Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Octopus's Garden

Yesterday was RedFaery and my first 2nd anniversary. For those that can't follow that illogical statement, we were married twice - once on April 29th, 2006 (for the purposes of getting RedFaery on my insurance), and once on September 17th that same year (for all the pomp, circumstance and free toaster ovens). So we celebrate twice a year as well - in April just for ourselves, and in September for all the well-wishes, cards and free toaster ovens.

As I sat at the computer checking e-mail that morning, I wondered what we could do to make it interesting. I remembered that I'd just gotten my annual renewing of vacation time at work, so I decided to take the day off. With all her health scares lately, she really needed a day of my complete attention that was completely unplanned. After confirming with her that she's like that, and confirming with work that I wasn't needed, the day was ours! Then out of the blue, I said, "Want to go to the Aquarium?"

The Newport Aquarium near Cincinnati is someplace I'd been telling RedFaery that she needed to see sometime, since she enjoys aquariums and had never been. Plus it was indoors, and we weren't going to be able to do much outside anyway due to it being chilly. The only real concern was whether she would have the energy to walk a lot, but she was game to try.

After an early lunch, we drove the 2 hours to Newport, spending an extra few minutes on a wrong turn into Ohio and back again. It was the perfect day to go - virtually no kids, very small crowd (mostly a company doing a team building exercise with it's employees), and no pressures. We walked at a leisurely pace, spending more time in favorite sections.

Newport is one of those aquariums with the acrylic glass tunnels, where the fish swam all around you and give you the illusion of being underwater. More than once a manta ray startled RedFaery by swimming next to her, much to my amusement. I was even at my punny worst when looking at an eel, singing in Italian:
"When it's long, and it's green,
And it looks really mean -
That's a moray!"

We found out that sharks eat better than us (lobster three times a week!). We watched otters get into a fistfight over food. We enjoyed the penguin jumping contest. We avoided the horseshoe crab and baby shark petting area as a team. Great fun!

A couple of hours of walking was all she could manage for the day, so we headed back home. Ended our evening at Ramsi's cafe, where RedFaery tried something new (something she rarely does). She had the Moosa Kan, which is basically chicken that marinated in a berry that turned it purple, with lemon and pepper seasoning. I decided to forego my favorite Majestic Seabass to try BBQ mango salmon patties - a tasty change.

Then we splurged on Frosties from Wendy's and watched CSI. High class all the way!

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 16

I really should update this thing on Fridays. That's when I seem to be at my best when it comes to my weight.

On Friday morning, I was back to 213 lbs. This morning - 217 lbs.

I'll admit being very sedintary this weekend - other than mowing the grass for an hour, I napped, or sat on the sofa, or ate. And nothing else.

I'm going to force myself to start jogging in the early morning hours, since we have light as early at 7:30am these days.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-14 Loss: 22 lbs.
Week 16 GAIN: 2 lbs.
Current Weight: 217 lbs.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dr. Robert

Most of you probably know to keep Benadryl handy for emergencies - this is just a reminder of how it's important, as well as just simple bragging on my wife for her clear-headed thinking in a crisis.

RedFaery has a myriad of medical problems, and the biggest hinderance often seems to be her allergies to various medicines. She's allergic to penecillian and all derivitives, sulfas, and non-steroidal anti-inflamatories (aspirin and ibuprofin). So when she has a really bad headache, all she can take is Tylenol, which does little.

Earlier in the day, she went to an immediate care center for a chronic headache she's fought for a month. She got a steroid anti-inflammatory, plus a prescription for Avalox (antibiotic) for her congestion. A couple of hours later she filled the prescription and took one.

Ten minutes later, she flushed and her lips tingled. She recognized that it was an allergic reaction (been thru them many times, considering the checklist above), and immediately took a Benedryl. As she sat there for a minute, she realized that her breathing was becoming labored, and she stumbled to the phone to call 911. She managed to confirm the address, tell them she couldn't breathe, and unlock the door before dropping the phone and passing out.

She remembers bits and pieces of the EMTs and the ambulance, and it took an entire respiratory team at the hospital to bring her around. Once she was stable and coherent again, the doctor told her that taking the Benadryl probably kept her alive until the EMTs arrived.

My wife is the strongest person I know, but if it weren't for that one little pill, I wouldn't have her anymore. I encourage everyone to consider keeping Benadryl handy - it's just a good idea.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happiness is a Warm Gun

One of the chat sites I surf asked for examples of computer pranks we've played on people of the years. That got me reminicing about one I played ten years ago...

When working for a family-owned newspaper, I managed almost everything - including tech support (which mainly involved me calling people that had answers, but I disgress). My dad sent me this nifty little program online that made your cursor a crosshair, and clicking the mouse caused the computer to emit a rifle sound and produce a "hole" in the screen.

I installed it on the owner's computer (whom shall be refered to as Medusa from this point on), and left it running untouched. She'd come in once a week to look important to the rest of us and spend her time there daytrading on her PC.

A couple of days later, I hear KABOOM! KABOOM! KABOOM!, and then my name at the top of her lungs. I come into her office and Medusa glares at me stonily and asks, "What did you put on here?"

With my best acting skills, I reply "What are you talking about?", then she shows me where she blew a hole in her internet icon. I shoo her out of the seat, shoot a few more icons out of existance, then make a big show of being puzzled. She's not convinced however - but a true bullshit artist never gives up!

"Have you been to any daytrading sites in the last week?" I ask, which derails her for a minute. "Um, yes, why?" I press on, sensing weakness - "Last week all those site were hit with the Going Postal virus - and it does pretty much what your cursor is doing now."

"What does it do?" she timidly asks. Hook, line and sinker...

"It was featured on page six of the Wall Street Journal last Friday. Basically every icon you click on, it erases that program from your computer. Worse yet, it physically damages the hard drive to the point that no data is recoverable. You'll have to buy a new computer, I'm afraid."

Only after much freaking out on her part did I finally let her in on the joke - it could be turned off by holding down CTRL and hitting the Escape key. Medusa wanted to throttle me, but even she eventually laughed at the joke.

Turns out, however, that it was probably truer than I thought after reading this link:

Ahh well, she deserved it.

We Can Work It Out

Since this is a public blog, so I won't go into a lot of detail.

Yesterday we laid off three people in my department due to the recession. I hated it, because I'd always been proud that we never had to before now, but it's obvious that the next few months are going slow down.

The one thing I'm proud of my company for doing is offering generous severence packages for those that were let go, and are helping in every way with getting them on unemployment. In that respect, we're doing right by them.

It still sucks though. I'm going to be paying really close attention to all politicians on their plans to end the recession, and the one that has the most effective, believable plan gets my vote - regardless of my opinion of that person in general.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 15

Slowly I lose, pound by pound, inch by inch...

That's what it seemed like this last week. After my big unexplained weight jump last week, I pretty much looked at my weight every morning. And one by one, the pounds dropped off again. Water-weight, probably. Annoying, definitely. Still not completely back to where I was before the big jump - I keep fluctuating between 214 and 215.

Didn't really do much different otherwise. Continuing to think about my dining choices, still trying to eat smarter, and still haven't done much for exercise other than an occaisional walk.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-14 Loss: 16 lbs.
Week 15 loss: 6 lbs.
Current Weight: 215 lbs.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Magical Mystery Tour

It's been an interesting couple of days...

Wednesday night as I'm leaving work, I'm on the phone with RedFaery making dinner plans when I smell the most horrible smell. Kind of a blend of burning tires and 3-day old decomposing body (I'm guessing here). I pass by a professional lawn mower riding behind his machine on that rolling surfboard thing - something I've always envied cause it looks like fun - and hope that the smell is coming from it.

A few seconds later, smoke starts rolling out of my defrost vents into the car. Oy! I've known that the blower motor has been bad on my Taurus since I bought it last June, but up to a week ago it still worked on the high setting. It had stopped, and I was going to get it replaced after the next bonus check, but I never turned it off - oops!

I drive to the Ford dealership/servicecenter and leave it to be worked on the next day, and RedFaery picked me up and went out to eat. I'd already called into work to take a personal day, expecting the repairs to take a while.

Just for the motor and a new flashing to prevent water from dripping onto it (the reason it went out to begin with) was $500. And as usual, they found a myriad of other problems they they could take care of "for the low, low price of about $200 each problem". Since I don't shit Benjamins, I'm holding off on those.

Last night was the Eddie Izzard concert - a big frivolous expense that we both needed. We ordered tix right after RedFaery was laid off, when we knew we'd still have money - glad we did, because if we waited we would have decided against going.

RedFaery introduced me to Eddie a couple of years back, and is always mystified that I fall asleep during his DVDs. It's not Eddie, it's the British accent. The only time it's not acted like Sominex to my system is Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Coupling.

However, I stayed awake just fine during the concert. One thing RedFaery made a great observation about Eddie's style of humor - to "get" him, you have to know history and religion very well. I liked that when Eddie was struggling to remember the next sequence he'd planned on talking about that he'd do a little dance and play with the audience a bit. Considering he was on stage for nearly two hours and managed to keep us all enthralled the entire time, that's friggin' impressive!

Finally, at about 5:40am this morning, we were both awakened by the earthquake that hit southern Illinois. The loud bang knocked me out of deep sleep, and the vibrations I could feel for about 2 minutes after the fact. A CD fell off a shelf, but otherwise no other damage. I turned to RedFaery and said, "I think that was an earthquake!". Her response, "I thought you had a seizure!" That makes me giggle...

My parents had very minor damage, and an antique wooden Santa in the Santa Claus museum broke an arm. My sister (frequent anonymous poster to this blog) lost a glass stovetop when cutlary fell onto it from the top of the refrigerator, so they faired the worst of us.

This is the first earthquake I actually remember - appearently I've been thru several and remained oblivious. I enjoy new experiences, but don't feel the need to experience that again.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 14

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

If you read an earlier blog entry, you read that I dropped to an all-time low of 214 lbs. (well, not ALL time - I was lighter when I was 18). I actually bottomed out at 213 lbs on Sunday morning. If the story stopped there, I'd be a happy guy.

Appearantly I enjoyed Sunday a little too well. Japanese hibatchi (spicy scallops) and half a roll of sushi, then Chinese bourbon chicken was all I had to eat, I swear! Maybe it's because I only ate two meals instead of 3-4 little ones. Maybe it was the oils in the food. And maybe it's because I was a bit constipated this morning when I weighed - I don't know.

But this morning, I'd jumped back up to 220 lbs. WTF?

Anyway, I was hoping to blog a bunch of happy news to continue the trend. I even considered going with the Sunday morning results in this blog - but then I'd be lying to myself. So we're calling this one at 220 lbs.

Karma better swing back my way this week, damnit!

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-13 Loss: 20 lbs.
Week 14 GAIN: 4 lbs.
Current Weight: 220 lbs.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Mean Mr. Mustard

I experienced another first today. This evening was my first-time ever being one of those assholes on a Bluetooth at a restaurant. Yay me!

About three weeks ago, I was glancing at, and they had their "Two-for-Tuesday" deal where you could get two sets of Bluetooth wireless headsets for the price of one, about $25 with shipping. I had the dough and made the buy. Like everything from there, it took about 10 days to get here (they use the cheapest, but hey, at those prices...). Due to RedFaery's bad hearing, it turns out that a Bluetooth isn't for her. But I've been loving mine!

I cut out for dinner and decided to give RedFaery a call to see how she's doing (sinus infection for her, BTW). As I pulled up to Fazoli's, I considered staying in the car. But I said to myself, "No way. I'm hungry, and it won't bother the people around me too much. I know it's rude, but I'll hardly be the first one to ever do it. Besides, it's just Fazoli's."

Appearently the wind kicks up a lot of noise in the mouthpiece, because RedFaery noticed it right away.

I got in a small line of about five people. As I spoke, one by one they all turned to see why I was talking to them, only to see this cockroach-looking thing on my head with the blue blinky light. Like the asshole that I was trying to be, I never acknowledged their presence, wrapped up in my own little world.

Sadly, none of them seemed even mildly annoyed. Even when I placed my order and kept talking to the air, the guy behind the cash register never even noticed. Asshole objective: epic fail!

However, there was one bit of amusement while I ate meal meal in silence (the call had ended). A white guy that looked like he was 50 was sporting short dreadlocks. He was talking with the breadstick guy, who is normally the most annoying person there because he won't let you eat in peace. However, even Breadstick Guy looked like a coyote chewing off his own leg to get away from Old Dreadlocks Guy. ODLG was regaling him with his adventures from hanging out at the gas station next door, trying to get some breadsticks to go.

"What a doofus!" I thought. "Who in their right mind would want to be like THAT guy?"

Then ODLG turned his head as he got up to leave. In his ear - you guessed it - a Bluetooth headset.

I slowly pulled mine out of my ear and put it in my pocket. Next time I'll sit in the car...

I'm a Loser

Not exactly an "Incredible Shrinking Ray" post, since it's not quite to the end of the week, but I hit a milestone this morning that I wanted to share before anything bad happens, like eating a whole buffet accidently...

Long, long ago, in a city far, far away (Terre Haute, Indiana to be precise), I moved in with my grandparents to go to school at Indiana State University. I relished the opportunity to strike out in unfamiliar land, free of the shackles of my youth.

However, I forgot what a shy wallflower I am in reality, and made few friends in the year and a half I was there. I was bored, lonely and depressed, so I spent all my time at school or sleeping. My grandparents, God bless them, meant well, but their idea of a good time was too eat. A lot. It was worse when my grandmother cooked, as I'm pretty sure everything was cooked in lard. And they always encouraged seconds, or thirds, or eighths.

When I moved there in the summer of '89, I weighed 175 lbs. When I moved out in the winter of '90-'91, I weighed 215 lbs.

This morning, I weighed 214 lbs.

I've finally started dipping into the pounds I put on in college. I now weigh what I did when I was 20 years old. I have taken off the weight accumulated from 17 years of bad living in four months time.

Yes, I've still got a long road ahead of me. But for today, I feel as good as when I moved out of Terre Haute. And if you've ever been to Terre Haute, you'll know I mean more than just being lighter!

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 13

Well, it had to happen sometime. I gained a pound this week.

As of Friday, I hadn't had any change. Then I worked a long Friday, came home and ate 5 pieces of leftover pizza right before bed. Couple that with eating too much when going out to restaurants with RedFaery's mom and grandmother who were down visiting, and all my poor eating choices came back to haunt me. I fell off the chuck wagon.

Another choice this week that I don't think was a smart one - my breakfast. I've gotten pretty sick of grits and oatmeal, so I tried to find something else. I finally settled on little microwavable chocolate chip pancakes. The serving size was 11 (how odd), and I'd make 6-8 of them, smear peanut butter on them and make little pancake sandwiches. In retrospect, while I tried to justify my choice by eating smaller than the serving size, flat-out carbs like that probably wasn't the best idea.

One really good thing is that the weather is starting to be nice again, so we'll probably take some walks in Iroquois Park. I'm starting to steel myself to the fact that if I want to get past this point, I'll probably have to add more exercise to my plan - portion control is no longer going to be enough.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-12 Loss: 21 lbs.
Week 13 GAIN: 1 lb.
Current Weight: 216 lbs.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Hard Day's Night

Ahhh, the publishing business...

One of our cities has a new manager, and the poor lady didn't know to refresh her screen often. As a result, an important ad got left out of the publication. She calls me scared to death, afraid of losing a client that they've been chasing for months.

I put on my best "let me see what I can do" voice, and have one of my asst. managers call the printer while I hunt up the missing ad and place it in the book. He can't get them on the phone to see if it's already gone to plate, so I make an executive call and upload the sucker anyway in hopes that it's not too late. When I follow up myself with a phone call, I happen to catch the pre-press guy (guess he was on lunch break earlier) and ask if it's all good. He confirms it's there, not too late, and that we're good to go.

I call the worried sales manager and relay to good news. She's beside herself with joy and promises to never do it again, to which give her my best "it's all part of the job, ma'am".

Half an hour later, I get a call from her regional VP, saying, "I know everyone's been told already, but I just wanted to hear it straight from your mouth." I assure him that we're golden, and this seasoned publishing vet in turn assures me that in his many years in the business, ours is the best graphic design team he's ever had the pleasure of working with.

I work 12 hour days on Fridays, and some of those hours entail me waiting around just in case something like this happens. Most of time it's tedious, but on days like this, it's so worth it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 12

Yesterday we had a (hopeful) breakthru in RedFaery's health. She got in to an endocrinologist to talk about regulating her Grave's disease and thyroid levels. Unlike what she's been told by our family doctor, her thyroid levels have been high for some time now (at least since November when they were last checked, but probably longer). This is probably what's been causing her rapid weight loss lately (3 lbs. this week, and 5 lbs. the week before), along with other things like being jittery, pacing, body aches, etc. Her dose has been adjusted to see if it's the medicine, and her blood's going to be closely analyzed to see what else can be done. Maybe for the first time in nearly seven years she can feel "right".

I slacked off a little this week in having something for lunch. I just didn't really think about it. Plus relaxing in French Lick, I thought I would cram it in a little more. I was only partially right - I ate a lot of pizza Saturday night, but took it easy at the buffet Sunday afternoon. It was actually my first buffet since starting my plan, and I ate two plates of food (with half of the second plate being a salad), and for dessert I had two mini waffles with whipped cream and chocolate chips. Considering what I used to cram in, this was a success!

As I reported last time, my weight is all over the place throughout the day. Yesterday morning I weighed 216 lbs again, but an hour later (and after time in the restroom) I managed to shave off another pound. I need to get serious on this again, otherwise I'm going to plateau.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-11 Loss: 21 lbs.
Week 12 Loss: 1 lb.
Current Weight: 215 lbs.