Saturday, September 29, 2007


Saw my Sleep Doctor yesterday. (Doesn't that sound like something associated with a Sleep Number Bed? Or a mattress retailer or something?) Actually, he's probably a pulmonologist or something, since the medical nature of sleep apnea is about respiratory efficiency, and the health effects associated with chronic lack of oxygen.)

Anyway. I saw my doc yesterday to talk about how the sleep thing is going. I'm now on a fixed volume machine, which only shows how many hours it's been on--no detail. So the purpose of the appointment is to see if there was anything majorly wrong, I guess, since there didn't seem to be a lot else he could do at this point.

Every time I go in, I have to fill out a little questionnaire, about how likely I am to fall asleep in different situations: sitting in a car for an hour, reading a book, stopped at a stoplight. Stuff like that. And even though I'm not entirely sure I'm feeling a whole lot better, apparently my responses to those questions show improvement.

Well, sure, if you're going to go and actually LISTEN to what I SAY--what kind of evidence is that? Evaluating data over time. Examining subjective responses to a standard set of questions. That's SCIENTIFIC METHOD, that is. That's so unfair, because I can't just complain!

Well, actually, I can complain. If you can't complain, you're just not thinking hard enough, right? I am still (subjectively) not sleeping well because my current scuba sleep mask is NOT meant for side and stomach sleepers. Which I am. And when you have a tube riding on your upper lip, with small nozzles that rest against your nostrils, and an air tube that comes out the side of that same tube--and then you roll onto your side. . .you get a weird pressure on your nose, which kind of hurts, and also feels like maybe you aren't breathing.

Do I wake up refreshed? Well, I wake up with my neck muscles all tensed so that I can keep the mask from pushing my nose all over my face, which is hardly restful. It's almost even odds as to which is the worse--fighting the mask all night, or apnea.

So, I talked to (yet another) technician and told her my difficulties. Because the first one I had burned my skin. So this one pushes my nose around my face all night. Can you get cauliflower nose? So, after a couple of false starts, she gave me a third mask to try.

Structurally, it's the same as the first one, but made of a different material where it touches the skin. I wore it last night, and you know what? It was noticeably better. There was a short period where I thought it might cause the same problem with my skin, but then it stopped. And I slept all night! And I had dreams about. . .grocery shopping!

Okay, the dreams need work. But now there is guarded optimism about whether this might work.

(You know how optimism needs to be guarded. Otherwise the fans all rush in, trying to get autographs, and the paparazzi get completely unruly.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Hard Truth About Parenting

Parenting is hard work. Hard in ways that you simply can't anticipate before you actually have kids. This is partly because in the course of raising a child, you have to turn yourself into a parent. Which is harder than it sounds.

Fortunately, one of the hidden benefits of being a parent is engaging in using your children for your own entertainment in ways they will not understand. Halloween is a good time for this. And as evidence, I offer the following:

That's right. Some clever parents dressed their two year old child as Freida Kahlo for Halloween. The best part of this story? That the neighbors couldn't identify who she was, and she had to announce that "I'm Fweida Kahwo!"

A Cure For Impulse Buying

The Family Evil was heading out to dinner the other night, when we drove past a business strip mall--you know, the kind of long one-story building that hold office furniture stores, and obscure biotech companies?

In front of the strip mall, easily seen from the freeway, was a time & temp sign advertising the development and flashing a few enticements to passers-by, inviting them to stop in the check out the businesses. The sign flashing as we drove by was "Walk Ins Welcome!" The business directly behind the sign?

Colon and Rectal Surgery Associates.


A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Lose

Hmmmmm. Let me see. What am I currently looking for?
  1. My cel phone. Which is pink. Sure, it's a slim little bugger--a RAZR, but it is pink. There is not a lot around my household that is pink, so you would think it would stand out. I know I had it last Friday, but I haven't seen it since.
  2. My iPod. I don't think I'm to blame for this one, as the Bunny was using it last night, and tucked it god knows where. But it is purple--bright purple because it is in an iFrogz case. Again, not a lot that is quite that color around here. . .
  3. My iFrogz band. The case for the iPod is purple, but the band around it is bright pink. Fuschia even. Again--I lent it to the Bunny, and it came back without the band. . .which I still can't find.
  4. My second pair of glasses. Which, surprise, surprise, are purple! Absolutely NO idea where those went of the last time I had them.
  5. The latest Barbara Kingsolver book: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I was reading it over Labor Day weekend. . .
  6. The Great Big Book of Puzzles I also had last over Labor Day weekend. . .
And it's not like the house is all that messy that these things shouldn't have shown up! We actually have most of the horizontal surfaces clean and clear! Stuff is not generally shoved out of sight just to get it out of mind.

Is it part of the inevitable aging process? Is it mad cow disease? Is it perimenopause? Or am I just an idiot? Who knows?

EDITED TO ADD: I just had to ask! With a single request, Bunny came to me in the kitchen with my iPod, complete with replaced iFrogz band! Too bad I couldn't find it myself, as it was a LONG DAY without my iPod!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kids Say the Darndest . . .

Bunny was describing what she had accomplished at her aerial arts class--all the aches and pains she had sustained featuring far more prominently than any new accomplishments.

"And I did a back bridge. But it collapsed." Beat. "Eight dead and 32 seriously injured."

Thursday, September 20, 2007


My girlies are now into volleyball season. Middle school athletics are Very Educational--which means we focus on personal improvement, skills development, teamwork--and not caring that we lose a lot of games. Which we do.

The various parents who attend these games have lots of theories why this is. One of them is that our kids are so busy doing so many different things that they don't have time to specialize. You know, when kids have to miss practices for music lessons, etc. I know I have a new appreciation for the concept of "the gentleman's C." I used to believe that was the grade given to somebody who failed a course, but whose parents (and grandparents, and great-grandparents) give a lot of money to the old Alma Mater. It's hard to fail a kid whose name is the same as the building you are teaching in--it's bad practice.

Now I see it as a sign of someone stretching themselves, of trying something they've never done before, of doing something because it makes them well-rounded, even if it lowers their GPA. And that's how I see my kids' participation in athletics.

Athletics at my kids' school is also an interesting culture clash. Their school is an independent, non-religious, college prep private school. It's a fairly small school for the metropolitan area, and so the teams don't compete with the public schools. In middle school, the kids participate in the Catholic Athletic Association, which means all their games are against Catholic school girls. And Catholic culture is just different from the godless, atheistic, secular humanist education as experienced by my girls.

The first game of the year was against a school called "Immaculate Conception." Which the kids couldn't even say without twisting their faces up in that "omg, that is just so gross, why do we have to learn about that" expression that most kids exhibit in the face of sex education. Pony was skeptical: "Why would you even name a school that?"

Many of the schools in the league are named for the saints: Saint Patrick, Saint Ursula, Saints Go Marching In. Last year our team was asked what school they were from. "St. Paul Academy." "Oh, is he your saint then?" Umm. . .no--it is the name of the city we are in.

Today they played in the gym at The Presentation Of The Holy Virgin Mary school. Yes, that is a mouthful. Like many Catholic schools, there are religious quotes posted around the school. Prominently displayed on the wall was this quote (as well as I can remember it):

Athletes will devote great effort in order to win a fading crown of leave. We strive for the eternal crown of glory. --I Cor. 9:25

This is not the kind of quote I would put on a gym wall, myself. It seems to me that it mocks the efforts athletes put into their competitions. Why, it asks, would you work so hard for something more temporary? Better to work for something that lasts eternally, right? So, says I to myself, if I were a student at this school, would this inspire me to participate in P.E.?

Absolutely not. It's rather a passive aggressive message to the P.E. department that kids shouldn't be wasting their time, and anyone who does compete fully is just a fool.

I asked another mom what she thought about this quote, and she put it all in perspective by cheering our girls on with "Go For the Fading Crown!"

Monday, September 17, 2007

Emmy Fashion 2007--The Failures

Now none of these "failures" is the kind of disaster we used to see--regularly--before the advent of the Almighty Stylists. But still, there are lessons to be learned about what not to wear.

Sarah Chalke is a lovely young woman, wearing a dress with a lean silhouette and a tricky smoky orchid color. Unfortunately, this otherwise lovely dress is marred by the frilly panels that extend from the neckline, where they are appropriate, down both the front and back of her dress, giving her the sad appearance of having been dressed by Kimberley Clark in the "Huggies" line of evening wear.

(You can find better pictures of all the Emmy fashions here: again, I'm having trouble capturing images for illustrative purposes.)
Next on our list of what not to wear is the awesome Marcia Cross. This woman has the most dramatic coloring: porcelain skin that looks like it was actually manufactured in a china factory; gorgeous red hair that lights up the room. She was absolutely unbelievable in a deep green gown she wore to something last year.

This year, sadly, she was not well served by a white dress, which merely served to make her incredible skin look washed out, rather than dramatic, with some unfortunate detail. I can't decide if it looks like the kind of curtains one sometimes seen in doorways, or if it's another Kimberley Clark original. Her hair, too--oh my dears, her fabulous hair looks lank, and dull, and even a bit brown at the bottom. The earrings are enormous and a little tacky, the bracelet doesn't match anything, nor does the purse. It all looks expensive, but it doesn't do anything for this preternaturally striking woman.

Sandra Oh looks mostly good, not in a stand-out way, but not bad either. However, at first glance, the cream chiffon detail at the top of the dress looks like the dress has slipped out of place and revealed a tan line. I had to look twice, and as a result, I can't endorse this dress.

Kate Walsh. Oh Kate. Kate, Kate, Kate. You are so awesomely, aggressively beautiful as Dr. Addison Montgomery-Shepard, with your penetrating glare that seems to be able to see right down to the underwear of your victims; the arched Eyebrows of Doom, which deliver entire cargoes of skepticism with the smallest lift; your Enormous Green Eyes of Wisdom. . .you are such beautiful woman. Why did you do that to your hair?
The whole look just fails to capture what we love about you and why we are willing to consider that a series about a barren woman working in obstetrics might be worth watching. It's not a bad look, necessarily, but from a woman as sharp as you seem to be, it's a pity you weren't smarter about this.

Best Emmy Trend 2007

I'm not sure you can call something a trend, just because a few people do the same thing in the same place, but what the hey. I'm gonna call it a trend, and live dangerously!

After years and years of black and white--which never go out of fashion--it was such a lift to see so many jewel tones. The ones that were best, though, were on the women who had the dark hair and dark skin to make a dramatic statement.

I am partial to purple, but even if I weren't, I'd think Julia Louis Dreyfus looks fabulous. The color is not overbearing, and somehow accentuates her glowing skin. Her hair and makeup is simple and unfussy, the black bag compliments the hair (a purple bag would have been Too Much), and the entire ensemble looks elegant, unusual, and amazing.

There were a few red gowns on the red carpet, but Mary Louise Parker's was the best, if only because she had the dark coloring that really rocked the color. Sally Field also had a jewel colored gown, but I just couldn't find a picture to show it.

Just to show the contrast, look at Sara Ramirez's dress. The dress is fine--it fits well, it accentuates the positive, and even the little cut-out over the hip doesn't really detract. And we loves ourselves some Sara Ramirez--her Spamalot scatting is awe inspiring, and she is so fierce on Grey's Anatomy that we think George O'Malley better think twice about getting on her Enemies List. The only thing I don't like about this dress on Sara Ramirez is. . .the color.

She looks great, she looks happy, but the color is just there--it doesn't do anything for her. If I didn't know better, I'd suspect someone Photoshopped her head onto another body--the two just don't seem to have much in common with each other.

Now compare this dress with the winner of the evening: America Ferrara. Girlfriend looks fabulous. I want her hair, her dress, the whole look. In fact, I want America. Call me--we can go shopping, and drink mojitos. We'll stay up way too late and start making inappropriate comments about the bartenders. It will be fun!

Emmy Fashion 2007

I know, you are dying to hear what I have to say about the Emmys. First of all, I hardly watch any tv any more--not because of any principled beliefs about tv being a waste of time or anything. Rather, I don't watch tv because I'm too busy doing stuff on line. So I didn't even bother reading the nominees, because most of them are shows that I don't know about because I don't watch them.

Turns out the Emmy voters must also feel the same way, because the same few shows took home everything. Sopranos--it was their last season, so of course they won just about everything. Tony Bennett--who doesn't love Tony Bennett? So he won too. And Helen Mirren--sure, she just won an Oscar, but the Emmy is the real prize, isn't it? Plus, she's British, and just about everybody can find their PBS channel--it's usually down there in the single digits, much easier to find than all these cable channels. Did you know that cable channels change from city to city? It's true!

So. The fashions. Men wore tuxes. <snore> Now let's talk about the women!

Yes, Christina Aguilera's dress was separated at birth from Anne Hathaway's Oscar Prada. I happen to like the proportions of Xtina's better--the bow is not so overwhelming, and it's very existence is a sassy nod to Xtina's interesting condition--there were years in which all maternity clothes had little bows on them. This one, however, is not overtly "maternal," and manages to distract the eye from her little bump--also giving her plausible deniability if she needs it. Although there are other photos that indicate she's willing to go public.

I have one little concern--when these two dresses are viewed side by side, there is a hint of cheapness to Xtina's--as if it were a copy manufactured for the affordable prom market. Still, it gives here a flirty Old Hollywood kind of glamor, and on the whole, I like it. And it's a whole lot classier than this hot mess, which I guess is a post awards outfit:

I thought strapless gowns stayed up through their own engineering. This one, however, looks like the only thing keeping it up is some double faced tape, and any energetic movement is going to dislodge even that. The fake tan looks even more orange against this dark teal, and even the hair looks more helmet head than glam. Sometimes, change is NOT a good thing

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The To Be Read Pile Changes Character

Something is wrong with me. I don't know what the formal diagnosis is, but I'm definitely acting outside of my normal personality.

I am reading non-fiction.

Now, it is well known among my book club friends the I never (NEVER!) manage to finish any of the non-fiction books we select. We usually do one a year, and I have to glue the book into my hands and do the whole Clockwork Orange thing to keep my eyes open to read non-fiction. No matter how good it is, there is something about it that just rubs me the wrong way and I can't do it.

So explain how it happens that I currently have about five books going at once, and they are all non-fiction?

I actually finished the book for my bookclub: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, which was just a horrible book and I had to close it a couple of times and go wash my hands because My God The Squalor! And the rat! Oh lordy, I have such a thing against rats, and to read about the one in her house. . . . I could hardly stand to pick up that book after I read that, but I did and I finished it!

Plus, due to our family excursions to Williamsburg, Monticello and 1776, I became curious about the life of John Adams, and what happened to sour his relationship with Thomas Jefferson. I was out having drinks with my dad one night, and he expressed his opinion that TJ was highly overrated. I asked him why, and he dropped some clues, but didn't elaborate. Probably to keep from boring our other drinks buddy. So now I'm reading David McCullough's book John Adams. Yes, I am a great big nerd.

Earlier this year, I had a physical, and talked to my doctor about nutrition. "I read a book that has totally changed my thinking about food," she said, and so with that recommendation, I went out and bought Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. She is such an amazing writer anyway, that the fact that it is non-fiction shouldn't hold me back too much, right? Even if she is writing about menu planning and food preparation, which are two things that I loathe.

I was out with my kidlets a couple of weeks ago and we ended up somewhere that it helps to pass the time with a book, and lo! and behold! I didn't have one! (I know! I couldn't believe it either!) But it turns out that I had Karen Armstrong's The History of God in the car, and it was really interesting.

Finally, my fabulous sister, the always babelicious SueFunky, highly recommended Eat, Pray, Love to me, and when I went to get my haircut this week, there it was on a bookshelf at the salon. They have instituted a new "bookshare"--borrow a book, return it at your next appointment--drop off any you want to share--write comments in a darling journal they have on the top of the shelves.

However, I think I can hold off calling for psychiatric intervention just yet, as I have managed to lose all these books somewhere in the house. I'm sure they will turn up. . .and until then, maybe I'll just read some Agatha Christie, or P.G. Wodehouse. You know, to cleanse the mental palate.

Artistes At Work

Spell with Flickr reminded me that recently I have seen photographers in the neighborhood taking pictures of unusual things. You can tell they are artistes, not just photojournalists or casual snapshot takers by a couple of things.

First, they have cameras with long lenses. Not so long as the paparazzi must have, but more than you ever see at school events or family outings--you know, the kind of cameras with lenses that real photographers have.

Second, they are standing in weird places, clearly taking pictures of odd things. One young woman had her camera nearly pressed against a brick wall, where the old brick was interrupted by some slightly corroded metal plates, which had be artistically graffiti-ed upon. The other one I saw was a young man of approximately the same age, carefully focusing his lens upon whatever was lying in the gutter.

Perhaps it's something in the air, as the Bunny noticed a toilet sitting in an open lot near the river. "Perhaps it's there because someone is taking symbolic pictures of pollution."

I'm thinking I'd better get my camera out of my purse and start taking interesting photos too, before I'm too late and miss the trend.

Spell With Flickr

What fun! Spell anything you want with letters clipped from Flickr pics here.
M i s T R E S S seconds O F A L L E V I L is for trains to Leeds

Thanks to The Hobbled Runner for pointing this out!

The Bag of My Dreams

So, I have this smashing summer purse that I bought at a little boutique that doesn't sell bags any more. The one I have is purple, of course, with a magnet under the flap to hold it closed. The handles are that rare but perfect length, where I can carry it in my hand or over my shoulder. The bag itself is pretty big--wide and deep, with no dividers, so I can carry everything.

In fact, in a recent inventory/clean out of this bag, I found the following:

Check book
Digital Camera
Extra earphones for iPod
Card case for my personal cards
Card case for library cards, etc.
Pens (4)
Prescription sunglasses in case
Reading glasses in case
Plain sunglasses (loose)
Large set of keys (too large, actually)
Cel phone
Cel phone case (they got separated in the depths of the bag
Large number of miscellaneous sales receipts
Paperback novel
Second digital camera (I forgot I already had the first one in there)
Change--fell out of the wallet
Several book marks
Earrings (so that's where they were!)

I am thinking that I need a different, smaller, bag to carry. This one is great and all, but really, once it's even half full it weights about 30 pounds, and has some wicked momentum when I turn around too quickly.

This is a bad time of year to look for a summer type purse, of course, as we are in full fall fashion mode. Those few summer ones left are on super sale, but they are very hard to find. I have been scouring my usual haunts, to no avail. We are just too solidly into autumnal colors of black, brown, dark brown, and brown-black.

Sure, I could wait a couple of months until the spring fashions come out--November, right? But by then I will have switched to my own winter bag, and won't need it like I do right now.

Apparently, this is disturbing me more than I realized, because last night, I found the perfect bag. It was absolutely wonderful. It was just a smidgen smaller than my current one, but exactly the right size. It was versatile too, converting easily from a shoulder bag to a backpack bag, and it was a wonderful soft brown leather--not in the least heavy looking, just neutral enough to go with anything.

And then I woke up.

Fun With Language

There is a sign outside a nursery that I drive by regularly. The sign says "Perennial Sale."

Does that mean it's a sale that happens every year?

Or that it is a sale on plants that grow back every year.

Maybe it's both?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Things Are Better Today

After a lot of venting and anguish, today is better that yesterday, and way better than the day before.

  1. Slept a mere 9.25 hours last night.
  3. Weight is still heading down.
  4. Off to get pampered at salon (haircut only, but still. . .)
Maybe the Beatles were right--It's Getting Better All The Time

I'm A Geek!!!

So, the desktop computer at Chez Evil stopped working. As you know, the power supply burned out, and the Geek Squad couldn't fix it, because, apparently, they have strict limitations on what they can do for a Dell computer. So they told me what was wrong, told me they couldn't fix it, and sent me home to order the part directly from Dell.

Which I did. Which wasn't as easy as it sounds, because people who are of Scotch heritage like me, raised by the Children of the Depression, (translated: cheap bastards!) don't buy extended warranties. But Dell only offers technical support if you buy the extended warranty, and since Computer Chez Evil is out of warranty, I got shunted to the "Out of Warranty Help Line."

Which is a total spin, because the poor woman who took my call was of help whatsoever. She could tell me what part I needed (which I already knew, because I had looked it up on the Dell website) and she could help me by telling me that they didn't have it in stock and would have to order it from someplace else, which I could do if I wanted to.

So instead, I ordered the part from the website, and it arrived! Which was itself a sort of surprise, because I really didn't expect to see anything before I had gotten some majorly depressing emails about how the part didn't exist any more, since my computer is too old for such parts to even be made any more. Because it is, in fact, 2 1/2 years old, and at the rate of technical development, it's practically from the Bronze Age.

So, new power supply in hand, I opened up the CPU case, and carefully tracking all the connections, I replaced the old one with the new one. And I only cut myself once! Blood on the computer!!

Close it up, push the power button and. . .

Weird sounds. A grinding noise from the hard drive and some irritating beeping. It turns on, sure, but something is still wrong and nothing is showing up on the monitor. So, I tuck it back under my arm and take the CPU back to the Geek Squad.

Who still can't do anything, because it's still a Dell, but they give me a secret message: "beep codes." The way the computer is beeping as I start it up actually means something. So, if I went to the Dell website again (or called Non-technical Non-support) I could diagnose the problem.

So, after another long search through the Dell website, I finally found a manual that explained the Beep Codes. PLUS! There are diagnostic LED lights on the CPU as well--the Geek at the Geek Squad didn't know about that! So, using all my puzzle solving abilities (who says computer games are a waste of time?) I reopened the CPU case and reseated the memory cards.

And you know what? I started the thing up again, and there was no grinding! No beeping! All the little diagnostic lights started glowing green!


Still nothing on the monitor. Just its own little diagnostic screen test. Back to the website--because the monitor itself is also a Dell.

Problem. The first thing you have to do to get the proper diagnostics is to select the monitor model. I can't find the monitor model. It's not on the front, it's not on the easily visible stickers on the back. Is it behind the power cord outlet? No that's just the mailing address for Dell. Is it behind this big white pin type cord with the two screws (one on each side) that I can't unscrew because they are flat against the back of the panel and so I can't get any leverage on them?

Wait a minute. White connector? What does the white connector do? Where does this cord go, anyway? Through the tangle of cords that connect all the peripherals and ending at this other white connector.

That is not connected to anything.

That fits, right here! on the back of the CPU.

That suddenly, when plugged in, causes the monitor to display a Windows logo!

And just to prove that it all works, I'm posting this--this post right here--on the newly working Dell computer!!!

Geek Squad should be calling to hire me any day now!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Car Decor Seen In My Neighborhood

I'm sure you have seen the Christian fish:

And you've probably seen the Secular Humanist fish:

But have you seen the Jewish fish?

Can lutefisk be far behind? I guess not.

More Shopping Finds

So the Pony is now in 8th grade, at which time all parents of 8th grade students purchase a laptop computer for said 8th grader, which is used at school, in class, for homework, for making class presentations, and also for downloading music and posting at MySpace, although those are not school requirments.

In the nature of short notice, however, is the fact that while the computers were to be delivered to the students at school, they did not come with anything in the nature of a carrying case. So, Monday night we discovered we had to find a notebook case by Tuesday morning.

Well, we looked. The local likely retailers--Target, Office Max, etc.--did carry notebook cases. They had black backpacks, black satchels, black messenger bags, black briefcases, black suitcases, and black handbags made of black nylon, black cotton, black microfiber, black suede and black leather. Do you see a trend here? Because Pony doesn't want a black computer bag. And who can blame her? How could you tell yours from anyone else's?

So off to the trusty Internets. Which have an even wider variety of retail outlets selling an even wider variety of black notebook cases. And then we found--

Mango Tango.

A site dedicated to the proposition that all computer carrying cases are not created black. And Pony liked this one:

Heck, I like that one too, although the bronze one is more attractive to my eye for shiny things.

So we ordered the one for Pony, and she is using my carrying case in the interim. We are both looking forward to the delivery of hers. Maybe that one will break, and I can get myself the shiny one!

More Angst Relief--Retail Therapy

I also went shopping.

Everything is better with cute shoes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An Antidote to the Angst--"Momilies"

Okay, enough of my whining. They say that when you are feeling bad, you should help someone else with their problems, and it will make yours seem smaller. So, let's see who has bigger problems than I do that I can help?

Britney Spears, post VMAs.

Now there's someone with bigger problems than I have, although apparently she has enough money that if she could just buy the solutions, she'd be set. But what she doesn't have is a mother who gives her the kind of advice that mothers give--so that's what I can do for her: I can give her a mother's advice.

You're such a pretty girl, why do you do that with your hair?

This is the cry of all mothers everywhere. We see our daughters' beautiful faces, and the hair fashions of the day just do not show off that beauty properly. Hair should be clean, neat, out of the face, and not all shaved off.

One of the stories making the rounds of the gossip blogs is that Britney and her hairdresser had a tiff just before showtime, and he cut all her hair extensions in half before storming out. This is supposed to explain the odd blunt cut look she sported with her spangly bikini, but really? Seriously? They were all the same length. Anyway, aren't you supposed to be nice to the people helping you?

Oh, and brush your hair 100 strokes every night before going to bed.

It's more important to get a good night's sleep before a big test than it is to stay up all night studying.

This one is important, Britney. If you are going to give your best performance, you should prepare as much as possible, and then get a good night's sleep and have a healthy breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day, you know.

This means not arriving at rehearsal 3 hours late, with frozen margarita in hand, and not going out to parties with P. Diddy until 3 in the morning either. You do that after you've finished your homework/test/nationally televised performance, not before.

You are not going out in public dressed like that.

Really, if you are going out in public, you should dress appropriately. No one wants to see your underwear, and it only hurts your reputation if you go out looking like a tramp. The word is "age-appropriate," dear, and don't stuff yourself into something that doesn't fit right. The right boys will pay attention to you when you dress properly: you really don't want the kind of attention dressing like that will bring you.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

This one is worth repeating like a mantra. Sure, your original plan to have Criss Angel do magic tricks so you would disappear and reappear during the performance was scuttled, which is a real setback, but that isn't an excuse, because you still went on.

This was supposed to be your comeback, and a "comeback," if it is worth doing at all, means that you have to put your best effort into it. All those dancers around you were putting their hearts into their dancing, and you could have sold your performance if you had believed it was worth doing.

Always wear clean underwear, in case you are in an accident.

Or, as famous as you are, wear underwear because paparazzi will get pictures that show you aren't wearing any. At all. Again. Which is just not something anybody wants to see. Really. Go buy some cute panties, something comfortable and cotton. It will be the right thing to do, and shows some self-respect.

Yes, I know a lot of the other girls are going commando under miniskirts too. But
if all the other kids jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?

Close your mouth before a fly gets in.

You have a lot of excuses for why this performance was so poor: allergy drops, Sarah Silverman's comments about your kids, your heel broke on stage. This is just poor sportsmanship, Britney, and you need to do better than that. Yes, things went wrong--it's the nature of live performance, and you've had enough experience to know that. Blaming others for your failure is simply immature and doesn't convince anyone anywhere. Remember, silence is golden.

You'll thank me for this some day.

I know this is harsh, but trust me, this hurts me more than it hurts you. We only want what is best for you, dear, and this can be a learning experience. Right now, what you need to do is to go home and concentrate on the important things: your kids, the custody battle, your mental health. You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of anybody else.

"Momilies," a book by Michele Slung, published by Bantam Books

More Musings on Health and Sleep

Okay, I lied. It's not just the fact that I've lost six pounds that keeps me going. It's that, when you think about it, needing 12 hours of sleep a day makes life...well...boring.

I mean, the sleep is great, and it feels good to feel good and not like I'm swimming through oatmeal while wearing cement underwear or anything. But really, if one needs 12 hours of sleep out of every 24, that leaves the remaining 12 to be:


Really boring.

Really really mind-numbingly, soul harrowingly boring.

Because, squeezing in 12 hours of sleep where one can means sleeping at night plus sleeping while the rest of the family is off at work, or school, or athletics, or whatever. Which means that, for instance today, I had only two hours and 40 minutes before I had to pick up the kids from after school sports practice. In that two hours and 40 minutes I had the following list of exciting activities that took up the entire time:
  1. Walk the dog.
  2. Make lunch.
  3. Pick up a prescription from the doctor's office.
  4. Fill said prescription.
  5. Go to the grocery store.
And that was it: that was the full extent of my free time today. Because once one picks up the kids, it's time to make dinner, and feed the dog, and let the dog out and then back in, and check homework, and set a good example and keep the house quiet during homework time, and empty the dishwasher and clean the kitchen and run the laundry. . .

. . .and all the boring minutae of daily life. Because some things just have to be done when they have to be done, and all the fun stuff and the free time and the stuff I want to do just to be me? That has to wait.

Sure, there are probably lots and lots of people who are organized, and high energy, and have their kids routine's regimented and who have the ability to either multi-task, or delegate, or simply to switch gears rapidly in order to take profitable advantage of the small bits of time that accumulate between the chores. And I wish I could do this. I really do. But so far, after a few decades of trying, I'm beginning to suspect that I have to concede defeat.

Sure, while the sweet potatoes are cooking, and while the turkey is broiling, I managed to post here, which is the sort of thing that keeps everything from being completely hopeless. But there is so much else I want to be able to go and do, and I could do it--

--except for this sleeping thing. Because I can't just cut back on my sleep to gain the extra time.
Not getting enough sleep, for me, means that everything I have to do is just that much harder, and takes just that much longer, and is just that much more boring and depressing, and I don't get any more done anyway.

It isn't fair, and it isn't nice, and it's why it feels like what I am fighting for is my life. Not merely my continued existence, but for all the things that make life worth living and not just the daily grind.

So, that is why I was so incredibly disheartened with all the delay in this condition getting improved: I'm fighting for Life.

In Which I Wallow In Self Pity

Don't say you haven't been warned. This is a pity party here, and since it's my party, I'll cry if I want to.

Yup, that's right--we're going to be talking CPAP again.

Previously, we learned that the machine I had was not, in fact, working at all, and was exchanged (after FAR too long) for one that actually varied its air pressure. Not willing to be made a chump in the same way AGAIN, I took the new Damn Machine into be checked after about 10 days.

Yes, the thing was working. Yes, it was recording data. In fact, the data was so clear that the technician grabbed the doctor out of his discussion of fantasy football and showed him the data. And he decided that it would work to switch to a non-variable setting machine. The fixed setting would be 13, which coincidentally? was exactly half way through the range of variable settings I had before.

Not to bemoan lost opportunities, or anything, BUT--the first doctor who read the results of my sleep study IN JUNE had recommended a fixed pressure of 12, which would have avoided all these months of non-data collecting, and non-variable variable pressure, and would have gotten me to almost the exact place I am now after THREE DAMN MONTHS.

This is where it is a good thing that the antidepressants work, or we'd be looking at some serious scar tissue right now, and that makes wearing a watch so irritating.

Anyway, things should be looking up now, right. Because:

  1. I'm home with a new machine that is supposed to provide the exact right level of air pressure for me.
  2. We got a cold front, so the nights are cool and comfortable--perfect sleeping weather.
  3. Last night was the first night I felt that I was actually sleeping without fighting the mask and trying to get comfortable.
So good, right? Should be a good night's sleep, and the start of feeling better. I woke up, got the kids to school, and came back and went back to bed, as I wasn't really finished with the job of rest. To be a Do-Bee, I even put the Damn Mask back on and napped with it, in the hopes that unobstructed sleep would mean actually waking up refreshed after a reasonable amount of time.

When I did wake up, naturally, the dog bounded over, greeting my wakefullness a bit more frantically than usual. Because it was bloody 1:50 in the afternoon! Poor animal's bladder was knocking, because I managed to sleep over twelve hours before I woke up.

I hope that is just because I am still sleep deprived, because 12 hours of sleep is hard to fit in, and not any improvement over what I had before all this nonsense. It's just not very encouraging at all. I mean, why should I struggle with the Damn Machine and everything just to need as much sleep as I needed before? I can only hope that as time goes on, I need less sleep, and that the sleep is more restful for me, and that it reverses all the ill health effects that sleep deprivation can cause. Like weight gain, risk of stroke, heart diseases, etc.

The only entry over on the plus side of the entry at this point, is that I have managed to lose 6 pounds. Is it related? It's too early to tell, but it's enough to keep me going for now.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

In Which I Am Pedantic: More Mississippi Historical Trivia

While vacationing in Itasca State Park, one is exposed to the rafts of English speaking explorers who sought the "true source" of the Mississippi. As any modern geographer will tell you, the "true head" of the Mississippi is actually what is now called the Missouri River. The drainage basin of the two rivers is now regularly combined, because north of St. Louis, the Mississippi is really just a large tributary of the larger Missouri River.

So, I have always wondered, "why the heck was it so important to everybody to find the source of the Mississippi?"

There had to be some man-made reason, right? Turns out, there is.

At the close of the American Revolution, the Treaty of Versailles established the boundaries of the new country, as well as the limits of the competing claims of the French and English in the area. The French got Louisiana, the English got Canada, and America was given the area bounded by the "water routes;" west through the Great Lakes, up to Lake of the Woods, and due west to the Mississippi River.

It was not long afterward that it was determined that the Mississippi River did NOT go that far north, ending somewhere several hundred miles to the south. But since this river was an important geo-political border, it was important to find where it did go, in order to close the gap in the treaty.

By the time Henry Schoolcraft mapped the source as Lake Itasca in 1832, America had already purchased the Louisiana Territory from the French, and the question had become essentially moot. But at least that explained why the river north of St. Louis was the Mississippi and not the larger waterway that turns northwest from there.

You Can Take The Girl Out Of Lawyering. . .

Over the Labor Day weekend, the Family Evil took our annual long weekend up at Lake Itasca, the Headwaters of the Mississippi River. It's a lovely break: no tv, no computers, no phone. We stay in the historic Douglas Lodge, which also means no cooking, no cleaning, no dishes, and maid service. That is MY kind of roughing it.

One of the first things we do is hike the 3/4 of a mile to the Old Timer's Cabin--a cabin built by the CCC during the Depression, back when trees were really trees. The entire cabin is build of 16 logs: logs so thick that a mere four of them stand up a good 12 feet. To get to the Cabin, one walks a path through a bog.

Now, I only know it is a bog because there are a lot of signs along the path saying "this is a bog." It doesn't look particularly wet or swampy to me, but lord knows that I am not much of an outdoorsy type--bogs not figuring much into my studies of evil. In actuality, it looks like the currently neglected gardens at Chez Evil, where whatever is strong enough to survive takes over, but for the purposes of my outdoors experiences, I am prepared to accept that it is, in fact, a bog.

Bogs are, apparently, fairly fragile ecosystems. Who knew? They are a source of sphagnum moss, which is itself very impressionable. Signs declare that a single footprint in the moss will last an entire summer.

To which, my legal hindbrain spoke up. "Well, since it is Sunday, and tomorrow is Labor Day, summer ends tomorrow. So a footprint now wouldn't be that big of a deal. It will last the entire summer--until tomorrow."

Fortunately, my more socially appropriate and evolved brain remained in charge, and told that legal hindbrain "Just shut up."