Saturday, December 30, 2006

Home, where my music's playing

We're starting a minor remodeling project next week in our downstairs living room. Here's the obligatory "before" picture:

We found a contractor who seems like a nice guy through a flyer he posted in my building at Microsoft. His wife is the executive assistant for Soma, one of our VPs, so he said something to the effect that he had to do great work for Microsoft employees because they knew where to find him.

He's coming on Tuesday to scrape the popcorn stuff off the ceiling, wire the projector into the outlets in the ceiling so we don't have a 3 foot long cord hanging down from the ceiling to the nearest wall outlet, remove some crappy lights built into the ceiling, install two new ceiling fans with lights, remove the gorgeous but unused shallow built-in cabinets, and patch all holes in the ceiling from TJ's projector installation.

Since he doesn't paint walls, TJ and I decided to tackle that task ourselves. I've never done a large scale painting project, so wish us luck! The biggest thing I painted (with Kristin's help) was the beehive fireplace in my house in Tucson. We're going to paint the room with some fancy-schmancy paint recommended by an interior decorator - Ylang Ylang is the color name. Not sure how to pronounce it, but it's a light, warm cream color.

Tip for aspiring painters: *definitely* buy a sample of the paint colors you're considering, even if you have to buy a whole quart, and paint some on the wall to see whether you like it. We skipped this step when we had this same living room painted when we moved it, and ended up with an atrocious sky blue that made the room seem very cold, like the inside of an igloo. Apparently blues and greens come out much darker when you paint a large space, than they appear on the color chip.

So we picked out three colors and put them on the wall, and two of them looked like pee. Seriously. It was pretty clear which one we liked best. So after the contractor is done with his work (probably the week after next), we will do the paint. We haven't yet decided whether to paint the wood trim and the back of the doors. The decorator recommended it but it seems like a hassle, plus all the wood trim in our house is the same color, and it seems weird to change it just for this room. So we're playing that one by ear. Maybe the rest of the painting will go so well we'll tackle the trim too.

In preparation for all this work, we need to move everything out of that room. We've already started with the CDs and books. That's what we'll be doing this weekend. It'll be sad to dismantle the projector and screen, because that means we won't have TV for the next couple of weeks. I suppose that's a good way to start the New Year, though. Maybe we'll get to the gym more often.

Cheers, and Happy New Year to all of you. Best of luck on all your upcoming projects!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

You were born to be my baby

Babies! Being born, and visiting us next month.

First, my friend Nathalie from work had her twins, Allison and Joshua. Congrats to Nathalie, Eddie and Nathan!

Then our friend Ron from Caltech and his wife Allison had their baby, Alex. Woo hoo!

Next month, our friend Betsy from Caltech, who was also my Math 1 teaching assistant (the second time around), and one of the smartest people we know, is coming to Seattle next month for a conference and bringing her baby Ayla. Betsy is a professor so I'm curious to talk to her about how she's balancing her work and being a mom, since the academic world is quite different from Dilbert, Inc.

Yay for babies. I like babies. (Other peoples' babies, so don't get too excited there. You know who you are.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Shot through the heart and you're to blame

Peanut doesn't seem to be adjusting well to our recent nomadic ways - first we were huddled in the living room trying to stay warm around the fire, then we went to a hotel downtown for the night, then spent a few days at Aunt Susie's house. He was a bit more clingy than usual and kept one, if not both, of us in his sight at all times. He also wasn't eating regularly. We could get him to eat in the evening if we put some pepperoni or beef jerky in with his food (ok, so maybe he's just training us) but he wouldn't eat all of his allotted 4.5 cups. This happens sometimes when he goes to "dog camp" aka the kennel, though I doubt they entice him to eat with pepperoni.

Today was our first full day at home, and he slept all day in his bed at the foot of ours. I too was in bed all day so it was nice and cozy. He turned up his nose at breakfast time, but then ate everything in the evening, so maybe he's settling back in to his routine. Poor guy.

The other reason he's not hungry could be his allergy shots. Yes, you read that right. We are giving our dog a course of allergen desensitization shots. You may remember several posts from 2005 and 2006 detailing Peanut's mysterious itchiness. We tried different shampoos, different food, to no avail. The only thing that soothed his inflamed skin was a course of prednisone, which isn't something we should give him long-term. Plus it makes him cranky and bloated, and scary to Spike.

So after taking a lot of our money for mysterious Peanut itchiness appointments, our vet recommended we see an "animal dermatologist". I had no idea such a person existed. There are apparently only two in all of Seattle, and the one we called had a 6 week wait to see him. Clearly TJ and I are in the wrong business.

The Dog Dermatologist, Dr. D.D. for short, was a very nice guy and took a lot of time explaining what might be going on with poor Peanut. He decided Peanut needed an allergy skin test so he had to take him into the back room (I'm sure dogs hate it) and sedated him lightly, then shaved a 4" x 8" panel in the side of our dog. He then stuck Peanut with 58 different environmental allergens, plus saline and histamine for controls. Turns out Peanut shows a significant allergic reaction to about 25 of them.

So the result was that they would make up a special allergen solution for us based on Peanut's allergies and we would have to stick our dog every other day for 2 months, then weekly for another few months. At that point, I guess we'll go back for another test to see if he's better, or maybe we'll just monitor him to see if he's still itchy.

Peanut, stoic and impervious to pain, doesn't even notice when you inject him. I'm too queasy to do it, so I'm the treat holder, while TJ does the injection. Peanut is so focused on the treat that he doesn't even notice TJ. Amazing.

We also got a prescription for an antifungal medication that Dr. DD instructed us to fill at a regular pharmacy. He also (helpfully) told us to call around for prices on it since it tends to vary a lot and also mentioned that the Fred Meyer pharmacy will match the lowest price you can find. Figuring it wasn't a big deal, I called our two nearest pharmacies and they quoted me, for 80 tablets, $180 and $95, I kid you not. Intrigued, I called a few more pharmacies and got quotes for $65 to $110. I called Costco and they said it would be $22. Bingo!

Since Costco is a good 20 minutes away and I'm not sure our membership is still valid, I went to Fred Meyer and they agreed to match the price (without even checking, I think they were glad I saved them a phone call). The pharmacist was very confused when I picked up the prescription -- he asked me if "Peanut" was my child. In a tone of voice like "Why would anyone name their child Peanut?" When I explained it was my dog, it didn't seem to help. I guess they don't learn about dogs in pharmacy school. He mumbled some things about not drinking alcohol with the medicine and about taking it with milk. (Um, my dog doesn't drink, and we don't give him milk either...).

This experience got me thinking about what people without health insurance do when they need a prescription. Do they call around? Can they even afford the pills? If I hadn't been tipped off by Dr. DD, I wouldn't have thought to call around, because I didn't realize the same drug could cost anywhere from $22 to $180. That's ridiculous.

Don't let money fool you

I dragged myself out of bed today to see my dietitian because in the Sound Health program, I lose appointments if I cancel them the same day. After an interesting hour of nutrition chat with Jeannette I headed over to Safeway to buy some frozen vegetables, since after the power outage I had to throw away *everything* in the fridge and freezer.

I needed to get a couple of Starbucks gift cards so I went to the Starbucks conveniently located inside Safeway. (Gotta love Seattle, a Starbucks on every corner!) I'm standing in line behind a guy who looked suspiciously like Steve Ballmer, but shorter and thinner. Since I was sporting the Dayquil haze, I wasn't sure if it was him, until I noticed him checking his email on his Motorola Q (phone of champions, I say!) and the baristas gave him a cheerful holiday greeting by name. I could have said something to him, but I wasn't sure what.

I guess I missed my (probably) once in a lifetime opportunity to introduce myself to the CEO of my company and give him my elevator speech that I'm supposed to have prepared for just this sort of occasion. I guess I am a horrible businessperson/networker. But that's nothing I didn't know before.

What would you have done?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

You light up my life

Speaking of which, that cheeseball song was MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE when I was about 4 years old. That and the Kenny Rogers tape my parents had. And I still love Kenny.

Thanks be to PSE - we got our power back today. Or maybe late last night. So now I'm tucked into my bed, with its cozy down comforter and flannel "happy trees" cover, with two snoozing dogs on the floor beside me. (Even in times of emergency, dogs are not allowed in our bed, according to TJ.) I've got a wicked sinus cold so I'm self medicating with Dayquil/Nyquil, hot tea and OJ.

I'm so happy to be back home again. We were settling in quite nicely at Aunt Susie's house, but it felt like we were invading someone else's space. Though it was a nice comfy space since Aunt Susie has more cable channels than we do, a great couch for sleeping on, and more interesting dog toys.

More people died from carbon monoxide poisoning, including a whole family who was running their gas generator in their closed garage. So sad. (I actually didn't know you shouldn't do that either.) And the hyperbaric chamber at Virginia Mason has been quite busy, with over 100 people doing 2 hour shifts in there around the clock - that's the treatment for CO poisoning.

One thing I remember from my $100,000 college education: a carbon monoxide molecule binds much tighter than oxygen to your hemoglobin, so when you build up enough CO in your body, it displaces all of the O2 molecules and you pretty much suffocate for lack of oxygen. For some reason this fact fascinates me. Maybe it's just the simplicity of it.

At any rate, my public service announcement of the day: Carbon Monoxide Kills! Don't use your gas grill, propane heater, or gas generator indoors. Even using it just outside of your house can cause CO levels to build up in your house and kill you. You will feel nauseous, disoriented, sleepy, and then dead. Just don't do it. Better yet, also get yourself a carbon monoxide detector thingy, one that's battery powered.

Now I'm going to get some sleep. Toodle-oo!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Let me light your candle

So here we are on the 4th day without power, thanks to Windstorm 2006, the worst storm in Seattle since the Inauguration Day Storm of 1993 (according to the overdramatic local news, anyway). Sadly, our gas furnace requires electricity to blow the air through the house. But on the bright side, our hot water heater is gas powered so at least we weren't both cold *and* smelly.

After spending 2 days braving it out at home with TJs awesome fire-building skills (who knew I married a former Boy Scout!), when it hit 40 degrees inside the house yesterday we knew it was time for a new plan. Plus we had burned through all of the firewood we bought, plus two boxes full that we borrowed from our kind neighbors. TJ bought a fancy propane powered heater, but we quickly discovered it would kill us by emitting carbon monoxide if we used it indoors. Apparently several people across Seattle have succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning by running generators and gas grills indoor, so now I'm paranoid about it.

So yesterday we packed up the dogs, our laptops and a few sets of clothes and spent the day at Aunt Susie's house in Shoreline, then spent the night at the lovely Hotel Vintage Park downtown. It's a great little boutique hotel that accepts dogs and has free wireless Internet. Since Aunt Susie and family were off to Tucson today they kindly offered their house to us while they were gone. (We didn't want to be in their way while they were getting ready for their road trip, so we booked the hotel for last night.)

So now we're at Aunt Susie's house for tonight. Hopefully our power will be restored tomorrow but I don't have high hopes. Something like 200,000 homes are still without power in Seattle, and I think they've fixed the transmission lines for our general area. Now we have to wait for them to fix the local distribution line, likely the one that's down on the main road down the street from us. That could be several days from now but we have our fingers crossed for tomorrow.

TJ and I are playing hooky from work because we can't leave the dogs alone long enough to get to work. I think we'll be settled in enough tomorrow to try to work remotely.

This situation sucks, but there are a lot more people worse off than us who are in public shelters or toughing it out in their houses because they don't have another place to go. So today's post is dedicated to Aunt Susie, Uncle Ray, and Norman for letting us use their heat and electricity.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hey Mr. DJ will you turn the music up

So here are the last 5 songs I bought from iTunes. I'm still using the gift certificate John and Jenna bought me for my birthday - thanks guys!!

All Night Long (All Night) - Lionel Richie
It Takes Two - Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock
Bizarre Love Triangle - New Order
Pon de Replay - Rihanna
The Ballad of Jayne - L.A. Guns
Hot Cherie - Hardline

Yes, I've got crazy taste in music. It's all over the place. I love iTunes for its extensive catalog, but also for the fact that you can buy the one song you like from an album and not all the "filler", especially for artists like Usher and Rihanna where I don't like the vast majority of their music.

Another advantage of being a grownup with a real job is that I can buy more than one CD at a time. And in fact, to get the free shipping at, it makes financial sense to do that. I remember being in high school and having to save up for that cassette tape I wanted, or in college buying 1 or at the most 2 used CDs at once. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind used CDs but I've had horrible luck with the places near us here - lots of scratches and unplayable discs.

So recently I've bought 5 CDs - woo hoo!

Twisted Christmas - Twisted Sister
Wintersong - Sarah McLachlan
Daughtry (the cool bald guy from American Idol)
Grey's Anatomy Season 2 Soundtrack
Eyes Open - Snow Patrol

I'm still in the early stages of listening to these so I can't tell you which ones I love and which suck, but I really like Sarah's CD, as well as Daughtry. But those were safe choices for me. The Grey's Anatomy CD has a lot of music/bands I haven't heard of before, and most I don't really remember from the show. Liking that and Snow Patrol will be the true test of whether I'm still cool, or just stuck in the 80s.

So what are y'all listening to?

sharing is nice

Related Posts with Thumbnails