This is where 'everything else' goes.

Don’t Get Between a Man and His Coffee

Filed under: Life — Tags: , , — Wigi @ 12:22 pm December 21, 2009

I’ll save you the long story. The short story is that it really is too much bother to make coffee for myself in the mornings, so I stop at Holiday and get it on the way to work. The advantage of getting coffee at Holiday is that they have this very nice cream dispenser/chiller, so you can get just the right amount of half and half.  My coffee has to be just so – cream and sugar, in the right amounts. Not too sweet, not too creamy, not too bitter. Just right. After all, if you really expect me to be pleasant on a Monday morning, this part of the ritual better go off without a hitch… because if the coffee ain’t right, who knows what is going to happen when you get me on the phone.

So this morning I went into my usual Holiday Station Store on Spenard Road. I have been going there for years – the people that work there are very pleasant and efficient. I am always greeted, and there’s usually some good-natured joking or a smart-assed comment, though I dish it as well as take it. When I come in the mornings, there is often a line at the register, and because I am both considerate and observant, when I see the coffee cup dispenser empty, I’ll grab a sleeve of cups and restock for them. There’s no sense in interrupting a busy person to restock cups, when I can do it just as easily, and it is faster.

What can I say – I like to help.

Recently there has been some turnover and rearrangement of shifts. The people that I have known there for years seem to have disappeared, so I have been “training” the new folks to make sure that they get everything just right – at least, just right for me. This morning – Monday morning – I went in, and there was no sugar. One of the employees happened to be standing there at the coffee bar, and I asked her if there was any sugar. She looked around in the usual places, and couldn’t find any. She looked at the shelves, and there were several boxes of sugar there, but she made it clear that she couldn’t just take a box of sugarthat was meant for retail sale off the shelf and open it for a customer. I would have to ask at the counter.

So I did.

Justin was at the cash register. I asked him, “Excuse me, do you have any sugar?”

(blank stare) “Um, no, we’re out.”

“There is some on the shelf over there…”

“We can’t use those…”

 Monday morning. No coffee. Stupid employee. Wrong answer.

The whole time I had been holding an empty styrofoam cup, expecting to fill it with exactly the right proportions of sugar, coffee, then cream, then top it off with coffee… but those plans were now shot, since THERE WAS NO SUGAR. I walked back to the coffee bar.  I firmly placed my cup back on the bar. I was disgusted with the service and the situation, and angry that I was going to have to go find my coffee elsewhere. The first employee, who had directed me  to the counter in the first place, was still there, and she could tell I was miffed.

As I turned to walk out the door, I looked at the shelf again, and saw the boxes of sugar. It is amazing that on a Monday morning, without coffee, I was able to be inspired, but I was. I decided to pick up the box of sugar, take it to the register, and offer to purchase it… and at that point, Justin would recognize the error of his ways, open the sugar and let me have some.

receipt(blank stare) “Would you like a receipt?”

(loudly) “Why yes, I would like a receipt.” I would need the receipt when they graciously offered to refund my money.

I took my newly-purchased two-pound box of sugar back to the coffee bar, and prepared my coffee just-so. After I was done taking my small amount of sugar, I set the box down, where it was immediately snatched up by another customer.

Clearly there was a need for sugar.

I went back to the counter with my coffee, and without my box of sugar, which I had just donated to the store. Here’s where I thought that Justin would get a clue. How hard could this be, the store manager was standing right behind him, and had heard the whole exchange? All he had to do was turn around and explain the situation to his manager, the manager would take  three bucks out of his pocket, pay for the sugar and instruct Justin to refund me. I was about to get my coffee, a refund, and an apology.

Boy was I wrong.

(blank stare) “Would you like a receipt?”

“Yes, I would.” I was indignant. “… and let me give you a little lesson in marketing. You don’t ever… EVER… let a customer walk out of your store when they come in to buy something, just because you’re out of sugar. You had the sugar right there on the shelf.

“That’s stupid.”

Justin didn’t say a word. Either did his manager.

A great start to a Monday morning.

What Do You Say?

Filed under: Baseball,Hockey,Life,Social Media — Tags: , , , , , , — Wigi @ 7:14 am April 18, 2009

The phone call ended a bit strangely: “I’m still short, I wear about a size 12, I am kinda blond now, and I’ll be wearing a white Nationals shirt and a blue jacket.”

This is strange because it was uttered by a friend I had known all my life. There was just the matter of the intervening nineteen years since I last saw her.

The nexus of the Facebook era and a trip to my family home brought about this strange interaction. Making it all the stranger was that our appointed meeting place was a subway platform. Oh, and one other thing. I was confronting one of my greatest personal shortcomings.

This past spring I rediscovered Facebook. I had been a member for quite a while, but my contact list remained very short. Someone cajoled me into poking around with it again, and in one short week, I had rediscovered dozens of childhood friends. My plans for a spring trip were certain to include a number of reunions. I arrived in town with a fistful of email addresses and phone numbers of people I hadn’t seen in ten or twenty or even thirty years.

And so it was with my friend with whom I would be reunited for the first time in nineteen years. When I arrived in town, I dialed my friend’s phone number. As I was dialing, my mind was flooded with thoughts of my friend’s mother. Her name was repeated over and over in my head. When my friend answered the phone, we exchanged the usual pleasantries, but immediately following that, my friend gave me the news: her mother had passed away a few weeks before. That I had been thinking of her mother as I dialed the phone was a very strange feeling. I would have called it coincidence, except that a very similar thing happened to me once before in my life; the first time even more spectacularly than this one.

We made plans to get together for lunch, but we changed them. We decided to go to the baseball game together. I would take the Metro down to her stop, and wait for her on the platform. As much as I was looking forward to our reunion, I was dreading it, too. I have no idea what to say to someone who has lost her mother. There are some things I don’t do particularly well. There are some things that I don’t do at all. This was one of them.

Back when I lived in the Washington, DC area, I played hockey on a men’s team. One of my teammates was a good friend – not only did we play hockey together, but I also hunted and fished with him and his father, and his mother was one of the people in my season ticket group for the Washington Capitals.

Shortly after I moved to Alaska, my hockey buddy’s father passed away. As I remember it now, it was very sudden and unexpected, and it happened during the holidays. I happened to return to Washington to visit my family for Christmas, and my parents told me of my friend’s loss. My mother suggested I call.

I was paralyzed. I had no idea what to say. I thought about what I would say. I thought about how awkward it would be. I wasn’t ready. I put it off for a day… and then two. Maybe tomorrow I will have some inspiration. Or courage.

Inspiration and courage never came, and I returned back to Alaska having abdicated my responsibility. I never called my hockey buddy. It wasn’t that I couldn’t have called from Alaska, either.  I let weeks become months, and months become years.

Essentially, I lost a friend because I was… a coward.

There was no turning back here. Not that I would want to; the benefit of twenty years of life experience is that you gain some maturity and coping skills. I knew I wasn’t going to be the utter idiot I had been with my hockey buddy… but the skill set hadn’t been tested in quite a while.

The day of the game, there was a bit of phone tag played. My insecurities about the situation played games with me as we traded voice mails. I imagined my friend finding the idea of going out so soon after her mother’s passing to be too much, and that I would get a message telling me that she was going to cancel. If she had, I would have totally understood. If I had been thinking, I would have known that this was the last thing she would do. Once she made a commitment to do something, there was little that one could do to distract her from that commitment.

She’s just weird that way.

Having a reunion and hugging someone that you haven’t seen in nineteen years – on a subway platform – isn’t nearly as strange as I imagined it to be. I think there are some friends that you just know so well and have such an affinity for that allows the years to melt away as if it had been nineteen days or even nineteen hours. We were so caught up in catching up that we actually got on the wrong train. We were going the right direction, but took the scenic route. It hardly mattered, and in fact, I had to make a concerted effort to pay attention to exactly where we were so we didn’t miss our stop.

We talked about everyone and everything we’d ever done. We laughed a lot. I was amazed at the details I remembered from way back. One Fourth of July she and I went to the National Mall to watch the fireworks. It was a pretty spectacular evening – there had been thunderstorms earlier, and we were soaked to the skin. As it started to get dark, the skies were filled with spectacular lightning, which brought cheers from the crowd as if it were part of the fireworks show. Finally the skies cleared and the fireworks started. They were spectacular, as they always are, and of course, the backdrop of our national monuments makes the celebration all the more amazing.

After the fireworks, we wandered back to the Metro, where thousands of us boarded the trains to head home. Every free inch of space on those cars was packed with people. Everyone was nose-to-nose with their friends and butt-to-butt with strangers. Nobody cared, it was just a part of the annual July Fourth ritual.

At the baseball game we talked about everything. As the night wore on, my friend’s voice got squeakier and more hoarse. As difficult as it was to hear her it was strangely familiar. I hadn’t remembered it at first, but it seems that whenever she and I did one of these outings, whether to a ballgame, or the fireworks, or the Preakness, she would lose her voice. I hadn’t remembered that detail until we were walking back to the Metro after the game.

As we walked down Half street there were some awkward pauses. I told her, we should get together again when I come to town in September. She said she’s really like that, and she’d like to get together with my parents, too. I told her they’d really like that.

We filed into the subway station, only to find ourselves on the wrong side of a temporary barrier. Our college-years sensibilities came to us as swimming comes to fish: we moved them and walked to the side of the platform we were supposed to be on. Moments after we did that, I heard one of the station police chastising others for doing the same thing.

Our train came, and the crowd poured onto the car. Every inch was occupied. Friends were nose-to-nose, and strangers were butt-to-butt. I said to her, “I’ve seen this movie before.” She laughed. We only had two stops on the train before she’d change trains and head off towards her home, and I would head back to Maryland and my parent’s place.

We didn’t say much during those few minutes on the train. She was looking off at nothing in particular. I looked at her face, and she had that look that you see right before someone starts to cry.

The train pulled into the station. She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. She said, “I’ll see you soon, sweetie” and walked off the train.

I said nothing.

What do you say?

Wake-up Call

Filed under: Health and Conditioning,Life — Tags: , , , — Wigi @ 9:11 pm April 14, 2009

The other night I was getting ready to go to bed. My going-to-bed ritual is a bit more complex than most other people, because I use a CPAP. For the uninitiated, a CPAP is a device that combines a gentle air pump and a mask to pressurize your airway. This prevents your soft palate from sagging shut while you sleep… and it is this sagging that is the cause of many types of snoring and sleep apnea, where one actually stops breathing while they sleep.

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea about ten years ago, and the treatment is one of these machines. Many people have trouble adjusting to them – when you first get one, you are often confronted with the sensation of suffocating, even though you’re getting plenty of air. Add to that the discomfort of wearing a mask on your nose, the hose that attaches to the CPAP, and the general unattractiveness of it all, and you can see why most people who are diagnosed just skip the treatment altogether, preferring the disturbed sleep and other symptoms to the adjustment period.

As for me, I adjusted quite readily, and for people like me who are able to use the CPAP device, it makes a dramatic improvement in the quality of your life. For me, the symptoms that lead the doctors to look for it were my chronic sleepiness in the daytime, and some acid reflux while I slept. Adding the CPAP stopped both of those problems dead in their tracks.

So every night for the last ten years, I’ve put on my mask, turned on the machine and drifted off to sleep. The white noise generated by the machine is soothing, and you get conditioned to the pressure… it is almost as if it is a sleeping pill – putting the mask on puts you to sleep very quickly.

I have had this particular CPAP machine for quite a while, and because the machines are quite expensive and I no longer have health insurance, I have nursed this one along for about seven years. The only real problem it has is that the on/off switch has gotten increasingly tricky over time, and I (correctly) guessed that it was just a matter of time before it failed altogether. Instead, I have taken to unplugging the machine in the morning and plugging it in at night – the machine is designed to come back on if the power is interrupted.

The other night, as I was getting ready for bed, I plugged the machine in, and rather than starting up as it usually does, the lights blinked on and off, indicating that something was wrong. I have taken the CPAP apart in the past, trying to repair the faulty switch… and I did it again the other night, hoping that I would be able to clean some contacts or work some magic, and somehow get the old machine to start.

No luck.

I dreaded the idea of trying to sleep without the CPAP, but I really had no choice. I would doze off… only to be awakened by my own snoring. After a while, I would settle  into sleep, only to wake up again, gasping for breath. After three or four hours of fitful sleep – and by fitful, I mean being awakened once  a minute by any one of the three or four symptoms that come with sleep apnea, I felt like crap, and wondered why I even bothered trying to  go to sleep in the first place.

Since I had decided that the old machine was beyond repair, I searched the Internet and found a site where you can buy machines relatively inexpensively… So I purchased a new machine, but not before having to spend yet another night without my CPAP.

If you know anything about sleep apnea, you know that whatever sleep you get is very inefficient, because while you may only be aware of waking up a few times in a night, your body actually wakes up (at least partially) as often as two times a minute. You never get that deep, restful sleep without the assistance of the machine. So four hours of half-sleep, followed by another night of half-sleep, and I was quickly falling into a hole.

I realized that I had come to depend on this machine just to have a semblance of a normal life during my waking hours. Sleeping without a CPAP has now become a virtual impossibility, because even if you can get to bed early, the sleep quality is poor, and the other symptoms, such as acid reflux are particularly uncomfortable. Add to that the fact that people with untreated sleep apnea tend to be more susceptible to a number of ailments, mostly relating to the heart, and there is very little that is good about the condition.

Fortunately, the occurrence of sleep apnea is correlated to obesity, so to the extent that one can control his or her weight, you have some control over the apnea. I have been good in the past about keeping my weight under control,  but I have been slacking as of late. The failure of the CPAP pointed out my dependence on the machine… and that I had created a lot of that dependence myself by letting the weight get out of control. By experiencing the sleep apnea symptoms, I was in essence giving myself a wake-up call… every thirty seconds, as I stopped breathing while I slept.

With all of my paperwork in hand and a freshly-refilled credit card, I ordered a new CPAP today, and as of a few hours ago, it was safely in some UPS cargo container, on its way to my increasingly sleep-deprived hands.

Once I had the order placed, I decided to take one last crack at getting the old CPAP working again. I had researched the idea of renting one for a few days, and the cost was $155, whether I kept it a day or a week. I thought that was a bit high, and if someone suggested that they’d give me $155 to sleep for a night without a CPAP, I figured I could do that… for $155. It would suck… and I would complain about it. But I would have $155.

I opened the old machine up once again, and took all of the business parts off the machine… and with a simple shorting of the switch, I was able to make it come back on. So, for tonight, I have the old CPAP, and I know the new one is on the way. My nights of terrible sleep are over… but not before I resolved to do something about it and get myself back into shape.

So while my day started with the idea of dreading the idea of retiring to sleep, I know that I now have not only a working machine, but what has (up until now) been a reliable backup.

So tonight when I go to bed, I am sure when I feel that familiar puff of gently compressed air against my flippy-floppy soft palate, I will drift right off into a mechanically-assisted slumber…

… like the Borg.

I *AM* the Easter Bunny

Filed under: Life — Tags: , , , , , — Wigi @ 9:22 am April 12, 2009

Of the pop culture holidays, Easter has become one of my favorites. Retailers haven’t been able to find that hook that turns Lent into the consumer feeding frenzy that some of our other religious-turned-consumer holidays have. And while the religious pageantry is now lost on me, a nice dinner with family, a steady supply of (mostly chocolate) candy, and the celebration of spring… I can get behind that!

I have created some interesting Easter traditions over the years, mostly having to do with some non-traditional Easter baskets that we’ve created for the kids in the past. This year, I find myself visiting my parents in Washington, DC, and I will spend Easter with them, and my brother and sister and their families.

One of their traditions is to have an Easter Egg hunt for the nieces. When I was a kid, such an event required considerable effort and planning. A couple dozen eggs, hard-boiling, dyeing, cooling… and all of that on the days before Easter… followed by wandering the yard and hiding the eggs here and there in the yard. Today, a trip to Costco (in January, because that is when the retailers put out the Easter stuff) scores you a plastic bucket of three dozen plastic eggs, stuffed with candy. Twenty minutes in the yard, and voila… Easter Egg Hunt.

I’ll admit, some of the artistry that comes with hand-dyed eggs is lost when you substitute candy-filled orbs of plastic. But this is about the kids, and if you think back to your youth, if given the choice between a hard boiled egg that was going to be blue on the inside when you peeled it, and a plastic egg full of jelly beans, which would you choose?

So this morning, I took my little plastic bucket of eggs and wandered the back yard, putting eggs here and there. About half of them are lying in the open on the lawn, but the remaining half are actually pretty well hidden. My parents have a hedge of forsythia bushes, which still sport a fairly full load of yellow flowers. This was the perfect place to hide the yellow eggs. In fact, some of the yellow eggs have a brown-striped pattern to them – it was almost as if they made forsythia-specific camo for them. They’re hidden at eye-level for a six year old, but they’ll never find them unless they’re right on top of them.


Egg in Forsythia

I always hide a few for the adults, too. Not that the adults will search for them, necessarily… but they are so far out of reach for the kids that only daddy can grab them. One is in the crook of a maple tree, about nine feet off the ground.

Egg in a tree

Egg in a tree

Another is in the branches of a sprawling peach tree.

Egg in peach tree

Egg in peach tree

This will be fun… watching the kids search the yard in their Easter dresses looking for candy eggs.

I have only one regret – I didn’t notice the extension ladder in the yard until after I had hidden all the eggs.

Next year…

UPDATE: I got the extension ladder out after all!

Pharmaceutical Grudge Match

Filed under: Life — Tags: , , , , , , — Wigi @ 7:17 pm March 27, 2009

There are two problems with having a cold. One is that you don’t feel like doing that much, except lying around and watching television. The other is that you lie around and watch television.

And since I am watching television, I must tell you, I am confused.

There’s a drug out there that men can take that men take to help them urinate. There is a drug out there that women take that prevents them from urinating.

Now I am not making light of the fact that there are real medical reasons why one might need one of those or the other… and that for those that suffer those conditions, those are real problems. But you have to admit, it is rather strange that there are two drugs whose primary purpose is to prevent what the other one does.

This is not a new area of interest for me. About twenty years ago I worked in radio, where I was the studio engineer – and this meant listening to a lot of late night talk radio programs, and inserting the commercials into the broadcasts. I always thought it was interesting that you would get ads for ozone generators and antioxidants in the same program. And when I was in grad school, my thesis advisor would regularly direct me to the dietary supplement aisle at the grocery store, where I might find just the right mood enhancer (guarana) that one might need to complete your thesis as quickly and effectively as possible. In my search for her supplement du jour, I came across two products, made by different manufacturers: Undo and Redo. I have no idea what they did, but I imagined that one was the antidote for the other.

As for those drugs that assist with urinary symptoms, I think we’re left with our imagination as to whether they would duke it out in a biochemical battle. First, women aren’t even supposed to handle the drug for men, much less take it. And honestly, I think most men are a bit too squeamish about how things function ‘down there’ to entertain themselves by taking them both and seeing which one wins.

What an ugly battle that would be.

As Seen on (at) TV (Bed, Bath and Beyond)

Filed under: Life — Tags: , , , , — Wigi @ 7:47 pm March 22, 2009

I don’t care for shopping… not even a little. A shopping trip with me almost always ends badly.

Since I don’t shop much, the latest trends in retail are lost on me. On the other hand, I did work in television for a while, so I am fairly tolerant of advertising, particularly television advertising… so while I might not be inclined to go into a store to buy something, I have a reasonably good idea of what might be out there on the market. I like to watch ads to see if the advertiser did a good job of getting his or her point across.

So the other day, we received a print ad for Bed, Bath and Beyond, and one of the family members pointed out that on the back page of the ad, it showed that they had “Pedi-Paws”, which is basically a manicure device for your pets. This is one of those cases where advertising meets need – we have a neurotic dog that hates to have his feet touched, much less have his nails clipped… So we have been contemplating this purchase for a while. The impediment was ordering it by mail, and the wait. So when we found out that you could walk into a store and buy it, we were sold (that and the $10 off coupon sealed the deal).

So yesterday evening, off we went to Bed, Bath and Beyond. When you combine my disdain for shopping with the kind of merchandise that one might find at Bed, Bath and Beyond, it is no surprise that last night’s trip was my first visit there… ever.

It wasn’t what I expected.

It was as if Crate and Barrel, JC Penney, TJ Maxx and Costco had a four-way love child. Every endcap had an “As Seen On TV” item. “Pedi-Paws” was right by the front door, which for the Anti-Shopper, was incredibly convenient. They had those bowl-sealing things – those were on clearance for $5. They even had that item that looks like a bluetooth headset, but is really a hearing aid.

It was like walking into the Infomercial Store.

There were ten thousand of every kitchen gadget ever. The “Mandolin Slicer?” . . . Had it.

Strangely, I had a certain curiousity about the things I saw in there. It wasn’t a consumer curiousity, but more of a people-watching or car crash curiousity… except for retail items.

Living in Alaska, you live a relatively sheltered life when it comes to the retail world. If a big retailer comes to Alaska, it is probably the end of their growth cycle: Target. Kohls. Bed, Bath and Beyond. They arrive here with a bit of fanfare. Ultimately, they’re just another store. And I feel a little bit of culture shock when I go into these places. Every square inch of usable merchandising space is occupied, managed, and designed to put these consumer items within easy reach of you as you walk through the store… and as a result, puts your hard-earned dollars within easy reach of their cash register.

But I have to hand it to Bed, Bath and Beyond. Were it not for the “As Seen on TV” items, there would be virtually no reason for me to ever go back there. I doubt I would make a special trip back… but if I was in the neighborhood, I might stop in… Which is what I do when I go to the local mall, where they have a “Hotdog on a Stick.”. If you’ve never been, it is worth the visit.

The Guest Alarm

Filed under: Life,Sports — Tags: , , , — Wigi @ 10:51 am March 6, 2009

I am shy about some things. For example, if I happen to be over to someone’s place for dinner, I am not likely to help myself to the last piece of chicken, even if I am famished. It is just one of those things… you never know if the host is thinking that they might like leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch or something. It’ll sit there and get cold first.

I bring this up because I am out of town this weekend, and I am staying at a friend’s place. I have a hobby (ham radio contesting) that calls me away for a weekend at a time, and a number of us get together at our friend’s place pursue this particular hobby.

My friend is married, and his wife is occasionally there when we do these weekends, so being a respectful guest isn’t just about respecting the sensibilities of my host, but also his partner, who is a very sweet woman, but has no interest in the hobby herself.

Invariably, after a number of hours doing this, it comes time to freshen up. This means rummaging through linen closets to find a towel, and then going to take a shower.

I feel uncomfortable about just helping myself – I imagine the situation where someone is visiting my home, and I suddenly discover them in my shower. On one hand I imagine that my guests should just make themselves feel at home… but then I imagine the situation where my expectation was not that they would be in my shower at all.

So the first time this opportunity presented itself at my friend’s new place, I fought through all my petty insecurities, grabbed a towel, and headed in to take a shower. I got undressed and turned the water on, and got it just to the right temperature. I pulled the handle on the valve, and the water cascades out of the shower head. So I get in, and I am just getting settled under the warm water, and I realize that the water pressure seems to be dropping ever so slightly. I start to pay attention to this, and I can actually hear the sound of the water moving through the pipes change slowly.

All of the sudden, the showerhead starts making a sound that is just like a teakettle. It is this loud screeching sound that water makes when it is somehow restricted as it flows. I am imagining that sound as it reverberates through the house… like an alarm: Wigi is in the shower! Wigi is in the shower!

I am thinking to myself, my host is going to start banging on the bathroom door and start screaming, “Hey! what are you doing in there? Are you trashing my bathroom?” Of course, that never happens… but as time goes on, the pitch of the water-siren gets higher and higher… like it is saying, “Hey, if you didn’t notice, Wigi is in your shower! Aren’t you going to do something about it?”

It is almost like my host saying, “Hmmm… taking the last piece of chicken, huh? I see how you are.”

The screaming shower gets higher and higher (and I am imagining, louder), and then all of the sudden it stops screaming. The water pressure jumps up… and now the only sound is water coming from the shower head.

Now I can relax.

So I go through my usual shower ritual, and I am forgetting my insecurities. I start rinsing off, and all of the sudden, that infernal racket starts again!

“Hello! Wigi is in the shower, you idiots! You installed this alarm for a reason!”

You Know You’ve Arrived

Filed under: Life — Tags: , , — Wigi @ 7:55 pm February 27, 2009

There are certain milestones you reach in a relationship. They pass without particular notice. In fact, they are notable for their triviality. But the fact that they occur tell you that you’ve reached a certain level of intimacy in your relationship. I had one of those the other night.

I was on the phone with someone I’ve been seeing. She asked me how I was feeling, and I started to complain about how the dry winter weather was affecting me. I told her:

My nose is all crusty. It is like I have boulders shoved up my nose.

If that doesn’t say “Love”, I don’t know what does…

The Aisle With the Pain Relievers

Filed under: Life — Tags: , , , , — Wigi @ 8:04 pm February 25, 2009

You can tell a lot about a man by what he keeps in his top right desk drawer. In my case, you can also tell a lot by what sits in front of the second computer on my desk.

So yesterday, I decided that I needed to go through the two places that I store pharmaceuticals and see what I had.

What I had was a lot of empty bottles.

When you own your own business, you can’t really afford sick days. So I have made it a point to have a pretty significant supply of over-the-counter remedies for most of the common maladies that could strike – especially those that would happen during the work day. I am all about prevention, too… I get a flu shot every year, and I am really good about washing my hands and other hygiene issues during the cold season. I think I avoid a lot of colds and other bugs that way.

Number one on the list: Advil Liquigels. I had at least three empty Costco-sized bottles. Admittedly, I don’t throw those out, so that was probably half a year’s supply represented by those empties. But still, that’s a lot of headaches that were snuffed out by the liquid ibuprofen.

I also have a large bottle of Calcium-Magnesium-Zinc supplements – great for after workouts, and the zinc is great for cold prevention. I also have Zicam and zinc lozenges. That is the 1-2-3 punch I use when I get that first hint of a cold. My partner won’t touch the Zicam, though. She doesn’t see much point of jamming something that is already so much like snot back up your nose. I am convinced that I have stopped colds dead in their tracks with the zinc attack.

I have a few other things, too… Cough and congestion things… and for those days when a cup of coffee just isn’t enough, guarana. My advisor in grad school got me started on those. Of course, she was also a regular consumer of “Happy Camper”, and when things got really tough, Paxil. I don’t have any of those.

But the real eye-opener was the Advil. I wonder if it is the stress of work or my Internet activities that lead me to take so much.

We’ll never know.

Not Much in Common

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: , , , , — Wigi @ 8:01 pm

I continue to be amazed by the power of Facebook. I got a friend request from someone that I went to junior high school with.

Those junior high years are crappy years anyway… We’re all trying to figure out the whole boy-girl thing… we’re awkward and silly. We’re shy, and often cruel. In other words, things are pretty much as they are now as middle-aged adults, but we’ve got more style now.

Anyway, this young lady that I heard from today… she and I had an interesting friendship that went absolutely nowhere. I think back on it now, and I think she probably liked me in that way that thirteen year-olds do. And I think I liked her, too. There was definitely a bit of tension between us – in a good way. I remember her coming up to me one day after school, and asking me if I knew what French kissing was.

We had almost nothing in common. While we lived in a part of the country that was both northern and southern – the Washington, DC area – my family was decidedly northern, and hers southern. I remember calling her home and speaking to her parents, and hearing that exotic southern drawl that wasn’t particularly common where we lived. She was also quite the movie fanatic, as was the rest of her family. This was the mid 1970′s, before the time of the VCR. Her parents had a home theatre, with video and film equipment, and they would watch first-run movies in their home. She could quote lines from the classics, had favorite actors – none of this would be all that unusual today, but it was spectacularly strange then.

She was an attractive gal back then. She wasn’t the beauty queen of the class, but she had very classic good looks, but she also had that southern belle aire about her. When I got her friend request today, I got to see a picture of her, and she’s become a stunningly beautiful woman.

In my last year of junior high, we would do the usual teenage thing and talk on the phone for an hour or so every few days… and of course, we would see each other in school. There was that painfully awkward flirting… but I could never get to the point where I could actually find enough in common with her for it to go from that clumsy friendship to that clumsy boyfriend-girlfriend thing.

When I wandered a little bit through her Facebook pages, it turns out we have a bit more in common now than we did when we were young… she’s a writer and that’s very cool. She does some work in the media, and that’s cool, too. She’s married, has some kids, and a grandkid, too.

The thing about Facebook is that it is smashing those time-and-distance barriers that we’ve put between us. As familiar as they seem, we’re different people today than we were way back then.

Still not much in common.

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