Monday, February 23, 2009

Health Issues

This year has started off with a bang as far as health stuff is concerned. I had two issues pop up in January.

I found out right before I went on my work cruise (hmmm... I don't think I ever blogged about that!) that I have fibroids, which are benign tumors that grow in muscle layers of my uterus. My primary care doctor recommended I see a gynecologist about it because I have six of them and one in particular was kinda big (6.6 cm wide), or as she put it: "the size of a small grapefruit." My first question was "How could I have something that big inside me and NOT know it?" I found out that common symptoms are problems with urination and heavy/painful periods. Luckily, I have nothing like that happening.

After waiting a month for an appointment, I met with the gynecologist who said that the big fibroid is in the wall of my uterus vs. taking up space inside the uterus, so that's good. He said that he didn't recommend taking it out because cutting into my uterus would be more likely to lead to infertility than just leaving it in, especially if I have no symptoms and there's no reason to take it out. I was so relieved, I almost started crying while sitting in his office. The next step is I need to have another ultrasound done in six months, just to see how fast they're growing.

The other thing I've been concerned about all month, although at this point, I've just given up being stressed about it, is the chance that I could have ARVD, a genetic heart disease. Basically, if you have ARVD and your heart has an arrhythmia, it can cause you to die. The reason I even got tested for it was because it was declared the cause of death of my cousin Donna, who passed away last August. Her sister Robyne was diagnosed with it and was almost immediately put under the knife to have a defibrillator installed, which was rather alarming. The defibrillator acts like a pacemaker and zaps your heart if it has an arrhythmia to get it back on track.

After all this, we found out that ARVD was the cause of death listed on my grandmother's autopsy several years ago, but no one ever TOLD US to go get checked because it's a genetic disease! If someone had, my cousin Donna could possibly be alive today. But Robyne says, Donna has potentially saved all of us. I love Robyne's faith and optimism. It's inspiring.

So far, I've met with a cardiologist who has participated in studies related to ARVD, so I hope he'll be able to properly diagnose me. I have a cardiac MRI scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, so I get to spend 90 minutes in a tube, trying to remain very, very still. I'm going to take a CD of the MRI to my appointment with my cardiologist on Wednesday morning so he can then interpret it to see if I have the dreaded fatty tissue on my right ventricle. You've got to love modern technology!

If I have it, I want to just know so I can deal with it, but ideally, not having it would be better! My sister did her cardiac MRI last Friday and is meeting with her doctor on Thursday, so I'm anxious to find out her results too. To be honest, I would love to get back to any kind of exercise other than just walking. I miss hiking and have been afraid to do anything else, in case it inadvertently causes an arrhythmia! By Wednesday, I should know, so that will be a relief.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oh, Trader Joe's...

This guy made an unauthorized commercial for Trader Joe's on his Treo. Hilariousness! Enjoy! If you love Trader Joe's, you'll enjoy this...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Five and Dimes for 2008

First, I didn't hit 100 new-to-me games for the year like I was hoping to. But here is a list of the games I played more than five and ten!

The Big Dollar
277 plays - Race for the Galaxy - Still one of my favorite games, if not my favorite. It's just fun, fun, fun.

30 - Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm
16 - Tichu - I really only play this at conventions
15 - Agricola
15 - Time's Up! - Still my favorite party game!
13 - Dominion
10 - Taboo
10 - Pandemic

9 - Time's Up! Title Recall
8 - Through the Ages
8 - Werewolf
7 - Ticket to Ride: The Card Game
6 - Brass - Definitely one of my favorite new games!!
6 - Cheeky Monkey
6 - Code 777
6 - Liar's Dice
6 - Password
6 - Unpublished Prototype
5 - Power Grid
5 - Tribune
5 - Yspahan

Games I expect to remain on my five and dimes for 2009?

Race for the Galaxy is an absolute... I'm already up to 12 plays. I also suspect that all my dimes will stay and probably most of my fives. Wow. Wait. Let me compare to my 2007 five and dimes. In 2007, I had 25 games listed on my five and dimes. There is a lot of overlap from 2007 to 2008 and I suspect that will continue in 2009.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Brass Online

One of my favorite games in the last year has been Brass, a game from Martin Wallace that came out during my trip to Essen in 2007. It was 50 Euros, so it seemed a little pricey at the time, but man, I'm kicking myself for not getting a copy. I really am a fan of that game.

A guy has posted a primitive website that has an AWESOME version of Brass. It's not pretty, but it works REALLY well and I think playing Brass by email is a great idea. This game can produce a lot of thought and this gives people the time to think out their moves!

I finished one game last week and it was great. And I'm totally looking to play some more. Here's the website:

Anyone interested? You just create a free account! If you know how to play, you can check out the format on the game I just started up called Craftybeans.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Budgeting and Envelope System Update

I've now tried the Envelope System for two months. I allocated $150 each month for groceries and $200 for going out to eat.

Groceries - Wow, was December the completely wrong month to try to start this! Besides regular groceries, I cooked Christmas Eve dinner for Dave & his parents which was an extra chunk of cash. Trying to stick to a budget makes you realize how expensive meat is! I bought the prime rib on sale for $4/lb, so it cost $28. Between Christmas Eve dinner, there was also New Year's Eve. Those two "events" put me over my budget for the month by $89.

Dining Out - I managed to avoid the Christmas Eve dinner to Providence which would've set me back $150 easily. Instead, I came in $25 under budget. Woo-hoo! I really had to make an effort to do this. I had to turn down going out for dinner and stop myself from making a quick stop to pick up a quick something. This took a lot of conscious effort.

Groceries - I was out of town for over a week, which helped cut down on the groceries I needed to buy for the month. I stocked up on stuff that I can use over the next couple months, including 25 pounds of flour and hamburger patties. I came in $8 under budget!

Dining Out - I spent some money on the cruise for alcohol and ended up coming in $18 under budget!

So, over the last two months, I spent $38 more than I had budgeted, but! I feel like it's been a success. I easily could've spent a lot more money on both areas, but didn't because I was consciously spending. Or rather, consciously NOT spending. Normally, I'd just go with the flow and go out to eat whenever, but now I'm trying to plan ahead to figure out whether I want to spend the cash to go out. The groceries should be fairly easy to manage I think. It'll be tougher when I'm going to be entertaining more.

I'm going to continue on with the system for at least a couple more months and then reassess. The economy is totally going downhill, with no end in sight. Even though I have money saved, I'm definitely trying to save more money. It's always good to be prepared in case of an emergency and who knows, maybe I'll want to buy a house. I stopped at an open house yesterday and the home prices in Burbank have come down, with several of them even under $500K, but frankly, I think they'll come down a lot more over the next year, so I'm just going to sit tight and save up some more cash.

I did decide to not max out my 401(k) this year, but instead take more cash in hand. There's no company match where I work, so it's not like I'm giving up any free money. I'm still maxing out my Roth IRA though. I'm still investing in my investment account that is outside of my retirement account. That has been the most difficult. To keep investing the same amount of money in there without feeling a twinge of "OMG I'm going to lose money". I keep remembering what I read in the The Coffeehouse Investor about how the no matter what the worst five year span is, it basically always goes back up... at least historically, it has! So I'm going to just chill and wait. And cross my fingers and hope that everything goes back up eventually. Besides, like Chris said, "It'll eventually go back up and if it doesn't everyone will be screwed, so it won't even matter."