Friday, May 30, 2008

Haiku Friday 5/30/08

Haiku Friday

A whole room so full
of people wearing dark clothes
and grim expressions...

...seemed strong foundation
to uphold this young widow
and her two babies.

He'd protected her,
kept his promise if she came
to take care of her.

Abandoned by death,
left in her husband's country:
so o-v-e-r-w-h-e-l-m-i-n-g.

English is easy
if you grew up speaking it;
Otherwise? It's tough!

But she's so tough, too.
Mama Bear protects her cubs,
in any culture.

She needed a job.
Went to school, all in English.
I was *so* impressed.

The oldest was four
the day daddy met angels;
she remembers him.

Her best memories
are going fishing with dad
four summers ago.

It's summer again,
and she would love nothing more
than to go fishing.

My friend works so hard,
but she is no fisherman.
She predicted this.

She asked me that day
when all were gathered in grief
to translate for her.

Back when people ask'd:
"what can we do to help you?"
She had an answer.

Her straight up response
because she could see this day:
"Take my kids fishing."

Some things are dad stuff.
She's got the mom stuff handled.
It's hard to be both.

Her oldest just asked
to go fishing this summer.
My heart broke in two.

Where'd everyone go?
His friends who knew how to fish?
Remember? Time's now.

While we all move on
she feels his loss everyday.
Husband. Dad. Still. Gone.

I thought we'd do more.
Collectively, sad to say,
I feel like we failed.

A whole room so full
of people wearing dark clothes
and grim expressions...

...seemed strong foundation
to uphold this young widow...
(Maybe I was wrong)


It's Day 3-4-8.
My lost friend inspires me still
to keep not smoking.

Also, I will be entering this haiku in the Haiku Buckaroo III Contest. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursday Thirteen 5/29/2008 19th Edition

I have an email address (the one I don't share with y'all, not that it would matter) that is a magnet for spam. It would almost be like having (um, sorry, Bob) in terms of getting on every spam list that's automatically generated because they know some schmuck has to belong to it. I literally get hundreds of spam (spams plural?) a day. Here's a random sampling. I'd already deleted most of them in my daily ritual (why question what rituals bring me joy and deep meaning?), so I'm not promising the best ones, just some ones. 13 ones, actually.
13 Recent Spam Email Subjects
(with surprisingly brief commentary)
  1. Break the language barrier in only 10 days (wow, the fast track to world peace and cultural understanding through more effective communication, who knew?)
  2. Make Instant Cash by Selling Your Scrap Gold & Jewelry! (been wondering what to do with all my crap, I mean scrap crap)
  3. Your gift. (thanks, shouldn't have and wish you hadn't, but wait right there while I get yours)
  4. Pharmacy Tech training near you. Find out more (no, then I'd get qualified and have to go to work twice as often)
  5. BE OUR GUEST FOR 3 DAYS AND 2 NIGHTS IN COSTA RICA !!! (I would, but I'm afraid of ALL CAPS)
  6. Asbestos Alert! You may be entitled to millions (awesome, sure hope asbestos got me, sorta)
  7. Fw:Your gas debit card (I have one, and it's being sucked dry)
  8. Were Hiring, Start T oday-29 May 2008 13:01:49 -0400 (so very sorry I missed the opportunity - wrong place, wrong exact time down to the second, bummer)
  9. It is all safe and natural (sounds like it)
  10. Find out the best enhancement solution (all problems can be solved on the InterWebz)
  11. $REPSBJ (gibberish much?)
  12. Of as commonplace (have another beer)
  13. Gain a huge cannon for love (um, don't shoot, shoot, shoot that thing at me? - thanks! needed my Femmes fix more than I knew!)(I feel I should warn anyone not familiar with this masterpiece called Add it Up by Violent Femmes - that someone so fabulously added to YouTube for moments just like this when I need to hear it, God bless modern technology - that there is some minor f-boming, so, you know, it's probably not a song to teach your toddler to sing. Your business, though, just saying.). (For sing-a-long purposes, here are the lyrics at a place without spammy popups.)(You are most welcome.)

Today is smoke-free day 347. I'm happy about that.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Do Be Careful on Chantix - Part Four, Pilots and Drivers Edition

Today is Smoke-free Day 345, and while I have had excellent success on Chantix, it's probably time once again for another installment of Do Be Careful on Chantix. This will be Part Four. Part One is: here, Part Two is: here, and Part Three is: here. It kind of boggles my mind and also sort of saddens me to hear that for some the Chantix experience of quitting smoking seems to be an entirely different experience from my own and from so many of my fellow Chantix bloggers, many of whom are also approaching a year quit.

My experience on Chantix and my journey not smoking since Chantix is all over this blog, which is searchable, by the way, up there at the top, if you are looking for something in particular, but in a nutshell (because nutshells are my favorite) I had a little gas (OK, honestly, kind of a lot of gas, sometimes at embarrassing times), nausea that came and went but could mostly be kept at bay with timing of dosing, crazy dreams the first several weeks but otherwise just less of a desire to smoke, just as the drug was intended. I've said it was not a magic miracle wonder drug pill that made quitting entirely easy, but it did make my experience far easier than the other numerous times I'd quit cold turkey or with the patch or gum, etc. I remain grateful every single day that it worked for me when I was only lukewarm about giving it a try, even if it did require my full cooperation, energy, attention and effort in conjunction with the drug once it started working enough that I was actually sure I was ready to quit, which for me was on Chantix Day 13 because, like plenty of people, I wasn't ready on Day 8 (a topic that sometimes gets me all in a lather and makes me feel like writing open letters to doctors because I'm apparently that easily excitable).

Apparently not everyone has the same kind of relatively smooth (still difficult, but without any super scary side effects) Chantix ride as I and lots of others like my fellow Chantix bloggers have had. Enough so that last Wednesday, May 21st, the FAA announced it is banning use of Chantix by both pilots and air traffic controllers. Wow. I mean, I get it that these are the folks that you definitely want to have alert and without any goofy side effects going on, but I was still sort of surprised, again just because I personally (yes, I know that's not everybody, just explaining my own surprise at the news) never had any issue on Chantix that prevented me from activities like driving (not that I was operating heavy machinery or flying planes, but that was for other reasons like not knowing how).

Here is a snippet from the article linked above (and here):

The report, from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, points out hundreds of serious problems reported since the popular drug was approved in May 2006, including dizziness, loss of consciousness, seizures, and abnormal spasms and movements.

"We have immediate safety concerns about the use of varenicline (Chantix) among persons operating aircraft, trains, buses and other vehicles, or in other settings where a lapse in alertness or motor control could lead to massive, serious injury," the researchers said in the report.

FAA spokesman Les Dorr said the Chantix ban is effective immediately and that the agency was notifying unions representing pilots and controllers. He said the FAA is unaware of any aviation accident caused or contributed to by Chantix.

Of course, Pfizer points out in this Wall Street Journal Health Blog article how rare complications on Chantix are considering the number of people who've taken it:
Pfizer told the WSJ the Institute’s findings are consistent with the drug’s label, which lists many of the events cited in the Institute’s report as “infrequent” or “rare,” and aren’t unusual given that more than five million Americans have taken the medicine.
There is also an article on WebMD mentioning the number of pilots and air traffic controllers known to have been taking Chantix as well as similar possible restrictions for truck drivers and bus drivers. In general, this article gives a nice overview of the situation as it has unfolded to this point. Here are some snippets:
The quit-smoking drug Chantix is being grounded for pilots and air traffic controllers, and Chantix use may be reason for medical examiners to disqualify interstate truckers and bus drivers.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ruled on Wednesday that "Chantix was no longer acceptable for use by pilots and controllers," FAA spokesperson Les Dorr tells WebMD. And the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration -- the branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation that oversees trucking and busing -- has told medical advisors that Chantix use could put the brakes on an interstate truck or bus driver's medical fitness for duty.
And this (timing probably kind of sucks if you are a few weeks into being quit by using Chantix, and suddenly have to stop taking it and also miss 3 days of work):
The FAA knows of about 150 pilots and 30 air traffic controllers taking Chantix or have taken the drug in the past, notes Dorr, adding that the FAA told pilots and air traffic controllers to stop taking Chantix and to wait 72 hours before going back to work or flying.
And this (on the second page of the article):

The FMCSA hasn't banned Chantix for truckers or bus drivers. In a statement emailed to WebMD, the FMCSA says it defers to doctors and health care professionals to determine drivers' medical fitness for duty, including the possible impact of medication use.

FMCSA regulations don't single out medications. But the FMCSA states that "it appears that medical examiners should not certify a driver taking Chantix because the medication may adversely affect the driver's ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle."

I am not a medical doctor or in charge of safety regulations at any level; I'm just someone who found much success quitting smoking using Chantix, and it makes me wonder if these restrictions are entirely necessary or if they are going kind of overboard. I'm being a weenie and not weighing in either way, really, because it's obvious that if certain people suddenly experienced the kinds of issues mentioned while in the middle of doing their jobs it could be disastrous, but are these complications any more common than someone having a heart attack or stroke or some other suddenly debilitating issue while working in these kinds of jobs? I don't know the answer. I'd be curious to know.

Meanwhile, I feel bad that some who might be able to benefit from Chantix now possibly can't because of occupation, but I do get it that if it is true that these issues are happening due to Chantix that safety is important enough to do or say something. My question is how much and whether or not this is too much. I'd like to think that people would pay careful attention to how their bodies react to Chantix before participating in something like flying a plane and that people would also continue to pay close attention to anything that doesn't seem quite right while on any medication taken under the care of a real live medical doctor. I hope that anyone wanting to quit smoking finds whatever method works best to turn the hope into reality because it's worth it. For me, that method was Chantix. For others it might have to be something else.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Weekly Winners Sunday 5/25/08

Weekly Winners, hosted by Lotus.

Click for larger images (because they do look better full-sized) or take a peek at the entire album at once and/or watch as a slideshow at this link.

Eating Well (click titles for links to recipes)

Weight Watchers General Tso's Chicken with Vegetable Fried Brown Rice (I used white rice, and see my review at link if you attempt this)

Lebanese Lentil Salad (yes, I've done this before) stuffed in a whole wheat pita



Dramatic Overkill

After the layoffs, my job changed a little, and I was literally given this pair of rubber gloves that I haven't worn, but I do keep the germ-X handy. Oh, and it's a desk job. Whatev.



Bordering on Mundane









Garden Variety Roadside Beauty


Seen While Buzzing About Town on Foot (yes, bees)



More Buzzing, More Me Being Bold (or Dumb)







Saturday, May 24, 2008

Emily Gould - Exposed - Blog-Post Confidential

(Looking for my haiku? Click: here)

Driving back from the nasty pizza buffet today (needed a pizza fix on my free day but didn't want leftovers to linger beyond the free day and back onto my, um, backside - so I took my chances, and so far, so good), I caught the tail end on NPR (my dear friend J would be so pleased to know sometimes I listen, but shh, don't tell him - ruins my gun-toter-like mystique) of this interview with Emily Gould talking about blogging both personally and then with Gawker. I hadn't heard of her (I live under a rock, perhaps), but I was fascinated with just the bits I heard when she talked about blogging and "oversharing" and being too public online. If you knew me in real life, you would know that I way overshare a lot - getting better, but wow, I've created a lot of uncomfortable atmosphere situations. Eek.

Of course I had to find out more when I was within access to the InterWebz (while not at work just a couple hours before a long weekend, of course).

Emily has a cover story article in the upcoming New York Times Magazine (or here if, like me, you like it all on one page instead of a bunch) this Sunday, May 25, 2008, but it's already online, and even if it's pretty long, it was a really interesting read. I struggle sometimes with how much to share here where it's so public and in some ways potentially so permanent, and her experience reminds me why it's good to debate with myself and probably not ever hit "publish" on some of the posts I've written, still just sitting in the hopper. Her journey turned into something much more high profile than this humble blog, but I could relate to so much of what she said about blogging itself, in particular about how blogging and stalking your comments section and stats and ranking and blah, blah, blah (she didn't mention all of those, but same basic idea) can almost be like a drug in some aspects.

Anyway, as much as I don't love to talk about blogging while I'm, erm, blogging, because I find it weird and usually pretty boring, I found it interesting enough to share this, and I am curious what others think. So, grab a big cup of coffee (or a gin and tonic - it's Friday night after all), and go read: this, and then come back and tell me what you think. Or be totally fickle and don't comment, and I'll pretend not to care.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hai (Thank) Ku (You) Friday 5/23/08

Haiku Friday

Memorial Day
is a day I remember
and pause for a bit.

Sure, I love hot dogs,
juicy burgers on the grill,
summer season firsts.

Is there any doubt
that I welcome a day off,
a little me time?

I'm not a shopper,
but if I were, I'd rejoice
everything's on sale.

All of the above
seem American to me,
the way we live life.

Freedom isn't free.
How very true those words are.
I'll never forget.

I keep this in mind
while I relax and enjoy,
and I do give thanks.

To all the families
left behind by our bravest,
my heart's gratitude.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thursday Thirteen 5/22/08 - 18th Edition

The Last 13 Outgoing Text Messages on My Phone
(as of Wednesday afternoon)

All of these were to Tom, who many of you know has been in Tulsa since the end of February, so we send text messages quite a bit. I don't know how people managed this kind of long distance thing before the advent of unlimited calling, texting and emailing, and I doubt it left as much room to be as completely random and nutty as I am (poor bastards totally missed out). Anyway, here's what I sent, as is, most recent first, sometimes in response to something and sometimes because the spirit moved me to say something daffy like I used to do to Tom in person (though his reaction was half the fun - so I just imagine the awkward cringing "what is wrong with this damaged chick?" smile).

(Secretly? Just between me and the Interwebs? Tom loves it!)
  1. It was nice. Now you are away. At least I still smell the odor from here.
  2. You did good. Kisses!
  3. I glanced. Going this weekend?
  4. No. I'm sweet, so dessert, last.
  5. I wish you were here. I'd cook you on the grill for the holiday.
  6. Fish in the morning. I really miss you.
  7. Snores loud. Disrupts the Wifes.
  8. Of.
  9. Still awake?
  10. I love you :)
  11. Sorry I missed the call of the Fish.
  12. Maybe. Contingent on if she went in the box or not.
  13. I will withhold songs about peeps and poops.
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 337 - Reflection

Today is smoke-free day 337. I don't remember the exact date around this time last year that my dear friend J told me about his success quitting smoking with Chantix or the date I called to get an appointment, but I know at this point the appointment had already been made and set for June 1, 2007 at 1:30PM (took a few weeks to get the appointment, and that I remember because I was annoyed), and the beginning of the end of a lifetime of addiction to smoking (because it's not just the addiction to nicotine that's so tough) was in progress.

This time last year, I was a smoker. I paid more money than makes any goddamn sense to put my body and my health at risk to feed my addiction that I'd equated in my heart to being a best friend instead of the worst enemy I knew in my head it really was. I'd cut back to roughly 3/4 of a pack a day after some years (mostly my years in Japan) of closer to 2 packs a day. I was killing myself and wanted to stop but knew from previous experience that it was a harder battle than what I had the energy to fight. I had a phone call in to a new doctor's office near my new home where I'd just moved weeks before, and I had a thimble full of hope with a healthy dose of skeptical.

Approaching a year quit within less than a month now, I'm thinking more again about the process and the milestones, so I'll probably be doing some reflecting because that's how I am. I totally understand that for some it works best to quit smoking and then also to quit thinking about it. I've said 8 million times (give or take) that anyone quitting smoking brings into any experience the individual and unique person that he or she is, so it only makes sense that we will each approach and experience this journey differently, each walking our own paths, and each one as right as rain for the person whose path it is to walk. As long as we all get where we are trying to be, it doesn't matter what the paths are paved with or how funky they might look to others.

For me? I ain't done talking about this yet. Each day that I post something here and mention how many days it's been, I am reminded and inspired to go for another day, like a daily affirmation or some other happy hippie shit. As long as that's the case, I'll continue to do so. Perhaps it's nothing more than a silly superstition like lucky green socks, but it's been working.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekly Winners Sunday 5/18/08

Weekly Winners because Lotus is awesome.

Click for larger images (because they do look better full-sized) or take a peek at the entire album at once and/or watch as a slideshow at this link.

OK, first, before I get on with pictures from this week, I need to set something right. Apparently I confused some folks last week when I posted this picture saying "Cheap Gas":
I didn't post the ones that went with it, but if I had, it probably would have made it more clear that I was joking and that this is a gas station that has been closed for a long time, as in at least since whenever it was that gas was actually $1.75/gallon.

These are the two you didn't see that kind of round out the scene for better clarity:

Now onto this week where it went from highs in the 50's on Monday to 90's by Friday. I do not have air conditioning. Just saying.

Suddenly Summer


What I Ate When It Was Too Hot
To Cook

Lemony Black-Eyed Pea and Cilantro Salad (go eat this today, right now, really, you must!)
Maggie's Stuffed Tomato (yes, my own recipe, which is rare)Cottage Cheese. Peaches. Together. I'd link to a recipe, but it's that easy.




Hotin theKitty





It's gonna be 90 what??

I'll surely (and cutely) melt (your heart).


GettingToo HotTo Focus




Smart Kitty Trading Up from Floor to a Window Seat in the Welcome Evening Breeze

How I Escaped the Heat
My already jacked up ankle didn't do so well with all that...
...excessive shopping in the air conditioned Target to escape the heat.
But ankle/foot pain was totally worth it because of my awesome shopping finds, one of which is this:

A cutesy ice cube tray filled with coffee leads to cutesy coffee ice...
...and cutesy coffee ice is the perfect thing to add to an iced coffee on a hot day. (To make: I just brew strong coffee, pour over plenty of ice, and then add either a flavored creamer or milk with a simple syrup - adding "coffee ice" keeps the coffee flavor strong all the way to the bottom and looks totally hot, or, um, totally cool).