Friday, February 29, 2008

Titan Update

He's good to go! Parasite search results were negative, and as of this morning, he's finally pooping normally. That dog has a stomach of steel. (This is the dog who happily eats chocolate with no problems.)

The parasite test for $50 was TOTALLY worth it, though. I felt much better about the whole situation once I knew that a) he was clean, and b) I had thrown some money at the problem. Such is the weirdtastic nature of the human mind.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

On Waiting It Out

WARNING: Post of a graphic nature follows.

Saturday: Titan gets into the trash. He eats about fifteen teabags and two ounces of brie, still in the wrapper.

Sunday: LT, Robb, Titan, and myself go to the dog park. He spends a great deal of time in the water.

Monday: Uneventful.

Tuesday: I awake to A LOT of vomit on my throw rug, both solid and liquid. I take him for his walk, and turns out he has the runs. I assume he has a stomach bug, which he's had before, and withhold breakfast.

Tuesday Lunch: No vomit! Yay!

Tuesday Afternoon: Vomit. Dammit. And he still has the runs.

I clean everything up and put my throw rug in the washer. I call the vet's office. "Well, sounds like he could have an obstruction, which could potentially be life-threatening," says the cheerful woman on the phone. "You can either bring him in here for a drop-in, or you can take to the emergency vet hospital."

I dither.

I call the emergency hospital. "Sounds like he should be looked at. Bring him in. That will $95 for the exam, $50 for the blood work, and $150 for the x-rays."

I dither some more.

The thing is, Titan has had stomach bugs before--not this bad, but they have happened. I normally withhold food for 24 hours and then start feeding him small meals of chicken and rice, easy to digest food, and pretty soon he's back to normal. Titan does not like the vet and I hate to take him someplace and pay them $300 for them to tell me that he has a stomach bug, most likely the case. We wait it out at home on Tuesday evening, me stressing out and calling the LT, who forces me to lay out my options. I decide I am definitely not going to the vet's when Titan almost pulls the leash out of my hand chasing after a cat. Clearly he's fine.

Wednesday: Eats breakfast of rice. No vomiting! Still has the runs. Dammit.

Call the vet's office again. They recommend me coming in to drop off a stool sample, but say he's probably fine for another day. He's drinking water and not vomiting, so whatever it is, it's not a stomach bug but he's not over it. Humph.

This Morning: Drop off sample at the vet's, still dithering. Vet technician calms me down: "If it was an obstruction, it would have already gotten way more complicated by now, even though this is the dog that ate all those teabags and wrapped cheese." Titan is famous! For his stupidity, sadly. Vet goes on: "Has he been at a dog park or in the water recently?" Yes and yes. "It's probably [some parasite that I can't pronounce], it's prevalent around other dogs and especially prevalent around water. A test should prove it."

Well, okay! Awesome!

This afternoon, Titan is still fine, relatively, and enjoying his diet of rice. (People food! Hooray!) Could I have rushed off to the emergency hospital? Yes. Can I afford it? Technically yes. Did I think it was worth it? No. He wasn't throwing up water, a sign of extreme dehydration, and he wasn't lethargic, a sign of a real obstruction. Was I needlessly stressed out? Yes. Was $300 too steep a price to pay for peace of mind. Again, yes.

Before you get all animal-rights on me, keep in mind that I put off going to my OWN doctor to have my arm looked at for at least a month, and a year and a half ago when I had terrible bronchitis, I ALSO put off going to the doctor for at least three weeks, getting so bad that the doctors thought I might have whooping cough and two friendships ended.

A lot of other posts on this topic:

Frugal Homemaker Plus talks about her $1000 rabbit.

Ada Calhoun at Salon talks about her $1300 cat.

Emily Yoffe's How to Say No to Your Vet piece that started it all.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday: YAWN.

LT's friend Robb (yes, with two B's) came into town this weekend to enjoy some Pacific Northwest skiing, and then almost punched both LT and myself as we blithely complained about the snow quality in front of a man who lives in a paved-over swamp. (D.C., not New Orleans.) Seeing his irritation at us taking the snow and mountain ranges that we enjoy for granted, I re-thought my feelings on the East Coast. I've always missed it and wanted to move back, at some point, but the reality of "NO MOUNTAINS" hadn't really occurred to me. Ouch. How could I live in a city with no skiing?

In other news, I have eaten nothing but crap for about a week. In Norfolk, having eaten mainly vegetables for three days, trying to get rid of all my fresh stuff, I looked in the mirror and thought, "Hey...pretty foxy." This morning I looked in the mirror and thought, "What the HELL happened to my skin??"

This just in: eating crap? Not good for you! Who knew??

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

From Zero to JAPAN!

7:00 am: Receive yearly bonus.
7:15 am: Pay off ENTIRE AMERICAN EXPRESS BILL! I am credit-card debt free! Hooray!
12:30 pm: Buy ticket to Japan.
12:31 pm: No longer credit-card-debt free.

If anyone needs information about buying tickets to Japan, definitely call me, because I have done about 86 million hours of research and obsessing, and I have learned about everything there is to know.

1. The cheap tickets (for 864 or whatever) on are a sham. When you go to the site to book the ticket, there's an error message saying they're no longer available. I don't think it's meant to be a sham, but what I've discovered about trying to book tickets to Asia is that some prices are listed with tax and fuel surcharges and some aren't. I think it's a mistake of the code or something.

2. DEFINITELY spend a month or so, if you can, watching ticket prices on various search engines. It'll give you a good idea of what a low price is for the time of year you're traveling. For example, flights to Japan fluctuate DRAMATICALLY between winter and spring; I found tickets for as cheap as 479...if I wanted to go in February.

3. Check out AND Kayak for international flights. Especially Fare Compare will give you excellent history of pricing so you can see a whole year's pricing at once. FareCompare is how I learned that Japan is so cheap in winter months.

4. Query the hive mind: check Metafilter. I really need to buy a membership to this site, it's awesome.

5. I eventually found my ticket on GatewayLAX, although I also looked at IACE. I paid $925 for a round-trip from Seattle, non-stop, and I think that's a pretty good price for non-stop Japan in May!

So, yes! Had a zero American Express balance today for about five hours! Have bought a Japan ticket! Woo!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Running in Norfolk

Not quite the same as Walking in Memphis, I guess.

I got one of those emails on Monday of last week that read, "How soon can you be in Norfolk?"

I said, out loud at my desk, "WHAT?"

So near the end of last week I packed up all my stuff, flew to Norfolk, gave someone else's presentation--more difficult than it sounds, my boss has a totally different style than I do--and worried a lot about the time change. I don't sleep well in hotel beds and my insomnia flares up dramatically when I switch time zones, and to make matters worse, I was flying a red-eye out there. And so I made sure to bring my shoes and my sports bra and my iPod and some running gear. I touched down about 10 am, completely disoriented and with no clue what day it was, and I had to be at a presentation dry-run at 2 pm. I tried to answer some email and gave up after I couldn't figure out where to place my fingers on the keys. I thought about taking a nap, but wasn't sure I'd wake up and didn't want to ruin the possibility of me sleeping later, so I strapped on my running shoes and took off.

It worked. I saw another runner, way faster than I was, and he nodded at me just like I was a real runner instead of a fake one that had only been running for a month. It was a gorgeous day in Norfolk, sunny and bright, although cold. I'm just now at the stage where I'm running for all twenty minutes. I'll do this for a week and then try to add time. My goal is three miles, five times a week.

In the mornings.

Yes, you read that right. I keep thinking that I should be exercising in the morning--that way I won't have to do it at night. The only problem is, I SUCK at mornings and I think it will take longer, because I'll have to spend more warmup time. At night I won't need as much warm up time, and as an added bonus, it won't be morning. Which sucks on general principles. (Side note: the last time I had a gym habit, I went at night and it didn't seem to bother me. I'm not sure why this seems so different--maybe because I have more going on at night now, between tutoring and happy hour plans. (Hey, gotta make time for the happy hour!)

Anyway, for right now I'll keep running in the evenings and see how it goes. And last night I couldn't find my earbuds--I think I left them with T-Town--and I went running ANYWAY. WITHOUT MY IPOD. I can't believe it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

2008 Resolutions: Hey, They Still Apply in February, Right?

So, I am very late. But this gives time for resolutions to sink in, right? To be considered? Surely it's better this way? It's not?

Oh well. I seem to have a lot fewer resolutions this year than last year,
when I had a whopping 27. A lot of them were about saving money and eating less, and I did, um, NEITHER of those things. In fact, I'm sort of beginning to think that 2007 was a complete failure on many fronts. I blame it on the weather.

But it does not matter! 2008 is a whole new year!

2008 Resolutions:

1. Wean myself off of iTunes and their ridiculous copyright protected mp4 teasing. Resolve to use Amazon for all mp3 buying instead. Also refrain from using iTunes to burn CDs; investigate Nero instead. LT has complained about getting burned CDs with no way to play them on his computer or, indeed, see what song is playing.

2. Brush teeth and wash face every day! (Getting better at this.) (Um, sort of.)

3. Eat vegetable dish every day, either raw or cooked. Eat fruit at breakfast meal, again either raw or cooked. Include vegetable and fruit side dish with lunch every day, either raw or cooked. Now that I CAN eat meat and cheese that's all I'm eating. But it's important to note that a lot of vegans don't eat anything besides peanut butter and pasta. Forcing yourself to not eat meat or cheese does not mean that you will naturally eat vegetables instead. Trust me on this one.

4. Buy digital scale. (Done!)

5. Rearrange kitchen. The arrival of my new dishwasher changed the landscape a lot, and now I apparently have EVERY appliance I own sitting out on my rather limited counter space. This must change.

6. Limit self to five crackers with spread/cheese before meals. And when I wasn't eating cheese this was tahini. I have a tendency, laid in by long years of watching my parents and grandparents indulge in a few slices of cheese on crackers before dinner, and maybe a handful of nuts, to munch on something yummy before dinner. As I am from a completely different generation and have zero self-control, this becomes ten crackers with thick slices of cheese, several forkfuls of tahini, and maybe a few scoops of nutella. You know what I should be eating before dinner? Salad. A serving of spinach has 35 calories in it. Ten slices of cheese, several forkfuls of tahini and a few scoops of nutella has about 870 calories. No. Joke.

7. Only eat four meals a day. So that I can't eat crackers and cheese and call it a meal.

8. Stick to The Budget. Because travel to Japan, Pittsburgh, L.A., and NYC is not cheap!

9. Finish novel. Self-explanatory.

10. Pay Off Car. This is a big one, but possible, assuming I spend barely anything on shoes/books/makeup/non-essentials for 2008, I could theoretically do this. And of course, assuming that I stay on a very cheap grocery budget and barely drive anywhere.

11. Sweep and mop apartment weekly.

12. Keep running three times a week. Eventually bump up to 30 minutes or three miles, whichever comes first.

13. Do more yoga.

14. Investigate weight lifting. (Side goal: increase upper body strength to more than that of a common house fly.)

15. Truly try to use up everything in your house this year before you buy new. Especially true with grocery shopping, obviously.

And...Things I DID Do in 2007:

1. Resolved to drink more water...and did so!
2. Resolved to detox more...and did so! (At the end of the year.)
3. Resolved to try mineral makeup...and did so! I use Everyday Minerals, for those who care, and really like it.
4. Resolved to listen to the stations 98.1, 103.7, and KEXP more...and did so!
5. Resolved to use the library...and did so!
6. Resolved to see more NEW movies and read more NEW books instead of reading and watching the things I already know...and halfway achieved this.
7. Resolved to take my grandmother to see the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit...and did so!
8. Resolved to buy USED books and media, not new, and not be sucked in by Amazon's free shipping...and did so!
9. Resolved to attach monetary value to everything I own...and...sort of did so.

Things I DIDN'T Do:

Um, a lot. I bought fancy coffee during the week, I completely went haywire with my grocery shopping, I sent a few more thank you notes but not a lot, I packed my lunch and breakfast some days but not much, I did not listen to more live music and I never made it to Central Cinema. I did not clean out my magazine stash and craft supply box. I hardly ever shopped on Member Days at Madison Market and completely failed at creating a stranglehold on my finances. I didn't take a business class OR learn a language.

But that's fine! More to do this year!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Anger vs. Annoyance

It's important to understand the difference between these two things. For example, I'm ANGRY that today, in the cafeteria, two old men were staring at me, mouths open, as I ladled some oatmeal into my bowl. And then they tried to talk to me. I'm not a morning person and I really have a prejudice against men with gray hair who haven't shaved in several days staring at me and thinking that they have the right to talk to me. I'm angry that men, as a species, look in a mirror on such a day and think, "Not bad. I can get a chick under 30." And a thirty-year-old woman looks in the mirror after working out for months and watching what she eats and being ashamed of herself, and thinking she only deserves a fifty year old man with a beer gut who hasn't shaved for several days. I don't know why this makes me angry, this huge self-esteem gap, and what's more, I know it's not the fault of the male half of the species. And I ALSO know that cutting a man down when he tries to talk to me, blowing him off just because I can, won't increase my own self esteem or the collective self esteem of the female half of the species, so I might as well smile and be nice. (I was, in case you were wondering.)

On the other hand, I'm ANNOYED that these "rebate" checks that everyone is making such a big deal of are actually just advances on next year's tax refunds. The only difference is, if you invested said $600 at some reasonable interest, you'll make money, whereas if the government held onto it all year you'd be lending them money without interest. But how many Americans are going to invest said $600?

In other news, I rearranged my kitchen and am NOT going to the Barack Obama rally today, although I thought about it. Tomorrow I'm going skiing (duh) and Sunday I'll be sleeping and tutoring. And if anyone has a little time today, definitely check out this site:

Two of my favorite videos below:

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Service and Skiing

C's mother's service happened, and my flute playing apparently went off well. I got to see a lot of people that I hadn't seen in awhile, good even though it was such a sad occasion, and of course I hugged C a lot and got to meet Josie. The LT and I arrived super early so I could rehearse with the other two musicians, and we had about half an hour to kill in between rehearsal and the service so I took him on a trip down memory lane, to the Thriftway. For those who don't know, my high school and the church I grew up in are within about two blocks from each other, and I was just lucky enough that they're both gorgeous buildings and Tacoma landmarks. Later on, I also lived in an apartment building in that same neighborhood for about a year and a half, and therefore, I spent A LOT of time at that Thriftway and the related espresso stand, as a teenager and as an adult, getting coffee before church and getting coffee between classes (completely illegal), buying snacks before swim practice and shopping for actual groceries later on. The LT and I got coffee (fancy coffee for me) and jo-jos, and I took the jo-jos with me back into the church, and immediately C and her sister CJ said, "Ooooooh! Jo-jos!" and helped themselves, which was perfect. They were a very big part of all three of our childhoods. (Don't know what jo-jos are? They're potato wedges.)

After this, the LT and I managed to get a few chores done before heading out to dinner, with the plan to have a few drinks afterwards, and then practically falling asleep in our dishes and skipping the drinks part. Just as well, as getting up at 6:30 the next morning to go skiing was difficult enough.

Fortunately, skiing (at Crystal) turned out to be AWESOME, a really fantastic day; powder two feet deep, great steeps, great tree-skiing conditions. My legs today: so sore to straighten out that I think my legs fused into a permanently bent position. Today is a running day and I'm having a hard time convincing myself it will be in my best interest. Yoga sounds more likely. Okay, drinking hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps seems ACTUALLY more likely.