Odds and Ends – Back to School Edition

There’s been a lot going on in my life, but little of it is important enough on its own to warrant a full post. And the big stuff is all really big. Perhaps if I write about all of the small stuff at once . . .

Insulin: I got a phone call earlier today from my mother-in-law who is helping clean up her late father‘s and step-mother’s house. Turns out, he had type-2 diabetes (which I knew) and was on insulin (which no one seemed to know). The phone call I got was to answer the question, “How do you dispose of insulin?”

I had to think about it for a moment because my normal way of disposing of insulin is to use it all up in my pump. And when the vial is empty, I just add it to my ever-growing hoarding / art project. I had to think back to what I did on the rare times when a vial wasn’t empty before I started keeping them all, and I couldn’t really remember. So what to do? It’s not a control substance. It’s not something people abuse. It has a short shelf life. It’s not going to pollute the groundwater or landfill. The containers aren’t dangerous.

A quick check of Google supported my suspicions: “I think it’s okay to just throw the open vials away. It’s just kind of a foreign concept to me.”

Español: Tonight, I’m starting an eight-week “Introduction to Spanish” community education class. “¿Por qué?” you might ask. Well, several reasons:

  1. A trip we hope to take in two or three years will involve trekking in a country where se habla español, and I’d like to be able to talk to the locals in their own language.
  2. Ditto for the next time we go to Spain.
  3. Shakira, my Latina girlfriend, habla a mi corazón, and I’d love to be able to understand her better and reply in her own language . . . as well as French. French is always going to sound super sexy. . . . Anyway.
  4. I’ve been soaking in Spanish here and there for the last twenty years—to the point where I was (mostly) able to converse with the Iberia staff, not to mention some college friends taking first-year Spanish—and I would love to actually pick up some grammar and vocabulary to go along with the little bits that I know and (maybe) have a conversation or two.
  5. Lots of people in my community and workplace speak Spanish (and/or Portuguese) in addition to English, and they think it’s fun to talk to the Spanish-as-a-second-language folks.
  6. It feels wrong to live in a pluralist society and not have a passing familiarity with the second most popular language. ¡Viva la reconquista! (Just kidding.)
  7. I no longer worry that time I spend learning Spanish is time that I could be learning French. Because of some francophone junk e-mail that I get and all the French and Québécois music I listen to, I’m learning lots of French words and idioms without really trying.

A Brand New Car: In tangentially related news, we bought a new car last weekend. The 2013 Hyundai Elantra is our first car purchase in almost eight years, and it replaces our 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. It was the only car in the intersection of all our requirements:

  • A sedan.
  • More luxurious than our Civic Hybrid. That’s not really hard, but we both wanted something with more than just gas and brake pedals, a steering wheel, and CD player.
  • Lower cost than our house payment.
  • Roughly the same fuel economy as our Hybrid.
  • Isn’t a hybrid. (Hybrid vehicles are great until they’re not. Then they’re really expensive, or they don’t work at all.)

It turns out those last two were difficult to satisfy. It’s possible to find lots of cars with more amenities and extras than our Civic; just don’t ask for anything better than 25-30 MPG without going super-compact. The Elantra certainly isn’t going to be mistaken for an Audi or BMW, but it has nice styling, leather seats, a sunroof, iPod/iPhone integration, Bluetooth, and XM radio.

Which brings me to this morning’s commute, my first with the new car. I spent the whole drizzly, slow drive listening to the top 40 countdown of Canadian francophone music. It was pretty awesome, but I think it—along with the iPod integration—is going to slow down my CD project.

A-Z backwards: Since the end of last year, I’ve been working my way backward through our CD collection, from Zydeco to Abba. It’s taken slightly longer than I’d expected, and I blame U2 and Bruce Springsteen for that. Turns out, we didn’t have many of the early Springsteen or U2 CDs. So I kind of (accidentally) doubled the number that we had of each. Oops!

(Of course, I spent a couple of weeks not listening to Van Halen’s greatest hits album, “Best of Both Worlds.” I eventually summoned the courage to do it, but it almost made me quit. Part of what I wanted to do with the project was find the hidden treasures that aren’t on my iPod, to enjoy what I already own, and to listen really closely to the lyrics and styles of the artists in our collection. Let me just say that we while Lisa and I have a lot of overlap in our tastes, we’re definitely two different music lovers. And there’s no double-entendre worse than an 80s hair-band double-entendre.)

But I did make it through all of the Springsteen and U2 albums (and a whole lot of others) and am currently hanging out with my (previously mentioned) Lebanese-Colombian girl, who until recently held the distinction of having more concert albums in our collection than studio recordings. That’s no longer the case. Anyway . . .

I noticed some interesting things about Springsteen. His earliest work is not to my liking at all. It was all knock-off Dylan with blue-collar lyrics about girls and cars and beaches. There were some gems in there, especially when the E Street Band got really rocking, but it wasn’t until Reagan came along and he got introspective or righteously angry about the working man’s plight and sufferings in love that I started to really like him. To my tastes, he alternates between some of the most soulful music ever made and the most banal. Oh, you can say whatever you want about my fastidiousness, but Bruce had some real duds after “The Rising.” (For example, “Devils & Dust” and “Working on a Dream” were not my cup of tea. Not at all.) But, taken as a whole he’s just an amazing songwriter and band leader.

The Beatles: Eventually I’ll get to The Beatles and probably make Sir Paul McCartney a bit of extra cash, but I listened to my first two Beatles albums a few months ago. Ever. I know, I know. It’s like admitting illiteracy. And I knew I was culturally slacking for several years beforehand, but I just couldn’t figure out where to start. Somehow when it came time to pick an initial foray, I started at the end with “Let It Be” and “Abbey Road.” This wasn’t intentional, but it was enlightening. The group broke up before I was born, and I know that a lot of people (including my father) blamed Yoko for it, but I’ve always thought that sounded like a convenient bit of misogyny. If you listen to their later albums—which have some really good songs on them—they are all over the place. Four songs, four writers/arrangers, and four different sounds. In my mind they were a Liverpudlian Wu-Tang Clan, getting together to make music between solo gigs; they just didn’t know they’d broken up yet.

Apples: I’ve been eating a lot of apples lately. (This is a very random post, isn’t it?) I’m not sure why, except that one day I was picking up something at Stop and Shop on the way home from work, and I could tell that I was going to have low blood sugar soon if I didn’t eat. An apple sounded just right, and I felt adventurous, so I bought a Honeycrisp, and (to paraphrase Robert Frost) that has made all the difference. This was a big gamble, since I dislike certain varieties, but I can say without a doubt that Honeycrisp has joined Granny Smith in the apple pantheon. Also delicious are Cortland, Braeburn, and Empire. I found Royal Joburn and McIntosh a little disappointing. The jury is still out on Fuji and Gala.

How about you? What is your favorite apple variety?

This entry was posted in Diabetes, El Hombre Guapo, General, This is who we are. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Odds and Ends – Back to School Edition

  1. mary! says:

    HONEYCRISP. although i’m sure you already know that, since i post about ‘em on facebook every year. unlike with bananas, sometimes i get kind of sick of eating apples, but then i just eat one, and it’s delicious and i wonder why i ever thought i wouldn’t enjoy it.

  2. Céline says:

    Hablo español también – un poquito. Estudio español hace 7 años y lo me gusto mucho.

    I love tart, crips apples. We just tried honey crisp for the first time this week and it was delicious! Sweeter than I usually like but surprisingly good.

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