I hope Oprah doesn't get too skinny

Sometimes I just don't have enough things to worry about. So what do I do? I invent stuff to worry about. Last night I was thinking about Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and what will happen after she writes the last book in the series and I thought to myself, I hope she's saving her money and not spending it all. I hope she's making wise investment decisions. This morning, I was watching Fox 25's morning news show and it struck me that the other anchors and reporters on the show don't seem to like co-anchor Kim Carrigan. They tease her a lot. Sure, she has a great job. But is she popular? And do you know what I'm worrying about now? The fact that this post would be a lot better if I had three examples instead of two.

It's all about how it's not all about me

Over the past week or so four pieces of happy news about people I adore have reached me, either directly or through the grapevine, and although I haven't been explicitly authorized to disclose any of it here I will say that these four pieces of happy news all fall under the broad category of love ... and one of its byproducts. So far my reaction has been pure, genuine, giddy, excited happiness with a smattering of goosebumps and tears (the good kind).

I was thinking this morning that there was a time in my life, not so long ago, when a rash of such good news might have made me feel bad. Oh, sure, I would have felt happy for them. But I also would have felt bad for me. In my late thirties, single, no children, no prospects on the horizon, yada, yada, yada. But--and I swear to God I'm not just saying this--I didn't feel that way. And I still don't. Not even a tiny little bit.

Is it possible? Have I actually reached a stage in my life where I am able to just be happy for someone else instead of automatically thinking of how it relates to me? Well, no, probably not. I mean, I am at this very moment writing a blog entry about how well I reacted to someone else's good news and how I didn't make it all about me. And, well, that kind of is making it all about me, isn't it?

But c'mon. I held out for, like, almost a whole week.

More fiddling with the picture upload thing

Posted from my computer with Blogger.

I'm still trying to figure out the best way to post photos now that Blogger has a new picture uploading tool. You can see my first experiment here. The new Blogger tool lets you post pictures directly from your computer or by entering the URL of a photo that's already online. I posted the first photo (above) using the Blogger picture tool to upload the picture directly from my computer.

The picture looks blurry in the center, where it should be very sharp.

Posted directly from Flickr using a tweaked version of the site-generated HTML.

I posted the second photo (above) directly from Flickr, cutting and pasting the site-generated HTML into this post. Because Flickr's default size for medium photos is a 500 pixel width and my blog's left-hand column in only 400 pixels wide, I had to remove the height from the HTML and change the width to 400, which can sometimes make the picture look pixilated.

Sure enough, the picture is pixilated--it looks terrible.

Posted using the blogger tool and the Flickr URL. I think this one looks best -- what do you think?

Finally, I posted the third photo (above) using the Blogger picture tool but instead of uploading the photo from my computer I first uploaded the picture to Flickr. Then I posted it here by entering the URL for the picture on Flickr into the Blogger tool.

I think that of the three pictures this one is clearly the best. There's no pixilation, no furryness around the part that should be in focus, and the soft background looks nice, too. It involves and extra step--uploading the pictures to Flickr--but I would do that anyway, to make sure I have a backup copy and also so that they will display in my sidebar slideshow.

Day Lily 2

Day Lily 2
Originally uploaded by Gienna Writes.

I posted this photo using the "blog this" button on Flickr just to see what it would look like. I like the border and the layout and it was very easy to do--but the picture is off.

I'm too lazy to write a headline for this post

You know, every once and a while I plan to bitch about something but then never get around to it. I get distracted or forget or just lose interest in the topic. You wouldn't believe how often I later discover that I was just wrong about whatever it was that I was going to bitch about. It's kind of pathetic--the only thing that saves me from putting my foot in my mouth is my own laziness and lack of focus.

They can send a man to the moon ...

Sol Neelman for The New York Times... but they can't make stickers that don't take the skin off your peaches when you try to peel them off? Oh, wait. Looks like they fixed that problem. With lasers, no less, and a machine that looks like something out of a science fiction movie. Next thing you know, they'll be sending fruit to the moon. Or telling that pear that it is a clone and that its only reason for existence is to provide spare parts for an identical but socially superior pear.

Not for nothing, but it says something about the world we live in when you read a quote like this in the Times ...

I was picking all the little stickers from the Piggly Wiggly off my plums and my avocado pears and my peaches. Then I had to make fruit salad out of the ones that got hurt when I took the stickers off, and then I had to wash the glue off the other ones before I put them in the fruit bowl. One time, I got up the next morning and looked in the mirror and there were two of them up in my hair.

... and you immediately think to yourself that it sounds totally made up.

Seriously -- I'm Just F-ing Fine

So I've been trying not to bitch too much about my health issues -- because really, is there anything more boring than that? But I went to a BBQ on Saturday and it wore me out so much that on Sunday I was barely able to move. Also, I decided to stop taking the painkillers because I was starting to enjoy them a little too much and now I feel like shit. Plus, I started physical therapy and I've been doing exercises to get my strength back but I still get tired just walking around the block. Plus, I'm not supposed to bend over at all so I've been bending at the knees to pick things up or put things on the floor (like the dog's food dish) and now my f-ing legs are killing me. And, just for kicks, my left leg has started going numb on me if I stand for too long ... which is what was happening to my right leg before the surgery. And I don't even want to think about what that might mean.

It's not even so much the pain or the nausea or the fatigue or the crabbiness that bothers me. I can deal with all that. It's the feeling that I can't make my body do what I want it to do, like it has completely given up on me, abandoned me. I feel betrayed and angry and helpless and out of control and depressed. And yet, when people ask me how I'm doing, I say "fine." Because I'm sick and tired of admitting the truth--that I'm not doing fine at all.

Some Friday Afternoon Reading

Oh, man--this story in the New York Times made me laugh so hard that my office-mate felt obliged to ask me what the hell was so funny. I tried to explain it to her--it's a parody written from the point of view of a book editor who passed on the first Harry Potter manuscript--but seriously, it's even funnier than it sounds. Or else maybe it's the drugs.

You have ordered your copy of the latest Harry Potter book, haven't you? If not, you should add it to your Amazon wish list. As part of Amazon's 10th anniversary celebration, if you make a new wishlist by tomorrow you could win the contents of it (up to $5,000). Also, there's some interesting stuff in the author's hall of fame, including an exclusive excerpt of Stephen King's current book in progress.

* Oops--I forgot to link to "The Editor's Tale" yesterday. Now it's in here twice. That's good, because it's funny enough to read twice.

Monday Morning Back Report

Tomorrow it will be one week since I had back surgery. I guess I should count my blessings -- in the bad old days they would have fused my spine and I would have spent six months in recovery. As it is, I'm feeling a little better every day and I do fine so long as I don't stay in one position for too long. I tried to stop taking the painkillers on Saturday. That was a big mistake. They make me a little spacy (OK, more spacy than usual) but apparently they're what's keeping me from spending all day in bed. I also tried a short five-minute drive to the grocery store yesterday. Torture. The seats in my car are too low to sit comfortably and every single bump in the road jarred my spine. Once I got to the store I used a cart for support and was walking so slowly and carefully that people were staring at me. And yet, somehow, THREE PEOPLE still managed to bump into me. Three. Can you believe it?

The last collision was in the checkout lane. I saw her coming, too, but was unable to move out of the way in time. I just had a chance to say, "Oh, please don't bump into ... ARGH!" She was profusely apologetic, so much so that I soon felt the need to apologize to her. "I shouldn't even be out," I said. "I had back surgery this week." "Oh," she said, "Where did you have it?" This caught me just a little off-guard. She went from apologetic to inquisitive and it took my drug-addled brain a few seconds to switch gears. So I told her the name of the hospital and, because I was worried that she would interpret my pause as an indication that I was lying about having surgery and being in pain, I also felt obligated to tell her the name of my surgeon and to testify as to how great he is. So I'm standing in line at the grocery store, my legs getting number by the second, talking to a total stranger about my back surgery so that she'll feel better about bumping into me. Crazy.

I've been doing some work from home and I'm still hoping to get back to work on Wednesday. The only thing I'm worried about is the 15-minute drive to and from work. Oh, and the fact that I can't sit for more than 20 minutes. Coupled with the fact that about 95% of my job requires sitting in front of the computer. (I've had to get up four times just writing this post.) There's also the small matter of not being able to stand up for more than a half hour or so without my legs going numb. And the fact that I haven't gone a day yet since the surgery without laying down for at least an hour in the afternoon. Other than that, though ... I should be just fine.


Things the Dog is Not Supposed to Do

Click for larger image.Click for larger image

The dog is not supposed to eat the flowers.

Click for larger image.

The dog is definitely not supposed to be up on the bed in the new cottage without her underpants on.

Click for larger image.Click for larger image.

The dog is not supposed to smell something gross and then roll in it.

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The dog is not supposed to be up on my side of the couch. Nor is she supposed to be up on other people's couches (even if they are not home at the time).

And yet, for some reason ...

How could anyone get mad at a face like this?

... somehow she manages to get away with it all.

Yellow Water Poppy

This photo was posted with Blogger--click for a larger, clearer image.

This picture was posted with Flickr--click for a larger, clearer image.

Blogger has a new tool that allows you to post pictures from your computer or the Web. It's fairly easy to use -- click the photo button in the "create post" screen, select the file name (or URL) of the photo you want to upload, choose the size and position and then click to upload the image. Although the process itself is fairly straightforward, it took a long time to get the photo to post (even with a cable modem). The first few times I tried to use it either nothing happened at all or I was redirected to a blank screen. I finally got my picture to upload after about five tries. Not great.

I had been using Picasa's free Hello software to post photos, but that suddenly and inexplicably stopped working a while ago. That's when I started using Flickr to upload and post my photos. Although there are more steps using Flickr it still seems faster and more reliable. With Flickr, you can organize and store all your photos in one place. Plus, the photos automatically post to that cool little slideshow in my sidebar.

Anyway, I didn't set out to write a long entry on posting photos. I actually just wanted to see if the photos looked any better when they were posted using Blogger's new photo tool versus Flickr. So I used the new Blogger tool to post the first photo above and used Flickr to post the second one. So, is there a difference? I think the Blogger one looks better on this page, but the Flickr one looks better when you click for the larger image.

Has That Thing Got a Hemi?

By all accounts the surgery to repair my herniated disc (a microdiscectomy and something with a name I can't pronounce--I think it was something like hemilemidingdong) went great. The numbness and pain in my right leg and lower back are completely gone. I can't twist, bend, reach, lift, sit down for more than 20 minutes or drive, but I can stand up, walk around, go up and down a few stairs, flex my feet and wiggle my toes. Of course, I have to do it all verrrrry slowly and with the aid of some serious pain meds. I didn't take enough last night and so woke up this morning at 4 a.m. in agony. It took me a half-hour just to ease my body into a sitting position on the side of the bed. Then I literally had to crawl to the kitchen to get my pills. But I'll take the temporary all-over pain caused by trauma--i.e. the surgery--over chronic nothing-you-can-do-about-it pain any day.

I did have to stay overnight in the hospital--that was a first for me. I was lucky to get a private room. The nurses were all really nice and they took very good care of me. I was surprised at how freaking loud it was at night but enjoyed being brought a surprisingly yummy breakfast in bed the next morning. I'm *really* looking forward to taking a shower today, although the nurses said the doc's handwriting on my back (to make sure they do the right operation in the right place) won't come off for a week.

More later -- my 20 minutes are up.

Independence From Back Pain Day

I had a really nice weekend--the weather was warm and dry and sunny, the fireworks were spectacular, the food was yummy. Today I am having a microdisectomy. It's kind of a long story, and I'm kind of tired of telling it. It involves a trip to the emergency room, a last-minute change of MRI location, a herniated disk that made everyone's eyes bulge right out of their heads, and a lot of support from the HR department at my new job. I'll be recovering at home for about a week so I'll have plenty of time to write all about it.

If anyone reads this today, feel free to send me some positive vibes.

My Mother's Garden