Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Bittersweet Take on a Rubyspikes Vacation

As you may know, I was on vacation last week. It was fabulous and relaxing and blah blah blah...

Sorry, folks, but even the best of vacations aren't quite perfect. And that, my friends, is my great talent in life. I don't see it as complaining, I'm pointing out opportunities for improvement! At this, I excel.

Now before you go on thinking how miserable and ungrateful I am, know that my first post-vacay post was all, "this is so awesome." So at least I'm not always miserable. I've got that going for me. Anyway...

Here are the top five things that annoyed the crap out of me on my nearly perfect vacation.

5. Poorly executed commercials. While wasting time channel surfing, I saw a commercial for farmersonly.com. It's a dating site for farmers and other rural folks. In it, some talking cows are discussing a poor, single girl who's taking a walk through the cornfield alone again. (Hey, cows. You should stop feeling bad for the single girl. I've got a feeling her future is brighter than yours.) Meanwhile, the screen shows a girl walking through what I'm pretty sure is a wheat field. I don't know for sure, I don't walk through many wheat fields. But I am from Illinois, so I do know a cornfield when I see one. And that was no cornfield. I felt bad for the rural Americans looking for love. If the farmersonly.com folks can't even identify the type of grain the girl is walkin through, I don't have high hopes for their ability to make a rural love connection.

4. App designers not usability testing their work. I had some issues with the Twitter app this past week. You may have heard about that one already though.

3. Noise. You see, when you're trying to unplug and relax, you realize just how damn noisy people can be. Lawnmowers, hammers, garbage trucks, screaming children, iPhones left in neighboring hotel rooms with alarms going off that NEVER TURN OFF for HOURS! Seriously, people, I'm trying to take a 3 pm nap over here. Next vacation I'm heading to Montana. I hear it's quiet there.

2. People who don't realize the difference between being polite and folksy and being rude and condescending. Case in point, when the 50-something TSA agent calls the 80-something woman he's screening "young lady." Dude! Knock that shit off. 80-something is not young unless she's a Redwood, so you're not being cute, you're being patronizing. Cut it out. If you pull that crap with me when I'm 80, I'm going to smack you upside the head with my cane.

1. The baggage claim area. God how I hate the baggage claim area. It could work so nicely. But NOOOOO. Some of you jerks need to stand as close to the belt as is physically possible. Can't stand 2 feet back so that everyone else can see their bags as well. Nope, YOU need to stake out your own personal section of the belt. YOU need to make sure that when your bag arrives, not a second of your precious time is lost due to things like "common courtesy" and "human decency." And once one person steps up, everyone else has to step up, too. Partly because you can no longer see the bags coming because of the jerk standing right next to the belt blocking your view, but also because now everyone is standing next to the belt so if you don't get up there, too, there won't be space for you. And then when you see your bag and try to politely say, "excuse me," people look at you like, "you can't fit in here! Go find your own section of the belt!" I'm here to tell you, you're all freakin' idiots. Back the frock up. If y'all would each take two steps back, there'd be room for everyone and everyone would be able to see all the bags. On this trip, not only did a jerk decide to park himself directly in front me (like literally stood with his back 8 inches in from my nose when there was about 5 feet of open space just 3 feet to my right), he decided to build a 9 suitcase wall in between me and the belt. He's damn lucky my suitcase didn't come before his wife came and whisked their suitcases away or I would have climbed over his suitcase mountain to get through to get my bag. Jerk.

But like I said... Other than that, it was perfect.

(God, aren't you glad you're not my husband.)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Relaxation Vacation

This past week I have been on vacation. My husband was invited to a work event that took place at the Ritz Carlton in Orange County, California. By attending, his airfare, rental car, and lodging would be covered, hence if I could find some decent airfare and someone to watch our kids, it would essentially be a free vacation for me. I, of course, took the opportunity.

On my first day in paradise, I struggled with what my plans for the week were going to be. I knew that I was going to need to do SOME work over the course of the week. But I didn't want to spend so much time working that I felt like I was "wasting" my vacation. However, I'm a little too Type A for my own good and I knew that if I just layed around by the pool I would feel like I was "wasting" my time when I could be DOING something. Ugh. Two things are clear at this point. 1) I need to learn how to relax. REALLY relax. And 2) my constant struggle to find balance has followed me on vacation.

The good news is, this week at least, I found it. I worked a couple hours each morning, but did it primarily from my super-comfy bed with a beautiful breeze coming though the French doors to the balcony and the sound of the ocean waves crashing in the distance. Not bad. I also did my very best to delegate tasks that needed to be accomplished instead of feeling like I had to step in to make sure everything got done. (And of course, the team back home managed just fine without my constant presence.)

But not only did I find the right work balance, this week I also broke free from relaxation guilt. I decided to not feel guilty about relaxing the way that I really wanted to relax. This was harder than it sounds.

We arrived at the resort on Monday, so Tuesday was my first full day to relax. Tuesday morning, after a couple hours of work, I decided to grab my iPad and head down to the pool so I could sit in the shade on a chaise lounge chair and read some new as-yet-undownloaded eBook. Tuesday afternoon I hung out with my husband for a couple hours before we both headed to a work-sponsored dinner. Not a bad day.

Wednesday morning though, was when I made my big decision. I thought about going to the spa or back to the pool or down to the beach. But you know what, those pool chairs weren't nearly as comfy as my bed. And the beach chairs would be the same. I didn't really feel like swimming, and the spa SEEMED good, but I just wasn't really in the mood. (And you don't pay $100+ for a massage unless you actually want one.) The bed I was in was comfy. Like SUPER comfy. And with the doors to the balcony open, there was a beautiful breeze and the constant sound of the ocean, which was awesome. And I finally realized that the spa and the pool and the beach SOUNDED very relaxing, but what I REALLY wanted to do was not have to take a shower, lay in bed, and read. Now normally, this is when a little voice in my head would pester me with thoughts like, "Wow, great use of the resort, with its with great food, a beautiful beach on the Pacific Ocean, a great pool, beautiful views, a spa, great little shops nearby, and so much more, you're going to spend the day doing something you could do at home." But this time, I ignored that voice and, as a result, had a wonderfully relaxing vacation. I did almost nothing the entire time. Slept. Read. OCCASIONALLY showered. Slept and read some more.

Plus, it turns out, that little voice is feakin' stupid. When can I ever spend 5 consecutive days at home just sleeping and reading whenever I feel like it??? (Skipping an occasional daily shower though, that might not be so rare.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How Twitter Mobile is Making Me CRAZY!

I'm on vacation at the moment. It's a kid-free, do absolutely nothing kind of vacaton. I'm really enjoying it. I've pretty much been laying in bed, in a beach chair, or by the pool with my iPad and reading. I've been reading a book that's been on my list for a while. I've been reading blogs that I haven't visited in AGES. I've been checking in on the folks on Twitter and Facebook. It's been great. Until today when Twitter has made me NUTS!

I don't have a million followers on Twitter. I don't even have a thousand. And I follow only about 500 (at the moment). But still, 500, at least for me, is to many to straight up follow without some sort of a system. My system: lists. I just have bunches of lists and I read different ones depending on what I'm in the mood for.

A while back, a new version of the official Twitter app for the iPhone eliminated the ability to update lists, including updating list membership. This blows. I do most of my tweeting from my phone, so eliminating a key piece of my functionality sort of sucks. Especially when the previous version of the app HAD the functionality. So sometimes I follow new peeps, but if they're not in a list, I really won't ever see their tweets. So then I have to remember to periodically login to my computer and put all the new peeps into lists. A major pain in the ass.

Today, I figured that I would outsmart the damn Twitter app and use the browser on my iPad. The iPad has a big enough screen to not be really annoying using the full version of most websites.

I pull out my iPad and go to twitter.com. My first thought: Why does it look just like the app??? Oh! I'm on the mobile site. Ok, where's the link to the full site? I look and look, no link. Anywhere. I type in "www.twitter.com" again like I'm a website idiot (I'm not) just hoping it will take me to the full site, fully knowing it won't. It didn't. I Google it. There's really no way to bypass it without downloading weird apps and other solutions that require WAY too much work. Fine. F*** it. I won't clean up my Twitter lists today, I'll just go back to reading blogs.

I read a few posts and then remember that I follow some folks on Twitter whose blogs I wanted to add to my Reader. Quick stop back at Twitter to get the blog URL's. Not.

First, another damn list problem. I know the three people I want to get URL's from are all in the same list, but there's no way to view list membership from the mobile site. All I can see is their tweets, IF they've tweeted recently. I scroll. And scroll. And scroll. Apparently they're on vacation, too, 'cause no recent tweets.

Fine, I think. I'll just search for them manually. (I know. My life is so hard, but really, this should SO not be necessary.) I can't remember the handle of one person. I know her real name (which is VERY common) and her avi. Neither of those are going to help me. Oh well. Scratch that one. I type in the handle of tweep #2. She comes up. I tap on the little link to "view full profile." No link to her blog! No, not because she didn't list it, it's just not showing! I confirm this by opening my own profile page. No blog link. Oh for the love of God!

I pull out my iPhone, search for the same someone, and go to her profile page. Voila! There it is. So I'm sitting there with my iPhone and my iPad together, searching for tweeps on my phone, and then typing their blog URL's into my iPad.

Seriously, Twitter. I love you, but THIS you've got to fix!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Need a Book

It has been forever since I read a really good fiction book. I love non-fiction and read a lot of it. What's more, my usual subjects are probably what most would consider atypical. I love A.J. Jacobs, Michael Pollan, Bart Ehrman, Steven Levitt, Michael Lewis, and Dan Airley. If you haven't heard of any of these people, I'm not surprised. They're not really household names.

But I've been reading Harry Potter to my son at bedtime and boy has it made me miss a good page-turner. We don't get very far each night, so I always find myself wanting to keep going, even though it is clearly time for him to sleep. I do my Mommy-duty and put the book down, but now I need to find another decent fiction book.

But what??? I have not read either of the two most recent sensations: The Hunger Games and 50 Shades of Grey. I'm just not enthused about kids killing each other. And I'm just passing of 50 Shades. The last good fiction I read was The Help. It was pretty good. And The Kite Runner. Also good. Before that, Angels and Demons and DaVinci Code, but whatever that third one was was not great. Oh, and there was The Red Tent and Replay and Time and Again were good.

Maybe I should just read one of the classics that I never got around to.

Oh I don't know. Come on people. Give me some recommendations.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Shortest blog post ever. Update from the last blog post. Both biopsies came back benign.

Carry on.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Visiting the Other Side

Today, I'm going to take you on a little journey; a journey to the other side. It's a journey I've taken scores of times, so I'll hopefully be a pretty good guide.

The journey to the other side begins with knowledge; knowledge of the impending pinch. It's not terribly painful, you already know this, but it begins the journey regardless. You're instructed to lie down, which of course, you know is wise, but will not alter your travel plans.

"You're going to feel a pinch," you hear.

Then you feel it. Not that bad. Really. Maybe, you think. Maybe I can will myself to stay here.

And then it begins. A slight, almost imperceptible spinning in your head. It is so subtle that you tell yourself that it's not real, it is just your expectation of what would happen and not an actual feeling. Then a more concrete feeling of nausea begins to take hold and you realize that your journey has not been canceled. Your vision changes slightly as the brightest areas of your vision seem to darken into purple. Then, the wave of discomfort, like the worst nausea ever... times ten. Now you try to let go, knowing that it is the only thing that can take this horrible feeling away.

Now, in an instant, you are on the other side. You have no memory of where you were a moment ago. You are someplace else, someplace real. It is not a dream. This world is strange, but real.

And then it starts to fade. You feel yourself being pulled away. You hear voices, but don't know who they are. You feel someone touching your face, hear someone calling your name. You try to make sense of the sensations, try to figure out where you are. Slowly, very slowly, you begin to remember where you are. You realize you've been dreaming. And just as you do when waking from a normal dream, you grasp for the dreams, if only just to remember them. They were so vivid that you want to at least remember them. But unlike your normal dreams, they are gone. You're not even fully conscious yet, but you cannot remember anything about where you thought you were just two seconds earlier, only that they were so vivid that you were certain that they were real.

The dream state fades. The queasiness that started this journey returns, only with greatly reduced intensity than before. You look at the faces around you and wonder how long you were "gone." What felt like 15 minutes was probably seconds.

"Welcome back," they say. "Feeling better?"

Feeling better? Yes. But man, I'd love it if next time I could just pass on this whole experience.


Yesterday I had a suspicious mole on my shoulder and another suspicious "skin thing" near my eye biopsied. Dermatologist wasn't particular worried, but thought we should do the biopsies to be sure, especially on the "eye thing." (He probably used an official term, I wasn't really listening.)

At least since I was 10 years old, probably earlier, I have fainted after nearly every shot I've received. I've also fainted when my cat was in a fight and had a gaping wound in his neck, while reading a book in 6th grade about surgery, while watching a movie in 8th grade where I passed out onto the lap of the boy sitting next to me, and on and on. So when I need to have a needle stuck into me (like when getting an IV before giving birth or getting a biopsy), I pretty much know what's going to happen. I find it humorous how often I still need to convince people that it's going to happen. (I know the TB test won't hurt. Trust me, I'm still going to faint.) I'm 38. I've done this a few times.

But even though I know it's coming, I still hate it. I HATE that HORRIBLE feeling right before it happens. It's really bad. I hate being the high maintenance patient that has to lie down for a simple blood draw. I hate that I feel like an idiot when I come to because I don't really know where I am. I hate that I feel like an idiot when it's really out of my control. I hate that everyone tells me "it's all in my head." Great, and how does that help me? Also, random person on the street, please tell me how much you actually know about vasovagal syncope. I've kind of been dealing with it for three decades.

Yesterday, I hated it so much more. Yesterday, I didn't just faint. I fainted 4 times! I kept waking up, only to feel a bit better and then be completely overcome with the same sensation and go right back out again. When I woke up the fourth time, it was because I was vomiting. Lovely. Also, that's never happened before. Normally, I wake up and am back to normal in about 10 minutes. Yesterday, 30 minutes later I was still sitting in the doctor's office feeling "off." I decided to go home and nap instead of going back to work. Even at 10 pm I still felt not 100%.

Today, I am mostly better. Today, I am hoping that this is all ado over nothing. Biopsy results in 14 days. Again, the doc wasn't terribly concerned, I'm not really concerned, but fingers crossed anyway.