in the late afternoon i was in a conference call to discuss the work i'll be doing next week down in alabama. what i thought would be a routine field visit is starting to sound like some kind of crisis. i sort of represent the last line of defense before the whole project collapses. the thing is i'm only a contract worker many degrees removed from the decision making process, but now suddenly called upon to fix a lot of issues i'm only now starting to hear about. i'm still optimistic about the outcome though, and if nothing else, i'm sure i'll have stories to tell once i return.
the amazon purchase i made on my birthday last week finally arrived today: i got the omron HEM-711 deluxe automatic blood pressure monitor with comfit cuff, a presto poplite hot air corn popper, and a china travel book - "travel around china: the guide to exploring the sites, the cities, the provinces, and more." the china book i discovered a few weeks ago at barnes & noble. it's kind of a weird guide, no maps, but hundreds of pages of tourist destinations, many of which aren't even in the traditional guides. there's lots of photos but they differ so much in quality that i think they were either pulled from promotional brochures (likewise with some of the descriptions), postcards, or online sources, a hallmark of the classic chinese cut-and-paste publication.
i had to run across the street to buy a jar of popcorn (orville redenbacher's white corn 30 oz. $3.99). if i'd opened the box beforehand, i would've found the 50¢ coupon inside. i also got a container of diamond crystal salt, which i figured was the closest approximation to real popcorn salt because of their smaller grains. i eat a good amount of popcorn but it's always the microwave variety, which any popcorn coinessour can tell you is far inferior, apart from being full of chemicals and preservatives. besides, popping my own popcorn is more economical. i was thinking about getting a stovetop variety with a hand crank to churn the kernels, but that seemed like too much work, and possibly a hassle to clean. i wanted something entirely automatic, so finally decided on an air pop model. when i fired up the machine i didn't realize how loud it was, like a plane engine. it's basically a glorified blowdryer with a chute for the popcorn to come out. half a cup of kernels yielded a big tub of popcorn in a few minutes. there were a few dead kernels jumping around in the machine that never did pop. because it's air popped, the popcorn is very dry and some would say devoid of flavor. i added some salt and sugar but none of it stuck to the actual popcorn, sinking instead to the bottom of the pyrex bowl. i heard from an online source that you're supposed to spritz the popcorn with some cooking grease in order to get the salts and spices to stick.
finally, let's talk about my new blood pressure monitor. i figured eventually everyone's going to be getting one of these things as we get older, but i just didn't think i'd be getting mine so soon. what's next? a walker? adult diapers? i searched for a long time to find a model that was cool looking, but coolness is not a factor when it comes to blood pressure monitors. they basically all look like giant door wedges tethered to an arm cuff, they just don't get anymore stylish than that (there are also ones with the wrist or the finger, but my doctor told me those give inaccurate readings). maybe one day when generation X starts qualifying for AARP membership will we start seeing some designer monitors. after playing around with the one i got, i'm starting to like it despite the noninspiring design. it's pretty simple to operate: just hit a big button and it starts constricting the cuff to take a reading. it stops strangling my arm just when i'm about to go into a manic over a possible monitor malfunction. the display is also pretty big, so when my eyes start going bad, i'll still be able to see the numbers. the one i got was slightly more expensive because of the patented comfit cuff, but it's not really worth it and if i had to do it again i'd just get the model one step lower which costs $10 less. this model also comes with a carrying case, for those times when i want to bring it to a party so i can give everyone their blood pressure numbers. i did a bunch of readings and my blood pressure is pretty much 130/90, which is prehypertension, with a pulse of 60.