2006

Oprah dishes out the dirt on debt..... 

I'm no stranger to personal debt; in fact, I was almost ruined financially during my first marriage due to my ex's secret spending habits. And now I face the very real possibility of losing my house if I am denied by my long-term disability insurance company and SSDI for a prolonged period of time. But I figured the average American household was at least keeping its head above water financially speaking. I couldn't have been more wrong.

On Oprah's show today, the shocking disclosure was made that 70 percent of American households are living paycheck to paycheck! That's not just poverty-stricken and/or minimum wage earners. The three couples featured on her show had household incomes between $70,000-$100,000. All three couples had more debt than income.

I'm absolutely awestruck that a couple with a combined earning of $100,000 could have $170,000 a year in debt! This woman was throwing bills in the trash without opening them! They've had utilities cut off for nonpayment while driving around in a BMW. One couple bought their daughter a brand new car that she didn't have to earn. And when the husband of one couple quit his job, rather than cut down on spending, they SPENT his entire 401(K) of $40,000 AND lived on credit cards! I noticed that none of these couples was affected by chronic illness, so I knew they weren't having to pay for tons of meds, doctors and special foods. Imagine if they had been.

So Oprah proposes that the couples featured on her show and her viewers go on a "debt diet". I say this is both timely and wise. In fact, I would even agree to do this myself if I had normal financial circumstances. Instead, I will just consider myself fortunate that I am not part of that 70 percent living paycheck to paycheck (although I'm not nearly far enough away from that).

I think what has saved my butt over this past year of not being able to work has been the financial steps Dan and I took fairly early in our marriage. We looked into retirement accounts in 1997 and thought we had invested in one. Turns out we were actually sold a life insurance policy under fraudulent means, and after a class action lawsuit, it was switched to an annuity instead, but it does have a cash value, and we are in better shape than if we had just spent that money. Also, we both took advantage of 401(K)s at work as soon as they were available. We didn't make big sacrifices to pay our funds; in fact, my contribution was only 6 percent of my income, and Dan's is 7 percent. Hardly enough money to miss, right? Yet with our employer adding three percent matching, over the course of just five years, we have earned the equivalent of over one year of Dan's income in those funds. And while I was working, $50 of each paycheck went into savings. That added up faster than I thought it would too.

While I did initially use department store and gas station credit cards to develop a credit history in my late teens and early 20's, by age 30, I had completely converted to lower interest MasterCards and Visas. Now I only have three credit cards; my two primary cards have interest rates no higher than 9 percent, and the other, which I rarely use, is 13 percent.

I did realize three years ago that I might have to stop work early due to illness, so I tried to plan for that. Unfortunately, I thought I'd be able to make it to at least age 55, which of course didn't happen. But that's what I had in mind when I refinanced for a 15 year mortgage and did a 10 year home equity loan. That was when the rates were nice and low. But now, if I refinanced back to a 30 year, my payment would be so close to what it is now that it's really not worth doing over. If somehow, though, we were able to somehow keep making our payments, we'd be clear of the 2nd mortgage in only 7 years and the primary mortgage in only 12 years. Not a lot of couples our age can say that.

Another area where we managed to stay out of trouble is with vehicles. Yeah, it sucks that we just had to buy a used car. But we own that car. it's way better than making payments on two vehicles, which I guess a lot of couples are doing. One of the couples featured on Oprah today have FIVE vehicles, which is ridiculous.

I'll be the first to admit I'm no angel. I love to spend money on entertainment. And being stuck at home much of the time and being sick, the temptation is huge to comfort myself with music, movies and books. And I'm married to a shopping addict. It really makes Dan happy to spend, especially on clothes. I've gotten him to cut back quite a bit, but if I were to get really hard-nosed and make him eliminate all frivolous spending, I think I'd have a fight on my hands. So I just try to gently dissuade him from doing anything outrageous financially, which usually works, and try to distract him from the smaller unnecessary spending, which works some of the time.

The part where the frustration really comes in is me not having any idea if or when I'm going to have a monthly income. So I can't really conform to the conventional wisdom when it comes to ridding myself of debt. I actually do have enough in savings right now to pay off all our credit cards. And for most people, that would be the smartest thing to do. But I may be looking at a year or more of no income, which would put us short every month even if the cards were paid off. So what I must do instead is pay the minimum on everything and try not to use any more of the savings account than I have to so it will last longer. Then when I finally get approved for SSDI and/or my long-term disability insurance, I can use the back pay to get rid of the credit card debt. Sound backwards? Yeah, it does to me too. But that's unfortunately the best solution I can think of right now.

I wonder how many people will take part in Oprah's "debt diet"? I wonder how many will remain in denial as long as there are two paychecks in the house? I wonder how many will stay in denial until they end up in bankruptcy court?

I do hope I'm not one of those who end up filing for bankruptcy.

Bonus Rave of the Day for February 17, 2006: 

I don't typically get my humor from David Letterman, but this top ten list WAS pretty funny. Thanks to Dr. Karen for sending it....

Top Ten Signs You're A Gay Cowboy

10. "Your saddle is Versace"

9. "Instead of 'Home On The Range', you sing 'It's Raining Men'"

8. "You enjoy ridin', ropin', and redecoratin'"

7. "Sold your livestock to buy tickets to 'Mamma Mia'"

6. "After watching reruns of 'Gunsmoke', you have to take a cold shower"

5. "Native Americans refer to you as 'Dances With Men'"

4. "You've been lassoed more times than most steers"

3. "You're wearing chaps, yet your 'ranch' is in Chelsea"

2. "Instead of a saloon you prefer a salon"

1. "You love riding, but you don't have a horse"

Rave of the Day for February 17, 2006: 

This one is sorta old, but it's still funny. Thanks to Pete for sending it to me.....

Outsourced to India

Congress today announced that the office of President of the United States of America will be outsourced to overseas interests as of December 31st. The move is being made to save not only a significant portion of the President's $400,000.00 yearly salary, but also a record $521 billion in deficit expenditures and related overhead.

"We believe this is a wise move financially. The cost savings should be significant," stated Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-Wash.). Reynolds, with the aid of the Government Accountability Office, has studied outsourcing of American jobs extensively. "We cannot expect to remain competitive on the world stage with the current level of cash outlay," Reynolds noted.

Mr. Bush was informed by email this morning of his termination. Preparations for the job move have been underway for some time. Gurvinder Singh of Indus Teleservices, Mumbai, India will be assuming the office of President as of January 1st. Mr. Singh was born in the United States while his Indian parents were vacationing at Niagara Falls, thus making him eligible for the position. He will receive a salary of $320 (USD) a month but with no health coverage or other benefits.

It is believed that Mr. Singh will be able to handle his job responsibilities without support staff. Due to the time difference between the US and India, he will be working primarily at night, when few offices of the US Government will be open. "Working nights will allow me to keep my day job at the American Express call center," stated Mr. Singh in an exclusive interview.

"I am excited about this position. I always hoped I would be President some day."

A Congressional spokesperson noted that while Mr. Singh may not be fully aware of all the issues involved in the office of President, this should not be a problem. Mr. Singh will rely upon a script tree that will enable him to respond effectively to most
topics of concern. Using this tree, he can address common concerns without having to understand the underlying issues at all.

"We know these scripting tools work," stated the spokesperson. "Mr. Bush has used them successfully for years."

Mr. Bush will receive health coverage, expenses, and salary until his final day of employment. Following a two week waiting period, he will be eligible for $240 dollars a week unemployment for 13 weeks. Unfortunately he will not be eligible for Medicaid, as his unemployment benefits will exceed the allowed limit.

Mr. Bush has been provided the out placement services of Manpower, Inc. to help him write a resume and prepare for his upcoming job transition. According to Manpower, Mr. Bush may have difficulties in securing a new position due to limited practical work experience. One possibility is re-enlistment in the Air National Guard. Should he choose this option, he would likely be stationed in Iraq, a country he has visited.

"I've been there, I know all about Iraq," stated Mr. Bush, who gained invaluable knowledge of the country in a visit to the Baghdad Airport's terminal and gift shop. Sources in Baghdad and Falluja say Mr. Bush would receive a warm reception from local Iraqis. They have asked to be provided with details of his arrival time and date so they can give him a that warm reception.

Sports I didn't even know existed..... 

The sport of skeleton. Ring a bell with anyone? Nah, me either. How about snowboard cross? New to me too.

Both are a great deal of fun to watch. Skeleton is similar to luge, except you go down on a tiny board FACE FIRST, on your stomach. You gotta have a helluva good helmet for that. Wheeee! I would LOVE to try something like that. Of course, I'd also like to jump out of airplanes, but that's not gonna happen either. Anyway, local athlete Katie Uhlaender took sixth.

Snowboard cross looks like moto cross except on snowboards. It's a downhill course punctuated by ramps, curves and small hills (bigger than moguls though). Four boarders go down at once, and in the qualifying runs, only the first two finishers go to the next round. It's extremely competitive, and there are collisions, boarders being squeezed off the course, and boarders jumping over the top of one another trying to get ahead. The medal run was extremely exciting, with American Seth Wescott winning the race by the length of half a snowboard.

Men's figure skating had a more predictable conclusion. Everyone knew that Yevgney Plushenko would win because he had an 11 point lead after the short program. His free skate had another flawless quad combo, but he doubled a jump he had intended as a triple, proving even he isn't perfect 100 percent of the time. His routine was slow and emotionless, but with the new scoring, that didn't matter as long as he did a lot of complicated jumps and landed them well, which he did. Less predictable were the other men in the competition. A few tried quads but couldn't land them, and some had great footwork and superior spins but did just careful doubles and triples. The most exciting performance was by American Evan Lysacek, who had had a disastrous short program and had been in the hospital the previous day with the flu with IVs trying to rehydrate him. This man was able to shut all of that out of his mind and perform an enthusiastic, speedy and technically perfect free skate. He ended up fourth overall, but I personally would have given him the silver because the men who took second and third had flawed efforts. The man who was second after the short program, American Johnny Weir, was sloppy and slow on the free skate and appropriately ended up sixth.

Well, the temerature here is in the single digits, and believe me, I'm feeling it in all my joints. Whatever effect the prednisone had is long gone. And I think the Lyrica has stopped working because my nerve pain is back with a vengeance. And the fibro flare lives on, especially since I don't sleep well with the Ativan like I did with the Klonopin. I have made an appointment with my primary care doc on Tuesday to see what can be done.

At least the Olympic coverage tonight was a nice distraction.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Some Olympic bits and other news.... 

With "Lost" being on right in the middle of NBC's prime time coverage, my attention wandered tonight. But I did at least find out how two athletes from my home state did.

Jeremy Bloom, who did the moguls, made a few small errors during his final run and was outdone by skiers with more amazing air stunts and more consistent skiing. He still turned in a respectable sixth place. His teammate, Toby Dawson, turned in a great performance on the last run and took the bronze. Way cool.

Lindsey Kildow, to the surprise of many, turned up on the slopes after a crash during training that had landed her in the hospital. And even though she was still in great pain, she completed the downhill and came in an impressive eighth place. The French woman who had crashed on the same day also skied, bandages and all. She came in 28th.

Oh, and that doc appointment? That's actually TOMORROW morning. Going to the ENT for a checkup since I finished my allergy shots last month. I need to stay up for a little while, though, because I didn't eat my last meal until 10pm.

I have managed to finish editing all of my 2005 pix: the ones from my weekend vacation in October and the ones from Christmas Eve. I made prints of the good ones plus the pix my sister-in-law sent me of my neice and their trip to Washington, DC. Good thing I have a gift certificate to a scrapbooking store, because I'm gonna need another album to hold all those photos. Now if I could just get caught up on the actual scrapbooking. I'm still working on fall 2002.

Oh, and guess what I got for Valentine's Day? Another iTunes gift card! Yayyyyyyy! That should keep me out of the music stores for quite awhile, except for the Johnny Cash boxed set I have my eye on. That can probably wait until my birthday, though.

That massage I had so much looked forward to awhile back had to be cancelled as the lady went on maternity leave. They finally have a replacement, so I'm going in for an hour on Tuesday. I'm pretty much one giant trigger point from my mid back up to the base of my skull thanks to that damned FCE. I'm still taking muscle relaxants every day, still in considerable pain during aquacise, whenever I try to stretch and still can't use the Gazelle.

The Ativan, which I'm taking to replace Klonopin for the periodic limb movement disorder, appears to have very little effect on me. I think I'm going to end up back in the primary care doc's office. But first I'm going to do a little internet research to see if there is something else I can try that is relatively safe.

Soooo tired.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ligety split! 

More surprises in the Olympics. The Alpine combined had everyone abuzz about Bode Miller. And he did start out well. But then came the shocking disqualification during the slalom because he straddled a gate. And the European favorites just couldn't compete with American Ted Ligety's awesome slalom runs. I'm not sure who was more suprised by his win: Ligety, or his joyous teammates who literally tackled him.

Men's short program ice skating was shown tonight. Even though the U.S. had some fine skaters, I was rooting for Yevgeny Plushenko of Russia, who had impressed me so much with his consistency, intensity and talent in the past. He absolutely did not disappoint. He in fact landed a perfect quad/triple combo and was spot on with everything he did. The spins were precise and speedy, the footwork appropriately elaborate, the choreography dramatic. No one else stood a chance. There were some who had great choreography but couldn't land their jumps, some who disappointed with flat performances (maybe due to nerves?), and some who had great potential but not enough experience. The medals won't be decided until after the long program, so the ones who did poorly tonight do have a chance to redeem themselves, but it will take a miracle to catch up to Plushenko unless he falls or something.

I did watch a little of the women's speed skating, but Dan called while it was on so I muted it. I don't remember much except I think it was the 500 meters and a Russian lady won.

Tomorrow night, my attention will again be divided during prime time because I will of course switch over to ABC at 8pm to watch "Lost". I'm hoping for another local athlete, Jeremy Bloom, to do well on the moguls, even if it does make my knees hurt just to watch that event.

Oops! Forgot I had a doc appointment in the morning. Better catch a few winks!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Big air, big scares, and some Cheek..... 

I watched snippets here and there of Olympic coverage over the weekend, but I did view all of the prime time NBC coverage last night. And it was quite memorable, with plenty of drama and excitement to be had. Of course, that may have been because I refrained from going online for "spoilers", heh heh.

One of the big scares came when Lindsey Kildow, who is from my home state, had a horrible crash on a downhill training run. It looked as though she could have broken legs, a back injury or worse. She was taken to the hospital, where, incredibly, x-rays and other scans revealed no major problems. She bruised the hell out of her hip, though, and it is unknown whether she will be able to compete in the women's downhill.

Another scare occurred during the finals of pairs ice skating. All eyes were on the Russian pair because a year ago, Maxim Marinin slipped and dropped Tatiana Totmianina onto the ice headfirst. But they skated a clean, if slightly tentative, performance this time, and they were in first place when the last Chinese pair to skate, Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao, took the ice. They had planned an amazing quad throw. But not only could Dan not land the quad, she fell forward onto her left knee and then hit the wall. She tried to stand, but couldn't quite. Her partner skated up to her and helped her to the edge of the rink where her coach and a doctor examined her. The music stopped. Dan was in tears, and it looked like the skate was over. Then, amazingly, she tentatively bent her knees to show the doctor that she could. She was given a tissue to wipe her eyes, and then she and Hao skated back to the center of the rink. By the rules of pair skating, they were allowed to continue their routine from the point they'd left off, but I don't think anyone expected them to actually finish it. Their music began again from the beginning, and they began to skate slowly around the rink. They picked up speed as the music progressed, and by the time they were right where Dan would have landed the quad, they were going full speed as though nothing had happened. They were not shaky or tentative, and most amazing of all, they did side by side triples! They in fact did all the rest of their routine as though she had never fallen. And best of all, they got the silver medal for their heroic efforts. That was the most inspiring moment of the Olympics so far for me.

A very pleasant surprise occurred in men's speed skating 500 meter. American Joey Cheek out-skated the favorites to win the gold. Unlike his competitors, who had their game faces on, Cheek looked so relaxed before his first skate that I wondered if he was even taking this seriously. But he was off like a bullet from the starting gun. And he was quite surprised by his time. And then no one else quite caught up to him.

I love snowboarding. In fact, had the sport existed when I was in my 20's, I would have learned how to do it. But at least I can live vicariously through the U.S. team's antics, right? So you know I was glued to the set when the women's halfpipe came on. Gretchen Bleiler is from my home state, so I was rooting for her, and she in fact did very well, taking second only to one of her teammates. But Kelly Clark competely blew me away. She did a final run the like of which I have never seen a woman do: a huge frontside air about 12 feet high, two moves called 540s, and then the crowning touch, a 900, which looks something like a helicopter propeller. But she skidded a bit and fell back. Still, she came in fourth and represented the U.S. well.

And now it's almost time for tonight's prime time broadcast. I won't see the whole thing, though, because Boston Legal is on ABC at 9pm. But I hope to at least catch most of the the highlights.

Rave of the Day for February 14, 2006: 

Happy Valentine's Day! In addition to going to see "Walk the Line" on Sunday using a gift certificate Dan got for Christmas, we also went to lunch today using a gift certificate for the Macaroni Grill. So we got to celebrate elaborately for almost free, heh heh. Speaking of which, here's some funny stuff about weddings on the cheap provided by Ducky.....

Wedding Preparation Guidelines

It is the responsibility of the bride's family to announce the wedding in the local newspaper. The announcement should include: A photograph of the bride (A high school yearbook picture is acceptable); Name of the groom, education completed by both bride and groom (do not include elementary school, unless that was the terminal degree.); current employment and planned residence after the ceremony (If living with the bride's parents, it is not necessary to specify where in the house you will reside).
Since you are having a planned wedding and you are expecting a lot of free stuff, you must send out invitations! They do not have to be lengthy. Something like "You are invited to watch John Smith and Jennifer Johnson make it legal on March 14, 2000." will suffice nicely. If you don't want to be so formal, you can always run down to the local bar and yell, "If you ain't doing nothin' on the 14th of March, why don't you stop by my house for a cold one about 2 o'clock. Me and Jennifer's having some friends over to watch the ball game and witness our weddin'."
Proper attire:
For the bride, the key words are "be conservative." No matter how good it may look, refrain from wedding outfits made with spandex or adorned with fringe. Excessive slits and dips also are frowned upon. This is not the occasion to show the world how big "they" are.
For the groom, a rented tuxedo is haute courture, but if it means the difference between going on a honeymoon and staying home, consider some alternatives. For example, a leisure suit with a cummerbund and a clean work shirt can create a natty appearence. And though possibly uncomfortable, say yes to socks and shoes for this special occasion.
The ceremony:
No matter how urgent the event, loaded weapons have no place at the alter. At the point in the ceremony that says, "If anybody has any reason why these two should no be joined in holy matrimony..." tell the preacher not to pause too long, old flames sometimes die hard and talk too much.
Remember to reserve the UAW hall far in advance, and avoid Saturdays, since that's bingo night. It is perfectly acceptable to ask guests to wipe their feet before entering the hall. After all the cleaning deposit can be the difference between an oil change and a full tune-up for the car.
When dancing never remove undergarments, no matter how hot it is!
Common wedding questions and answers:
Q: Is it all right to bring a date to the wedding?
A: Not if you are the groom.
Q: How many showers is the bride supposed to have?
A: At least one within a week of the wedding.
Q: What music is recommended for the wedding ceremony?
A: Anything except "Tied to the Whipping Post".


Ok, so I haven't exactly been in Folsom Prison, but I was feeling incarcerated by my illness and my long-term disability insurance company. So I conducted a "prison break" yesterday. I took a new medication Saturday night, Ativan, that was supposed to replace Klonopin, the one that makes me feel drunk for several hours after I'm up for the day. Well, the new med didn't stop my nightly twitches like the Klonopin does. All it did was make me sleepy for a few hours. By the time I gave up on trying to sleep yesterday morning, I didn't feel the slightest bit impaired. So I jumped in the car, not caring if I was being followed. I mean, what's the insurance company going to do? Arrest me for going to the florist?

Actually, being stuck in the house isn't too big a deal. It's not getting to drive our new car that was bumming me out. So I drove to the nearest florist blaring one of my homemade cassettes. I bought a small, very reasonably priced bouquet of roses for Dan (who does like getting flowers). I also drove out to the mall to go to my favorite card shop only to find it was no longer there. There was a Hallmark place at the other end of the mall, so i had to actually go back to the car and drive over there (can't walk that far). The very first card I picked up was perfect, so I purchased it and went home. This little excursion exhausted me, but I enjoyed getting to do it enough not to care. Maybe if I get to drive once a month I'll be ok.

I had to take a muscle relaxant and rest on the couch for about three hours after my little trip to get up the energy to go to the movie theatre. Yes, we did end up going to see "Walk the Line" after all. I highly recommend this movie. I thought maybe I was just biased because I knew pretty much every song in the movie, but Dan enjoyed it too and was singing some of the songs on the way home. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon didn't immediately conjure up Johnny Cash and June Carter for me, but when they start performing on stage together, they become more believable. I was afraid they'd either make Cash out to be cold and evil or tortured and pathetic, but they managed to make him human, which is what he was after all. And June Carter, while supposedly scandalizing her family name with two failed marriages, was human too, wary of Cash but eventually ready to bring him back from the brink of overdose. What a formidable task that must have been, as it wasn't exactly fashionable in those days to go to rehab.

The most delightful part of the movie was the music, of course. It was probably completely new to anyone under 30. I didn't realize how much I'd missed hearing that music until I watched the movie. I remember waking up Saturday mornings to "Jackson" and "A Boy Named Sue". My mom would play Johnny Cash albums when she cleaned house. I now regret I didn't save any of the albums, even though they were all worn out from being played too much. So I think I will put a nice Johnny Cash compilation on my birthday wish list. Make the neighbors wonder if I've lost my mind, heh heh.

Wow, Dan's home early. I think he wants to celebrate Valentine's Day early so I'll check in later.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I'm moping. 

Had planned on seeing a movie tonight with Dan and he came down with a migraine. I had looked forward to doing something like a date. For the most part, the only things I get to leave the house for are appointments, aquacise, church and to pick up prescriptions or food. And I can't drive because of the possibility that the LTD insurance company will have me followed. No, that's not paranoid; my lawyer actually warned me about it. We have a nice new (new to us) car, and i don't even get to drive it! I can't even go to the nearest Hallmark outlet and purchase a sappy card for Dan for Valentine's Day. I miss going to whatever restaurant suits my mood (what I wouldn't give to have a burger!) and walking the shopping district downtown and driving to the mountains. And concerts and comedy clubs and baseball games and plays. But most of all, I miss dates. Oh, we've stayed in plenty of times and watched a DVD on the couch, and it was perfectly lovely. It's never quite the same as going out, though.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Game on! 

Ok, I did it. I watched my very first Olympic opening ceremony. Um, I don't have any sort of tv guide, so I had no clue that was going to last FOUR hours. Obviously, I had to make a few meals during that time and had to get up a few other times because it hurt to sit on the couch that long. But I caught all the interesting parts.

It was a little bit of everything: inspiring, absurd, puzzling, surprising, funny, elegant and sweet. It started off with a former Olympian banging a hammer against an anvil that shot flames into the air. Then there were performers wearing red who formed the shape of a heart. There was a tribute to the Alps with flags flown for each nation the mountain range touches. And then it got really weird.

I'm not sure if the dancing cows were meant to be funny or part of the tribute to the Italian Alps, but they really cracked me up. And then there were these ballroom dancers wearing outfits with Holstein patterns on them. The moving evergreen trees made sense to me; of course, the state tree where I live is a spruce.The more traditional outfits were cool, though.

Everyone in the stands had been asked to wear white. I missed why; perhaps to symbolize peace? Anyway, it made a nice backdrop for the more colorful festivities. Laura Bush was in attendance in the stands, which I liked.

The parade of athletes was lengthy but enlightening. Except for Greece coming out first because they began the Olympics and Italy coming out last because they were hosting, the countries appeared in alphabetical order. Or should I say, Italian alphabetical order. The banners for each nation were in Italian, so a country like Hungary in English would appear in the "H"s, but in Italian, it starts with a "U". I was surprised how many nations were represented since so many parts of the world don't get snow. I noticed several of the athletes actually lived and trained in the US but represented the nation of their birth. The banner carriers for each nation wore white dresses with pointy "peaks" on them that were supposed to represent the Alps. Some nations only had one athlete participating, so he or she would be carrying that nation's flag. I was pleased to find out there was a woman athlete who is 52 years old. There's also a man the same age from another country. Most of the athletes looked very pleased and proud to be there; some had brought camcorders to document the occasion. One thing I really appreciated is that there was no booing or jeering of ANYONE, even the athletes representing unpopular nations like Iran. And I was surprised to see that North and South Korea had combined their athletes to form one team. USA had over 200 athletes in assemblage; I'm not sure whether they had the most or not. One VERY weird note: the music playing during the entire parade was American disco and early 80's music. I wonder what the guy from Kenya thought as "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer was playing??

There was a lot more spectacle after the parade, some traditional and some almost other-worldly. There was traditional Italian flag-waving, which I enjoyed very much as it is colorful and elaborate. There was a representation of the painting "The Birth of Venus", modern dance with a man in an outfit that looked like all his veins and his heart were showing, and performers suspended on wires forming the shape of a dove. Yoko Ono came out and read a little speech about peace and of course quoted "Imagine". Then Peter Gabriel actually sang "Imagine", which was way cool. The Olympic flag was brought in by eight famous women from different nations. One of them was Sophia Loren, one was Susan Sarandon, one was an African woman I recognized as a Nobel Peace Prize winner. There were also traditional songs, the raising of the Italian flag and their national anthem sung by a fourth-grader, and music made especially for this Olympics. Naturally, I was quite pleased with all the references to peace. Even if it's an illusion, for a few weeks, I can pretend we all can get along.

At last it was time for the torch. I recognized one of the torch bearers as Alberto Tomba, the famous and outrageous Italian skier. The other bearers were also Italian athletes. The final bearer, a woman, touched the torch to a metal arch, and it set off fireworks around the stadium and up to this massive torch at the top of the stadium. Then Luciano Pavarotti sang, and more fireworks rounded out the evening.

Don't know how much coverage of the events I'm going to watch; like I said, I don't have a tv guide, so I'll probably just wing it and tune in from time to time to see if anything interesting is going on. My preference is for snowboarding, figure skating and speed skating. Since Torino is about 8 hours ahead of my time zone, I expect it's all going to be pre-recorded and edited to fit into prime time during the week. And of course all the coverage is biased in favor of the US, so I won't have any trouble keeping track of the medal count. I wonder if I'll be able to resist the temptation to check the results on the internet first? Kinda like visiting a website that contains spoilers for your fave tv show or movie.

Probably will miss tomorrow night's coverage as Dan and I want to go to a movie if we can find one we agree on. Problem is, while I would go see something like "Good Night and Good Luck", "Transamerica" or "Brokeback Mountain", Dan would rather watch "Final Destination 3" or maybe "When a Stranger Calls". It's the weekend before Valentine's Day; where are the romantic comedies? I think we may be able to compromise on "Walk the Line" or maybe "Fun with Dick and Jane".

But I think I will be stuck with the image of athletes parading to "Y.M.C.A." for quite awhile, heh heh.

Friday, February 10, 2006

STILL not on the mend..... 

I still feel like hell. I'm starting to wonder if I'm EVER going to feel as well as I did before I did that functional capacity exam. Still can't use the Gazelle, can barely do aquacise, and when I tried to do simple stretches today, it hurt so bad I cried. I'm taking muscle relaxants every day that upset my stomach. I'm still getting leg cramps, mid-back spasms and more shoulder pain than I've ever had in my life. I can't believe I did this to myself for a paltry 50 percent of my former pay AND knowing I'll probably get denied anyway.

I'm bummed about the whole cell phone thing. I called the company that provides my cell phone service, and while I can get an upgrade to a nice lightweight flip phone for free, it requires an additional two-year commitment to their service. I don't understand that when I've already been their customer for four years and have never missed a payment, made a complaint or even called customer service before. But here's the kicker: they don't have local service in South Dakota (I don't think any major company does). So I can't even commit to the same plan I have because I would have to change it to a national plan if I moved to South Dakota. I'm not going to pay more for a national plan if I don't even know I will need it. It's this kind of crap that made me cancel the satellite dish. I just want a new phone with the same service and phone number. You'd think that would be easy to do. I will just keep my piece of crap phone and not change anything until Dan gets a new job.

Having a little go-round with TurboTax. I filed my return on Sunday using their website. But you're supposed to go back and check the status of your e-file 24 to 48 hours later. Well, the links on their site are not working, at least they're not working on a Mac with Netscape. I get an error stating the link is invalid. It then directs me to go to TurboTax.com, which is the site I'm already on! I e-mailed customer service, and they sent me to their tech guys. I got an e-mail back telling me to go to TurboTax.com and hit the link for checking e-mail status. Helloooooo! I told them that's already what I'm doing. So now they say I have to resolve this with a phone call. I had to make an APPOINTMENT with them for tomorrow afternoon! Why, so I can tell them their link doesn't work? I'm hoping they can just tell me if my return was accepted or not.

I did do some positive things this week. I went to the endocrinologist (well, her assistant, anyway) yesterday. Turns out I was supposed to see her in December. Oops! Anyway, I got my blood drawn to make sure my thyroid and glucose levels are ok. The only thing that really suck about going to this particular doctor is that it's at a hospital, and the closest parking is like two blocks away. I had a horrible time trying to get to the car after the appointment; I had to rest a few times, and I was wiped out the rest of the day. I think next time I'm bringing the wheelchair.

I ran into a snag getting set up with a physiatrist because the one I was referred to doesn't accept my insurance. So I had to call the pain management specialist's office and ask for some alternatives. I did find one today and have an appointment on the 23rd. I've never been to this type of doc before, so I'm really curious what he'll say and/or do.

I guess you'd have to call me a "fair weather" sports fan. I haven't followed football since I stopped working in radio 12 years ago, I don't care for hockey, and I've only watched one professional basketball game in person (although I admit I really enjoyed it). I like baseball best, but I probably won't go to anymore games because of my physical limitations (the wheelchair seats are way far back, and I wanna sit closer if I'm gonna pay a lot of money for tix). I watch bit and pieces of "extreme" sports on tv now and then, and some tennis and beach volleyball because Dan likes them. So why, you may ask, am I going to watch the Winter Olympics? I'm not sure, it's just that I've made an effort to watch at least some of each Olympics since I was eight years old and Olga Korbut was shaking up the world of gymnastics. But I've never seen the opening ceremony before, and it's gonna be televised at 7pm, so I'd better wrap this up.


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