Friday, November 13, 2015

Things My Dental Pain Taught Me

Maybe it was dino dentistry that killed the dinosaurs.
Some theories of pain management would have us figure out what our pain is trying to tell us. Learn the lesson, and the pain lessens. Allegedly.

I guess what my pain was trying to tell me was that one checkup with no cavities is no reason to not bother with the dentist for two years. Even when you have way too many migraines to deal with much else.

But I learned many other things.

We had popcorn Friday night and a while later, I noticed that I had some tooth pain. I looked in the mirror and saw a dark patch on one tooth near my gum.

Since I hadn't noticed it before, I assumed something was stuck in there and made with the dental floss and toothbrush. Nope. Still there. Either something was really stuck in there or my tooth was disintegrating all of a sudden.

So I turned to the google.

Lesson #1: Whatever you do, do NOT go a google image search for dental problems. You can't unsee that shit and oh dear God, you will see stuff that no one should. I saw some pretty gross stuff as an EMT, but nothing compares to what dentists deal with.

Lesson #2: There are few things funnier than forums on bodybuilding websites. 

"You need to see your dentist, brah."
"Brah, I don't want to go to the dentist if I don't have to."
And so on.

Saturday morning, I called my most recent dentist. Who doesn't work weekends. Just as well since we have dental insurance and he's not in network. The dentist the insurance company assigned to us had horrible online reviews, so I kept looking. I got through to one place and was told "we're not open for emergencies today" and I should come in on Monday. I explained that he and I seemed to be working with different definitions of "emergency."

I googled "emergency dentist Brooklyn" and called the first dentist listed. And was told that "we're not taking any more walk-ins today," even though it wasn't even 10:30. 

Lesson #3: Emergency dentistry is for morning people. Everyone else can go fuck themselves.

We went to the drug store to buy some Orajel to numb the pain. Note that not one dentist or receptionist I spoke to suggested using Orajel to stave off infection and make the pain go away until normal office hours. Because, see lesson #3.

Lesson #4: Orajel and the like is in the same aisle as the toothpaste, and not with the first aid supplies as I'd thought for some stupid reason.

Lesson #5: Orajel is pretty damn effective. Use that first before trying to find a new dentist in a hurry.

I was starting to get a migraine, and I wasn't sure if it was from the tooth pain or from the phone calls. I got lucky, and the headache pain went away with the tooth pain.

His Awesomeness googled the problem and learns that popcorn hulls are notoriously hard to remove because they're curved and conform to the tooth. He gets me some chewing gum to help it work loose, but no luck there.

Sunday morning I got a call from one of the dentist offices I'd called without leaving a message. They checked my insurance and discovered that my coverage is terminated. Which, OK fine. I'm not feeling the love with the in-network dentists anyway. (We got a new credit card with a chip in it, which means we had a new expiration date, which messed with the automatic billing. Oh well.)

But my old dentist doesn't work weekends, so I go see this other dentist. Because I just want this foreign object out of my gums and I have a doctor's appointment on Monday and actual work, so let's just do this before it gets worse, gets infected or whatever.

I pay him $60 so he can stick a sharp metal thing in between my teeth where I can reach with dental floss. He asks how I feel and I say I don't feel much of anything because of the Orajel. So I look in the mirror and the dark thing is still there. 

I point it out to the dentist, who says in a thick Russian accent. "That? That cavity."
Apparently, he didn't think that was the source of my dental pain.

Lesson #6: Russian sentence structure is just like Cookie Monster's. Seriously. Imagine, "That? That cavity." In Cookie Monster's voice. See?

He doesn't want to fill the cavity because filling a cavity on the front of a tooth near the gum can lead to a filling that keeps falling out. He tells me to just brush it more diligently than usual and it won't get worse.

I didn't believe him, and wondered if I'm just spoiled. We get our insurance through Obamacare, which is awesome, but also means that we see a lot of doctors who accept Medicaid and don't offer the same level of service as doctors who don't. Maybe in poor people dentistry, you let cavities go for a while. (Possibly until you need a root canal, which the dentist can charge a fortune for.)

So I made an appointment with my other dentist (the one whose office is closed on weekends) for a cleaning. He agrees with me - that cavity needs to be filled. It's not am emergency (especially now that my gums aren't inflamed from me trying to remove an imaginary foreign object) and he prefers not to fillings right after cleanings, so I'm going back in a few weeks.

Lesson #7: Dentists are like hairdressers. Once you've found one you like and trust, stick with them.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Here, Go Read This

Tomato juice actually tastes better on planes. The constant loud noise hampers our enjoyment of sweet food and makes umami taste better. Maybe the airline industry can use this info to make the food taste better. Of course, airline food is virtually nonexistent these days, but still.

In case you want to up your homemade Egg McMuffin game, you can make the eggs this way. Me, I prefer Bon Appetit's Ultimate Egg Sandwich

Plus sized women can indeed dress like Miss Fisher, tiny purse-sized handgun not included. What's truly wrong with my life is that I have no opportunity to wear a beaded flapper dress. There are monthly 1920s-themed parties in NYC, but this being NYC, the club they're held in is so small that if you're dancing, you also have a trumpet playing one foot away from your head. Which is fine unless loud noises give you migraines.

Oprah's Investment in Weight Watchers Was Smart Because The Program Doesn't Work - and manages to convince customers that the failure is their own fault so that they keep coming back. It's actually a pretty abusive relationship.

The Bloggess tweeted that she'd done something stupid and embarrassing (A cashier at the airport told her to enjoy her flight and she replied, "You too!")  Hundreds of people responded by telling her about the stupid things they've done. Collected here. It's a long read, because we all do stupid shit and some of us obsess over it for all eternity. But after reading them all, I've come to a few conclusions:

  • People get really embarrassed after messing up a rote, mindless conversation ("Enjoy your meal" "You too!"). Maybe we should be embarrassed that our lives are so full of mindless call and response interactions.
  • Some embarrassing things that haunt people for years are actually perfectly normal reactions to things.
  • A few people had stories about friends or relatives doing dumb things, but no one shared a story about something a stranger did. Because no one remembers that shit. Most of the time, we spend years embarrassed over things that no one else thought was worth remembering.
  • So many people do so many stupid things that anyone who isn't gracious about witnessing a brain fart is a jerk.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why I'm Never Drinking Hot Chocolate Ever Again

This post was originally published on The Famished Freelancer on February 4, 2014. You can see in these pix how a lack of clean surfaces made me a poor fit for food blogging. Even with extreme close-ups, you can still see all the junk I keep on my snack tray.

I've had a sore throat/cold thing going on, so I've been all about the throat-soothing stuff. Drinking hot water, eating marshmallows (the gelatin coats the throat), drinking more hot water. You know the routine.

The other night, it was too late for hot chocolate (too much caffeine for that time of night), so I started wondering if Hot Vanilla is a thing, or if it was something I just imagined through all the cough syrup.

Google told me this was a thing. The recipes I saw were a bit complicated, involving vanilla beans and making your own whipped cream to put on top, so I worked it out on my own. (Recipe below.)

The first sip was like…hello darling, where have you been all my life? It was sweet, it was vanilla-y, it was hot and creamy and why have I been wasting my time with hot cocoa?

I realize that many of you will think I'm a total freak, but I actually prefer vanilla to chocolate. Yeah, I know, pick yourself up off the floor. More chocolate for you.

I like chocolate. But given a choice, I'll order something else. A nice fruit pie. Or creme brûlée. Offer me ice cream and I'm going to want vanilla (or strawberry). Most of the chocolate flavors are too chocolatey for me. Some people want rich, dense, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. 

Not me.

Hell, I have a friend who will only eat chocolate desserts. To her, if it's not chocolate, it's not worth the effort it takes to chew it.

My husband prefers chocolate, but he'll let me pick when we split desserts. Not because he loves me, but because he's too full to eat an entire dessert himself. And because I will compromise on many things, but I will not eat chocolate cake covered with chocolate sauce, accompanied by chocolate ice cream. I know this is the preferred dessert of most people, but I honestly don't know what's wrong with some people.

I mean, chocolate covered Oreos completely throw off the balance of the cookie, but there are enough people that love them that the company keeps making them.

This doesn't make it right.

However, I'll totally go the other way and pull apart two double-stuff Oreos to make a quadruple stuff and that's totally fine by me. No, I don't know what the Hell is the matter with me.

But Hot Vanilla? More hot cocoa for everyone else, because I'm not going back.

Hot Vanilla
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon

  1. Pour the milk in a microwave-safe cup, and microwave on high for 45 seconds.
  2. Stir in sugar and microwave for another 45 seconds.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon.
  5. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows if you're into that sort of thing.

I suppose you could try it with any extract. I'm thinking of trying this with almond extract, or half vanilla, half almond.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Here, Go Read Something

Two publishing companies got into a hilarious Twitter squabble. Best part:
Chapter 8: Both houses regain their chill and respond to other people.

Famous quotes, the way a woman would have to say them in a meeting. The writer is not exaggerating one tiny bit here. I refused to learn that language (because it makes you sound like a jabbering idiot) and therefore had my communication style criticized several times during my corporate career. By men. For talking the exact way they do. Sigh.

Brace yourself for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the movie. Trailer here. The book is as silly as you'd expect. I preferred the prequel and sequel (Dawn of the Dreadfuls and Dreadfully Ever After) because I wasn't constantly comparing it to the original and nitpicking like crazy. The first book had a few jokes that clearly indicated that the author didn't completely understand the original scene and was therefore making fun of the wrong thing. The illustrator had zero idea about fashions of the day and so all the pictures show people wearing Victorian styles that wouldn't be invented for decades. It's like dressing people in 1970s polyester instead of 1920s flapper dresses.

I've been ranting about the coming movie becuase the trailers show the Bennett girls wearing corsets and REGENCY WOMEN DID NOT WEAR CORSETS!!!!! Loose, empire waisted dresses don't require a corset. Except, I'm actually wrong. They had looser corsets that didn't nip in the waist. Which makes sense since bras weren't going to be invented for another century and they didn't want to leave their girls unsupported.

I'm still going to watch the movie closely to make sure they have the right kind of corsets. Because apparently I enjoy getting mad about stuff like that.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pot Roast of Love

This post originally appeared on The Famished Freelancer on January 30, 2014.

It's been below freezing for entirely too long, so naturally thoughts turn to pot roast. Mind you, we have no control over the heat in our apartment (which is copious), so it's not like we look for excuses to have the stove on for hours. 

But oh, man, a hearty meal sure hits the spot and it is a nice change to have a kitchen that's crazy hot.

Last Saturday, His Awesomeness made a pot roast. And ZOMG was it amazing. The first time he served it, we discovered that the potatoes were underdone and had to put it back in for another 30 minutes. It smelled so good that it took a hella lot of will power not to just eat underdone potatoes, which cannot possibly be healthy. 

It was so good that I had seconds. Okay, thirds. Which is a huge deal because we usually cook just enough food for each of us to have one serving. If there are leftovers, HA will often split them into individual containers for lunch.

But this…I could've eaten the whole thing and then rolled around in the gravy.  Except that I managed to get full before we ran out of roast.

Monday night, we had leftovers and despite the chips and salsa we had half an hour earlier, I still wanted more. But there was only one serving left and I decided to hold back. You know, like how you don't want a really good book to end so you keep setting it aside when you're close to the end.

I knew there was a risk of HA taking the last serving for lunch, but I figured that was only fair since he did all the work.

After dinner, we settled down on the couch to watch TV and he turned to me and said, "Just so you know…" which drives me crazy because he always follows it up with some FYI that kinda sucks, like "I have conference calls all night." But this time, he followed it with, "I'm going to leave the last serving of pot roast for you."

It was the single most romantic thing he's said to me. Possibly ever.

I mean, I love him more than I love that pot roast. But one of the reasons that's true is that he cares about making me happy and the pot roast doesn't.

Pot Roast of Love

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 (2+ pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed (If you can find a bigger roast, then go for it.)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
2 cups low salt beef broth
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chopped tomatoes (half a can)
1 1/4 pounds small red potatoes (or bigger potatoes cut up)
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium high heat. 
  3. Sprinkle salt & pepper over the roast. 
  4. Brown roast on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove roast from pan.
  5. Saute onion in pan for 8 minutes, or until browned.
  6. Return roast to pan.
  7. Combine broth, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over roast. Add tomatoes. 
  8. Bring to a simmer.
  9. Cover the dutch oven and place in the oven. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
  10. Add potatoes and carrots. Bake for an additional hour or until vegetables are tender.

What's your favorite cold weather meal? 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday Links

The Sequel to the Philadelphia Story Katherine Hepburn Deserves I read this in public and could not stop laughing out loud. Because, yeah, that story takes a really weird turn.

Things My Newborn Has Done That Remind Me of the Existential Horror of the Human Experience I swear, most of the time newborns are just like WTF? As well they should be.

How Doctors Take Women's Pain Less Seriously Back in my volunteer EMT days, I once took a woman to the ER who'd given birth a few days earlier and was in excruciating pain. Like, soiled herself and was in too much pain to let anyone clean her up. We just wrapped her in the soiled blanket and transferred her to the gurney because that required the least amount of jostling. At the hospital, we had to talk to a security guard before we could take her to the ER. As he was letting us through, he said, "Of course she's in pain. She just had a baby. What did she expect?" I don't even want to think about how many doctors and nurses she encountered that day who had the same attitude as that guy. We rarely found out anything about the patients after we handed them off, but I'd bet my 401K that it wasn't normal post-natal pain. 

If you unknowingly give your kids juice that contains too much sugar, what else are you capable of?

Women who show anger are taken less seriously. Which, of course, makes us even angrier. Shit like this is why I feel a certain affinity for the Witch from Into the Woods:
"You're so nice. You're not good. You're not bad. You're just nice. 
I'm not good. I'm not nice. I'm just RIGHT."
Which hey, sounds like a good place to end:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Book Review: The Martha Washington Cookbook

That post originally appeared on The Famished Freelancer on January 28, 2014. When I get better, I totally want to start making some historical recipes. Nothing that tastes like roses, though. Well, maybe. People back then were so into it, I feel like I should give rosewater another chance.

Photo credit: ttarasiuk
I was really excited to receive The Martha Washington Cookbook for Christmas. What's not to love about really old recipes? Tastes have changed over the years, and it's an interesting peek into another time.

It's also an interesting peek into blatant racism.

The cookbook proper was given to Martha Washington by her first mother-in-law and passed down through the generations. It was updated in the 1940s, and the current printing is an exact replica of the one from the 40s.

This wouldn't be an issue except for the clueless racism thrown around in the introduction. The author, Marie Kimball, goes on and on about Martha's responsibilities at Mount Vernon, including managing hundreds of slaves. The tone implies that this was a big, difficult task. Nowhere near as hard as BEING a slave, I'm sure. But Kimball doesn't give a shit about that.

Later, she talks about Hercules, the Washington's slave/cook. They brought him with them to Philadelphia when George was President, but there was a law in Pennsylvania that freed any slave living there for 6 months. "Although Washington did not believe Hercules would avail himself of this, it was considered prudent to return him to Mount Vernon before the six months were up…In the end, city life got the better of him. When the family was to return home, in 1797, Hercules ran away and was never seen again."

OMG, the word choices speak volumes. Like, why wouldn't someone take advantage of a law giving them freedom? And Hercules didn't "run away," he escaped.

As Louis C.K. said, slavery wasn't that long ago. It's just two 70 year old women living one after the other. This book was written just one old lady after the Civil War, yet the concept that slaves didn't want to be slaves hadn't quite sunk in. And no one thought to fix that in the current edition.

Anyway, to the food. 

Apparently, people in the 18th century really, really liked rosewater in everything. Now, I've eaten rose-flavored candy and it's like eating perfume. Some people dig it, but it's not for me.

Hercules cooked everything on a fireplace. The recipes have been updated for stoves.

A typical 18th century American meal involved a metric fuckton of food. 3 or 6 meat dishes, plus sides. 

I've picked out a bunch of recipes I want to try, mostly sweets. The desserts just seem more accessible and familiar. I couldn't imagine doing a big, 18th century style meat dish for just me and the husband. Though now that Sleepy Hollow has brought the American Revolution into pop culture relevance, a theme party may be in order.

The Verdict

This cookbook is a nice to have, but not essential - unless you want to kick it back colonial style.

For more on slaves at Mount Vernon, check out the Ask a Slave web series, the first of which is below.