Thursday, 31 March 2011

Nothing, Nothing, Slow, QUICK QUICK QUICK

About 12 months ago I had my intake appointment at the VU gender clinic.  they said at the time that it would take about 9 months to get the next appointment...

Now my therapist had already warned me that it takes longer than the 9 months that they try to stick to, so it wasn't too bad that it took longer than we initially thought.  My therapy was going well, and to be honest the delay was just giving me a chance to go work with my therapist - so it wasn't too bad.

A couple of weeks ago I sent them a mail to see if there was anything known about when my next appointment would be.  Nothing came back (I do know just how stressed and overworked they are so I am not overly annoyed by that)  so I called them on Monday and was told they had to find my files and that they would call me back.  On Wednesday I called them again and was told that they had a planning meeting for the psychiatrists and I would be called back today to make an appointment.  Result!

So at 11:50 I excused myself form the team lead meeting I was in (actually at that point the discussion was about a part of the system that I have nothing to do with, and no knowledge of so it wasn't too bad - and I had warned my boss that if I hadn't had a call by that time I would be making the call).

I got through with a few minutes to spare, the phone lines are unmanned after midday so you have to call in the morning, and was asked can you come on Monday at 3pm?

The same thing happened for the intake appointment - wait for a while and then suddenly 'can you come tomorrow'.

So now I am a bag of nerves...  I'm going to work from home on Monday morning and then leave from here, rather than sitting in the office first.

Down side...  I managed to get an appointment a couple of days after laser - when it's difficult to shave and get a nice look on my chin...  Oh well, beggars can't be choosers I suppose...

I've also been trying to break a few more barriers today (one of those barriers I have to break is thinking of everything as a barrier I suppose).

My new toy was delivered to the shop today (Mrs Staces laptop is dying so I have replaced mine and am handing mine down to her).  I was actually happy that it was today - it meant an excuse to take a trip on the way to therapy as it's just down the road.  So Stacy picked the laptop up.  I should have really ordered it under her name as well really - every time I was on the phone to them they thought I was my wife anyway.  Live and learn!  In the shop I had no issues though.

Outside I had a few.  There were some workers digging the street up next to the door of the shop.  In the middle of an industrial estate (200 euros cheaper than buying from a high street shop) I could have done without it.  I got comments.  Positive comments (as Mrs Stace and my therapist have pointed out - 'Lekker Ding'), but they did make me feel uncomfortable.  I have never had that before - I guess you have to get used to it.

Then afterwards I decided to break the petrol station barrier.  I don't know why, but filling up with fuel has always worried me as Stacy.  So I thought whilst I am on a roll, why not just do it!  There was a station nearby so I filled up.  Also no issues - absolutely normalcy :)  Except that in the middle of a windswept industrial estate I had to keep hold on to the hem of my skirt to stop it flying!

All in all a great day :)

Now breathe!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

When does it stop...

After having a few weeks where I thought I was catching up with things, both at home and at work I now feel back to square one.

I am just not sure why I have so much on at the moment, or where the current interruptions are coming from, but they are coming fast and furious and just keep piling up and up.  On top of this it leads me to finishing the day exhausted, but having no idea where my time has been spent - which makes me worry that people think I am not pulling my weight as even I can't say where the time has gone.

I think I am going to have to make a list and see what I have to do, what can be done in the office, what can be done outside and when I think I can spend time at home to work without interruptions and try and cut the list a little.

The there is the outside stress.  A couple of weeks ago I sent an email to the VU to find out when my next appointment was.  I heard nothing back and so on Monday I called, they said they needed to find my files (it is about a year since I last went) and they would call me back.  Today I gave them another call, they had the file and are organizing their psychiatrists at the moment.  I'll get another call in the morning to try and arrange an appointment.

I have no idea when the appointment will be, but at least it seems that things are moving.  I sound positive, but I've been a nervous wreck since sending the first mail a couple of weeks back, and leading up to, and just following the calls I've been absolutely spent.  Which is daft (as Mrs Stace has told me), all I've done is make a call.  There is no need to be nervous about making a call...  And yet...

OK, finish on a positive...  Whilst I am shattered I have been doing a little more shopping this week :)  My online shopping trip from a couple of weeks ago never actually a happened due to running out of time (see my first paragraph...) but this weekend I made time for it.

So a couple of online shops hit, a lilac skirt, two pairs of skinny jeans, a couple of tops and a new beige blazer were ordered.  A mix of nice quality and cheap and cheerful (Zara and H&M) should mean that I should have enough outfits to hopefully last me the spring and the start of the summer (once I get a pair of low heeled black shoes and a handbag of course - to save me always stealing one of Mrs Stace's bags).

Now we just have to wait for everything to be delivered.  I was hoping that we would get it today so I could try the new things tomorrow.  But apparently not...  Everything is likely to arrive tomorrow.  One day too late.  Hohum :)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Show sizes

I have an issue with my current shoes, they are only any good for a short amount of time.  I have one beige pair with 8cm heels and I borrowed (stole?) a black pair from Mrs Stace that she doesn't wear very often that are also 8cm.

Whilst short distances are no problem for me - I can walk in the shoes without a problem when just walking between the car and therapy, or the car and a cafe.  But when I last tried to walk a longer distance I ended up with blisters. Mrs Stace suggested (well actually she scolded me for buying shoes based on looks rather than comfort) that I get some with lower heels, that I can wear and walk in all day - we've been looking for a couple of weeks and there were a couple of pairs that I liked a lot:

I'd seen both shoes in the catalogue that came through the door a couple of weeks ago, the beige ones look fantastic in the pictures.  The grey suede, with the material ties just looked stunning on the model.  I hate most of my body (who doesn't) but my ankles I'm actually quite happy with - at 7,5" they are smaller than average and I do like shoes that show that off.
The black ones just looked like simple classy low heeled black shoes, nothing too showy - just nice.

We went to the shop to try them before food shopping on Friday evening (Mrs Stace went with her husband as she was going to try them for me), and that's where it went a little wrong :)

Firstly the materiel on the grey shoes is not actually material - it's a very soft, very fine leather.  And when you see it in the shop as just a mangled mess on display they look much less impressive.  For some reason I think a mangled mess of ribbon would look much better in the shop than the leather straps lying in disarray.  So with that in mind I thought there was no point in Mrs Stace trying them on - I needed to know what they looked like on me, with the clothes that I would be wearing with them.

The black ones do look pretty much the same in real life as in the catalogue (or on screen) and they had our size on display.  Mrs Stace tried them but they were a little too small. but not much too small. This proved an issue as whilst we have just about the same size we don't have exactly the same size.  Where as I am a 39/40 she is a 40/41 - and so we did not want to take the risk of buying them and finding that they were still too small.

And so we left the shop empty handed...

Yesterday we went back - Mrs Stace and Stacy - so that I could try the shoes on.  So a second trip out for the both of us.  Much more stressful for the both of us this time though - we went to the town center of where we lived and had a much higher chance of running into someone that we knew. And the town where we live is starting to get very popular - it's grown massively in the last 5 years or so as the town center has gone under regeneration.  Gulp, for both of us.

Secondly, we were going purely for the shoes.  And so purely to go to the shop where Mrs Stace brought a pair of shoes last week - with a good chance of being served by the same person and so being read wasn't as much a possibility as a given (I may not look too bad as Stacy but if you know me then you would know me...).  And of course buying shoes is a fairly intimate - you do not just pick something and go to the cashiers counter, you have to speak to the assistant, ask questions and get advice. Gulp again!

Now the reason for the title (took some time getting there didn't it! ;p) - I tried on the black shoes and they were indeed too small, my toes curled at the end and they were too narrow.  Damn.  Then I tried the grey ones (also in a 40) and they were like boats.  Damn again.

The assistant came and asked if I needed help, and yes, it was Mrs Stace's assistant from the previous week and whilst she was very professional I would say yes she knew very well that she had served Mrs Stace and me the previous week...  Hohum, at that point there is nothing else that you can do is there?  I tried to put it at the back of my mind.

She brought out the shoes for me. 41 for the black and 39 for the grey, and did I feel like a nutter asking for two shoes with such completely different sizes!

The grey ones fitted fine, a little tight across the bridge of my foot - but the assistant said that was as it should be, as long they were not painful, so that the leather can give a little when you break them in.  The straps looks wonderful on and so they were a definite yes.

The black ones on display must have had the wrong size put on them though.  I tried the 41's and they were so big I walked out of them.  Which is such a shame as they were also nice looking shoes on!

So I took the grey ones, we went back to the car and started to breath again.  Another successful trip I think - or at least we survived :)

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Android App of the Month: Run Keeper

Techie post again :)

This morning I went for my Saturday morning run, even though the weather was absolutely dire here in Holland.  It was cold, wet and miserable!  But never let it be said I am a fair weather person!

I woke up, watched the mornings activity in Melbourne (go Macca's!), drank my fill of cappuccinos and caught up on blogs that I have been kind of neglecting this week due to the amount I have on at the moment.  At about a quarter past nine I got up the courage to get ready for the run and leg it into the world.

Today there was a difference.

I always run with a heart meter to make sure that I am running at the optimum pace for what I want to do - most of the time this being keeping fit and keeping the weight down.  However, in three weeks I have to run the Hilversum City Run for my company (well 'have to' is a little incorrect here, I want to run the 5km and they enter teams so I *can* run the 5km).  I don't think I am going to beat my time from last year but I would like to try and get close...

So for now I am *trying* to run at competition pace, about 160 to 170 bpm to make sure that I can keep it up for the distance required and to try and make sure that the 170bpm actually equals a decent pace.  A colleague of mine gave me a tip for an Android application this week: Run Keeper. This uses the GPS of the phone to keep track of your run for you and give you live feedback.

You start it up and put your phone in your pocket, and it gives you updates through your headphones as you go along.  Telling the time so far, the distance so far and the average time per kilometer. I found this really useful for the competition training, as I could adjust my pace to both the heart meter and my required pace (today I was going for 5 minutes per km - 30 seconds slower than my pace last year).

And using the machine, the watch and with a bit of will power I managed to achieve it!  For the first 5km's I did 5:02 average per KM.  Of course this dropped to something like 5:17 average by the time I had finished running at nearly 7 k's - but I can live with that as I am not running a 7km distance so the performance can drop after 5 without me too worried :)

On coming home I found that I can also use it to make training plans, giving it warm up times and then unlimited intervals for fast, normal and slow running.  I think that I'll try this tomorrow when running with Mrs Stace.

And finally...  When you stop your run it uses Google Maps to let you know where you went - not that much use when you run the same road everyday, but nice when you take a different route and are just running to make the time, you can see where you went for the next time (and where the KM markers are).

Anyway - just thought I'd pass it on to anyone out there who is insane enough to run to keep fit!  I thought it was a nice, free app - there don't seem to be that many out there that work this well (I have tried some in the past that were awful, and only worked if you held the phone in your hand for the whole run!)

BTW, one last thing :)  If you work out indoors you can still use it, you just have to turn off the GPS mode and work in time rather than distance I think.

A nice end to the week

Well after the stress of Thursday, yesterday actually went really well.

It's the end of the month, and so time for another round of walk'n'talk one2one's with my team.  I really enjoy these walks and discussions with the guys that work in my team.  It gives a chance to give good feedback to them - and get there thoughts and idea's.

This month was even better as we have some projects that are due to start soon - which meant that we could have the discussions about who will do which projects, and how we are going to tackle them.  That and discussions about the R&D projects that I am trying to push my team to do took up all of the discussions today.

What I hadn't counted on though was my choosing the wrong footwear...  I was in my all black outfit yesterday and I normally wear either white trainers (Mrs Stace hates the idea of white trainers with black, but I like the contrast that they provide) or my cowboy boots (that Mrs Stace hates on principle :p).  I went with the boots yesterday, and regretted it after the first walk as the pain started to climb in my feet.

You see you can't get cowboy boots easily in smaller sizes, and so my boots are somewhere between 1 or two sizes too big for me, stuffed with insoles to try and take up the extra room.  But my feet still slip in the boots and after the first loop (2.2KM's) they started to hurt.

Halfway through the second I was worried about blisters starting on the balls of my feet, I've had these the before and I really do think that they are about the worst blisters I have had - on the heels they hurt, but right at the front of the foot it's just awful.

At the end of the third loop I tried to make sure that I was just tried and hide behind my desk for a while to let my feet recover.

Then in the afternoon I had a meeting with ICT to discuss the new way that we are going to set up infrastructure for developers.  Now I normally have an issue with ICT (they were the people that sent me into a tail spin on Thursday) and so I was not really looking forward to the meeting. But...  I have to say it went really well, we were bouncing idea's (and hopefully one idea I had solved an issue I have with the new infrastructure and if they take it up would also make their life easier.  Basically the idea is to move to a VDI environment - where all of the developers have a virtualised desktop stored on a server, rather than having hardware under their desk.  The discussion on how this works put a few of my fears to ground (though I want to see it in action before I am completely convinced).

Whilst I can see it working well for those who only need a desktop, I work from home, on the train and would like a laptop.  Using a server based machine for this is not what I want to do - I don't want to have to be connected to the office in order to work - and so I was against it for those who need to work in the same way as I do.  However, yesterday I was reading a techy web site that discussed desktop caching - having a server based computer, but when you disconnect from the network there is a local version of the machine that allows it all to work seamlessly, without a connection.  Fingers crossed...

We have a demonstration coming up soon, hopefully I'll get to see it working flawlessly and I can put the rest of my fears to rest and try and convince the other developers that it is going to work.  If it doesn't work flawlessly then I don't want to think about how I have to proceed...

And finally, a friend came back to the office after a 4 week vacation and we had a really good natter and catch up just before he left.  He knows, and was asking how it's going, and if I have any issues that he can help with.  Apparently I also have a present coming from Mexico when his wife returns.  he wouldn't say what it was and knowing his sense of humour the mind boggles :)  I don't know whether to be exited or nervous :p

It was a nice end to the day though, and a great end to the week.  Now to see if I can relax over the weekend (I have to finish building the radio control car for my niece - it's almost working, I just need to find all of the screws and clips to make sure it does not fall apart on her)

Have a good weekend all :)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Up and down

Today, as they say in football, was a day of two halves.

Due to internal politics and technical problems the morning was less than fun, in fact it had me doubled in pain during a 40 minute walk to work off stress.  But I won't go into details, they are both too raw still and it'll just be a rant (I just tried to do it once and ended up deleting the whole post as it got too long and way. way too much of a rant)

I was not happy.

But (always good to use after a phrase like 'I was not happy'), it did pick up.  We are looking into a new computer for home.  Mrs Stace is using my old laptop and it's starting to get a little long in the tooth, it takes too long to do certain tasks, and the battery is totally dead - if you unplug it it does instantly.

So I am going to do a clean install on mine and pass it on to her, and replace it with a DTR to last another 5 years.  Sony is just about to release a new line of laptops using the latest and greatest chips from Intel, with a huge amount of processing power, lots of memory and a fast disk it should be lovely to code on (and to process photo's).  We put the order in today, and should be amongst the first to get it when it's released in a couple of weeks.  Fingers crossed :)

And then this afternoon, in the glorious sunshine, we went for our office run across the country park near the office.  50mins, 500cals and 27g fat later I was quite happy again.  There were 5 of us there, me and another girl run ahead, a couple of girls running a little slower and the guy who organises it (and can run us all into the ground - I swear he didn't even break a sweat!) running between the two.

A nice drive in the evening sun, some spinach and pesto past and I'm done...

And now that this is written, I'm off to bed to carry on with 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' - it's just getting interesting!


Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Great CD Rip is Over

Well it's taken a week or so of swapping CD's whenever I remembered, but it's done.

244 discs
76GB of space
8+ days of music
3400+ songs
65+ Genres

It was boring as hell!

But hopefully it's the last time I need to do it, as it's lossless encoded now!  And it does sound wonderful on the new system, soooo worth it!

What does that much music look like?



Work, Therapy and Shopping!

This week has been terrible in the office…  I have been exhausted with the pain in my jaw (though thankfully it's now gone completely), and have simply been too busy doing unplanned work – no matter how much time I block in my agenda someone always comes and asks if I can unblock it, and there is normally a good reason for it; it’s just a shame that it doesn't help the things that are always on the back burner.  As a result I fall further and further behind with the tasks that are not less important - just less urgent...

Friday was the worst day or the week for me.  There was a problem with a project: poor inter-departmental communication and misuse of tools that have made it almost impossible to keep track of.  The person involved sent a mail saying that this was an example of why we need to change things and so I tried to arrange a meeting to discuss it.  No going, ‘I don’t want to be involved.’  My boss however made an appointment anyway and we had a discussion – I already have the solution outline that fits in the direction that the development team wants to take anyway.  This got a warm response from most involved in the meeting and I am going to fill out the outline with to something I can go over with the developers and project teams next week.  I'm doing this from home on Monday to ensure that I can actually do the work - and not spend my time on the unplanned things - it's the only way to ensure that it will actually get done.

Then in the afternoon I had to help the other development team change on of our import applications.  I was not impressed that this needed doing – the people involved shout very loudly, and constantly that they are senior developers and demand to be treated as such.  If you are going to make these statements loudly then I think it’s a good idea to follow it up with actions and when debugging a very simple application it shouldn’t take the two of them working for a week, plus a half day of my time.  Since becoming team lead I have not coded that much, and whilst I still read code fine, I am not a fully geeked up techie anymore – and yet I had the layout of the code in my head inside an hour, and I was actually deciphering the details as I was explaining it to the coders.  And still it was not coming across and I had to keep going over how the application was built, and why I thought that lines written along the lines of 'Product.CompanyName = xmlDoc.FindNode("CompanyName");' fills the product company name from the XML document field 'CompanyName'.  I am not the best teacher in the world (I just don't have the patience to be honest) but I just can't help thinking that the code was fairly self explanatory - we do have some seriously complex code and this just isn't it.

When I eventually got back to my teams room ‘Air on a G String’ was playing, I had the guy who controls the music rewind it to the start and turn it up and just sat in the corner, eyes closed practicing a breathing exercise to get rid of the stress - the people involved don't just say 'I don't get it' they argue that you can't be right, over and over again.  I could have had a better end to the week...

Earlier in the week was not so bad. On Thursday I had another therapy session – it was a very relaxing session this time, discussing the shopping trip last week; how it made both me and Mrs Stace feel.  I think that one of the biggest changes after the trip was actually evident just before the session.  I went to my friends flat to get changed and there were absolutely no nerves when leaving, or when walking in Amsterdam, or when coming home.  For the first time I was completely comfortable for the whole time – to the point that it was not until afterwards that I realised that it was not a problem.  :)

Of course one disappointment from last week was that we didn’t manage to get everything that we wanted (well, actually, all we managed to find was a summer coat for me!  And then it went cold again so I couldn’t even wear it on Thursday!).  Mrs Stace managed to correct that slightly yesterday when we went shoe shopping – she got herself a lovely pair of low heeled shoes for spring.  I’m thinking of getting the same shoes in grey. We actually went in for shoes for me, I had seen some lovely ones in a catalogue that came through the post, but in real life I am not so sure.  I have to go back as Stacy and actually try them on and see how they look I think - maybe they are completely different on than they look sitting on a shelf...

Today we are going to go in for an online shopping trip – I have seen a couple of really nice outfits on that I am thinking of getting for spring, and Mrs Stace is going to try and see if she can find something as well :)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A busy day

Mrs Stace managed to make a liar of me this week, in a very good way I’ll add.

On Wednesday I answered a comment from Melissa that Mrs Stace was not ready to go out with Stace just yet, that she had to go at her own pace and that I was not going to push matters.

Well that all changed that evening over food.  We had already planned to go shopping that weekend, Mrs Stace wants some new trousers and I need a new outfit.  Over dinner Mrs Stace said that she had been thinking that it was time to bite the bullet and go shopping with Stace instead of male me.

So Saturday came, I went running – with a lot of pain in my jaw still :( - and got ready as Stace.  I had a bit of confidence crisis, resulting in me putting on too much make up as I was convinced what remained of my moustache was showing through the foundation like a beacon.  Mrs Stace told me that there was nothing showing, and that I was panicking for no reason.  I think that both of us were getting a little worked at the point of leaving, it was a big step for both of us; the first time out with me as Stace for her, and the first time in a really busy place for me.

The first job of the day was to find out where everything was (as we had not been to that shopping centre before and find somewhere to eat.  I actually felt pretty good, once out of the car.  When parking and changing from my driving shoes into my boots I was a bag of nerves (just what you need when parking in a narrow, busy multi storey car park!), but once I stepped out the car it was too late to panic.  Walking through the shopping centre I actually felt pretty OK.  There were no obvious looks, or following glances.  We found the shops that we wanted to look at and went to a department store to eat.  We had a chat and some lovely sandwiches – salmon for me and ham for Mrs Stace – and sat for a while before starting to shop.

Or almost starting to shop – first up I needed a bathroom break.  I was really hoping to avoid this; it is one thing to need a bathroom break in a nearly empty café at the end of the evening but in a busy department store and having to queue before going in.  In the end it was worrying about nothing, no looks, and no comments – just a pleasant attendant taking my money.  So the hurdle jumped time to start shopping in earnest.

I found an Esprit trench coat for spring in beige – and actually trying that on in the shop made me feel amazing self-conscious.  I don’t know why but I suddenly felt on display – I tried to hide it and carry on regardless.  Mrs Stace also seemed to struggle at this point – though she could not say why.  I loved the coat, and but cannot fathom why sizes vary so much.  When I was looking for a winter coat I had to go for an XL (though Mrs Stace says there is no way that it is XL).  The tops I buy are M, and skirts and trousers are 36/38.

And then I buy a coat that is 40, as the 42 buried me.  I have a suggestion for the fashion industry…  Why not make a range of standardised sizes so that when out shopping it is easy to find the size you are looking for by picking up an article that is the same as your normal size so you have some idea of how it is going to fit.  We looked around some more – Mrs Stace picked up some trousers and a nice top and we went to the changing rooms.  Oddly enough in Holland this is a non-issue as they are mixed anyway so there were no nerves here.

She didn’t like what she had picked when on so she went to put them back and I went to pay for the coat (another nervous hurdle jumped!) and we went to look in other shops.

We browsed through some other shops and ended up at We.  There things went a little wrong for me (my fault, I was a little stupid).  We had picked up an amount of things and I then found a lovely skirt.  The problem was that it was the skirt to a jacket that Mrs Stace brought last week.  I was stupid enough to say “I’ll leave it; you don’t want me stealing your jacket do you”.  That manage to get a look apparently – the first one that either of us had noticed (maybe I need to start believing my therapist on my passability a little more).  I kind of brushed that off, we went into the changing room and tried our selections on.  And again with the sizes…  I was walking around in a 36 skirt, I had taken a 38 skirt into the changing rooms and…  It only just fitted (where as the 36 skirt that I had on had a little breathing room), and didn’t fall the best.  And the top that I had wanted to try was also not the best.  And was even worse when I took it off and found I had left some foundation on it…

That experience, and the fact that the painkillers I had taken for my jaw were wearing off, made me want to just go home – so we left at that point.

But, the day in general was a success I think.  Mrs Stace coped well – she was nervous at the start and a little uncomfortable but she said it was not as bad as she was expecting.  I’m going to count that as a result for the first trip.  And I managed to keep my head for most of the trip – it was a real confidence builder for me.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

A little bit of pain...

Well it seems I owe my nephew an applogy...  Yesterday at work I called my dentist to make an emergency appointment for Monday afternoon.  I picked Monday as it wasn't that bad that I needed immediate attention, but at the same point it needed looking at.

Throughtout the day it was getting worse, and I was really starting to lose concentration and getting exhausted from the constant pain when I moved my head, swallowed or just the constant dull, throbbing pain that had moved to a tooth where I had a filling last year.

At about two I had had enough, I popped some paracetamol and called the dentist a second time to get an appointment as soon as possible.  Unfortunately my dentist does not work on a Friday afternoon, but had a colleague that had some time if I could get there quickly.  I made the appointment, let my boss know that I was leaving and ran to try and make the next intercity train back home (running with a throbbing tooth is really no fun thing!)

I managed to just make the train, and called Mrs Stace (who was thankfully working from home yesterday).  I had an issue in getting to the dentist quickly.  I work 30 miles from home as the crow flies and as Mrs Stace was at home she had the car so that she could do the weekly shop instead of me.  This meant I had to use public transport to get home.  Now, the Dutch public transport system is fantastic - but even so it means that you are reliant on their timetable - and it adds a lot of time to your journey.  So...  I called Mrs Stace and asked her to pick me up from Schiphol Airport (the last stop of the Intercity) and take me to the dentist (a further 20 miles from home) in order to get there in the time agreed with the dentist.

She picked me up and we made it in plenty of time.  Actually we made in in enough time to read through 'The Gruffalo' in the waiting room.  We brought this for our neice and nephew on our last trip to the UK and wanted to know how it was translated to Dutch (we read the English version to our neice and nephew - they are not going to have a language problem when it comes to their English lessons at school I think...  My neice is only 5 and can already count to 10 in English - actually she has been doing it for a year or more, and is constantly asking for translations from Dutch to English from Mrs Stace and myself)

In the dentist chair I started to panic (I am not a good patient! I am terrified), and had to work hard to calm down.  She prodded and poked and found the problem.  Seems I had chipped some of the filling somehow and the nerve was exposed, and very sensitive. A quick x-ray later and she had the confirmation that the filling needed to be removed and replaced.  She offered a temporary solution of using a liquid to close off the nerve for the coming months - but as it would just be delaying the inivetable I decided to have it replaced whilst I was there and already in a panic.

I won't go into detail of the procedure, but she was fantastic at her job.  She did everything she could to keep me calm and talked me though the entire procedure and checked with me every step of the way to make sure that I was not going into too much of a panic.  Stopping and helping me relax at the most painful points.

Last night I was exhausted from the day - why is it a simple tooth ache can take it out of you so much?  We went to bed early (for a Friday) and I was asleep almost as soon we as turned the lights out.

On a different note...  I do appriciate that the issues of my day are insignificant compared to what has happened in Japan in the last 24 hours or so.  The images shown were too horrifying for words - the sheer power of nature is...  Well it's indescribable.  My heart goes out to those affected.


Thursday, 10 March 2011

I can't beleive that he got lost!

On the Thursdays when I am not in therapy I run with a group of people from the office, some are training for the Hilversum 5km run (I'm one of those) and others just want to get fit.  We split ourselves into two groups: One 10km group, and one 5km group, go our seperate ways and see each other during the acros the Gooische Hai (can someone who know's Dutch better than me correct that spelling please :p)

Today started badly - I was accosted by a colleague just when running upstairs to get changed so I had to rush in getting ready - almost forgetting my heart band in the process!

We started our run and were busy with the warm up when someone fell and knocked her head on the ground. She was OK afterwards, but decided to head back to the office rather than carry on running.  That left four of us.  We completed the warm up, did our stretches and then started running - through the neighbourhood where the office is located and then onto the open country side.

In spite of the cold (and boy was it cold in the wind!) is was a nice day for a run, once we got up to speed we stayed warm enough.  The wild life seems to have returned to the parkland, thankfully not Melissa's wild life but deer and highland cows - though the cows are not my favortite creatures when you have to run within a few inches of them either!

4 mins, followed by 1 min rest and then we started on the longest run of the day - a 15 min semi competition pace run.  All went well - we passed the 10km group as they were coming the other way and made quite some distance.  Too much apparently...

My colleague who was doing the organising managed to take a few wrong turns.  So instead of 4 + 15 + 8 minute runs taking us +- 5 KM's we added another 8 minutes trying to get back and another 3km's.

I'm not really complaining, I just thought it was funny (until we came across the cows a second time!) and at least I have earnt my cider and wine tonight :)

On a less fun note I have a real problem with my jaw today, it is really painful!  I don't know if I have a filling that is going bad (I am going to call the dentist in the morning and try and get an appointment for Monday) or if my nephew managed to cause me some mischeif yesterday when he was playing / struggling to stay in the bath.

He has taken to trying to tickle people constantly, but has yet to learn the difference between pinching and tickling once he gets excited.  And yesterday he grapped the flesh under my chin quite hard, and I am wondering if that has caused a bruise.  Alternatively...  I was giving him a bath last night and he really, really did not want to get out and jammed himself in and gripped the sides making it hard to lift him out.  I had to twist into the shower (where his baby bath is put) and try to free him and am wondering if I stretched something wrong trying to do it.  BTW contrary to what Mrs Stace thinks, I am not try ing to blame him for the pain I am in right now... More trying to convince myself that the pain is that rather than something with my teeth :)

The reason why I am wondering though is my tooth aches a little, but the pain comes when I hold my head in strange positions.  I can touch the tooth, eat normally and tap my jaw with no problem.  But when swallowing, or moving my head or touching the fleshy bit under my jaw it hurts.  I'm going to get the tooth checked anyway - rather get it checked for no reason than not check it and it turns out that is the problem and it goes even worse...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Three sessions and four days...

Friday afternoon, when I had finished work for the week I had my next laser session.  That makes three now, and marks the halfway point of the initial course that I paid for.  As such I thought that I would do a quick update as to how it is going so far.

The results really are so much better than what I had been expecting from before I started.  Down the left hand side of my face there is almost nothing left - smooth skin has returned for the first time in 10 years.  Down the right there is a little more, but nothing too bad.

The only real problems area's that remain are my lip and chin - which whilst much better than before are still quite covered in hair, which I know are the most dificult bits to clear.  Here I also have an issue where clumps of hairs are left - meaning of course that they stand out a little more than I would like against the surrounding smooth (pale) skin.

With the obvious improvement in facial hair I expected it to be a slightly less painfull experience than before.  Hahahahaha.  Stupid Stace...  Of course not!  The woman wielding the pain started with my upper lip this time and, oh my god, yup...  It still hurt like hell and tears were rolling down my cheeks almost instantly. My neck and chin were painful too, but nowhere near as bad as my lip.  It's really at the points of the clumps - you feel the heat and then the buzz of the EF afterwards and my whle body jerks with the pain.  It doesn't seem to matter what I do to avoid it - my yoga breathing just goes to pot as soon as the pain hits.  My cheeks are at least at the point where they do not hurt anymore - not really surprising I suppose as there is almost no hair there of course.

I was going to say that at least the recovery time is getting better as I could wet shave the next day...  But...  No, I'm afraid not.  The after pain had just not come out - I am now at the pain point again, with the difficulty of shaving that goes with it! Why oh why are fried hairs so difficult (and painful) to shave off? :)

Oh, but it is so worth it in the end...  The woman commented about how well it was going  - saying it's far better than they would have expected - let's hope that means that I don't need to order another 6 sessions in July!

Monday, 7 March 2011

What I need...

Apparently I need more self-confidence.  That is something that my therapist said to me during my last session.  He also said don’t worry it’ll come…  We’ll see.

The situation came from my trips out a few weeks ago.  The Tuesday went fine, the Wednesday I had a terrible day.  Worried, panicking and just wondering what the hell I was doing with my life.  We deconstructed that in the session and we came to the Tuesday evening.  If you ready the post from then you’ll see that I had a great night – and I stand by that I did.

There was just one thing that got to me.  We were sitting eating and the guy who does the cooking in the café on a Tuesday came up and asked if we wanted anything else to drink.  And asked does *he* want anything else.  He has met me a few times before meeting Stacy, and I know that there was nothing to it except for habbit.  But it kind of deflated me a little, and I think that the following day it just got me really down.

Where does the confidence come into it?  My therapist told me that I should have corrected him – but I just don’t have the confidence to get into possible confrontational situations.  I’m sure he would have not caused one – but… Oh well, learning point I suppose.


Sunday, 6 March 2011

Fun weekend

Well, it’s been a busy weekend so far – but all good.

Yesterday morning I went for my normal run.  I have cut it to 3.5KM per day for the weekend as my knees are playing up (I could barely walk on Thursday – before I fell down the stairs in my heels ;p).  I think the problem is with my running shoes.  They are a few years old, and have had quite some use; and I think that the heels have just worn out and collapsed internally – meaning I have no support or cushioning.  So on Friday I brought new shoes.  Interesting experience.  As I can’t buy men’s shoes in my size I always have to go for women’s shoes.  The guy in the first shop was great.  He went looking for the size I needed, came back saying they didn’t have it.  Then he very nervously asked if they were for me or someone else.  Me I said.  Oh, in that case we have lots of other women’s running shoes if you’d care to pick something else.  I declined (I like Asics for running – they are comfortable and give good support) – but I thought that he handled it very well.  In the second shop it was less good.  The guy did his job well enough – but there was something in his attitude that said here is a bloke buying women’s shoes.  I think that they had a laugh about it when I left. Hoh hum.  The shoes themselves are great though.  No issues when I got back yesterday, and going for a run with Mrs Stace later today.

Then I had to go into town to get the car that I am building for my niece fixed.  I brought the bits I needed a couple of weeks ago, and I thought they didn’t fit.  A quick trip back to the model store with the car, transmitter and receiver and the guy showed me that I was being stupid :)  There has been a change in technology since I first brought the car 14 years ago and I just wasn’t up to date.

The plus side is that I now have a working chassis.  I had forgotten how much fun it was to play with.  I hope that she likes it and that it’s not too much for someone her age…  It’s a little quick, and she is going to have to practice with it to be able to control it well – mind you it’s going to be great for hand eye coordination!  Now we just have to pant the shell before her birthday.  We brought a convertible shell, are going to paint it metallic lilac, and we are going to paint a Hello Kitty on the bonnet and boot lid as she loves that.  It’s going to be quite a family collaboration to get it done.  I am going to spray the shell, and have built the chassis.  Mrs Stace is going to stencil the Hello Kitty on the shell.  My sister in law is going to fine line the Hello Kitty as she has a very steady hand, and then Mrs Stace is going to fill it in afterwards.  I can’t wait to see the finished result.

Then it was time to do some baking.  We ordered ‘The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook’ from Amazon and it arrived on Friday.  Hehe.  The recipes look amazing, mind you for the two of us there is possibly too much – I see my team getting lots of treats in the near future as I try more recipes.  Yesterday I tried the recipe for New York Cheesecake.  It’s in the fridge looking lovely at the moment – but as it had to chill overnight I can’t say what it tastes like just yet.  That comes this afternoon.  Yum.

Finally… Having played with the new speakers for a week I have found some unexpected work.  Our set up has been an iPod for background music, and the Blu-ray for playing CD’s when we really wanted to listen to something.  There has always been a clear difference between the two, but it was always good enough.

The new speakers / amplifier have spoilt us somewhat.  It’s not that the iPod sounds worse per say.  It’s that the new set-up show’s up all of the missing signal that the iPods poor circuitry, and the MP3’s poor encoding introduces.  It sounded hollow compared to listening to CD’s – and was not pleasant anymore – even for background listening.  When you know what it can sound like, it’s disappointing to have the iPod on.

So…  I have spent yesterday afternoon sorting the CD’s back into alphabetical order (something we do every couple of years as they get mixed up) and now I am busy encoding my whole collection again; for the fourth time (hopefully the last time!).  First time was encoded for MiniDisc using Sony Sonic Stage; second time was as 196kbps MP3, then 320kbps.  Now I am using FLAC – that is about half the size of a CD (three times bigger than the 320 MP3) but crucially is a lossless encoding (it sounds as good as a CD, and contains all the information of a CD – so I can convert the FLAC to any other format I need in the future).  After spending 6 hours doing it yesterday I managed to complete ‘A’.  25 albums.  That’s about 10% of the collection.  I think it’s going to take a while before the rest are complete (I’m 4 albums into ‘B’ at the moment from the 40 that we have).  I think I may need to buy more storage as well :)