No One Sets Out To Be A Smooth Jazz Musician

 When we tell people that the Sweetie is a jazz musician*, frequently, someone will say “oh, I love jazz,” and then subsequently we’ll find out what they *really* like is smooth jazz, which, really, isn’t jazz. As a matter of fact the phrase “smooth jazz” to real jazz musicians is like nails on a chalkboard.

One of the Sweetie’s fellow musicians sent the following OpEd from The Onion, which, really, just explains it all.

No One Sets Out To Be A Smooth Jazz Musician | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

*Not only does he play, but he arranges, he writes, and he sings. He is truly one of the most musical people I’ve ever met – it’s a genius level ability and is just amazing to watch. Frustrating for me, too, really, because I’ll never understand it the way he does.

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Psoriasis sucks. So does arthritis. So does coughing.

My sweetie has been having deteriorating health for the last few months. It goes like this:

He’s had psoriasis for years, and was managing it with Enbrel. The Enbrel was not making it any better, but it was not making it worse. I was dissatisfied with the level of attention his dermatologist was giving his condition, and indeed, it turns out that the dermatologist does not specialize in psoriasis. We found out that there is a dermatologist in Seattle who does specialize in Psoriasis, and who, in fact, was the one that published on using Enbrel to treat Psoriasis.

He took one look at the Sweetie and said “yeah, it’s not working.”

So, they were about to start a trial with patients who had used Enbrel and had not been successful, but who had never tried Raptiva. They put him on the study, and therefore on Raptiva, and it all went downhill from there.

Not only did his psoriasis get worse, not better, he also developed pretty serious arthritis in his foot, then his knee, then his hip, and then his ribs started to hurt. Psoriatic arthritis is frequently a side effect of arthritis, but previous to going on the Enbrel, the Sweetie had only had minor flare ups.

So, we opted out of the study, and asked “what’s next?” Well, now they want to put him on Remicade, but they’re giving him a few weeks before starting that regimen. In the meantime, he’s on no medication at all, and so everything is quite painful. So, we’ve started him back on the Psoriasis Diet and the good news is he’s lost 18 pounds. The bad news is that his psoriasis has not yet improved.

Oh, and he’s had a cough for about 8 months that’s driving me batshit crazy. I mean, like my blood pressure is going through the roof. We went to an ENT, who essentially said “I don’t treat coughs,” to which I said “well, what’s the T part in ENT for?” Anyway, after a scan of his head, they did see some inflammation of the sinuses and prescribed antibiotics, which seemed to help, for awhile, and then it came back. So, now he’s back on the antibiotics.

Also, I’ve discovered I have to take an active part in this process because men seem to have a filter on when doctors talk to them and don’t really hear everything that’s said. We’re both just attempting to keep our sanity together.

Please send good thoughts our way.

Oh OneNote, how do I love thee?

I’m becoming a huge fan of OneNote, and and starting to use it for everything. You know all of those things that you want to record, but you’ve had to create documents or emails to track them?  Keep them all in OneNote…

You know how when you’re typing something sometimes you want to leave yourself a note in the margin, but in any word processor, that’s a bit of a pain? Write it all in OneNote instead – you can put text, pictures, whatever you want, wherever you want on the page.

You know how when you *do* create a document, you can never find it? Just type your search text and search across all notebooks at once, instantly.

Want to write notes and record audio notes in the same place? You can do that too.

You know how when you’ve found the perfect recipe on the web, when you print it out it’s too damn small and cumbersome to read while you’re cooking? Copy it to OneNote and change the text size?

You know how sometimes you want to share a screen shot of something on your computer, but you have to jump through hoops to crop it down to what you want? Use the “screen clip” feature in one note and annotate how you like.

You know how sometimes you generate a web map of directions to your house, but you’d like to annotate it a bit and perhaps add some emphasis? Either send it to OneNote or clip it and paste it in OneNote and do as you’d like, and then use the “send” feature to send your note along. Then, the next time you want to send directions, you can just use the same OneNote page!

Clearly the Crabby Office Lady feels the same way.

And so do some other people.

Product Love

I’m a product whore, in that I’m always in search for products that will make my life better, my skin prettier, and my hair more beautiful.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of what I’m currently using in the hopes that you may find it interesting.

Loma

To understand why Loma (and indeed the rest of the products here) appeal to me so much, you have to understand some things about my buying habits over the last few years. I’ve been trying to:

  • Buy fewer things with petroleum products as ingredients. For two reasons – first, I figure I don’t need to contribute any more to the oil companies than I already am. Next, I figure that petroleum production may not be the best thing for the planet.
  • Buy more things made either locally or in the US.
  • Buy more things made with natural, or if possible, organic ingredients.

With these things in mind, read the description by Loma of their products:

LOMA is the industry leader to utilize the purest, most active form of Aloe Vera Gel as the product base. The use of aromatherapy-based oils rather than synthetic fragrances truly sets LOMA apart. It smells good enough to eat!

From the beginning the focus has been on using the highest quality of naturally derived raw materials and the most advanced technology to formulate this superior and unique line of haircare products. No animal testing.

Unlike other manufacturers, LOMA manufactures 100% of their own products. Beginning with the development and formulation of the product and ending with the sale. This control allows LOMA to ensure only the finest quality of ingredients are being used and the highest level of integrity in all phases.

To top this off, Loma is made in Monroe, about 10 miles from where I live. Can’t get much more local than that.

Anyway, all of this would be moot if these products weren’t good. But, they are. I use the Loma Pearatin line, and it keeps my medium length, curly, color treated, frizzy hair in line. The stuff smells great, works great, and is just dreamy, in general. There are products I use on my hair outside of this line, but not many.

The sweetie uses Loma shampoo, and it helps keep his psoriasis laden skin in check on his scalp. I think it’s the aloe base that makes the difference.

Forever Living

I’ve been using Forever Living products for years, because when I first started getting electrology, the electrologist recommended their products, as she found they were the only things that worked on her skin.

When I lived in NJ (where she was) I just bought the products from her. However, when I moved to Seattle I became a distributor, so I could get their distributor discount. Don’t let their business model scare you. They never bother me, and I’ve never heard a Forever Living meeting in a restaurant banquet room (unlike Amway).

But I digress…here’s the key here, their products are based on Aloe, and they own one of the key patents for stabilizing aloe. For awhile, I did try their aloe products meant for internal use, and I do believe Aloe can be settling to the stomach, but now I mainly buy their skin products. I love their moisturizers, facial cleanser, toner, and particularly the bee propolis cream, which, I learned recently, dramatically decreases healing time on skin injuries.

However…I’m a bit disappointed that Forever Living hasn’t made an effort to bring more organics into their products. Also, they have ingredients they don’t explain (unlike Loma, who describes what each ingredient does). So, as I’m always on the lookout for new things, I found…

Beeceuticals

I’m a huge Howard Stern fan, and the founder of this company is Howard’s cousin, so he advertises on Howard’s show on Sirius. So far, I can’t speak highly enough of these products. They work great, smell great, and they are all based on honey! Based on my success with the bee propolis cream from Forever Living, I was excited to try these, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The products are organic, the company is carbon neutral, and they donate a portion of the profit to saving the bees. Seriously, this is like a dream come true. Read more here.

My only complaint about Beeceuticals is I wish they made more products. I still needed a shower gel, so…

Dr. Bronner/Ballard Organics

After looking askance at the Dr. Bronner’s bottles for years, I finally picked up a bottle of the liquid soap, and I really liked it. It feels great, my skin is not dry, and I smell lovely. On my next trip to the PCC to pick up a new bottle, I noticed that there was a soap with identical ingredients that smelled even better and was made locally! So, I picked up some of the Ballard organics liquid soap and I’m quite pleased. I’ve learned that I can make a little of either go a long way if I squirt some into one of those scrunchy scrubber things, then get it foamy, then turn the water off in the shower, soap up, and then rinse off when I’m done. If I leave the water running, they both get washed away too soon. With both of these, it’s nice to know I can also use the soap for other things if need be.

OK, that’s enough commercial gushing for now. I need to go slather myself with something!

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Got Goats?

We’ve rented goats for the week as an ecological approach to brush control. We live on just over 2 acres, and most of it is wooded, and unless we take action, the woods try to overtake us from time to time. The goats just eat away, and they poop on the lawn (which is good fertilizer), and they’re very friendly, to boot!

We started out with 4 goats, and I apparently was paying too much attention because when I’d go away, two of them would have a fit. This, I think, is my failing, and one good reason that I’m not a mother, because I could not stand their cries. Anyway, it turns out 2 is far more manageable for me , because then I can put them far enough away from each other that they don’t get tangled.

Unfortunately, you cannot  put them on opposite ends of the property, as they are herding animals, and they need to be able to see each other. Also, goats cannot eat rhododendrons (even though they apparently LOVE them), because they are poisonous to the goat. So, the most challenging part of the whole week has been strategic placement. I have, easily, a dozen rhodies on the property. It turns out there were

a few I didn’t even really know where there. Luckily, I’m able to wrap the rhodies with some plastic mesh that can stop them from eating them.

Of course,all this means I’m all scratched up from digging into the berries myself..either from wrapping the rhodies, or cutting back rhodies I don’t care about, or from untangling goats that have gotten themselves wrapped around some trees (the goats are on tethers). However, I’ve really loved the whole experience, and I cannot believe what good animals these are!

More pictures here.

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I guess this really is my home now

I moved here just short of 10 years ago now, after having lived in NJ for 28 years. Not only did I live in NJ, but my family (or the majority of it) has roots in NJ that go back more than 300 years. Now, I love NJ, no, I really do…there are lots of great things about it (sandwiches, pizza :-)), and there is part of me that will always refer to it as “The Motherland” as Kevin Smith does (Kevin and I grew up in the same county).

However, in NJ, I always had a bit of anonymity. Heck, when I return to college reunions, there are people that I lived on the same floor with who don’t know who I am “I’m sorry, I don’t know who you are.” (what a bitch, by the way).

Ever since I’ve moved here, however, I’ve been unable to go anywhere without knowing someone. I guess, if there’s anything I learned at Microsoft, it was how to network (even though I didn’t realize that’s what I was learning). Or, perhaps it’s just that I finally found people who understood what I was talking about (most of the time). Now, also, I have jazz music friends, and singing friends, and um, ABSOLUTELY NO FAMILY except for my husband. Maybe not attending a family party every weekend has opened up my schedule a bit to meet other people! :-).

My mom came to visit me out here after I’d only lived here for a year and at the concert we went to, I knew no less than 4 people. I cannot recall one occasion in NJ where I went somewhere and happened to run into someone I knew – there are far too many people there, I guess.

Just last night, we were watching the Mariner game on TV, and I saw my very first boss at Microsoft in the crowd!

Then, this morning, I open up the newspaper, and the new business of our friend Brian is featured on the front page of the business section. Now, this is a person I don’t see all this often, but he was a good enough friend to come to our wedding in Vegas. As a matter of fact, he is the reason I fell in love with Las Vegas, as he organized the very first trip I took there.

Of course, my best friends in the world (except for my husband) are not here. The are in NJ, NY, MA and VA, and it’s not proximity that makes me close to them. I haven’t built friendships quite that close since, and I don’t expect to. I suspect there’s a golden time in your life to make those friends, and no one else can ever live up to them. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy my life now!