January 3rd, 2005



I've fallen behind on journal entries due to Christmas stress, travel, and illness. Here are some journal entries that I'd like to write, but which I'm not sure I will:

- Financial windfalls
- Visiting Texas
- Allergic inflammation
- Zoombinis
- 2004 in review, and plans for 2005.

I thought there were more, but I seem to still be a bit muzzy; I'm having trouble thinking of more.


I've long considered myself to have no major allergies, but that seems to have changed.

On Wednesday, January 29, we drove back from New Braunfels to Dallas. My father and I were in one car, taking a detour to Lockhart to visit Black's BBQ (apparently the oldest barbecue place in Texas).

At some point in the drive, I noticed that I had red bumps on my wrists. (Unfortunately, I don't remember whether that was in the afternoon or the morning.)

By the time we arrived home in the evening, the itching was pretty severe, and I had lots of red blotches all over my body. I used a couple of Benadryl and a whole lot of anti-itch cream to get to sleep that night.

The next day, the itching resumed in force, and my chest and throat started hurting. So we went to the emergency room. I got a shot of epinephrine in the shoulder and a shot of a steroid I don't remember (I think it began with "s..." and ended with "...co") in the gluteus. The epinephrine had a near-magical effect--within thirty minutes or so, the hives had gone away. I got a prescription for another steroid (methylprednisolone) and recommendations that I could take as much as three Benadryl if needed.

The worst episode was New Year's Eve at Kevin's house; I was fairly dopey and itchy, so I went off to take some Benadryl and lie down for a bit--but it didn't help enough. At the worst, my hands were completely covered in hives, and I was sobbing from the itching. Since then, I've been much more willing to take Benadryl at the onset of any itching; I hate being dopey, but I'd rather be dopey than itch that badly.

Since then, Benadryl has been keeping me largely free of hives, but dopey. I have been reducing the dosage as much as possible; I did take one late Sunday night, but so far haven't taken one today.


So, there's something I'm fiercely allergic to. And I don't know what. Here's what I remember eating over the previous few days, to try to narrow things down:

Boring food listCollapse )

We'd had some suspicions of the yogurt, because I rarely eat yogurt--but I did eat yogurt at breakfast on the previous day.

It's possible that Black's BBQ has some ingredient to which I'm allergic, since I've never eaten there before. It would be tragic for me to be allergic to barbecue in general, but not so terrible to be allergic to one specific barbecue place that I can't visit very often. (Though it was pretty tasty barbecue.)

Another possibility on the list might be the amaretto ice cream or the Snickers Cruncher, neither of which I'd ever had before.


A few days before Christmas, I made the pleasant discovery that Lori was entitled to all the money she'd received from St. Maurice.

Lori's original contract with St. Maurice had been for one semester, for $X. It happened that she stayed on for the full school year, but we never saw a revised contract with a new amount. So I'd assumed that she would be paid 2 * $X for two semesters. But she received paychecks through the summer as well, for a total of about 2.5 * $X.

Had it been Apple giving me a possible overpayment, I would have just deposited the checks without a second thought. But I know that St. Maurice is cash-strapped (the way almost every Catholic school is), so I hesitated to take advantage of a possible error there. (Note to those who might play Scruples with me: you can probably take this information together with the history of my behavior about the unemployment compensation after Queria laid me off to derive an exact calibration of my financial ethics.) So we resolved to talk with St. Maurice about how much she should have received.

In fact, we held off on depositing those checks, because I wanted to make sure that we wouldn't be too badly inconvenienced if it turned out that Lori should not have received that money. Unfortunately, I kept forgetting to call St. Maurice, and the checks ended up expiring. (Oops.)

But after we got another uncashed paycheck replaced by the diocese, I finally got around to calling St. Maurice to check. The principal of St. Maurice was quite sure that Lori had not received any money to which she was not entitled. So, although I still have some lingering perplexities as to why Lori received more than two semesters' worth of pay, I am now sure that we have given St. Maurice every reasonable opportunity to correct a possible error, and the reduced chance of a possible error does not justify the increased effort that would be required for us to discover and correct such an error.


It's really been quite a good year for us financially. A year ago, I was extremely worried about how we'd scrape to afford what we needed to do in 2004; now, I'm feeling pretty comfortable about 2005, even though 2005 will likely involve a car purchase that we hadn't been planning before. I think my worries weren't unjustified, though--it's just that lots of things went better than I had been planning for.

One big income source that doesn't quite qualify as a windfall, even though I hadn't been willing to rely on it in last year's plans, was Lori's job:
- She kept her job at St. Maurice all school year. (At the beginning of 2004, we thought her term would be up in February.)
- She got a new job teaching at St. Joseph's this school year. (Not a huge surprise, but certainly not something to be taken for granted.

In addition, there were several other financial windfalls. In rough chronological order:
- Queria paid the deferred pay from my contracting last year.
- I was able to sell stock options at a good profit.
- We got a significant tax return.
- Lori got paid through the summer by St. Maurice.
- I got two bonuses from Apple.
- And this year turned out to have 27 pay dates in it instead of the usual 26.

And we got some big savings (in the short term, at least) by not actually getting the house painted or sided as we had planned (and as the house badly needs). But we'll be able to do so in 2005, and we did get the downspouts fixed.

2005 may not yet be a year of astonishing savings for us, because we do have some big-ticket expenses planned:
- replace Lori's car
- get the house painted or sided (and replace a lot of windows too)
- pay off her loan for grad school
But I'm confident that we'll be able to manage these expenses, barring catastrophe. It's a good feeling.