Wonder of Warmth….

With the remains of our recent winter storm on the ground, I’m really not out running around this weekend.  In fact, as is my custom during the really cold weather, I’m holed up on the second floor where things are, by default, warmer.

But just being up here wasn’t quite enough.  It’s still a little chilly.  And no one would want me to, I dunno, succumb to hypothermia, right?  Right.  So, I hunker down with The Stack of books, and one of the greatest of all human innovations:

The heated mattress pad.

Even when I’m motivated enough to not remain in my PJs and under the covers, this inspired item makes just sitting on the bed to read (or, at times, installing server upgrades from my laptop–I’ve actually been pretty productive today). a more pleasant experience.

Seriously, why did no one tell me about these sooner?  Sure, the electric blanket is great and all, but we all know warm air rises, cold air settles, so why did I have to wait so long for someone to hook me up with something that warms from the bottom (pun intended) up?  Add to this that if you are someone who has to break out the heating pad for a sore back or shoulders (i.e. when you’ve just shoveled waaaay too many cubic feet of snow off your drive way) this basically turns your entire bed into a heating pad.   I hear people still talking about the blanket and I just want to say, “No!  There’s something SO MUCH BETTER!”  But I’m fairly certain that  going up to total strangers and waxing poetic on the virtues of the heated mattress pad would result in awkwardness and/or calling security people.  I’m not even sure that me blathering like a fan girl this blog doesn’t cross the border into the “little bit weird” category (clearly that particular border crossing doesn’t hinder MTVMPB much, so why worry now?).

But seriously.  Best.  Thing.  Ever.  If you’re the kind of person who keeps the house chilly, one of these is totally worth every penny.

Of course, it does make it a little harder to get out of the bed….

Time Vampires On Ice

Mother Nature decided to upset my plans to address the time suck that is Sims FreePlay in favor of her own particularly nasty sort of time destroyer.

February.  Winter.  Weather.

My location got slammed today.  I’ve been through plenty of Midwest winter weather before, but this was slightly more impressive than previous situations.

My work location rarely shuts down.  While my new boss would have been pretty understanding if I’d opted to work from home, I decided to go in prepared to bunk at my desk over-night.  I travel with a sleeping bag in the trunk in the winter anyway, so I grabbed some clothes, a toothbrush and a few DVDs and headed out.  There was nothing on the ground and barely any flakes at all wafting through the air even after I’d arrived at work

About an hour later, the ground was totally covered.  Despite my plans to just stay overnight if it didn’t let up, I was pressured to go ahead and leave for home around 9:15.  So, with what had come to about 6 inches or so of snow and white out conditions, I inched home.

My normal 15-20 minute trip took significantly longer.  Plows couldn’t keep up, more than once I wasn’t sure where the road even was and–this was the worst of all–there were a lot of morons in rear wheel drive pick-ups who seemed to think they would be able to drive regular speeds in what was by that point about 8-9 inches of snow.  At one point in the journey, I had to scoot between two trucks that were doing 360s on either side of the main thoroughfare.  Stopping wasn’t an option because we’d already reached a point where, while I could still drive, the snow was scraping the underside of my little car–to stop and wait could mean I would be stuck.

At 10:30, I was coming up my side street.  All was going well until I got right up to my house.  Some jack-ass had parked a car in front of the house just before my driveway.  Going around that car resulted in my loss of momentum and the right angle to make it up the drive.  I hail-Mary’d the car into the snowdrift at the foot of the drive and proceeded to get out in the still-falling snow and begin digging a path to the garage, and trying to extricate the car.  It was something of a losing battle because by the time I’d cleared one track down the drive to the bottom, there was about an inch covering the recently cleared path at the top.

It was after noon before the car was in and I was able to take off my frozen-still jeans and jump in a shower to thaw my icicle-laden hair.  By that time my place of work had sent out the final notices shutting down all but the most essential functions and ordering people home–a very rare situation, I assure you.  I’m not sure they would have let me bunk in the office as I’d planned.

The worst part was, I had almost this exact same experience years ago in February (from the treacherous drive home, all the way to the hurling of my car into the snow drift at the base of the drive–though in that case it wasn’t because I was dodging an ill-parked Camry.

Four hours, frozen away in a drift of snow.  And that’s just the beginning.  Tomorrow, I’ll be re-clearing the drive after the snow that continued to fall.  And we were also facing the icky possibility of freezing rain on top of it all.  That means tomorrow morning, I’ll be ditching more time to extricate myself and my car from the garage, and no doubt road conditions will be less than stellar, meaning a slower drive in.

My Texas ass really loathes this sub-zero sucker of time.

Delaying Downton Gratification

Owing to company in town over the weekend, I skipped the broadcast of the season finale of Downton Abbey (in case some of you were wondering at the lack of commentary–because even when my weeks are insane, I can generally rise to the occasion of Downton-Squee-age).

You would think this would have meant that the first thing I’d have done after work Monday is whip out my DVDs and catch up with the gangs above and below stairs….

But I didn’t.

Work interfered and I got home so late and was so grumpy, I didn’t even want to ponder spoiling my experience.

So, surely, Tuesday is here, I rushed home to watch tonight?

Nope.

Sure, I got home late again (not as late as Monday), but as I looked at those DVDs I realized that once I watch this thing, I have to wait all those months for the next season.  Months and months of no Granthams, no housemaids, no footmen….

And I put the box down.

I know I won’t hold out much longer.  The itch to know what happens and the reality that I could be spoiled any minute are going to win out soon, but for right now, the longer I wait, the shorter the void of no-Downton on the other side.  Sure, it’s not much of a trade for the delayed gratification, but it’s all I’ve got.

Heliocentric Coffee

Would we drink coffee with Nicolaus Copernicus?

Kristy: Sure. I mean the nice thing about those Renaissance Men was that they knew a little about everything, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find something to talk about. The bad thing about those Renaissance Men, of course, was that they knew a little about everything, so I will no doubt leave feeling like a colossal idiot. But hey, grad school as me well acquainted with that sensation. I’m going to do my best to skip the hard science discussion and ask him about two things I find much more interesting: education and national identity. Yes, I realize the man revolutionized science, and that’s important, but I also think that makes it that much more interesting to know what he thinks of our current educational models. Does he applaud the trends toward specialization or wish people were forced to be more well-rounded? And yes, I’m very curious to know what he considered himself: Polish? Prussian? German? Silesian? Do any of these terms mean anything at all to him? Yes, I know it’s no more relevant to him than it was to thousands of people of his generation, but I’m not having coffee with them. I’m having coffee with him, and while were there I’d like some insight into identity perceptions is fifteenth-century Poland.

Cammy:  Coffee with Copernicus?  To quote Gus from Psych, “You know that’s right!”  Of course I want to have coffee with him.  He’s a lawyer, he’s a scientist, no one knows what flavor of European to truly call him–he’s like my really poorly timed and incredibly funny lookin’ soul mate.  A huge part of my family comes with that same troublesome cultural classification issue (Prussian?  Polish?  German?  Silesian?  Just confused?), so maybe his insight into where he puts himself could help with putting my only family tree into the right buckets.  I’m not so scared of the hard science discussion, but I am more interested in some of what Kristy wants to talk to him about, particularly the specialization vs. seeking broad-based knowledge.  I’m guessing he’d have some choice comments to make about how we’ve divided up subject matter and, in some cases, pitted them against one another (art and science mutually exclusive?  Not for him!).  At least with him, we’re not going to be limited on topics.

Catholic Coffee

Would we have coffee with soon-to-be-former Pope Benedict?

Cammy:  In light of today’s shocker news that Pope Benedict is planning to retire via some means other than the grave, it seems like we ought to address whether we’d have coffee with the guy….and I’m gonna go with no, myself.  While I would totally love to ask about what really brought on this retirement thing (is he really doing it because he feels he can’t be the best Pope he can be?  Multiple centuries and he’s the first one to think that?  Really?), I doubt we’d get a straight answer.  And, to be honest, he always kinda creeped me out a little.  Pope John Paul was all warm and fuzzy and Polish-grandpa-esque.  Benedict?  Well, I go back to what my German Catholic friends said when he was first elected , “Ach!  Ratzi der Nazi!”  Also, being so painfully Lutheran with no close Catholic influences in my life, I’m pretty sure I lack the proper deference.  So unless Kristy’s feeling up to quizzing him….

Kristy: Yeah, it’s a no for me as well. Yeah, there’s lots of interesting stuff he could tell us, but I’m not convinced he would. I’m with Cammy on the creep factor, and it would be kind of hard to not ask things like, “So… how do you feel about the fact that your papacy will be primarily remembered for the whole child molestation thing?” I have lots of influential Catholics in my life, and it would be really hard for me to be disrespectful to him, but I think it would also be really hard for me to enjoy coffee with him.

Random Abbey Ramblings

So I had quite forgotten it was my day or I would have been writing this while watching (which it’s very important I do, because I’m a Nielsen viewer again!) But here is your semi-regular, stream of consciousness Downton related rambling:

Aw. I actually remember why I like Anna and Bates! (I’m not going to lie, this prison storyline had dragged on a bit too long for me, and I was kind of ready for it to end by any means necessary.)

I like that Matthew and Branson are still friends. I like them as bros. I sort of need them to play laser tag together sometime, but if I can’t have that, I suppose cricket will have to substitute.

Oh Ethel. I wish you the best, but I’m not sad that “the best” is likely to take place off our screens.

I’m really glad that the show finally decided to address Thomas’s sexuality, but I’m not sure I care for how it’s been done. For one thing, why is Thomas suddenly stupid enough to believe O’Brien. Dude, you know her! She used to be your wingman. And you know she’s more evil than you—worst you ever did was temporarily kidnap a dog. She kills babies! Still, I said a couple weeks ago that Thomas crying is an emotional trauma I just can’t handle, so they clearly needed to subject me to it over and over. I like that even though Bates helped Thomas, things are not friendly between them and don’t look like they will ever be. Bates is all, “I’m glad you aren’t ruined forever, but can’t you go be ‘not ruined forever’ somewhere else? Maybe Ethel can help you out?”

I did like how everyone but the footmen and kitchen maids and Carson were all, “Um… yeah… Thomas is gay. What else is new?”

Not sure what the point of problem flapper child is.

I repeat—I need this show to stop kicking Edith in the shins. Now please.

Since they’re never going to tell us, I’ve decided Mary’s little “problem” was PCOS related. We now know that her intermittent bitchiness was caused by cysts and having been there and done that and not bought the t-shirt because I was completely immobilized, I rule it totally justified.

I hate babies, but little Sybie is pretty cute. And Branson with her is adorable. As is Mary with her. Srsly. Lady Mary Crawley, adorable?

I heart Mrs. Hughes. So much.

Dowager Countesses never admit they are wrong. Because Dowager Countesses are never wrong. If the Dowager Countess is wrong, please refer to the previous sentence.

You know who is wrong? Cammy. Because there’s Old Mr. Mosely! (I’d crow more, but I didn’t argue with her to begin with.)

Lord Grantham’s been working my nerves as much as everyone else’s with the whole, “No, I want you to get involved, so long as you only do the things I want you to do. And I want to hear your opinions as long as they are identical to mine.” But he redeems himself by being a cricket geek.

Side-stepping Strep-Throat

As I type this, I am consuming my fourth orange of the day.  I’ve also had two grapefruit.  I know that the effectiveness of Vitamin C in boosting the immune system has been called into question in recent years, but I figure it can’t hurt.

You see, a co-worker was pretty sick on Thursday–this co-worker suspected it was strep, but didn’t leave work until late afternoon.  Said co-worker e-mailed about an hour after leaving confirming that it was indeed strep throat.  The co-worker was put on antibiotics, but was back at work that morning (way less than the usual 24-hours-on-antibiotics rule).  The person did try to keep to their own area, mostly, but the person was in and out of my office doorway waaaaaay too many times those two days.

Because of this, I’m going at the citrus fruit like a mad-woman and hoping against hope that I make it through the 3 day (average) incubation period unscathed.

Why am I getting all paranoid about strep?  Because I’ve had it literally more times than I can keep track of.  It was the plague of my childhood existence and followed me through high school.  I have terrible, vivid memories from various points in my life where I was held down in what felt like bath water from the Antarctic to bring down a screaming temperature (because I was also really good at developing a bad case of strep on Saturday nights when the clinic in our small town was closed, and when I ran a fever, I liked to do so in high style).  Intermingled with this form was water torture are the memories of the rawest, most fiery of sore throats that ice-cream or throat lozenge would abate.  And then, after suffering through Saturday night and Sunday, I would be dragged into that clinic where, I swear, the doctor didn’t even pause before sending me down the hall to the room with the very nice nurse who got her jollies shoving a golf-club wrapped in cotton balls into my raw, swollen throat.  She also liked to jam needles in my fingers and squeeze the shit out of them for drops of blood.  All this, just so they could do what they all knew they were going to do anyhow–send me off with Amoxicillin (or Erythromycin or some other crap ending in -cillin or -mycin and generally suspended in pink liquid that–no matter what any jack-ass grown up said–doesn’t taste a damned thing like bubble-gum).  Two or three days later I would finally be feeling normal again, until the next time (the summer of 1985  it was so frequent, I was rotating antibiotics every two weeks to make they didn’t lose potency).

Knock-on-wood, I’ve been strep-free for probably more than a decade now, but I also haven’t been around anyone harboring that obnoxious little bacteria in that time, either.  I’d like to believe I just outgrew the tendency to catch it–that my immune system finally picked up the clue-phone, so to speak.  But, all those years as a magnet for the misery have me more than a little on-edge.

And if my citrus fruit efforts (and all the hand sanitizer I was using at work) fail me?  I’m going to kick my co-worker’s ass.

More stupid injuries…

Not much of a post tonight, because I hurt my back earlier this evening. I plan to handle this responsibly by drinking a large glass of wine and going to sleep.

I’m taking some consolation in the fact that I can at least tell people I hurt my back doing aerial silks. You always want to get your injuries doing something interesting as opposed to something stupid. Unfortunately, I kind of did do it doing something stupid. No, not the “I’m trying this awesome trick I’m not ready for” kind of stupid. Stupid as in, I got hurt doing a warm up climb. No dramatic fall or anything cool like that, just climbing down and all of a sudden… “Ow!”

It’s not a serious injury (diagnosed by Dr. Kristy). Just an unhappy muscle. Good news is it only hurts when I inhale…

Stacking Time Vampires

I made the huge, life changing mistake of downloading a Tetris-like game on my phone.

Remind me again how Tetris didn’t come with a warning label?  How is it not classified as a highly addictive substance?

It’s been ages since I last played this one.  In fact, it was at a gathering with my cousins more than 5 years ago.  Four of us had been perusing the Target clearance end-caps and we found this Tetris game that plugged straight into the TV.  The rest of the weekend, a whole crowd of us was clustered around the TV either playing, or volunteering suggestions to players (there was trash talking too, of course).

Now, years later, I lost most of an evening trying to beat a high score, swearing copiously as I got a rash of those screwy offset squares that I can never deal with–you know the one, take the top two squares of a 4-square box and shift it over….instant crap.  The fact that I just digressed to describing the piece I hate ought to be a clue as too how far gone I’ve been playing this frakkin’ thing.

Another win for a useless (but entertaining) destroyer of time.

Stupid Injuries

Have you ever gotten an injury which it stupid and trivial and yet manages to seriously impact your ability to do day-to-day things? My quintessential example of this is the two times I’ve broken my little toe. I mean, it’s your little toe. Scientists tell us it’s mostly vestigial at this point—you could cut the sucker off and it would impact your ability to walk, run or dance very little. And yet, when that completely unnecessary bone is broken, it hurts like a motherfucker. Everything bumps it. It catches on everything. Any weight on it at all is excruciating. And there’s nothing to do but tape it to the next one and wait a couple weeks.

Well a week ago I got another one of these ridiculous injuries—a blister on my heel.

Yeah. I know. A blister on your heel. Everyone gets those. Not a big deal.

Shouldn’t have been. But totally was.

Holy fucking crap. Let’s start with how gross it was. For the first three days that sucker oozed like crazy. Which meant that while I was trying to keep it uncovered so that it could dry out I also had to make sure it didn’t ooze on anything.

Of course, it’s winter time. On the days when this thing was the worst we had a high of twenty degrees. So backless shoes were not an option (they wouldn’t have been much of an option anyway, truth be told, because I can’t walk in those things when I’m not near-mortally wounded. I tried mere bandages. They did just about nothing except make my shoes even tighter (my feet were swollen which is why I got the blister in the first place—my shoes were fitting differently than they normally do). So I got no pain relief and numb toes. Then I started donutting it; this is a technique I learned in ballet (ballerinas get lots of blisters, one more reason that being “girly” doesn’t equal being “weak”). This caused even more numb toes, and did a tiny bit more to relieve the pain.

Oh yes, let’s talk about the pain. The stupid, ridiculous amounts of pain this evil thing caused. As mentioned, I’ve had lots of blisters. I don’t think I’ve ever had one that hurt this much. Do you know how much the skin on your heels moves? I know, because for three days every time it did, I wanted to scream. Or throw up. Every time I took a step. Every time I crossed or uncrossed my legs. Every time I changed the angle of my ankle in the slightest. Horrible. Screaming. Pain. And as if that wasn’t enough, when I wasn’t moving, it still throbbed nonstop. I’m telling you, this was some sort of evil dictator sadist version of blisters.

And on top of all this, it made me extra mad, because it was just a stupid blister which should not have hurt nearly that bad.