Wednesday, July 30, 2008

'Nother Guest Blogger Submission: The Bat!

The following comes courtesy of another one of my cousins; you met her before during my "Road Trip Nightmare". She had still another nightmare recently and I asked her to share it with you. This Guest Blogger is frightened of crickets, so I can't imagine her on:

Holy fricking bat in my house, Batman!

It was a typical Thursday night. 8pm: I had just finished putting my children to bed [a 5 ½ year old son, and a soon-to-be 3 year old daughter] and headed downstairs for some peace and quiet. With my husband out of town, I spent a few minutes cleaning the kitchen and decided to take the opportunity to plow through some work emails so I wouldn't' be so overwhelmed in the morning. At this point, it was a little after 9pm [I know this, because I remember looking down at the clock on my computer and thinking 'WHY am I still working at 9:16pm?']. Just as I was considering getting up from the table and going to watch some television, I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I casually looked up – and to my horror a BAT was flying right at me!!! It scared the sh*t out of me!!!!!

I didn't see where he went (certain that all bats are "he"), and really had no interest in following him. I was more concerned with the fact that - while my daughter's bedroom door was shut, my son's was wide open and I had visions of the bat flying into his room to suck his blood dry. So I did the only thing I could think to do... I ran out of my house as fast as I could and knocked on my neighbor's door. Imagine their surprise when, late at night, I show up on their doorstep looking like I had just seen a wild beast [and let's face it, hadn't I?]

[SIDE NOTE: I actually have the choice of two neighbors to go to. One neighbor ~ I'll call him J. Edgar ~ lives directly across the street, and is a secret service agent. He leaves the house every morning – kissing his wife and two little girls goodbye – with a gun around his waist. Had it been a burglar who had invaded my house – J. Edgar would be THE guy. Braxton is the other neighbor – in sales, he does NOT carry a gun. I'm guessing Braxton could NOT wrestle a burglar to the ground as fast as J. Edgar could. can see that I have carefully thought this through. But let's face it – I wasn't dealing with a burglar…I was dealing with a wild animal in my house that was possibly spitting rabies out of its mouth. J. Edgar is 5'9"…and Braxton is 6'5"… so I went with the tall guy.]

Believe it or not, Braxton knew just what to do. He has apparently had bats in his own house once or twice. He armed himself with a tennis racket and a baseball cap, and we began the walk back to my "cave".

We searched [ok…he searched, I followed] for over 30 minutes, and could not find that damn thing. Braxton tried to convince me that the bat could have flown out of the house when I ran out…but I wasn't buying it. I kept thinking – surely there has to be some sort of 9-1-1 number to call for this type of thing, right? Braxton, speaking from experience said no, that I should just wait until the morning and call an exterminator.

Now, someone please tell me, how could I possibly go to bed knowing that that beast was still in my home…ready to attack me and my children at just the right moment? I was sure he was ready to drag my poor babies to some damp, twisted "Lost Boys" cave! I was also certain that the bat KNEW my husband was out of town, and so chose this particular night to make his move.

Well, thank goodness, just as Braxton was getting ready to leave, he found the bat. He was hiding in plain sight, in my kitchen, up by the ceiling. He had blended in with my kitchen cabinets, explaining why we didn't see him each time we came into that room.

I held the door open, Braxton captured him between the racket and his cap, and took him outside. I slammed the door shut, and from my position of strength shouted 'thank you' to Braxton through the door.

Now I could sleep. Of course, my adrenalin was running like crazy, and so I don't think I calmed down and got to sleep until after midnight. When I woke up the next morning, I got on with my life…as usual. My children never knowing from what peril they had been spared.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hypermiling Part *&!@#$

WTF? What am I doing wrong? I’m driving at the posted speed limits (ticking off everyone around me); I’m coasting to stop lights. I’m cavorting around 90 degree Northern Virginia with no air conditioning, which believe me, is no fun when it starts to rain and you have to close your windows. Last night I even shut my engine off at a light that I clocked at 4 minutes long.

I’m a bit disappointed. Better than that; I’m bordering on bitter. I achieved 40.07263 mpg this week. My first focused week utilizing hypermiling techniques and I’ve clocked a loss! I wasn’t even trying last week and got 40.58797. This week’s numbers represent a decrease of 1.27%. Unacceptable. If I’m not going to see an improvement, I’m going back to zipping up to lights and passing people because I’ll tell you right now, this whole coasting thing is just irritating the junk out of me.
I know, I know. Getting 40+ mpg driving a run of the mill Honda Civic, in suburban road conditions and in nightmare commuter traffic second only to Los Angeles shouldn’t rouse feelings of hostility. I should be proud of what I have achieved. :P Eff that. Whatever. I want more. And I want it now.
Unwilling yet to throw the baby out with the bathwater, I will see if I can get my car in and change the oil, and I will definitely check the psi in my tires. Soon, very soon, I will be enlisting the assistance of my mathy-brained brother-in-law who will calculate how much money I’m actually saving through my efforts. If its not significant, stick a fork in me Lefty Tree Huggin' Folk, I’m done.
In case you are interested; here are some of the techniques I've been using (colored green for the money I want in my pocket, not for some eco-carbon-footprint-decrease-PR-junkhead-poo):
  • Drive slooooooowly - drive at the minimum allowed speed limit
  • Never accelerate from a stop - always allow your car to start rolling on it’s own and accelerate as slowly as possible
  • Avoid traffic if at all possible
  • Learn to read stoplights so you can try to make it through all green lights
  • Learn to use your cruise control as much as possible - not just for highway driving
  • Learn to use the cruise control instead of your foot
  • Keep your foot off the gas
  • Keep your foot off the brake
  • Learn how to make turns without braking
  • No sleeping at the wheel - this will take conscious effort and you need to stay alert
  • Ridding your trunk of junk
  • Keep constant track of your mpg with every fill-up

Monday, July 28, 2008


Matt Harding has traveled the world doing this stupid little jig. 80 countries, 0-G - weightless, the Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas was something, and 2:36 in - Gurgaon, India. Loved it.

I don't know what it is about this that moves me so much, but it does. We are all individuals, we are all citizens of our countries and we are all one.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Stockholm Syndrome

Poor Buddy. I am convinced he has finally given in to symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome; defined in Wikipedia as a psychological response sometimes seen in an abducted hostage, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the risk in which the hostage has been placed.

When then-husband brought Buddy home, we never crated him. He lived free, roaming the house at will, ate when he pleased, lounged as he liked. His work was 24/7 protecting his girl and the other people in his house from thieves and plunderers. I am convinced he thought he was a person.

When I moved to Northern Virginia three years ago, 12 year old Buddy stayed with my sons until we were ready to bring him down to live with us. It took Meg and I time to adjust; it took Buddy a little longer and he was slightly more dramatic. He went insane.

Separation anxiety on acid. I came home one evening to find that Buddy had trashed the house; ripped holes my new couch, broke a lamp shredding the shade to bits, and tried to gain his freedom by digging holes into both my external doors and walls. $400 worth of damage. Not good. I was worried we might have to put him down.

I took him to the vet, where we talked about a lot of things. Not unlike my Vacuum Man Super-like Heroes, he wanted to do $2000 worth of tests on Buddy in an effort to rule out other more organic reasons for his psychotic break. I understood this and appreciated the wisdom of getting a baseline, but I was hard pressed to get $400 to fix my apartment; $2000 on my 12 year old insane dog was, unfortunately, not an option.

We crated him.

Buddy hated the crate. Hated. The. Crate. He wrenched the iron bars apart, he broke the clasps, he flipped it over and would crawl out the larger holes in the bottom. He would somehow manage locomotion to move the crate 10 feet to reach the doors and attempting to dig his way out again.

We drugged him.

Got him a prescription for alprolazam – an anti-depressant. Appreciate, if you will, the fact that if anyone deserves anti-depressants in that house, its me ~ and I don’t have any ~ so for me, the "not an animal person" to get a vet’s prescription to give my dog meds – it’s a big deal. I was vilified for doping him, but I couldn’t keep missing work and Meg couldn’t keep missing school to babysit crazy dog. He was 12, old by any doggie standards, and crate training was devastating him. He’d pant heavily and run when we’d say “Buddy? In the crate!” Every day, it was an ordeal.

Three years later we no longer have to give him daily doses of alprolazam and he has finally accepted the crate as his home, his cave, his life. He is now one with the crate. See? Stockholm Syndrome. Embraced the evil crate, surrendered to it’s (and my alpha-dog) will. He goes in there when he's scared, when he's tired, when he just wants to chill.

I have broken him, and I am sad.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I mentioned the other day that I started hypermiling. I’ve visited sites like Hypermiling and Cleanmpg to understand more. Good information, you just have to dig to find it.

I have coveted Brain Tail’s Prius for several years. I considered purchasing a hybrid vehicle four years ago, but was talked off the wall by the Honda dealer – assuring me it would take me longer to make up the difference in the cost of the car than it would be worth. Gasoline has increased 128.49% since then Honda man. You let me down. I am forced to gain miles per gallon utilizing more eccentric methods.

However, let me be clear. I am not hypermiling in an effort to be "green". I'm doing it because I'm cheap and I want to see how much I can squeeze out of my gas tank. The only reason I would purchase a hybrid vehicle now is so I can drive in the HOV lanes, so I can get home faster. Greenerificness is a by-product. Damn me as you will.

I have two things working in my favor; 1) I am positively anal about documenting my mileage, 2) I have a manual transmission and this next is a big one - 3) the air conditioning unit in my car isn’t working. I cannot be tempted to use it and as hot as it has been in Northern Virginia the last few days, I’d be usin’ it. Let me assure you, you can get used to driving in 90+ heat without the air conditioning. No, it's not fun, but baby, I can taste the cash and cash tastes like chocolate covered pretzles.

I get very good mileage on my 2004 Honda Civic already, averaging 36.31 mpg annually (data collected from April 2004 – July 2008). I’m starting slowly. This week, I implemented the hypermiling technique “driving like I have no brakes” ~ a good piece of advice ~ since coasting up to a light or intersection saves both on brakes and on the gasoline being expended. It takes more gasoline to begin movement from a standing position than it does to accelerate from a slowed one. I also started leaving earlier for work to avoid the more heavily trafficked commuter times.

It’s not easy and comes antithetical to my nature. For all my driving years I’ve been what I now consider a semi-aggressive driver. I accelerate to win, I pass cars with ease, I move in and out of traffic lanes with dexterity. Thing of beauty, that. I considered the space between two cars a waste and it was up to me to fill it up and right quick. I feel guilty driving at the speed limit, like a loser, leaving several car lengths in between me and the car ahead. I HATE watching cars pass me. It rankles.

But I’m working the program. When possible, I coast up to a light or intersection. I’m more aware of my acceleration. Soon, I will have my oil changed using the thinnest manufacturer recommended oil and I will inflate my tires to the manufacturer recommended PSI or whatever the measurement is. I may begin to shut my car off when I hit a particularly long red light. I’ll walk to the grocery store when I’m off to buy just a couple of things.

Will I buy a bicycle? Will I purchase a device that will give me real time data on my mpg? Maybe, maybe. It will depend on how obsessed I get. Filling up tomorrow and I will let you know if I see any improvement in my mpg from last week’s 40.59 mpg.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Someone said the word splendid to me recently and I liked it. It's not used enough.

A splendid day today ~ slept well, I got in to work obscenely early as my attempts to hypermile continue, caffeinated coffee is brewing. I got letter #3 in the mail to Adam. Life is fine. Really fine.

A friend with whom I occasionally car pool showed me a non-trafficked back road home the other night; this delights me as it is fewer miles and avoids the foul foul traffic on 28S. I went to Guest Blogger’s for dinner; we did a crossword and finished – a night time rarity; we are rarely on point in the evening and crosswords suffer in the attempt. We are both of us morning folk.

This weekend, road trip! Going to meet up with the Brain Tail to watch the new XFiles movie “I Want to Believe”. Our plan is to meet up at 10am, find a Starbucks (nothing else will do; Starbuck was Scully’s nickname given to her by her father) chat ourselves stupid, then go to a noon showing. I'm bringing Shiner Bock up for Lacie's husband to enjoy later. Shiner Bock was consumed on an XFiles episode. I'm an obnoxious font of mindless trivia having spent a few years lounging in the OBSSE Abbey.

After that, I’m going on a solo adventure, driving to the Naval base to see my son on Sunday morning. Then, I will sob my way home, eight hours. Know what? Every mile, every tank of gasoline will be worth it. I’m going to see my incredibly brave friend who is facing still more surgery with grace and faith and courage. And then I’m going to see my boy. I’d do it twice.

Splendid. It's all splendid.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Immortal

I grew up on a dairy farm. I know lots of people who grew up on dairy farms that have a deep and abiding love for animals of all kinds. I also know people who were instilled with a commercial, sort of a clinical detachment regarding animal life.

That be me.

Know what? The second I fell in love with a kitten, it got it’s eye kicked out by a cow and held on for the rest of its life with puss oozing out of a cold black hole. Uhm, ew? And as soon as you named a puppy, it got hit by a tractor and your last vision of it (after its leg stopped twitching) is one of the hired hands scooping up the carcass to toss in a field.

Circle of life. I learned the harsh realities of it on our farm. Calves = cash, pets = death. Others come to take their place. Best not to get too attached.

So I’m really not an animal person, though for the past 14 years, I have housed a 50 lb crazy-dog. All those years ago, then-husband brought home a dog he found wandering the streets. Home to my children’s delight and to my dismay. I’m not stupid ~ I knew darn well who would be taking care of that animal. Meggie, who was 2-ish at the time, gleefully clasped her hands together and cried, “Let’s call him Housedog!” The hungry dog promptly found a dead baby rabbit and chewed him up in two bites. Nice. We named him Buddy.

Buddy was a runner; all he wanted to do was get outside and feel the wind in his face and work his legs stupid. I remember getting on a bicycle, and holding Buddy on a leash while he pulled me for 5 miles. We were going at quite a clip too. Buddy was a hunter; he could spot a mouse in tall grass and lunge. Buddy was good natured; he always had a smile on his face, his tongue lolling out waiting for affection, which he got in abundance. And boy, could he wrap his teeth around a ball or a Frisbee or anything you would throw – Buddy’d jump in the air at it and catch it every time.

So gentle; when Meg was three, Buddy would carefully grab the other end of the rope bone she held out and would pull her around the room all the while she squealed. Protective; let one of us roughhouse with his girl and Buddy would nose right in between barking to make us stop. I get more than a little creeped out when he stands in front of a door and just growls.

I used the past tense up there a lot, but Buddy is still with us. Poor Buddy is not the lithe animal he once was (who is for that matter?) There was a time when we couldn’t leave a door open a crack for fear Buddy would streak out. Still well conditioned, we take care not to leave an opening for him, but I get the impression these days, like a eunuch at Hef’s, there’s not a lot of interest. The thrill of the hunt has faded; he can’t see large rabbits right in front of him, he doesn’t hear so well. I think his smeller is a little off too, since he has to lick most of what he smells these days to figure out what it is.

Buddy still loves to play catch. He’ll bring his ball up and caper around making a game of pretending he doesn’t want me to get the ball out of his mouth and throw it. He still loves to go outside and I know that the joy these walks give him is immense. He’s always looking around taking in what he can, sniffing and licking and traipsing along. Then his old hip starts to bother (a youthful indiscretion chasing cars) and he stays closer to me as he gets more and more tired. We get back home, he takes a drink of water, goes into the room my daughter is in, sits next to her and protects her from all the evils that lurk.

He scares easily, worries when we leave him, gets nervous if there are too many people around and panics if his routine is altered. He is important to my daughter and has been in her life for almost as many years as she is old. For all my bluster above about not being an animal person, I can’t let him go so easily. I profess to care nothing, yet I love him too much. I will not willingly have another animal after him, but none have touched me quite as much as Buddy, dubbed by my children and their friends as The Immortal.

Monday, July 21, 2008

First Picture

Got some pictures of my son this weekend. Apparently, one of the Officers-in-Training had a girlfriend come to visit; she took pictures and Adam asked if she would send them to me. She did. In his uniform. Gets me all verklempt. Indeed, last night I cried.

Adam is fourth from the left, fifth from the right. He has clearly lost weight, and has such a stern look now. He's a very different young man now.

Friday, July 18, 2008

66 Things You Can Learn from a Korean Drama

This floats around a variety of kdrama forums; it's fun and I thought I'd post it, adding a few of my own "Things" at the bottom starting at #51.

1) Hot, rich, younger men love fat, older vulgar women.

2) If you have a best guy friend, he is in love with you. And secretly you are too.

3) You and your boyfriend will always playfully chase each other on an ice rink, at the beach, or in the leaves. And you’ll laugh for no reason and your boyfriend will hit you "playfully" but the force of his push will have you flying across the room. But it’s okay. Cuz you’re still laughing like a crazy person.

4) Brothers/cousin/uncles/nephews will always love the same girl.

5) You’re allowed to make U-turns wherever you want in Korea. And there is never traffic on the side you want to u turn to.

6) There is a super quick payment device that allows you to pay a bill quickly enough for a guy to run immediately out of a restaurant after his angry girlfriend storms out.

7) Everyone has cancer.

8.) If you’re sick, all you need is an IV to make you feel lots better.

9) There is vomit and urine all over Seoul at nights.

10) Fighting at a pojangmacha with a random stranger is merely part of a normal night’s event.

11) Soju must cost 10 cents. Everyone drinks it everyday all the time, especially the poor people.
12) If you’re rich, you’re a jerk.

13) If you’re poor, you’re an angel.

14) Women sleep and wake up with a full set of makeup on.

15) You’re not studying hard enough unless you get a nosebleed.

16) If you have a nosebleed, you most definitely have cancer. And you have no money to pay for the surgery that will save your life. And your liver is missing. We’re not sure where it went, but it’s making your cancer progress faster.

17) If you work in a sool jeep, you have massively curly hair and wear flashy colors from the early 90’s.

18.) You always order orange juice or coffee at a cafe. And you never drink it. EVER.

19) You will always call your boyfriend by his job title. Or simply sunbaenim. Never his name. Never. He doesn’t have one.

20) If you TRULY love each other, you must die together in the end. Frozen outside instead of finding shelter like sane people. Just frozen….

21) You go to America you come back miraculously successful. You go to England you come back amazingly fashionable. You stay in Korea the only thing that changes is your hairstyle.

22) And if you come back with no apparent reason then it’s because you have cancer.

23) Everyone always goes to the same hospital no matter where they are.

24) If you stand out in the rain for more than five minutes, you’ll end up with a fever and vertigo and people will rush you to the hospital to get some magic IV. And instead of taking an ambulance or driving they’ll race you on their back.

25) Even if you’re poor and can’t eat, you never wear the same clothes twice.

26) If you play a poor kid, you always have dirt on your face and your hair is always messy.

27) If you’re saving someone from being hit from a car, you’ll push them out of the way and wait for the car to hit you instead. Big Smile Couldn’t be more true, they’re like a deer in the headlights.

28.) Everyone has a long lost sister/brother/twin. Usually one they didn’t know about.

29) If you don’t want to answer your phone, you can’t just turn it off. The battery needs to be taken out.

30) All Korean men can drink hard, smoke long, sing well and play piano. Usually all at the same time. And at the same restaurant that has a piano that they let anyone use.

31) If you’re in a relationship, you must at one point leave and have your lover tearfully come RIGHT before you board the plane (vice versa applies as well. You can be the chaser). 60% of the time you see each other, the other 40% you’re roaming around in circles and pass each other about six times, but miraculously never see them.

32) If you’re getting off a plane, you’re ALWAYS wearing sunglasses. ALWAYS.

33) All guys wear hideous tracksuits zipped up to their neck. Even if all they’re doing is jump-roping.

34) Girls will always storm off because they’re mad and the guy will stoically grab them by the arm and swing them back—and by magic, not dislocate their shoulders.

35) Guys always look like they’re 6 feet tall, even if they’re only 5′10. Thank you, camera angles.

36) Guys like to wear foundation, eyeliner and sometimes a smudge of lip liner.

37) You always get stuck in an elevator with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable. Even if there are six different elevators, you’ll always be stuck in the same one with that bastard you hate (or just fought with).

38.) Unless you’re fabulously rich, your in-laws will always hate you.

39) So will your sister-in-law.

40) Your brother-in-law might be pining away for you.

41) There are only 2 ways to kiss. You either press your lips against theirs with your mouth completely shut, and just press away for a very long and uncomfortable time. OR you devour the other person and suck out their soul. In both instances, the world spins.

42) A guy will always get the right size ring, even if you’re never held hands.

43) People stare off into space and ponder a lot. They’ll just stop in the middle of the road and watch a leaf on a tree for a good three minutes, and just ponder.

44) You’ll get pregnant the first time you have sex.

45) You’ll get pregnant if he kisses you on the forehead.

46) Hell—you’ll get pregnant if you hold hands.

47) If you overcome great obstacles to be together, one of you must die. Probably due to cancer.

48.) One Korean man can kick the butts of 6 gangstas. Especially when they all stand in a circle and attack the guy one by one. Then when each of them get their butts OWNED, they wise up and attack the guy at the same time. Then the guy will get pulverized and bleed out onto the dusty concrete floor of the empty warehouse they’ve found to fight in. There will be a fire in a trashcan somewhere. And the girl will have watched this the entire time, screaming in horror. Instead of calling 119, she’ll just watch and cry. But it’s okay. Cuz the next day the guy will be fine with a few random bandages and a few face scars. But never a black eye.

49) It ain’t a real fight unless the gangstas fight dirty with a stick or switchblade.

50) If you study in the states (preferably Harvard), you are one of the top students and can speak perfect English (as assumed by the reactions of those around you). Why the rest of the world OUTSIDE of the TV can’t understand a single word uttered out of your melodramatic mouth is beyond me.

Taken from a forum post in

My additions:

51) No one had cancer in the Joseon era. People died of constipation, a sword to the heart, or from lack of salt. Ginseng cured everything. Except for constipation. Nothing cures constipation.

52) A damp white cloth is a time tested medical intervention for a) wiping sweat off a comatose person's forehead waking them up b) bringing down a fever and waking them up c) sopping up face blood waking them up. It's not much help with constipation.

53) Whenever some manly kung fu fighting is occurring, a swift kick to the chest results in dust wafting up from the victims clothes. I have come to the conclusion that Korean people have very dusty torsos.

54) Bad guys will always fall in love with good girls. Good girls fall in love with good guys and then get eye cancer. The bad guys will then dig out their eyes so their cancer riddled girlfriend can see their beloved, albeit blurrily, for 17 seconds before it all goes black again.

55) Everyone meets their beloved when they are 11 years old and they fall in love. Upon giving their beloved a necklace, one of them has to move to America to become a captain of industry. When they return to Korea 17 years later, they are still wearing the necklace.

56) Fingering necklaces given to you by your 11 year old friend immediately conjures up vivid images of the last time you saw them (often as their father was ripping them out of your arms.) Somehow you always finger your necklace when they are in the same restaurant as you ~ however, you don't know it. No, you don't know it, but you sense....something....

57) Doctors cry a lot.

58) At some point in the drama, one main character will get very intoxicated and walk eight miles home. The other main character will walk behind them to make sure they get home ok.

59) Grandmothers always hate poor girls. Conversely, Grandfathers always love them.

60) Americans are all cowboy hat wearin', wife beatin', booze drinkin' ranchers that become enraged at seeing necklaces from 11 year old boys on the throats of 11 year old girls.

61) If you are a nice prince, you always have at least one cousin and an aunt who think you are a fool and want you dead. They will eventually kill your mother.

62) Nice princes always train in secret with a dungeon prisoner who is even more secretly, their father. However, if he isn't your father, minimally he gave your mother a necklace when she was 11. Which she still wears, unless your cousin and aunt killed her. In that case, you carry the necklace on your person.

63) If you are a mean prince, you are usually hot.

64) Mothers of mean princes spend a great deal of time sitting at tables in their bedroom plotting the demise of the royal family. With her brother.

65) A bowel movement is always preceded by a gurgling stomach, a dash to the bathroom on tip toes, doubled over, and clutching the stomach. This presumably holds the poo in until a bathroom is reached.

66) The bathroom reached is generally that of the opposite sex and the person you gave a necklace to when they were 11 is sitting in the stall next to you.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More Glaucoma

Ocular hypertension is back. Stupid ugly scary back and I have to get it checked out.

But now…NOW…I am being forced to acquire a primary care physician. Sorry. Wait. Let me back up. I went to the eye doctor on Saturday, bending over finally and giving in to Father Time by getting fitted for bifocals or more nicely put - progressive lenses. Remember a few posts ago I talked about my old glaucoma diagnosis? Remember how I said I was told I didn’t have glaucoma and I could go my merry way? No more drops? No more two visits a year? No more cereal bowl in a dark close carbon-dioxide laden room?

Gasp/Breathe/Gasp/Breathe/Gasp/Breathe Breathe Breathe breathe breathe.

OK. OK. Sorry. Whoooo. Sorry. Sorry.

Pressures are high. Really high. Like take away her driver’s license and slap a handicap sticker on the car she’s going blind high. So high that even I was worried.

The fun begins. This is no longer within the scope of my vision plan. We are now entering the land of the medical benefit access. HMOs. PCPs. Acronyms out the hoo hah. And oh the complexity. Understand, before I can stop myself from going BLIND, I have to:

  • Call the insurance company to understand the process and my benefit (HMO)
  • Go on line and find a physician in my plan (PCP)
  • Call the physician’s office, ensure they take my insurance and are taking new patients (ASAP)
  • Make an appointment for an initial examination with the PCP who is an MD
  • Take time off work to go to initial appointment (SOL)
  • Endure weigh-in, blood pressure check, temperature check, invasive questions about my menstrual cycle, my last pap smear, my most recent mammogram, whether I smoke, how much I drink, when I last had sex, my seat belt utilization, and what my turn ons include (SPaFGimMIGTSM)
  • Tell them that all I want right now is a referral to my specialist (DO)
  • Get referral from my PCP to see my DO (OMFG)
  • Call my DO to set up an appointment

Meanwhile I call my previous DO, to get my MR (medical records) to transfer to the new DO so that we are prepped and poised with all information at hand should I GO EFFING BLIND BY THE TIME I GET IN TO SEE HIM.

All that was after calling my HMO and going through the automated voice response system.

  • Femme bot: “Are you a member or a provider?”
  • Me: “Member”
  • Femme bot: “Thanks!” (I love the enthusiasm that is interjected into the femme bot on the other end) To better serve you, please say your Plan ID or enter your social security number into the keypad”
  • Me: "Blab la Blab”
  • Femme bot: “Thanks! Now, say or enter the primary card holder’s date of birth”
  • Me: “Blab lab blab”
  • Femme bot: “I’m sorry,” (she really sounds it too) “that date is not in my system. Please say or enter the primary card holder’s date of birth”

Unfortunately, at this point, someone came up to my desk and needed my assistance, so I had to hang up. It went much more smoothly the next time I called.

  • Femme Bot: “Are you a member or a provider?” “Customer Service”
  • “Thanks! To better serve you, please say your ID or enter your social security number into the keypad” “Customer Service”
  • “OK! Let me get you a customer service representative to assist you.”

Nooooow we’re talkin’.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

80s E

Take on Me by a-ha. A good song made really good by an awesome video. Loved this as a kid.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Delilah Songs

Gosh that Delilah. Inspires two very different types of passions... blind murderous rage in a stalker and promises of some sort of income from an aspiring, but poor guitarist.

Check out the people trying to dance to this next one:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Knee Brace

Almost as soon as I had posted regarding "Run Silent Run Deep", the navy submarine thriller did I get call from my son in OCS (center of the picture).

He called me last Sunday; I had missed his call. For a mom, this is tough stuff, made more so by the fact that he left me a message on my cell phone. You see, he needed something, and I wasn't there to help.

Broke my heart. He needed me ~ even if it was just to vent for a moment and have me calm his emotions ~ he needed me and I wasn't there. Awful.

However, we talked for a good 45 minutes today, I gave him information that he needed and all is well. He sounds wonderful - still hoarse, but good. He is undergoing the most rigorous mental and physical challenge of his life ~ he's enjoying's the hardest thing he's ever done...but he's enjoying it. He has been labeled "Knee Brace" by one Drill Instructor because he has to wear them when he runs. He's been labeled "Red" by another DI because of his coloring. They are preparing for a major inspection. Pray with me that he does well.

I'm proud when I think of the institution he has embraced. The kid who at 3 years old knew every hot button on me and pushed them with glee. The two year old who confronted me while I was chatting with the cable man, pointed a toy gun at me and silently shot me dead, walking away unbowed. The baby who would curl up with me on the couch and sleep. Who copped a strut while he crawled; a tough guy with a bottle dangling from his mouth like a Lucky Strike.

*Sigh. He's the Navy's now. But he'll always be mine.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Run Silent, Run Deep

Watched the movie "Run Silent Run Deep" today at the recommendation of a good friend and fellow kdrama aficionado.

Starring Clark Gable as an obsessed submarine captain Commander "Rich" Richardson and a smokin' Burt Lancaster as second in command, Lieutenant Jim Bledsoe. Assignment: make a new Navy Mom paranoid and anxious for her son. Result: Mission accomplished.

It was a tense drama from beginning to end and really well done. I'm told by my dear friend Geommy that it's highly realistic to submarine life during World War II. Not sure if the occasional plots to mutiny were particularly realistic, but it added to the drama and showed what a fine officer Jim Bledsoe was.

See, Gable's an old salt in this and was after the Japanese destroyer that sunk his sub a year previous. It was a revenge trip and in an effort to exact it, he twisted some arms, called in some chips to get the command of the vessel that Lancaster was slated to head up. Like I said though, Bledsoe's a good and decent officer, there's no palace machinations. He follows orders, doesn't feed into the crew's crap, but makes sure he shoots plain and straight to his commander.

It was a tense movie directed by Robert Wise and well done. I felt myself tighten up when Gable went after one destroyer - sort of a manly "who's got balls now" beef trip that works wonders to boost the crew's morale. The anxiety was intensified when our sub and the Japanese sub were under water playing a silent game of chicken.

Like I said, Lancaster was smokin' in this flick. Those beautiful eyes and granite jaw....woooooof! Mommy, they made 'em nice back then. To say nothing about that fine backside. However, leadership , integrity and a uniform are turn ons too and Burt had it all going on.

Gable was an older Gable. Like all 1962 all sort of popeye-eyed and wrinkly. Rhett Butler he ain't. He's smart, savvy and strong but driven to settle the score for his dead crew and he'll spare no expense, even if its at the cost of another crew. You don't hate him and you don't want mutiny; you understand where it's coming from ~ yeah, it's to avenge his men but it's as much to redeem himself.

Not a chick to be seen in "Run Silent Run Deep" - oh wait; yes there is ~ we get a peek at Commander Richardson's wife who asks her man if she can make some lemonade for him earlier on in the movie. Look sister, make it for yourself and add some gin. You don't need some man to tell you its ok. You might want to learn how to manage the bills too doll, 'cause daddy's not coming home and you're going to be on your own. Askin' a man if she can make lemonade. Sheeesh. Oh, yeah, and the other morale booster is the picture of the long legged bimbo with her butt cheeks peeping out of her shorts that the fellas like to pat on the hiney before they start battle formation. Misogynistic to the max ~ the place is soaked in testosterone. Reeks of it.

Sexism aside, good movie. I mean, they weren't very enlightened back in the 40s, so I have to cut them some slack on the chauvinism and the sweaty man tension. Will I watch again? Prolly not. But I enjoyed it ~ making me want to go back and watch "Field of Dreams" again so I can see those beautiful Lancaster eyes. But yes, I enjoyed the movie every bit as much as I'm enjoying knowing that Geommy is going to read this and smile and delight in the shout out.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

K-Movie; S Diary

"The memories I thought I would lose, held me close. I don't know what kind of love will find me or leave me, but I think I will be able to keep good memories of it." - Nah Jin Hee - S Diary
I didn't feel like investing this holiday weekend in an entire kdrama television series, so I looked around for a movie. S Diary seemed to fit bill nicely.

Several of my favorite actors are in S Diary; Kim Sun-A, Gong Yoo, Hyun Bin's mother from Kim Sam Soon and even a cameo of a young pre-Army Jang Hyuk. The premise of the story is that Jini (Sun-A) gets dumped yet again by her latest boyfriend (played early on by Jang Hyuk). He rather cruelly points out to her that she is smothering him and he is simply unable to tolerate the relationship any longer. He goads her into seeking out her past lovers to prove to her that he is right.

We flashback to Jini few years previously, singing in her parish choir at her Catholic Church. She crushes on the choir director played by Lee Hyeon Woo. This affair was brief, documenting Jini's first intimate experience with a man; Jini is sweet and virginal. He abandons her to become a priest.

Jini then takes up with another man, played by Kim So Roo (who I recognize but can't for the life of me place). KSR plays a biker who enjoys the passion that he and Jini share. Jini cooks and cleans for KSR, supports him really. He eventually dumps her when he finally makes it onto the police force and he marries someone more suitable.

The most explicit relationship for Jini is with an artist played by Gong Yoo. They meet on New Years Eve and ring the new year in with sex and a lot of it. Jini is older than GY, helps take car of his mother's dog, plays video games with him, goes clubbing with him, but this fails to hold his interest for very long. We see him work his magic on some younger girls at the club.

So at the point Jang Hyuk breaks up with Jini, she takes some time to re-read her diaries - in as much an effort to prove Jang Hyuk wrong as anything else. She looks her old lovers up and learns that from their perspective - hey, we had a little fun, nothing more, let it go.

Girls don't let things go that easily. Probably better if we did, but we don't.

Jini begins a campaign of revenge. When they individually refuse to pay her the amount she determines would be fair compensation for her body and her effort, she decides to exact payment in another way. With the help of her two gay men friends, she puts viagra in the priest's wine, she vandalizes the cop's car, and she kidnaps the dog and makes it look like she had it made into stew. There's more, but those are the big ticket items.

All the old flames eventually pay up, and while Jini is celebrating her success, she realizes that she still feels hollow and empty and no amount of financial compensation is going to take that pain away.

The comedy was mediocre, the romance - much more explicit than what I have been used to in the typical k-drama format ~ a change to be sure ~ this ain't no hand holding. But what has stayed with me and what I really enjoyed about the film was the message at the end.

Like so many women, Jini realizes that all those years she tried to be what she thought her men wanted her to be. She always tried to suit them, rather than finding out what suited her. She searches her soul and realizes that the memories created is not her experience alone. These are experiences shared with her lovers. These men contributed to the person she is today, a person of warmth and value who is ready to discover who she is and what makes her happy. She lets go of the bitterness and remembers with fondness all the good that they experienced together.
"The memories that I held precious were not just my own. I can't erase them myself, so I send them back."
We then see moments from each of her lovers, moments of their joy with Jini, what they found enchanting or passionate or beautiful or charming in her that they cherished. We are meant to realize that there is always giving and taking in every relationship. We are meant to remember that it's not just we who are impacted; we too touch everyone we encounter in some way. It's up to us to let go of the bitterness and remember with fondness all the good experienced.

A lovely movie, wrapped up in some bawdy obvious humor, but that had a sweet message. I liked it.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Just over 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with glaucoma. Bit of a surprise under 30 years old, but there you go. I had been having some severe headaches increasing in frequency, so I went to my doctor. I told him I thought it might be my eyes (I knew I had high ocular pressure, I just never followed through with a thorough enough exam) and I was poo-poo'd. "Do you have insurance?" "Yes" "Then lets do a CAT scan." Niiiiice.

It was my eyes. I poo YOU sir.

Thus began 15 years of testing, treatment, drops, bi-annual visits and a variety of tests to calculate the certain degradation of my ocular nerves.

I'll tell you right now, I don't like the puff test; I always blink. I've learned how to steele myself for it though. The "blue circle" test is rough too - where they put drops in your eyes to numb them (forcing you to wipe away yellow goo for the rest of the day) and then they place this blue circle of light right on top of your eyeball to test the pressure of the ocular fluid inside your eyeball. It's no fun, but I just focus on the yellow glop. It doesn't take very long.

When I was first diagnosed with glaucoma, I went to a state of the art eye place - office was top notch - tests were superior (although the blue circle is the blue circle is the blue circle). There is a test that they give to see if your peripheral vision is depleting - a visual field test. I'd sit in front of this huge white salad bowl and was told to only stare at the center of the bowl. Like our hearing tests when we were in school, I'd have to click each time I saw a light appear somewhere inside the salad bowl. I liked the salad bowl test and prided myself on its successful completion.

As sometimes happens in life, my health plan benefit changed and I could no longer go to my fabulous top notch eye place. See, it was the only place I had ever been for glaucoma and I figured all tests were created equal.

Noooo. No no no no no.

Then I went to a doctor in local hospital. His "salad bowl" test was more like a cereal bowl and it was in a room that was the size of a large office desk. The cereal bowl was pushed up against my face, (and on top of said large office desk) so that when I breathed, I could feel my breath coming back at me, hot and steaming, redolent with carbon dioxide. In a small room. A small, enclosed, dark, hot-from-my-breath room. The test takes at least 7 minutes; maybe 10 and if you don't do the test right, you have to do it again. Phew. That was hard. Breathe. Must breathe. Phew. Phrew. I'm done. Phew. No wait. I didn't do the test right. For the first time in 10 years, I had to do the test again! Noooooo! I had to do it again!

I've never been claustrophic and I've never had a panic attack. OMG OMG OMG - my heart rate increased, I started to sweat, and I began to panic. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I needed to scream. I got through it, but told the nurse I had to walk out of the office for a minute and just breathe.

I had to take the effing test again. I thought I was going to cry. It was a monumental act of self control to not go beserk and get through the test.

I can still feel the closeness of the machine on my face. I can still remember what the panic felt like in my chest and my legs. How I wanted to scream and cry all at once. I've never felt more ridiculous in my life and I will never take that nice salad bowl test for granted again.

As a post script, cereal bowl doctor told me that in his opinion, after 10 years there was no ocular nerve degeneration therefore no glaucoma. I just have a high tolerance for high ocular pressure.
No more cereal bowl.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Alt E

I finally found an Atreyu song that I liked...because I understood the words. And their die hard fans think they're selling out...because people can understand the words. Jeeeeeeez.

Here is a sample of Atreyu's signature sound; about 30 seconds in:

Aint Love Grand - Atreyu

And here is the song I like:

Falling Down - Atreyu

I still like it.

Artist: Atreyu Album: Lead Sails Paper Anchor.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Make McCain Exciting

Brilliant submission to the Colbert Report's Latest Green Screen Challenge in "Make McCain Exciting".

McCain recently held a conference in front of a screen that was green, tacitly giving Colbert the green light, if you will allow me, to have some fun.

This video by Wayne Simbro is fantastic. Give it the full 48 seconds.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

KDrama Review: In Soon is Pretty

“Are accidents really looking for me? Or is it that everything that
happens in our lives beautifully appears searching for us when we truly need it?”

I truly did not need In Soon is Pretty. I was not enamored. In the end, the love story between In Soon and Sang Woo was sweet, but it took too long to get there and too many of the ancillary characters annoyed me.

However, the series has given me a new marker on my kdrama scorecard and that’s “Chemistry” or the “BinSunAh” Factor. (For my readers that have never watched any Korean Drama – Hyun Bin and Kim Sun Ah starred in “My Name is Kim Sam Soon” – possibly my favorite kdrama ever. The story was good, but the chemistry between HB and KSA was electric. You felt it in every scene. You felt it watching the outtakes. As far as I’m concerned, it is what made the show so successful.) You can have a mediocre story, but when you have leads that connect, it transcends everything.

On to the review.

Ponder Angst – Very little ponder angst in In Soon is Pretty. They get the full 20 points.

Love “ – “ Angles – There are really no angles here. Sang Woo loves In Soon. In Soon “thinks” she is in love with her teacher, but he never gives her any encouragement – to the contrary, he’s very clear that it’s not happening, so I’m not counting it as an angle. 10 points.

Sizzle – I’m sorry but I got no sizzle out of ISiP at all. Sang Woo was good looking but some of his behavior was annoying. SW and IS had a nice kiss at the end, but…it was at the end. Geun Soo was attractive, but I kept wanting to brush his bangs out of his eyes. I will give it 5 points for having some longing looks from Sang Woo toward InSoon which made my belly flip. 5 points.

Physical Intimacy – Sigh* Nothing. If my boyfriend for whom I have declared my love and affection came back from overseas unexpectedly, I would have run headlong into his arms and squeezed hard. In Soon timidly opens her arms, almost apologetically really and there is an awkward hug. I have to give it something, sort of like a pity grade: 5 points.

Tragic Heartwrenching Disease and/or Character Death from Same**Spoiler Alert** Mom didn’t take an eternal float in the ocean as I had hoped. No…SHE lived. Geun Soo died - complications arising from leaving the hospital AMA before his thug incurred stab wounds had a chance to knit. (We also learn that In Soon sleeps the sleep of the dead, since she had fallen asleep prone across him, and GS managed to get up, detach a variety of tubes and hoses, put on his clothes and walk out without waking her up). Geun Soo did reach a level of redemption and experienced personal peace before he arose from this mortal coil. More pity points here – even though its not constipation or anorexia - I’ll give it 20 because I didn’t want GS to die. Then again, if Mom had died, I’d have given the show 50 points just for having the courage to get rid of that waste of humanity.

The BinSunAh – “Chemistry” We had 2 attractive leads with a powerful story line. A story about loneliness, fear, how the media manipulates the public and how the public feeds in to the manipulation. Unfortunately, while the love story between SW and IS was sweet and really endearing, in the end when they finally came together as strong independent people, it was not enough to make me rush to or to YesAsia and buy it (I own Coffee Prince, Thank You, Kim Sam Soon, Jumong and Emperor of the Sea...I'm doing my part to keep the kdrama business afloat). Can’t mess with the science, and In Soon is Pretty didn’t have the test tubes touching.

Going to the Beach – As I said above, we had lots of talk of suicide, but none came to fruition. 0 Points.

60 points. Not so good, but not so bad either. I can offer the only perspective I have – which is I couldn’t even bring myself to review Hello! Miss! or Joyful Girl’s Success Story. Those were just awful shows with no redeeming value whatsoever – Joyful Girl’s Success Story was Jang Hyuk pre-Army and, well, let’s just say he developed some kinda hottie muscle in the military that he didn’t have before. I can’t take my eyes off him now, but back then, Hyuk was yuk. Anyway, In Soon is Pretty at least made the meter.

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