Gluten-Free January

I’m taking part in Gluten-Free January, a little grassroots project that is actually something I’d been thinking about trying to put together myself. I wanted to challenge friends to try just one month gluten-free to see how much better they could feel. This makes it easy, since someone else has already set up the framework.

I eat mostly gluten-free already, because it turns out that gluten can be one of the main triggers for a Crohn’s disease flare. I do occasionally splurge, but when you’re not used to eating the stuff, a splurge tastes good at the eatin’, but doesn’t feel too good during the digestin’. So come tomorrow, I’ll be avoiding the stuff completely for a full month. In fact, I had some breaded chicken strips a couple of days ago, and … blargh.

This also means no beer. Although the Whole Foods has a couple of gluten-free beers, they’re pricey. Maybe I should just make 2011 a beer-free year as well.

Anyhoo, anyone else out there doing GFJ? A couple of my Seattle friends on the Facebook say they’re going to take part. If you’re a low-carber, this does mean that certain convenience items like low-carb tortillas and breads are off limits. But on the plus side, there are a ton of gluten-free products out there, some of which are not bad. And all pre-packaged products have to list wheat as an allergen if it’s included.

I have a number of gluten-free items in my low carb category of posts. And I just got some Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free baking flour; it’s only slightly less carby then regular wheat flour, but I don’t plan on using much at a time. It’s mainly to adjust the texture of stuff made with my old favorite, coconut flour.

A Sign from Above. 5 Feet Above.

It’s been an eventful December.

We’re packing to move house these days. We’re just going about 10 miles away from where we are now, and we’ll be paying less money for a little larger space. Win/win.

We’ve known that we would be moving with the expiration of our current lease, but it’s as if our apartment is telling us over and over again to get out. First it was the new neighbors across the hall, who moved in a few months ago and haven’t learned that you don’t need to slam the door every time. They also like to prop their front door open and have loud conversations. Then last month the apartment next door, which we thought was vacant but was actually being paid for but left unoccupied, finally got an occupant. He likes loud music, thumping on the walls, and jogging. Which involves grunting stretches outside his door. Lots of grunting stretches.

Then there’s been the December FireAlarmPalooza. Last week, just as we were going to take a load of stuff off to the thrift store, the fire alarm went off. We dilly-dallied in gathering ourselves together, because it’s never an actual fire. Except this time … it was an actual fire. Two apartments below, the occupants had some sort of kitchen grease fire, with billowing grey smoke pouring out their door. Fortunately, the sprinklers didn’t get triggered in our apartment. And it was kind of entertaining watching this really doddering old lady who also lives on the 1st floor asking everyone what was going on.

Then last night, the fire alarm went off again. No smoke from anywhere, just the shrilling (which got us out of bed). The same doddering old lady came out of her apartment on the phone to 911, shouting that the alarm was going off in her apartment, and she hadn’t done anything! Why was this happening? She didn’t touch anything!

The dozen-plus of us from this building stood around in the parking lot, waiting. Our roaming security guy came over, and the old lady dragged him down the hall into her apartment. Because the alarm was going off in there, and she didn’t touch anything! She came back out to the parking lot while the guy looked around to see if any of the alarm boxes had been pulled. She then looked out at all of us and said, “The alarm is going off in MY apartment! I didn’t do anything!”

I couldn’t take it any more. “It’s going off in ALL of our apartments.”

“Really?” She asked.

“Yes. That’s why we’re ALL STANDING OUT HERE, ma’am.”

“Oh!” She gasped.

I think I blew her mind with that one. And I honestly don’t think she realized that the entire building’s alarms were going off. I wonder why she thought we were all standing out there.

In other news, for those who want an update about Commie, his eye looks a little worse every day. The mass keeps growing, and you can’t see his eye in there anymore. But he still seems happy, purring and cuddling and eating and pooping and having little smackfights with Trouble, so that’s good. He sleeps a little more than usual, but that’s the only real sign (other than the eye) that anything’s wrong.

He’s also helping immensely with packing, by placing himself in, on, and around boxes as much as possible. He’s a huge fan of the lids to these office document boxes, the corner of one which you can barely see under his loafy form. He’s a good, good boy, and we tell him so many times a day.

Million Dollar Money Drop

I’ll always give a new game show a chance. When Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? started, I watched Regis every single night. When Deal or No Deal did its week-long premiere, I didn’t miss a show. So this last week, the overly-literally-named Million Dollar Money Drop aired for four days in a row, and we watched them all.

The first night was the only one we watched in real-time. We discovered pretty fast that this is a show that needs to be watched from a recording, so you can fast-forward. Like so many game shows, this one could easily fit into a half-hour instead of an hour; it’s padded with long, lingering drama shots and endless bickering.

I think it’s the bickering I hate the most. The contestants have been, so far, male-female couples who are either married or dating/engaged. (And if there’s anything I’ve learned from watching every episode ever of The Amazing Race, dating/engaged couples who go on reality TV shows are irritating asshats who I want to junkpunch.) I’m pretty sure they’re encouraged by producers to talk out all of their answers, and question each other’s certainty. But what that turns into is:

Her: Are you SURE?
Him: I’m 100% sure.
Her: But … like, a million dollars sure?
Him: Yes! I’m totally, 100% sure of this answer.
Her: NO. WAIT. WAIT. I just … are you SURE SURE?

Like I said, junkpunch.

Cutting out the drama pauses, the bulk of the bickering, and most of the other filler, we’re able to get through an hour-long episode in about 15 minutes.

The good thing, I guess, about hating the contestants and their shrill screeching, is that over half of the first-week players didn’t win a single thing. They lost all of their money, and THAT was satisfying.

But the most awful thing about this show is that they’ve already had a major screw-up. Looks like their research wasn’t thorough enough, and they said a right answer was wrong, causing a couple to lose $800,000 on the fifth question (out of seven). Granted, the couple lost all their money on the last question anyway, but the show is still inviting them back to play again.

I may watch. I may not. If I do, I’ll have my junkgloves on.

Photodump: Cat and Holiday Shopping

First off, a cat update. The swelling around Commie’s eye is steadily worse, and the eye looks more nasty every day. Plus, yesterday he started having more sneezing fits than ever before. Still, we watch and wait and cuddle.

As you can see, his eye is barely visible anymore, and it looks even more like the eye is sealing itself up. Poor kid!

We’re in the middle of packing and sorting right now, because the House of Meyer is moving in January. We came across an old film camera with a roll of film inside. I can’t remember the last time I used the camera, so we took the film out and took it to the Costco. Did you know that they still develop film? Did you also know that the ONLY option is 1-hour processing? I think the last time I got film developed at Costco, it was a 2-day turnaround, and that seemed fast.

There were several pictures of shoes (clearly, one night a lot of the members of Jet City Improv were wearing Chuck Taylors, so we all put our feet together for a snappie) and some of the cats as kittens. From the location in the pictures, it was in our first six months with the cats, and they were both under a year old. Look at their size compared to the remote controls! The pictures are all dark and blurry, but since the film sat in the camera for 12 years, I’m amazed anything came out at all. A little adjustment or two in Photoshop, and this one came out pretty well.

Scott had family in town last week, so we hit the parks. We even went over to Universal, where we watched the sad and limp Macy’s parade. We got to see the bottoms of several underinflated balloons:

Almost all of the balloon-holders looked like they wanted to stab themselves.

Just this evening, we braved the holiday shoppers to get some grocery shopping done at Target. Carts were few and far between, so we ended up with a dud with a shrill squeak. Scott figured out how to stop the squeaking, but he got a few strange looks.

And as a final note, to celebrate the awesome article in the L.A. Times about how it’s carbs that make us fat, not fat, here’s some bacon that looks like a pair of seahorses.

They were delicious little seahorses.

A Long December

So we went back to the vet yesterday.

The week of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories didn’t help, and in fact the eye got worse. Here’s what Commie looks like as of a few minutes ago:

Not pretty. The eye itself still looks clear … in there. It’s the swelling around the eye that’s making everything so horrible. Look at this top view, and you can see how much his little brow is protruding:

They weighed Commie first, and he’s lost three pounds in the last two weeks. That, combined with the speed and untouchability of the swelling, led the vet to tell us that he’s 90% sure it’s cancer.

He could do a biopsy, but they’d have to knock Commie out, and he’d then have a wound we’d have to take care of. But even if the vet could bump his 90% up to 100%, the thing is that with cancers in the eye/nose region, whichever it is, there’s really no effective treatment. Especially with this growth rate.

So we’re not doing the biopsy. I worry about losing him under anaesthesia, and that a wound would hurt him more than anything he’s already feeling. It’s pretty clear already what we’re dealing with. We’ve got some steroids, which should hopefully slow the growth a little bit, and also ease any pain that Commie’s feeling. The vet’s prognosis was “maybe a few weeks.”

For right now, he’s still active, still eating (despite that three pounds), still playing, and still purring. He just seems more irritated with the sniffling and mono-vision than in any pain. So we’re going to smother him with love, and keep watch, and he’ll let us know when he’s ready.

He’s also still a butt about sitting still for a picture. And as usual, you-know-who had to get in on the action.

Photodump: The Cinema, Floors, TV Guide

Continuing to catch up, here’s a photodump.

We went to see Harry Potter 7.1 in the theater. I dislike the cinema experience, mainly due to the other people involved. Does nobody respect the call for quiet anymore? Stop with the texting, and talking, and crinkling, and asking, “Who’s that now?”

This was the bathroom at our local Regal. It was like peeing in space.

As for HP7.1, it wasn’t that great for me. I should have realized how much of it was sullen camping. They may as well have filmed the thing in black and white, what with all the washed-out filtering. Plus, how many times can you start a shot looking at the ground, then pan up to where something magical has just happened? Apparently, MANY times. Which certainly saves on the special effects budget. Here’s hoping 7.2 is more action-packed, and less dreary.

Not a photo, but a screencap from TV Guide’s site. Instead of subscribing to TV Guide, I just get the RSS feed. It’s actually MORE news than I got from the magazine, hooray.

The Good Guys appears to be ending for good, since it’s been huddled in FOX’s Friday Night Slot of Death since it came back (that same slot Fringe is headed for come January). But if you’re a TV writer, and you’re writing about a show that you like and are going to miss, please don’t refer to the character Dan Stark as “Don Stack”. That’s right up there with people who are telling you about their “favorite” actor or movie, then mangle the name. Which happens all the time.

Speaking of TV, eagle-eyed viewers/readers let Scott know that Adam Savage wore his Infini-tee on Mythbusters again. Thanks for this, BI readers! It tickles Scott greatly every time.

We visited Downtown Disney recently, and I fell in love with this carpet at the year-round Christmas store. If I have to have carpet (I’m not a fan), then why can’t it be cool carpet like this?!

December Is X-Ray Month

I’ve been a massive blog slacker, I see. Over a fortnight since a post! I’ve had posts rolling around in my head, including another couple of top sevens, but life. She gets in the way.

This last couple of weeks in particular have been harrowing as far as pet health goes. About three weeks ago, our big fat tabby started having a little goo around one eye. He has, in the past, had a knack for getting hairs stuck in his eyes and getting winky for a couple of days, so we figured it wasn’t a big deal. But over the course of a week, his eye got wetter and wetter. And then one day, it was all swollen around the eye. So it was off to the vet with us!

We took both cats, since they were due for a checkup anyway. As you can see, our little tortoiseshell clearly didn’t remember the trauma that comes with riding in the kitty duffel bags.

The vet took a look at Commie’s eye, listened to his snuffling, and figured that it was just a kitty cold, with swelling in the sinuses that was creating the swelling around the eye. Especially since the goo/tears were clear, and there was no redness around the eye. We were given a bottle of antihistamine pills, a squeeze bottle of saline solution to go up his nose, and some antibiotic ointment to go in the eye.

I now know for a fact that this cat doesn’t do pills well.

The eye goo was slightly easier, though not especially easy. Ditto the saline. But over the course of last week, the eye just got worse. And the third eyelid started sticking out, and it got red. And the swelling was so strong that it looked like his eye was sealing up. So Scott took him back to the vet (I was working that day, so I just got text updates throughout). They x-rayed Commie’s head:

The good: there are no bone-related growths in there. The bones look fine. The bad: this is mystery swelling. It could be an infection from a trapped hair, or even from an infected tooth. Or it could be a soft-tissue growth, which would mean a tumor. A very fast-growing tumor, which is never good. So this week, the medications have changed. Now we’re doing steroids every other day, and antibiotics twice a day. Both are liquids, so they can be squirted in his mouth with an eyedropper with very little struggle. Thank goodness.

We go back next Wednesday to see if these meds have made progress. I’m not seeing much change so far, to be honest. But the swollen areas around the eye don’t seem to hurt him, and he’s eating and purring — except for the grossness that is his eye, and some snuffling from the snot and/or tears in his nose, he’s fairly normal. Although probably irritated at being monocular-vision cat.

I told you, it’s gross.

Also, it’s very hard to get a picture of this cat. Especially when Trouble the tortie needs to get into the shot too. You think they’re looking at you, hit the shutter button, and they look away. I have a couple of dozen other shots that are blur city.

Anyhoo, we’re hoping for the best, but steeling ourselves for the worst. We’ve had these cats 12 years, and while parents would tell you that there’s no comparison between pets and kids, we don’t have the frame of reference to know what it’s like to have a child. These cats ARE our kids.

SO, what else! We visited the dentist, where they do digital x-rays. Here are my teeth:

I get to go back in Jaunary for a filling. There isn’t a cavity … yet. But this dentist is pretty gung-ho about catching pre-cavity soft areas and filling them. She also recommended that fancy Invisalign system, because my bottom teeth are crowded. The first step is apparently “expanding the jaw”, which just sounds terrifying. The next step is paying five thousand dollars, which is even MORE terrifying. I think I’ll pass for now. We may need to save that five grand for the cat.