Friday, October 17, 2008

Once in a, seriously.

On September 14th, my parents and I went to see the NHRA drag races at the new Zmax Dragway here in Concord, NC. We're big drag racing fans and while my dad had seen and even driven those kinds of cars before, I'd only ever seen them on TV.

Gary Scelzi does a burnout in his Funny Car.

We got there early, spent some time walking through the pit area (where I got Ashley Force's autograph), and then headed for our seats as the action got underway.

If you're not familiar with these cars, a few words: they run on nitromethane rather than gasoline, and they have about 8,000 horsepower - that's more than 100 times the horsepower of a NASCAR engine. That makes them fast (Top Fuel dragsters have gone over 330mph) and it also makes them unbelievably loud. When they made the first pass, I almost dislocated my jaw in shock. Even after hearing my dad talk about it for my entire life, I just had no concept of how loud that was, and there's nothing to compare it to. Not only did the grandstand shake, but the ground itself shook, and the feeling of the vibration through my chest and entire body was just incredible.

Ashley Force prepares for a run.

We watched the first round of Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars, and then Mom and I went below the grandstand for some shade and cool drinks. It was in the high 90s, and I wasn't holding up very well. To make a long and unpleasant story short, I ended up spending the second round of competition in the track's medical care center receiving IV fluids. I was sunburned and overheated, and as soon as my IV was done, we went home to watch the rest of the races on TV. I decided that this was my last outdoor activity ever, but that's okay because it was a truly unforgettable day.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Portobello and Yellow Squash Casserole

I've made this twice now and it's just so good I had to share.

8oz sliced baby portobello mushrooms
1.5 pounds small yellow squash, sliced
1 can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
2T minced garlic
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup shredded cheese
ground mustard
seasoned salt
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sautee garlic and mushrooms in olive oil until tender. Add squash and sautee two minutes longer. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix soup, milk, breadcrumbs, spices, and 1/2 cup cheese. Stir in veggies, and place mixture in large casserole dish. Bake uncovered 40 minutes, top with cheese, and bake 10 minutes more.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My one and only post on the topic...until he wins, anyway.

I've made it a point to stay out of political discussions and to just cast my vote and keep quiet about it. I'm breaking that just for this post.

I'm 26 years old. I registered to vote when I was still in high school, but only because one of my teachers was giving us extra credit for it. I never "used" my regstration, and I'm pretty sure the card got left in a pocket and put into the washer.

Then Obama came on the scene, and I voted for the first time in the primary. I like this guy. He's not creepy, he's well-spoken, and all of his ideas make sense to me. I listened to his energy speech from Lansing, MI yesterday and by the time he was done my neck was sore from nodding the whole time.

Barack Obama may be new, he may be a radical change from what this coutry is used to, and he may be somewhat less experienced in some areas than other people. But he's managed to pique this politically apathetic nonvoter's interest in politics for the first time, and that's something.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mr. Stewart Goes to Concord

So Tony Stewart is going to make the move to Haas CNC Racing at the end of this season, and take a majority ownership role (making it into Stewart Haas Racing). I can't say I'm surprised, but I wasn't really expecting this, either. I think it will be a good thing, though, for Tony and for the sport. NASCAR needs more owner-drivers, and especially smart, articulate, and unabashedly outspoken ones like Tony.

The part about this that troubles me, though, is the talk about Joey Logano "replacing" Tony in the Sprint Cup series car at JGR next season. "Sliced Bread" Logano may be a hot shoe, but he's still an 18 year old kid who couldn't drive in the Nationwide series until a few weeks ago because he wasn't old enough. He will have run less than half a season this year, and there's even talk of him making a few Cup starts later this season. That's asking an awful lot of the boy. It's also asking an awful lot of the other 42 guys in that field who could get caught up in any rookie mistakes that might be made, mistakes that perhaps wouldn't be made if Joey stayed in the Nationwide series for a full season and got more seat time and more time on the track with the numerous double-duty drivers. Even with the lack of congruence between the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series cars, there's a lot to be learned about respect, strategy, and just how this sport works. I hope JGR gives Joey the time he needs to develop his potential to the fullest extent.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Excuses and Alibis

I haven't blogged in a long time. It's nothing in particular that kept me away, but then lots of little things.

I was working on my first-ever wholesale order, so that took all my waking hours for quite some time.

I was scrambling to get new inventory made after that because I'd neglected my shop while I made the wholesale order.

I'm feeling spectacularly cruddy lately, so once I've done all the things I have to do, I don't have the time or energy left to blog.

Oh, and I rediscovered Bejeweled. My friends used to call it BeCracked, and they were right. It's very hard to tear oneself away from.

But I'm back now, and tomorrow I'll think of something to say.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

For shame, Tony and Dale!

A few weeks ago I was watching an episode of SPEED Network's program "Unique Whips" in which a crew remodeled NASCAR driver Tony Stewart's hearse. Fancy seats, lights, a big new engine under the hood, all kinds of cool stuff. It was truly impressive. At the end of the show, Tony came to pick up his car. He got in, and that's when I got concerned. He drove out of the shop's parking lot, and that's when I got irked. A few more camera angles gave me a better view of Tony in the car, and that's when I got upset. Tony didn't have a seat belt on. (I should stipulate that the camera angles provided didn't show definitively whether he had a lap belt on, but it was very plain that there was no shoulder belt in use. I emailed the owner of the shop that worked on the car, Will of Unique Autosports, but have not yet received a response.)

Then tonight I was watching the Sprint All-Star Challenge. This was driver Dale Jarrett's final race, and in keeping with the "Race the Truck" ad campaigns they have been running for quite some time, UPS had Dale drive one lap around the Lowe's Motor Speedway in a big brown UPS truck. I loved the idea of this sendoff for one of the most famous NASCAR names. That is, until he took off with no seat belt on. Door open to the wind, and no seat belt.

I've got a lot of respect for both Tony and Dale, but it really upsets me to see them on TV cruising around with no seat belts on. I'm an adult who knows from experience just how crucial seat belts are. What about the millions of impressionable little kids (and bulletproof-feeling teens) out there who idolize these men and will draw the conclusion that if Tony and Dale don't have to wear a seat belt, then it must be perfectly okay and pretty darn cool to take off their own? Both of these drivers would no doubt agree that while they can't control what people do, there is a certain responsibility that comes with celebrity status to set a good example, especially for their youngest fans.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Now what?!

I went to to the doctor this past Tuesday, and they ran some bloodwork to check (again) for rheumatoid arthritis. I've had the more common test for it multiple times with a normal (negative) result, but I'm having some symptoms that are indicative of the disease, so I had an anti-CCP antibody test done. It's supposed to be more likely to catch the disease in the portion of people who get a false negative on the standard test.

This evening I walked past the answering machine and saw that I had a message. It was from the doctor's office, just asking me to call them back. It was, however, already far past their business hours (and Friday, to boot). I'm going to try calling tomorrow morning because I think they have limited office hours on Saturdays.

Knowing my doctor's office as I do, I know there are only two reasons that they would call me like this rather than leave the "all results normal" message on their Lab Phone system. First, it could be that there was a problem and they will have to redraw my blood. Second, the lab work returned something significant, and requires treatment or some other action. Now, tell me if I'm losing my mind here. I'm not dreading this, I'm actually kind of excited. In fact just yesterday I remarked that a part of me was hoping that the test would come back positive for RA, because with that illness at least there's an understanding of the disease and they know how to treat it. (I have fibromyalgia, and there really isn't much that can be done for me meaning I wind up having to just suffer through it.) Is that weird for me to feel that way? I mean, I know how serious and debilitating RA (And the treatments for it) can be. I know people who have the disease, one of them very severely so. But I just keep feeling like, "If I have that, then they can and will help me, and will actually believe that I'm sick! I won't have to try to prove myself every time I try to get help, and I won't have to literally cry and beg."

But then the practical part of my mind starts thinking, what about this business I just started? All of it relies on my ability to use my hands and to see what I'm doing (not to mention the heavy computer aspect, combining both). RA can destroy joints, and can also essentially blind you. I've already been diagnosed with an eye condition (episcleritis) that often occurs in people with RA. If I do have this, now I'm worried about what I'm going to do if at some point I can't continue working. I've already gone through the ordeal of applying for (and being denied) social security disability benefits, and I hope I never have to do that again. Maybe it would be different with a condition that I can prove exists, but still, it's a terrible mess and isn't guaranteed.

Hey, here's an idea...maybe I should go to bed so I actually wake up early enough to call the doctor and find out what the hell is going on!

5/7/2008 ETA: I did get in touch with the doctor's office. The anti-ccp test was normal, but the more common test measuring my rheumatoid factor was slightly elevated. The doc doesn't think at this point that it's an indication of a rheumatoid condition, but will monitor the level closely in coming months. It's very early, I know, but at this point I'm fairly convinced that I do have RA. This wait-and-watch scenario is very familiar to me. A few years ago, I was tested repeatedly for thyroid disease. It runs in my family, and I was already having symptoms. However, my levels were within normal range when they first tested me and for about a year thereafter, although the levels were trending downward. Finally they dropped out of the normal range, and I began taking medication to treat it. I immediately felt better. I'm starting to see the same thing happening with this; it's only slightly elevated right now, but next time it will be a little higher, and on and on until it hits some magic number and they start treating me for what I've known I had from the beginning. Uff da.

I'm writing too many posts about health (or lack thereof) and not enough about Etsy and my business as I had intended to focus on here. I think I may need to set myself up with a new blog that's all business, and keep this one for everything else.