Thursday, October 25, 2007

More Needles, Please

I'm shocked. I'm not normally shocked by much. But I'm shocked.

I came home last night from working all day, playing Craps at the casino, and sitting down to a nice dinner (it was Mr. Goofy's bday). I grabbed our dog Murphy to take her for a short walk before going to bed.

I was about 3 minutes down the street when I realized...I don't feel any pain. This is HUGE. As most of you know (from all my bitchin' in this here blog), I have been having chronic lower back pain (left side if you're keeping score at home), ever since we adopted our son*...going on 2 1/2 years now.

I almost stopped and sat down, just to keep from ruining the feeling. But I kept walking. Down the street. No pain. No back pain. No hip pain. No groin pain. (yep the whole kit n' kaboodle on the left side hurts normally). All the way down the block and back. I almost screamed for joy.

The only thing I've been doing differently is the acupuncture. And I've only been twice. And I haven't been since last Saturday.

So, dear readers, it seems that my meridian was INDEED blocked. Damn meridian. And the needles are INDEED un-blocking them. Love those needles! Rather quickly, I might add.

It's early to get too excited. I did have some pain and stiffness this morning. But much less than normal. But I'm optimistic. Crazy as it might sound, eastern medicine might just be onto something. At least for me.

Stay tuned. I might be leaping tall buildings again soon. Whee!

*He's not a chubby child, it's just that I didn't have the normal 9-month 'ramp-up' time to get my body used to carrying that weight in front of me. No training whatsoever, then deadlifting 17+ pounds of wiggly child twelve+ times a day will do a number on your back, my friends.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Need Help with Veggies!

I need some good Halloween food ideas. Alex's class is having a party next week and we signed up to bring veggies. Well, veggies are BORING.

How can I Halloween-ize some veggies to make them fun for a 4-year-old party?

I thought about carving baby carrots into tiny pumpkins and well, that's just ridiculous. I thought about modifying Cagey's Ghosts in the Graveyard dessert for veggies, but what would the 'dirt' be? You don't really dip veggies into anything brown, typically. EW.

Who's got a good creative idea that I can try? With limited time commitment please!

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Gift to You!

As some of you know, I've been brainstorming to determine what my Next Big Thing should be. This will probably, but not necessarily, be a startup business.

I've got a notebook that I keep with me 24/7 and when I think of something promising ("just feed the tuna fish mayonaise"*) I write it down. I've gotten quite a few wacky ideas, but nothing really promising yet.

However, I recently came up with a pretty interesting idea that I think could actually work. But it's just not an idea that I would like to do. You know how you're supposed to have that passion for your business? Well, this idea gives me no passion. But it might work for someone else, so I'm sharing it.

Here it is: (please forgive the long-windedness as I describe how I got to the idea)
You know those Build-a-Bear stores in the mall, where you go in and pick the bear body, pick the stuffing, pick add-ons like collars and nametags, pick a name, and then they put the damn thing together for you? And pay an average of $32 for the privilege? This company makes a cool $318.1 million in revenue** for providing the materials for customers to come in and basically make their own stuffed animals.

There's also Papa Murphy's Pizza, which follows the same general idea, but they provide all the fresh ingredients for you to create your own pizza, which you then take home and "finish" (by baking). Hey, I just made my family a home-made pizza. Yeah, sure you did. But I'll bet you felt better bringing that home than a cold-by-the-time-it-hits-the-dinner-table Pizza Hut pizza!

Part of the attraction of these two businesses is that, when you go there, you are "doing it yourself" - it's "homemade", so it must be better, right? You can also personalize the products, so you walk away with the exact thing you are looking for, and don't have to settle for whatever was in stock.

Then there is the trend towards Old Fashioned Hobbies. I've noticed this trend over the past few years. I've never known so many women who sew and knit! ***

So how about a store where you could go to make your own, custom-made, high-quality kids' clothes? There would be some pre-made parts (think Build-a-Bear here), like sleeves, collars and bodices. And you could combine colors, fabrics, etc. to make your own creation. Want a blue dress with a lace collar, gold trim and puffy sleeves? Done. How about a green shirt with long sleeves, cute buttons and a satin collar? Done.

This would be different than going to a fabric store, just like buying a Papa Murphy's Pizza is different than making a pizza from scratch - the product is already "half-made" rather than requiring "totally from scratch" work (and time).

I think this idea would work best for baby/toddler/kindergartener clothes, just to limit the sizes that you'd have to carry in inventory.

Stealing from the Bear stores and the Social Suppers-type stores, you could hold parties with friends to make clothes for your kids.

I'll bet you could charge $30-40 for a custom-made dress that the customer "made themselves". This wouldn't be a discount play, this would be a customized product play, and I think folks would dig it.

Disclaimer: I have totally not checked to see if anyone is doing this business already. Not that this would stop someone else from doing...I'm just sayin'...

So, there you go. Someone go do this idea and make a bunch of money. Then buy me lunch. I love lunch. :-)

* quote totally stolen from the movie, Night Shift, 1982

** I'd totally be happy with the .1 by itself!

*** This trend totally missed me...I'm lucky to get a button back on when they fall off!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Sticky Situation

How would you like a needle in your blocked meridian?

Yes, please!

After almost three years of lower back pain, I've decided to give up on western medicine and turn to eastern medicine. Acupuncture in particular.

I have avoided this until now because I'm a little freaked out by it. Overall, I'm very open-minded. I'll try anything once. But when it came to long needles being shoved into my bod, my mind closed. Just a bit. But just for a little while.

I finally got to the breaking point since my latest (and best) chiropractor is leaving for Colorado to start a practice with his wife. Bastard for leaving. Bastard for leaving for Colorado. I met his replacement this week and I'm just not sure how long I'll be seeing him.

Anyway, I went for acupuncture last Friday. I got two good referrals and chose the one that was obviously a Chinese woman (from her name and accent on the phone) and the fact that she had been a doctor in China. I figured she's probably smarter than the average bear, so I gave her a try.

Our consultation began with the typical forms. Where does it hurt? What else is wrong with you? How long? Family history? Mark on the stick man where your pain is. Blah, blah, blah.

Then it diverged. We talked about my pain history and somehow got on the topic of bowel movements. Lots of details were required. Lots of questions: size, shape, frequency, consistency. TMI for this post, thankfully. Then she got out a little blue satin pillow and had me rest my wrists on it, one at a time, underside-up. She made motions like she was taking my pulse, but she poked and prodded a bit more than was was needed for a simple pulse.

After this, she told me she understood my "health condition". It seems that I have a blocked meridian right where the pain is. I also have a weak spleen and a weak liver. (oops, too many margaritas!) Acupuncture could help me. I am to go through 5 treatments and take Chinese herbs. Was I up for this? Er, sure. Why not?

I changed into the obligatory Velcro-in-back hospital gown and rested face-down on a padded table. She rubbed alcohol on seemingly random spots from my mid-back to my ankle, about seven in total. Then the needles. EEK! The needles. Yoga breath...WHERE IS MY YOGA BREATH? Ah...there it is. But, I really didn't need it. I only felt ONE needle. Of course, it was the one that went into where my pain is located - left-side, lower back.

Then she gave me a walkie-talkie (in case I decided to freak out) and left for 20 minutes.

Okay, so anyone who knows me knows what I did next. What did I do? Do you know?

Of course. I looked. Which is not easy to do when you are face-down and the needles on in your backside. I looked and I saw....

TINY! They were TINY! Maybe 2 inches long! For some reason, I was expecting sharp, foot-long, metal needles, waving in the breeze from my poor, tender leg-flesh. But these looked, well, just silly. They weren't even metal, they were white plastic. They looked like those plastic toothpicks that you can buy at Walgreen's. Hell, maybe they were.

Assured that I wasn't too much of a shish-kabob, I settled in a fell fast asleep. Hey, you put me face-down, I fall sleep.

I woke up when she came back. She took them out, pop, pop, pop, and helped me up. I got my herbs* and headed out.

So how do I feel? I feel the same. But I'll try a few more times before I give up. I'm goofy that way.

*Obviously, the mix of herbs was an "ancient Chinese secret". I asked her several times and all she would say is that it was special mix, made especially for me, of 12 different herbs. All legal, darn it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mattress Shopping - A Decision is Made!

After going through Mattress Hell, it took us a while to venture back into anything remotely resembling a mattress store. Well, all of three days.

We went to that mecca of all things homely, er, I mean, home-y: Nebraska Furniture Mart (imagine a booming echo while saying those 3 words)

We had done some research on the Tempur-Pedic beds, and wanted to check one of those out. FYI - it's really, really hard to determine the differences between mattresses on the web. They are just one of those things you have to go SEE. And I wasn't sure if I would like the memory foam stuff - that seemed kind of hot and weird to me.

Anyway, I had a few of the "lower" priced Tempur-Pedic (TP) beds marked to check out. Please notice the quotes around "lower"...these beds range from $1500 - $7000. Yowsa!

We first practice-slept on some 'regular' beds, in order to get a baseline. Control freak much? Yeah, I know. Shut up.

Then we got onto a lower-end TP bed. Hmmm....not so bad. They actually feel like a waterbed filled with gel.

The salesdude walked over to check on us. We shooed him away. Not ready yet.

Then we tried the middle-range bed (the "Rhapsody" if you're keeping score at home). Wow. Yes, I think we actually said, "Wow". It felt good. Firm, but not rigid. Soft but not smooshy.

Again, I'm channelling that Goldilocks vibe here...

Salesdude was back. Said lots of great things about the bed. We asked some questions. He gave some answers.

We actually liked the TP pillows too. mind started tallying up the prices. The pillows are a hefty $100+ each! But my back told my mind to shut the f&*#% up.

It could be delivered the next day. The next day was Friday. I was off and would be at home. There was no excuse not to, so we bought the bed.

Ka-ching! Let's just say we could have bought about 3 'regular' beds with the money we spent.
Yeah, Dave Ramsey would be horrified. Whatever.

A couple notes about these types of beds:
1. When you get them home, the memory foam stuff gives off a chemical odor for about 3 days. Opening the windows and turning on a fan helps. It's not super bad, but it was a very weird smell. The salesdude warned us, luckily, or we might have freaked.

2. You have to "break-in" the mattress. Minds out of the gutter, please! Ahem. We had to get on the bed and walk around on it. Both of us. To music. Okay, that last part we improvised. And we had Alex walk on our pillows to break them in. That was Big Fun and he slept like a babe after all that exercise.

2a. If you get the pillows, you need to break them in to. We totally spaced this and had sore necks the first morning, because the pillows were like rocks. After break-in, they are much better.

3. You have to "break-in" your body to the mattress. I am used to tossing and turning all night long. With this mattress, you don't really need to do that. It's actually HARDER to toss and turn, since it's like the gel water bed. This took us about a week to get used to - and I'll be honest, we had some hard nights.

4. If you sleep "hot", you won't need a comforter anymore. I never thought I "slept hot", but after waking up feeling like I had a heating pad under me, I realized that I was cooking myself. The memory foam is denser than typical fabric, and you lay in place longer. Thus...burnt ends.

5. You will absolutely NOT KNOW if your sleeping partner gets up out of bed. This bed doesn't even flince when someone moves on it. I believe this is a good thing.

6. I AM a bit horrified at how much we spent, but you sleep 6-8 hours a day. About a third or fourth of your day is spent in bed, so why not be comfortable?


Monday, October 01, 2007

Goofy's Must-See TV

Look out, she's got a DVR! She's got the remote and she's willing to use it. No one move!

I've been happily recording and watching some of the fall premieres for the past two weeks. Here's what I like (and don't like so much):

Reaper - LOVE it. The dry, goofy humor DOES remind me of Buffy, as some critics have noted (a moment of silence for the Slayer, please). The main character is a perfect mix of goofy cuteness mixed with just outright dork. And his sidekick is Jack Black's twin. And the scary versus silly mix is just right.
DVR Status: DVR-Worthy!

Bionic Woman - Liked the first ep a LOT. I'm a closet Battlestar Galactica fan, so the fact that Starbuck is in this series was a pleasant surprise. I like the way they've 'spun' the story a little bit differently than the original. And I really like the actress that plays Jamie - she's very good.
DVR Status: DVR Worthy for now...will decide after next ep.

Chuck - I really WANTED to like Chuck, but I didn't so much. It wasn't nearly as funny as Reaper, and quite frankly I keep confusing the two. Both main characters work in a 'big box' store (a Best Buy-type store versus a Home Depot-type store), they both have sidekicks and they both have love interests way cuter than they would have in real life. Plus they both have new "roles" that they don't want (Reaper - working for the devil; Chuck - working for the CIA).
DVR Status: It's touch and go. This one may go bye-bye after this week.

Moonlight - ERROR! I recorded this last Friday and fired it up over the weekend to watch. I ended up with the end of a college football game instead. RATS!
DVR Status: Error. Will try again.

Journeyman - Caught this show tonight. Really, really liked it. I read that you have to have more than an 8th grade education to understand the show. This is true. And it's well worth having to pay close attention. Lots of potential for this show, if they don't get Quantum-Leap-goofy on us.
DVR status: This wasn't on my original list of shows to DVR, but it's been added!

Kitchen Nightmares - I saw the BBC version of this show and really liked it. But I haven't had the excitement to watch the American version. I might not have time. The BBC version was good, but I ended up feeling sorry for the restaurant owners as Gil cussed and berated them. He's definitely got the 'tough love' thing going on.
DVR Status: In danger of being deleted.

Dancing with the Stars - Okay, so it's not technically a premiere, since it's been on a few times before, but it's a guilty pleasure and I'm watching it. The must-see dancers are: The Cheetah Girl (sorry, don't know her name, nor what a 'cheetah girl' is, but she's damn fun to watch), and Helio, the racecard driver (goofy, but hot in a goofy way - excellent dancer!). Wayne Newton was a BIG disappointment - it's like watching your grandfather dance. Badly.
DVR status: This is a keeper.

Survivor: China - Again, not technically a premiere, but I've been a Survivor fan from the beginning and this season (two eps now) has got me hooked. Mark Burnett continues to change this show up each season so that it's still exciting and interesting to watch. This season has a host of very unique personalities.
DVR Status: It's there until the finale.

Is there anything I'm missing that I must see? Please don't recommend sitcoms or any show with a laugh-track. I just can't stomach those anymore.