bunrab: (me)
Although there were a couple band concerts in the past couple weeks, which were fun and which I did my part in reasonably well, other than that, I can't say I've made any progress on stuff I should be doing. I did mail off my 1040 - since I owed them a whopping check because of the lump sum Social Security amount in November, I had to make the payment earlier rather than waiting for April 15, to support my case for not charging me penalties for not making estimated tax payments during 2012, which I couldn't have because I didn't KNOW I was going to get money until it was already the 4th quarter, but nonetheless needed a bit of CYA-ing. I haven't done my state taxes, though. Or the extension for the condo association's taxes, or found an auditor for the condo association. I ordered some DIY CPE for my CPA license, because I want to keep it active (there's this vague "just in case" thing in my head, plus an equally vague fear that I will somehow forget the license and let it lapse, if I keep it on inactive status, and a CPA license is NOT something one wants to have lapse) but I haven't started in on any of it yet.

And I have several pieces of music in my head that I need to get written down. And, more short-term, about ten tea reviews to write, including one of some wonderful Sri Lankan tea that Barbara and Jim gave me, that turns out to taste a great deal like an Assam.

I did order a sofa today, finally. My niece is going to take my little loveseat for her first apartment - that'll be several months yet, but I've been wanting a real sofa, and it was part of what I planned to do with the SS money after taxes, and there was a sale over at Home Decorators Collection. And, knowing that there's going to be a sofa delivered in a week or so will FORCE me to clean up one last pile in the living room of stuff that's been: waiting to be mailed; waiting to be taken to Goodwill; waiting to be properly stored in the crafts room; waiting to be moved to my bedroom. So I have those chores cut out for me, and a deadline, which always inspires me more than just knowing that something /should/ be done. The little loveseat will also go in my bedroom for a while, once the sofa comes. The living room here is tiny-ish, and I don't want to block the patio door the way the previous residents did; I /use/ the patio door a lot.

The heating bills have been pretty reasonable - that was, after all, one of the major reasons for moving. They haven't been quite as low as I'd like, partly because this is the first floor so I'm not getting the benefit of anybody else's heat, and partly because when I have guests I do turn the heat up to a comfy temp for them, and I've had several guests in January and February, and partly because there's still a cold-air leak somewhere in my bedroom that I haven't managed to eliminate with the weather-stripping of the windows; I think it may actually be right at floor level under the window (I'd have to draw you a picture for you to be able to tell that that spot is a clear weak point in the overall design of these places) and the solution to that will be a runner rug and/or a door-type draft stopper - I don't think it would look right to run caulk and weatherstripping along the laminate floor and quarter-round baseboard molding. And maybe also next year I'll do that whole plastic-liner-with-the-hair-dryer thing to that window, too, since that would help with the spots I can't weather-strip such as the latches and locks for the sliding parts.

So, goals. Now to attempt to achieve some. In between more books (currently reading Nebula Awards 2012).
bunrab: (Default)
Cindy came over for supper this evening - I managed to find enough counter space and dishes to cook some chicken, chop it up and put it on a salad, and then serve it at a table that had room for us both to sit at and eat. This is an intermittent thing - I get the table cleared off of stuff, and then as I unpack the next box, the table gets loaded up again with "stuff I need to sort through." And indeed, after dinner, we unpacked a few more boxes, and the table is once again buried, though not as badly. Two loaded boxes of stuff I don't need went off with Cindy for various charities - her UU church supports a homeless shelter and a transition program that puts homeless people into apartments, so they always need contributions of food and of household basics - tableware, basic cooking implements, towels, etc.

One thing that has become increasingly obvious: I have too much tea. Every single bit of it seems interesting, and I hate to "get rid of" tea. But honestly, I have five shelves of my pantry cupboards filled to the brim with tea - there are hundreds of teas there. Most of it is well-stored in airproof, lightproof containers - tins or glass - and has not been exposed to heat, so it should still be drinkable. So, if you would like a fat Tyvek envelope full of various tea, email me your address (and full name; I don't always remember everyone's), and you will get a random sampling of stuff. If there's some kind you honestly know you can't stand, let me know that too, because otherwise the sampling will include a bit of everything - black, green, oolong, puerh, flavored, scented, aged, bags, loose, possibly even partial slightly flattened small boxes of something stuffed in there.

While I'm not as bad as some people I know, I do seem to overbuy on food. It's partly the low-sodium thing - when I order by mail, I order quantities that make it economical, and when I find something in a local market, I grab as much as I can because I'm sure they'll stop carrying it. As a result, I have way more canned goods and dried soups and slow cooker mixes than would normally appear on a single person's shelves. And I still don't eat at home quite as much as I should - although my impending budget crunch will help cure that, I suppose.

Steve and I used to joke about using up a lot of our vacation time and vacation money just 2 hours at a time, by eating out most nights. It was a habit we got into early in our marriage, and it stuck. We didn't eat expensive stuff out - just sandwiches, or cafeteria, or Tex-Mex. After I got sick, we still kept eating out, even though our income was less, because, well, we were still better off than average, and could afford it, and enjoyed it. Finding the lowest-sodium thing to eat at a given restaurant became a game. And when we moved up here, from cafeteria country to diner country, Steve absolutely /loved/ diners, and we would eat quite regularly at one particular diner on the way home from Monday rehearsal every week, another particular diner on the way home from Tuesday rehearsal every week, another particular diner on the way home from Wednesday rehearsal every week... usually splitting an entree, so not as expensive as it sounds, or sometimes getting breakfast for supper, which is also less expensive than regular entrees. Well, when Steve died, it was still quite a habit - particularly since I felt so absolutely awful eating alone, and eating at a diner where the wait people knew me gave the illusion of not being alone for a little bit. And in that manner, I ran up credit card bills of several thousand, because my tiny monthly pension doesn't cover that. Well, when I sold the house, I paid that off - but I can't do it again!! And I can't keep dipping into savings for regular monthly expenses - using principle for living expenses is a horrible idea. That stuff is ALL THE MONEY I HAVE IN THE WORLD and I can't eat it up. So this is the point where I have to really, really stop the eating-out habit. I think I can do it over the next few months, if I promise myself one lunch out a week and one dinner out a week for a period; that's an extravagance but if I try to quit cold turkey, as it were, I will feel so lonely and be sitting at home alone all day so much of the time that I don't think I can stand it. So the other thing I've got to do is find volunteer work that gets me out of the house a day or two a week for a couple hours, isn't too much physical labor, and preferably offers lunch or snacks as part of the deal. I suspect that soup kitchens or homeless shelters are too much physical labor (and probably too little air conditioning - I'm far more heat-intolerant than I used to be) so this is going to take some research and calibrating. There are a couple of places I that are of particular interest to me to volunteer; now to find out if they happen to keep iced tea and snack bars on hand for the volunteers!
bunrab: (Default)
First, some tea reviews:
Ginger Bread Cookie from Teavana http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5282 Thanks, Chas! Yummy tea!
Smoky Earl Grey from Fortnum & Mason http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5276 Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] parelle! This is one intense tea! (Other one to be reviewed soon!)

And some of my other recent tea reviews:
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5375 Pomegranate Oolong from Harney & Sons
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5332 Ginger Peach Black Tea from Let’s Do Tea
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=5327 Starry Night from Liber-Teas

And some book reviews on Amazon.com:
The Enthusiast by Charlie Haas - read the review here: The Enthusiast
Monster by A. Lee Martinez - read the review here: Monster
As usual, you might have to scroll down through several reviews to find mine. And as usual, if you like the reviews, please click the little Yes button! Thank you.

Other recent reading:
A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage: there's a cute visual pun on the cover - in place of the word "the" in the title, there's an elaborate tea tin, looking like it's from an era when the French went in for Chinoiserie - and the French word for tea is thé. The book is a bit superficial, but fun, and let's hear it for beer, bringer of civilization!

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris - latest in the Sookie Stackhouse series, a bit too much blood, gore and torture - catering too much to the Anita Hamilton fans? Lots of action, but some of it totally unnecessary to the plot. If you are a reader of diverse and sundry fantasy and SF and have read Miller & Lee's Liad series, you can compare Sookie's accidental marriage to Eric with Miri accidentally marrying Val Con - both have knives. I didn't bother to do an Amazon review of this one because (a) there were already 493 reviews of it on there, and (b) my review would have been more negative than not, given the aforementioned blood and gore and torture, and the loyal fans don't want to see any negatives.

Coyote Horizon by Allen Steele - 4 connected novellas in his Coyote series, ties up some loose ends but creates others with its semi-cliffhanger ending.Won't make much sense if you haven't read the earlier books - but I do recommend them; it's good, straight-forward SF. Many people have compared Steele to earlier Heinlen (before the porn) - but Steele's politics are more nuanced and complex than Heinlein's rabid take-no-prisoners libertarianism.

Now the request: I can read Latin, more or less, as long as I don't have to get the tenses right, but I can't generate grammatically correct Latin. And there's two things I really want to make needlework samplers out of.
(1) Rust never sleeps.
(2) I know it's in here *somewhere*. (As in, someone asks whether we own such-and-such a book or object; our reply is that we do own it, but haven't the foggiest idea of where in the house or garage, packed or unpacked, it might be. This is pretty much our family motto, and has been, since the day we got married. So, I want Latin for something equivalent to "I know it's in here somewhere" although to sound euphonious, you might have to be a little elastic with the exact wording - I know that these objects are located within somewhere? Anyway. Something like that.)

Tea reviews

Jul. 6th, 2009 02:14 pm
bunrab: (teacup2)
Check out my latest reviews at the Tea Review Blog:
Formosa Fanciest from Narien Teas - http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=4561
Green Apple Organic Green Tea from Liber-TEAS - http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=4474
Devonshire Earl Grey from Upton Tea - http://www.teareviewblog.com/?p=4441

Have some photos of Friday's parade:



bunrab: (bunearsword)
Well, the roof is replaced. And the eaves/sofits and the gutters, and a few bits of the siding trim. Energy-efficient white shingles, that will get us an energy tax credit on our next income tax return.

And Fern bunny is fine, after the application of quite a bit of money at the veterinarian.

All of which is to say, we're not going anywhere this summer. No RG in Pittsburgh, sorry M-friends. No Knit and Crochet Show in Buffalo. Nowhere that we can't drive to within a couple of hours and stay at someone's house for free.

We are fixing up the other house for sale, since we haven't had much luck renting it - it goes on the market in a week and a half. A bit of interior paint, repairs to the sidewalk, replace a couple doors, stuff like that. We won't get what we paid for it; we bought it at the peak of the market, and that's not going to come again any time this ten years. But we should clear enough on it, if all goes well, to pay off the mortgage on the current house, replenish savings that were depleted by the new roof, and maybe, just maybe, enough to let us replace the pink bathtub with something we can stand to look at with our glasses on. There's no chance it would be sold and closed on in time to use the money for any of the afore-mentioned summer travel, though.

Anyway, that's what's been happening around here lately. I've gotten in a bit of reading, some crocheting and knitting, and have written some reviews for the Tea Review Blog -check out the blog here:
http://www.teareviewblog.com/
and a few of my reviews, specifically, here:
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?author=27

And, just so this has a bit more content, a picture of the most recent sweater I finished:



I've already worn this one a couple times and people seem to like the little sunflower, even though [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet says it looks like a large-winged insect has landed on me.

Tea cozy

May. 6th, 2009 10:13 pm
bunrab: (Default)
I am inflicting the dreaded homemade tea cozy on my partner in a tea swap!



It's knitted; the top is a flap that opens up; the tea-cup design is part Fair-Isle, part intarsia; the yarn is Jo-Ann's Angel Hair. The fuzziness of Angel Hair combined with the layered strands of Fair Isle should provide pretty good insulation. The design is purely improvised - I "knitted till it looked like a tea cozy." It fits a standard-shaped 4-cup teapot.

Hey, my swap partner SAID she likes purple!
bunrab: (Default)

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

One of the things that bugs me about heart failure is the limit on drinking fluids. In the summer, I canNOT stick to 8 cups of fluid a day. I also get bummed about being allowed only one cup of caffeinated black tea a day, caffeine being a heart stimulant and therefore, theoretically, bad for me. I personally feel that doing without tea entirely would make me feel much worse; caffeine is good for my brain, if not my heart! But if it's only one cup, it's going to be a good one. Here are my favorite places to buy tea:
Harney and Sons
Plymouth Tea
Thousand Cranes Tea

Also, some nice, inexpensive green teas (less caffeine) at Salada - this is a brand I used to be able to buy all the time when I lived up north; Salada was our everyday brand when I lived in New York. Down here in Texas, supermarkets don't seem to have it, so I order it online. Since it makes sense to order at least 6 boxes at a time, I order some for me, and some for the kitchenette in the Faculty Resource Center at school. Bringing in boxes of scented and/or flavored tea for the gang makes me popular... I can skimp on throwing quarters into the jar that goes to buy cups and coffee.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Well, I didn't get much done this week, did I. The faculty meetings took up more time than I thought, the air conditioning for the upstairs half of our house went out, and the internet access at school slowed down to a lame snail with a gritty shell. I spent all day Thursday at home, waiting for the AC repair guy, unable to use my computer because all the pets who normally live upstairs were downstairs in the library. "All the pets" includes 5 rabbits, 5 guinea pigs, a chinchilla, 2 hedgehogs, a cockatiel, and a cat. And then, once the repair guy finished, spent most of Friday, except when I was at school for yet another meeting/presentation, cleaning and re-arranging the animal cages, then returning the animals to their usual room. I make cages myself, and one of them is a huge cage with several levels, a 28" by 42" cage with an upper shelf (for another 4 square feet) for two of the rabbits, Fred and Ethel, and then on top of that, two more single levels, for the boy guinea pigs and the girl guinea pigs. Originally, those 8-square-feet cages held 4 guinea pigs apiece; we are down to two of each (Flo lives with Gizmo bunny, not with the piggies. She thinks she's a rabbit.) and they could get by with less space. We have two slightly smaller rabbit cages for one bunny apiece, with about 5 square feet of space on the ground floor plus a shelf for about another 2 square feet. So I took the top two cages off the big rabbit cage, and then built new single levels on each single rabbit cage, for the guinea pigs. So now each pair o' pigs has 5 square feet; everything is much easier to clean; the "big cage" is much lighter and easier to move, while the two smaller cages are heavier than they were, but still lighter than the big cage. All around easier to manage, plus everybody gets more sunlight. Email me if you want lots more information on pet rabbits, pet guinea pigs, pet hedgehogs, pet chinchillas, and building cages - I've got a whole separate web site just for cages.

And now I have a cold. Felt it coming on last night. This is a real bummer, because I can't use Sudafed or any other brand of pseudoephedrine or any other type of decongestant. They are all stimulants, and strictly bad news for heart failure patients. Decongestants can cause arrhythmia and/or accelerated heartbeat. So I just have to sit here and let my nose drip. It's disgusting. I am going to go move away from the keyboard before it gets sticky with sneezes; I'll be back when the risk of sneezing on the moving parts goes down.

Monday, August 18, 2003

This week is the break between summer and fall semesters. No classes, just faculty meetings. So maybe I'll have time to post a little more this week.

It was my turn to do dinner last Friday, so I tried something out of a cookbook I just got: Hungarian Goulash from No Salt, No Sugar, No Fat Cookbook. It wasn't bad at all. I found some yolkless egg noodles at Central Market, thereby reducing the cholesterol; on the other hand, I used low-fat yogurt rather than fat free. To me, it's worth it- the taste of fat-free just really turns me off. Same for sour cream, if I were to use sour cream instead of the yogurt. It's not a great cookbook, but it's a decent one for the price, $8.95. There's no pictures, that's a disadvantage. On the other hand, there is a section about stocking your pantry that could be very useful to most people.

My pantry tends to be heavy on canned NSA (no salt added) mushrooms, NSA tomato sauce, NSA chickpeas (garbanzo beans), pasta, brown rice, and couscous. So from the non-perishables I can put together something - mushrooms, chickpeas and rice with chili powder, mushrooms, chickpeas and rice with curry powder, pasta with tomato sauce and mushrooms - with no planning needed. Almost as fast as nuking a frozen dinner, with lots less fat and sodium. My freezer usually has a couple packages of turkey "cutlets" and some extra lean stew beef, which is also useful for stir-frying if you slice it up very thin. Some no-salt stir-fry sauce, the meat, and a package of pre-sliced veggies, and there's a meal, flavor varying by which sauce I use. The only work is slicing up the turkey or beef. I imagine one could use tofu for this too - I haven't tried it. If you use tofu, be SURE to check the sodium content - it varies wildly from brand to brand and style to style.


Vegetable broth. They sell low-sodium chicken broth and low-sodium beef broth, powdered or in cubes, but no one locally stocks powder or cubes of lo-so vegetable broth. Since we have a lot of vegetarian friends, I like to use vegetable broth. So what do I do? Well, the world's easiest is to save the liquid next time you open a can of lo-so green beans, a can of lo-so tomatoes and a can of lo-so corn. Freeze the liquid in an ice cube tray and take out a couple of cubes and nuke them for your broth. If you don't open them all at the same time, freeze them in layers- distribute the green bean liquid among all the spots in the tray, let it freeze, then when you get around to the corn, pour it right over the green bean ice, etc. That way each cube will still have a mix of vegetables in it. This works for almost any combination of vegetables; it doesn't have to be the ones I've listed here. If the canned vegetables you usually buy are mushrooms and Veg-All, that works. Use a different color ice cube tray than your regular ones, or place it in an entirely different spot in the freezer, so that someone doesn't accidentally drop veggie cubes into their iced tea.

Speaking of Veg-All, that's a source of a thicker vegetable base, for vegetarian stews. Pour the can of no-salt-added Veg-All, liquid and all, into the blender or food processor, and liquify it all, till you have a smooth puree. Then freeze it, as before. When you take out several cubes for a stew, you may even want to add a little water as you defrost the cubes. This also works as a half-decent starting point for rattatouille, gazpacho, and other vegetarian dishes.

Another method of producing quick vegetable broth, that I read of but haven't tried, is to buy the dried veggie bits sold in the spice aisles of the supermarket- usually, one can find dried parsley, dried bell (green) peppers, and dried carrot flakes. Dump small amounts of each into your measuring cup of cool tap water, then bring it to a boil. The dried veggies need no refrigeration, just keep them on your spice shelf. (And they also make great treats for pet rabbits and guinea pigs - I've used them for that purpose often!)

Monday, August 11, 2003

Looks like I've finally straightened out a hassle with my HMO. They weren't going to pay for some lab tests- ones which get done every few months, and which they have paid for before and since; they just weren't paying the April ones. Since I need to go get the tests done again this month, I had to get this straightened out, or the lab wouldn't do anything for me! So it turns out that the wrong billing code for the digoxin and magnesium levels were used. There's more than one code for those tests, depending on the diagnosis. So, I got the nurse specialist who originally asked for the tests to phone the lab and correct their codes, then they rebilled my HMO, which appears to have paid for everything now except for $17.60. No explanation of why they won't pay that part, but hey, if that goes unresolved, I can pay it. That's a lot more reasonable than some $255 that was outstanding before (not just the digoxin and magnesium, but that entire lab visit, were going unpaid, even though the incorrect codes were only on those two items.)

More about digoxin soon; it's next on my list AFTER I grade some exams, some final projects, file some more papers with the Employees Retirement System trying to get disability retirement, prepare some materials for a presentation, and attend three faculty meetings. Whee.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Whew. It's been a week. I've been making final exams, administering exams, and grading exams. I'm almost done, luckily.
One of the courses I teach is HTML & JavaScript. I'm not sure how much JavaScript the blog software supports, but let's give it a try.
Body mass index is a measure of height and weight. Body Mass Index between 25 and 29.9 is "overweight", and greater than or equal to 30 is "obese." BMI between 19 and 25 is normal, and below 19 is underweight. It should be noted that underweight people are more susceptible to some health problems too, though not as many as overweight people.
To calculate your Body Mass Index, take your weight (in kilograms), and divide by your height (in meters) squared. Or, if the JavaScript works, try the little form below, which uses feet and inches and pounds.


Enter your height:

Feet: and Inches

Enter your weight in pounds:



Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is:



And now the fun part: for a given BMI, what does your weight need to be?

Enter the BMI you'd like to have:



To achieve the desired BMI, your weight should be:


If the form above doesn't work, I've also put it on some of my own web space, so you can try it here.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Today's link: Cholesterol drugs improve strange heart problem.

A quote from the article:
Drugs that are commonly used to lower cholesterol levels appear to improve a mysterious type of heart disease with an unknown cause.


The disease, known as idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (IDC), results in an enlarged heart that doesn't pump properly. Unlike the most common type of heart disease, IDC is not due to a blockage of the coronary arteries that feed the heart. Although less common than other heart problems, it is the number one reason people get a heart transplant.


Statins, which include Pravachol and Lipitor, are frequently given to patients with high cholesterol levels. In addition, they have been shown to be useful for patients with heart disease involving the coronary arteries. However, it was unclear if statins were beneficial for IDC.


IDC is how my heart failure occurred, and probably the same for many of you - your heart is enlarged, no one knows why. Although they refer to it as "strange" it's strange in the sense of unknown cause, not in the sense of rare - because it's pretty common!



Bad, bad BunRab! I had a baked potato with butter on it at lunch, and Chinese food for supper which undoubtedly had some salt in the sauce. I didn't eat all the rice, soaked in all the sauce, however, as I used to do; I took each prawn and each snowpea and each walnut and sorta wiped the sauce off against my rice, before eating each piece. I spent part of the morning helping to empty folders of old music; I play in the volunteer municipal band, and we start rehearsals again in only 3 and a half weeks or so, so it's time to get last year's music back in the envelopes and new folders full of new music, all shiny and unwrinkled, made up. We have about 90 people in the band, and since many of us are over 40 and wearing bifocals, that means separate folders for just about everyone, since few of us can see well enough to share a stand. I'll be happy to start up this season feeling MUCH better than I did last year at this time, when I hadn't been diagnosed, and was coughing all the time and gasping for breath a lot, which is not conducive to playing the tenor saxophone. Now if only I knew my teaching schedule for next semester yet (which starts at about the same time), I'd be all set!

Friday, August 01, 2003

Ugh, it's been several days. Since I have started taking the spironolactone, I've been sleeping 12 to 16 hours a day, which starts leaving me with too little time to do things. (I've even been sleeping through meals!) So I put a call in to the doc, see if I can go off it again - whatever benefit it's supposed to incur, I think being asleep through most of the day outweighs that benefit.

Anyway, back to beta blockers. Let's see if I can redo my long post.

Adrenaline isn't just one thing, it's actually several. And the receptors for it around the body aren't just one kind, there are several. There are alpha-adrenergic receptors, and several kinds of beta-adrenergic receptors. Different areas of the body have different balances of these. When adrenaline hits the heart, it stimulates it to beat faster and harder - the famed fight-or-flight response. For a person with heart failure and a tendency toward tachycardia and/or arrhythmia, this is not good. So the class of drugs generally called beta-blockers, works to prevent the adrenaline from being received by the heart, so the heart won't be overstimulated.

OK. Beta blockers generally block one or more of the beta-adrenergic hormones. Beta blockers can be recognized by their generic names, which all end in lol. As in, acebutelol, bisoprolol, labetalol, etc. There are also drugs that are solely alpha-adrenergic blockers, but they don't end in lol. Terazosin, for example, is an alpha blocker used for hypertension and benign prostate hyperplasia. Most of the beta blockers are used as anti-hypertensives, anti-angina, and as anti-arrhythmics. And most of them aren't prescribed for CHF; in fact, most of them carry warnings that people taking them for other heart problems may develop CHF! Some are used for specific other purposes - timolol, for example, is used to treat glaucoma - it reduced the pressure of fluid in the eye. It's used on animals as well as humans - I know several dogs and rabbits who have had their eyes treated with timolol. That's one of the ones that carries CHF as a possible risk. Propanolol is one of the oldest of the beta-blocker class, and has been prescribed for angina and hypertension for nearly 40 years (brand name Inderal). It's also one that carries CHF as a possible risk.

On the other hand, carvedilol (brand name Coreg) is both an alpha and beta blocker, blocking more than one type of beta receptor. This was the first beta blocker approved for treating CHF, only a few years ago. Another one, metoprolol XL form, has been approved since then. Several studies have shown that carvedilol gives significant survival benefits to patients with advanced or severe heart failure; one study showed that it reduced death rates by 35%. This is probably the single most significant improvement in mortality rates and in hospitalization rates of any of the drugs prescribed for CHF. Despite the possible disadvantages, it's definitely worth taking.

Now the downsides of carvedilol. There's an extremely long titration period. Titration is the fifty-cent word for ramp-up, that is, building up to the therapeutic dose. Starting out on a full dose right away is guaranteed to make you feel a lot worse, and so many people wouldn't comply with continuing to take it. The ramp-up allows you to get used to the side effects more gradually. It takes about 10 weeks, starting at 3.125 mg and doubling every couple of weeks, to get to 25 mg twice a day. Even at the low dose, fatigue, tiredness, lethargy and slow heart rate are expected side effects. They gradually wear off - then come back for a few days each time the dose is doubled. So it's about three months before you really begin to feel better. One should be taking one's blood pressure and pulse every morning, and if your pulse rate falls below 60, let the doctor know. Also, since the purpose of this drug is, in part, to slow the heart rate, one should not be doing exercises that call for a high target heart rate. No aerobics. Doctors recommend walking, yoga, and swimming (as long as you're not trying to do them competitively, high-powered and high-pressured) as exercises that keep you moving and flexible, without pushing your heart into fighting with the beta-blockers. One should also have one's digoxin levels measured regularly while taking beta-blockers.

There's your bunch of trivia for the day. Wasn't that exciting?



bunrab: (saxophone)
We're home. Lessee. The Austin Symphonic Band concert on Saturday night was great, the party was fun. All sorts of people who played with the band at one time or another were invited, so there were people there who hadn't played with the band in 20 years. One guy who had apparently played with the band for a few months in the 80's, who I didn't remember *at all*, apparently remembered [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet and I really, really well, because he cornered us for a while to talk to us about our pet rabbits! It was fun seeing all those people.

Jerry knows us really well. Sunday morning, it was iffy about us waking up in time to get to the airport in time to return the car and check a bag and go through security (remember, I have to get the fun hand pat-down), so Jerry had just the solution: put a recording of a band playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" on the stereo and crank the volume up. Yep, that got us out of bed! Jerry and Kathy, thank you SO much for your hospitality this past week!

More of the week than we expected was taken up by visiting w/ Steve's family and by band stuff, so there's still people we didn't get to see. It's funny how much of the week seemed to have something to do with tea. We gave Kathy a hostess gift of a sampler of decaf teas from Upton; Jeanne and Larry gave us a gift of samples of tea from a new tea shop that opened in Round Rock.

We made it back safely, and in time even to take a short nap before having to wash up and change for the concert we played in Sunday evening, in Perry Hall. The concert went pretty well, although there were several places where I missed cues because I was squinting, the lighting being aimed directly into my eyes and those of the two trumpets who sit nearest me. We did not have fun with those lights. The tenor sax did not show up for the concert. I have a few words for him...

One of the things Dick Floyd said at the ASB concert was something he had heard from someone else, to the effect that "Any band conductor who doesn't end a concert with a march doesn't love his mother." The ASB concert ended with "Washington Post." The Baltimore Symphonic Band concert ended with the band arrangement from "Les Miserables" that everyone plays, but as it happens, that arrangement does end with the rousing march, "Do You Hear The People Sing?" so that was OK. Monday night was Bel Air band rehearsal; that concert, next Sunday, will end with "Barnum & Bailey's Favorite." All the conductors we know love their mothers. Judging by what people say at rehearsal, I am not playing the bari sax LOUD ENOUGH on the contra-alto clarinet part; I'll have to try to fix that at dress rehearsal, which is way too early Saturday morning. Being on stage instead of in band room, the whole seating arrangement will be different, so it may fix itself.

I have tons of mail to go through, of course. And I haven't read anything but magazines all this past week, and I have a stack of library books to go through sometime soon.

Sort of odd being back in our plain "Pebble Ash" colored car after a week with the Tomato Express.

The new issue of The Progressive has an interesting poem, called "Bird Seed," by Kathleen Aguero, which uses birds squabbling at a bird feeder as a metaphor for the current war, and uses quotations from Robert Fagle's recent translation of The Iliad. If you like poetry you might want to get this issue. Assuming, of course, that you are someone who would buy a magazine called The Progressive - one of many liberal mags I subscribe to.

OK, that's enough for one post. I'm sure I'll think of more later.
bunrab: (bike)
I can tell it's really spring now: the neighbor's kid set up his portable basketball hoop at the dead end of our street - in front of our house - and he and his friends started bouncing the basketball on the street, earlier than I would have liked to wake up. However, once up: yes! Sunlight! 70 degrees! Our household took its helmets down from the top of the entertainment center, found its gloves on the bookshelf, and rode off into the... traffic. Across the street from the foot of our block is a Sam's Club. Which apparently had something extra going on. It took several minutes to turn from our street onto the other road, and several more to get past the driveway to Sam's, and then a few more to get past the people in the turn lane who suddenly noticed it was a turn lane and then decided they didn't want to turn. And then, just after the right-turn-only lane, a patrol car, lights ablinking, in the traffic lane I needed, guarding several upset looking people on cell phones and a very crumpled car - I have to assume that the other car(s) had already been towed off, as this car could not have achieved the seriously stove-in side it had all by its lonesome. Once past that, finally, it was good. Miles per hour slightly in excess of the posted limit were achieved. Cherry trees in blossom were observed. Also dogwood and magnolia. Also dandelions. Many, many dandelions. Much of the rest of the helmet-owning population of the greater Baltimore area was waved at. Lunch was had. Errands were run. The post office clerks admired the bike, and no one asked why there is a grapevine christmas wreath wrapped around the bottom of my helmet box. And the mail included my order from Upton Tea, including the Spring Dragon Oolong which is my favorite oolong in the world, so now I am going to go make myself a cup of iced tea.

I had a dream the other night, where I had parked the bike on a street, and a van was blocking me from getting out of the parking space. The van owner refused to move the van until I had helped him round up his pygmy goats. Steve woke me up. I had to go back to sleep, to get a few more minutes, so that I could finish rounding up the goats and get the bike back out on the road.
bunrab: (bunnies)
OK, so the people with the duplex in Pikesville accepted another offer, notified us yesterday that we didn't get it. This afternoon we went looking at more houses. And put an offer in on the 4th one we looked at, which is in Windsor Mill, described thusly: "Not your avg cape cod-much larger-over 2800sf incl bsmt! Nicely maint w/huge,updtd eat in kit,formal dr,lr w/frpl & bay wdw,wood flrs,updtd bths on each flr,fresh paint, fin. Bsmt w/wet bar,flush,lg storage area,12x15 deck off kit,2 sheds-one under hse,roof&gutters-new 2003,beautiful fenced,private yard,4 wdw a/c units,6 ceiling fans,(whole hse fan-works-as is),small quiet street! " Please keep your fingers crossed, or whatever form of superstition you prefer, that we get this offer accepted. We are SO tired of looking for a house!

We did of course look at others. One we didn't bother going into - we got there and (a) there was no place to park except down the side street a block, and (b) we could see the missing shingles and the holes in the roof from the street. Another one was being used as an assisted living home; it was big, but oddly laid out and oddly added onto, with doors knocked into walls that didn't have them before and other doors blocked up with drywall on one side, and some doors hanging loose from their hinges. And an awfully tiny bathroom, for something that was being used to house 5 people plus 2 nursing assistants and an office paper shuffler! The front hall closet was filled with packages of Depends, which is a little offputting...

Anyway, we offered $10K MORE than the asking price on the one in Windsor Mill. It's in a way convenient location, near Liberty Road and Rolling Road. (It's actually less than a mile from that very first one we looked at, which turned out to have the massive mold problem.)

Then we came home and cleaned cages. Put together a new cage for Fred Bun; moved the chinchillas into his old cage; took the chinchillas' old cage out to the front porch to soak in bleach. Much easier to clean up without that cage there; Fred's new cage is much more maneuverable. So we got the floor really thoroughly vacuumed for the first time in a month. The chinnies like Fred's space. Fred is upset, not because of his new cage, but because while I was changing things around, I grabbed and brushed him. I brushed out a whole 'nother bunny, and he still looks like a sheepdog with big clumps of fur sticking out.

And now my cup of Citron Oolong tea is steeped; time to ice it and then savor it. Cage cleaning is hot sweaty work!!

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