*Can’t find a video for “The New Style”
Oh, I forgot to mention: I am feeling great. I think the medicine the cardiologist gave me is working, because I the uncomfortable feeling in my chest is pretty much gone. Little twinges every now and then but nothing like before. I’m still going in for the echocardiogram and stress test on Wednesday, but I’m optimistic that the medicine has helped clear whatever it was up. I don’t know if I am going to have to continue taking these old man pills for the rest of my life or what, but even if so, it’s not the end of the world.
*I’m still going to try to get a film of the echocardiogram that I can post on this blog. If I can’t get that for some reason, I am going to post a full-frontal nude photo of myself instead. Just to keep things interesting.
*I have no idea what the title of this post means. Other than that is something I always used to say back in college and maybe law school – when people would ask me how I was doing, I would say “Back from the dead and ready to party.” It could have been inspired by the Beastie Boys’ CD Paul’s Boutique – which came out in about 1989 if I remember correctly.
I think that CD inspired a couple of things that I used to say a lot, including the above and, one of my all-time favorites: When people would ask me what time I would be arriving somewhere, I would say “When that trashcan comes through your front window you’ll know I’m there.” I’m not sure, but I think that was inspired by a line in “Hey Ladies” that goes “I threw that trashcan through your window ’cause you know I got dissed.” Or something like that.
And finally, I think it was the line (from Licensed to Ill, not Paul’s Boutique) “Went to the prom, wore the fly blue rental” that inspired this:
So thank you Beasties!
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Vietnam.
I haven’t been posting or emailing much because I have instead been moving from my old apartment to our new apartment. And I have no internet access at the new apartment yet (I’m at school now – supposedly “grading papers.”)
We’ve had a good time moving into the new apartment – I think it’s going to be a great place to live. I woke up and had coffee this morning looking out over the river. And last night we drank a couple of beers looking out the same window at the boats going up and down the river at night - and it was just beautiful.
The apartment itself is very nice – we’re the very first people to live there so there are your normal punch-list type things like a leaking hot water heater, etc., but nothing major. We’ve accomplished a ton in the last couple of days – actually had the moving company come pick up and move all of our stuff yesterday and we spent the rest of the day unpacking. More unpacking today (Thao took the day off of work), plus we went and bought a bunch of stuff – the most major purchase being a new washing machine. (They’re not into dryers here – most people just air dry.) I was planning on getting a cheap, top-loading washer for about $250, but they seemed to be junk so we ended up spending about $600 on a nice front-loading Electrolux.
Anyway, other than getting moved in, just grading commercial law exams. I’ve graded 150 out of 242 already, so I am in pretty good shape, but every stack of 50 I grade sucks a little bit more of my soul away. I think this semester our failure rate will be as high as it’s been since I’ve been here.
After I finish grading, I’ve got to start preparing for my new negotiations course and, if I get the course coordinator position, start preparing for that. But when I really look at what I have to do between now and June 9th when I leave for Tibet, it’s not so much. I will be busy, but I think I can get it all done no problem.
I am getting very excited about that trip – two weeks from tomorrow I’ll finally be going on a trip I’ve wanted to go on for about 15 years! Woo-hoo!
That’s all I’ve got. Peace!
A mixtape of the music I’ve been listening to while grading law exams today:
It is not 100% official, and I don’t want to jinx it, but it looks like I have a good shot at being the new course coordinator for commercial law. I had my interview today and, since I was the only applicant for the position and didn’t show up for the interview (a) drunk; (b) shirtless; (c) with a black eye; or (d) in handcuffs, I think it’s likely I’ll get the new gig. So what does that mean? One less class (teach 9 hours a week instead of 12), mo money, mo money, mo money (mo problems?), and mo admin-type work. Keeping my fingers crossed for now and will update when/if definite.
Also, my real estate agent called me today and said that the landlord had informed her that if Thao and I wanted to move into our new place tomorrow, we can (even though we don’t start paying rent until June 1st). That is actually a big help, as it will let us start moving stuff this weekend, because I am going to have a very busy couple of weeks between now and when I leave for Tibet – especially if I end up getting the new course coordinator position. I’m going to meet the real estate agent at 2pm tomorrow to pick up the key, and will have previously arranged for Thao to meet me in Phu My Hung for “a late lunch” at 2:30pm – at which time I’ll surprise her by showing her our new apartment! I think she will be so excited.
Mo Money, Mo Problems
I met with the cardiologist tonight and it went well. He took some blood for some additional tests and also wants me to come back in next week for an echocardiogram and stress test. He changed my medications a little bit – not too much – and said that ultimately he thinks and hopes that my arrhythmia is relatively benign. He’s just doing tests to rule things out more than anything else – or so he says. Also says that unless we discover something new and surprising, I can still go to Tibet, so that’s good. I feel better having gotten a second opinion.
Here’s the coolest thing: He said when they do the echocardiogram, they actually film an ultrasound or sonogram or whatever of my heart – you can watch it beating in realtime. He said he can give me a CD of the film and I can put it on my blog. That will be pretty cool (to me at least).
ComLaw exam tomorrow. Students are freaking out. And freaking me out with the poor quality of their questions this late in the game. Oh well . . . better to be the teacher than the student at times like these!
I’m still here. I am feeling a little better – not sure if it’s the placebo effect or if the pills are actually working a little bit already, etc., but I’m feeling okay. I tried to give up the caffeine, and didn’t have anything but green tea yesterday, but today was not very successful as I had a diet coke at lunch and two coffees this afternoon (plus a lot of green tea throughout). I love me some caffeine! However, I also love me some breathing and generally being alive, so maybe I should get a grip.
I have the appointment with the other doctor tomorrow night so hopefully will have some additional information after that.
Yesterday Thao and I went out to visit her family in Long An. It was a long, hot day. We took the bus out there, which was hot, as was the bus back. And they had no electricity at Thao’s family’s house either, so that was also hot. We got back about 5pm or so and I was beat. I went to bed about 8:30 last night and slept all night long.
Also, I’ve neglected to mention that our volunteer service group, C.A.N., had a very productive meeting with the Save the Children organization here on last Thursday. We’re going to start working with them regularly – initially teaching English to their “peer counselors” – basically a team of former street kids whom they’ve trained to teach and help other street kids. We will also be hosting soccer here at RMIT’s soccer fields for the street kids Save the Children works with. So we’re excited about all of that.
Let’s see, what else is going on? My commercial law students have their final exam this week, so they’ve had a ton of questions they’ve wanted me to answer, practice answers they’ve wanted me to review, etc. I suppose it comes with the territory but they have worn me out this week. Some of them are surprisingly smart, but judging by the questions asked by some of the others, we are probably going to have a fairly high failure rate this semester unless there’s some very generous grading going on.
I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but my boss Anton is moving on to a different administrative position starting June 1st, and I’ve applied for his job as course coordinator for the commercial law teachers. Would mean teaching one less class per semester and a little more money – in exchange for some increased administrative responsibilities, of course – but would be a nice change and I hope I get it. I’m also teaching a brand new course next semester called Negotiating Transnational Agreements. The focus will be on negotiation skills more than on transnational agreements, and I think it will be similar to the negotiations class I took in business school, which was pretty fun.
With preparing for that new class, it is going to be a busy few weeks for me between exams and the start of next semester – and will be even more so if I do get the course coordinator position. I’ll probably end up having to take my laptop and some materials with me to Tibet so I can do some course prep and admin stuff there! Not the ideal vacation but I’ll make it work! I’m getting crazy excited about that trip and really hoping my agent comes through with the required travel permit, train ticket, etc.!
Tuesday night, 6:30pm. I’ll be interested to see what he says and will keep you posted.
As of right now, I’m feeling a little better. The uncomfortable sensation in my chest has definitely reduced a little bit – could be placebo effect or whatever but I am not noticing it as much at least, which is good.
Google Calendar, which I already love and use all of the time, just got almost perfect by integrating task management/to-do lists. You’ve been able to integrate other task/to-do apps for a while by using Greasemonkey or other extensions, but now Google’s rolled out their own and made it dead simple to use.
And it’s the same task/to-do app that’s been in Gmail for a while now, so whatever you’ve entered in Gmail will show up on your calendar app and vice versa. Also, if you associate a date with the task – like “return library book on May 15th,” then in addition to adding it to your to-do list, it also adds an event on your calendar for that day. Pretty slick.
I’ve been hoping they would do this for a while. So thanks Google.
If you’re using any other calendar, I strongly recommend you check out Google Calendar – especially since it can easily sync with your Outlook calendar (if you have to use Outlook at work or at school, etc.) and with your iPhone. It’s the first time in my life I’ve had completely synced home, work, and mobile calendars, and it’s really nice.
I’ve had a strange couple of days. For about the past three weeks, I’ve had a funny feeling in my chest, right where my heart is. Not really pain – more like discomfort. I haven’t felt my heart racing or fluttering, and it hasn’t really felt tight. Just kind of a strange, unspecified feeling that doesn’t feel quite right.
I am not the type to rush to the doctor whenever I think something might be wrong. In fact, I’m really the opposite. I usually figure I’ll give it a few days and see if it goes away by itself. (Like when I went to India in 1996 and got encephalitis, Hepatitis A, and god knows what else, and lost about 18 pounds in three weeks – and didn’t even go to the doctor for about six months after I got back. Man, that sounds stupid just writing it.) Anyway, I find going to the doctor to be pretty much a giant pain in the ass, so I just don’t go that frequently.
But this didn’t go away, so yesterday I finally set up an appointment with a GP at the FV Hospital – a jointly-owned French and Vietnamese hospital here that is supposed to be one of the best hospitals here. I met with a Vietnamese GP there and explained what I’d been feeling for the past three weeks. He checked my heart with a stethoscope and said that it did sound “irregular” and that he wanted to confirm via an electrocardiogram.
The electrocardiogram confirmed that I have an irregular heartbeat right. Specifically a “complete right bundle branch block – isolated supraventricular extra systoles.” Whatever that means, it doesn’t sound too good. Anyway, the Vietnamese doctor was kind of blase about the whole thing – said it could be a big deal or it could not be, would either get better or it wouldn’t, etc. Not really the most comforting bedside manner.
He prescribed me three medicines to take: a beta blocker, magnesium B6, and some kind of anti-anxiety sleep aid (even though I told him I’m about as least stressed out as I’ve been for about a decade).
I set up a second appointment with an American doctor at a different medical clinic this morning with the intent of getting a second opinion, but that guy said that I really needed to meet with their cardiologist, who wasn’t working today. So sometime early next week I’ll go in and meet with the cardiologist.
I was a little shaken up and upset yesterday, as was Thao. I still have the feeling in my chest – and now that it’s been confirmed as not just a figment of my imagination or heartburn or whatever, it’s a little scary to have that feeling and wonder if you’re going to keel over at any moment. But the bottom line is what are you going to do about it? I’m just going to wait and go see the cardiologist and see what he says, and in the meantime I’ll keep taking my old man’s heart medicine that the guy yesterday prescribed, and just go from there.
One other thing I’m concerned about is I’m supposed to go to Tibet in a couple of weeks. And since Lhasa is at over 12,000 feet, I’m wondering if that’s really the best place to be going with a gimpy ticker. I obviously don’t want to lose the $3,000 or so in flights and tour fees, etc., but I also obviously don’t want to drop dead in Lhasa, Tibet. I’ve been wanting to go to Tibet for about 15 years, so hopefully this will resolve itself and/or turn out not to be that big of an issue, but we’ll see.
Anyway, I’m not posting this for sympathy or whatever – but hell I post about every other thing in my life on this blog so I figure I might as well post this as well. I’ll keep you posted.