Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lessons from Friends


Despite my predilection for snowshoeing, I did ski Pajarito twice this season, and I plan to go again soon. I met my friend Alicia up there, and Bruce, who was kind enough to photograph me before his ski patrol duties began.

Alicia has been giving me pointers, and I think I'm improving.


Inspired by my friend at sunkencupcakes, I bought a cupcake/muffin pan from Cook'n in Style. In the medium-size, my only options were to buy an Aluminum or Silicone pan, they were out of the non-stick variety. I purchased an America-made blue silicon pan with six cups.

The thermostat in my oven, recently replaced by my landlord, is still broken, so I decided to break my new pan in with a cheap muffin mix in my toaster oven.

I also purchased an expensive springy whisk because it was cute.

I did not time the muffins and had trouble keeping my toaster oven at 400F. Also, the muffin tops were brown, yet the non-brown parts looked raw. Rather than risk burning them, I took them out. A mistake.

Still, they are tasty, and sitting in this nice plastic container, three of them look store bought. I'm sure my co-workers won't notice they're raw. What's a little salmonella between friends?

I'm not giving up on my toaster oven.

Tomorrow is a new day, a caldera cupcake day, a day for monitoring the temperature and timing. Hopefully the caldera will be free of prokaryotes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Of Dust Mites, Lost Friends, and Allergy Shots

I was tested for allergies a few weeks ago, and found I'm allergic to dust mites, cats, one variety of mold, cockroaches, and many kinds of trees, weeds, and grasses. Basically everything except cottonwoods and dogs, which is brilliant because I love dogs. My allergist was very surprised to see that I'm highly allergic to dust mites. According to the Johns Hopkins allergy site, dust mites do not live at altitudes above 3000ft and need the humidity to be >40%. They thrive at humidity >55%, so NM is indeed dust mite free (more evidence that Los Alamos=Utopia).

Apparently I developed my dust mite allergy when I lived in San Diego, so I've decided to rid my bedroom of pillows I brought from San Diego. But my monkey companion also lived with me in San Diego. He has to face the washer and dryer and move out of my bed. Luckily, I have Sneaky Snake, a NM native, to keep me company in bed. I'm revealing too much about myself here.

I've started immunotherapy shots to hopefully reduce my allergies permanently. If you have severe, year-round allergies, or asthma, you should make an appointment with Dr. Sussman in Los Alamos. The more allergic you are, the better your chance of conquering your allergies with them. If you experience a discomfort level of 10, say, on a scale from 1-10, you have an 80-90% chance of reducing your discomfort to a 3 or 4, and less chance of developing new allergies. My select EPO UHC insurance covers them too, otherwise I'd be out $1300 for the extract and $25 per shot.

Based on your allergy profile, the doctor orders allergen extract. I have enough allergies for two separate vials: one labeled "cat, trees, and grass", and one labeled "weeds and dust mites". You must get a weekly shot for six months. This is the moving up period, in which the amount of antigens injected in you is increased, visible as four separate extract vials ranging from clear to dark brown, each good for six shots. After 24 injections, you continue with shots every two weeks for another six months at the therapeutic level, and I think move to monthly shots after that. The theory is, your immune system will become desensitized to the allergen with the frequent exposure. Full benefits are seen a year or two after the therapeutic level is reached, but may be evident 2-4 months after the shots begin. I will become a more tolerant person, one with cats, grass, trees, roaches, Obama-followers, and dust mites.

When I lived in Albuquerque, I suffered greatly from allergies and even had asthmatic symptoms. It takes a few years to develop allergies, so I felt better in San Diego, dust mites aside, and I suffer less in Los Alamos. Hopefully the therapy will start to work before I move back to Albuqueruque.