Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Giving the dead their due.... 

Ran across this post on the Journal of SolemnDragon:

Bring out yer dead!

In it, she asks her readers to describe memorable people in their lives who have passed on and what sort of influence they had. This is not to be morbid; the idea is to honor those who have gone before us. While I've known several, I will mention just a few here in an abbreviated fashion; otherwise, I'll end up typing all night. And to those of you whom this is review (I've posted about the two most recent in this blog), just read the first couple. Here goes:

First, there is my maternal grandmother. Granny, at least the Granny I knew, was called "eccentric", a polite Southern way of referring to someone who was off their rocker. Apparently, she was not always thus, but became so when her husband suddenly dropped dead one day of a stroke in 1944. She never ever got over it. She also survived the Depression, which does account for the financial eccentricity. She had money hidden all over the house, not trusting the bank. She also was rather into collecting coins and stamps, acquiring them slowly over many years. I learned to share her appreciation for these things; I have but a tiny fraction of her original collection. Granny also taught me how to be silly and that humor is a great distraction from grief. She taught me how to be frugal, not that I necessarily follow her example. I learned from her the importance of exercising your brain on a daily basis and to appreciate the little things like homegrown tomatoes, backyard songbirds and dessert. The very most important thing I learned from Granny, though, is to not fear death. When she was in the advanced stages of cancer, she arose from her sick bed on Memorial Day and insisted that she be taken to the cemetery so she could visit her husband's grave. She wanted me to go with her even though I was only 14. She made her way to the veterans' section and climbed a hill with a giant oak tree on it. She beckoned me to her and showed me the empty space next to my grandfather's headstone. She told me, "This is where they'll put my body, but my soul will go elsewhere. I'm ready to die. There's really nothing scary about it. I want you to remember this spot so you can visit it sometime." Twenty years later, I took Dan to that cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas, found the oak tree and the hill and told him what Granny had said.

Next, there is my paternal grandfather. He was highly intelligent and far ahead of his time, but he was also quite blunt, stubborn and enjoyed starting arguments. From him I learned to appreciate intellectual discussion, but I took care not to follow his example of belligerence. Grandpa, probably more than anyone else except my parents, would take me aside and tell me how smart I was and to never be ashamed of that. He was the most voracious reader I've ever known. He was especially fond of history. The last time I ever saw him was when he was in the hospital against his will, dying of liver cancer that had spread to his brain. I knew instantly that I would never see him again because there were no books in his room, and if he couldn't read anymore, he wouldn't want to continue living. I was right.

My mom died in 1997 of lung cancer when she was just 54 years old. I could fill volumes with memories of her, so I'll just try to touch on the most important ones. Mom was funny, smart, creative and good with money. She also had a dark side filled with depression, an eating disorder, poor choices in men and a history of being abused. I learned from all of these things except maybe the being good with money. I developed a very similar sense of humor, a smidgen of her creativity and equal parts of her and my dad's intelligence. I also unfortunately inherited the tendency toward depression and the food issues but feel I have dealt with them more successfully than she was able to. Watching her mistakes with men taught me what to avoid, not that I was mistake free myself, but I eventually got it right when I married Dan. Mom taught me that you are not your job. She had wanted to be a fashion designer but lacked the money for college and ended up joining the Navy to get out of Little Rock. She did clerical work there and bookkeeping when I was young. Later, she became a loan officer at a credit union. None of these deterred her from her photography, writing, drawing, painting, making her own Christmas ornaments and all kinds of creative things. She showed me that you do whatever you have to for money and do what you love to on your own time. I think I handled the loss of my ability to work a lot better than I would have otherwise because it did not involve a loss of identity for me. My mother could have been a successful stand up comedian; she told jokes better than anyone I know. She embarked upon a rather unusual spiritual journey after I became an adult: she was raised as a Southern Baptist but avoided organised religion until the New Age movement came along. She eventually joined the Church of Religious Science. She befriended psychics and palm readers and devotees of the Science of Mind and at one point became a certified hypnotherapist. I don't know if she ever really found what she was looking for. But she did take me to church with her and introduce me to her friends, and even if I didn't accept all of her spiritual theories, she did lead me to open my mind and embrace the pursuit of peace. She died long before she was ready, leaving much unfinished. But I even learned that that doesn't matter so much. When I was at the funeral, there were about 100 people in attendance, and many of them told me that she had a major effect on their lives, and that was much more important than whether she completed anything.

I didn't know Dan's Uncle Mickey for very long, but he left quite an impression the few times I saw him in person. He was a scientist with a passion for paleontology, astronomy and archeology. He had a rare autoimmune disease, the name of which escapes me now, but it left him with a great deal of pain and weakness in his legs, and at times he was housebound. He also required dialysis. In 2002, Dan and I traveled across North Dakota, meeting Dan's parents in Bismarck, where Uncle Mickey lived. Even though he was too ill to accompany me on my sightseeing, he was impressed with my interest in his home state and told me all sorts of fascinating facts I would not otherwise have found out and gave suggestions as to what was worth visiting. When he found out I was a photography buff, he put together slide shows of some of his most memorable vacations: I saw pix of Australia, South America and Hawaii. At that time, I knew I had fibromyalgia but not the other ailments, and he stressed the importance of getting out and experiencing the world while I still had mobility. And he gave Dan and I money with the stipulation that it be used on a dream vacation and nothing else. We did take the vacation, an amazing two weeks in Hawaii, but unfortunately, he died unexpectedly six months before we were able to go. But I remembered his slide shows, particularly of the Big Island, and made sure we went to some of the very same places. I think it helped Dan grieve, knowing that his uncle had traveled the very same road, had seen the same sights via helicopter, had stood at the base of the very same volcano. A part of his uncle did seem to be there, and I felt his approval as Dan and I had the time of our lives. Did he know that in just two short years I would also become nearly housebound by autoimmune disease? Probably not. But he taught me a huge lesson about not delaying joy.

Finally, there's my paternal grandmother. Grandma lived the longest of any of my grandparents. But her decline was slow and heart-wrenching, as is anyone's with Alzheimer's/dementia. So it stands to reason that most of her influence on me occurred when I was young. When I was elementary school age, my sister and I would spend weekends at Grandma's. My parents would bring us over on Friday night and stay and play cards or board games with her and my aunts and uncles. My eldest cousin was usually there also. During the summer, we would go to her cabin in the mountains. The rest of the year, we'd go with her to church. I would say Grandma had the most to do with my manners and cultural upbringing. I was expected to wear long dresses to church, to sit quietly in the pews during the regular service, and to not run too wild in Sunday school. I was allowed to bring a doll, or when I was older, a book with me to lunch after church, but I was to be respectful of the wait staff and other customers of the restaurant. I was taken to the ballet, classical concerts, plays, museums, and I think even an opera once. I was treated to these experiences more often than my sister or cousin because I behaved well in these situations. My fondness for the performing arts has never waned, thanks to Grandma. Even though I became an atheist at age 12 and then agnostic in my 20's, when I did finally embrace organized religion again, it was the same denomination as my grandmother's church. Grandma was generous to a fault, but she never complained if the recipient didn't seem grateful. She just kept on giving. She didn't seem to know any other way to be. She was a very quiet contrast to my strident grandfather. I don't remember my grandmother ever being healthy, but this never slowed her down for long, at least not until the Alzheimer's got bad. So I also learned from her that poor health doesn't preclude having a life. And whether anyone realized it or not, Grandma was the glue that held the family together. After her funeral a year and a half ago, I've only seen my aunts and other relatives once or twice.

So those are the main influences in my life who are no longer with me in person. Too bad not all dead have their day.

Rave of the Day for October 30, 2006: 

Just in time for Halloween! Got this funny from Yak. Enjoy!

Blue Moon

Think I'm gonna dig out my "Elvira's Halloween Party" cassettes and listen to them tomorrow night. Cheesy tunes and even cheesier comedy, but, hey, I'm easily amused.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Got a roller coaster ride going on here..... 

When I last reported on the browser life melodrama, I had just gotten a showing on Wednesday night that looked promising. I was also pretty beat up from getting the outside of the house ready for the showing. And I was anticipating a major snowstorm.

Well, I woke up Thursday to a migraine that was even worse than the previous day. Nothing I could do but stay in bed with my eye pillow blocking out all possible light, lying on my left side with my ear tight against the pillow (I'm completely deaf in the right ear) to block out any extraneous noise. I finally improved enough to crawl cautiously out of bed around noon. I peeked through the blinds and was greeted by the sight of a blizzard just starting to taper off.

Hobbled downstairs to let the dog out. Poor Chip was unsure what to do at first because the snow was taller than he was! He did locate an area up against the house where the snow was only six inches or so deep. Once in it, he decided it would be cool to go play and try to eat as much snow as possible. When he finally decided to come in to eat, he had so much snow stuck to his fur that it was difficult to tell there was a dog underneath!

I opened the blinds and discovered to my dismay that my six foot tall burning bushes in front of the house had been completely flattened by the snow! Dead, broken bushes don't much add to curb appeal, so I had to go out and rescue them. I grabbed an old whisk broom and knocked the snow off the branches. Luckily, I had gotten to them early enough that most of them sprang back up again. But with my limited mobility and strength, I couldn't reach or move everything, and some of the lower branches looked like they were goners. I figured there wasn't much I could do until the snow melted. I came in for awhile and rested, and then I had to gear up for part two: the back yard's relatively young, more fragile bushes. The dwarf lilacs I think are going to be ok for the most part, but the other bushes were in bad shape. I couldn't swat at them with a broom or pull the branches up out of the snow without breaking them, so I had to actually dig them out, which was even more physically painful than the front yard adventure. I kept at it, though, until I had uncovered most of them and then staggered back into the house. There was no way I was gonna be able to shovel the driveway or sidewalk.

Luckily for me, when I had to leave the house to go pick up meds from the pharmacy, I was able to get out of the driveway by gunning the engine in reverse and powering my way through to the street. Thank goodness for traction control. I had eight meds to pick up, but was rather aggravated to discover that despite approval from the insurance company and specific instructions left via a nurse for my primary care doc, two meds weren't covered, and the bill on those equalled an entire month's food budget! Ack! So I had to ask the pharmacy to hold those while I got things sorted out.

Next, I needed to get gas. I tried going across the street to the grocery store's gas station since it was nearby, but two of the pumps were out of order, and I was nearly hit by three different vehicles in the space of a minute, so I bailed and drove to a Shell station, which cost more but at least had working pumps and no asshole drivers.

Then it was on to the massage therapist and chiropractor, a visit very much needed after my adventures battling snow and filth. I had managed to aggravate trigger points in my shoulders, entire lower back, hips AND my neck. I sure wish I could afford to go more often than every three weeks....I think once a week would be much more effective. Maybe when I win the lottery.....

Picked up the mail on the way home. Guess who got summoned for jury duty? Bummer! Actually, I would like to serve on a jury, but there's no way I could stay alert during testimony or sit in the same chair for more than two hours. But the only way I can be excused is to get a doctor's letter, and the summons didn't say anywhere on it how to proceed.

Even with the massage and adjustment, I was still sore as hell at bedtime. I took a Valium as a muscle relaxant. But I had to skip the sleep aid because I'm transitioning from Lunesta to Ambien, and I was told to take 24 hours off between the two meds. So I got up yesterday morning with the migraine back, nausea, and a major case of fatigue. Fun.

Fortunately, my neighbor friend volunteered to shovel my driveway and sidewalk, no small task as the snow had hardened into ice. It took her over an hour. While she was slaving away, I went into the house to feed Chip and got a phone call. It was the realtor's office, and they were scheduling a SECOND showing for this morning, which means someone who had already toured the house wanted to view it again! Yayyyyy! I took a peek to see how presentable the front porch was and noticed it was covered in leaves that had fallen off the bushes the previous day when I had beaten the snow off of them. So I hauled out the big broom again, undoing Thursday's progress in the process, but I have to admit the porch looked very nice devoid of leaves.

I also had to do some major phone calling. First, I contacted the insurance company to see why they weren't covering the generic for Seasonale when I had an approval letter for it. They did some sort of override to their system and said it should be ok after that. Then I spent about half an hour in voice mail hell with the jury commissioner's office, trying to find out how to be excused from jury duty for medical reasons. I finally found the proper option and got the detailed rules regarding the letter, how it must be on the doctor's letterhead, how it must clearly define my health conditions and exactly how they would prevent me from serving, and whether my condition was permanent. If they forget to mention your condition is permanent, you'll be called up again in six months. And this has to be done by snail mail; you can't be excused by phone or e-mail. So I called the primary care doc's office and arranged for the letter to be written. I also told the nurse for the second time that my insurance doesn't cover Nexium and specified that I needed a prescription for generic omeprazanole (or some spelling similar to that). She said no problem, that the doc would probably take care of it that afternoon. I then called the pharmacy back about the generic Seasonale, and they confirmed that this time, it was listed as covered. I told them I'd pick up the two meds today.

Then my neighbor friend came by to help me take Chip to the vet for his annual physical and shots. I can't handle Chip on a leash anymore because I haven't the strength or mobility. Good thing I had help yesterday, because I could barely walk myself. Chip got a clean bill of health and his rabies, distemper and bordatella shots. He's much braver around needles than I am, heh heh. After we finished, we got some Boston Market to go as I had a $2 off coupon. I didn't want to dirty up the kitchen when I new I had a showing coming up.

The rest of the evening was spent alternating resting with small amounts of tidying. The hardwood floor needed mopping because all of all the snow and dirt that had been tracked in, but I just didn't have the stamina for that. So I just made sure everything else looked good. Dragged myself to bed about 1am.

Got up this morning about 8:45, the latest I could manage considering the showing was scheduled for 10am. I just barely had enough time to feed Chip, make the bed, open the blinds and turn on the lights, put a few last minute things away, sweep the floor, get myself dressed and ready to go and get Chip ready to go. We hopped into the car at 9:45. I was sooo exhausted; I had brought a book to read in the car at the park, but I slept most of the time of the showing.

After I got home, I dropped off Chip and went back out to the pharmacy to get my two meds. Well, one of them was covered, but the other was still the wrong med! Despite leaving very clear messages to the nurse twice, the doc had prescribed Nexium AGAIN! Argh! The pharmacy said they would call this time and leave a message. It probably won't get straightened out until next week. I keep reminding myself that at least after I get these meds covered properly the first time, the refills should be no problem. While I was there, I asked whether they had the generic for Mobic since the insurance company has told me they'll only pay for the generic. They do have it, so when I see the rheumatologist in November, I'll make sure he prescribes the right one.

Then, since the grocery store was right across the street, I decided to get most of my food shopping out of the way. I got their last electric cart, but the place was a freakin' obstacle course, full of overflowing carts and people who would just not let me get around them. Took me a damned hour to buy probably 20 items. But at least it's over.

Have spent the rest of the day alternately dozing off and rushing to the phone only to hear damned pre-recorded political messages. Hoping like hell one of those calls is gonna be the realtor telling me I've got an offer on the house.

It's gotta be soon.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Yayyyy! A showing! 

Had one tonight (Wednesday), actually. I know I've said this before, but I had a good feeling about this one. It's the first one I've had on a weeknight since August. The realtor left her card, AND they took a contract packet with them! That has to be a good sign!

I am soooo ready for a sale. I'm just about done in. Today I had to get out the ladder and change light bulbs and scrub bird poop off the house and take down all the cobwebs with dead bugs in them and clean the outside of the windows and doors and pull some weeds and sweep the porch, driveway and sidewalk. Gotta keep up the curb appeal, you know. The front yard probably should be raked, but I just couldn't do any more. As it is, I'm in horrible pain tonight and can hardly walk. I also have a migraine, whee. Hated to do it, but I had to take some Baclofen just now. I just hope no one calls me in the morning. I am going to the massage therapist and the chiropractor tomorrow afternoon; I will certainly need it.

Finally have gotten things sorted out with the meds and insurance coverage, I think. The denials, oddly enough, were sent to me, but the approvals were sent to Dan, so he had to mail them back to me. I got the last of them yesterday. I was able to call the primary care doc's office this afternoon and get new prescriptions for seven medications. I also have a refill for Restasis waiting at the Walgreens. So it's gonna be one big bill tomorrow when I pick everything up! At least this way, I can get most of my refills all at the same time each month and cut down on the number of trips to the pharmacy.

There might be a blizzard here tonight and/or tomorrow! Some parts of town might get as little as three inches of snow while others may get a foot and a half! This area is supposed to get six. Right now it's only raining, but it's expected to turn into snow in a few hours.

There's more I'd like to say, but my head hurts too much right now.

Ouch. And yay!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Doobie doobie do..... 

One topic I wanted to address a few days ago in my post about controversial ballot issues was one about making it legal for an adult over the age of 21 to possess an ounce or less of marijuana. Naturally, the "just say no" crowd is convinced that if it passes, it will lead to the downfall of our society. Trust me, there are many things that could actually do that, but pot isn't one of them.

I speak on this topic from experience. I have smoked marijuana. The total number of occasions could probably be counted on my fingers (I have the usual ten). Most of this "criminal" activity occurred in college. In every instance, I did not buy, sell or posses the marijuana. I merely took a puff of someone else's joint or shared someone else's bong, at their invitation. I never once desired to buy, sell or possess pot, and not just because it was illegal, but because while I enjoyed being high, it was never a particular priority. It did not make me crave more pot, or more of anything except junk food. It was not a gateway drug for me. It did not lead to me drinking more, smoking more of anything, or drugs that can kill like cocaine or heroin. It certainly never led to any other criminal activity. I did not drive while high. I could honestly take it or leave it. I was like the guy who will drink a beer socially with friends but doesn't drink any at home.

Why am I bothering to mention all this? Because I'm fairly certain there are thousands, if not millions, of other people exactly like me. I don't consider myself to be a criminal, even though what I did was technically illegal. And I don't believe an adult with an ounce or less of pot on his person is a criminal either, particularly if that person is consuming it for medical reasons cleared with a doctor. Believe me, most people with small amounts of marijuana are usually just having a joint in the privacy of their own home on a day off from work, rather like the person who has a brewski to unwind while watching a football game. Surely society has more important things to worry about than whether some dude is getting a marijuana buzz in his basement, eating Pringles and laughing with his buds? Why is it perfectly ok consume alcohol, a potent depressant, in public but not to smoke one joint at home? Seems damned hypocritical to me.

I'm no idiot; I'm fully aware that even if this ballot issue passes, federal law will still apply, so the average person will still end up in the slammer if caught with a joint on him. And it will still be illegal to grow, buy or sell pot. And any favorable decision by the voters will probably still be overturned as unconstitutional. But I will vote in favor of it anyway because I want to send a message that I do not find marijuana to be any more offensive or dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Cops have better things to do with their time than to haul away an otherwise law abiding citizen for having a joint on them. And I'm sick to death of the arrests of people who have a legitimate need for medical marijuana. The "war on drugs" paranoia is more than ridiculous when it comes to pot.

So, if the ballot issue passes, will I be tempted to once again share a joint with a friend? Absolutely not. I am on prescription medications and wouldn't want to risk an interaction. I have pretty much given up alcohol for the same reason. But I'm not going to trample on the right of someone else to smoke 'em if they've got 'em.

"Light up, everybody
Join us in this celebration
Light up and be happy
Sweet sweet sounds will fill the air"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rave of the Day for October 24, 2006: 

Who says a person with a disability or chronic illness can't be happy, or at least accepting of their situation? Both of these links are courtesy of Ricky Buchanan. They give lots of food for thought, and subject matter I'd like to elaborate upon myself at some point....

The Joys of Impairment

My Jar Full of Marbles

I have a ton of stuff piling up that I want to use for Raves of the Day: funnies, intelligent discourses, profound quotes, etc. Perhaps when I get a proper internet connection and can get them posted in a timely manner.....

The waiting game..... 

Still haven't heard anything from my realtor about that couple that was interested in my house. I'm hoping that they got the chance to tour several other homes over the weekend and will be making a decision soon, maybe this week? It's quite frustrating to have the phone ring, and I get my hopes up, and then I find out it's just a recorded political message. Thanksgiving is only a month away, and I wanna get out of here before that.

Odd thing happened this weekend: my stepmother called me just to talk. She's never done that before, and I've known her since I was 16. She mainly wanted to know if I had sold the house yet.

On Saturday, I got a mysterious package in the mail. It turned out to be a goodie box from the webmistress of But You Don't Look Sick! There were various items ranging from amusing to practical. I found the note pads to be most timely since I had packed up most of my office supplies, never dreaming I would use up all my scrap paper waiting for the house to sell. I've used the "Magic grip" pad to open bottles with my arthritic hands. Among the amusing items was a commemorative hockey puck. The goodie box was the highlight of an otherwise lackluster weekend.

Yesterday, I went to take a shower and grabbed what I thought was a new bottle of shampoo. Turns out that I had actually bought two bottles of conditioner and had no shampoo! So I headed to Wally World during the Bronco game, figuring most people would be home watching the game. Wrong! The parking looked like the day after Thanksgiving shopping frenzy! I couldn't find a space within a city block of the place; all the handicapped spots were taken. So I had to turn around and go home. I went back this afternoon. It was still crowded, and no handicapped parking, but I found a space not too much further away, and there was an electric cart available, so I was in business. I double checked this time that I was indeed buying shampoo; I don't know how I missed it before because it has a different color lid than the conditioner. I think the previous purchase involved another fibro fog sneak attack, heh heh.

I'm still having a pretty significant problem with fatigue; I have missed one of my aquacise classes every week for the past month because I just couldn't get out of bed. Twelve hours of rest a day doesn't leave me with much productive time. It's a little scary to think about what will happen when I have to start packing and actually doing highly exhausting things.

Went online last night to see what houses were still for sale in Sioux Falls. The "Elvis" house is gone now, which leaves only two suitable houses that we've toured. I did find a new one that just went on the market but not much else. As for Dan's parents moving to a retirement community and possibly selling us their house, well, they might have lost a little enthusiasm for that after their trip to Florida. But they just got back a week ago, so they probably needed to rest. There's no hurry for them to decide, really, unless we do get an offer on our house. Then we will have to figure out right away where we're gonna live. If we don't end up with the in-laws' house, I would like to buy the 1977 house near where our friends live. It's cute, up to date, and I could actually see myself living there. But who knows who much longer it will be available?

Still do not have the security system in working order. After the technician replaced the batteries and re-configured the system, I started getting fault messages on the window sensor again a day or two later. I talked with the alarm company again, and they decided my sensor had probably worn out, so I had to order a new one. It came in the mail today, and I installed it, but the control panel would not reset. I called the alarm company yet another time, and the tech couldn't figure out what the problem was, so I have to have ANOTHER technician come out to the house! I have an appointment for next Monday afternoon. This is getting very expensive, two tech visits and a new sensor in less than a month. Until it is fixed, I can't arm it at night, which is the whole point of having a security system. I hope I can get out of my contract somehow when I move.

Tonight, I finished putting in the most recent pix in my 2006 scrapbook, which means I'm CAUGHT UP! Never thought that would happen. I still need to do a title page and put on the protective sleeves. Then I will start working on the album of pix my aunt has sent me over the years. It will be a little different than the ones containing my own photos because there will only be one or two pix per page with bits and pieces of my aunt's letters included. So I'll be able to do fancy backgrounds and elaborate decorations if I wish. There's never enough room for that stuff on my own albums because I try to squeeze too many photos onto a page. Should be fun but time consuming, which might not be a bad thing if I end up still having to wait forever for the house to sell.

Did write my review of the new primetime TV fall shows for But You Don't Look Sick. It consists mainly of bits of previous blog entries strung together, but that's what I had in mind when I was posting those entries because I couldn't possibly remember that many details from 10 new TV shows. Yesterday, I started writing a review of "Gluten Free Living for Dummies" but ran out of brain power and haven't been able to come up with much since. I'll get back to it sometime this week.

Speaking of brain drain, mine's empty now. Good night.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Rave of the Day for October 22, 2006: 

While many of us were focused on the Foley scandal, our Bill of Rights was very quietly but seriously damaged. Our President basically suspended the writ of habeus corpus with our nation registering barely a whimper. You think because you're an American citizen that you are protected from unlawful imprisonment? Not anymore. All you have to do is be accused of being an "unlawful enemy combatant". I saw this coming five years ago but was told I was exaggerating or that I was un-American. Sound like McCarthy-ism or the Japanese internment camps? It is. Welcome to the new millennium. And thanks to Dr. Karen for the links.....

Beginning of the end of America

National yawn as our rights evaporate

The death of habeus corpus

The terrorists really are winning.

Ok, now we're getting somewhere..... 

I guess the pension administrator got tired of my grumpy voice mail messages because she FINALLY sent me the rest of the disability application paperwork! I got it Thursday. I had to fill out a two page application, a direct deposit form, and something called a W-P4, which is a tax form similar to the W-4 people have to fill out at their jobs to figure out how much withholding they need from their pay. Because i have a pension but also a spouse who has income subject to withholding, I had to fill out a worksheet to calculate the proper amount of withholding. But because my pension and Dan's income is so low, I probably won't have to pay much tax at all. I guess there are advantages to being broke, heh heh.

One thing that annoyed me was that the default pension was a 50 percent joint survivorship arrangement (I can't remember exactly what they call it). This actually is pretty cool if you and your spouse are both elderly because it ensures that your spouse gets 50 percent of your pension payment after you die. But since I'm only 42 and Dan is 35, it makes more sense for me to get the full pension amount now since I will probably live at least 25 more years and Dan will have plenty of time to save up money for his own retirement. The problem is that you are only given seven days to change the default. That would mean I'd have to send Dan a form, he'd have to take time off work to sign it in front of a notary public, and he'd have to get it sent back all within the space of a week. Not likely. It rather sucks living 600 miles apart. So I just checked off the default. Getting some of my pension is better than getting none.

In addition to the forms, I had to provide a copy of my birth certificate, Dan's birth certificate, our marriage certificate, and my SSDI award letter. I managed to squeeze it all into an envelope and mail it off yesterday. Now all I have to do is wait for the administrator to process it. I was told this would take a couple of weeks, but judging from her incredibly slow response so far, I'll be extremely lucky to receive my first payment before I move. I'm really hoping I can start getting benefits before I have to file a change of address, which of course will muck up the works some more.

I got a certified mail packet from my former employer this week. It contained all the documents they had regarding my long term disability insurance company's contract, policy stuff, etc. This had been requested by my lawyer since the LTD company is refusing to provide the documents themselves. They included a letter in which they indicated that they intend to be fully cooperative, which doesn't surprise me since they can be fined for using the services of a LTD company that breaks the law, and being a newspaper agency, they definitely don't want this being made public. So between the documents from the agency and the copies of test results I provided, the lawyer has enough to begin building a case even without the LTD company's cooperation, although the LTD company is gonna find themselves in legal hot water anyway if they don't cough up my case file by the end of November. It's all pretty ridiculous that this insurance company is putting so much money and energy into limiting and eventually denying my benefits since they don't owe me a significant amount each month. I'd say it was hardly worth the effort. I think the reason they're being such assholes about this is that I'm so young, and they're really freaked out about maybe having to pay me this pittance for 25 years. I added it up, though, and I was shocked at what a small amount it is, even over 25 years.

Guess what? Dan and I are APPROVED for a new home loan! Well, pre-approved, actually. They did their calculations based on the most expensive house we would probably buy, and we were still ok. Sometimes I get nervous for nothing. But one thing I didn't know about is this stuff called PMI. It didn't really come up when we bought this house in 1998, or at least it was never explained to me then. I discovered that unless we put 20 percent down on our next house, we have to pay private mortgage insurance, which is not tax deductible like the mortgage interest is. I would love to put down 20 percent, but since our savings is gone and we had to drop the sale price of our current house, I don't think we're quite going to be able to manage it. So the mortgage company offered us something called an "80-10-10" arrangement to get around the PMI. Basically, we pay our 10 percent down in cash, we get a 30 year fixed loan on 80 percent of the home's value, and then a 15 year loan (at a slightly higher interest rate) for the remaining 10 percent. The reason the second loan is only 15 years is because that's how long we would have to pay PMI. The advantage of getting a loan for the remaining 10 percent instead of paying PMI is that the interest on the loan will be tax deductible and it would over time cost us less. Fortunately, the interest rates have gone down a bit recently, so we're getting our 80 percent loan for a lower rate than we got when we bought our current house in 1998. Even with two loans, we will still end up with a mortgage that is only two-thirds what we're paying now. Not too shabby. The best part is that when our current house sells, we won't have to waste any time purchasing a home in Sioux Falls. Dan just shows them the conditional approval letter and makes an offer, and if it's accepted, we can get the ball rolling right away. At the rate the homes are selling in Sioux Falls, we'll have to act fast to get anything good.

Now, if I could just light a fire under someone's butt to buy our current house.....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

To approve or not to approve? That is the question..... 

Ok, I made the big phone call today to start getting pre-qualified on a new home loan. These things always make me a little nervous, even though we have excellent credit. Over the past four months, I did a little comparison shopping for loans with various mortgage companies, and while I did find some low rates, these were with companies I hadn't heard of or were for adjustable rate mortgages or other types of mortgages that could be risky. Right now is not the time to take risks. I want a plain old fashioned 30 year fixed rate mortgage with a reliable company. In the end, I decided it would be simpler to stick with the mortgage company we are already using. We've had them for eight years and have had zero problems with them. Their rates are not the lowest, but they are competitive, which should be good enough.

I am rather ticked off with the administrator of my disability pension. I do not have an answer one way or the other whether I will be getting my pension anytime soon, and I need to get the ball rolling on a loan in case my home sells soon, so I can't use the pension as a source of income right now. That is partly what made me nervous about applying today, that I am approximately half a mortgage payment short on income. That could make qualifying for a house on the upper end of our price range somewhat iffy. But if I keep waiting and all of a sudden it's time to buy and we don't qualify, that would be pretty devastating. Better to know ahead of time what we can afford to offer on a house.

So I gave all the basic info to the mortgage specialist, and she's gonna run a credit check and call me back probably tomorrow. The pre-qualification will actually be good for four months, which is way cool, so if I don't actually sell until February, we won't have to re-qualify. This all will of course be contingent upon the sale of our current home since we no longer have any savings. But we will be able to assure the seller of whatever home we decide to buy that we are serious and that our offer will be good. That gives us more bargaining power and confidence that we are not over-extending ourselves financially.

Now assuming that our present house does sell, the big question will be what we are going to buy in Sioux Falls. I checked online last night to see what's still on the market in case Dan's parents decide against moving to a retirement community and selling us their home. The houses that Dan has toured and liked that are still for sale are down to three. One is the "Elvis" house (it has a statue of Elvis in the basement), built in 1957 with 2200 square feet, a one car garage, a privacy fenced yard and reasonably up to date, located near Dan's parents' house. The second house was built in 1962 with 2000 square feet, a two car garage, a chain link fence and several updates, centrally located near a college and hospitals. The third house was built in 1977 with 1700 square feet, a two car garage, lots up updates and a large-ish kitchen, located near our friends' house. The oldest and largest house is the cheapest, and the newest and smallest house is the most expensive, but we're talking a price difference here of only $10,000. I think all three will require us to buy washers and dryers, and one of the houses will need to have the back yard fenced. If we end up buying Dan's parents' house, we will need to finish the backyard fencing as it is only done on two sides. I have no idea whether or not we'll need to come up with any appliances. We are leaving behind all appliances, ceiling fans and window coverings that are in our present home so we won't have to deal with moving them.

Ideally, the pre-qualification will go off without a hitch, we'll get a sale on our current home soon, we'll get a good deal on something in Sioux Falls, AND we'll be able to move before the holidays. This is me with a positive attitude, a crooked grin plastered on my face, hoping crazily for this to be true.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Crossing my fingers, toes, and eyes..... 

First of all, I had not one but TWO showings on Saturday! First time that had happened! It greatly helped my down mood.

Then today, the realtor called and told me that one of the couples that toured the house on Saturday really liked it! This is the first positive feedback we've had the entire four months the house has been on the market! Our realtor told their realtor a bit about our situation, with Dan already living in another state and me trying to sell with health problems. Their realtor told the couple that Dan and I were quite "motivated" to sell, which is a nice way to avoid saying desperate. The couple just started looking, though, and they want to see a few more homes before they make a decision. So while there is hope, I must be patient.

I realized that if this couple does make an offer soon, things will begin moving very fast. I still haven't contacted a lender to begin pre-qualifying on a new home loan because I'm STILL waiting to receive my disability pension. I called the pension administrator again, third time in as many weeks, to see what the hold up was, and of course got voice mail. I can't keep waiting for a pension I might not even receive, so tomorrow, I will start looking into whether Dan and I will qualify for a loan without it.

I also realized that since the house has been on the market for four months and I am officially "motivated" to sell, then any offer I receive is likely to be less than what I'm asking, even though I've dropped the price $5000 and am going to pay $3000 on the buyer's closing. So I checked my numbers to see how low we can go. I figure I can make do with another $5000 drop if I have to, but anything below that, and we'll barely be able to afford our next house.

The other question mark in the picture is whether or not we'll be buying Dan's parents' house. The in-laws just came back from a week in Florida, so they haven't been looking at retirement communities for awhile. If we get an offer on our current house soon, we'll need to know right away if they do intend to move or whether we should just buy something else. I suppose it wouldn't hurt for me to take another look to see what's still on the market in Sioux Falls, just in case.

I'm trying not too get too excited yet. We've already gone through the disappointment of a couple that couldn't get financing and someone who was tring to rip us off. The couple that saw the house last weekend has only said they liked the house, not necessarily that they intended to buy it. At least not yet.

But there is hope.

Bonus Rave of the Day for October 17, 2006: 

My latest article for But You Don't Look Sick has been posted. It's about the importance of protecting your prescription medical from potential thieves. This is especially vital if you must take medication that a healthy person might abuse.

Watch Your Meds!

When I get the chance, I'm going to do a write up of the new fall primetime network tv season.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rave of the Day for October 17, 2006: 

This is sort of a companion piece to my previous post. It's the lyrics to a song that came out a few years ago, "What It's Like" by Everlast. Puts an exclamation point on my feelings.

"What It's Like"

"We've all seen the man at the liquor store beggin' for your change

The hair on his face is dirty, dreadlocked and full of mange

He ask the man for what he could spare with shame in his eyes

Get a job you fuckin' slob's all he replied

"God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes

'Cause then you really might know what it's like to sing the blues

Then you really might know what it's like

"Mary got pregnant from a kid named Tom who said he was in love

He said don't worry about a thing baby doll I'm the man you've been dreamin' of

But three months later he said he won't date her or return her call

And she sweared god damn if I find that man I'm cuttin' off his balls

And then she heads for the clinic and she gets some static walkin' through the doors

They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner, and they call her a whore

"God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
'Cause then you really might know what it's like to have to choose
Then you really might know what it's like

"I've seen a rich man beg
I've seen a good man sin
I've seen a tough man cry
I've seen a loser win
And a sad man grin
I heard an honest man lie
I've seen the good side of bad
And the down side of up
And everything between
I licked the silver spoon
Drank from the golden cup
Smoked the finest green
I stroked daddies dimes at least a couple of times
Before I broke their heart
You know where it ends
Yo, it usually depends on where you start

"I knew this kid named Max
He used to get fat stacks out on the corner with drugs
He liked to hang out late at night
Liked to get shit faced
And keep pace with thugs
Until late one night there was a big gun fight
Max lost his head
He pulled out his chrome .45
Talked some shit
And wound up dead
Now his wife and his kids are caught in the midst of all of his pain
You know it crumbles that way
At least that's what they say when you play the game

"God forbid you ever had to wake up to hear the news
'Cause then you really might know what it's like to have to lose
Then you really might know what it's like to have to lose..."

Yeah, it's blunt, but it's also a reality check that most of us don't dare to take.

Here is the post where I offend several of my readers (WARNING: controversial subject matter follows).... 

Ok, I mentioned in an earlier post that I was upset with the actions of someone I knew. I have waited awhile to cool off, but I haven't been able to completely drop the subject. So I will discuss the issues without naming names; I think that is the fairest way for me to vent. And I thank my friend Pete for her level-headed e-mail discussion on these topics that polarize our nation, our schools, our local governments and our churches.

Part of the reason I'm going to bring up what is usually unmentionable is that these issues are not going away quietly. In fact, they are the subjects of several ballot issues, and with Election Day less than a month away, various candidates for Congress, governor, etc. are discussing them, some of them quite stridently. I will not ask or expect my readers to agree with me, because I become offended when others do that to me. I am simply going to state what I feel and let you make up your own mind. I could ignore this altogether, which would be the way I generally deal with people face to face, but in this blog, I prefer to present myself as I am, warts and all. Otherwise, I have no outlet, and some of you will be left with a mistaken impression as to what I am really about.

First, even though I have mentioned this before, I feel I should state again that even though I am a Christian, I am a LIBERAL one. Extremely liberal, in fact. I am a former atheist, and many churches would not accept me as a member. The ones that would take me have what is known as an "open and affirming" covenant. That means they accept people from all backgrounds, and I mean ALL. Their only provision is if you wish to join, you must be willing to follow the teachings of Jesus. But anyone can visit. In a church such as this, you are allowed to ask difficult questions, learn about other faiths, decide what messages the Bible contains and how they apply to modern day. You are not threatened with eternal damnation for not conforming to the norm. This is an environment where I feel comfortable.

I believe in judging others as I want to be judged by my creator. I don't always succeed, but I am human after all. I have no problem discussing my beliefs with someone who wants to have a rational conversation about them, but I draw the line at attempting to convert someone who is already comfortable with their beliefs or condemning someone to Hell because they don't attend my church. I am far less concerned with whether someone is a Christian than whether they are loving, sincere, giving, respectful of others. Jesus allowed "undesirables" to dine with him. Why can't we do the same?

I feel rather strongly that Christianity should not become our form of government, but I see it happening all around me. I have no problem with being a Christian and having a secular government and secular public schools. I don't want to see the 10 Commandments posted on the front door of my state capitol building to the exclusion of other religious documents, and I feel that If parents are offended that the 10 Commandments are not posted in their public schools, then they can either enroll the child in a private Christian school or home school them. I do not object to comparative studies of world religions in the classroom, if such studies are unbiased and optional. But a Christian upbringing should be done at home, at the church of the parents' choice, and possibly at a private school if the parents want that. And to be perfectly honest, I would prefer that references to God be removed from our money and our courtrooms. What if the shoe were on the other foot and we were suddenly required to swear, "so help me Allah?" Ok, maybe that's a poor example, but I think it is clear what I'm getting at.

Right now, there are several attempts to legislate morality disguised as ballot issues that the voters will have to decide upon in a few weeks. One is a pretty much total ban on abortion in South Dakota. I always have and always will believe that abortion is a private matter between a woman, her doctor, and possibly her significant other when appropriate. No, I have never had an abortion, and I've never even been pregnant. But I could never endure laws that would tell some one who was raped, molested or who is too ill to carry a baby to term that they must go through with the pregnancy. And what about when the woman's life is in danger? How could I as a voter say, "sorry, but you'll have to die, because the law is the law"?

Some believe the proper pathway to encouraging a ban on abortion is to hold protests at Planned Parenthood or even at doctors' private homes. But I must voice an objection here. Because they aren't just intimidating women getting pregnancy counseling, they are also intimidating women who go there for other reasons. Like the woman with no health insurance who can't afford to pay full price on her annual PAP smear. Or the woman whose husband cheated on her and suddenly she needs an HIV or STD test. Or the woman who is trying to be a responsible adult and uses prescription birth control. Planned Parenthood provides many very valuable services for low income women (and some men). I was a patient of theirs for six years total when I had no insurance. I feel if you want to hold a public protest, go to your capitol or legislative building, or stage a parade or something. But stop humiliating individual women whom you know nothing about.

In Colorado, there are two items to vote upon regarding homosexuality. One is an amendment to the constitution stating that marriage can be only be between one man and one woman, pretty much the same thing that is being proposed federally. The other says nothing about marriage but guarantees some legal rights for same sex couples such as allowing hospital visitation (the ICU only allows family members), allowing a partner to make funeral arrangements for their loved one, and allowing one partner to inherit the property of another. It never made sense to me that someone could spend decades with their partner essentially as a loving spouse, yet be considered a complete stranger in the eyes of the law. So if I am still in Colorado come election day, I'll be voting against the constitution change and in favor of the legal rights for same sex partners. I figure if a couple lives as though they are married and are true to one another, what business of mine is it what gender they are? It is my opinion that same sex couples are NOT a threat to Christianity or the traditional family, and we do NOT need to be amending the Constitution to satisfy homophobic Christians. How can they be a threat? It's not as though a person can be made to "go gay" if they weren't born that way. The same sex partnerships I know are actually good examples of love and devotion, and what's wrong with that? I'd rather be around a happy gay couple than a miserable opposite sex couple any day.

A full 10 percent of the population is homosexual. They are born that way, so how can that be a sin? Our creator wouldn't make 10 percent of the population doomed to Hell from the moment they were born. That makes no sense whatsoever. I know of gay (now former) Catholics who tried their very best to choose the approved "lifestyle", marrying the opposite sex, raising a family, etc. They wanted with all their heart to live the dream. But while they loved their spouse and their children, they were inwardly tortured and miserable, living a lie because it was expected of them, and because they so desperately wanted to be "normal". Some were able to step forward and reveal the truth at some point, and some I believe are still closeted and will remain that way until the day they die.

There was more I wanted to say, but fibro fog has set in, and I'm too tired and in pain to continue in this vein much longer. I think I got the important stuff mentioned anyway. I just felt I should stand up and represent liberal Christians because I'm weary of the assumption that all Christians are of the fundamentalist type. You may call me whatever bad words you like, but I am hoping you will see me as a progressive because that's how I see myself.

I now return you to my less offensive blog entries.....

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The tube and other topics.... 

Ok, I think I've finally gotten to all the premiers of prime time tv shows, at least all the ones I care to see. I must say there has been a vast improvement over last year, when there were still too many reality shows. Or maybe it's just that I am a captive audience this year with nothing else to do.

Last night kicked off with "My Name Is Earl". I particularly liked this episode because I've thought for some time that Randy ought to have a girl friend. Unfortunately for him, he falls for a woman who enters her cat in contests, and Randy is allergic to cats. But she is so desperate to not be alone that she gives the cat to Earl so she can be with Randy. This is great until Randy figures out he has become a substitute for the cat and in fact is being treated as though he were a cat.

"The Office" was next. Michael's former manager dies in a gruesome freak accident. Michael's way of grieving is to go over every gory detail ad nauseum. He forces everyone to do a grief therapy session in which each person is to tell the story of someone they know who died. Three people in the office tell stories that are actually movie plots. Then Michael freaks out when he finds out a bird died in the parking lot. He makes everyone attend a funeral for it.

"Grey's Anatomy" I think is trying to send its viewers into sensory overload, the good kind though. Within the space of five seconds, McSteamy joins the staff of the hospital, Meredith begins vomiting and is asked if she is pregnant, and a patient on oxygen lights a cigarette and bursts into flame! Never a dull moment would be an understatement. Turns out Meredith is not pregnant but needs to have her appendix removed. While waiting for surgery, she is put on morphine, which makes her very chatty and honest with hilarious results. Christina finds out that Dr. Burke has an uncontrollable right hand tremor that could jeopardize his surgical career. George is dumped by Dr. Torres, who then propositions McSteamy in a bar. After Meredith's surgery, she proves what a moron she is by dumping the vet even though McDreamy has just dumped her. Why is it the good guys always lose? I'm seriously bummed about the prospect of Chris O'Donnell no longer being on the show. I just hope they show McSteamy nearly naked again. That would probably cheer me up, heh heh. The biggest shocker of the hour, though, is when Izzie finds out that Denny left her 8.7 MILLION! Wow!

Tonight, I had to choose between "Men in Trees" and a new game show. While I do like "Men in Trees" a lot, I LOVE game shows! And I figured "Men in Trees" would be more likely to re-run than "1 Versus 100", so I chose the game show (I don't have the ability to tape anything right now). "1 Versus 100" was created by the guys from "Deal or No Deal". Basically, a contestant competes against 100 celebrities and/or smart people. For instance, Ken Jennings of "Jeopardy" is part of the 100, also referred to as "the mob". Both the contestant and the mob answer a multiple choice question. The contestant must get it right, or they walk away with nothing. If the contestant is right, then they win a certain dollar amount for each member of the mob who gets it wrong. Each mob member who gives an incorrect answer is eliminated. The dollar amount per incorrect mob member answer goes up every time the contestant gets one right, and there are fewer mob members to compete against each time because of the eliminations. After every correct answer, the contestant has the option to take the money and go home, or risk all of it on the next question. The contestant does have two opportunities to ask for assistance from a mob member if they are uncertain on a question. The catch is that while the mob member must be honest about which answer they chose, they can lie about why they chose it. The first contestant went home with $135,000 which I thought was pretty impressive. I love to see people get rewarded for using their brain. I will make this part of my regular viewing.

In other news, I never did get the disability pension paperwork I was promised. I called the administrator again this week; again I got her voice mail. I left another message asking why I hadn't gotten the paperwork. Naturally, she hasn't bothered to call me back. I have half a mind to drive down there and stand in the office until someone tells me what the hell is going on.

Have been having trouble with the security system on the house. Keep getting false fault messages. Was told to change the batteries on the sensors, but when I talked to tech support about how to get the sensor open, they had no clue and said it would require a service call, which is a $35 charge. This pissed me off at first, but when the lady came out and changed all the batteries, the system still would not reset, so I did require her technical expertise after all. But then yesterday, I got another fault message on the window sensor! I was able to reset it after several tries. I need this damned thing to work since it's part of the inclusions on my house sale.

Got the sprinklers blown out on Wednesday. We got our first hard freeze that night, but now it's going to be 70 degrees during the day all weekend. I'm used to having Dan fill up a bucket and water the bushes and the tree by hand when we have warm streaks like that, but I guess I'll just have to let things dry out because I can't lift a bucket full of water by myself. I also need to rake the leaves off the yard and sweep the porch and driveway, but I've injured myself each time I've attempted to use the rake or the broom recently, so I guess I'll have to let that go too. It bugs me that I can't keep the yard looking nice for showings, but if I have to choose between overdoing it or staying functional, I'm gonna choose functional. After all, it looks as though I'm gonna be fending for myself all winter.

Am still awaiting the proper paperwork from the health insurance company authorizing me to fill my meds that aren't on their formulary. Got the denials for the Seasonale and the Lunesta, but nothing else yet. Need to get this resolved soon as I've got nine days' worth of Seasonale and about a week's worth of Lunesta left. I will be replacing them with generic Ortho Tri-cyclen and Ambien CR once I get the approval paperwork. I will be allowed to continue my Armour thyroid and Cytomel. I will have to switch to something other than Nexium for my reflux, and I think I have to go on the new generic for Mobic.

Got a letter from my LTD lawyer stating that my LTD insurance company is still refusing to provide records and asking if I could provide any. I called to let him know I have the reports for my functional capacity exam and my neuropsych exam. I also have copies of the original neuropsych evaluation from October 2004, my most recent sleep study, and the office notes from my primary care doc about my condition the day following the functional capacity exam. I am scanning all of this to send to him. He said that if this ends up going to court, the timeline on that would be about a year and a half. Ugh. He did mention a couple of good things, though. One is that he knows a psychologist who has extensive experience with chronic pain patients that can look over my neuropsych exam results. This psychologist also has developed a new personality exam specifically for people with chronic pain that doesn't lump physical complaints into depressive or somatoform disorders. The other good news is that Social Security will at last be adding Sjogren's syndrome to its Blue Book listings of disabling conditions. So when I receive a Continuing Disability Review in a few years, I will be able to refer to a specific listing that I meet rather than having to prove that the sum total of my ailments are disabling.

Can't type any more tonight.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sticking to a safe subject, for now..... 

There are some serious issues bugging me, but I think I'll wait for another post to get into them. I don't generally avoid what's going on with me, but at the moment, it seems like I am surrounded with mostly bad news, and I am overwhelmed. Also, I am very upset with the actions of some people close to me, and I'm not sure yet if/when I'll bring it up because it would be difficult to do so with tact.

I did one good thing this week: I wrote an article for But You Don't Look Sick about the importance of protecting prescription medication from potential thieves. I thought it was one of my better pieces. I will post a link as soon as it's up, which should be by Monday.

So, how about that new fall prime time TV season? I don't think I've watched this much network television since I was a child. But what else have I got to do right now?

"Desperate Housewives" is a bit slower out of the gate this year than I would like, but it's still entertaining in parts. We now know that Bree's son did indeed resort to living on the streets and that her daughter is a regular diva bitch. And Orson seems less harsh than he was portrayed at first, but there is still an air of self-absorption to him even when he is doing something kind. I hope that Lynette's hubby's mistress is gone from the show soon; she is incredibly annoying to the point that I want to turn the tv off whenever she appears. Gabrielle has taken up with her boy toy again, but now he is calling the shots. It was pretty funny that she had to stow away in some luggage to avoid being caught. Susan caved in to temptation with the British guy. I don't particularly like the actor who portrays him; he doesn't seem very genuine. The best part of the episode was when Edie took a peek at comatose Mike under the sheets and was suitably impressed with what she saw. At the very end, Mike opened his eyes.

"Brothers and Sisters" probably has the best acting and cast of all the new shows. While signing off on some papers relating to her deceased husband's business, Sally Field's character runs across a description of a house purchased 15 years ago. She asks to see the house and meet the occupant, who happens to be her husband's mistress. Ms. Field is extremely friendly and makes everyone who knew of the affair squirm. She decides to throw a big party and invites the mistress, who reluctantly attends. Her children are totally freaked out and argue about whether or not to tell their mother that their dad was having an affair. Turns out they needn't have worried. Their mom announces in the middle of dinner that she has known about the mistress the whole time.

"Heroes" is so far my favorite new show. It's quirky and full of surprises. And our main hero, HIro, is extremely likable. This week, he returns to his friend in Tokyo. He still has the comic that was written about him, but now the contents of the comic are changing, showing where he currently is and what he will be doing next. He goes to his friend, who also now appears in the comic. His friend still doesn't buy the whole teleportation/space time continuum thing, but becomes convinced when he actually witnesses Hiro stopping time to save a girl from being run over. He reluctantly accompanies Hiro on a flight to Los Angeles and then in a rental car that they are driving to Las Vegas, where one of the other heroes is. The dude who can fly can't get his brother, who is running for public office, to acknowledge his abilities and in fact is humiliated when his brother makes a speech about him actually suffering from depression. He's also discovering that he can't fly at will. I suspect he may only be successful when his brother flies with him. The cheerleader gets in a fight with a boy who was trying to rape her. She is killed, but then wakes up in the middle of the autopsy! Ewwwww!

"Studio 60" is pretty decent once you realize it's not really a comedy. I think it does a good job of explaining what goes on behind the scenes. It does have weak moments, though, and lulls when they say something and you can't decide whether or not that was supposed to be funny. Amanda Peet is better than I expected, though, and Matthew Perry is not as annoying as he was on "Friends", so I'll probably keep tuning in for the time being.

"Boston Legal" has not disappointed at all this season. Alan is back to his raunchy self, making his desires clear to Shirley, but she turns him down on the grounds that it will upset Denny. Alan tries to reason with Denny, but he will not budge. Then there is a hilarious wrestling match between Denny and Alan. Oh, and there are some courtroom scenes as well, heh heh.

Last night, I watched two new new shows, "30 Rock" and "Twenty Good Years" instead of "Jericho". The first one is ANOTHER series about behind the scenes of an SNL-type show, but it's a half hour comedy instead of an hour long drama. Tina Fey plays the writer of "The Girlie Show" (a takeoff of Comedy Central's "Man Show"??) and Alec Baldwin is her brand new boss who knows more about marketing a convection oven than he does a tv show. Tracy Morgan is the crazy comic who is recruited to join the cast of the show, or perhaps take it over entirely. Fey agrees to go to lunch with Morgan to discuss his joining the show, but she ends up getting dragged to a strip club. It's too early to tell if this show will be consistently funny, but the premiere did make me laugh, so i will tune in again next week.

"Twenty Good Years" stars John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor as old friends. Lithgow is an arrogant surgeon who is forced into retirement on his 60th birthday, and Tambor is a judge who seems to have trouble making decisions in his personal life. Lithgow decides that since he and his friend probably only have 20 good years left in their lives (hence the title), they should start embracing all the things they either didn't have time for or were too timid to do, such as joining the Polar Bear Club. i must admit the sight of John Lithgow in a Speedo is fairly amusing. One thing I could have done without, though, was the laugh track. It was annoying. But I did like the rest of it, so I'll watch it for awhile longer.

And of course with last night being Wednesday night, I couldn't miss a moment of "Lost". This one focused on Sayid, Sun and Jin on the sailboat as they wait for any sign of Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley. We find out that Sun did indeed have an affair prior to the crash and that Jin is not likely the father of her unborn baby. They sail toward the dock where their four friends had been held captive but find it empty. Sayid suspects the Others have intervened again and goes ashore to build a fire to draw them out. He gives Jin a gun and instructs Sun to go back to the boat, a stupid tactical move on his part. He does, however, tell her about a gun that is on board. Turns out to be a good thing, because while Sayid and Jin wait on the beach, the Others sneak onto the sailboat because their leader covets it. Sun grabs the gun, and, to my surprise, actually shoots one of the Others! She also leaps overboard when the Others begin shooting back. Jin is able to swim out to her and help her back to shore. Meanwhile, Sawyer and Kate are forced to do meaningless manual labor. Sawyer decides to see what will happen if he stops working and suddenly kisses Kate. There's a scuffle, and while Sawyer manages to get a gun away from them, another gun is held to Kate's head, so he must relinquish his. Later, when he thinks he and Kate are alone, Sawyer analyzes who he could successfully fight and who they might have trouble with. Naturally, though, the Others are monitoring him and hear every word. Jack is still imprisoned in the aquarium. Henry/Ben formally introduces himself and promises Jack that he will get to go home if he will cooperate. Ben says he's been on the island all his life and that they have contact with the outside world. He then produces a tv monitor and shows a clip of the Red Sox winning the World Series! Very odd indeed.

And finally, I watched "The Nine". This week, the survivors of the bank holdup try to go back to their regular lives without much success. Some are interviewed by the media, and there is some question as to whether to try to hold the police accountable for the breakdown of negotiations which resulted in the shootings. The girl that was in the bank can't remember anything that happened and tries to get one of the robbers to tell her from prison. He won't cooperate. Finally, at the end, she recalls dialing 911 on her cell phone and realizes this is what prompted the shooting to start. As with last week, the show is interesting, but I am still not convinced that there is enough good material to successfully carry a whole series. We'll see.

Too tired for more comment. Later.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Rave of the Day for October 9, 2006: 

Speaking of brain fog (see post below this one), here's a journal entry about just how bad it can get. Found this via Ricky Buchanan.

The Day My Name Went Away

What's scary is I've had experiences similar to this TWICE this week. On the phone, I misspelled my name aloud. And then at the lawyer's office, I filled out a consent form with the proper signature but filled out the information at the top using my MAIDEN name! I've been married for 10 years, and most of the time can't remember my maiden name!

Maybe I should start telling people I have mad cow disease, like William Shatner's character Denny Crane always says on "Boston Legal".

The occasional joys of fibrofog..... 

There are a lot of more serious subjects I need to write about, but I'm too exhausted to get into it right now. So I'll just relate something that happened today for a bit of diversion.

I needed to go out today to get a battery to replace the burnt out one in my window sensor for my security system. I took a peek outside and saw a few raindrops on the driveway, so I went to the coat closet to grab a jacket. I was looking for something light to wear and noticed what looked like Dan's denim jacket hanging in there. I thought that was odd as Dan was supposed to have taken all his coats with him to South Dakota, but I grabbed it anyway as I figured it would be the right weight for the cool weather.

Was I ever surprised to discover it was a WOMEN'S jacket, one I don't remember seeing before! For a second, I thought maybe a guest had accidentally left her jacket. But then I looked at the label, and it was a store brand where I buy most of my clothes, cheap, not a major label. And it was a women's extra large, just my size! I put it on, and it fit as though I had picked it out myself. And then I began to laugh as I realized I probably HAD bought it for myself but just had no recollection of doing so.

I wonder how long I've had that jacket and just assumed it was Dan's? Kind of a bummer I didn't remember it because I LOVE denim jackets! I just hadn't had one in forever because of the cost. The last one I owned was a cheapie 1980's thing with those dreadful shoulder pads. I bet I had found this one on sale and bought it with a gift card I got for my birthday or something.

So I wore my "new" jacket today, feeling as though I'd gotten a really cool gift. Now, if I just knew who to thank.....

Friday, October 06, 2006

I have news but am too tired to tell it.... 

Or at least that has been my problem this week. I'm having a major flareup for some unknown reason. I've basically been forced to rest 12 hours a day and spend the other 12 hours trying to unfog my brain, get my ass off the couch and run maybe one errand. I slept through an aquacise class, dozed off on the couch multiple times, and fell asleep on a living room chair for three and a half or more hours on two separate occasions.

The biggest news of the week is that Dan's parents have suddenly decided they want to look into retirement housing. If they find something they like, they want us to buy their current home, which they bought just last year! Now, of course this all depends on whether they are serious about this and aren't going to change their minds. Dan and I are willing to pay them an amount at the low end of our price range for their house, which is a couple thousand more than they paid last year. I wish they had decided to do this last May instead of waiting until after Dan hired a realtor and toured dozens of homes, but I guess I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Because it really would be a gift. Their house is a 50 year old ranch style and has 1800 square feet, all of it finished, and two bathrooms. They have a one-car attached garage, so my Saturn could go in the garage and Dan's Grand Am could go in the driveway. Dan's parents repainted the kitchen just two weeks ago. The laundry is on the main floor. The backyard is partially fenced, so that would have to be finished before we bring Chip over. I think most of these retirement places have their appliances included, so we might not have to purchase any new appliances. The only bad thing about their house is that the upstairs bathroom is nowhere near the master bedroom. That doesn't sound like any big deal, but actually it is because I get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, and with the sleep meds I take, I'm pretty wobbly and dizzy and need to find the toidy fast before I fall down. But if we do indeed buy the house, I think I'll just put the bed in whatever bedroom is closest to the bathroom and call it good. I'm not exactly in a financial position to be picky.

On Wednesday, I went to my LTD lawyer's office. This was no small undertaking as it was a 40 mile drive each way! I think it took an hour each way; all I know is that my hands were killing me from being on the steering wheel that long. The latest news with the long term disability insurance company is that they are refusing to provide a copy of my records, stating that they don't have to because I wasn't actually denied benefits. No, technically they did not deny my benefits, but they DID limit them for completely bogus reasons. Actually, it makes no difference the status of my claim; I or my representative are legally entitled to a copy of any and all records. The LTD company has until November 30 to comply or they run afoul of federal law. My lawyer is giving notice to my former employer that they are utilizing the services of an insurance company that is engaging in very shady and possibly illegal practices. My former employer, being a newspaper, would probably dislike this being made public. I brought with me to the appointment notes of all my phone calls with the long term disability insurance company, notes on my functional capacity exam, notes on the neuropsych exam, and lists of all my docs and meds. The lawyer noted that the physical therapist I was asssigned to for the FCE didn't actually do anything but a brief neuro checkup, and that someone he had never heard of did the physical testing. He checked that person's credentials, and the guy does not have ANY sort of license! That's pretty dangerous, a guy with no medical background testing my physical endurance. So we put together some affidavits regarding my notes on the testing, and I signed a request for release of medical information from my docs. We're gonna gather testimony from my docs as to the validity and severity of my ailments, and the lawyer is gonna call upon some very reliable experts to refute the FCE and the neuropsych exam. I was told to expect the long term disability insurance company to play hardball because they are accustomed to claimants giving up and going away. But I will not be going away without a fight. I don't just owe this to myself; I owe it to all the people who are wrongly denied benefits. Perhaps if enough of us challenge these companies, they will be forced to treat future claimants fairly.

While I was at the lawyer's office, the pension administrator left a message on my voice mail telling me to call her. I did call her the next day, but she wasn't there, so I had to leave her a message. She did not return the call today, nor has the paperwork she said she was mailing to me on Monday arrived. I should have gotten it by yesterday as I live less than 20 miles away. I wonder what the hell the problem is now? I have been trying to get this resolved for FOUR MONTHS! It's bad enough that the laws have changed so that I am no longer eligible for retro pay, which has deprived me of several thousand dollars I was counting on. I need to be able to count this pension money as part of my income when I pre-qualify for a home loan. It's a pretty big chunk of change: approximately half of a mortgage payment each month.

Yesterday I went to the massage therapist and the chiropractor. Had a lot of work on my left hip and shoulder as the entire left side was out of alignment. Didn't completely get rid of the hip pain, but the shoulder and left side of my neck are greatly improved. I put moist heat on the hip and have been doing stretches in the hope of coaxing it into getting relaxed AND staying that way.

Sometime during the week, I got in the mail a copy of the results of the tests my primary care doc had done during my last visit. My thyroid and long-term glucose levels are great, and my total cholesterol is down to 152! But my CRP, a test for bodywide inflammation, is out of range again, despite doubling my anti-inflammatory medication this summer. So my increased pain and fatigue levels aren't imaginary; they are probably due to the inflammation. Nothing I can do about it that I'm not already doing.

Called the realtor yesterday. She said that despite all the people that are picking up brochures, no one has been calling about tours. She has informed all her customers that have toured my house and all the realtors who have conducted tours about my price reduction and offer to pay closing costs. No one has been interested. I asked her when the market usually picks up after the fall/winter slump. She said February. So all I can do right now is hope against hope that someone ignores the calendar and offers to buy my house before February. This is quite upsetting seeing as how the savings account will be completely gone within a matter of weeks.

Today, one of the neighbors mowed the front yard and the other mowed the back. The back lawn was so long that the mower kept choking on the clippings. I ended up trying to rake the excess so the grass underneath wouldn't suffocate. I used the lightweight rake with the thin bendy tines, but only got halfway through my postage stamp sized yard before I was out of breath, wobbly and had stabbing pains in my back. So my friend had to finish it for me. It got dark before we could dispose of the clippings, so I'll do it tomorrow.

Despite feeling so horrible this week, I have managed to work on my scrapbook stuff. I have done layouts for all the 2006 pix and am ready to put the pages together. I might as well keep working diligently on it as I'm probably going to be stuck here for the winter.

I've also been glued to the tv, checking out premieres, season openers and second and/or third episodes of the shows that started earlier. Caught the second episode of "Heroes", which was awesome! Each person who has powers finds out more about them. They also feature a new character, a cop who can hear the thoughts of others. The Japanese fellow who teleported from Tokyo to New York, who oddly enough is named Hiro, finds a comic featuring him on the front page and describing in each frame exactly what happened to him. Hiro goes in search of the artist, but arrives to find the poor man murdered, his brain removed! The cops arrest Hiro, who states that his best friend in Tokyo can vouch that he was there yesterday. They call the friend, who says he's been looking for Hiro for five weeks! Our teleporting friend shows the cops his watch, which reads October 2, and they show him that day's newspaper, which reads November 8! Just then, New York begins to explode as a nuclear bomb hits! Hiro teleports himself back to the Tokyo subway and back to October 2nd. So now we know our heroes have five weeks to prevent the catastrophe. I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

"Boston Legal" had a nice twist this week. It seems Alan has a thing for Shirley. Didn't see that coming.

Watched part of another episode of "Jericho". It is generally interesting, but some of it is too implausible for me. I think I will opt for the premiere of "30 Rock" next week.

"Lost" is baaaack! Finally! Started out with a bang, or at least another view of the plane crash. We meet Juliet, who appears to be a suburban woman, burning the muffins she made for her book club meeting. They are discussing "Carrie" by Stephen King (who is a big "Lost" fan, by the way), and it is mentioned that someone named Ben doesn't like it. Then the house begins to shake. Everyone heads for a door frame, and you figure it's just a typical Los Angeles earthquake. But then after the shaking stops, they all head outside. Coming from another house is Ben, whom we knew as Henry! So you think you're watching a flashback for the leader of the others. And then, low in the sky, Oceanic Flight 815 breaks apart and plummets to the earth a short distance away! Henry/Ben calls out to Ethan and Goodwin to investigate, and the camera pulls back to show that the Others are actually living in a small "suburbia" hidden on the island! Surprise! Then the action switches to present day, where Jack is imprisoned in an underwater hatch and Sawyer is turned into a human zoo exhibit. Kate is put into a frilly dress and marched out to a nice seaside hut to "breakfast" with Henry/Ben. The only stipulation is that she wears handcuffs. Jack attempts to escape and nearly drowns, Sawyer is released by a fellow inmate named Carl only to be caught again, and Kate must have had some sort of scuffle with Henry/Ben because she is thrown into a cell with her wrists all bloody. Nice start, but I'm looking forward to finding out what has become of characters I like better, namely Hurley, Locke and Mr. Eko.

Watched part of the premiere of "The Nine". It's basically about people who survive a bank robbery hostage standoff. Each person is changed and has to deal with that. The nine survivors also find themselves staying in contact with each other because of their common experience. Not a bad start, but I don't know how this premise is going to maintain enough momentum for a series.

Caught "My Name Is Earl", "The Office" and "Grey's Anatomy" last night. The first two were good, but the last one was awesome! Meredith has a dream that she's in bed with BOTH the vet and McDreamy. I wish I had taped that sequence so I could play it over and over whenever I need cheering up, heh heh.

Watched "Six Degrees" again. It's not bad, but it just doesn't hold my attention the way some of the other new shows do. It doesn't help that I've been getting some of the characters confused.

"Men in Trees" was on tonight. The small Alaskan town has a heat wave that makes everyone horny. The funniest part is when the DJ goes to the men's room at the bar to buy a condom and gets his hand stuck in the vending machine. Naturally, all the men in the bar go to gawk. They finally remove the machine from the wall to the cheers of most of the town. I am really enjoying this show.

Am dozing off again.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The ups and downs of browser life..... 

The tension over whether or not my house will sell continues to climb. I did FINALLY have a showing yesterday, my first one since I dropped the price, and my first showing ever on a Sunday. I'm trying to not invest too much of my hope in a single showing, but if I don't try to be at least a little upbeat, I end up depressed about how long this is taking, literally staring at the phone, willing it to ring. I've done what I can to keep my house tidy and appealing, but I can't make someone buy it. I wish I didn't have a second mortgage that has to be paid off; otherwise, I could just go ahead and move to Sioux Falls and let the house here sit until spring, when the market will pick up again. But I'm desperate and nearly broke and need a sale YESTERDAY! As it is, if someone were to make an offer today, I still wouldn't close for another month, which would have me moving around Halloween at the earliest. I guess one bright side of this is that rental trucks should be plentiful; I mean, who wants to move to South Dakota during blizzard season?

More disappointment from the Sioux Falls housing market. Two more of the homes we were interested in have sold. There are fewer than half as many homes available in our price range now as there were before Labor Day. Without fail, every house we liked that has lowered its price has sold within two weeks of doing so. The property I like to call the "Elvis house" (they have a statue of Elvis in the basement) is still for sale, but they just dropped the price by $5000 last week, so it may be gone when we are finally able to make an offer on something. The house on the edge of town built in 2000 has dropped its price too, so that's likely to get snatched up too. Fortunately, Dan did tour two homes on Friday that are somewhat new on the market. One is centrally located and has 2000 square feet. It is an older home, built in 1962, and the kitchen is tiny, but it does have updated everything plus a fenced yard, so I wouldn't rule it out. The price is also very low, making it quite a bargain. The other house is actually kind of exciting. It is newer, built in 1977, and while it is smaller at 1750 square feet, the kitchen has been expanded to have more counter space and storage. It has a brand new roof, newish furnace, new flooring, a storage shed, and appears to be quality construction. It's over by our friends' house. The only thing it lacks is a fenced yard, and we'll need to acquire a washer and dryer. It's priced $5000 more than the other house, but it's probably worth it because it is 15 years newer. There are three other homes I've asked Dan to tour when he gets the chance. I'm trying to keep tabs on as many properties as possible that would work for us so we have some choices when the time comes to buy.

I plan to talk to my realtor this week to see if she got any feedback on the showing and if she thinks we should change anything we're doing right now. One thing I think could help is if we had a rider on the real estate sign saying "price reduced" or something like that. Maybe people who have already seen the house might come back and reconsider it at the lower price. Other than that, I can't think of anything else to do but wait.

Have been on the phone with docs and the new insurance company trying to get the non-covered med situation straightened out. I have been approved to use Armour thyroid and Cytomel in place of Synthroid, but it will not be cheap. I was denied for Lunesta, but the insurance rep told me today that they have just begun covering Ambien CR, so I will probably give that a try. The CR version is different than the original Ambien and is more suitable for my type of sleep disorder. As for the Seasonale, I just found out on Friday that a generic for that is available, so I will be covered for that because the insurance company now has a letter stating that I am taking it for a medical condition and not for birth control (the insurance won't cover birth control). And I am going to try the generic omeprazole rather than Nexium; it is generally limited by the insurance to a 90 day supply, but my gastroenterologist will be sending them a letter stating that I have a chronic qualifying condition that warrants longer-term use. I still have to wait for letters from the insurance companies documenting these approvals before I have my docs give me new scripts, but at least I am making progress. Walgreens is gonna be seeing a lot of me over the next few weeks. I want to get all my meds straightened out before I move because my current docs have gone through all the drug trial and error with me and already know what does and doesn't work for me. I'm hoping that when I get new docs in Sioux Falls that they can just look over my records and continue what I'm already doing. I'd like to avoid any unnecessary additional testing or being forced to go on meds that don't agree with me.

Actually got through to the administrator for my disability pension today; that was a minor miracle! Turns out she LOST my paperwork, and that's why I never got the form I need to fill out! Luckily, she found it last week and will be putting my application in the mail to me today. After I fill it out and return it, it will still take a couple of weeks to process. I just hope I get approved and start getting payments before we buy the house in Sioux Falls because then I can claim the benefits as part of my income, which should help our loan application.

Speaking of loans, I have not yet begun getting pre-approved for one because I've been waiting on the damned disability pension. But I talked to Dan on Friday and yesterday and asked him to send me his pay stubs and bank account and credit card statements because I have everything else we'll need here at the house. Last night, I started gathering some of the other materials we'll need. I've done a bit of shopping around online for rates so I have a general idea of what we'll be paying. I wish I could say I'm totally confident we'll get what we want, but with Dan losing so much income and me being on disability, it will be tougher to qualify than it was on our previous loan. Luckily, we do have a solid eight year history of home ownership with no delinquencies and have fantastic unblemished credit going for us. I think the fact that we're shopping for a house on the low end of the price range will also help. I am trying to be extremely careful not to overextend us should our financial circumstances change again. Thank God we actually have someplace to go where the cost of living is cheaper.

On Saturday, I actually went stir crazy and found myself staring at the phone, hoping desperately for a showing. I decided that I needed distraction. So I finished editing photos of Chip and of my visit to my high school re-opening and put them on a CD. I took that CD and another one containing the rest of the pix from this year and got prints made at the local camera store (they make the best quality prints). I also popped into the scrapbook shop since it was right next door. I got more pages and page covers for my current album (I should be able to squeeze 2005 and 2006 into the same album), some stickers to go with my pix of Rocky Mountain National Park, and background pages for that trip plus Easter and the Chip pix. I have finished the 2005 part of the album and am sorting the new pix and writing headers and captions for them. Then I will do the layouts with the goodies from the scrapbook store. I need the distraction of a hobby like this to keep me sane. Seriously.

I'll be making a much needed visit to the massage therapist and chiropractor on Thursday. I'm in a great deal of pain. I discovered that my neck pain from the accident isn't completely gone despite having worked out all the trigger points on that side of my neck. I was changing light bulbs and washing windows on the outside of the house when the neck pain came back, and I realized that it was being caused by a trigger point on my shoulder blade! So I worked on that with a Thera-Cane but haven't quite been able to get rid of it on my own. And I'm having a horrible time with my left hip and lower back, which never particularly bothered me until Labor Day weekend when I slept on it wrong. I keep working the knots out of the muscles in aquacise or by doing stretches, but the spasms come right back after a few hours or even a few minutes. I need to find a way to keep the muscles loose long enough for them to heal. And I re-awakened my carpal tunnel a few days ago by spraying the back yard for weeds. I'm hoping the massage therapist can help me out. It will be a huge relief when Dan and I are together again and he can take care of the physical labor that is making me hurt so much.

I must mention that the weather here has been unusually awesome the past several days. No snow in town so far, and that means we actually are experiencing a fall season! Normally it goes straight from summer heat to snow, so the trees don't get a chance to change color. But this week, the tree out front has reddish purple leafs, and the burning bushes are turning a brilliant red! And the grass is still green. Make our house look great!

Am still perusing the new fall tv shows, both to decide what I want to continue watching and so that I can write up a review for But You Don't Look Sick. Am still on the fence about "Six Degrees". It's interesting, but not as exciting as I had hoped it would be. Am bummed about missing "Ugly Betty" but am enjoying the new season of "My Name Is Earl". "The Office" so far seems funnier than last year, which is cool. "Grey's Anatomy" is a great deal of fun, what with the panties on the Lost and Found bulletin board, Christina getting caught in her underwear by Burke's parents and the return of McSteamy (he was just BARELY covered, which was AWESOME, heh heh). Am watching "Men in Trees" on Friday nights because nothing else is on and am finding it surprisingly enjoyable. Watched the season opener of "Saturday Night Live" and was disgusted with how bad it was. I thought the quality could only go up once they got rid of Horatio Sanz, but I was wrong. Their "Weekend Update" barely elicited a chuckle. The only high point was watching The Killers perform. Luckily, last night's episode of "Desperate Housewives" made up for the predictability of the season opener. Was NOT prepared for Gabrielle and Carlos to find out that the baby wasn't theirs! So I will keep watching. By far the best new show of the season in my opinion is "Brothers and Sisters". I was surprised that they killed off Tom Skerritt at the end of the pilot, but boy, does he have a rotten legacy! His kids get to deal with the results of his corrupt business practices and a mistress that won't politely go away. And Sally Field is awesome as the grief-stricken mom. I will follow this show faithfully. And of course I am still eagerly awaiting the new season of "Lost". I am also considering tuning in to the new show with Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan; I think it's called "30 Rock"?

I've taken several breaks typing this, but the carpal tunnel is screaming! Such is the nature of browser life.

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