Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lag B'Omer

Today is a semi-holiday called Lag B'Omer, the 33rd day of the counting of the omer. (This counting is what we do every day from Passover until Shavuot, the time when the Torah was given.) The custom is to have bonfires at night (last night) and to have picnics and play (carefully!) with bows and arrows during the day today. Honestly though, I have to say that I don't know anybody who actually does the bows and arrows thing, unless you count little kids making bows from a stick and a piece of yarn!

The kids are in school but it's a non-uniform day and they're having baked potatoes at lunch (for the bonfire connection). The weather hasn't been so nice for the past couple of days and has been extremely variable, going from rain to sun and back again during the course of the day. So, the big question was: would we be able to have the scheduled picnic/BBQ and kite flying at the beach? It was very overcast this morning but has cleared up nicely now, so I guess it's on!

I'm not sure what we're doing this evening though. Hubby is home sick today, I'm supposed to have class and I know it will be chilly at the beach, even if it's still sunny. Plus, I don't have the money to buy food at the BBQ because payday isn't until tomorrow. But I know Dear Child would enjoy flying hubby's kite! (He has a really nice one that he's had for several years and we rarely use it.) I guess we'll see.

Life is a Treadmill, It's All Uphill

I'm getting very frustrated with Blogger. I'm back to having huge problems accessing the area where you type your post. It's generally late at night when I have the time to get on here and I don't like having to spend my time playing around, trying different things to trick Blogger into letting me type!

Today was the day I went for my cardiac stress test. I arranged for the mother of one of Dear Child's classmates to pick up DC from school today and take her for a playdate because I was quite sure I wouldn't be finished and able to get to the school for 4 pm. I dropped off my granddaughters with their mother at work and went to the hospital for my test.

They attach a bunch of electrodes all over your chest and up onto your collarbone, then strap a device around your waist with a bunch of leads that attach to the electrodes. You lie down for a few minutes while they take some baseline readings, including your blood pressure. Then you stand up for more of the same.

Finally you step onto the treadmill and hold onto the bar. The tech starts the test at a very easy rate but it increases in both incline and speed every 3 minutes. I was puffing a bit midway into the first 3 minutes and only lasted until a minute into the 3rd stage (yes, 7 minutes total). The tech was very nice all the way through. She kept asking me how I was doing, warning me before it would speed up and just generally helping me.

She showed me my heart rate on the screen and told me we were aiming to get it up to 170 beats per minute. When we started my heart rate was in the mid 120's for the 1st stage. It gradually moved up as I kept walking and would increase when the speed increased.

When we moved to the 3rd stage the treadmill was fast, but still not so fast that I had to run. The incline was the worst part of it. About 20 or 30 seconds in she asked how I was doing and I said I thought I'd have to stop in a few seconds. This was just about the time that my heart rate rose above 170. She asked if I could manage 20 more seconds and I did it. Then she slowed and stopped the treadmill and helped me off and back onto the bed.

I lay there for several minutes, puffing like a steam engine to start with and gradually calming down. She kept taking my blood pressure and finally I couldn't feel my heart pounding anymore and my breathing got back to normal. I felt pretty wiped though and she got me a glass of water after she unhooked me from all the technology.

I asked if there was any kind of average and she said it really varied but that it isn't normal for us to run uphill for several minutes at a time. I pointed out that I hadn't been running and she told me that, if I'd made it to the next stage, I would have had to run. She said if there's any kind of average it's probably the 3rd stage although she'd had athletic types go and go and go (why are they taking a stress test if they can run uphill for 15 minutes anyway?) and that she'd had someone today quit 2 minutes into the 1st stage. She also told me most of the people you see running on the treadmill at the gym for ages aren't using any incline and that most of the machines in gyms only go to about a 10% incline anyway. The stress test starts at a 10% incline and keeps getting steeper.

My doctor will have the results in about a week and then she'll call me in to discuss today's test and the blood work I already had done. Here's hoping that she figures out from all of this what's going on.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Star Trek Lives!

Blogger has now graciously decided to allow me to post, so....

My younger son took me to see Star Trek tonight! It was a much better Mother's Day present than flowers. I really can't remember the last time I saw a movie in a theatre and the last few were all kiddie movies that we took Dear Child (age 6) to see. The problem with that (aside from the fact that I'm generally not that interested in the movie) is that there is almost always some kind of scary scene in the movie that necessitates me either cuddling DC or taking her out to the lobby for a while. And barring that, of course, there is the inevitable bathroom run which must be made at the climax of the action.

Being that my younger son is 24, there were none of the above issues. He bought me refreshments and we had a great time. I must say that I have been a Trekkie since I was 8 years old (when Star Trek first came out) and that I would not have met either of my husbands if it were not for Star Trek (even though my current hubby is not a fan, rather I met him through someone else I knew through Star Trek). This is a beautiful example of Hashgacha Pratit, G-d's personal supervision of each individual, designed to suit each unique person and provide them with the things they need at the right time and in the right place.

As for the movie, there have been good movies and bad ones in the franchise (The Wrath of Khan vs. the first movie with V'ger) and I will go down on the side of saying that this is a good one. It takes canon and shakes it a bit but provides a reason for doing so (much better than ignoring it I always think) and finally takes us back and shows us all our old friends in their younger days. I really think most of us long-time fans weren't ready for this before. If it had been done 20 years ago we would have compared them unfavorably to the original actors who were still, for the most part, in their prime. Now that we've all gotten to a certain age ourselves I think we're ready to appreciate the talents of a younger generation.

I liked all the characters but the one I thought really nailed it was the guy who played Bones. I just loved all his interactions with both Spock and Kirk. Kirk is a little different. I think of this Kirk as Good Will Hunting meets James Tiberius Kirk. And he's got a lot of Tom Paris (from Star Trek: Voyager) in him. Spock was played very well but there were a couple of things that were real departures from how the original Spock would have done things. Only one of them really bothered me but I won't say what it was because I'm trying to remain relatively spoiler-free.

Anyway, if this is the sort of movie you might like, I think you should go see it. Of course, if you're only interested in comedies or period pieces or something, never mind. Although there is one pretty funny scene with Scotty, come to think of it....

I hope all the mothers out there had a Happy Mother's Day! Live long and prosper.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I didn't do a lot today other than to go with my Eldest Daughter, Dear Child and the 4 yo granddaughter to see Fiddler on the Roof (the 1971 film version) at a local theatre. It was an event put on by our local Jewish High School to raise money for a class trip and it was fun but looonnng. We were there for over 3 hours but the girls enjoyed it. DC liked it enough that she asked if we could see it another time, although that was before the scary graveyard scene. Afterwards she said something like "You know, I remember these things forever." But she still enjoyed the rest of it. I had a nostalgic time, especially watching a very young Paul Michael Glaser as Perchik.

In other news, our 2 rear snow tires seem to be practically bald while the front ones are fine. This was only their 2nd winter but there was an incredible amount of snow this year (considering that we normally get little or none) and we got stuck on a number of side streets and in lanes. There was only one time it was really bad, when I spent a couple of hours digging the car out (it had bottomed out on the snow in the lane!) but there was a fair bit of rocking back and forth and spinning of wheels at various times. We should have taken them off before this but we've been busy. Hubby tried to get it done this morning, but nobody was open. It looks like I may have to do it on Thursday or Friday when I'll have our car during the day. We won't buy them now, of course, but it's going to mean buying 2 new snow tires in the fall. I should try to find out how much they are so we can start putting money away.

Shevy KO's the Gym

I took care of the gym on Friday after a few phone calls and some more frustration. First, I couldn't get anyone at their head office, just voice mail. So I looked up the gym in Richmond and called their number. Yes, they were in the same location as head office and there would be someone upstairs if I came during office hours. Then the girl started asking me questions, looking stuff up on her computer and eventually asked me why I hadn't just paid the one month fee at the Vancouver gym when I was in there. Well, I would have. I had the cash in my purse, specially taken out of the bank for that very purpose. But the girl in Vancouver told me that the money stuff had to be handled through head office!

That, of course, was wrong. The girl in Richmond said I could do whatever was easiest for me, go back to Vancouver or drive out to Richmond. I was still leaning towards going to the head office when the manager from Vancouver called me to apologize. In the end I went back there to see her, paid the money ($31 something with tax) and had her write that I'd paid the 30 day fee on my copy of the receipt. I probably saved an hour plus the gas and she assured me that she'd notify head office immediately.

Why did I pay in cash? Because there's no way I'm going to give them a credit card number that they could then run up with fees or chargebacks or whatever they might dream up. Now my only issue is whether I should try to actually go to the gym a bunch of times this month. It's not good timing. My work gala is at the end of the month so I'm crazy busy at work. My Biblical Hebrew course has 3 classes left. I don't have a lot of free time (especially when I don't have kidlets in tow and they've cut back the childcare there). On the other hand, I'd like to get some value for that $31 odd I had to give them! Plus, the doc wants me to get more exercise and I still want to lose 10 lbs. of flab (I'd even be willing to trade it for 5 lbs. of muscle). So, we'll see.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Two "Wednesdays" This Week

And another week goes by....

At least I've been busy the past couple of days. I know yesterday was It Won't Wait Wednesday but some of the tasks got carried over to today. What all did I do?

I got paid and took cash out of the credit union to deposit into my bank account. I also wrote a cheque to myself at my other credit union and deposited it through the ATM so there'd be enough in the account to cover the service charge at the end of the month. The cash I took out couldn't be deposited until today.

I also went to the gym, but not to work out. My 18 month membership ends May 1st and I wanted to cancel. I hate gym contracts. It says you can't cancel until the anniversary date but then it says you have to give 30 days notice. After the "free" 18 months (that I paid $500 for up front) they start charging your credit card $29.95/month on the first of each month. You have to give 30 days notice too if you change your credit card or there are chargebacks. The credit card I gave them in 2007 was changed by the credit card company about a year ago to a totally different number.

Anyway, I went in and filled out the required form in person but they couldn't do anything about the credit card issue except tell me that I was going to get charged one month's fee before I'd be free of them. They suggested I call the head office and gave me the number. When I called today I got a recording and had to leave a detailed message. I'll try to call again in the morning because I want to take them the cash and have them sign off that I'm done. Of course, that's going to mean driving out to Richmond on Friday afternoon (at least half an hour each way). At least Shabbos doesn't come in early!

I went to my doctor's appointment today. She sent me for blood work (to check for obvious things like anemia or thyroid) and is going to set up an ECG and a treadmill stress test. However, she thinks I need to exercise more! (Right, just as I'm cancelling the gym membership.) Then she said I might be tired because I'm always so super-busy. And, if I'm so busy, just when am I going to exercise? Besides, this isn't just being tired. This is stuff like being too wiped to lift my arms to put them on the steering wheel. I think it's a little more than "de-conditioning". I went to the lab after the doctor and had 2 tubes of blood drawn. Then I walked across the street to the bank, deposited the cash and updated my book.

Tonight I did my husband's taxes although not my own. Why? Well, technically speaking, you only have to get your stuff in by the deadline (which was midnight) if you owe Canada Revenue Agency any money. I can't remember the last time I ended up owing them anything. Usually I get somewhere between $30 and $100 back. Hubby, on the other hand, always owes money. And not a tiny amount either. It's usually $700 and up! Last year he ended up owing over $1,000 and he hasn't paid off much of it, maybe a couple of hundred dollars. If you owe money you still pay interest and all but there's no 5% penalty if you at least file on time.

So, I did his return. I was hoping it would be better this year because they have a new accountant at his office and because there have been a few positive changes in the tax rules. How does almost $1,000 back sound? Of course, they pay off any outstanding stuff first but he'll still get a cheque for $200 or $300! Actually, I would have done my taxes too but I boxed up most of the paperwork I need for it before Pesach and it wasn't where I thought it was. I'm not worried. If he got a refund I'm probably getting a bigger than usual one myself. I'll try to find the missing papers over the weekend and do it then.

Of course, once I finished the good copy of his taxes I had to get in the car and drive it out to the Taxation Centre in Surrey before midnight. I got it in with about an hour to spare.