Tuesday, April 29, 2008


We decided to try and get a jump on allergies this time and get tested before they kicked in full force this year. Unfortunately by the time we found a doctor and made appointments L.'s allergies had hit full force. Getting your arm stuck with 80 odd needles all attached to each other is always fun. So is getting to sit there for 20 minutes without scratching. By the end of the twenty minutes both my ams had red dots up and down them. It turns out I have allergies for most trees, all grass, and some animals. (I guess I am well rounded allergy wise.) I have no allergies for any molds or dust though. I guess they say that you develop allergies for what you are not exposed to as a child. Living in California in the house that I did I guess the kind of upbringing is obvious.
L.'s allergy test was much less definitive. She was allergic to something but the only thing that reddened her arm was dust mites. It did not make sense since she suffered seasonally so she went back a few days later for another test. Again, everything came up negative. Admittedly, it seems like a pretty crude test. Stick you with a bunch of things that most people are allergic to and see if your skin reacts. In L.'s case the results just showed she must be allergic to something most people aren't. I understand how they can get a liquid form from the pollen of trees and grass and even molds, but I want to know how they distill essence of gerbil, or tobacco smoke. It seems like if they can create the liquids to find if someone has a problem with what is left over after dust mites then they should be able to break it down further and find the actual chemicals that triggering the attack to test for. Maybe they are and just have the names of the items to help everyday people like me know instead of saying someone is allergic to tripepto-hygylicoride or something. But if that were the case why were they not able to find the problem for L.?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Planning for a Trip to Europe

For our 10th year anniversary we ended up deciding to go on a cruise of northern Europe. I much prefer to explore countries on our own but L. wanted a relaxing anniversary this time and it made it easier to see more places in shorter time.
Our ship sailed from London. We had a couple of extra days there with just how our vacation time and the cruise dates lined up. Since we had been to London before I was looking for stuff that we hadn't done previously. I realized I liked the idea of going to school in London so I looked up the schools in the area and found some that fit what I wanted to get my PhD in perfectly. The best part was that one school had a open house a few days before I was planning to get there. I just bought my plane ticket for a little earlier so I could go. I contacted the schools and received information from them set up tours at for them.
One of the other cities we are going to is St. Petersburg Russia. To be able to get off the boat on a non-cruise paid excursion we had to get visas. This was a big pain in the butt. It really seems like Russia does not want Americans in their country or something, hmmmmm. We had to get a letter of sponsorship. The cruise company had contracted with a Russian travel company but it cost $35 per letter. It is just a racket to make more money. The application was a very invasive. We had to fill out past jobs, schooling, if we had been in any insurrections, and my personal favorite if we had any biological, nuclear, or explosive training. Since we live close enough, I thought it would be easier to drop off our passports at the Russian Consulate in NYC, and I really hate the idea of our passports getting lost in the mail. I under-estimated the line there. Most of it was for Russian passport issues but we learned pretty quick that Russia is a crowd, not a queuing society. Luckily there was a hand rail separating the two crowds crowding the stairs. A man unlocked the huge wooden door and luckily ushered in all the visa people. We turned in our paperwork, $130 per visa, and our passports and waited for the man to unlock the doors so we could leave. Three weeks later I came back by myself and got to repeat the whole process to pick them up again. I guess everything for my background check came out OK. Its funny, since we have also been to China and I had dropped off our passports at the Chinese Consulate I can say that the Russian visa process is more expensive, more invasive, more hoops to jump through, and they are the ones that are not communist anymore.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Weekend trip to the Hamptoms

For the start of spring we decided to drive out to the end of Long Island. My friend D. and his wife E. had made reservations at Montaulk Manor, an old restored hotel on the hill. I had always wondered what it was like out there and for the most part once you get out of NYC it is just like suburbia anywhere.
We drove through East, West, and South Hamptons (Yeah I didn't know there were so many either.) I was expecting it to be more like Beverly Hills or even a gentrified Brentwood but it was looked like any other city. Maybe we just didn't see the rich part. The fact that they had a Women's association of neighborhood improvement just shows that there are to many people with nothing to do.
Montaulk is much more relaxed of a city. That night we went down to the beach. It was so relaxing to listen to the waves. We next morning we rode our bikes from the hotel to the lighthouse at the very end of the island. On our way back it was pouring rain. We all jumped into the indoor pool when we got back and laughed about it. It seemed like we would go do something then end up back in the pool.
On Sunday we all went to the spa for the hotel. I was stiff enough from the bike ride the day before I felt like the massage was wasted just getting rid of the kinks from the bike ride.
The other thing I wanted to do while there was eat seafood. It is the port that a lot of seafood comes into so it was all fresh. I had never had oysters before and while I like clams, muscles, conch and just about any other kind of bivalve I really didn't like sliding the oysters down my throat.