Sunday, August 7, 2011

Storm - 1 Comcast / Xfinity - 0

We had a bad storm yesterday and it knocked out our electricity. Just ours, no one else in the neighborhood got hit.

The first thing I did was pick up the Xfinity / Comcast phone to call the electric company. No dial tone. The phone said "Searching...." and it kept at it until the phone beeped... and then beeped again a bit later. I finally took the battery out of the phone. The land-line phone we have, the one without any computerized or electrical gadgets, the one that has always worked in the past (pre-Comcast) was dead as the proverbial doornail.

Luckily in our modern world we all had cell phones and I was able to report both the electrical outage and the phone outage. Comcast said the battery failed on the modem and they'd be out next week to fix it. Uh huh.

We switched to Comcast phone last week. We already have cable and Internet. When I compared their latest deal (it included Fox Business News Channel for as long as we have the phone and some movie channel, plus a whole bunch of others) to our current deal with AT&T we saved some money. Not a ton, but in the end, after the two year 'deal' period, we'd still save a few pennies so I decided to give it a try.

My biggest concerns had been losing phone service when we lost cable / Internet and/.or electricity. I asked the guy on the phone AND the service tech when he came out to install. All kinds of assurances flowed... backup battery gave 4 hours of talk time or 8 hours of phone in the event electricity was out... the phone was separate from cable / Internet and would work in the event either or both of those went out.

Four days later, electricity is out and that brand spanking new modem has what they say is a defective battery. They actually had me open the modem to ensure that they put a battery in the thing. Nice people, can't complain on that front. Every experience has been good with the individuals I've encountered at Comcast / Xfinity.

Problems continue to be length of time it takes to get them out here. It's usually three or four days to get into the rotation. Then they cancel and reschedule (have had that happen twice).

Now I'm going to get a new modem or new battery or maybe both. My problem is going to be that I'll have to wait until the electricity goes out to know whether it'll actually work or not. I'm sure they'll have a little tester, but it won't tell me whether the battery holds a charge. It won't tell me if the modem connects correctly with the battery.

Oh, and lest someone suggest that maybe it got hit with lightening, it didn't. The fuse blew at the main pole coming into our house. I watched them replace it and voila, all the lights came back on... and the phone.

Not happy thus far. I do like having Fox Biz though.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Over 15 "Freedom Riders" Set to Journey Across the Country From Atlanta to New York City as a Means of Tribute to September 11th Fallen Heroes

/PRNewswire/ -- Ask any citizen on the street and they can tell you vividly where they were when our country came under the worst attack on our homeland. Imagine being a first responder and going out to help the innocent victims of September 11th, 2001. Almost ten years to the day, a cycling tour (Freedom Ride) has been organized from Atlanta to Ground Zero to commemorate the first responders and pay tribute to the fallen heroes and their equally courageous survivors.

In 2009, on the eighth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, firefighter, Mike Palmeri of Atlanta Fire Station 21, was working the same shift he was the day of the attacks. An avid cyclist, he envisioned a ride covering more than 1,000 miles on two wheels. That vision became a reality. Now, with 15 cyclists, they have been dubbed, "The Freedom Riders." The riders are made up of both Georgia-based firefighters and public safety officers.

On Friday, August 26th, these intrepid Freedom Riders will take to their two wheels as they embark on a journey of a lifetime. A send off ceremony will take place on Cafe Street, the outdoor lobby of The Terminus Building in Buckhead, Georgia at approximately 9 am. A moment of silence will be observed at 9:11 am. The riders will continue through the city of Atlanta's Midtown and Downtown communities before heading north through Ellijay and the ominous challenges of the Appalachian Mountain Range. Every day for 16 days, the Freedom Riders will press on through weather and an average of 100 miles a day as they head for their pilgrimage goal, Ground Zero in New York City. Their "family," the American Fire Service at the end of each day's ride, will greet the Freedom Riders in every city. A solemn remembrance service, at Ground Zero, will culminate the ride on the ten-year anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2011.

For a complete list of Freedom Riders, ways to support and volunteer, please visit Connect with the Freedom Riders on Facebook and Twitter to follow them on their journey.

Demonstrate the American Spirit of duty, honor and country
Raise money for the Atlanta Fire Foundation

Monday, March 14, 2011

Had my thermography scan this morning

I wrote earlier that I was considering having a thermography scan rather than suffering through another mammogram. After I shared my thoughts on it, I went out and researched the subject as I indicated I would (see some of the links at the end of my blog).

I read and read and read and then read some more. I am now a semi-expert on the issue. After all my reading and research I concluded that it's was worth giving it a try. Generally it was considered a viable alternative by some and a good addition to health care by others. I didn't find any that said "NO, HORROR, DO NOT DO THIS".

I checked around, couldn't find any place locally that did it other than Health Concepts in Fayetteville. There was one place listed in Peachtree City, but they didn't have a website. I may be an Internet snob, but if some place doesn't have a website, I'm not going. It looked like they used some kind of mobile service anyway.

I had my appointment this morning at 10 a.m. I had already filled out my paperwork, which they conveniently post on-line so you can print and complete prior to the appointment. Saved me time, saves them paper and toner!

I walked in, handed over my paperwork, sat down and before I got comfortable they were ready for me to take my scan.

It was painless. It was fairly fast given they do six different scans. I didn't have to sit in a room with a whole bunch of other women wearing a little paper top. I wasn't cold. They didn't mash my boobs. The tech explained everything to me prior to starting, then answered questions and volunteered more info as we went through the process.

After it was all said and done, I was able to look at my scans on the computer. They had a huge chart showing the various things to look for and she took time to point out and compare some of my results with those on the info chart. Of course, we didn't get into "gee, that looks bad" or any kind of suggestion regarding the results. She just explained what the various colors meant and things along those lines. I was able to see just how tense I was in the neck area!

I was back in my car in half an hour. Loved the turn around!

Now I wait. I was pleased to learn that they send the scans to Duke to be read by experts. She said it can take a week, but typically they're much faster. She explained what they'd be looking at, how they did it, what they were looking for when they manipulated the scans. I won't bore you with all the details. If they find something I'll get a call. If they don't, I'll get a letter. This is one time when I'm willing to sacrifice a tree to make paper for my letter!

I found it to be a very easy process. It wasn't demeaning or uncomfortable in any way. I would prefer not to have spent the $175 but it was certainly worth it given the alternative.

In three months I'm supposed to go back for another scan. I wasn't real thrilled about that one - it'll be another $150 dollars. However, after learning why they wanted the scan, it made sense. Cancer cells grow fast enough that in a three month period they'll be able to see if there have been any changes. If I have what they think might be a 'hot spot' they'll compare today's scan with the one they take in three months. If it's grown or gotten 'hotter' then I'll be off to see my insurance-covered doctor to get a mammogram.

According to the tech this process can detect many cancers years earlier than a mammogram or self exam. In my reading I learned that mammograms detect roughly 80% of cancers, ultrasounds around 83% and thermography, 90%.

It made sense that thermography might find more cancers. You have to have something big enough to feel to find it with a self-exam. It has to have reached a certain size to be detected in a mammogram. The thermography scan picks it up as it's picking up steam. In my laymen's terms, cancers start changing things around the corrupt cell. It needs nutrients, it's working, it's hot even when it's just beginning to cause trouble.

It's not meant to completely replace having to have a mammogram. Here's a disclaimer that I found typical on most sites I looked at "Disclaimer: Breast thermography offers women information that no other procedure can provide. However, breast thermography is not a replacement for or alternative to mammography or any other form of breast imaging. Breast thermography is meant to be used in addition to mammography and other tests or procedures. Breast thermography and mammography are complementary procedures, one test does not replace the other. All thermography reports are meant to identify thermal emissions that suggest potential risk markers only and do not in any way suggest diagnosis and/or treatment. Studies show that the earliest detection is realized when multiple tests are used together. This multimodal approach includes breast self-examinations, physical breast exams by a doctor, mammography, ultrasound, MRI, thermography, and other tests that may be ordered by your doctor."

Given that mammograms can detect some cancers that thermography scans might not pick up, it's probably not a good idea to eliminate those nasty things completely. I think if I had a history of breast cancer in the family or high risk factors I would probably do both. If I had to do test frequently as some with high risk factors must, then I might opt for thermography the majority of the time to keep from subjecting my body to even tiny amounts of radiation.

So, bottom line for me, in three months I'll go plop down more money for the baseline comparative scan. In a year I'll have another scan. I'm having my regular exam by the doctor in June so she'll do a touch and feel scan that's probably better than the ones I do.

I'm going to look into the ultrasounds, too. Maybe in a year or two, insurance will start to cover more preventative options like thermography and ultrasounds as opposed to mammograms. A girl can dream...

Here are some articles. Read them with the knowledge that many are protecting their bread and butter, and that anything 'new' is suspect by some.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thermography vs Mammogram

I'm going Monday to a local clinic to have a thermography scan. I'm working on the terminology, this is all pretty new to me!

I've been overdue for a mammogram and have been putting it off, putting it off, and putting it off. Did I say putting it off? Oh, man, do I hate those things. I'm one of the unfortunate few who always gets called back to have a second scan. It's bad enough having them mash your boobs once, but to sit there in the waiting room still wincing from the pain of the first one knowing you're getting ready to do it again is about as much fun as... well, can't think of anything to compare.

I got into a conversation with a friend who works with breast cancer survivors. She convinced me I should get my butt (and breasts) in to get a mammogram. A couple of other girlfriends joined the conversation and we started sharing horror tales about the process. Yes, it's true. If you lay on the ground and have a car roll over your breasts it's good prep for this procedure.

Smashing them in a refrigerator door will also help prepare for the pain. I'm sure you've seen the many cartoons and jokes, just like I have. Problem is, they're not really funny when they're true!

So, the breast cancer friend suggested we try thermography. I'd heard a bit about it, but figured it was probably expensive and that insurance wouldn't cover it. I called and asked and learned that no, most insurances won't cover the scans. There is one that will do it, but you pay extra so it's probably less expensive just to pay for the scan out of pocket.

I'm getting ready to go do some research. I have an appointment Monday morning at Health Concepts in Fayetteville, GA. The cost for the torso scan is $175. Then you're supposed to do a follow up in around 3 months for $150 to establish a baseline. Then it's $150 a year for a scan.

I heard there's a clinic in Peachtree City that also does scans. I'm going to track them down and compare pricing. I'm willing to drive a bit to save some money!

I'm also out doing research on the procedure itself. If they find something I know I'll then need to schedule a mammogram so I can get under my insurance and go the doctor route. Of course, I'm hoping they won't find anything!

I'm going to end this, go do my research and will share more with you later on what I find.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Grab your tissues and prepare to be inspired

This is a video from 1999. It is a timeless example of true love and inspiration.

The young man in the wheelchair being helped in the Iron Man has cerebral palsy, is mute and a quadriplegic. His family was told he'd be a vegetable and to put him away. Instead, his parents (now divorced) and two brothers treated him as a regular member of the family.

When he, Rick, was 15 his Dad pushed him in a 15K race. He wrote on his computer that it made him feel like he wasn't handicapped.

At the time of the video above Rick was 37. His dad, Dick Hoyt, was 59. They were the first tandem couple to ever complete the Ironman Triathlon World Championship. It took them just over 16 hours.

In thinking and reading more about the father-son duo a myriad of positive messages flitted through my mind. Think about what it takes for a Dad, who I understand wasn't a runner prior to their first race, to push through and become strong enough, determined enough, to do this for his son. How can I complain about the petty things in my life when I watch that video and reflect on their lives? How can I whine about the aches and pains I have from walking or running when I'm in perfect health, have healthy children, after reading about this family?

The pair are still running together and have a website,  Reading through the pages on the site it turns out that the duo have now completed six Ironman competitions!

I guarantee you'll need tissues to watch this.


Father-son marathon duo finds a new challenge
Celebrity owner reopens Holland landmark

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tea Drinker Discrimination

I'm a hot tea drinker. I don't drink coffee and unlike many of my fellow coffee abstainer friends, I don't even like the smell. For some reason the fact that I don't like the smell seems to shock people more than the fact that I don't drink it. I'm not a snob, I'm just as addicted to my hot tea as coffee drinkers are to their brew. A morning without hot tea becomes a day with a major headache. Caffeine is addictive no matter how you swill it.

I'm a minimum two huge cups a morning type. I measured my cup recently, it holds two cups of fluid thus I'm getting four cups a day minimum of tea and caffeine.

My tea of choice is PG Tips, a British tea that is very strong. Pam, who's from Great Britain, at the Broadway Diner in Fayetteville turned me onto the tea. I thought initially I'd have to just stop in there to get a cup or two or ten, but turns out you can buy it at Kroger, at least you can buy it at "my" Kroger on the south end of Fayetteville, Hwy. 85. There are 40 bags to a box, it usually runs around $4 - $4.50 for a box. Not a bad price at all for a good cup of tea.

By now you're possibly wondering why I titled this blog "Tea Drinker Discrimination". If you're not, you should be given all the rambling prior to that statement...

One of my pet peeves is restaurants who give unlimited coffee (they pretty much all do) for one price but charge me for each and every cup of tea I drink. They charge the same for coffee as they do for tea usually, yet some, a few, restaurants charge me $2.25 or $1.75 or whatever for each and every cup of tea. I was actually told the other day at one Peachtree City restaurant that no, they didn't charge per cup. If I used the same tea bag over and over they would allow me to have three cups of hot water to go along with the one measly tea bag they were willing to allow me to have. Yep, I could re-use that puny thing they called a tea bag three times. I drink my tea with cream or milk -- reusing a tea bag that's been soaked with sweetener and milk isn't pretty, nor does it taste like anything other than weird water.

Once I discover a restaurant discriminates against tea drinkers I mark them off my list. I never return. I used to politely, nicely, try to let them know why but after a few blase responses (ala, we don't give a flying flip, there aren't enough of you tea drinkers to make a difference) I quit telling them why. I just don't go back.

There are two restaurants that I've marked off my list in Fayette County. One in Peachtree City and one in Fayetteville. I'm not naming names as they're fairly popular with my friends and I like the owner of the one in Peachtree City, would very much like her to succeed. I doubt my aggravation about her tea discrimination would hurt her business anyway. Now I think I may have hurt the business of the one in Fayetteville because they were positively snotty when I raised my eyebrow about being charged. I canceled my dessert order and left the restaurant they were so snippy about it. Since then I have taken enough business from them that I've cost them much more than it would have to just give refills on 10-15 cent cups of hot tea...

Think about it. How many people drink tea like I do? I may have two cups after dinner, maybe three if it's cold outside. It's going to cost them maybe 50 cents for those three cups of tea if I'm drinking the better selection. I'm going to buy dessert. I'm going to be a happy customer. I'm going to come back if the food was good and the service at least decent.

Given the small percentage of people who drink tea and the even smaller percentage who drink multiple cups, what's the big deal about free refills? The vast majority of restaurants don't charge for tea refills, from the nicest upscale places to the lowest end dive. Why do some restaurants try to grab a nickel on tea? What's the cost of a lost customer? What's the cost of having someone pull business meetings to other restaurants? I like to enjoy my meal. I don't enjoy some meals without my after meal, sometimes during meal, hot tea. And no, I don't always drink hot tea with a meal when I'm out. It's a mood thing, and sometimes a weather or time of day thing. I rarely have hot tea with lunch unless it's really cold.

I know all you coffee drinkers and caffeine abstainers are rolling your eyes at the idea of someone walking out of a restaurant, never to return, over being charged for a second cup of tea. It's the principle of the thing. It's part of the enjoyment of my meal. I pay pretty hefty prices for the privilege of eating at many restaurants. I don't mind, I know they need to cover their costs and hopefully make a profit. Tea isn't going to make or break them. But it can cost them if they charge for refills.

So there.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ditching Nexium...

A few years ago I started getting killer heartburn. I tried all the normal over-the-counter remedies, even tried Prilosec for 60 days straight. As soon as I stopped taking it, wham, the horrible keep-me-up-all-night heartburn was back. It was getting worse.

I finally decided it was time to talk with my doctor. She put me on Prilosec, prescription (not sure if there's a difference) for a month or so. Either they have to go through the 'try-this-first' hoops due to insurance or she didn't believe I'd already done it I suppose. Of course it didn't help. Just as soon as I stopped taking it the heartburn came back with a vengeance. Again, it seemed like it was worse than ever.

She sent me to a specialist who knocked me out and took a look. He said I had acid reflux, my little dooflotchy (lower esophogeal spincter (LES) muscle) that normally stopped acid from coming up the esophagus was weak, not doing its job. He told me I need to take Prilosec. Every day. Forever. Due to changes in my insurance he had to switch me to Nexium after a few months, but both did the job.

I did NOT like having to take a drug. Unlike my norm, I didn't go out and do any research, I just meekly filled my prescription and did away with the heartburn. Pain will do that to you... completely knock out the intelligent questioning part of the brain!

If I forgot to take it one day I knew it before the end of the day. I would end up taking two pills to be able to sleep,

I've been compliantly taking my medicine for almost three years now I guess. Off and on I've wondered how it works but have gotten sidetracked before I hit the computer and forgot to look it up. During that time frame I did a bone scan and discovered I had the beginnings of Osteoporosis, the you're-not-there-yet-but-if-you-don't-take-a-drug-you-will-be kind. I now take a weekly drug to help keep my bones in tip-top shape.

This morning I finally remembered to go look up Nexium. I wanted to bang my head on the desk. Guess what one of the side affects can be? Bone loss. Osteoporosis. Another is vitamin B12 deficiency which can lead to various brain problems. (Hah, now I have an excuse!).

I decided to get off the drug. All it's doing is wiping out 90% of the acid created in my stomach. I didn't go into any great depth as to what that could do to your digestion, but I did see a ton of comments from people who were having difficulties that stopped once they weaned themselves off Nexium (I'm assuming Prilosec is the same).

One of the things commonly noted was the rebound affect -- try to get off and your heartburn problems increase tremendously. All annecdotal, but I did see some links to studies that supposedly supported their assertions.

I'm going to list some suggestions to get off the drug in case you're interested.

  • low carb or no carb / no sugar diet. (I'm already doing that, started about 10 days ago so I suppose my timing in trying to get off Nexium is good.)
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every day. Mix with water, take straight or mix with honey. (I tried that for weight loss, couldn't handle the taste so hopefully won't need to go that route. It is the most common 'cure' noted though... I guess I could put it on my salads, maybe that would work just as well.)
  • take Nexium for two days, Zantec for one - alternate like that for 2 - 3 weeks. Then go to every other day. Finally after about 2 weeks of that move to Zantec every day for 20 days. (I may try that one. I have no earthly idea why it should work, but it's one of the most common ways I found on the forums I read.)
  • papaya enzyme before ever meal, also one after if that doesn't help. Aids digestion, a good idea if you have any digestive problems in my opinion. (I keep a jar)
  • ginger - the kind you buy at the health food store. Good for digestion. (I'm going to try.)
  • DGL - a type of licorice (Info) (I'm going to pick up some & have just in case.)
  • chewing gum after every meal. Gets the juices going, helps digestion. I'd guess that peppermint would be more helpful than fruity gums, but that's a guess. (My mom always said my siblings and I looked like cows chewing cud when we chewed gum... I am scarred for life, can't chew it except on rare occasions!)
  • don't eat two hours before laying down. (Good idea to help prevent heartburn, acid reflux, something I'm already doing... a bit late in the game as I used to love a late-night snack, but sticking with it now that it hurts if I don't!)
  • eat apples (helps digestion)
  • avoid fried foods
  • loose weight
  • eat smaller portions, frequent meals rather than large meals
  • sleep with the head of your bed slightly raised. It helps to stop the acid from traveling up from your stomach to your esophagus.
  • take probiotics to help with digestion. (already doing sporadically, guess I'll make it a regular thing)
  • D3 supplement (I already take, supposed to help with so many different things, including wrinkle reduction... who knows about things like that, they say it will then years later say it really didn't. Can't hurt as long as I don't overdo it!)
  • cut back or eliminate caffeine. (Not giving up my hot tea, ever.)
  • stop smoking (not an issue for me)
  • baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon for symptoms or take it as a preventative twice a day. (Not me, no way.)
  • surgery if you have loose lower esophogeal spincter (LES) muscle, although some of the above remedies may still help per forums

I'm not a doctor (obviously...) and I can't tell you whether any of the above are good, bad or ugly, or whether they work. I'm getting off the stuff one way or the other. I have the kind that is due to a weak muscle so not sure that any of the above are going to do me any good. We'll see.

I'll try to pop on here off and on and let you know how I'm doing. I didn't take a pill this morning --- may end up taking one tonight to be able to sleep. I just figured I'd see if being on a low-carb, no sugar diet for a couple of weeks did the trick... I don't have my licorice, apples, ginger, Zantec, etc. yet so I don't have anything to allay symptoms. If I end up with bad heartburn tonight I'll wait until I can go to the store before beginning the weaning process!

A few links:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Butterbeer just SOUNDS like it has to be good...

The word just rolls off the tongue so nicely it makes you want to repeat it. And hearing the description in the press release below, it made my mouth water. If I ever make it back to Universal Orlando I'm going to have to try one!


Popular Beverage Hits Major Milestone: Universal Orlando Marks Moment with 1,000 Complimentary Butterbeers

In celebration of selling its millionth Butterbeer inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort shared 1,000 complimentary Butterbeers with guests on the streets of Hogsmeade.

Butterbeer appears as a favorite drink inside the Harry Potter books and films and is only available inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It is a nonalcoholic, frothy drink reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch and is served cold or frozen.

Much has been written about Butterbeer since it made its debut on June 18, 2010, making it one of the most talked about beverages of 2010. There has been much speculation about its secret ingredients – but Universal Orlando will not share the closely guarded recipe. Universal has implemented special security procedures to protect the details.

Butterbeer quickly became a guest favorite. To help meet the strong demand, Universal Orlando added a fourth Butterbeer location within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

“You can see the excitement on our guests’ faces as they wait in line – and then the smile that comes with their first sip,” said Ric Florell, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Resort Revenue Operations for Universal Orlando. “Butterbeer is not just a beverage. It’s an experience.”

Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the most spectacularly themed environment ever created. It is the only place in the world where the wonder, excitement and adventure of the Harry Potter books and films come to life.