Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Guatemala Checklist

Or Things I've already done to get ready and still need to do and am so excited about it all I can hardly contain myself so I'd better make a list before I forget!

Already Done
Airplane ticket. Check. Purchased back in February and modified two weeks ago when I realized that United Airlines really wasn't kidding when they said they expected me to take a little commuter plane from Santa Ana to LAX then get on the real plane to fly from LAX to La Aurora International Airport. Why, oh why, United Airlines, would I want to drive 40 miles out of my way to get on a wee plane to fly to the airport that I asked for when trying to book online?

Shoes. Check. One pair of hiking boots, an inexpensive pair of tennis shoes and some flip flops.

Backpack Check. Purchased last week at the local Army/Navy surplus store for only $40. Internal frame, lots of space, already filled with stuff I plan on taking that I don't wear in normal life.

Clothes. Check. Four pair of cargo pants and one pair of speciality hiking pants that are supposed to wick moisture away. Wick wick wick wick. Yes, I bought new clothes for the trip because I wanted things that are lightweight that I don't care about getting dirty, etc., since I anticpate some rolling around in dirt whilst digging. Yes, it's making Linda and Cim crazy that I haven't been buying "girly" clothes. Linda said to me the other day, "I'll be glad when the Guatemala years are over so you can buy girly things again."

Portable Shower. Check. This is encouraged for each person because apparently the showers won't be available in the afternoons when we get back from work. Fill the 5 gallon shower thingy up with water before leaving in the morning, let the sun do its thing, then have a nice warm shower in the afternoon.

Lightweight towel. Check. This looks like one of the towels divers use in competition when they just get out of the pool. I hope it's enough. Maybe I should bring something else too? I'll have to ponder that.

Sunscreen. Check. For face and body.

Base tan. Check. Well, almost check. As much of a base tan as a whitey like me can be expected to have. I've actually been going to a tanning booth for a couple of months. (Don't hurt me, Qwendy!) Apparently, "base tan" for me means "more freckles."

Sleeping bag. Check. Not because I'll need it to keep warm, but because they recommend it for padding. Sounds like a camp cot situation. My back will be so pleased. I just need to remember to get it out of the garage. The sleeping bag, not my back.

Pillow. Check. It's one of those small, squooshy ones.

Cameras. Check. One digital, one 35mm, one video.

Camera bag for all three cameras. Check.

Hotel reservations. Check. For the extra two days I'm staying to do some sightseeing on my own.

Water carrier. Check. I got one of those camel back thingies that holds 1.5 liters. Should be enough to get me through a work day. I hope.

Bag to carry things that's not a backpack. Check. I didn't want a backpack because that just makes me hot and sweaty on my back, plus I've already got the whole camelback thing. I wanted a shoulder bag that would hold my things for a day out in the field and not be too bulky. I just love the local Army/Navy surplus store!

Sundry items. Check. Including anti-bacterial wipes, first aid kit, extra aspirin, spray-on bandages, blister prevention stuff, baby powder, travel size shampoo et al bottles, etc. Need to make sure the first aid kit has everything in it I need. (See below).

Laundry soap. Check. Got three mini boxes last night out of the vending machine at my local landermat.

Immunizations. Check. I've already gotten shots for Hepatitis A, polio, and typhoid. I just got a tetanus shot last year, so that's up to date.

Things I Still Need to Get/Remember to Bring

Small pillowcase for small squooshy pillow.

Toilet paper. While I have toilet paper, I just need to remember to bring a few rolls.

Mint Chocolate Pria bars. I imagine these will come in handy.

Local Currency. I have a call into the local Thomas Cook store now to see if they need to order me some Guatemalan money, I think it's called quetzals, or if they have some on hand.

Cell phone -- will it work internationally, or do I leave it at home? I imagine it'll be the latter option.

Palm Pilot. Much lighter than a laptop, yet will enable me to keep good notes of my trip. I have one of those cool foldable keyboards for it. I already have one, I just need to remember to pack it.

Palm Pilot charger.

Film. Just in case a video camera and digital camera aren't enough, I'm bringing my 35mm camera also.

Mailing labels. To send postcards to people while I'm there without needing to rely on memorizing addresses or carrying an address book with me. Of course I'll have my Palm with me, but labels will be easier.

A book to read on the airplane. Don't know yet which one, but it must be a paperback and long so as to keep me occupied.

Need to make hotel reservations for the day I get in. My flight arrives at 4:00 in the morning or something nasty like that, and our group isn't meeting until 2:00 in the afternoon, and I don't want to just hang out at the airport that whole time.

Electricity conversion thingy. Need to find out what type to get. Which leads to....

Decide if I should bring a curling iron and blow dryer or not. My hair is straight and flat without them, which may be just fine. But will I be able to live with myself??? That's the burning question. Yes, I'm that vain.

I need to read the books on Maya civilizations that are on the recommended reading list that I bought months ago but haven't really cracked open yet because I prefer fiction to non-fiction.

Malaria prophylatic. Get your mind out of the gutter. That's what they call it in the medical field. It means "protection against," in case you were wondering. And I need to start taking it two weeks before I leave (today!) and once each week while I'm down there, and after I get back.

Immodium A-D. Must. Get. This.

Pack bathing suit and shorts.

Socks. Of the wicking variety. Wick wick wick wick.

Waterproof my hiking boots.

Pack triangular bandages.

Pack butterfly bandages. Cim says I need these because I'm a cutter. Not an intentional cutter, just an accidental, klutzy person when wielding a knife or any other sharp instruments.

Pen and paper.

Man oh man. Maybe I'm not as together as I thought I was. I've got some shopping to do!

Monday, May 23, 2005

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I know, I know -- summer hasn't even (officially) started yet, so I can't report on what I did for my summer vacation, but I when I do get around to writing that report when I go back to school in September (if I were, which I'm not, because, duh) that Mrs. Westlake will ask me to do, it should look a lot like it will today, only it'll be in the past tense.

In other words, my summer vacation is gonna be awesome because of the many fabulous things that I have planned. Here's a sampling:

April 23: My niece gets married and I'm going to the wedding. Yes, I know, it's already happened. Yes, I went to the wedding. It was lovely and my niece is beautiful and I was honored to have been in attendance. It was fun not only for the wedding part, but also to be able to spend time with my family. Two of my other nieces and I took the bride-to-be to Walmart the night before her wedding to do some last night shopping. Had I known it was up to us to throw the bachelorette party I would've come up with something a little bit more glamorous than Walmart. Glamorous, yes. More fun? Hard to top a night at Walmart with three of the most fabulous nieces who ever existed.

April 29: "Private Lives" by Noel Coward at the Pasadena Playhouse.

April 30: World Tai Chi Day. Did your world feel better that day? More peaceful? Did you find it easier to get along with loved ones? That's because I was saving the world with my chi. You can thank me later.

May 7: Time Out For Women: Sponsored by Deseret Book, this is a day to be able to recharge spiritual batteries by listening to wonderfully amazing speakers and music. I got my latest Sheri Dew book signed by Sheri Dew and reaffirmed my desire to be her when I grow up.

May 13-14: Birthday celebrations for Cim including a murder/mystery dinner cruise in the Long Beach harbor, a behind-the-scenes tour at the Long Beach Aquarium, and a haunted tour of the Queen Mary. Topped off by a lovely dinner at Bubba Gump's on Saturday, it was a fun, exhausting weekend.

May 17: Taping of the Ellen DeGeneres show. Fun, fun, fun.

May 18-19: Midnight showing of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. It was more fun waiting for the movie in line and in the theater than the movie itself was, but at least there was no Jar-Jar Binks to contend with! Bottom line: it's the best of the prequels, but nothing can ever top the original three movies.

Okay, so that brings us up to date. Here're the coming attractions:

May 28: Angel's game in Anaheim. Don't get me started on how stupid it is that they're now called the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

June 3: Praire Home Companion at the


June 4: It seems like there's something besides the Boy Scout fundraising pancake breakfast, but I can't think of what it is off the top of my head and don't have it written in my planner.

June 9 - 25: Trip to Guatemala.

July 2, 6, 16 and 19: Wicked at the Pantages theater. I'm in love with this soundrack and cannot wait to see this. Obviously, since I've got tickets to see it four FOUR times.

Do you like how I just threw that bit in about Guatemala then didn't give any details? It's because I'm so dang excited I can hardly stand it!!!! I'm going with Earthwatch as a volunteer to participate in an ancient Mayan archaelogical expedition. I know!! Doesn't that sound like that coolest thing ever? I will write more about this in my next entry. Suffice it to say, I have been looking forward to this since January when I signed up, and though my summer would be happily complete on its own merits, this is definitely the icing on the cake. The whipped cream on the pie. The ice cream to the a la mode.

July 3: Musical salute for Disneyland's 50th anniversary and fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl.

July 16: The latest Harry Potter installment is released.

July 25-30: Girls' Camp in Running Springs.

And....that's it. For now. My August calendar only has one entry on it, which is probably just fine, since I need to really save some vacation time so I don't have to go in the hole for the cruise to Jamaica that Linda and I are going on in October.

Not too shabby, eh? I hope yours is as fun as I plan on mine being.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Stinky Medicine

Last week I started developing a chalazion. Here's the link for WebMD so you can see for yourself, but it's essentially a pimple underneath your eyelid. Well, not yours, but mine, actually.

The first chalazion I ever got was about four years ago. I went to bed one night kind of rubbing my eye because it was itchy and felt irritated even though I couldn't see anything wrong with it. The next morning when I woke up, I thought a spider had bitten my eye or something similar since it was almost swollen shut and fairly gross looking.

Since it was a Sunday morning and I didn't want to page my doctor yet for a possible non-emergency, I had Cim drive me to the pharmacy to see if the pharmacist could recommend anything for it. I took off my sunglasses to show the pharmacist my eye, and she jumped back about two feet and said, "I don't have anything for that. Call a doctor."

I went to the ER and the doctor took one look at it and said, "Oh, you have a chalazion," very matter-of-factly. I had never heard the term before and didn't know what that meant other than, "Your eye is yucky, red, swollen and gross," so I asked, "What's that?"

He laughed and said, "Oh, essentially it's a pimple underneath the eyelid."

"I came to the emergency room for ACNE?"

He laughed some more. He went on to explain that there were two possible treatments for it -- one was to take antibiotics. He stopped.

"And the other way?" I prompted.

"I could go up there and lance it for you if you'd like."

Needless to say, I opted for the antibiotics.

Four years later and I've got another chalazion. This time I was able to diagnose it myself and called my regular doctor to ask for antibiotics. I guess he doesn't have to treat many chalazions because he hesitated a little longer than usual before replying that would be fine.

The antibiotics? Stink. Individually they're almost odorless, but altogether in one bottle they smell like rotten egg, sulphurous farts.

My Latest Addiction

A few weeks ago Linda introduced me to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaves non-coffe iced vanilla blended drink. It was delicious. It was, I believe, even better tasting than the chocolate iced blended drink I chose at the time thinking that vanilla couldn't be that exciting. Oh, but it is.

There is a Starbucks in the building across the street from where I work. They have an equivalent non-coffee vanilla iced drink. Also very delicious. I asked them today if they could make it with non-fat milk. The barista said that's how they make it anyway, so I ordered a venti, the biggest, piggiest size.

Do you think the fact that the barista looked at me with pity when I exultantly exclaimed that if it's made with non-fat milk must mean it's a low-fat dessert means that it's not really low-fat?

Probably. I ordered the whipped cream anyway.

I Am Not Either Bossy. No I'm NOT!

I attended a work-sponsored "What's Your Communication Style?" class last week. I learned that there are basically four communication types: Analytical, Driver, Expressive and Amiable.

I was telling my two good friends about the class and describing the main attributes of each group -- Analyticals really take their time in making decisions because they want to make sure they have all the facts before proceeding; they typically proivde more information than is necessary; and they're very deliberate.

Drivers are decisive, candid, results-oriented, pragmatic. They see a goal and don't let anything get in their way while achieving it.

Expressives are creative, enthusiastic, spontaneous and in my opinion, can be downright annoying because they have to be the center of attention while not actually doing a lot of the work.

Amiables are very people/relationship focused in that they're supportive, empathic and loyal.

Linda and Cim immediately pegged me as a Driver. Okay, that's fair since that's what my test results were, but I honestly don't see why they had to laugh about it as I was describing those attributes. Besides, I tried justiying, those aren't necessarily personality traits; they're communicattion styles. Right? RIGHT?

Last night I found a cute little on-line quiz to find out what Winnie the Pooh character you most resemble.

It will probably come as a surprise only to me that my results were:

Rabbit. You are rather bossy and high strung, but we love you anyway!

I even took it twice to see if I got a different result, but to no avail. *sigh*