Feb 23, 2010

Be Careful

The fact that most Winter Olympics events are conducted on ice and snow makes them significantly more dangerous than the summer Olympics. Anybody who has ever put on a pair of ice skates or plummeted down the side of a mountain on skis knows that. The unfortunate death of the young Georgian luger just as the games started was grim proof that one wrong move can end in tragedy.

Hearing about his death was sad. Even worse, seeing it after NBC made the bonehead decision to air the crash footage. You have to hope they were just incredibly stupid and insensitive and not motivated by greed. Who didn’t immediately think about his poor family and friends being subjected to seeing that?

This year I have watched each event with a newfound respect for the danger these athletes put themselves in to pursue their dreams. On the night that Lindsey Vonn won her first gold I watched as one after another of the competitors fell and crashed down the hill. Their training must include lessons on how to fall in order to avoid serious injury. They seemed like rag dolls with flailing arms and legs, banging their helmeted heads against the mountain. Yet each time, at the end of their seemingly endless falls, they got up and limped off the mountain with what appeared to be minor injuries.

Speed skating. There's another scary sport. Racing around a track of sheer ice with sharp blades attached to your feet. The short track is even worse with competitors vying for position by nudging, tapping and sometimes just plain pushing each other out of the way.  You may believe that figure skating is not a serious endeavor, but every jump can potentially end with a broken bone or a concussion. Not to mention those breathtaking lifts. Those girls could so easily slip and come crashing down on the ice.  I could go on and on.... ski jumping, snowboarding, bobsled (when did they start calling it bobsleigh?).

Every now and then we get a break from the tension with some of the less dangerous sports. Hockey, which IS dangerous but these guys make it look like child's play. They are used to getting stitched up between periods and then going back out there for more punishment. Curling isn't very dangerous, unless you happen to drop one of the stones on your foot. Cross country skiing is also a relatively safe choice. Except for the event where they strap rifles to their backs and head off to shoot at targets.

I wish all the competitors luck. But most of all I hope the remainder of the games are safe and nobody else gets hurt.

Feb 18, 2010

Skin deep

During the middle of the day dermatology offices are filled with very old people with band-aids on their faces, hiding what one can only assume are the wounds from having some growth removed. They wait patiently and watch Ellen on the TV in the corner.

Scattered in among them is a smattering of middle aged women. They are visiting for their latest BOTOX treatment or maybe for a prescription to grow thicker and fuller eyelashes or some other vanity inspired consult.  That is a wild ass assumption that I base on the following observations:

a) how they were dressed,
b) how they appeared to be more impatient than worried and
c) how uncomfortable they were sitting in the waiting room with the band-aid senior league. I think the seniors reminded them that they are waging a losing battle against the ravages of time.

I don’t like Doctors in general. Few of them have good people skills and they usually have some sort of God complex going on. It was my first time to this office. Alarms went off as soon as I noticed the large number of support staff in the office area. There had to to be about 10 of them for a three doctor practice. They were all female, thin and attractive.  Each one of them was wearing white from head to toe, as if the colorful medical garb you routinely see had been banned. I think they were going for a sterile, professional look. It was actually just creepy, sort of like a medical harem or an army of Stepford-like automatons.

What was I doing there? Well, you get a few suspicious moles you think maybe you should go see the Doctor. You know, catching it early and such. Turns out my “moles” are nothing to worry about. The one on my breastbone is an ugly, white cyst and having it removed will create a scar 3x bigger. I will have to live with it.

Cyst is an ugly word.  I'm toying with the idea of painting it with an iris, pupil and some lashes to look like a third eye on my chest, just to freak people out. The mole on my left shoulder blade that occasionally gets all dry and itchy (very un-mole like in my opinion, moles should just sit there and behave) is also nothing to worry about according to the Doctor.

The actual time spent with the Doctor and his PA was brief and insulting. He looked like Max Headroom with horned rim glasses. They both acted as if I was a nitwit for wanting to have my "obviously OK" moles checked out.

In a very condescending tone.... "Well moles get dry and itchy like any other part of the skin. Do you moisturize your back?" Um no, I can't reach my back, do I look like a contortionist?  And my husband has better things to do than to slather me with moisturinzing lotion.

"Well, just keep an eye on it and come back if it changes. Do you have somebody to check it for you?" This was said in a sort of pitying way. I think the wedding ring I don't wear made them think I was some sort of sad, lonely spinster with nobody to assess her moles. What would they have said if I had said no? Suggest I get one of those dogs that can sniff out cancer?

To solidify my dislike for this Doctor, as I was walking out I passed by him flirting with a Pharmaceutical Sales Twit. She was blond and giggly. Informing him in a very suggestive voice that she had a "surprise" for him. I made a hasty retreat before I could hear his response. It was like watching soft porn. 

Feb 16, 2010

Why does your suitcase smell like fish?

I am not allowed to get sick this year. I have scheduled all my vacation days for the year and am left with one and a half days to be used for sick time, doggy emergencies, flooding basements, etc. All my doctor, dentist and beautician appointments will be scheduled for late afternoon or weekend.

The holidays will break up the tedium of working and waiting for vacation. We are currently in the middle of the longest Holiday dry spell of the year… MLKJ Day to Good Friday is a long ten weeks. After that the holidays average about one every 7 weeks or so. You can tell I've analyzed this way too much.

In May the husband and I will be spending five days in Las Vegas. We are sharing a suite at the Mirage with some friends who really know how to have a good time. I am predicting that my first day back to work after this trip will be rough but well worth it. Maybe I will hit the big jackpot out there and then I won't even have to come back.

In August we will be traveling to Germany and Norway for two weeks. Code name - Operation Fjord. I made a promise to my Mom as she went into surgery this past year that if she made it we would all go to Norway. You can’t break “Near Death Bed” promises, so off we go to what is one of the most expensive countries in Europe.

I got a really good deal on our tickets. To get this great price we will have a 10 hour layover in Iceland both there and back, but that’s worth $500 a person in my book. With the money I saved I may be able to purchase each of us a Norwegian sweater, if I shop carefully. I have been doing some souvenir research and those sweaters may as well be knitted with Jason's mythical golden fleece.

Other possible souvenirs include:

A troll. Norway is famous for its trolls.  Not sure why, but I hope to learn when I'm there.

Horned Viking helmets. I will probably mount one on the wall next to the sombrero we got in Cozumel and create a sort of "Hats of the World" display.  

Smoked Salmon - You can't bring meat back but you can bring back all the smoked fish you can carry. 

Funky brown Norwegian cheese - It's called Brunost and looks very unappetizing but is very affordable.  Cheese all around.

Finally I have to stop at the Oslo Hardrock Cafe to add to my shotglass collection.   At this point in the trip I will probably be ready for some good old American, artery clogging, fried food so I will be able to kill two birds with one stone.

So I will be taking all the necessary precautions.  I will drink lots of OJ and carry hand sanitizer with me wherever I go.  I will also be leaving any room occupied by anybody with an obvious contagious ailment.  Nothing personal.

Feb 9, 2010

The "S" stands for Safety Girl

An old friend from elementary school days reminded me about something that I had totally forgotten.  When I was in the fifth or sixth grade I applied to be a safety boy.  I think I was the first girl to do it.  A girl standing guard at the crosswalks was unheard of back then.  But the time was ripe for a gender revolution among the ranks of the Tinkham Elementary Safeties.  Bras were being burned.  Bacon was being earned and fried up in a pan.

They let us join and gave us our orange patrol belts.   Those belts, for the record, are the stupidest contraptions.   Difficult to put on and adjust.  A vest would have been much more practical and visible.  I got the post at the street right in front of the school.

This friend seems to have romanticized it a bit.  She used the word "advocated".  I'm sure I didn't advocate anything back in those days.  Except maybe for twinkies in my lunch bag.  It was really just my desire to spend a few extra minutes every day away from the classroom. 

They had to start calling us safety patrols after that instead of safety boys.

Feb 6, 2010

Cheaters Never Win - Except in FB Scrabble

I've about had it with all the Facebook Scrabble cheats out there.  How do I know they're cheating?  Piroque.... that's how I know.  That happens to be a canoe made from a hollowed out log.  Never heard it before?  Me either.  Oh and neither has Merriam-Webster, Dictionary.com or Encarta.  Yet I'm supposed to believe that my FB Scrabble opponent not only knew this word but also knew exactly where to place it on the board for like a gazillion points.

I'm not a sore loser, well actually I am, but that's beside the point.  How can it be satisfying to win at Scrabble when all you did was plop your letters into a cheat program that spit the solution out for you?  You didn't beat your opponent, your computer did.

Here's a list of some pretty obscure words played in my scrabble games.  Notice the q's, j's and x's.  Those are the moneymaker letters.  Play those right and you can crush your opponent.  I have written these words  down and if given the chance I will play them.

narial, skirr, quadriga, quipu, jarrah, xylem, xyloid, macron

I've done some research on Scrabble cheating.  I've discovered quite a few sites that could be very helpful during my next tough match.  Now comes the internal struggle of whether to join their ranks or continue to get my ass handed to me over and over again by these blatant cheaters.

Maybe I just suck...  that could be a possibility.  Nah.

PS - Add "thinclads" to the list..  just got played by my opponent.  Arrrrgghhhh.