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Something kind of fannish

YouTube cooking shows is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think about how to spend my time, and yet over the last week or so I've been devouring much of the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen back catalogue. Not even because I want to make the food--although some of it does look good, and actually somewhat manageable for a normal home cook--but because all of the people presenting are just so...so friendly! As in, I want to be friends with all of them. They seem to be genuinely having fun and enjoying what they do and want to teach viewers how to enjoy it too.

It's hard to choose a favorite, because they all have different but equally nice styles, but I will say the first one I came across was Claire Saffitz's "Pastry Chef Attempts" series where she reverse-engineers junk food like Skittles, Twinkies, KitKats, Gushers, and Cheetos. She spends much of the time being long-suffering and despairing, but tends to prevail in the end. (She is the Eeyore of the group, at least in these particular videos if not her regular recipe ones. I feel like we would get along well.) She's a woman after my own heart, with the whole having gone to grad school in food history before going to culinary school, and is obviously super smart; it's just fun to watch her mind working.

Carla is chatty and mom-ish and doesn't care that she makes mistakes on camera. Andy is sort of the cooking equivalent of Bob Ross, very quiet and gentle. The undisputed star, though, is Brad, with his "It's Alive!" series about fermented foods that takes detours into how-it's-made for things like knives and salt. He is one of those people who would likely drive me to homicide if I had to work with him, but I will watch him be loud and nutty and cook food and have no filter on the interwebs all day. The editing is also the perfect counterpoint, with sarcastic thought bubbles and animations and...I can't even describe it, just watch. One of my favorites is "Brad and Claire Make Sourdough Bread," but really any of them will show you the glory of this series.

...Speaking of Brad and Claire. In the alternate universe where he's not married with kids, I ship it like FedEx. Fic, anyone?

Did not think something like this would pull me back into feeling kind of fannish after a long absence, but there you have it.

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Hark, an entry!

*blows dust off DW*

I received my new skates a couple of weeks ago. They are hideous, but they fit, unlike the SP-Teris. (Photo. Really not loving the silver plastic sole, although they look better with blades on. I was wary of plastic's abilities vis a vis leather as a shock absorber, but on the tiny jumps I've tried so far I haven't noticed a difference. Mine for some reason didn't come with the bling on the back, which frankly I am thankful for. They also lack the fancy microfiber lining, but I'm okay with that since that sure looks like latex foam underneath and it's not completely covered, which would be bad for me and my latex allergy. I'll stick with the suede lining mine came with.)

I've been gradually working my way up to longer and longer periods without having to take them off from pain or numbness. Today I got up to 25 minutes, which is 15 minutes better than I managed after nine months with the Teris, so. I seem to recall it took a few weeks to hit 30 minutes on the last pair of these, and more than a year to go an entire hour-long session, so I think I'm doing pretty good. The split width has definitely been helpful, as is owning a boot punch and knowing what kind of arch supports and other spongery I need. Jackson lowered the arches on their stock boots, damn it, but I think I've managed the right combination of things to get the height I need. (I cut up a Dr. Scholls insole and stuck a layer over these, which are basically the best thing ever and I have them in most of my shoes now.)

At some point before July I might even get back to taking lessons!

I think I'm pretty well screwed for the competition in early August, though. Between work and breaking these in, I don't see me doing a lesson before the end of the month, and I don't want to spend a $100 entry fee to just do my program from last year, which is rusty anyway because I haven't thought about it since last summer. Feh. Next year, I'm doing two programs.

That's really about it for me right now.

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And another thing

I'm not allowed to exercise until the test results come back (and I would assume if it is the tumor I can't exercise until it's gone), so no skating until at least Wednesday. :(

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ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

I go to the doctor for high blood pressure, and she says, "You probably have a tumor."

Specifically, she thinks I have a pheochromocytoma, which is a noncancerous adrenal gland tumor that resets your adrenaline and other stress chemical levels to "getting chased by a tiger" at all times. That would explain the new-onset high blood pressure and my heart rate hanging out between 95-110 over the last week (and probably the last couple of months). It typically presents in young women and causes low potassium, which I also have.

She's running bloodwork to test for it now; if that's indicative of adrenal malfunction, then we'll do imaging to find out where the thing is. (Sometimes they detatch and wander away from the adrenal glands.) Then there will in all likelihood be surgery to take it out. Presumably it will be soon, because if you type this into Google you get things like "fatal if left untreated," which are not reassuring.

Two in a million people get this. I am literally one in 500,000. (My doctor, after closing the door to my exam room: "I'm excited about it! Well, not for her, but...")

I would like to be normal and boring for a while, please.

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Skating of late

A skating update, because I've been consumed with real estate and haven't done one in a while:

I still can't go more than 10 minutes without my feet going numb in the new skates. It's been about three weeks. I finally went back to taking lessons, but we have to take a break halfway through so I can take off my skates and rub some blood back into my feet. BF is going to try stretching the ball and toeboxes this weekend to see if that helps. If not, I think I may have to give up on these boots.

That aside, I've been making progress. I almost have my nascent flying sit spin back. For the first time since I started learning the jump more than two years ago, I can feel myself actually committing to being on my right side for loop jumps, although I still can't actually get all the way around and land on one foot.

And I did an outside spread eagle yesterday for the first time ever! Pretty much everyone learns inside spread eagles early on because that's what you naturally wind up doing when you fail at a mohawk in Learn to Skate, but outside ones are much harder and have long been a source of terror for me, because you can't save yourself if you overbalance like you can on an inside one. (For visuals, see Brian Boitano; first is an outside, then he switches to inside.) Mine does not look like Brian's. Mine is more of a squat that's just barely on an outside edge, but I have aspirations.

P also taught me that you can enter a salchow from an inside spread eagle! That had never occurred to me, but yeah, the entrance edge is exactly the same. And it's really cool-looking. Two thumbs up.

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Stranger Things

I finally got around to watching--perhaps more like inhaling--Stranger Things this week. I had no idea it was so obviously inspired by Fringe! It's basically Olivia Dunham: The Early Years, with a much eviler Walter and a much creepier Redverse. Who knew. I didn't even mind that the kids were the majority of the main characters. They weren't as annoying as most kids in TV are.

And now I can read the fanfic, which is...hmmm. Well, there's a lot of it, to start with. I haven't been in a big fandom in...uh...the last one may have been SGA, actually, so that's a solid 12 or so years. And much of it strips away the sci-fi that made it interesting and is a lot of "Mike and Eleven go on seventh-grade dates," which was cute the first couple of times but is getting old. Anyone got recs for something with more plotty meat to it?

In other news, my skates are finally back! I get to see how they fit on Monday. Hopefully better than the last time. I also got my new pair of glasses redone, because the prescription wasn't strong enough, and they finally don't give me a headache.

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Cookie Monster

You GUYS, these cookies right here are basically what you making cookie butter out of, with a maple syrup crust. Oh man. So good.

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Program video

My program for this season. Today I got second out of five. :)


Pre-Bronze Freeskate, August 5, 2017 from Skater on Vimeo.



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Would that I could get a $9,000 COLA.

So apparently the cost of living in Nashville rose by $9,000 in the last year.

That is not a typo. There is not an extra zero added on to the end there.

It's been real, transplants, but y'all can go home now.

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Skating update, with videos

Flying sit spin: It actually flies now! There is a recognizable jump rather than what appears to be me having an awkwardly-timed spasm.



Back camel spin: Uhhhhhhh apparently this is now a thing? Kind of? I've been working on it for a week and somehow it's further along than the back scratch spin I've been working on for almost three years. Okay. I'll take it!



Broken leg spin: I adjusted the arms and in the process lost some of the knee bend, but on the plus side, I no longer look like I really have to pee, which is what I was going for. Yay!



Loop jump: BF spent almost an entire lesson on them with me a couple weeks ago and I'm much closer than I've ever been before. I think I'm two-footing the landing as a security blanket rather than because my weight isn't over the right side.

Back inside three turns: I can finally do these! Mostly! I can do the Silver moves pattern (forward outside three to back inside three) without any touch downs when the back turn is on the right foot. I can do the turn and get back to the axis without too much wobbling. The left back turn is...going to require work.

Other footwork: I have a consistent double twizzle on the left back inside edge, although the second one goes up to the toe. It's to the point where I'm trying pretty arms with it, anyway. Brackets, counters, and rockers are all pretty much where they were, maybe a bit cleaner. P taught me this thigh-burner of a rocker exercise that goes back outside (or inside) rocker, power pull, forward inside (or outside) rocker, power pull, repeat, all on one leg. I can do the rockers on one foot but have to put the free foot down to do the power pull part, probably because I still suck at checking exits to turns. I experimented with adding some extra footwork to my program, because I'm finishing a bit early now, but I think I need P to tell me what is actually accomplishable.

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News

Good news: Yesterday I wrote almost 800 words on the Northern Exposure fic I've been working on in various iterations for at least ten years. (Like most, I have a "Joel returns to Cicely" story in me; mine's just taking a while to expurgate itself.) I also pulled out the not!drawerfic for the first time in almost three years and added about 200 words to it. I may finish it one of these days.

More good news: I added a folded-up blanket to my computer chair and reduced my hip pain by about 80%. (The chair has a mesh seat, so it dips more in the middle than at the sides; I evened it out so it's relatively flat now.) I still went to my first PT appointment, but we didn't do much besides add a couple of stretches, and he reminded me of how to properly do some of my exercises. We have a follow-up appointment next week, and then I'll probably be sprung.

Mixed news: I got a big girl bed (a full) instead of the twin I've had forever, and the mattress is VERY firm. Ultimately I think this will be a good thing, but wow, did I ever have a backache when I woke up this morning. To the point where the first thing I did upon getting out of bed was order a 2" memory foam topper.

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Frequent flyer

I start round five of physical therapy in a week and a half.

I'm trying to look on the bright side--this is mechanical, not yet another manifestation of arthritis, and thus might be fixable. The official diagnosis is "hip abductor tendinopathy," rather than the bursitis I thought it was. Problems in the hip/back/pelvic area are, per my orthopedist, "like chasing your tail." Fix your back, your hips start hurting. Work on your hips, your back starts hurting. Some people find the magic balance that makes neither hurt. Some people keep going back and forth forever and dear god I should at least get some points on my credit card for this.

Grrr.

On a more pleasant note, I had a ton of energy last weekend and cleaned the crap out of my apartment in preparation for having a Chandra this weekend. I think the exertion attempted to start a flare--I can usually tell by now that when my hands start hurting that things are about to go south--but I was already planning to pregame for her visit with steroids, so I started that and boom, I feel decent. Minus the front/outsides of my hips hurting, which are not solved by steroids, which is how we know it's mechanical and not arthritis. However, my "full-spectrum CBD infused gummies" came today, so perhaps I will feel better about that shortly. (These are legal because they don't have marijuana in them, just hemp extract. You can get them on Amazon. I got some hemp seed oil pills earlier that didn't do anything, but supposedly it was the wrong part of the hemp, or didn't include the right protein/ligand/whatever? I figured this was worth a try, anyway. At worst I'll have some expensive gummy bears.)

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Near-weekend update

Skating: I kinda did a flying sit spin today! Okay, there wasn't any much sit, but there was some spin and even a couple inches of fly. I landed on one foot and kept spinning. I'll take it.

I also eliminated the entrance to my nascent back scratch spin entirely and actually got a revolution or two in the right place on the blade, with my weight over my right side. BF has done away with the inside three turn everyone uses to start a back spin and is having me enter it from...the closest I can describe it is kind of a mutated Ina Bauer. Just keep curling around on the right foot, dragging the left foot, and the circle gets smaller and smaller until it turns into a spin. In theory. It works better than the three turn entrance, anyway.

Getting my weight over to the right may have helped a little bit with the loop jump, although I'm still too scared to really pick my left foot up and cross it in front while I jump because you cannot save yourself in that position if something goes wrong. I like having an exit strategy. Except my exit strategy leads to me always landing it on two feet, which is not really the goal. Ugh.

Arthritis: On Monday night, ever so briefly, I thought the Enbrel might be working, because usually I'm 100 mg of tramadol in by 6 PM and I actually managed to make it all the way to bed without needing any (I had taken some that morning). Alas, it was short-lived and Tuesday was kind of hellish. But it was close enough to when I take my shot (Sunday afternoons) that I'm somewhat hopeful it's related to the medication, and as it continues to build up in my system I might experience longer and longer periods of not hurting.

I finally made an orthopedics appointment for the hip bursitis(?) that's been going on for at least six weeks now. It's been low-level annoying for long enough that I want professional help, even if the professional can't do much. Although apparently they can just remove the inflamed bursa in an outpatient procedure if steroid shots and physical therapy fail, so there's that.

Apartment: I now have 15 plants in various containers, not counting some hibernating bulbs, mostly in front of my huge western exposure living room window. I may need an intervention. But they love that window so. My purple waffle started as basically half the size of my hand, and within six weeks was bigger than my head. It's still growing. And it bloomed! So did two succulents. Adorable pink flowers. And my not-an-aloe-but-looks-like one made a baby once I repotted it. And I added a table to my screened-in porch, which has been very nice since the weather warmed up.

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Holy salchow, Batman, it's a flying camel!

I started learning flying spins today. Flying camel is premature, because I haven't yet figured out back spins (you can only fly into a back camel), but flying sit might be accomplishable by me sometime in the next decade. You wind up like usual for a sit spin, jump straight into the air, and then land on that foot and start spinning.

...Yeah, put that way it sounds pretty impossible to me too, but BF did it today and even I got to the "jumping straight into the air" part, so it seems it can be done.

I also learned yet another entrance into a back scratch spin. I think we may be into the teens by now. We'll see if it works. We're teaming it with a couple of exercises to get my weight over my right side, because it just doesn't want to be over there.

Either the Humira was actually doing something that Enbrel isn't, or I'm having the world's longest, lowest-key flare. Bleh. Tired. Bed now.

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Skating update

Now that the competition's over, we're back to loop and flip (loop, always loop...I swear, I'm throwing a party when I finally land this damn jump on one foot) and footwork. I want to have fabulous brackets, counters, and rockers. After a week, I'm able to do a tiny, wobbly version of the forward outside/back inside bracket sequence from the Adult Gold Moves test.

I think I found next year's program music: this most excellent rendition of "Down by the Salley Gardens" (well, more specifically the part from 1:39 to 3:24, ending with that lovely variation on "and now am full of tears").

Or I may possibly end up doing it as a Dramatic Showcase piece? To be honest, I don't really get the difference between freeskate and showcase; especially at the Pre-Bronze level, where the music is the same length and you just get one fewer jump in showcase. I guess the judging is supposed to be more predicated on choreography and emoting? Except we still use 6.0 judging at my level, so it hardly matters. But basically it sounds like you get to do two programs instead of just one, so that would be fun.

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Updates

Arthritis: My latest flare was at least nicely-timed. I saw my rheumatologist three days into it and started a steroid pack that day. He also gave me a rather immense amount of prednisolone and pretty much told me to experiment with it. The literature suggests that one per day is within normal variance for naturally produced corticosteroids and thus has no ill effects but can still be helpful for inflammatory disease; it's only once you get above 10 mg prednisone-equivalent per day that the problems like diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, etc. start to show up. EULAR (the European League Against Rheumatism, which is a fantastic name for a professional society; American Heart Association, take note!) even recommends it as standard treatment along with TNF-blockers. My doc said I could also just take it like I would an NSAID, two or three times a week as needed, but that doesn't seem very effective--it takes me about 48 hours to process a steroid, generally, so it's not exactly immediate pain relief.

So I'm going to try the one a day plan for a couple of weeks and see what happens. Chandra's coming to visit at the beginning of next month, so I can also pre-medicate with three a day for the increased activity and hopefully prevent another flare.

I've also switched from Humira to Enbrel, since the Humira did nothing. The downside to Enbrel is that you have to inject yourself once a week rather than every other week. But hey, maybe it'll work!

Skating: I had BF take a bit off the toe picks when he sharpened them this time, and it was definitely the right choice. I was getting really scrapey after the last sharpening, and now I'm not. Spins are faster, too, since I'm no longer dragging on the bottom of the pick quite so much. Salchow and waltz jumps were hard to get used to at first--there's more to roll forward on now before hitting the pick--but I think I've gotten them back to normal.

P started teaching me the horribly named but very pretty broken leg spin. At the moment, mine looks nothing like that; it looks more like I really, really need to pee. However, I think it will get better. I'm hoping it will also serve the purpose of training me to quit turning my free foot out so much in spins and eventually jumps, because that's really all that's holding my loop jump back now.

Speaking of which, we tried having me go into loops and flips with a shallower three turn, and it certainly improved things. Still can't land either of them on one foot, but nevertheless, I persist.

Other: This week has had some great weather for sitting out on my screened-in porch. I now have a table on which I can put my laptop and/or a meal, which is quite excellent. I sat out there yesterday and sewed up the too-big armholes on a new dress, and read this morning. Good times.

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