In Which Kristy Tries Voluntary Water Boarding

So I have a number of friends who swear by Netipots.  It’s not that I’ve ever doubted what they’re telling me, but I’ve always figured they were more for sinus issues, and I don’t generally have big sinus issues.  Any respiratory/allergy problems with me tend to go straight to my lungs.  And since it sounds rather like a torture technique, I’ve never really been able to bring myself to do it.

Well this past winter I had a bit of a tiff with my mother over my refusal to get a flu shot.  I’ve never had a flu shot, and I’ve never gotten the flu, so I say, why mess with a system that works?  Mom points out that I’m in a high risk group and I should take it anyway.  I didn’t get the shot, but I did decide to do everything possible to avoid getting the flu since I didn’t want the years of “I told you so’s” I’d get if I did.  (At a later date we will explore why an “I told you so” from my mother is worse than H1N1).

I read a document from the Red Cross which said that the best strategy was to prevent the virus from proliferating rather than preventing exposure.  Since the virus could only proliferate in the throat and nose, this could be achieved, in part, by cleaning out the nasal passages with warm salt water either with a Netipot or cotton swab.  I went with the latter, but ran into a little snag:  I have a small nose to start with and a deviated septum.  This means my right nasal passage is practically nonexistent.  Too narrow to accommodate a cotton swab (this is also why I blow my nose constantly–a speck of dust will block it).  I happened to mention this to my mom last night and immediately her eyes lit up and she said, “You need a Netipot.”  Turns out she loved hers so much she bought one for my father.  Who has never used it.  So she said I can have his.

Like any good college students, I’ll take most anything (except the flu) if it’s free.  So I tried it.

Turns out it’s not a perfect solution to the nonexistent nasal passage.  I decided to start with the left nostril thinking it would be easier.  Well it took me forever to get the solution to come out my right nostril.  At first it was just coming right back out my left one.  But I kept pouring and eventually I got it to come out the opposite nostril like it was supposed to.  Then I tried pouring it in the right nostril.  At first nothing was coming out, but right when I got to the point of “OMG, where is it going if it’s not coming out?” It started coming out.  In drips.  No matter how much I poured, nothing more than a stream of drips would come out.  Pretty funny stuff.

Still, my nose felt awfully clear.  I wasn’t having any problems, so it may not be the best gauge, but I decided it was worth a second try.

Which I did tonight.  With perhaps a hint more success.  Only now my nose feels irritated.  Not sure if this is the rinse that came with it or a normal reaction or the fact that I keep getting the water too hot.  (I use tap water, but the place I’m currently staying has tap water direct from a nuclear reactor).

Anyway, I’m still undecided; a friend says I need to give it a week before I decide if it works for me.  I think it might do more for me come winter.  So I’m keeping it, but I’m not ready to sing its praises just yet.

Who Knew Best Friends Were Bad?

So, apparently, there’s a trend to dissuade kids from being “best friends” and encourage them to be more broadly social.  Or, so suggests this article from the New York Times.

I’ve been shocked and horrified by a lot of things, but if this is accurate?  I’ve gone beyond shock and horror.

On behalf of those of us who are introverted and quite bloody happy that way, I resent the idea of camp counselors and teachers trying to make everyone be friends with everyone.  Because that’s “healthier”?  FTW?  I don’t like everyone and I don’t like having to pretend I do.  Small talk is a chore, and if the kid next to me is too stupid to have a real conversation why am I the unhealthy one for not wanting to exchange trite words?  It actually sucks a lot out of me to deal with large groups of people.  I lose energy, patience…my temper.  Wouldn’t that mean the healthier scenario is the one I grew up with and still maintain:  a few really close friends?

And I’m not sure the fact that my socializing preferences are being called “unhealthy” is really the worst part.  I think its worse that adult institutions are invading yet another aspect of just being a kid.  It’s not enough that these rug-rats are scheduled and managed to a T and deprived of the opportunity to just roam the neighborhood and build tree forts and generally goof off, now they aren’t even free to build and break their own inter-kid relationships.  It’s kind of sad.  I don’t envy kids these days.  Especially not the quiet ones who just want to hang out with their best friends.

Coffee with… Mel Brooks

Kristy:  Would I drink coffee with Mel Brooks?  Seriously?  That’s a bit of a no brainer.  As we have established over and over again, we like the funny.  Mr. Brooks has made a career out of bringing the funny.  And funny that I have always enjoyed.  Funny that’s not shy, but not gross either.  Funny that’s sometimes intelligent and sometimes isn’t and revels in both.  What’s more, funny that sometimes has music in it!

But honestly, there’s more to it that just him being funny.  First of all, the man has been around for quite a while, second, he experienced a lot of life.  He’s got to have stories to tell.  If Wikipedia is to be believed (I know, I know, but it’s so easy to access) he gave his wife movie rights as an anniversary present.  How adorable is that?  Also, he apparently went to Virginia Military Institute (never would have guessed that).  So yes, I would drink coffee with him.  I expect to at some point snarf said coffee, but for Mel I’m willing to do that.

Cammy: Coffee with Mel Brooks?  Definitely count me in for this one.  I’m banking on some side-splitting laughs.  I’m sure you’re right about him having some awesome stories, but, really, I just want to bask in the funny.  Besides, he gave the world Spaceballs and anyone who did something that awesome is so worth having coffee with.

I’m Not Sure I Want That Apple….

I’m facing a bit of a dilemma.  My Mp3 player is starting to act quirky and I fear the time to replace it is coming sooner rather than later.  The player is very simple.  It cost me all of about $35 when I bought it, which was great.  I needed a low-priced device to play MP3s–my budget was limited and my needs were simple:  play music.

But at this point in my life, I have a bit more disposable income and I can consider something slightly more upscale than the stripped down little player.  While I’m fine with just seen the plain text of the artist name and song on the black and white display, I wouldn’t be opposed to a little larger display that’s easier to navigate.  Which brings me to the real dilemma:

Do I want to sell out and get an iPod?

I’ve not consumed the Apple Kool-Aid, so I know that these devices are not without flaws which are to be considered in evaluating them against non-Apple devices.  But my problem is that Apple brings with it other baggage.  Baggage that shouldn’t matter in a detached and logical evaluation of functionality of electronic items, but which ultimately thrusts itself into every attempt to look at any item bearing the Apple logo.  It’s baggage that I used to find mildly annoying but which has become so onerous that I actually find it repulsive enough that I wind up dismissing Apple out of hand if I’m not careful.

That problem with Apple is its users.

It pains me to say it, but it’s like dealing with a friggin’ cult.  Even people that I consider close and dear friends seem to morph into pretentious monsters under the influence of these otherwise fairly inoffensive and innocuous electronic implements.  And it’s really not the device itself, it’s the culture that builds up around them.  If I get told that someone has an “Ap” for something during a dinner conversation as they whip out that iPhone, I will feed that someone their teeth.  And the iPad hype?  I was fine with the release hoopla, until an acquaintance, wielding his shiny new iPad (which, incidentally, if his financial bitching is to be believed, he really couldn’t afford–just like he can’t afford the iPhone he stood in line for this week), proceeded to mock, and deride netBooks in the face of the power of the iPad.  Beg pardon, gentle readers, but….Fuck that.  I happen to love my little Asus Netbook (she’s named Inara, btw) and while the iPad to which I was subjected to a forced introduction (I think it might actually have been an attempted indoctrination) was a nifty gizmo with some neat interface features, it could in no way, shape or form replace my Inara, who, ya know, has a keyboard–something I find essential for the amount of typing I do.  She also plays movies, surfs the net, plays Mp3s, games and does just about everything else an iPad does.  Yes, she might be slightly thicker than an iPad, but for that keyboard, it doesn’t matter.  And no, Apple users, the touch pad does not work for me.  I actually had a conversation with a computer engineer about this and he explained that touch pad interfaces, while vastly improved, are just not quite there for extensive typing like I do.  And apparently the frustration is compounded when one types quickly, which I do.  So, ya know.  Just not my thing.  Also, when I finally decide I want to ditch the Win7 Starter than came installed on Inara?  I can easily slap on Linux.

It’s a shame really, because about the time when Apple users started in on the widespread superiority kick is also about the time when I was finally starting to give Apple some real respect.  When the Mac OS when to X, which was a Unix based system, my opinion of Apple went through the roof.  I was starting to think of purchasing one.  The price has always been an issue, but I came close.  And, of course, even before the change to OS X, I was able to acknowledge the important role Apple played for film and graphics folks.  I fully expect that if I start working more with video I will look more seriously at Apple for a desktop machine, specifically for the power in video editing at a reasonable price.

But it’s hard to remember that when I find myself surrounded by the Apple-junkies who behave as though living without an Apple device puts one in the dark ages, and to even consider a similar device from anyone else is tantamount to pure barbarism.  I actually had someone look at me like I was a circus freak when they found out that not only did I NOT have an iPod, I had SOME OTHER BRAND.  Apparently it’s better not to have anything at all.  Who knew?

So with this kind of brand-cultism surrounding the iPod, I’m wary of them.  It might be a great device, but I live in fear that I’ll either spend that extra (because, let’s face it, Apple’s prices can always be beat, unless you’re comparing their video/audio/graphics software vs. other professional level systems, then they’re a friggin’ bargain) and not feel it was worth it, or, even if it is worth it, that I might, in possessing one of these items in public be mistaken for one of the members the pompous, brand-drunk tribe who consumed the Apple kool-aid.

Tumbling + Teen Angst = Guilty Pleasure

As we’ve alluded to a few times, I’m not easily embarrassed.  Much to Cammy’s chagrin.  I’d like to say I’m like Barney Stinson and have an awesome gland where my shame gland should be, but in reality it’s more like I have a very small shame gland which was unable to develop properly due to my enlarged attention whore gland.  So there’s not a lot of guilt involved in most of my guilty pleasures.  I will tell anyone who wants to know about my soap opera addiction.  I’m open about my love for Degrassi.  But there are some things even I hesitate to admit to watching.  Like Make It Or Break It, for example.  I’m not going to deny that I watch it, and clearly I’m telling the entire internet, but I’m not ever going to bring it up in conversation.

Let’s start by getting one thing clear:  It’s not a good show.  It’s not even a mediocre show.  I mean, in many ways, it’s truly awful.  The fact that it comes on ABC Family probably tells you a lot.  But I can’t stop watching it!

It’s really not that difficult to figure out why I would watch it.  I’m a huge fan of gymnastics; it is, to my knowledge, the only show out there about gymnastics.  I also enjoy teen angst.  And what this show is really about is teen angst.  Win-win.  Sorta.

The show follows the adventures of a quartet of elite gymnasts as they train and compete and experience the hell known as adolescence.  We have Scrappy!Emily, the daughter of a ne’er do well nail technician who also has a wheel chair bound brother.  Her family has no money and she doesn’t feel like she belongs in an elite gym.  Then there’s Bitchy!Lauren from a broken home, poor little rich girl type.  Super competitive in and out of the gym.  Not above endangering a fellow gymnast’s life by tampering with the vault or sleeping with her friend’s boyfriend.  Then we have Payson who simultaneously manages to be bad ass and boring which is a clear indication how talented she is.  She traded in a personality for work ethic.  Last but not least, Sparkly!Kaylie, whose ex-athlete father is more interested in finding endorsements to parenting and whose mother is more interested in banging the coach.  But she’s cute and has something approaching a personality.

And wackiness ensues!

Wackiness that is generally predictable and yet horribly addictive.

Okay, the first glaring problem with the show is honestly one I will concede them: though the characters are supposed to be some of the top gymnasts in the world, the skills we see them doing are somewhat less than world class.  Though this impacts the realism of the show, there are only a handful of women in the world who can actually do world class gymnastics and most of them are too busy being world class gymnasts to have time to do stunt work for an angsty television show.

Then there’s the soap opera problem of nothing having lasting consequences.  Lauren leaves the gym and comes back.  Carter gets kicked out of the gym but comes back.  Lauren and Kaylie end their friendship over Carter, but they all bond in the end.  I might have been distraught when Payson fell off the bars at Nationals, injuring her spine so that she’d never be able to do gymnastics again.  If I thought it would actually stick.  Sure enough, Counselor Troi showed up and performed a revolutionary surgery, leaving her good as new.  (Incidentally, would you let Counselor Troi operate on your child?  Because I wouldn’t.)

The bigger problem is that they fail to make the characters sympathetic.  Every male under 25 who enters the show seems to fall for Emily, despite her lack of curves, brain and backbone.  And the fact that I want to smack her at least half the time.  Payson was at her least annoying while handicapped and they fixed that.  Lauren is fun with her crazed bitchiness, but at best is the type you love to hate.  There are moments when I like Kaylie, but then I remember she was that obnoxious girl I hated in high school.

All this said?  I’m totally going to be watching the season premiere on Monday (or perhaps whenever they get the episode online since I’ll be working during the initial broadcast).  Because I may not want to, but I eat it all up.  It’s like that can of cream cheese icing in the back of the fridge.  You know that there is nothing to be gained by eating a big old spoonful of it, but that won’t stop you.

My First Tomato

I am inordinately proud of myself.  Today I got to consume the first tomato I grew all on my own.

I’ve spent a lot of time helping garden: helping my parents, grandparents, aunt, friends….but this summer is the first time I planted veggies completely unassisted. While it was incredibly freeing to get to pick what I felt like planting (which meant absolutely no space was wasted on my least favorite veggie:  Bell Pepper), I was left with the nagging dread of being solely responsible if my choices failed.  A nagging dread compounded by the knowledge that with all the years I’ve been a gardening-trainee (far more years than I ought to have been a mere apprentice), if I couldn’t handle a few tomato plants on my own?  Well, clearly that would mean my green thumb was nothing but rot.

I’ve been a bit anxious. My patio garden consists of multiple “volunteer” tomatoes that sprung up from my mother’s garden last summer, multiple volunteer onions, a brand new cherry tomato bush, two egg plants, various herbs, and a Hungarian hot wax pepper.  My herbs are going like gang busters, the onions seem okay (I need to dig them up–plant ’em on the shortest day, dig ’em up on the longest…I missed the due date).  My egg plants at least have blossoms.  But the tomatoes–the one thing none of my family has ever messed up.  The standby veggie of the summer….For weeks my cherry tomato had blooms, but no fruit (the volunteers have blooms, but they came from hybrids and those don’t always behave normally in subsequent generations).  And then…..today, down at the bottom, lurking behind the foliage I realize that not only were there tomatoes forming, one of them was ripe!  Woohoo!  I’m not a complete horticultural failure!

Of course, I wasted no time, rinsing it under the hose and popping it in my mouth.  I could be biased, but I think that may have been the best tomato in the history of tomatoes.  It was certainly the most satisfying.

Holy Time Vampire, Batman

I’m not sure why, but I’ve always had a fascination with hagiography.  The earliest connection I can remember to it was my 5th grade Spanish teacher who had a poster on the wall with the patron saints for every day of the year.  I spent a lot of classes tuning out the horrendous pronunciation of my classmates my squinting at that poster and, no lie, trying to memorize it.  I don’t know if it’s the sheer craziness of so many saints’ lives, the fact that there are just so gosh darned many of them, or the fact that there are saints for some of the most bizarre causes.

I own a couple copies of Lives of the Saints that I got off the bargain racks at Barnes & Noble, but the internet has gone a long way towards furthering my addiction.  There are several websites with saints indices, but the most thorough I’ve found so far is at The Catholic Community Forum.   Haven’t explored the website as a whole enough to make any comment on it.  In part because I can’t tear myself away from the “Patron Saints Topics.”

The index has the official patrons for places you never would have known had an official patron saint.  And saints to pray for every ailment and misfortune under the sun.  There are separate saints for the prevention of physical and verbal spousal abuse.  Say what you will about the Catholic Church, you have to love their specificity.  There are occupational patrons—this is how I found out that one patron serves acrobats, circus performers, jugglers, fiddle players and travelling musicians.  But my absolute favorite saint at the moment?  Saint Amalburga—the saint you pray to for bruises.  Her feast day is July 10, which is also coincidentally my birthday.  If you could see me now, you’d understand why this is hysterical.

Long story short, I found this index by googling one particular saint because I needed to confirm one particular fact.  And an hour later I was a lot more knowledgeable and had accomplished nothing.  So for fellow hagiography buffs this site is a mixed blessing.  A font of knowledge, but an incubus where time is concerned.

Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner…Except Mom and Dad

So, in a recent discussion on the increase in parental censorship in the latest crop of parents (a topic for a whole different post), Kristy and I realized the one movie we were both denied the right to view as kids was Dirty Dancing.

Unfortunately for both of us, our conscientious parents were apparently in the minority because the primary reason we both recall this one incident of censorship was because every other girl in our grade level was talking about that movie.  Constantly.  It was everyone’s favorite.  And, in my case, when my parents rented the movie?  In keeping with my parents’ preferred method of restricting my viewing, this particular baby might not have been sent to the corner, but she was sent off to play in her room.

In my case, I never actually saw the movie until I was in college.  My first reaction was that my parents were overly cautious because I never would have understood the more controversial topics in the film at that age.  But then I remembered that I was also the kid who didn’t hesitate to ask my parents what something was when I didn’t understand.  I’m pretty sure abortion was pretty far down on the list of things they wanted me to start quizzing them on*.

I can’t speak for Kristy, but, honestly, it was a bit of a let down for me when I finally got to watch it.  I guess I was expecting something more spectacular.  The only thing I actually recall from that long-awaited viewing was the scenery, since I was living near Mountain Lake where the movie was filmed.  Always interesting to see places you know on the screen, but not exactly the big mystery I’d been expecting to see.  In the end, whether or not I realized it at the time?  I probably got more entertainment out of playing Barbies back in the bedroom than I would have if I hadn’t been shooed.

*My parents only bought themselves a year. A story on the national news one evening dealing with an abortion case moving through the courts resulted in Mom being called upon to explain.  Parents never think about censoring the news.

Girls Just Wanna… Say Happy Birthday

If Wikipedia is to be believed, today is Cyndi Lauper’s birthday.  Also, Dan Brown’s, but we’re not going to talk about him.  We’re going to talk about Ms. Lauper.  Hmm… that sounds weird.  Should I call her Cyndi?  That feels presumptuous.

Well whatever we call her, she’s fabulous.  Most people in my generation will remember her for almost unfortunate, but always original wardrobe choices.  And for singing some of the most iconic songs of the 80s:  “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” “True Colors”… Those with better memories or who watched too much Pop Up Video might also remember that she pushed the envelope and raised eyebrows by singing about female masturbation in “She Bop.”  If you didn’t know that’s what that song was about you may now pick up your jaw.

But all of those things pale in comparison to the main way she influenced my formative years.  She also starred in the 1988 Vibes.  If you don’t know how delightful this movie is you either haven’t seen it or you have no soul.  Or sense of humor.  A soul is really not a requirement for enjoyment.

The film tells the story of a couple of psychics played by Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum hunting for some lost “room of gold” in the Andes at the request of Peter Falk.  In reality, the plot is incidental.  The movie’s charm lies mostly in its mastery of the funny.  And its cast.  Trust me, I wore the tape out—it rocks.

This movie may or may not have influenced my decision to spend a summer in Peru.  But I don’t think I’m the only one influenced by the film:

In many ways, it’s kind of a predecessor to the X-Files:  short fair haired chick and lanky dark haired man investigate paranormal phenomenon.  Yeah, I’m on to you and your plagiarizing ways Chris Carter!

Of all the 80s references in Psych one of my absolute favorites was to Vibes (Juliet:  You’re going to have to do better than vibes.  Sean:  Why?  Jeff Goldblum couldn’t?)

Then Cyndi Lauper appears on Bones as a psychic.  Coincidence or Vibes homage?

Clearly the film has had more significance than others have credited it with.  So today we here at It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter say Happy Birthday, Cyndi Lauper.  And we thank you for Vibes, and underrated bundle of fabulousness.

Coffee With…Santa Anna

Cammy: Would I have coffee with the man who led the attack on the Alamo?  The quintessential “bad-guy” in Texas history?  Oh, hell yeah, I would!  I’ve wondered for years exactly what tenor his brand of insanity took.  Clearly he was a megalomaniac, but was he just plain crazy to boot? How would he attempt to justify his back and forth, in and out, this-side then that-side behavior in so many events in Mexican history?  There was so much more to this guy than his role as the adversary in the Texas revolution, and I’d give my eye teeth to try and get him to give up more information.  Granted, I’d take it all with a large amount of salt.  I’ve no doubt the man would be a master at bullshitting to impress.  I’m sure he’d be more than happy to talk about himself, but I’m not going to bank on any of it being true.
Kristy: Um… I think I’m gonna go with no.  I’m tempted for all the reasons Cammy mentioned above.  From an historical perspective it would be beyond fascinating and probably help clear things up.  But I just don’t know that I can do it.  Not so much for the whole leading a couple massacres angle–I already agreed to have coffee with Henry VIII and Elizabeth I about whom the same could more or less be said.  I’m afraid of the legendary temper.  Granted, based on his political success, the man had to be able to turn on the charm when needed.  It’s just to hard to know which personality would show up for coffee.  I’m going to break with my normal character and take the safer option.  But I’m totally going to try to get video or audio of Cammy’s coffee with him.

Cammy: Hey!  When did you steal my self-preservation instinct?!?