Wyclef Jean, Problem Solving, and Escapist TV

Quote of the Week (From The Good Wife)
Will: "But let's not expose ourselves on a subway platform unless we have to."
Diane: "Oh, what a colorful and pointless metaphor."

Wyclef Jean, The Carnival Volume II (Memoirs of an Immigrant) [2007] (***); Greatest Hits [2003] (***) –  Wyclef Jean sings hip-hop with a healthy dose of social commentary and island flavor, and without the angry sexism that plagues a lot of hip-hop.  My favorite Wyclef Jean song, hands down, is "Fast Car" featuring Paul Simon.  If you liked Paul Simon's Graceland Album, definitely check out the song, "Fast Car". It's the perfect combination of hip-hop, island sound, catchy chorus, and social commentary. 

The Joy of Problem Solving:
Last week our weather turned so tropical I began to wonder if I'd moved to Florida and just forgot to mention it to myself. One evening when I was walking into town, I looked up the weather on my phone. It wasn't raining but the humidity was 94%!
The tropical weather brought my arch-nemesis pollen with it, and I once again battled with sinus issues.  To make things more fun, I also have a new kidney stone. Despite my health issues I had a mostly productive week.  What changed?

Problem solving is the savior I'd been waiting for.  My greatest comfort comes from imagining myself in a lab coat with Tina Fey glasses holding a clipboard and going over the facts and data about my situation.

The more facts I know about allergies and kidney stones, the better I can fight them.  The more data I take on my problems, the more I can problem solve and figure out what makes my conditions worse and what makes them better.   I note what I eat, what medications or home remedies I try, and what the result of each of the actions is.

It works too!  I had mild discomfort all week, yet I was able to keep the pain manageable enough to write, bike, cook, and even have some fun.

Yay problem solving!  You rock.

PS- So far, this week the weather is thankfully cool and fall-like.

Nikita (*** 1/2) –  I'm enjoying the second season of Nikita.  No, it's not a great show by any standard, but it is a fun show, with just the escapist qualities I enjoy in my TV watching.  There are plenty of pretty men and women kicking ass because of their dedicated training and expert skills.  Plus, the actors look like they have a lot of fun with their characters and just when I'm getting bored of the overall plot, the writers do something unexpected to surprise me.

Pam Am (***) – I've seen two episodes of Pam AM now and am still only mildly interested in it.  The sets and costumes are striking and I like all the characters but the stories haven't really grabbed me so far.

Terra Nova (** 1/2) – I was looking forward to this futuristic sci-fi adventure about people traveling back in time to an undamaged earth with dinosaurs.   It  has great sets and special-effects. I'd expect nothing less given its 20 million dollar budget. Unfortunately, what is doesn't have is a well-developed storyworld or good writing.  The characters are all lazy Hollywood stereotypes, their futuristic world doesn't make a lot of sense, and the plot is trite and predictable.  How disappointing! That was an easy one to cross of my list.

April 2010: In Brief

Happy Crappy Gluten Day– Break out the lab coats and clipboards!  It was experiment day at the Eureka lab of allergy studies. For one day I ate only bread and pasta to see if gluten was the true source of my horrible sinus headaches and energy-sapping fatigue.  Oy!  Yep, gluten is not my friend. 

Health Hallelujah–  It’s been freakin’ awesome being healthy for weeks on end.  I’ve been parenting, subbing, writing, cleaning, and just generally enjoying life headache-free with plenty of energy. I don’t miss bread or pasta at all. My allergy shots have been quite effective in this high pollen season too.  Yay!

Non-Fiction Books Finished:
Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, by Max Blumenthal (*** 1/2) – An interesting look at the key players and events that led to the Christian Right’s ascension into the political mainstream.  [Adult Non-Fiction]

Whip It (****) – A rural Texan high school girl trying to escape the pageant circuit is drawn to the rough and tumble world of Austin roller derby.

I really liked this movie. The roller derby plot was engrossing– though it was more an entertaining slice-of-life film than the zany comedy it’s marketed as. It was great fun watching a group women having a good time and bonding together for their own goals.  I also liked that the romance was only one part of the heroine’s life, not her whole storyline and future. I hope Drew Barrymore directs a lot more movies if they’re all this good.

Fried Green Tomatoes (****) – Rewatched this one night and still loved it.

TV- Top 5 Favorites of the Month (In A,B,C Order)

Better Off Ted – Netflix said I’d enjoy this show because I liked Arrested Development and News Radio.  Apparently Netflix is very wise because this comedy has the silly deadpan humor of Arrested Development taking place at the fictional multi-national research corporation Veridion. The pilot was only pleasant, but by episode four everything gels together and becomes laugh aloud funny .  [The entire 13-episode first season is on Netflix Instant]

Doctor Who– So far I like eleven and his companion Amy Pond.

Fringe– Like eyeballs floating to the surface of a lab stove pot, things are reaching the boiling point on Fringe and it’s mighty satisfying.  (It wouldn’t be Fringe if there wasn’t some amusingly gross reference, now would it?)

Parenthood– Winston Churchill once said, "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else."  That seems to be the secret motto of each episode on the new show Parenthood. I have a love-hate relationship with this show.  The Braverman family is a little intense for me and their constant togetherness makes me wonder how these characters have any time to work — let alone read a book, perhaps on parenting. 

On the other hand, it’s nice to see Peter Krause (Nate from Six Feet Under) and Lauren Graham (Lorelei from Gilmore Girls) on TV again.  The rest of the cast is just as good and the storylines tend to be fun. Show runner Jason Katims has a child with Asperger’s Syndrome and it  shows in the accurate details of Max Braverman’s life.

Supernatural – I’m enjoying the build up to the big season five finale where I fully expect the writers to pull out my heart and crush it once again this season. 

Sub Jobs:
1 day – Field trip with 2nd grade class at my usual school
1 day – Media Center Specialist at my usual school
1/2 day – 1st grade reading teacher

Harvard Medical School Guide to Healing Your Sinuses

 Author: Ralph B. Metson, M.D., with Steven Mardon

Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 2005

Pages: 256

Genre:  Personal Health

Rating: ***1/2


As a chronic sinus sufferer I wonder if in a past life I unknowingly created cable news and am now being punished for it: slowly and stealthy.  My sinus infections seemed so lame that people implied I was a hypochondriac; I wondered if they were right. Sinus infections sapped my patience, creativity, and energy.  This book helped clear my head.


This Book:

1) Describes the autonomy of the sinuses.

2) Explains what happens during a sinus infection.

3) Tells the difference between an acute and a chronic sinus infections.

4) Gives clear explanations on medications from Sudafed to nasal steroids to antibiotics.

5) Explains how to do nasal irrigation and why it’s helpful.

6) Gives an overview of sinus surgery and explains the pros and cons of surgery.


What’s Helpful:

1) The easy-to-read explanations of everything helped me better understand my sinus infections and what medicine could and couldn’t do for me.


2) The nasal irrigation information changed the way I’ve handled sinus infections. Now I clean out my nose two to four times a day using salt water and a nasal bulb.  While not a cure-all, the technique has cut down on the number of infections I get, the number of days it takes me to clear an infection, and most importantly how much medicine I take daily. (I’m off everything but allergy meds now.)


What Could Be Improved:

Since Dr. Metson is an ENT – not an allergist – there’s only a limited discussion on allergy management. Allergies medicines are discussed, but not shots or ways to reduce allergens in your home.


Overall Verdict:

Recommended: All the basic information is explained clearly in an organized way that will help most chronic sinus suffers understand and manage their condition.