Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Night Miscellany

Hola darlings! Ohmygoddess! It's been so fricking cold this week. Although I swore up and down that I would NOT turn on my heat until at least the end of October, yesterday morning it was so chill in the house that I flipped on the furnace switch and set the temperature to 64 (it was 60 degrees in the house at the time). I heard the furnace kick in, and settled down with my coffee and newspaper in anticipation of soon feeling some dampness creep out of the house as the heat did its job. Only - it never happened. The furnace cycled and shut down. Oh shit. I've had this problem before - it's the ignition system. Because of the safety features, if ignition does not result in a spark within a certain period of time, the furnace shuts off, the gas doesn't flow. That's good for my health and safety, at any rate. The problem is, these ignition systems are particularly sensitive to "irritants" such as dust and, in my basement which suffers from perennial dampness, corrosion. Cha ching! The cash register is already clicking away in the background. Yesterday was a work day in Hell, I didn't even have a chance to crack open the telephone book to see what kind of heating/furnace service I might be able to get out after 6:00 p.m. or on a Saturday; today at 3:30 p.m. I finally had a brief lull and placed several telephone calls, none of which were answered except the last one - quite promptly - to a very expensive service I've used in the past. $59 just to pull up in the driveway (not even get out of the truck). The first 15 minutes at "diagnostic" is $65, and $65 per 15 minutes thereafter. Once the diagnosis is set, I'm then given an on the spot estimate for what needs to be done and how much it will cost. Decide - like the famous line from the song "I WANNA KNOW RIGHT NOW...." Geez - I should have gone into HVAC! Or - duh - I should have hired a concierge service to do the shopping for me, to see if there was someone out there cheaper (there no doubt is, even after paying the concierge fee). Well - next time... As if dealing with a recalcitrant furnace isn't bad enough (at least it didn't break down when it was 20 below zero, like it did in January, 1997), I've been on a "balanced meal and increased physical activity" plan since September 15th, which happens to be the date the latest season of "The Biggest Loser" (har!) debuted on network television. In one of those ridiculous things that somehow always connect together, our local PBS station was running fundraising specials and I happened to catch part of a show one Saturday afternoon that told me, plain as could be, if I only cut back my calories by 225 a day and increased my physical activity to burn an additional 225 calories a day, I would lose one pound a week with very little effort. Yeah, right. One night in the bathroom, looking in the mirror at my naked bad self for the umpteenth time in my life, I went "oh yechy", and determined to lose some of this post-menopausal weight gain. I set what I thought was a modest goal of losing 10 pounds in 5 weeks. The sixth week begins on October 20th, when I will have my big weigh-in, a Monday. If I've lost 10 pounds, I'll have a Big Mac (no kidding - that's my big reward I set for myself). It's uncanny how I've tracked the contestants on "The Biggest Loser." The first week was big - just like on the show - I lost 5 pounds! Eek! The second week, the dreaded "plateau week," I lost zero pounds. Eek! I stepped up the physical activity (I do NOT exercise) and tried to cut back even further on the caloric intake. I am NOT writing things down in a log book, and I'm still sucking wine like there's no tomorrow, but I AM eating more salads and vegetables and have cut way down on the fatty meats and unneeded carbs. I'm also making an honest attempt every morning to have a breakfast and, wonder of wonders, it actually works - what the nutrician dudes say about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. It does sustain one through hectic, frantic mornings until lunch time. So, this is the third week. I weighed myself on Monday and I'd managed to lose another 1/2 pound. Hmmmm. More physical activity. I weighed myelf yesterday. Lost another 1/2 pound! Yippee! But I didn't trust it. And so I weighed myself again this morning and yep, I have not lost 7 whole frigging pounds! Only 3 more to go and 2 whole weeks to do it! I am STOKED! I now realize that I will make my goal, perhaps even ahead of time. Then the really hard part starts, the NEXT 10 POUNDS! Let me tell you, though, except for a bit of a loosening of my autumn jacket (which I first purchased 25 pounds ago), I don't notice any difference in the Body Splendid, and neither has anyone else. It will take that next 10 pounds to tip the scales, no pun intended. Some by-lines from The New York Times to pass the time: U.S. Shed 150,000 Jobs; Ninth Straight Monthly Drop. Yeah - but the "experts" say we're not in a recession. Oh no, of course not. Top Psychiatrist Failed to Report Drug Income - now what kind of drugs do you suppose they're talking about here... Explosion Kills 7 Russians in South Ossetia. Pay back is a bitch, and it's probably just beginning, Miniputin. The NEW MIDDLE CLASS DEFINED BY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY: Assets of $1,000,000 or more. Yeah, sure, Sarah Palin is just a hockey mom, a regular joe who can't speak English properly. Take THAT, all you wimpy exurbian soccer moms out there. From the Daily Grail: Just hide for 14 days after a nuclear explosion near you and you, too, will survive. The respected voices of the BBE say so. BBC releases pre-recorded blurbs to be used in the event of a nuclear war. The Enemy Within: 2,000 Years of Witch-Hunting in the Western World. A new book about the evil that lurks within all men to demonize those who are not like us. Speaking about the evil that lurks within, yeah I freely admit it and I don't care - I think John McCain stinks. Wants to tax me for the health insurance benefits that my employer partially pays for, does he? Wants to give me a lousy frigging $2,500 "credit" (which never goes into my pocket) to "buy" health insurance coverage in exchange for my employer dropping my health insurance coverage, does he? My plan costs about $8,000 a year (and believe me, it's not the top of the line plan), I pay $150 a month toward that coverage this year. Next year, it will be more, and my options will be fewer as my employer tries to force everyone, regardless of age and health status, to "health savings accounts." Tell me, Mr. McCain, where the hell am I supposed to come up with the other $5,500 to pay for my health insurance, heh? My wages aren't going to increase by that amount once my employer drops my coverage (my employer would be insane not to drop coverage once the government starts "paying" for it, after all). The man is insane, absolutely positively insane. He is a menance to the middle and working classes in this country, and he doesn't even KNOW it!

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