Friday, October 26, 2007

A quieter week

This week was a little quieter - Thank goodness. I was beginning to feel quite exhausted. Saturday started off with some FDS work to get caught up on check writing and the books. I had a raging migraine so didn't even bother to shower and dress. Somehow, I just wanted to hang out on the couch and snuggle with my blanket.

After taking care of the FDS stuff, I got back on the couch and watched some of the TV I had missed during my busy weeks. I was really planning on going to the shelter for my weekly volunteering duties but the headache continued. I got up, drove to the post office for the mail, came back and sat some more. My friend was having a welcome back party for herself (after living in Europe for a year or so) and I went to that where I was able to catch up with a number of other friends. From there, I headed over to my SIL's for my nephews birthday. Apparently I was a hit as an Aunt since I brought him the new Pearl and Diamond games for his playstation? nintendo? whatever? I can't keep track. At any rate, the gift brought squeals of delight so .....mission accomplished.

I was so happy to get back home and hit the bed, hoping that the next morning I would wake up without the migraine.

Sunday came around and I was feeling a bit better. I headed off to yoga where we worked on movements for the 4th Chakra. This is the glowing jade green heart chakra. The positions and movements involve backbends, arches and other such actions that open the chest and heart. I really felt much better afterword and my body, though a bit sore, let me know that it really needed the workout. Next was my regular Sunday visit to the farmer's market. I had a delicious banana and chocolate crepe then browsed through checking out the new fruits for this season. The stone fruits had been replaced by apples, persimmons, pears and other fall fruits. I stopped at a stand with a strange looking reddish purple fruit. After learning it was a Dragon Fruit, I decided to buy one to take home and taste - $5! Not cheap for one piece of fruit. And just as a side note, when I ate it later, it wasn't all that and definitely not worth my spending another $5 on it. At any rate, it was something new and I tried it out.

After a bit more browsing and my favorite stop - Bartolovento's Chocolates, I headed home (after one more stop at the grocery store for milk). I was just hanging out and planning to go work in the garden since it was such a nice, sunny warm day when my friend Stephanie called to see if I wanted to go for a walk. We set a time for about an hour and a half later. In the meantime, I took the dogs out to the front yard so they could enjoy the grass while I worked in the flowerbeds trimming plants, pulling weeds, etc. After half an hour, I brought the dogs back in and headed off to meet Stephanie. We decided to walk the Guadalupe Park trail which neither of us had been on. We met at the visitors center but apparently this was the wrong place to see the best of the trail. We walked along a desolate, weedy path and then tried walking the other way but were stopped by train tracks. Where were the Rose Garden, Fountains, Dog Park and other features I had heard about? We never found them. Nonetheless, we had a nice walk on a beautiful day - over 2 hours - not bad.

Next, we headed off to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner. It was barely 5:30 but the place was packed and we had to wait 1/2 hour to get a table. When we were finally seated, it was inside the cable car! Yes, they really have a cable car in the middle of the restaurant. The windows have been removed and you can see out and look down on everyone around you. We waited another 1/2 hour just to get bread and drinks. As we sat, we noticed all of the empty tables that had not yet been bussed while there was a line of people outside. Some of the tables stayed empty the entire time we were waiting for our food and eating it. Service and wait aside, the food was good as usual and we enjoyed ourselves. We had parked a number of blocks away and the night was beautiful so the walk back to our cars was nice.

Monday morning brought me back to work again. The day passed as usual and Monday eve, still not feeling up to par, I went home and just crashed. Tuesday was a painting day - yeah! We are still painting our plastic bodies and I am quite pleased with how mine is coming along. Note to self: bring camera to next week's class to take photos.

Wednesday was bill paying - started off with ATW. I usually only pay their bills at the end of the month but there was quite a buildup so I wanted to get them out. I finished off by paying my own bills. All of this brought me into work late and I missed an important meeting on the project I am working on. I decided to take a walk at lunch time and walked for a couple of miles - 1/2 hour. My body sure needed that. In the afternoon, I tried to catch up with what I had missed and ended the day with a 3 hour meeting on the project which raised more questions than it answered. I was exhausted when I got home and headed off to bed early after watching the Biggest Loser and being as bummed out as everyone else over the cheating by one of the contestants that had spoiled the usually uplifting and encouraging spirit of the program. I have always been inspired to get back on track with my own weight after watching people struggle to success on that show. This week's episode was totally awful and I would still like to see the producers do something to bring it back on track to what it should be - a change of lifestyle that truly changes the contestents and helps them achieve their weight loss goals.

Thursday, despite a good night's sleep, I woke with a migraine again. It seemed that my sinuses were really bothering me and I wondered what I was breathing - inside my house or out. Could it be some of the smoke from the fires drifting up from LA. Seems pretty far-fetched but it is not normal for me to have 2 migraines so close together. I headed off to work and at lunch time to the Quarterly meeting of Resources Global Professionals (the company I work for). It was great to see the other associates and catch up. The speaker was one of the founders and current board member. She was such an inspiring and funny speaker. She went through the business model, clients (45 of the Fortune 50, 336 of the Fortune 500, etc.) , benefits, practice areas, overseas growth - Japan, Europe, etc. The company is 12 years old and has done incredibly well - close to $1bn now. I felt so happy to be a part of this organization and excited about the future prospects.

After lunch, we returned back to work and, in the evening, I attended the board meeting for KMVT TV. I am a new board member and this is only my second meeting so I am still in the learning stage.

And, finally, today is Friday - yeah! A much more mellow week though still busy. I needed for things to slow down a bit. Maybe that is what the migraines were trying to tell me.

Know it doesn't make for an exciting blog but --- oh well. Maybe I will finally find time to upload those photos out of my camera so that you can see my vacation time, etc.

Happy weekend!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Driving a Mommy Van

Let me start with a disclaimer that this post is not meant to offend anyone. It is just that I am not a mommy so it is strange for me.

Today, I had to take my car in for minor servicing. The shop provides a free rental car through Enterprise. This morning, Enterprise did not have any cars except a mini-van. I drive a convertible so it is very strange for me driving a mommy car for a day.

In other news, it has been a very busy week for me (again). My affair with the Cable Guy continues. He actually asked my name last Saturday after 4 visits to my house. He was here from 9AM (with 2 of his buddies!) until 3:30PM - 6 1/2 hours! The 2 buddies left after about an hour and another one came. A total of 4 for the day. And, no, I am not having an affair with any of them although it is probably the most time I have spent with any one guy in a while! The resolution this time was to replace the cable all the way back to the signal pole - some 3 houses down the row from me and then from the pole behind my house to my house and down to the box. They said that there was a lot of bleed through because the squirrels had chewed the line up pretty good. After replacing all of the lines, the picture looked good and it was decided to send one more signal to the cable card to re-set everything after the fix. He drove off and sent the signal while he was driving away. The cable immediately went down and I had no picture, sound, anything - right in the middle of the USC game! I called him back since I now have his personal cell phone number. 45 minutes later he was back at my house. After several conversations with tech support, it was decided to run setup on TIVO again and then everything came back up. Whew! I was exhausted by then but my day had only just begun. I ran over to the shelter since there were 5 dogs over there needing attention. I ran them through the fastest walks and yard runs ever so that I could make it over to see my two nieces in their gymnastics performance - it was so cute and their little outfits were so adorable.

I thought that Sunday would be a day to catch up on gardening, finish up accounts, go through the bills, etc. but it was not to be. After many years of not needing the second phone line in my house, I finally took the leap to get DSL on the other line so that I could shut down the unneeded line. Sunday morning found me out at the phone box switching the lines from one phone line peg to the other. I was on the phone with my father just to make sure that I was getting things right. Everything went incredibly smoothly and a short time later, I was up on DSL on the other line. Great! I thought. That was easy. Now on to my other stuff. My euphoria was pretty short-lived. The DSL soon slowed to a crawl. I called tech support and was advised to shut down the modem and router and re-start them. I did that and the router fried. Just blinking lights and no WAN signal. The next step was a trip to my friends at Best Buy to buy a new router. I installed it and everything appeared to be working but still not DSL. I called AT&T back and, miraculously, got a tech on the line that knew what he was doing. He walked me through a number of steps to get the new account set up and the DSL up and working on it. By that time, it was 8PM at night! How time had flown. Everything is up and running well now but I did lose two whole days of the weekend to my friends at the Cable and Phone companies. And, after a talk with TIVO in which they informed me that there was a new upgrade to sign up for that should address the sound dropping on the new HD tv, and receiving the upgrade through the internet 2 days ago, the TV all seems to be working much better. Great picture, nice sound - WHEW! 6 weeks later. What an effort that has been.

Other items. I attended a CAbi fall party and bought some cool new clothes. Some are backordered so I haven't yet received them. I made another visit to the reps house on Wed to return some things that didn't quite fit right and ended up buying even more. They do have some nice, good quality, stylish things.

I helped my friend out with some quick lessons on finding things in QuickBooks as she makes the effort to get the books closed on a non-profit she is helping out.

Painting continues to come along. We are doing a fun project painting the plastic forms that the swimsuits at Costco come on. This is a free form project with everyone painting their own thing out of their heads. It is so cool to see all of the creativity and we are really having fun with it.

My work with FDS and ATW continues with both of those falling within the last week, too. It has been a long few weeks and I cannot believe it is October. Where did Sept go?

I had my followup with my doctor after the last surgery. I am healing well and the scar looks nice. While I was over at the hospital, I decided to drop into the SS office which is right across the street to tell them that I had returned to work and to stop my SS payments. What a horror! I had to wait for an hour to see a rep. When I finally got to the window, I gave her my spreadsheet that I had prepared showing my hours and wages and asking to end my payments. Did I want to cancel my claim?, she asked. No, I said. My illness is real. My treatments were real. My disability exists. I just wanted to suspend payments since I am now working. Ohhhhhh, she said. Okay. Well, we cannot accept this spreadsheet. We have to have copies of all checks. I have them, I said and handed them to her. Oh and you have to fill out these 5 pages of forms. I told her that my work was all on w-2s and should be in their computers. They are social security after all. No, she said. We can't see it. She then proceeded to pull up my file and say that I had worked in 2005. Now how can they see that and not my current work???? Anyway, I had not worked in 2005 after diagnosis. She insisted that I did at which point I had to point out that I would have had a hard time working while going through surgery, another surgery, chemotherapy, another surgery, radiation and biological treatments. She backed off then. At that point, she told me that we couldn't fill out the paperwork because there was too long of a line behind me and that I would have to fill it out at home and then come back again. I about lost it at that point. I have already waited an hour, brought in all of my copies and done what I was told to do and you want me to come back again???? I asked. You want us to work but yet I have to take off to come in here. That is not right. I started to cry - really. I am not kidding. They make me cry every time I go into that office. She relented and filled out the paperwork, gave me a copy and I was on my way.

My question is this. Why did I have to go through all of that to tell the government that I did not want their money? You would think I was asking them for more. Now, they are "reviewing" my claim which makes me nervous because they still have the blanket "right" to come back and ask for money back. It shouldn't happen but nothing they do is reasonable. They told me that their review could take months, even a year and that I would continue to get my checks which I am supposed to just "hold on to" so that they can come collect them back after the review is over. This whole thing is just crazy! How hard would it have been for them to spend the 5 minutes to look at my last year of work history, compare it to the paycheck stubs I had given them, say, yes you are right, you are no longer eligible and put the stop in my file??? 1 year to do that? What do they have to do? Walk to Washington DC or whereever the files are kept and pick them up personally? And this is where our tax dollars go.

Anyway, I am looking forward to some calmer weeks ahead (I hope!). Not that I don't like to be busy but this is just overboard.


Monday, October 08, 2007

How about Stanford v. Appalachian State for the National Championship?

For anyone that has been following, this has been a crazy year for college football. First, there was Appalachian State beating Michigan, then half the top 10 losing in one week and now, USC losing to Stanford! LSU is the undisputed #1 but not through their own doing since they did not make a very good showing against Florida - only winning in the last seconds after trailing the entire game. It is more like they are #1 because no one else is stepping up to claim the position. Congrats to Cal on making #2 and hope they can go all the way. In the meantime, maybe we should consider a National Championship game with Appalachian State and Stanford. Could be very entertaining. And as meaningful as anything else at this point.

And, on another topic, for anyone keeping track, I AM NOT HAVING AN AFFAIR WITH THE CABLE GUY! I know that it looks that way and almost feels that way to me. Comcast's continuing ineptness continues to plague me. After the grand debacle on the 14th which caused me to miss the start of my yoga retreat weekend, it turns out that Comcast was not even supposed to put in two cable cards (since they are both multistream cards) and therefore, I should not be charged for the extra service (an additional service fee for the extra card). I was so disgusted at that point that I unplugged the digital box and took it down to Comcast on Terra Bella and turned it in, asking for a refund of all of the associated charges for the period since I had purchased the new TV. I wanted to take out the additional digital card and return that to them also but that "required" another visit from the cable guy so that he could take the card out (since he allegedly knows what he is doing). Of course, that required another 4 hour window in which I had to sit in my house for 3 hours and 55 minutes to wait for him to come and then another 2 hours while he fumbled around trying to figure out what he was doing! This involved him checking my cable box in the bedroom (why???!!!??? - the problem wasn't there), checking the connection at the box outside and stepping on my plants in the process despite the presence of stepping stones at the box and my pointing him towards them, he stepped everywhere but on the stepping stones - aarghhh - do these guys have to go to school to learn how to be morons or does it just come naturally? Of course, all of the mucking around had little effect on the true problem. He took away the extra cable card for which Comcast charged me a "removal of service" charge that took 3 weeks to get off of my bill but did not fix the problem of the 1.Out of Sync sound/video on the non-HD channels, 2. gray screens and freezing of video/sound feet, 3. breakup of video and/or sound. For those, I was on the phone with Comcast for another 2 weeks, nearly every day. Signals were sent to my box but little else. What is worse is that no one from Comcast seems to know what TIVO is or how their cards relate to the box. They keep referring to the Comcast dvr at which point I have to bring them back to reality and the fact that I have a TIVO box. On Saturday, I finally got TIVO on the phone and they placed a 3-way call to Comcast to try to resolve the problem. The TIVO tech explained the problem to Comcast who several times asked about the Comcast dvr and had to be reminded he was talking to TIVO about the TIVO dvr. Then Comcast hung up and we had to start all over again. The TIVO rep was very patient and went through Comcast's dial tree again to get a new rep on the phone. The only solution that rep had was to send another tech out to my house this morning. In the meantime, I took the TIVO back to Best Buy and exchanged it for a new one on the off chance that the problem might be with the TIVO box and not with the Cable Card. I took the Cable Card out myself (not a difficult process), took the TIVO down, exchanged it, installed the new one, put the Cable Card back in and proceeded to watch TV. The problem was not resolved leading me to believe that, indeed, it was a cable card problem. This morning, I planned on being late to work in order to wait for the Comcast guy who was supposed to come between 8 - 10 this morning. I got a call at 8:45 from the C office asking me if I still had an appt. I said yes and asked when the guy would be out. The girl told me that I was first on the schedule so he should be out there soon. At 9:48 he finally showed up. He looked at the TIVO box and asked where the Comcast dvr was. I explained that it was a TIVO. Then he asked what the problem was. I explained and then said he was only supposed to replace the Cable Card. He asked where the cable card was supposed to go. I had to show him. So.............if I am showing him what to do, why couldn't I just go down to the C office and pick up a new card and put it in instead of wasting my time waiting for a guy who didn't know what he was doing???? Next he unplugged the cable and began testing the signal. It was obvious I had a signal. The TV was on and playing! The "testing" took 20 minutes. Then he opened the cable card, looked at it and went out to his truck for 10 minutes. Was he taking a nap?? Who knows. He came back in and put the card in. I ran it through all of the diagnostics since he didn't know how (I was an expert by this time). 45 minutes later, he was gone, having done nothing but I did get a new cable card. Hopefully, it will work but I won't know until the next time I try to watch a show. All told, I have spent 17 hours either waiting for the Cable Guy or with him at my house over the last 3 weeks. I have also spent about 10 - 15 hours on the phone with them. None of them seem to know what TIVO is or how their cards are supposed to work with it. So much for that relationship. 32 hours of my time for which I was not paid and indeed even lost time from work. Comcast really sucks - wish there were an alternative. Unfortunately, AT&T also sucks leaving satellite out. There would be a good opportunity here for a third company if it could only get over the entry cost barrier. I truly hope that when I get home this evening all works well and I am done with this whole episode. Fingers crossed!

Didn't mean to write so much on the Cable Guy but guess 32 hours of effort do add up to a lot. Anyway, being already late to work this morn, I decided to stop off at Starbuck's on the way and ran into my sis and the twins. What a surprise! Sat down with them for a nice mocha and snack before finally heading off to work.

And a quick review of the other things that have been going on the last 3 weeks (yes, I did other things besides work and seeing Cable Guy!):

Saw Emma at the Mountain View Performing Arts Center - Awesome theater, awesome show. Great evening.

Raced in the Treasure Island Dragon Boat race and came in second! Only 4 seconds behind first place. The first time that we have not come in last AND we beat one of the teams that beat us last year! We were ecstatic and all had to take photos with the trophy. Here I am:

Went to my friend Diane's 50th birthday campout in Big Basin. Beautiful day, great drive, yummy food - especially the somemore's.

Got the results on my bone scan - all negative - all good - no visible cancer.

Had surgery to remove my mediport which has been in for 2 years. The nurse tried an IV in my hand but could not get a vein. Had to resort to my wrist. Was awake during surgery which was interesting but there was a sheet over my face. I asked for a mirror to watch but was denied. Oh well.

Did lots more work on my garden which continues to come along and look better and better all the time. Planted an eggplant which has a nice eggplant ripening on it now.

Resumed painting after a one month hiatus (Teached teaching on a cruise).

Went to a CABI party and bought some new fall clothes for work. I desperately needed them and it is getting colder.

Still at a gain of 25 - 30 pounds and have set a definite intent and goal to drop those and get back to my pre-work weight before things get even more out of hand.

Got to meet my friend Sue who had been an internet breast cancer friend. She is the sister of a friend of mine and the first breast cancer person I could talk to after being diagnosed. We swapped many emails and personal feelings during that time. She lives in Chicago and was out here visiting her sister and I got to meet her face to face over ice tea and coke. It was great to finally meet her.

I guess that hits all of the highlights. Hopefully, October will calm down a bit from this point. This going at high speed for so many weeks on end gets really wearing. I need to settle down to a normal pace for a little while.

And, finally, Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). Hope the pink doesn't overwhelm you!