Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sleepless nights

I like sleep. I like sleep alot. Unfortunately, I am a statistic. About one in three adults in the world suffer from some form of insomnia. Apparently there are three general categories of the disorder. (Definitions lifted from Yahoo Health)

  • Mild or transient insomnia - sleep difficulties that last for a few days; there is little or no evidence of impairment of functioning during the day

  • Moderate or short-term insomnia - sleep difficulties that last for less than a month, that mildly affect functioning during the day, together with feelings of irritability and fatigue

  • Severe or chronic insomnia - sleep difficulties that last for more than a month, that severely impair functioning during the day, and cause strong feelings of restlessness, irritability, anxiety, and fatigue

Without medication, I suffer from chronic insomnia. My chronic back pain is a huge contributor to my sleeplessness. But, my anal-retentive personality is another major ingredient.

For the last three years, I have been on medication to diminish my back pain at night so I can sleep. However, after three years, I believe that my system is becoming resistant to the drugs. Several times in the last few months, and twice in the last week, it has taken me over four hours to fall asleep after going to bed.

On Tuesday, I went to work with less than four hours of sleep. Luckily, traffic was very light due to the holidays. It only took me forty minutes to drive in and to drive home. However, I should not have been behind the wheel of a vehicle. On both trips I had to perform every trick in the book to stay awake while driving. I slapped myself. I turned the air conditioner on and aimed the blower at my face. I played the radio very loudly and sang along horribly. Plus, I was so punchy and useless at the office that I might as well have stayed home. I was just as sleep deprived on Friday, but I was much more functional.

I usually try to avoid going to the doctor. But, I think it may be time to change my nightly medication formula. I need something that will allow me to fall asleep quickly but won't leave me with a dopey feeling the next morning. In the past, the most effective sleep aids have had that effect on me. With all the advertisements I have seen lately for relatively new insomnia medications, I am hopeful that there is something that will work for me.

The trick will be to get my doctor to prescribe something for me. He is the kind of physician who is reluctant to prescribe a problem away. He is particularly sensitive to the potential addictive factor of any giving drug. There are two prescriptions that I have been on in the past that he will only prescribe a month's supply at a time. I know that his is the right approach. However, I hate feeling like I have to go to his office prepared as if I was entering a court room to make my case.

Hopefully, he will hear my pleas for consistently restful sleep and will be able to offer some solutions. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Fat Monday

It doesn't seem fair that I only got a three day weekend off for Christmas. My husband and son both have the entire week. (Pardon me for a moment, but, "Whaaa!!!")

Other than that quibble, I had a fine holiday. Oddly enough, I found myself at church twice on Christmas Eve. Considering my extremely a-religious past, and continuing agnostic beliefs, I find that fact VERY amusing. The morning service topic was of interest to me: "Why we celebrate" (for Unitarian Universalists, it is quite an engaging topic). We went to the evening service as a family, largely because the Religious Education Director requested my son's assistance for the service. Also, my husband is head of the building committee, and the furnace decided to dysfunction just before the first evening service.

In other news, I have been eating like there's no tomorrow. I need to put myself on a raw fruit & veggies diet for the rest of the week, I think. I have a weigh in at the gym, and I need to make sure I stay under my three pound maximum weight gain for the holidays. Not only could I lose my $10 ante, but I'd forfeit some of my self respect after fighting so hard to lose all the weight in the last year.

I would REALLY like to hit the 1/2/07 anniversary of my diet at 55 lbs less than when I started. (Heck, I'd be ecstatic if I could see 60 lbs down, but I'd have to go on a strict WATER-only diet between now and then to meet that goal.) I wonder if I should hit gym twice a day until then!

Wish me luck!

Friday, December 22, 2006

It's the thought that counts

I received a Christmas present today from someone at work. It was a thought present, that did not cost overly much, but showed that the giver knew something about me. The person who gave the gift is Catholic and takes the holiday pretty seriously. Then again, she takes an awful lot of things pretty seriously.

It was a very strange sensation for me to appreciate and accept this gift in the spirit in which it was given. I definitely did appreciate the gift. However, I really do not like the person who gave the gift. On a personal level, she gets on my nerves quite a bit with her self absorption and competitiveness. On a professional level, she does not listen to anyone else's opinion or take into account anyone else's experience or knowlege. She also has to be right all the time, though she pays lip service to "I'll be the first one to admit when I'm wrong." (Ha! I haven't seen that happen once in five months.) Her primary concern is she not look bad, not what is the best next step for the business.

But, like I said, I experienced a very strange sensation when I opened the gift. It did make me smile, and I appreciated her thoughtfulness in selecting and giving me the gift.

So, I suppose I'll keep my ill wishes for her in check for a couple of weeks, in the spirit of the season.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The thing is better!

OK. My MP3 player and my computer are getting along MUCH better, thank you. It did turn out that the issue was caused by the botched upgrade for Windows Media Player. So, again, more reasons to hate how MS products are so tied into the OS that they can screw up non-MS products running on their Borg-like OS.

All the same, I am so happy that my MP3 player and I have worked things out. We have a wonderful relationship that I hope lasts a very long time. *sigh*

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's just a thing... right?

I LOVE my Sansa m250 mp3 player. I bought it in September to replace my last (dead) player when I decided I really needed one to inspire me to up my workouts at the gym. Since purchasing it I have gotten re-addicted to the downloadable audio programming available at Audible. I don't just listen at the gym either. My son has a 90 minute tennis lesson on Sundays, where I basically wait around and twiddle my thumbs (since it takes us 35 minutes to get there from our house, I kind of have to hang out).

Today, when I hooked the player up to my computer, it refused to recognize the device fully. I couldn't add or remove content. I am pretty sure that I hooked the thing up on Saturday, and refreshed the content before heading off for the gym. I now suspect that a botched upgrade to Windows Media Player may have been the culprit.

I put in a call for help to SanDisk. Hopefully they'll have some wisdom. I feel ill thinking that I can't do with my MP3 player what I normally would do.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Not too old to rock!

My husband, our thirteen year old son, and I went to see Godsmack this evening. If you don't know who they are you should probably just move on and come back for my next posting.

While I am in my forties, I love music so much that I try to stay somewhat current. I like a wide variety of styles as evident from my list of favorite artists (in no particular order):

  • Dave Matthews Band

  • Tom Petty

  • Godsmack

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers

  • The Crystal Method

  • Cake

There are a bunch of others that I am extremely fond of, but the above have extremely high status.

Notice how Godsmack is there. So, imagine my glee at attending this evening's concert event. There were two warm up bands: Soil (review: um ... screaming distorted dirt) and Shine Down (review: not bad, but still kind of loud).

I had only seen Godsmack in concert one previous time, in an 'accoustic' show. I loved that show, but had heard that they put on an awesome full out pyrotechnic show. This evening's show was billed as "an anything but silent night". The band and the effects were awesome. There were a couple of songs that I thought the sound/mix could have been better on, but overall the actual spectal was FANTASTIC.

Sully Erna is a fantastic showman who really gets into his music and feels his audience. The video back drops for several songs were very cool. The pyrotechnics were unexpected but perfect where they were utilized. The mosh pit dynamics were just plain strange.

For the up tempo songs, there were about a dozen guys who had cleared two areas of the floor to thrash out at each other in time to the music. They came extremely close to actually brawling. However, the point seemed to be to abuse each other as much as possible without exchanging actual punches that security guards would throw them out for. For one of the later songs, Sully actually encouraged the mosh pit to 'go crazy' (citing the two areas of the floor where the desired behavior had previously occured). Great. Sully was basically inciting a riot! So, it got a bit wild during that song, but, again, no actual punches were thrown. ... the poor security personnel.

I had a fantastic time, even though we split before the encore performance. My son had fallen asleep during the show, and I felt that the 'responsible parent' thing would be to get him home, especially since it was a school night.

It's going to be tough going to concerts in the future. First off, I have a cardinal rule for concert going: I will not cross Boston's 495 to go to a concert, regardless of who is playing, even if the tickets are free! I simply don't want to deal with the hassle of driving, parking, and exit traffic, that breaking the rule would entail.

Second, my husband laid down his own edict on the way home. He is done with concerts of any kind. Heck, he found last year's Trans Siberian Orchestra performance too loud. (What an Old Guy!) I am grateful that he opted to attend Godsmack with me this evening. I even brought ear plugs for everyone. He used them for the whole concert. My son was not interested in them. I used them for Soil and Shine Down, but had to experience Godsmack 'in the raw'. And, it was truly a memorable experience for me.

Unless I can find a friend who likes the same bands I like, I will be attending concerts with my adolescent son. While that wouldn't seem so bad, our tastes over lap only slightly, and he tires of the event long before I do.

So. Exactly who's too old to rock and roll? Not me!!!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

What to read

As anyone who knows me, or has read this blog over time, knows that reading is my favorite activity bar none. Over the years, I have amassed quite a huge collection of books, with the intention of reading them all. Realistically, even if "I had a million dollars" (or a billion) and could afford to do nothing but read, and if I lived healthily for another sixty years, I probably could not read all the books in my possession (much less the books that I would want to read that I do not currently own, or that have yet to be written).

I have belonged to several reading groups over the years. Currently, I lead a group affiliated with my church. In addition, I have had the privelege to have people ask my advice on what book they might enjoy next.

With "so many books, so little time" how DOES one decide what to read? Sometimes, it's happenstance. I come across the same title in several different places (book reviews, best seller lists, recommendations from others, a display at the library). Sometimes, I go for a title because I enjoyed something else that the author has written. Sometimes, I pick something up on a lark based purely on an attraction to the cover and an enticing blurb on inside front matter.

All that being said, I have stumbled on a couple of resources when I'm looking for a special 'something'. This desire for a special 'something' to read is much akin to a hunger for a midnight snack. You know the feeling. You go downstairs and 'shop' the refridgerator not knowing what it is that you want, but hoping that something will call to you to satiate the amorphous desire for that particular morsel.

The first resource I'd like to recommend is Book Browse. The site is a great resource for reviews of current (and recent in the last few years) fiction. If you become a member (which I did) the site recommends books based on othter books that you've liked. Say that you are like me and were one of the ten people who really liked Michael Crichton's Timeline. Book browse recommends James Patterson's The Jester, Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, and Susan Price's The Sterkarm Handshake. I read and enjoyed the first two, so I guess I'll have to add the third to my bottomless list of books that I'd like to read.

Another resource that I highly recommend is usually available through your local library. NoveList is a service of Ebsco publishing. Using their search feature, you can put in a few keywords for a type of novel that you are looking for, and the database will usually supply you with a number of potential candidates. For example, if you were looking for fiction relating to immigrants in Boston, you could search the keywords "immigrant" and "Boston" and you might hit on The Garden of martyrs by Michael C. White.

My latest find is a site that recommends titles based on what you have read. The Library Thing allows you to track your reading history and/or titles that you own. Based on any individual title that you have read, it will recommend other titles based on what other people, who have read that title, have also read (or have in their collections). One of the more interesting features of the site is that it also has an "unrecommended" feature. So, say you liked Crichton's Timeline. The Library Thing un-suggests that you read Vladimir Nabokov's Ada; or Ardor: a family chronicle. Good to know. Then again, it's Russian, so there's little danger that I would have voluntarily picked that one up any way.

So, undecided about what to read next? Try one of the above resources. The Library Thing is free. Then again, so is asking me!