Friday, February 26, 2010

Just keeps getting better...

So recently I had my annual physical. It was a good one, as I am about 40 pounds lighter than at my last physical, and in general I seem to be in pretty good health. My blood pressure is good, everything seems to be in order.

Except one little thing.

I apparently have a reasonably serious Vitamin D deficiency. I guess your normal level is supposed to be 30 whatevers per the hoosey whatsit and my level was 13. Not the biggest deal in the world, my doctor put me on 4000 units of Vitamin D (four little pills once a day) every day for 2 months and then we will re-test.

Now Vitamin D is one of those things that is pretty easy to get low levels in when you live in a place like Chicago where you don't get a lot of sun in the winter, since your best source of Vitamin D is direct sunlight. It is hard to get in food, especially if you don't drink a lot of Vitamin D fortified milk, which most of us over the age of eleven do not.

Of course, most people who have recently spent over 20 days IN SOUTH FLORIDA over the past three months might not have a problem with Vitamin D, what with all the sun they are so flipping famous for...



At the moment I am feeling even worse since my parents are currently down there hanging out with my grandmother in the lovely low 60s temps with gale force winds, oh so desireable for hanging out by the pool, as long as you don't mind wearing a parka.

At least they are expecting rain tomorrow, so that should be entertaining. Not very.

Speaking of entertaining, as in not very, am I the only one who has found this Olympics singularly boring? I mean, yes, I was mightily entertained by the female cross country skiier who managed to fall off the course into a ravine for no apparent reason. And nothing really beats a tiny little figure skater who spins around with such force and speed that she gives herself a bloody nose. Yes, Shaun White was awesome. But the sum total of his performance was only slightly longer than the Progressive Insurance commercials that bookended it. The vistas are gorgeous, it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and I remember my visit to the area very fondly. But with all apologies to my Canadian pals, the dullness of the opening ceremonies has been eclipsed by the dullness of the games themselves, prompting Charming Suitor and I to begin to invent new potential sports.

We like the idea of combinbing some of the Biathalon of Cross Country Skiing and Shooting with other activities, like ski jumping...we think the jumping part would be much more exciting if a Biathelte might accidentally shoot you while you were in the air. Even better if instead of the loud buzzer at the top, someone just yelled "PULL!"

We also think that figure skating and hockey should be combined. Yeah, let's see you land that triple axel when someone is trying to check you into the boards! Talk about bloody noses! Or making the hockey goalies do a sit spin without knocing into the goal. Try that with all those pads.

Snowboarding, already fairly high on the excitement list, could be even better if the half-pipe has a polar bear or two wandering around that you might not want to bump into. And don't even get us started on the patent-pending Ejecto-Moguls.

We also think that no one should be allowed to wear clothing so specifically designed for speed and aerodynamic performance. I personally want to see those speed skaters have to wear Mascot uniforms, complete with the big heads. If for no other reason than we might actually hear Dan Jansen say "If Apolo Ohno can just maintain his balance as the St. Louis Chicken, he should be able to stave off the Hello Kitty that is Japan's best contender."

One note, in every Olympics there is a heartbreaking story or two, so in spite of my cheekiness about the games, I do want to send my most sincere and heartfelt condolances to the family, friends and colleagues of Nodar Kumaritashvili the luge competitor who lost his life the day the games began. And condolances tempered with congratulations to Joannie Rochette, who skated beautifully despite the recent loss of her mother, and was an inspiration to all who watched and wept with her and her family.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Nothing Like A Vacation

Where oh where have I been, you ask? I wish I had better news to share.

Mostly, I have been in Florida. You would think that this would be great, as Chicago winters are notoriously cold and snowy and dreary and many people from my general area choose to spend some large-ish portion of those months in warmer climes. Like Florida. Which is something my folks decided to test the waters on this year, renting a place between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale for four months.

In theory, three trips to Florida three months running, especially when those months are December, January, and February, should be a great thing. The ability to get and maintain a facial color other than greenish gray. Spending some time outside not all bundled up. A gift, really. And how fortunate to be in such a position at all.

In practice, not so much.

December saw myself and Dad on a road trip to get Mom’s car down there, since renting a car in high season for a month is only slightly less than a year of college tuition. We arrived after our uneventful 20 hour drive, with a large-ish list of errands to run to get the place set up, only to find that Florida was feeling a bit parched and had decided to have a freaking MONSOON. Ever drive five miles an hour through two feet of standing water attempting to find someplace, anyplace to have dinner? Not fun. The fact that once we DID find a place to eat, the ceiling above our table sprang a leak halfway through the salad course seemed so ridiculous it could not help but be funny. I pushed my empty wineglass over to catch the falling water, and can now say that we had three inches of rain AT OUR TABLE. The rain did not let up for the rest of my brief stay, and I returned home the same color as when I left.

January found myself and Little Sister heading back south to visit Mom and Dad for an extended ten day break, after which she and Dad and I would drive the aforementioned car back to Chicago. I had two major goals. Get a decent tan, and work out everyday. I forgot to tell Florida, who decided that a record cold snap was in order, and my immune system, who decided that this was the perfect opportunity for a head cold.

I don’t just mean a little colder than preferred, or chilly at night. I mean that someone DIED of hypothermia. In Miami. There was SNOW. In Ft. Lauderdale. The four of us spent the better part of the vacation either huddled inside reading and playing board games, or wrapping up and trying to put our faces in the sun on the balcony. I spent most of it wrapped in a blanket, blowing my nose and eating chicken soup.

We did discover some interesting things about the area. Firstly, it is loudly, publically, unabashedly flatulent. Here is a list of the places where we were subjected to the resonant and odiferous fart stylings of South Floridians:

The movie theater (ditto snoring, talking through the movie, getting up to leave and come back fourteen times, opening cellophane packages endlessly, and laughing at inappropriate moments)
Barnes and Noble
Pilates Class
The workout room
Jai Alai
Waiting in line to get seated for dinner. And lunch.
The grocery store
The elevator
The Hard Rock Casino
The Miami International Art Fair (also, 3-D renderings of graphic images from the Kama Sutra made entirely out of plush toy googly eyes)

We also had great people watching, especially at Mo’s Deli, where one can see a parade of colorful characters which is almost as great as the food. We never did get used to the driving techniques of the locals which seemed to include a combination of driving as slowly as possible on the roads while driving as fast as possible in the parking lots.

The major accomplishments of this vacation: I read ten books, went through three large boxes of Kleenex, ate eleventy-million matzo balls, and came home the same color I was when I left, with the exception of being really red and chapped around the nose.

When Little Sister and I returned week before last for a brief visit, we had one major goal. Warm our chilled Chicago bones in the sun and perhaps, just perhaps, get the teensiest bit of color in our faces to combat the winter pallor.

True to form, Florida had missed us so much that it decided to welcome us back with THE COLDEST TEMPS SINCE JANUARY! Yep, we brought the frigid back with us, and got four days of chilling winds and cloud cover.

I have nary one extra freckle.

Florida: FAIL

Lucky for me, despite Florida not bringing one bit of warmth, there is a new Charming Suitor who has been keeping me plenty toasty back here at home, not to mention happily busy, which is the second source of my radio silence. But now that the travelling is done and I am settled, expect much more frequent posting and some exciting new features in the coming weeks!