Wednesday, August 27, 2003

I think it's fair to say that I am not well known for my athletic prowess or statuesque physique. However, after seeing this photo I am officially declaring that I am in better shape than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Just don't tell him I said so.


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Tuesday, August 26, 2003


I've been living in L.A. far too long. I'm chatting online with someone from New York, and we just had an earthquake. I tell him "Earthquake!... I'm guessing it's a 3.8". I checked a website, and sure enough the magnitude of the quake was 3.8!

When I first moved out here, I didn't understand how people could guess the magnitude of an earthquake. But now, the student has become the master.


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Monday, August 25, 2003

The Amazing Spolier


Last week was the finale of The Amazing Race 4. There are a lot of fun reality shows out there, but when it comes to finales nobody comes close to the excitement of The Amazing Race. Every season there is a Hero Team and a Villian Team who wind up running neck-and-neck to the finish line. They finish within minutes or even seconds of eachother. It's a slick, well-polished show which is a whole-lotta fun.

This year's villians were John & Kelly who just yelled and screamed at eachother, and rather cruelly made fun of the other teams. They were particularly mean to the unlikely heroes Reichen & Chip, a married gay couple. John and Kelly had no problem making fun of their masculinity to their faces in public. Boo! Hiss!

I TiVoed the finale so I was not watching it live. At 8:57, my friend "Trevor" called (not his real name to protect his identity.) He asks "are you crying?" I didn't know what he meant, but I knew it had something to do with the show. I assumed he was saying that the villians won, which probaly would make me cry. I started screaming into the phone "DON'T-TELL-ME-ANYTHING-I-HAVEN'T-SEEN-IT-YET!" He tries to rationalize himself to me, saying "I can't spoil anything because I don't know anything. 'Kam' was watching. I don't know who these people are, all I saw was ---"

I went ballistic, and my mouth could not keep up with my brain. I don't know what language I was speaking, but it wasn't english. "DON'TSAYANYTHING! NOTAWORD! STOP! YOU'LLSLIPUPANDSAYHEORSHEBYMISTAKEANDGIVEITAWAY!" Since there was only one girl left in the race, an innocent use of the word "she" could spoil everything. Yet Trevor persisted: "I'm not going to spoil anything, I'm just saying it looked anti-climactic to me."

That did it, the show was ruined.

By hearing that the ending was anti-climactic, I knew it was not going to be a close race. So once Reichen and Chip left the airport first on the final leg of the race, I knew they would win. And they did. In other seasons, the teams would jockey for position and take the lead from eachother, which made the finales very climactic. But that didn't happen here.

Trevor says that he didn't spoil anything. His argument is that he only meant that the interviews and the crying at the end was anti-climactic, not the race itself. My argument is that he's an idiot. It's a race: all the drama and excitement comes BEFORE someone crosses the finish line. You don't determine whether or not a race is anti-climatic by what happens after it's over. Trevor says it's merely a coincidence that he used the word "anti-climatic" to describe the ending and that the race itself wasn't close. That's like saying it's merely a coincidence that I was standing in front of the gun when you fired it. The end result is the same: I knew who would win 20 minutes before it was over.

It's a sled, he's a she, he's his father, he's dead.


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Sunday, August 17, 2003

Vacation to North Carolina

I'm hurtling through the sky at 33,000 feet. I must say that the 12" PowerBook is great for using in-flight. It fits nicely on the tray table with room to spare and I am enjoying watching other people struggle to work on their 30 pound Windows laptops.

While at the gate, I smelled fuel. Made me nervous of course, but the Pilot explained what was going on. It seems that they couldn't get one of the engines started so they had to bring over a special truck to get it started. Yes, they had to jump-start the plane which didn't exactly fill me with confidence.

6:35pm, Atlanta airport: I survived the first leg. My 5:45 connecting flight is sitting at the gate. I can see the plane. But for some reason they can't find fuel for it. Maybe it has an even-numbered license plate and this is an "odd-only" gas day. Every 10 minutes, they push back the departure time another 10 minutes so we're never given to the chance to take a 30 minute break and leave the concourse. On another note, I think one of the worst jobs in the world must be driving those little electric carts through an airport. It's really annoying to hear one go by, but imagine what it must be like to have to sit in the chair and listen to the BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! for hours at a time? I'm sure the drivers must still hear the beeping when they drive home from work and even when they try to fall asleep.

Originally I was assigned a seat in the emergency exit row, but FAA regulations require all passengers in that row to be able to lift and twist a 60 pound emergency door, assist other passengers, and juggle 2 eggs and a bowling ball. I decided to recuse myself of these obligations and switched with another passenger. I am now released from any and all obligations regarding the lives of anyone else on board and will be free to claw and trample my way to freedom if necessary.

Oh, the Humidity Ladies and Gentlemen!
I took a small commuter flight from Atlanta to Myrtle Beach and we had to walk on the runway to get into the terminal. I took about 3 steps off the plane when I started feelings my lungs struggle to take in the moisture-saturated air. I'm ready to go home.

I'm staying in a beach house, and it is oh-so-very East Coast. (That's a good thing.) It is "on the beach", but in east coast terms that means there is the house, then a small yard, then a huge sand dune with a long wooden bridge which takes you to the actual ocean. In my Jersey mindset, it's the dune that makes the difference between going to "the beach" and going to "the shore". We explore the tidal pools every day and have found dozens of hermit crabs, "real" crabs about a foot-across and even a dead stingray.

Oddly, the house has almost as much turbulence as the planes did. There is a constant strong wind blowing in from the water. In typical east-coast fashion, the house is built on stilts; you park your car underneath and then there are two floors above that. You can feel the house swaying in the wind. It's 51% cool and 49% unnerving.

Thursday: Boy, am I a mess. I can't lay on my back because that stretches my surgery incision and that's still a bit painful. I can't lay on my back, because I got a bad sunburn. And yesterday I smashed my knee against the corner of the bed and can hardly bend it. It is pathetic to watch me walk: I am partially hunched over because of the surgery, I have to keep my shoulders perfectly still to prevent my shirt from rubbing against the sunburn, and I can only hobble on one leg. The best way I can describe it is that I look like Quasimodo riding a unicycle.

Saturday: Going home
On our final descent into Atlanta, the woman across the aisle from me started puking. It is a pretty disgusting experience to hear the gagging sound followed by the flowing of chunky stomach juices spurting into a plastic bag. I did everything I could to make sure I didn't breathe through my nose so that I wouldn't have to smell it as well. I had visions of the "barf-o-rama" scene in Stand By Me where a vomit chain-reaction wipes out a pie-eating contest, I could totally see that happening on an airplane.

On the terror front, I screwed up my flight reservations. I didn't bother to look closely at the airplanes I'd be on. Let me start by giving a quick lesson about the airline industry, which I learned from reading the oh-so-informative in-flight magazine. There are two basic business models for airlines: Point-to-Point and Hub-and-Spoke. Traditionally, the large airlines offered point-to-point service (meaning direct flights) between large, distant cities (Los Angeles and Chicago). Smaller airlines offered regional service to connect to smaller, closer cities. (Los Angeles & Las Vegas). But this made it difficult to find a major airline that would go cross-country to a smaller city.

So the large airlines made partnerships with smaller airlines, Delta takes people in a nice big sturdy plane from Los Angeles to Atlanta, and then Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) puts people in a tin can to carry them during the one-hour flight to Myrtle Beach. ASA uses something called a CRJ-700 (CRJ=Cramped Rinky Jet) which is one of the most chlostrophobic planes I've ever been on, and I'm including prop planes. It holds about 50 people. I'm only 5'9, and I could feel my hair scraping the ceiling as I went down the aisle. For a 40-minute flight, I can handle it. It's a necessary evil which I don't like, but I accept.

Today I flew a cramped, vomit-filled CRJ-700 on a 40 minute flight to Atlanta. Then I had a full but roomy 737 take me to Dallas on a 2-hour flight. Now I'm on a 3-hour flight back to L.A. You would think the longest leg would have the biggest plane, right? Wrong. They're flying us on the CRJ-700 again. Why is Delta using their REGIONAL planes on a 3-hour flight?! It's driving me crazy. I REALLY want to get off.

90 minutes into the flight, here's something you don't want to see happen: we run into some sudden and fairly bad turbulence. Shaking, rattling, and loud gasps from the passengers. About 60 seconds later, the pilot comes out of the cockpit, and the flight attendant takes his place, (there was still a co-pilot up front). The pilot needs to use the little wingman's room. Couldn't he have gone before we left? Shouldn't he hold it in until he's sure we're clear of the turbulence? And whatever happened to the post 9/11 policy of keeping the cockpit secure? I swear to you, while he was relieving himself we were losing altitude. Not much, but I could tell we were descending slightly. After he finished and got back up front, I noticed that we leveled off.

Flying is not good for me.


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Friday, August 08, 2003

I'm heading to North Carolina tomorrow to stay in a beach house while the shore is expected to get hit with thunderstorms all week long. Wonderful. I'm not feeling much pain any more, but I still have a problem with headaches and light-headedness, so I'm a little worried about sitting on planes all day long. As if hurtling at 500mph 30,000 feet in the air isn't enough to worry about. I actually feel similar to the way I felt the night before my surgery. I hate flying.


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Thursday, August 07, 2003

Ode to a dear friend

V is for the victory you have over pain
I is for my incision you masked with disdain.
C is the calming effect you have on my nerves
O is your oval shape with such beautiful curves.
D is for drowsiness which helps me to sleep
I is for instantly helping my sanity keep.
N is for narcotic, a reputation unfair
Vicodin! Vicodin! you really do care.


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Sunday, August 03, 2003

Big Day Out

I made a bold move and wandered into town on my own today. There is a bus stop 2 blocks from home and I can take a bus which drops me off 2 blocks from Circuit City. It's usually a pretty easy way to get around town. By the time I was done shopping, I was pretty much physically exhausted so I started walking back to the bus stop. After about a block, I was basically taking tiny baby steps and I was feeling pressure on my scar. It was getting harder and harder to walk, so I wandered into (horrors!) a book store and had to sit down on the floor for a while to regain my strength.

After a while I continued my voyage. It was a slow and steady walk, but mostly painless. I saw the bus driving up to the stop, so I picked up the pace a bit and the driver waited a few extra seconds for me to get there. As soon as he drove off, he took a turn and started driving back the way I came - I got on the wrong bus. I immediately told the driver, but thanks to the strict "no unscheduled stops" policy, I was driven 3 blocks away from where I needed to be and had to make the journey all over again. Ugh.


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TV Land just aired the pilot episode of the sit-com Wings. Wasn't every episode of Wings a pilot episode?


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Saturday, August 02, 2003

Kim and Travis came over today to go swimming. I popped my Vicodin before they arrived, and once I got into the water I was swimming and stretching and doing flips in the water and everything was great. I laid out in the sun for a while, then rolled over (have to be careful not to burn, ya know) and YEEEE-OOOOWWWWWW!!! I hit or stretched something and got whallopped with the worst pain I've felt in a week. I keep getting these painful reminders that maybe I'm not as recovered as I think I am.

The medical tape is starting to fall off (which I'm told is OK) and I'm starting to get a better view of the scar. I saw my first glimpse of an actual stitch today, and I don't understand it. There is a 1-inch piece of string sticking out of my skin, but it doesn't seem to go anywhere. My concept of stitches is that they go in-and-out, in-and-out, and that's how they keep the skin held together. So I guess these are internal stitches? Is that possible? I don't understand how the doctor could have sewed me up that way, and now I'm starting to worry about how he's gonna remove it. From what I can see, the only way he can take out the stitches would be to grab hold of the one end and start pulling. Ouch. I get chills just thinking about it. That will be Monday's adventure.


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Last night I dreamt I went back to work after my surgery and collapsed in the 5th floor elevator lobby. (Which is the floor that has the President's office, so if you're going to collapse you'd really much rather do it elsewhere.) Drug-induced hallucination or premonition? Maybe I should stay home a little longer.


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Friday, August 01, 2003

Screw it. I'm back on the pill.

After my call to the doctor's office, I had some sort of strange panic attack where I was just running around the condo shaking. I guess I'm not quite ready to enter the post-drug phase of recovery. I'm getting a refill tomorrow and will be back to the 4-pills-a-day cycle for a while.

Remember kids, Drugs are your friends. Just say Yes.


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