DRAFT TODAY, POST TOMORROW: Some posts may be in draft status until I (aka procrastinator extraordinaire) get around to posting them.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Dryer!

My dryer stopped heating recently and since it is gas, it was likely to be expensive to fix. So we bought a new one, nothing fancy, just to replace the one we had, which was a Whirlpool we bought when we moved in about 12 years ago. Still, gas appliances cost more, so it was not an expense I wanted. Even worse, we bought the washing machine at the same time, so when is it going to go? Anyway, I'm trying to catch up on the laundry that piled up. I generally run a load almost every night so that I don't spend all weekend doing laundry. I'm almost caught up! I love my new dryer.

No more Betaseron!

I have enough injections to get to next Wednesday, so it's time to reorder. I called Dr. Gitt to find out if I need to or if I can discontinue and he said I do NOT have to reorder. That is most excellent news! I guess I do have to continue till it's gone, but I can probably get by with all tummy shots which are the easiest. I'm crossing my fingers and toes that I get drawn for the trial drug.

World Book (and Copyright) Day

After hearing all the Earth Day hoopla yesterday, have you heard that today is World Book and Copyright Day?

"By celebrating this Day throughout the world, UNESCO seeks to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright.

23 April: a symbolic date for world literature for on this date and in the same year of 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors such as Maurice Druon, K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mej?a Vallejo. It was a natural choice for UNESCO's General Conference to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity.

The idea for this celebration originated in Catalonia where on 23 April, Saint George's Day, a rose is traditionally given as a gift for each book sold. The success of the World Book and Copyright Day will depend primarily on the support received from all parties concerned (authors, publishers, teachers, librarians, public and private institutions, humanitarian NGOs and the mass media), who have been mobilized in each country by UNESCO National Commissions, UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations, Associated Schools and Libraries, and by all those who feel motivated to work together in this world celebration of books and authors."

For more information see:
(Some of it is in French.)

Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Drug Trial Screening

I had my drug trial screening today to determine if I can be in the trial. It was four hours of poking and prodding and walking and tests. They took 6 vials of my blood, and a little urine too. They have to make sure I'm not pregnant even though I had a tubal ligation done when I started on Provigil.

The tests were interesting, to document cognitive abilities. I had to put pegs in holes and take them back out, both right and left handed. I had to do a numbers test (did good!) where you add the new number to the previous number that was said. Harder than it sounds. I still have to get my brain MRI (with and without contrast dye) and then we'll see.

When we went through all the disclosures, the interesting items were that they have to keep the trial group and the control group as similar as possible, so everyone goes through steroid treatment (reduces side effects in the trial drug and may have some MS treatment benefits) and herpes treatment (many people with MS have some version of herpes virus even if they don't know it; the treatment can cause an outbreak.)

Dr. M was interested in the obvious difference in my left and right sides. My left leg and foot are quite a bit more weak than the right. It's not obvious in my daily use, but it was in the test. I know that since I shattered my left femur in 1993 and the muscle atrophied due to the knee and back injury I was recovering from at the time, I have struggled with this. In addition, I think all of my MS numbness attacks have started on the left side, and the ones that were only on one side were only left sided. They're just documenting my current status so that any progress or decline during the trial can be seen.

Earth Day: Kids, You're killing Spongebob!

In honor of Earth Day, Lewis Black talks about the propaganda for kids. Kids are so worried about saving the earth and have been so indoctrinated, it is really sad. We should all do what we can to make a difference, but kids should be able to have a childhood without some of these worries. And I blame the animal rights people for a lot of it. They've been in schools for a long time telling kids how to make a difference--among other things, by being vegan. That is not going to save the earth; eating meat is the cycle of life. Americans eat too much meat and are too far removed from the source of their food but the vegan lifestyle is not for everyone and should not be introduced to young kids in school. Anyway, enjoy (after the commercial)....

I think Earth Day is a crock. What are people doing today that they shouldn't be doing every day? Reducing consumption one day when you're going to make up for it tomorrow is NOT making a difference. Finding a real, ongoing way to make a difference, makes a difference. Educating people on taking their grocery bags (or boxes) and using a cup or reusable water bottle rather than drinking bottles of water--these are things that make a difference.

Last year, I started a recycling program at my office and recruited a couple of people to help with it when the volume (success!) was too much for my residential recycling bin. I also campaigned to eliminate bottled water as a drinking choice for employees in the office. It is still available to clients, but employees have both reverse osmosis and filtered water from the refrigerator ice maker, so there is no reason for us to use bottled water. In addition, I keep a box in the garage and the closet for recycling to Goodwill. Are there more things I can do? Well, I will when I can, but the nearest grocery store is more than a five mile round trip, so I am not biking to pick up milk in Phoenix! However, I do plan my errands to limit the amount of driving I have to do overall.

Happy Earth Day--EVERYDAY!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Eat This, Not That! and grocery shopping

I read through ETNT, the restaurant version last year and recently picked up the supermarket version. It was interesting to read and pick through what I eat and don't eat, and what Mike eats and doesn't eat. More of his stuff was on the Not that side. Not everything I eat was in there. And I don't agree with all of their picks or that it will help you lose weight. However, I think the point is to make better choices, which is what I am trying to do. I can't go to a very restrictive diet and stay true to it, so I am educating myself. They have an email newsletter that I signed up for last month and some of the items have been different from the book, so I think that is worthwhile. (Not the premium, paid edition.) I have been making a list of items to check out based on the book and emails. Some are good choices or have led me to additional items; some are not good choices for me.

This weekend, I cleaned out my pantry and refrigerator. (Didn't get to the freezer--a little scared of it, there's a lot of Costco/Sam's food.) Here are my criteria for now: No MSG, no High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), and no aspartame/Splenda/Nutrasweet. Do you know how hard this is?! In addition, I am trying to watch sodium, use wheat over white, and watch sugar. When possible/reasonable, I am purchasing organic.

In addition, I shopped at all the stores to see what is where. In the past month, I've been to Albertsons, Safeway, Frys, Bashas, Fresh and Easy, Trader Joes, Sprouts, and Whole Foods. Albertson's is one of my favorites because they don't require a card, have good deals and consistent prices, I can bag my own groceries without any limits, and carry a good selection of products. In particular, I purchase Smart Chicken, Shamrock 1% Organic Milk (local!), and Hickman's local eggs, although I may try another brand with Omega3.

Safeway has a good selection of organics, but does not carry Shamrock. I tried their delivery, which is inexpensive and convenient, but they use plastic bags, when they could use boxes or crates (with deposit?). Their self checkout has an item limit--boo!

Fry's produce and meat selection sucks. Half of the items I wanted from their ad, I couldn't find. They did have the Nature's Own Bread; I will have to see who else carries it. Their double/triple coupons doesn't make up for the horrible selection and shopping experience.

Bashas has good produce and a good selection of healthy items. I have had some trouble finding things; I'm not sure if their layout is weird or they don't have things. It seems hit and miss, but not bad. There is no self checkout.

Fresh and Easy is a store I really like because the size is small and the layout is great. I can browse and read labels and still be out in less than an hour since they have their brand and maybe one national brand. The produce is the first aisle and is labeled with where everything comes from. The downside is that there is excess packaging and you can't buy just one of most items. They have the best price on the veggie lasagna I eat for lunch sometimes. And their organic green ice tea (in the milk/juice case) is the best. They sell the Earth Balance organic butter, really good fig newtons, and banana gelato.

Trader Joes is always packed, seems so busy and crowded! I think they have good stuff, but it's hard to shop there. I just go to pick up a couple things like vitamins, but I'll look at produce and yogurt while I'm there.

Sprouts has a lot of good items but I am still trying to find what I like there, so I am glad it is so small! I have found a lot of good items recently that were not more expensive than the traditional grocery stores. They sell Cascade Fresh non-fat yogurt and Organic Valley 1% Chocolate Milk. I recently found a brand (thanks to ETNT!) called July something or something July for cookies that are YUM! I will have to watch my budget here but think this will be a regular stop for me.

Whole Foods is not convenient for me and I found it to be expensive. I stopped by hoping to pick up spinach for salad and couldn't find it! However, they had a lot of good items and that was the first place I found Annie's Whole Wheat Shells and Cheese, which tastes just like Velveeta Shells and Cheese. If they were close to my office (they used to be but closed), I could see going for a healthy lunch, although plenty is NOT healthy. I did like their packaged baby carrots also.

Costco and Sams are sporadically offering items that I wish were regularly available. Organic frozen blueberries, organic presliced apple slices, Yoplait smoothies (frozen berry mix), Amy's frozen lunch entrees, and Skinny Cows--keep 'em coming!

It is such a struggle, but I feel I owe it to myself to eat healthy. Mike is not too happy about the changes but I'm really trying to accomodate him where I can. There is so much information and it is contradictory and I don't always buy in, so this is going to be a long road!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Crucial Conversations (Kerry Patterson)

I listened to Crucial Conversations for my office book club. It had interesting examples that were worthwhile but the book could have been half the length for the same message. It seemed to have a lot of repetition. Someone in the club felt the last part was too much of a recap, but that's where I thought there were some interesting examples. They made you think about times you might be in a situation and could handle it differently. It would be worthwhile to read if you find you are having the same arguments (conversation?) over and over or having conflict with a particular person. You cannot change the person, only your reaction to them.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kachina Kennel Club AKC Agility Trial

Cassi and I had so much fun this weekend. At this AKC trial, we were able to run Jumpers with Weaves, FAST, and Standard courses on Saturday and again on Sunday. Cassi got two FAST qualifying scores and a JWW Q. FAST required 50 points so she just barely got the second Q. She would have had another JWW but she went under the hoop (tire) jump and everyone laughed. There were a lot of spectators, and once Cassi hears laughter, she thinks it's great and does it again. Class clown! So we'll be working this summer on the hoop and the teeter, which she is still doing super slow. She was really listening to me, so I was extremely happy with the weekend.

All are Novice A 24" Jump Height
4/4 FAST Score 59 Time 30.66
4/4 JWW Score 100 Time 25.64
4/5 FAST Score 50 Time 24.54