Sunday, January 31, 2010

"They like us! They really like us!"

Tonight was the annual Theater Roundtable Awards in Central Ohio, where the best theater of the past year is recognized. Parade won two big awards: best musical ensemble, and outstanding production. The show also garnered best actors for: Jon Schelb (Leo Frank), Liz Wheeler (as his wife, Lucille), and Drew Eberly (as Britt Craig, the muckracking reporter for the Atlanta Georgian.) And Frank, our great director, received a Best Direction award. All in all, that's SIX awards!
Go team! It  was a great production and I'm glad it's getting recognition.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Culture Cat: CSO's "Oz with Orchestra"

Tonight the CSO, as part of their Pops series, combined two of my favorite things: Music and movies. And not just any music and movies--the score to my favorite movie of all time--The Wizard of Oz. 
Here's how it worked--the movie was shown on a large screen suspended from the stage. The dialogue track was kept in, but the music track was removed, so the orchestra could provide it live. And instead of just playing the original score, music that was written for the movie, but eventually excised, was also included. (I caught this in three places: When the Wicked Witch of the West first appears; when the Witch appears after "If I Only Had A Heart", and after Dorothy melts the Witch)
The pops series, in general, has a more populist appeal, and this concert brought out lots of families. I saw a girl dressed in head-to-toe Dorothy costume during the interval, and I also saw kids as young as 14 months old! I think events like this are perfect ways to introduce kids to orchestra--they're seeing something with which they're familiar, and even the music is familiar, but it's played by real people, right in front of them!
The orchestra was conducted by Maestro Constantine Kitsopolos, who has directed orchestral, classical, Broadway and national theater. He was a perfect fit for this event and did a great job at the helm. His experience in theater was greatly useful here since there were times the orchestra wasn't playing, and the cues were more musical theater like (as in, enter when someone says this line), as opposed to the scriptedness of a symphony. 
Even though I have been watching this movie for 27 1/2 years (really, I have been watching it since I was about a year old, Remind me to write about that sometime.), I picked up a lot of musical nuance by watching. The low strings--cello and double bass--have a lot to do, with some beautiful melody lines. The harp and timpani have an absolute ball. I bet the timpanist was thrilled to have so much to do. There was also a piano. The brass also had big parts. These are things you don't really notice when you're just listening, but if you're watching it's pretty apparent. Another difference was the use of violins instead of fiddles in certain areas (like when Dorothy leaves Munchkinland), which gave the sound a different texture. 
This was a one -night only event, but if you ever get the chance to see and hear this sort of thing, go! Take your kids. There was an intermission (right after they reach the Emerald City gates, but before they go in), so there was bathroom/snack break (the Ohio Theater sells refreshments at intermission). 
I had a great time, and I think the audience and the orchestra did, too. Some of the instrumentalists smiled or laughed at certain parts, even while they were playing. And the pathos of hearing "Over the Rainbow" with a real orchestra is pretty incredible. It doesn't matter how many times you've heard the song (and you've probably heard it many, many times): with real instruments backing up Judy Garland, the effect is goose-bump inducing; an excellent way to spend a Saturday night. 
The next two CSO concerts are classical ones; the Pops series resumes in late February with an appearance by the Chieftains at Veterans Memorial. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bionic Ear 101: Hearing aids and the CI

Me and Suze at the pool in Houston. You can see the CI dangling under my left ear. 

Regular blog readers are familiar with my bionic ear (AKA, cochlear implant). I've had it for almost four years now. I'm sure that lots of people who had never heard of CIs before they met me are learning that there is a difference between a traditional hearing aid (or "listening device") and a CI. But for the record I'd like to list some of them here, so that if you ever do meet me (or someone else) with either one, you'll know what's going on.

First, I wasn't born Deaf. I lost my hearing due to a group of drugs that I took as part of my CF treatment plan, and then, post transplant, to fight a nasty infection I contracted in winter 2006-2007. These were intravenous treatments. I started noticing hearing loss in college, and, as we increased the doses of these meds, the hearing loss also increased. But, at the time, the choice was hear or die. So I chose to not hear so well and still be alive.

I received hearing aids in 2005, post-transplant, but the quality was never very great. I had behind-the-ear models, which allow for the most sound magnification. I had them in both ears.

Hearing aids amplify sound. That's it. In my case, the inner ear cells had been destroyed, so amplifying the sound didn't really help. I still had problems making out certain sounds, hearing in noisy environments, etc. So we began the CI process once it was determined that my hearing loss was profound enough to merit CI usage.

Since I was "post-lingual" (Meaning I knew how to talk and knew what normal speech sounded like) and had only had severe hearing loss for a short amount of time, I wouldn't need therapy post surgery. Some people do.

The most immediate difference between a CI and a hearing aid is that a CI is implanted--part of it is permanent--while a hearing aid is not. A CI is two pieces--the external processor (what you see in the picture) and an internal part. The two parts are attached via magnet (it's hidden under my hair, but you can see it on boys).

(In this pic-the outside part. The girl can hide it under her hair.) 

The interior part is a little tricky to understand:

That is what's in my head. The "tail" part is wound into the cochlea (hence, the name), which, (briefly) is a set of 22 electrodes that transmit sound information to my brain. Essentially, the old ear structure is bypassed, and I am deaf (for all intents and purposes) in my left ear without the CI. This is one reason I was resistant to getting the implant--I didn't want to lose whatever real residual hearing I had left, because no matter how great the CI, it's never as good as natural hearing. 

So, that's what the implant looks like, and that's how it works. You can see the difference between a traditional hearing aid and a CI in quality--one just amplifies sound, the other helps you understand it. It also has several different channels for music, loud situations, etc. I can plug my iPod into it (There's a special adapter cord. It sort of rocks my world.). 

A CI is great--but it's only as great as you make it. You have to train yourself to set the sensitivity (how much the mic picks up incidentially) and the program that's best for you. When I first got it, I went back to my audiologist at different intervals to have the electrode settings adjusted. Now I have a program that is usually used for music, but I use it all the time, because I get a richer sound.  You will do better if you experiment with programs and tell your audiologist what you are hearing, and what you'd LIKE to be hearing. And the younger you are, and the more "verbal" you were before, the better. I was a musician before--I'm a musician after. My ears were SO important to me. And now, I work hard at bringing myself up to "normal" standards. I've found the CI pitches me sharp, which is very rare in the vocal world--most people are flat, if they're having pitch problems. I have to listen even more carefully than the average singer. Instrumental music I've never heard before is very difficult for me--it just sounds like noise at first. Vocal music isn't so hard, but I have a hard time discerning words if I don't have liner notes to work with as well. (So people--give me liner notes!) 

CIs are also somewhat better on the phone, because the CI mic is directed at the phone. I have a special program (called telecoil) that I use when I'm on the phone. I have to push a button to activate it, so that's why it takes me slightly longer to pick up! My cell phone is compatible with both hearing aids AND CIs--not all are. The same is true for landlines. My phone at work has a special component that helps with the sound quality. 

I do not have bilaterial CIs.  My right ear has about 20% natural hearing, and I'm glad it does, so that when my CI battery goes dead, or it's out when I'm in the pool, shower, or sleeping, I can still hear things, and discern some voices. I can sleep with the CI in, but you DO need to charge the battery every so often! They are good for about 18 hours at a go. I have two. There is a fifteen minute warning "beep" that tells you to change the battery before it goes dead. 

So this is probably more than you ever wanted to know about hearing aids and CIs, but I think it's an important thing to cover. CIs are becoming more common, and people need to know how they work. 

I DO know ASL, but that was a complete fluke--I added it as an elective in high school for two years. I'm fairly good at signing, and will use it when I have to. My little sister also took an ASL course, and my ENT knows some sign. So also take ASL courses, if you can! It's so useful. 

If you have any additional questions, post them in the com box and I'll answer them (If I can). 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


This speech is ridiculous. That is all.
Highly partisan, more like a campaign speech that a stateman's address.
Pot shots at the GOP, SCOTUS, the last president...real nice.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Audition: Titanic

So tonight were the auditions for Phoenix Theater for Children's Titanic benefit concert.
Having seen the show when I was 17, and immediately fallen in love, this was a night I was really excited about. So excited I even forgot it was Monday!
I got there early, around 6:30, when my audition was set for 7:15. Kristin, the Parade music director, was there, acting as accompanist, so that was great. Of course, on the way I'd listened to the soundtrack, and "Lady's Maid", the Three Kate's piece, ended as I pulled in. Since I wanted to play Kate McGowan, I took this as a good sign.
My two pieces were ready to go. Robin had given me some good intro tips, which helped enormously. Tonight was the only audition night, and there looked to be 25-30 people on the audition list.  There were two girls about my age, two men about my age, and an older woman (maybe 60?) when I was there.
I was called in around 7:05. I showed Kristin my cuts, gave her my tempos, and introduced myself. I did "The Gentleman Is a Dope" first, then went to "As If We Never Said Good-bye."
If felt fantastic. Kristin and I work well together (at least I think so!) and the whole time the directors were smiling and looked really happy. They had great respnses and I fed off that.
When I finished the ballad, the direcotr closed his eyes and went "Ahhhh. How lovely."
(Yeah, I felt like doing a little jig right there.)
We talked for a bit--he asked me about my availability, how I'd heard about auditions, etc.--and I mentioned I'd seen the show when I was in high school (on Broadway). The other director scribbled that down on my sheet. Actually, he was scribbling a lot of things, and I had to fight the temptation to go, "Can I see that?" I was asked about Parade, said it was a great show.
I should find out by the end of the week (hopefully before voice on Thursday), and am way excited to hear.
Either way, it felt GREAT. I left singing "Doing the Latest Rag."

New technology

I normally like new technology. I love iPods, macs, etc. I haven't gotten on the Blu-Ray bandwagon yet because of two things: The player price, and the fact that I have lots of DVDs.
Cell phones are an area where I am technologically WAY behind. I've had my old cell phone since 2006. That's like eons in cell phone-ese.
Today, I finally got a new one. This one is much easier to text and surf web with, as well as sort contacts and even listen to voice mail. I love it.
Welcome to the new decade, says my phone.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook--January 24, 2010

Outside My Window::
Dark, raining, but snow is gone!

I am wearing ::

A J. Jill camisole, Life is Good shorts
I am Thankful For::
A nice weekend
I am Reading:
Traveling with Pomegranates

From the Kitchen::
Just made these muffins--very good. Other things this week: a chocolate pound cake, chicken  piccata, and a new pasta recipe.
I am Thinking:
That I am ready for this week
I am Creating::
My memoir. It's 100 pages now!
On my iPod::
Titanic soundtrack (broadway show)
Towards Rhythm and Beauty:
I vacuumed, unclogged the shower, and did a bunch of dishwasher loads. The place looks pretty good.
To Live the Liturgy:
Liturgy of the Hours, in the first Ordinary Time book. Back to green vestments.
I am Hoping and Praying:
For a good audition tomorrow.
Around the House:
Always--the kitchen table. 
One of My Favorite Things:
A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week:
Monday: Audition
Tuesday: Governor's State of the State
Th: Voice
Saturday: Symphony Concert

   A Picture Thought  I'm Sharing:

For my cousin, Kelly, who has never seen this movie in its entirety. Shocking. 


So, the Titanic auditions are tomorrow. My numbers are:
Ballad--"As If We Never Said Goodbye" from Sunset Boulevard.
Up-Tempo--"The Gentleman Is a Dope" from Allegro (yes, some R&H. One of the very few R&Hs I like.)
Each audition is 5 minutes long, so I'm not sure what we're going to do after I sing 32 measures. Guess I'll find out!

Sunday baking: Giada's Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomato Corn Muffins

My brother got me Giada's Kitchen for Christmas. This is the first recipe I've made from the book. So in his honor, these are "Bryan's Sunday Muffins". 

 Bryan's Sunday Muffins
2 (8.5 oz.) package corn muffin mix, such as Jiffy
2/3 c. diced sun-dried tomatoes (from an 8-oz. jar)
2 c. frozen corn kernels, thawed
3 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 c. buttermilk (1 c. milk + 1 tbsp. white vinegar)
2/3 c. sour cream
2 large eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375. Insert paper liners in 16 muffin cups, or grease tins.
In a large bowl, combine the corn, muffin mix, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. Stir to combine. Mix in buttermilk, sour cream and eggs and stir until just combined.
Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins, filling the cups about halfway. Bake until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
Total time to make: About 25 minutes. 

*Notes: The original recipe says this makes 16 muffins; I found it makes 20, and I used a large cookie dough scoop to fill the muffin tins. So be prepared! 

I used 1% milk to make the buttermilk, and low fat sour cream. The muffins turned out beautifully moist. That may be because my sun dried tomatoes were in olive oil, and I didn't strain them. 

MORE books

  • The Pact
  • The Masque of the Black Tulip
  • The Deception of the Emerald Ring
  • The Seduction of the Crimson Rose
  • Museum

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bookshelf: La's Orchesta Saves The World

I received La's Orchestra Saves the World from my bf Liz for Christmas. Both of us are unabashed Alexander McCall Smith fans, and, although the book had come out in November, I hadn't picked it up yet. What a stroke of luck, that Liz sent it to me for Christmas.

McCall Smith is known for his prolific series writing--The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, 44 Scottland Street, Portuguese Irregular Verbs, and (my favorite) The Sunday Philosophy Club/Isabel Dalhousie novels. La is a stand-alone novel, told in flashback.

La--short for Lavender--has not expected to live an exciting or important life. But when her husband leaves her for a French woman, La moves into her in-law's country house to rebuild her life. Her wayward husband's unexpected death leaves her rather well off, and she is faced with the dilemma of what to do with her life--until the onset of World War II.

While La is assisting an elderly local farmer, she gets the idea to create a local orchestra to boost morale. With the help of TIm, a local RAF officer, and the local townspeople, the orchestra is a clear success. However, La's life becomes more complicated when Felix, an ex-pat Polish airman, who assists on the farm and plays flute in the orchestra, seems to be hiding something from La--and everyone else.

Imbued with McCall Smith's trademark charm and luminous characters, La is a worthy addition to his literary output. As a stand alone novel, it does well (although the beginning is a big ambiguous) compared to his other multi-volume series.  La is his typical plucky heroine, though she is not without flaws. While World War II novels, movies, and memoirs can seem like a dime a dozen, this one is a real addition to the existing stacks of books. It's about heroism of a much quieter kind, and how one person can do much more good than she ever thinks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Books of 2010 cont.

  • Plain Truth
  • The 10th Circle
  • 19 Minutes
  • Handle With Care
  • The Condition
  • In The Company of Cheerful Ladies

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In training

Robin and I have a double-header this week--lesson today and tomorrow, in prep for Titanic auditions on Monday.
Today my session was at 4:00, right after work. We began with warm-ups and proceeded to run the cut of "The Gentleman Is A Dope", which Robin really liked and approved for the up-tempo number.
For the ballad--we thought we had it with "As If We Never Said Goodbye" from Sunset Boulevard, but now we're considering others. "I'll Forget You" is a possibility. We'll have the definite selections tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hot race in snowbound MA

UPDATE: Wonder of wonders! HE WON!!! "I drive a truck, and I am nobody’s senator but yours."

A snowstorm isn't keeping the pols inside up in MA....
Republican State Senator Scott Brown is giving Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley a run for her money--in fact, he's leading in several polls. Tonight's results should be interesting.
The race has generated a groundswell of GOP support from across the country, leading to millions being donated to Brown's campaign coffers in recent weeks. Republicans in Massachusetts are feeling confident going into today's voting, and reports on the ground look good.
This is my site for tracking politcal news and elections. If you haven't visited, you must. It will become a daily addiction.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Clinic Update

Today I spent the morning of my day off with the kids at the Resort. It was a normal visit, nothing too special, and I had scheduled it for my day off so that if they wanted to do testing beyond the normal, they'd have time to do it.
First stop, as usual, was the infusion clinic, where, once again, the new port needle failed to work in my port. Thank God the rumor mill says the hospital will soon be switching back to the old huber needles that work. Mom has a stash at home for when we do port access, but at the hospital they do the new needles first. When the nurse asked me if it was OK to use the old ones, I gave an enthusiastic yes. My annual labs were drawn today, so that meant lots of blood for the lab to play with during the day.
After the blood letting, I went down to radiology where I had a CXR and a CT scan of my sinuses. We still keep tabs on those. Lately I've felt them draining so I figured this was excellent timing for some investigation.
Then up to clinic for full PFTs--which were stable--a visit from the new social worker, and then Julie and Dr. Kirkby. There were lots of bronchs going on today, so they were busy. I was unexciting. Dr. K said my sinus scan looked changed "but not terrible." So they are going to send it to Dr. Willet and see what he thinks. They will also set up an appointment for me to see him, since if I try to do it, I get stuck with a four month wait. It might be time for sinus draining surgery again, since I haven't had that done in 5+ years.
I left around 11:30, and headed to Katzinger's in German Village for lunch. I hadn't eaten yet today, and was hungry, so the huge Katzinger's sandwiches and French Onion soup were perfect. I had a book (Loot) that I"d bought at CMA yesterday, so I read that in the cozy deli and scoped out the artisan chocolate when I was done. It wasn't too crowded--civil servants (such as moi) had the day off, so I imagine that impacted the lunch crowd. But the roads were very clear, so that made me happy.
Dr. K said they would probably see me again in three months, which means post-birthday. I did see Dr. A and asked him if there were plans for a five year par-tay. He asked if I was paying. "Sure," I said. But I guess we'll work out the details of all the normal annual testing, etc., at my next appointment.

The Simple Woman's Daybook--January 18, 2010

Outside My Window:: 
Almost dark, but the snow is almost gone! Yay!
I am wearing ::

A Talbot's tee, jeans. 
I am Thankful For::
Days off; a good clinic report
I am Reading:
Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World; The Kalahari Typing School for Men.
From the Kitchen::
A lot this week, starting with the Irish Soda bread I'm about to make.
I am Thinking:
That I have had an excellent long weekend. 
I am Creating::
Good food
On my iPod::
U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind
Towards Rhythm and Beauty:
I've done a good job (so far) incorporating some of my New Year's goals, like keeping my apartment clearer, saying the Liturgy of the Hours, etc. Now I want to step it up a notch.
To Live the Liturgy:
Liturgy of the Hours, in the first Ordinary Time book. Back to green vestments.
I am Hoping and Praying:
For Barb, a friend of mine who died over the weekend (she was a truly wonderful woman who was kind to everyone she met).
Around the House:
After bread making, vaccuming and doing some more clearing off of the kitchen table. That, it seems, will always be piled with stuff.
One of My Favorite Things:
Long weekends
A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week:
Wednesday and Thursday: Voice lessons both days, to prep for an audition next Monday. 
   A Picture Thought  I'm Sharing:
From the Chihuly Exhibit I attended yesterday


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Totally free

Today was one of the days where I like being single.
For the first time in a long time, I had the entire day free. No obligations, my parents are in Pittsburgh, so I have able to do whatever I wanted, all day. This is sort of unheard of.
So, I did the clips, got dressed, and power went out. No idea why. But it didn't matter anyway, because I was going out.

My first stop was the Columbus Museum of Art. I have a membership and wanted to see the Chihuly exhibit. It was crowded--Sundays have a lot of family programming--but I was glad it was crowded. The museum is undergoing a big renovation project, so all there was to see were a few pieces from the permanent collection, and Chihuly. I love his glasswork so I enjoyed the exhibit, especially Mille Flore. 

After seeing the exihibit, I bought a Diet Coke at the cafe and did some writing exercises from Elizabeth Berg's book. Two of them involved an art museum, so those were the ones I (naturally) did. After doing that, and getting two books in the book shop (since I'm a member, I get 15% in there, yay!), I headed up to Easton.

It was raining, so I didn't think the outdoor shopping complex would be too crowded, and I was right. I stopped in Nordstrom to get some make-up I needed, then went to Talbots and Ann Taylor to see what was coming in for Spring. I'm glad I stopped at AT, because I got 40% off everything I bought in there. Heck yes! Very exciting.

After that, I treated myself to Fado's fish and chips, watched the Vikings slaughter the Cowboys, and did a few more writing exercises. Fado is a great place to write--I always feel inspired there.
After finished lunch/dinner, I headed home, to find the power back on.
It was GREAT being able to do precisely what I wanted. I could look at the art I wanted to see, eat where I wanted to eat, and shop without worrying about meeting anyone or holding up anyone else.
A very excellent Sunday.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Some Pitt Love

After beating Louisville--in OT!--today:
Andy Katz
Dana O'Neil

UPDATED: (Sunday)
PG's take

What I learned at Trivia Night

Tonight was Trivia Night at St. Pat's. Here, in a nutshell, is what I learned (more details tmr.)

  • I have ESP. 
  • I have the same blood type as GOD. (yes. It's true.) 
  • My dad is a sports trivia BEAST. 
  • St. Pat's has some of the cutest babies EVER.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Seven Quick Takes Friday Vol. XXI

So we're going to start today with a cute story. I was at Barnes and Noble, purchasing guidebooks for our Family Vacation this summer. I got to the register, and, since I was paying with a check, I had to show my driver's license.
The cashier (who was aobut my age, and cute) looks at it, and says, "This is the happiest license picture I've ever seen."
"I didn't see a reason not to be happy," I said as I slipped it back into my wallet. (Really, I don't. Why do people look like convicts in those photos? Do you really want to be looking at that for years?) But this also sort of sums up my life philosophy--why not be happy, when you can? Even in your driver's license photo.

The Great Thaw is upon us--the snow is melting, I can see my deck again, and it's mostly slush now. I can deal with slush. My car likes slush better than snow (although probably not cosmetically). It's supposed to be....(wait for it) the forties this weekend. Forties! Yes!

Since it's going to be warm(er), I really need to do a good pantry stock-up. I get a Trader Joe's gift card every year from my parents at Christmas, and I use it to stock my pantry with essentials (and not so the $4 Portuguese white wine....). So I will probably go tomorrow.

Since it is a long weekend *huzzah!* It is also baking weekend. I bought currants at the North Market last week to use in Irish Soda Bread. I haven't made it yet. That project is for tonight or tomorrow, depending on how the spirit moves me. One of the great things about winter is, as long as your pantry's stocked, you have all this time to cook and bake. Fantastic.

I have an appt. with Dr. A on Monday. I'm going to ask if he's started planning my five year party yet. Really--five years? Wow.

Books of 2010 update: Laine's Real Adventures, Farmer Boy. I love Farmer Boy, but didn't have a copy at my place. If you want to feel hungry, read it. And if you want to feel warm, read it! The first chapter talks about it being forty below. Forty. Below. How did these folks get anything done? At -40, I think it's time to hibernate. But I suppose the cows won't wait for it to warm up for their milking...
Another: Elizabeth Berg's Never Change. I really enjoyed the character of Myra, but was sort of shocked by the ending.
And: The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, and Blue Shoes and Happiness. I'm sort of re-working my way through Alexander McCall Smith.

Bit on books and movies, to round up here. I started watching Bleak House last night--I got it for Christmas (The Gillian Anderson version), and my parents watched it first (because my dad loves Gillian Anderson. Old X-Files hold over.) So I just started it last night whilst I was painting my nails. It's really great so far. I haven't finished the book yet, so maybe watching the series will motivate me to finish it.
Another book I'm looking forward to reading: Melanie Benjamin's Alice I Have Been. I just picked it up and the beginning is fantastic.
And gosh, I owe you guys some real bookshelves. This weekend. I promise. I want to do one for La's Orchestra Saves the World, and for Alice, once it's done.

Be sure to visit Jen for more Quick Takes! 

Thursday, January 14, 2010


How to help, by Margaret.
I dated a guy (david, for long time blog readers) who worked for Homeland Security doing immigration law. Soon after we first started dating, he was assigned to Haiti for a month to help out with the office down there (processing immigration requests and so on). We exchanged emails pretty often, and he would tell me about parts of the city that no one was allowed to enter after dark, even with an escort (read: someone armed.). Then he would also tell me about after-work drinks in the swanky hotels.

A true two nations perspective.

This was written a few years ago, but I have found it to be one of the best articles on Haiti (or any country) that I've read. There is also the book Mountains Beyond Mountains, which talks about Dr. Paul Farmer's efforts to provide health care and education to the poor of Haiti (it has since expanded to other parts of the world).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thaw, and Waiting Room Confidential

Today it was....
Above Freezing!
This will continue! 
I'm hoping that by Monday the sun will have made a slight dent in my snowbound parking lot.

*     *     *
I had an appointment today at Children's. While I was walking to the office, I thought, I have spent years of my life here. I mean, YEARS. I have charts in almost every department. I know where every hallway, ever door, every elevator, leads. I even know the evolution of certain clinics; like Psych used to be in Timken Hall, as did the CF clinic.... 
Anyway, while I was waiting, I noticed something interesting.
The waiting room was packed. This is not unusual. What was unusual was the amount of audible conversation.
If you're waiting in, say, Radiology, or any clinic, and there's a few people in the room, people talk. They sort of murmur, but it's audible. When a clinic is crowded, there's little or no talking. People watch the TV, or they whisper to each other, or corral their kids.
Not in this clinic. People were talking, audibly, about personal things, across the room. It was so strange.  It's sort of like those cell conversations in public. Don't people realize others can hear you? (Even me, of the Bionic Ear.) Save it, folks.
I had never seen this happen in a crowded waiting room. I was sort of dumbfounded.
(I know, my day was thrilling. But this was extremely strange to me.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The first 2010 Boden Q&A!

I always wanted to be: A ballerina
If I ever owned a luxury yacht, I'd: sail the Mediterranean all summer.
I always feel sentimental when: I hear "Wonderful Tonight"
Favorite Italian food: ALL OF IT
Best way to survive a blind date: Order a good meal
Favorite vacation spot: The beach
What's your New Year's Resolution: Lose 10 pounds
Last thing I have at night: milk/tea/water
The man of my dreams: Is out there...right?
Companion animal of choice: Karen's westies
Best place to be in spring: outside
When I grow up, I want to: be a mom
Fastest way to get in a holiday mood: Start packing
Best thing to wake up to: Sunshine
I've decided I'm a frustrated: Diva
Most romantic thing a man can do: give me flowers
What do men think about when they're fishing: the fish
A friend will: be loyal
When a man gives me flowers: I give him a big kiss
Best person to be with when I want to celebrate: My best friend
My signature dish is: Carbonara
Favorite guilty pleasure: Jeni's ice cream
I could spend the whole day shopping for: Books/Clothes/make-up/food
If I was more of a risk taker, I'd: sky-dive
My proudest achievement: Doing Parade
You know a man is committed when: he hangs out with your family voluntarily
On Sunday afternoon you'll find me: reading
My favorite beach is: Duck, NC
Thing I'd change about the 21st century: teleporting would exist.
Best thing to do on a deserted beach: swim without a suit ;-) (almost did this with Di in Galveston!)
Best person to talk to after a bad day: Tiffany
What's always in my picnic basket: some sort of dessert
Survival tip for long flights: A big fat book, my iPod, and crossword puzzles
Greatest athletic feat--on water:  bodysurfing
Survival tip for a night in a tent: A very good sleeping bag and pillow
If I didn't need to work, I'd: travel, sing and write
Don't knock: Jane!
When was the last time you cried: Hmmm...can't remember

Monday, January 11, 2010

Death and Taxes

I don’t normally watch the evening news. I’m around news all day, I read news websites, and by 6:30 I can probably give you a detailed summary of all the major events of the day with my eyes closed.

But, I was watching CBS evening news the other night (I was waiting for Jeopardy!), and there was a segment on obesity. The normal ideas were trotted out: more gym classes, taxes on “junk food”, all healthy foods in the cafeteria, etc.

I have several problems with this, not just because I like my Diet Coke, but because I needed that “junk” food when I was in high school. I needed as many calories as I could stuff into my body, because CF patients are extremely malnourished. Sure, we can wear a 00, but we can also look like African refugees. Not a good look. Coke machines, and the candy sold in the school store, helped my weight more than any apple or orange would have. The emphasis wasn’t so much on health food as food that will make me bigger.

Now I realize that CF kids are in the minority. But what about diabetics, who drink Diet Coke instead of juice? Most juices are packed with sugar. I don’t drink juice anymore unless I absolutely have to—as in, it’s the only choice at a hotel breakfast buffet. I’d much rather have coffee, milk, tea, or diet soda. Fruits send blood sugar levels sky-high. So what’s often considered “junk food” can be necessary food for a lot of people.

So, I think increasing these taxes, or banning these foods in schools, is an awful idea for a lot of the population. If you don’t want your kids to eat it, don’t give them pocket money. If they have pocket money in high school, from a job or whatever, they can make their own decisions. If theychoose junk food, that’s their choice. It doesn’t affect anyone but them.

The CBS story also likened taxing junk food to taxing cigarettes. Of course, the big difference is that cigarette smoke harms other people directly. I love taxes on cigarettes. My favorite cigarette tax story is from Cleveland—there, they use the money to fund arts programs. (We’ll forget about the fact that a lot of artists—including, lamentably, singers—smoke. At least they’re funding their own jobs.) But if you decide to eat a Big Mac every day for the rest of your life, that doesn’t directly affect me.

The argument can be made that it will affect me, indirectly, in rising health care costs. But everything we do can, indirectly, affect others. For example, I don’t think there should be seatbelt laws requiring adults to wear seatbelts. If you’re 18 or 25 or 62, and you decide that you don’t want to wear one, you can face the consequences of those actions. But that’s your choice. Part of living in a free society is the ability to make these choices.

My friend Richelle wrote a post about a Senate proposal that would tax indoor tanning. Now, while I think that indoor tanning—really, any tanning where the purpose is to turn yourself the color of a rotisserie chicken—is ridiculous (because, yeah, we need more cancer-causing agents in our lives), especially in Ohio in February, I don’t think the tax would serve as a deterrent. As my friend Candi noted, tanning is relatively cheap—packages can be bought for around $20. A 10% tax on $20 isn’t a very large deterrent. And, again, it’s a personal choice—one that I happen to think is inane, but hey, if you want skin cancer, that’s your call.

I draw the line here—things like cigarettes, that affect other people, should be taxed, banned, whatever. If you want to smoke at home, or in a smoking room (a la Titanic, or a British men’s club), sure, go ahead. But I (especially I) do not need, or want, to breathe in your toxic smoke. Sorry. So government can tax the hell out of it.

Tanning, junk food, etc.: These are personal choices. They do not affect me or other people. You are not clogging my arteries by eating those pounds of Doritos. And, like I stated above, some people need high-calorie, high-fat foods. Some people need diet drinks. I know of no people who need cigarettes for better health.

(NOTE: I’m tacking this one at the end in case I get some readers who aren’t regulars. Abortion is not a personal choice. You are directly killing another human being. Case closed.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Books of 2010 update

  • Toujours Provence
  • Encore Provence
  • The Amish Cook At Home 
  • The Amish Cook's Baking Book

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Saving Lives

AS you may expect, I have the utmost respect for doctors, nurses, and all of those in the medical profession. What they do, day in and day out, is save lives. It's not easy, and they're not perfect, but I am here because of some fantastic medical and mental work.

That's not to say that doctors are perfect. I've met some that are complete...well, fill in the blank. They're people, not God. Some are fantastic, some are average, and some have the bedside manner of a cobra. I'm able to overlook personality issues if the doctor is fantastic at what s/he does. (Fortunately, 99% of my doctors are lovely people.) When my life is on the line, these are the people I trust to do what they have to do to keep me here.

And, again, that doesn't mean there haven't been mistakes. There's the burn on my right arm, which required the skin graft. It was a mistake. But you know, doctors are human. They make mistakes. And, in the long run, it doesn't affect me in any way but cosmetically (and who cares?). They saved my life. Rather be alive with one scarred arm than dead with two perfect ones.

Why am I talking about all this? Because this story in my hometown paper really makes me angry. This young man had a disease that is rare, and that could have killed him. The doctors at OSU saved his life. Yes, his legs are amputated. Yes, his life is vastly different now. But he is alive. And for that, his family is suing 15 doctors and 2 hospitals? It infuriates me.

We could've sued, too, after my parents discovered what happened to my arm. And yes, for awhile, it was touch and go as to whether I'd still have it (thankfully I was in a blissful, epidural-induced euphoria and didn't know about that part until it was well over). In that great phrase, "S*&t happens." Yeah, it does. But I'm still alive. And so is he.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Seven Quick Takes Friday Vol. XX

OK, first, a good thing--today's North Market haul: 4 blood oranges, 5 Pink Lady apples, 4 oz. of currents (I always buy these when they have them, so I can make Irish Soda Bread), 3 shallots, 8 ox. of honeyrun farm honey (southwest of here--it's sooo good), 4 oz. of aged English cheddar from the cheese dudes (it is so good!), milk from a local dairy (also sooo good), and....Jeni's ice cream. Because I haven't had any in months!

The reason I went shopping is that I had NO food in the house. Of course, I chose to do my semi-annual Fridge Purge this week. Amidst the White Death (at least that's what the forecasters should've called it)
Shopping had to happen. This was only a quick trip, so I might have to head out again tomorrow for more things, but at least I have basic provisions now and can bake/cook things in the kitchen.

Speaking of White Death: The drive to work today, post-storm, was easy. The roads were just wet. Yesterday, it took me 70 minutes to go 12 miles. I was not amused.

I was also not amused by the woman in the Black CR-V who decided, at 7:15 this morning (read: still dark), to NOT have her lights on. At all. Good thinking.

I managed to get through the piles of paper that were waiting for me, post-vacation, by today. Next week committees start up again, so that will add to the busy-ness, but no sessions until after MLK day. Then we have the governor's State of the State Address (the last one of this term) the week after. It's going to be a busy session until the summer, when everyone leaves to go campaign. We also have to pass a capital budget this year, which is "bricks and mortar" building stuff around the state.

Books of 2010 (cont.): A Year in Provence, and three American Girl "Girl of the Year" books (Yes, I read kid lit. Yes, I Like It): Laine, Mia, and Bravo, Mia! (Mia is an ice skater, so I like her books).  And some cookbooks, because I read them for fun: Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone, The Amish Cook at Home.

Planning on relaxing this weekend. There are a lot of good movies out, but it's so cold I don't really want to venture out. I have a Lay Dominicans meeting on Sunday at church, which I am looking forward to, especially since I have the Breviary now!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Snow Grinch

Actually, that's not accurate. I like snow. I like it at Christmastime, and on Friday nights, when I know I don't have to drive for 48 hours.
I do not like it during the week. When I have to drive in it. To work.
Because I get snow days as often as we get a new Pope.
Maybe I should've stuck with my education major...

Too much Balanchine?


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

1001 Things

(stole this from Jane...well, most of it. Some ideas are mine, and I've eliminated things that don't apply to me at all. Like med school :)) Red are things I've done

January 1, 2010 – September 28, 2012
 1. Run a 5K (I've walked one) 
2. Run a 10K
 3. Run a ½ marathon 
4. Run a full marathon 
5. Lose 30 pounds 
6. Once a week, jot a note about something that makes me happy
 7. Leave a postcard inside a PS book
 8. Find a church I love 
9. Attend church 100 times 
10. Be credit card debt free 
11. Read the bible cover to cover (in the process...)
12. Grow fresh vegetables in my yard
 13. Fall hopelessly in love 
14. Donate 100 hours to charity each year
 15. Use my passport at least once 
16. Refresh my French to conversational ability 
17. Take a self defense class 
 20. Organize iTunes 
21. Organize old photos and get everything digitized 
22. Visit 6 new states 
23. Cut down a Christmas tree 
24. Cook a complete meal once a month 
25. Snail mail one card a week to various people
27. Clean out and organize garage 
28. Maintain garden 
29. Tip a server 100% 
 31. Find a mentor and work with him/her
 32. Get all A’s  (1st semester,sophomore year of college)
33. Ride in a hot air balloon
 35. Make bread from scratch
 37. Try yoga 
39. Watch 26 movies that each start with a different letter, A-Z that I have never seen before (this is way cool)
 40. Take 6 weekend trips to places I have never been before
45. Take a dance class 
48. Donate blood (can't, as we know my veins are AWFUL)
49. Build a headboard 
50. Purchase furniture I like
 51. Hang paintings I like  
53. Find out if I’m a CF carrier  (yes, I am. :-D)
54. End 1001 days with every article of clothing in my closet and drawers actually fitting
 55. Sleep under the stars 
56. Find out my blood type 
58. Pay for a random table’s meal 3x 
60. Go to Oktoberfest 
61. Vote in all major elections  (it's part of my job!)
62. Volunteer for a political campaign (again, part of my job)
63. Spa day – mani, pedi, facial, massage, blowout 
64. Go on a picnic
 65. Build a snowman 
66. Kiss in the rain (well, OK, snow)
68. Eat raw food only for 2 weeks
 69. Try rockclimbing 
70. Kiss under mistletoe
72. Develop relationship with all professors 
 74. Visit San Francisco 
75. Visit Virginia Beach
 76. Kiss someone I care about at midnight on New Year’s Eve 
77. Maintain blog as history of my life 
78. Finish thinking of 101 things I want to do...
And here are my additions:
79. Read all of Edith Wharton
80. GET my passport
81. Go to Europe
82. Finish my MA

The last 10 years...

 I think the last decade of my life may have been the most eventful ever. I mean, short of getting married and having kids, I can’t imagine doing more in 10 years than this.
So here’s a round-up:
    • Graduated from high school (2000)
    • Graduated from college (2004)
    • The transplant (duh!) (2005)
    • 1 ICU stint (hopefully the first and last)
    • Travel! Florida (2000), D.C., NYC (including New Year’s Eve in 2003), Chicago (2006), Duck, N.C. (2008), Houston/Galveston (2009), Rochester, NY; Wilkes-Barre, PA (King’s College debate tournament), Cleveland, Cincinnati, Wheeling (Oglebay resort), Muncie, IN (Ball State debate tournament), Michigan…
    • Worked on the 2000 and 2004 Presidential campaigns
    • My brother graduated from high school and college (OSU), my sister graduated from high school and started at Capital
    • Theater!
    • Reviewed in the Dispatch twice: Verdi Requiem in April of ’01, and Parade (see sidebar for that one)
    • Got my first acting paycheck
    • All-State Choir, Cleveland 2000
    • Sang the Christmas section of Messiah, as well as “Worthy Is the Lamb” and “Hallelujah!”
    • Christmas Festival singing at Cap
    • Initiated into Sigma Alpha Iota (and was a founding member of the chapter at Capital)
    • First serious relationship (college)
    • Engaged (for awhile…)
    • Moved out of my parents’ house
    • Got my first car (1995 Honda Civic EX)
    • My first real job—Swim Club concession stand in 2001.
    • First real real job—LSC intern, fall of 2004
    • Port put in
    • The Bionic Ear appears (May 2006)
    • My first Coach bag. J (Hey, had to include that)
    • Got on the Mac Wagon
    • Grandma and Pa celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary
    • Mom and Dad celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary
    • Baghdad fell on my 21st birthday
    • 9/11
    • Solo trip to Pittsburgh with Mel
    • Accepted to Franciscan University’s MA Theology program
    • Joined St. Patrick
    • Started this blog! (2006 and counting…)
    • Got my driver’s license (2000, after high school graduation. Mom made me wait.)
    • Fell in love with Jane
    • Read many, many, many books
    • Saw Phantom on Broadway (and thus fulfilled a lifelong dream)
    • More theater? A smattering: Les Miz, Beauty and the Beast, Avenue Q, The Producers, Spamalot, Wicked (Columbus and Chicago), The Light in the Piazza, Chicago, The Lion King, Into the Woods, Street Scene, Macbeth, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Master Class, 12 Angry Men
    • Heard Itzhak Perlman play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the Columbus Symphony. Brilliant.
    • Lots, lots, lots of ballet. Samples: Jewels, Dracula, The Great Gatsby, Aladdin, Nutcracker, Stars and Stripes, Night moves, 30x30, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet
    • I actually learned to like opera!
    • Saw La traviata, La boheme (Opera Columbus) and began collecting Renee Fleming CDs.
    • Worked with the Secret Service
    • Toured the White House
    • Went to the top of the Empire State Building
    • Heard Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral
    • Went shopping on the Miracle Mile
    • Rode the NYC subway (one word: Ugh)
    • Visited Ellis Island and found my great-grandfather!
    • Attended my first black tie dinner