Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hives are for BEES!

Dear Gentle Readers -- it's been an eventful week and no, it's not because of the Olympics, nor the Democratic National Convention, nor even, for the first week of classes. No, none of that. I have discovered that I'm really allergic to something but I don't know what it is. It all started when I went out with Ken in his batmobile (custom made 2008 Honda Accord with leather seats!) for ice cream on Saturday. We drove around in the back country and he even let me take over the steering wheel -- which is impressive because I didn't let anyone drive MY new car.

Then we came back to my house and watched TV. All of a sudden, I was really itchy. I would scratch and scratch and all these welts rose up on my skin. I could feel my legs burning. Although I had never had hives before, I knew what they were. So, because I had accidentally dried my clothes with a used dryer sheet, I thought perhaps that was the cause because I've been itchy doing that before. So, I changed my clothes and didn't think anything about it. But the hives kept coming back and nothing I could do would help. I'd wake up in the middle of the night, scratching an itchy heel. Then an hour later, my shoulder! And so on -- skritch, skritch, skritch.

On Sunday, by the middle of the day, my tongue started to swell and I became very nervous. I looked up hives online and all the medical websites said to seek medical care when hives reach the face. I know how alarmist these websites can be (never go to a foot problem site, for instance) so I called a friend of mine who is a doctor and he recommended that I go because this symptom indicated that my airway could close. At one point, it was so bad that I couldn't speak! I called the Queen who rushed to meet me at the emergency room. By then, the swelling in my tongue had gone down so I could carry a conversation. After a relatively short wait, I was admitted and they put me on a heart monitor and all the bells and whistles. The Queen was an awesome friend, putting me at ease as I faced this crisis. Did I mention that I'm between health insurance? Isn't it a sad state that I almost delayed care because of this fact?

The ER doc had the nurse put in an IV and they shot me up full of a powerful steroid, Benadryl, and Pepcid (which I didn't know but is also an antihistimine). Let me tell you that Benadryl can knock you for a loop normally and once I felt it flowing in my veins, I was, as I put it to the Queen, feeling pretty groovy. The hives went away. I also sent the Queen away because I didn't know how long I'd be there and I knew I wasn't making any sense. I couldn't quite finish my sentences. So, I stayed in the hospital for another hour and then I went home. I have a course of steroids to take and I am also taking Benadryl to keep the hives at bay. They keep coming back! Right now as I type, I can see the redness rise. Time for my meds. My doctor friend assured me that it will take time for it to finish with me. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to teach because of all the irritation (excuse me, class, I need to take a bathroom break and scrub my body with steel wool) but I timed my medicines well.

Next up -- get health insurance and go to an allergist. Was it the maple walnut ice cream? (I hope not! I love walnuts). Was is the chemicals in Ken's car? Was it the generic fabric softener? Or something else all together?

The funny thing is that the medicine I'm taking is exactly the same that my sister takes when she has a flare-up with her MS. We commiserated on the phone.

Anyway, thanks to the Queen for being such a great supportive friend. Keep my in your thoughts as I scratch my way through the week.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Da Bears!

I've been thinking about finishing up my Alaska posts when I came across this interesting article in the Sunday Hartford Courant. There have been a few bear attacks in the city of Anchorage -- targeting runners and bike riders. The last paragraph sums up the problem in its entirety:

"Sinnott [biologist for Alaska Fish and Game] said he was surprised anyone thought it was a good idea to hold an all-night bike race in a park known to have bears and along a creek filled with salmon."

Not a good idea, at all. Humans 0, Bears 3.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Absence makes the heart.... (subtitled the WAR ON TERROR)

I've been avoiding the internet(s) because it drags me in so. Some interesting news from one of my many mailing lists. Apparently, a game called "The War on Terror" has been pulled from shelves in England. You can read all about it here. In a nutshell, the problem was this:

"The player who is designated as a 'terrorist' state has to wear a balaclava (Brit speak for a ski mask) with the word 'Evil' embroidered on it—and it was this ski mask that caused the Kent constabulary to seize the game. The Kent police contended that 'the balaclava could be used to conceal someone’s identity, or could be used in the course of a criminal act.' It appears that when it comes to the War on Terror board game, the police, like the buyers for the tony high street chains that have refused to carry the game, sorely lack a sense of humor."

And can't people just buy a ski mask anywhere? Or have these, too, been banned in Britain?

In other, unrelated to "war on terror," news, I would like to plug two books which are written in or feature some pals. All of you probably already know about this, but it doesn't hurt to send a shout out to Mr. Gene, whose 500 Essential Graphic Novels has been published. Awesome! I can't wait to get my copy so I, too, will be in the know. Plus, my friend, A. Hunt, has a story featured in Comic Book Tattoo Tales Inspired by Tori Amos. If you are a Tori Amos fan, or like short story comics, get this book. It's a hefty tome -- nearly ten pounds -- so make sure that you get free shipping on Amazon.

Aren't I cool to have such cool friends?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cleaning out an Apartment

So, my good friend, Chris, is about to leave for Kansas. He pointed out the house he will be living in on Google Maps and noted that various towns in the area had been destroyed by tornadoes in the 90s. I asked him if his house has a cellar but he said he didn't think so. Well, Dorothy, I said, what are you going to do? The only nearest neighbor is an 80 year old woman with a one-eyed cat named Fuzzers. Hopefully the tornado won't go after its blind side and let's hope the elderly woman has a cellar.

But anyway, I timed my return to Connecticut to completely miss the packing and moving stage but I was around tonight to help him clean the apartment (which is a mirror image of my apartment). It's going to be weird without him. He's been a great neighbor and a friend not only because he could always be counted on for cat sitting (and the cats adored him) but that we meshed well in our general misanthropy. Plus, he made my wireless network, a true network by signing on.

He's also responsible for the birdwatching. Good luck, Chris, on your move and on your life in Kansas!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The great time suck or Remember that time when we were all nostalgic? Good times....

Alas, I should be in bed, but I have been sucked into the Internet. **waving for someone to rescue me**. All my college friends have become overly nostalgic and have coerced me into joining Facebook. Already I have been reunited with a ton of people. It's scary how many of them look so much older. Had I not seen pics of myself from "back in the day," I would have believed I'm unchanged. Sadly, not the case.

The worse part of cruising the internet this time of night is how much multi-tasking I do. Do you remember when you couldn't open a million tabs? I think I used to make Gene dizzy with my multiple windows. Right now I have two e-mail accounts, an article from the comix list, and my blog open. Oh and of course, I had to do a little work, so I have a folder open as well. I forgot that I had promised to write comics entries for this encyclopedia from Greenwood. Thankfully, the due dates aren't until next April (lookout for panicked or non-existent posts in April next year!).

Let me add a little substance to this post so as not to waste all your precious time. My good friend A. Hunt will be back in town next week with puppy in tow. I plan on playing with said puppy and then she and I will be going to see Wall-E which is the new Pixar flic -- a feelgood movie about various dystopias. I look forward to it. It seems to have gotten good reviews. This, gentle readers, will make the fourth movie in a month that I have attended. It's a miracle. I never seem to get to the cinema and now I'm wondering what I'll be renting from Netflix in the coming months. Yes, I saw Dark Knight -- twice, because the first time was opening weekend and I was tired, sitting too close to the screen. I don't think I really knew half of what was going on but I do remember the several times that I averted my eyes due to the mind-boggling violence. This is PG-13?? Then I saw it in Atlanta with my friend Paul. We sat further back. I enjoyed the movie although I enjoyed the trailer for Watchmen even more. On first screening, sadly I was not with comic book fans so I could not suitably geek out. I just sat there chanting "please don't suck; please don't suck." I have to admit that it looks pretty darn good. I even recognized some of the scenes so maybe it will follow through. However, they must not sanitize it. As my friend, Paul, said, Rorschach needs to look like he smells. I concur.

As for the other films I went to see -- I already blogged about Mongol. I also went to see Mamma Mia! with my mother, sister, and niece. It was an appropriate film for the four of us and I was amused, having very low expectations. Wow Pierce Brosnan canna sing (neither can Meryl Streep). Last, and least, was Hellboy II, which I saw with my nephew. I concur with both the Queen's and Cheryl's reviews. I think I was prepared for the suckiness (sense the "suck" theme in this entry) although imagining Cheryl writhing during the Manilow sequence sent me into fits of giggles. Sorry Cheryl! (I expect to be thwacked for that comment)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I laugh in the general direction of chronological blogging

Now, what would be the fun in recording events soon after they occurred? Let's all be a little more postmodern, shall we?

This blog is about my two celebrity sightings in and around LA. I was rather put out that I spotted some famous folk because I was just going to lie about all the fab people I met. I even had a very nice photo of a limo in front of Hollywood farmer's market which I was going to claim that it was Madonna buying rutabagas. (yes, I know she's living in London, but my way is funnier).

The first sighting of the elusive celebs fell right into my lap. A scene from Dexter was being shot in the place where the kids take their breaks during the three-week marathon class (funny how these "breaks" kept getting longer as time went by). We were given some advance notice that filming was going on so I was pretty excited, having been a fan of the show before I got rid of Showtime. I was a bit alarmed that at least one of my students (a 13 year old) loved the show as well ("don't your parents monitor anything you watch?"). I finally caught a glance of the star, Michael C. Hall as he walked on the set. Unfortunately, we were rather busy keeping the kids from being mischievous -- see kid above "the words 'keep out' is not meant to be a challenge!" One thing I enjoy about this show is that Mr. Hall is genuinely creepy which is no mean feat considering I watched him for many years as the uptight gay brother on Six Feet Under. He convinced me that he can act. There was also James Remar (playing Dexter's father and so the scene being filmed was a flashback) who has done a slew of TV and movies, most notably an extended stint on Sex and the City, but I'll always remember him as Lord Rayden from Mortal Kombat.

Probably the most amusing event connected with the filming that unfortunately, I didn't get to witness was what happened after class. The kids have an activity period which includes a variety of stuff -- sports, swimming, crafts, etc. One of the most popular games is a version of Dodgeball called Trench. They play this on the field next to where the crew was set up. Because the microphones would pick up any high-pitched noises (though lower register ones would be ok), the kids were asked to play silently. And they did -- silent dodgeball. I heard that the grips were all duly impressed. I wish I could have witnessed that.

My second celeb sighting occurred all the way from JFK to LAX when I flew back from Connecticut on that crazy weekend trip I did mid-class. It was Sunday afternoon and I was taking a puddle-jumper over to JFK when I found out that everything was grounded. I would miss my connecting flight. So I mosied over to the guy behind the counter and sweet-talked him to see if he could get me on another flight (going cross-country is a pain, people). I told him that "I would even take First class if I must!" Sure enough, he sticks me in business class on a later flight.

I was pretty happy with that, considering I was so exhausted. A little pampering was just what the doctor ordered. Things were going smoothly at JFK until I was alerted to the fact that they were boarding early. I was on the phone to my ride in LA and had to be one of those people you want to punch because they don't get off the cell phone as they are handing over the boarding pass. However, I was worried I would miss my flight. I walked down the end of the ramp and what do I see but a weird contraption and not the plane. (I was reminded of A. Hunt's comment when we went to the Daily Show and was hustled into a room with no exit -- "they are going to gas us!") Now, this was my first experience with a people mover of this bulk and we were driven to our plane which was out on the tarmac. We loaded from the back once the people in the plane realized we were there (after much pounding on the door). Now ensconced in Business class, I relaxed with my free drinkie and though I thought I was going to miss my flight, we sat there as several people movers unloaded their passengers.

Then who do I see in the aisle across from me? (I was in the window) Adam West. The Batman. I was surprised at how quickly I'd identified him. "no, surely not!" then I heard him speak to the flight attendant -- got to be him. Since I was a newcomer to first class, I played it cool and didn't bother him -- after quickly texting people who would appreciate it. As Mr. Gene put it "Holy Proximity!" I got to "know" Mr. West for many hours as we were stuck again on the Tarmac for an hour (or more). You know it's bad when the pilot comes on with "I wish I had better news but you won't believe the sight in front of me." Due to bad weather, a runway or two was closed and all traffic was diverted elsewhere. We were in the wrong place which meant a hundred planes were in front of us as we glacially taxied to where we needed to be. Still, if you are stuck on the tarmac in JFK, what's better than having free movies, lots of leg and arm room (no more fighting for the armrest!) and free booze. We also got a meal with REAL silverware. Now that I've made it to silver medallion level on Delta, I'm not looking back, people. Mr. West was very nice to everybody so I can't tell any stories of him being a jerk to the "help."

So, those are my two celebrity sightings. When the episode of Dexter comes out, I'll let you know and you can see the fountain where I had to restrain a student from jumping in after a frisbee (they accused me of falling back on my "military" training).