Archive | February, 2013

Shameless Plug (Well, Maybe A Little Bit Of Shame)

21 Feb

Back in January of this year, a friend and I launched a new blog project called What The Health.  We decided to put our Master’s of Public Health degrees to work, and translate the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into plain English.  Our rationale is that if everyone can understand what’s in those 907 pages, then they’ll be able to make better decisions about their healthcare.

We’re strictly non-partisan in this project, and we’re not being paid by anyone.  As public health people, we just wanted to cut through all the incorrect and biased information out there, and provide the real wording.  We also decided to do it in a way that doesn’t put people to sleep.

Today we posted episode 6.  We’re now 50 pages into the PPACA, and we need your help.  As I said before, we’re trying to not put people to sleep with our blogs and video.  If you can spare 3:24 seconds (because that’s how long the video is this week) and let us know if we’re awesome or awful, we’d really appreciate it.  Click the link, and take your pick of watching the video or reading the blog.  They’re pretty much the same thing, but one involves a chalkboard background drawn by my awesome other friend, Katie B.


What The Health Episode 6


A note from my anxiety-ridded self: please don’t tell us that we’re awful.  That would make us sad. Do feel free to pass the blog along to anyone you think might find it interesting. We love getting blog views. That makes us happy, and easier to bear it when people tell us that we’re awful.


18 Feb

Last week was a stressful week.  Not because of any one thing, but more in that slow building “time is getting away” sort of way.  There wasn’t enough time to get things done, and I kept feeling like I was letting people down. Work stuff went out late, blogs didn’t get written, emails and texts didn’t get returned.  I considered it a good day if I managed to feed myself at least twice.

By Friday evening, I was done.  I hit send on a report for work that I knew wasn’t my best by far, and shut off all the electronics.  Except for my phone, which I used to call my mom.  Calling mom makes everything better.  Then I sat on the couch and watched five episodes of Star Trek: TNG.

Worf sees you judging me. It's not wise to anger the Klingon.

Worf sees you judging me. It’s not wise to anger the Klingon.

On Saturday, I woke up feeling restless and trapped, like I’d been in one place for too long and I had to get out.  This wasn’t a new feeling for me.  When I get stressed, my OCD flares up. My mind churns up all the failed interactions and times I’ve let people down.  If I can’t shut it down quick enough, the guilt gets overpowering. After that, the best way to get my brain to stop obsessing is to give it something beautiful to look at.

When I was in college, I used to drive half an hour down the highway to Calloway Gardens.  For the non-Georgia folks, Calloway is a botanical garden, wildlife rescue center, lake, golf course, vegetable garden, steeplechase track, and holiday wonderland, all in one.  The Calloway Foundation gave a lot of money to my college, and the students got into the gardens for free. As a result, I spent a lot of Saturdays by the lake or among the flowers.

This past Saturday, it dawned on me that not only do I once again live within driving distance of Calloway, but that I live even closer to Pine Mountain and the FDR State Park. Once I realized this, I finally found the drive to get out of bed and into the car.

That drive was the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time. I took a state highway, which this far south is a two-lane road with the occasional passing lane. I drove through towns like Luthersville, Greenville, Pine Mountain, and Woodbury.

Yes, Walking Dead fans- I said Woodbury.  It’s a real town in south Georgia.

When you see a sign like this, you know you’re heading in the right direction.

For the record, this is the Woodbury with all the cows. The Woodbury with all the walkers is Senoia, GA.

In Warm Springs, I got off highway 29 (/27/19/41 spur, because there’s only one road and it has all the names) and turned onto Roosevelt Highway.  This is one of the most beautiful roads in Georgia, and it links the city of Warm Springs to the city of Pine Mountain by passing through the FDR State Park.

The benefit of all those drives in college is that I know where all the best viewpoints are along the highway. My favorite is the trail head on top of Pine Mountain. There’s a historical site there, where FDR had a grill built so he could host formal picnics for his friends. The grill has been filled in with cement to preserve it (which I suppose somehow makes sense), but the picnic clearing is still accessible.

And I’ll tell you, the view from up there is incredible.

pine mountain 2

pine mountain

I’d still be up there, if it hadn’t been so windy and bleeding cold on Saturday. Warm air does not rise when you are atop a mountain.

There’s something about a mountain top that always soothes my soul. Pine Mountain is pretty small, even by Georgia standards, but it’s one of my favorite places in the entire world.  Time doesn’t seem to flow the same there as it does off the mountain, and you almost expect FDR and his entourage to appear for their afternoon picnic.

Coming down off the mountain, I took the long way home, making sure to pass through Woodbury to secure the above photos.  It was too cold to open the sunroof, but too beautiful of a day not to at least have the shade pulled back. When I arrive home four hours after I’d set out, I felt happier than I had in several weeks.  Just like in the sky, the clouds were parting and I could see the sun.

This happier feeling led to my decision to attend a photo shoot on Saturday night.  I’d been thinking about the event all week, going back and forth on if I wanted to attend. I’d talked myself out of it at least a dozen times, with reasons such as I didn’t have the money to spare, my costume wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t pretty enough, none of my friends were going, it wasn’t going to end until 1 am and I had church on Sunday, etc.  A phone conversation early Saturday evening with a friend convinced me that I needed to get past the doubt and just go.

For those who don’t struggle with anxiety, the decision to go out on a Saturday night might seem like an easy one. For me, it can involve an hour or two of going over possible conversations in my head, so that I won’t be caught unprepared for a remark. It sounds crazy, I know, but that’s how OCD works sometimes. I’ve made it a point to work on this, and it is getting easier to just go out and be among people.

A big part of me being able to go to the photo shoot was the knowledge that I would be among fellow nerds and geeks. Everyone there would be con-goers, which are on the whole a very accepting group. I packed up my costume and my bag, and drove to Atlanta (and thereby burning the rest of the tank of gas I’d just bought that morning).

Just like my decision to drive to the mountain, my decision to go to Atlanta paid off better than I could have imagined. I met some very cool people, and some very talented photographers. A wizard of a make-up artist even made me look like a proper girl (it’s day two and some of the eyeliner is still on. It’s not a voluntary choice- that stuff is seriously waterproof). I also got some of the best pictures I’ve ever had taken of me in my life.




For the first time in my life, I don’t need someone to tell me that I’m pretty. I don’t need them to look me in the eye and repeat it because I won’t believe them the first time, or the second either. I don’t need that, because this time, I believe it myself. And that is worth way more than the cost of a tank of gas.

So bring it on, universe. I’ve got new friends and Saturday night’s eyeliner on my side. I’ve been to the mountain top, and you can’t bring me down this time.

Getting To Know The Maintance Man

7 Feb

I’ve been in my new place for five weeks now.  When I moved in, I thought a lot about the friends and family members that I would have over.  The game nights, the dinners, the mural-painting sessions- it was all going to be such fun.

download (1)

Note- kitchen shown has been enlarged to represent a real kitchen, rather than the closet attempting to pass for a kitchen in my apartment.

I didn’t plan on my most frequent visitor being maintenance.

(I have no picture for this.  

Also, protip: don’t Google “maintenance man”

unless you’re sure SafeSearch is on.)

We’ve seen each other six times now, for six separate issues.  Some of these visits have been informative, some have been entertaining, and some have been downright creepy. Part of this comes from living in a 134-year-old former cotton mill, and part of this comes from having a maintenance team with a twisted sense of humor.  In any case, I offer the three best (or worst, depending on how you look at it) maintenance stories from the past five weeks.


Request 1: washer/dryer move and install

This request started out fairly normally.  I had purchased a washer/dryer combination and needed it moved upstairs to my apartment and installed.  Maintenance came with a dolly and two men, and got the unit into its new closet home with only the minimal amount of loud noises.  Everything seemed fine until one maintenance man remarked, “isn’t this the unit that had the dead bird in the dryer vent?”  Before I could get my head wrapped around that, the other guy said, “No, that was over in A building, and it wasn’t a bird, it was a baby bat.”  I guess he saw my face, because he told me, “Don’t worry- we resealed all the dryer vent openings after the cleaning last week.  You don’t have to worry about finding a bat in among your socks.”

The takeaway from this story: This is why there is a net hanging on the wall next to my dryer.


Request 2: find the leak that is letting the neighbor’s cigarette smoke into my apartment.

My apartment started smelling strongly of cigarette smoke about two weeks after I moved in.  When it started being noticeable on my clothes, it was time to take action.  I assumed the problem was from the air vent system, and so I invited maintenance over to take a look-see.  They showed up with a ladder, and discovered that while the air vents were just fine, there were several holes along the shared wall that were likely the source of the invading smoke.

This process to fix these cracks took two days, as the wall in question is 40 feet long by 20 feet tall.  At the end of it, two thumb-sized holes going clear through the wall, along with several other cracks, had been plugged.  I was thrilled.  I was looking forward to living in a smoke-free environment.  Nothing could bring me down.  Then the maintenance man headed out the door with the words, “You’re all sealed in.  Enjoy,” and the sort of unnerving laugh that made me want to both bolt the door, and move as soon as possible.

The takeaway from this story: No more smoke comes through the wall, but I am now concerned about cybermen, daleks, or any other enemy of the Doctor.


Request 3: while you’re here picking up an ozone machine, can you look at this thing on the wall?

Following the great wall sealing project, there was still some lingering smoke in my apartment.  Maintenance dropped off an ozone machine, which promised to filter all the air in the unit.  Long story short, the machine worked its magic, and the apartment is officially smoke-free.

Maintenance came by today to pick up the machine, and I took the opportunity to ask about an odd growth on the wall in my bedroom.  It looked suspiciously like a wasp’s nest, and I wanted it gone ASAP.  The following conversation ensued:

Maintenance guy: Oh, that’s nothing to worry about.  It’s just a mud dauber thing.

Me: Mud dauber? As in the wasp species? As in there is a wasp nest made of mud on my bedroom wall?

Maintenance guy: Are mud daubers wasps?

Me: Yes.

Maintenance guy: Then yes.  But it’s empty now.

Me: All the more reason for it to be removed.  I’m not interested in subletting my bedroom wall to a family of insects.

Maintenance guy: Ok, I’ll go get a ladder.

Me: Please do.

In the end, the poor guy had to use a paint scraper to get the nest off the brickwork of my bedroom wall.  He looked at the nest and reassured me that it was empty.  He didn’t answer my question about how the wasps got into the bedroom to build the nest in the first place, however.

The takeaway from this story: That maintenance man should expect a request soon to reseal the edges of my bedroom windows.  Also, the net from the laundry room is now hanging by my bed.


So, who wants to come visit me?

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