Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Why Writing Tests Isn't Such a Bad Gig After All

Here’s to all those conversations I’ve killed. Killed by talking about my jobs editing test items. Why the shout-out? Because right now I’m in Portsmouth, New Hampshire editing test items. I was invited to review test questions for a company that writes CRTs (standardized tests) that some states use. They flew several of us out here, paid us for a good day’s work, and now I get to see the sights. A friend and I have had a great time wandering around. Last night, after a bumpy flight, a less-than-perfect landing, a very long bus ride (accident on Route 1 so we wound through some neighborhoods or something for 2 hours), and a pleasantly brief cab ride, we ate at a fabulous place called The Oar House (the boullibaisse was amazing). Tonight we walked around, shopped, and walked across Piscataqua River to Kittery, Maine (which I hear has amazing shopping, but it was getting late). Tomorrow morning I’ll go to Strawbery Banke before catching a bus to the Boston airport. I did the tourist thing and pulled out the camera (which I absolutely hate doing, but I did for the sake of entertaining my husband and children), so I’ll have a few pictures to post when I get home.

And book group girls…have a good time without me. Sorry I had to miss it.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Diagnosis: Contact Dermatitis

Since Tuesday of this week I’ve spent hours scratching. Scratching my horridly itchy legs—hip to ankle. And not just a little scritch here or a nice scrub there. We’re talking SCRATCHIN. The kind where you make little bruises and draw blood in a few places. The kind where you sit and groan as you dig your skin into red swollen bumpiness. So I finally went to the doctor. He confirmed it…I have…(dum dum duuum!) a rash.

Odd that it’s only on my legs, don’t you think? At the doctor’s office we went through the list of what might have caused this tragic condition:

New clothes or underclothes worn before washing?

No. Except the viral blog shirt and that was long ago. And also not worn on my legs.

New laundry detergent (Tide or Downy)?

Nope. Still the same institutional-sized bucket of Costco laundry soap I’ve been using for months.

New soap?

Uh-uh. Been using Dove for years. It has 1/4 moisturizer, you know.


No, and besides, that would give me a rash on my head, right?

New lotions or creams?


Wait…I did pull out the sunless tanning cream to tone down winter’s blue glaze the other week. I used it once or twice, waited a week, then used it again Sunday and Monday, just before the break-out. But not on my whole body. Only on MY LEGS.

That’s pretty conclusive evidence, I think. Jack Bauer invaded the Chinese Embassy on less evidence than that. We’re watching last year’s 24 right now. Love that show. We used to be junkies, but then other stuff made it too hard to watch every week, so we quit. So now we just watch the last season on DVD, and I think I like that even better. We can watch 2 episodes a night after the kids are in bed, and each episode only lasts 45 minutes—no commercials to agonize through. The only problem is if you itch. It makes it really hard to enjoy TV if you are always shifting around to get the next itchy spot on the other knee.

But the doctor gave me some allergy medication and some cream to use, and it’s made the rash much better. I really only start itching in the evening, and an oatmeal bath plus some meds usually take the edge off so that I can enjoy Jack and the gang. Did I mention I really like Chloe? She’s so disgruntled and has such a lousy attitude. I love her crabby eyebrows. I haven’t watched any of this season, but I hope she sticks around. So here’s my advice: First, don’t use No-Ad brand Sunless Tanning Cream, especially if it’s last year’s bottle. Spring for the extra 5 or 10 bucks and get a good brand and avoid a week’s worth of itchy agony. Second, if you haven’t ever watched 24, you need to. Rent or buy the first season and get going on it—you’ll love it.