Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I Can't Make This Shit Up

Yesterday at the clinic, our head nurse (OK, so she is our only nurse) called a prescription into the local Wal-Mart pharmacy. It was at this time she got the advance news: It seems that Wal-Mart, in an effort to show solidarity with those poor tragic souls suffering with The Flu (of which there are approximately 15,708 in Freeport (pop 25,600)), is giving away Free Amoxicillin! For the flu! The nice pharmacist then faxed over a copy of the ad that is appearing in the local paper today and, indeed, that is what the ad says.

When our lovely and highly competent nurse told me about this, I sat flabbergasted with my mouth open. She shared in my soundless flapping of the lips for about a half a minute, then we both burst out laughing, as there really is no other reasonable response and we in the medical profession attempt to do the reasonable thing at all times. Amoxicillin. For the flu. An infection with influenza virus. For which there is absolutely no role for amoxicillin. Had they decided to celebrate sinus infection season or bacterial bronchitis season with the handing out of free antibiotics, well then, OK. For 20 years we have been trying to whack back the misconception and practice of prescribing antibiotics for viral illnesses, which is one of the leading reasons for the development of resistance of bacteria to current antibiotics. Why amoxicillin works less and less well. In the not too distant future it may be no better than placebo for things like bacterial sinus infections and bacterial bronchitis.

So maybe Wal-Mart is just a bit ahead of it's time.

Our illustrious and radiant nurse (whose wicked sense of humor is appreciated and reciprocated by me) and I then proceeded to be amazed by the marketing coup of those wacky Wal-Mart folks. I mean, it is real brilliance, something her 7 year old son would come up with if asked. First, get the sick people to go in to their physician with flu symptoms and ask for amoxicillin, knowing full well that a number of physicians will cave and prescribe it (tsk, tsk) as it is faster to whip out the prescription pad than to spend 20 minutes explaining why there is no reason to do so and many reasons not to do so. Then, said suffering soul heads to Wal-Mart, spewing flu virus, to get his 2 cents worth of amoxicillin (this stuff is truly that cheap, including the cost of the plastic container). Meanwhile, he waits in the store, spreading his illness everywhere, buying anything he thinks will make him feel better (over-the-counter remedies, chocolate, new socks). As a side bonus, he may make Wal-Mart his new pharmacy, as well, transferring his other, expensive prescriptions there. He then goes home, leaving virus behind him, infecting other store patrons, who then get the flu and stagger off to their own doctors.

It's jaw dropping brilliant!

My only question is if this revolutionary marketing scheme is confined to Freeport or if it is occurring across the country.

Personally, I am holding out for the free Percocet. At least a strong narcotic paired with Tylenol would do wonders for those flu symptoms of muscle and joint pains, fevers, cough and headaches. Plus, if you are high on downers, who cares if snot is running down your face?


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Area 51

Last night I got caught up watching this Wisconsin Public Broadcasting show about things of nature around Wisconsin. I assume each state has something like it. In Oregon, I believe it is called Oregon Field and Stream or something such. I had not planned to watch, but it was on after another show that I had not planned to watch and could do nothing about it as the remote was out of my reach. It was in Charles's reach but he was snoring so comfortably I really couldn't bring myself to disturb him. Or myself, as I had melted into the corner of the Really Big Chair that we curl up in to watch TV together of an evening. So it was a helpless situation. I watched the story about the people who watch the sturgeon. I watched the story about which I can't even remember. I then watched the story about the bears. Hibernating mom-bears with wee cubs. Bears that need studying by biologists because, well, that's what biologists do. So, basically, this team of folks in big winter coats find a bear den and scope it out to make sure mom is sleeping. They then inject her with a syringe of tranquilizer, pull out the freaked cubs, which they tuck in their coats to keep warm, and pull out mom. They stick probes in everywhere, draw blood, and do other such things to assess her health, noting proudly that they do so much to her so they will not have to come back and disturb her as often. They then return her and the cubs (who now smell like smelly biologists) to the den and cover the entrance, finally placing this complicated pattern of tobacco in front of the den as an offering to the Native American spirits. None of the biologists seem to be Native American, but that is apparently beside the point. It is at this juncture I begin to empathize with all those crackpots who claim to be abducted by aliens, having been probed every which way and then returned with no concrete evidence of the experience except for the knowledge that things do not smell right and the presence of some weird pattern of seeds or something outside the bedroom door. Maybe I owe them an apology. Maybe there are roving bands of biologists who have run out of bears.

A note to other Wisconsin wildlife: To the rabbits who live just down the road from our driveway. Perhaps you could move your daily pre-dawn game of tag to a better lighted time or a venue other than the middle of the still-icy road. Lives could be lost and then someone would be sorry.


Monday, January 24, 2005

Conversations with Sara

Sometime between the hours of 03:30 and 05:30 in my bed a few hours ago (Charles and dog having fled to the couch):

D: "mmmmm hi sara mmmmm"
D: "sssshhhhh. mommy sleeping"
S: (completely failing to get the hint) "HI MOMMY!"
D: mmmmmmmm

D: "mmmmmm what's that?"
S: "I CAN'T DO IT! I-can't-get-down-the-bed-I-can't-do-it-ANY-MORE!!!"
D: "No. There is a reason for that. You need to stay on the bed and go to sleep."
D: "mmmmmmm...."

D: "OW! (sadly, suddenly fully awake) No pulling my hair!"

(Lapse to the time for the alarm to go off, above conversation having continued on Sara's behalf throughout)

S: "4! 3! 2! ONE!!!!!!"
S: "4! 3! 2! ONE!!!!!!"
Charles (having come back in the bedroom as it is now time to get up) "Did you get any sleep?"
D: "What do YOU think?"
C: "Guess not. Latte?"

Gotta admit, though, pretty good with the counting backward thing.

I am getting this down so when I refuse to let her do something for no apparent reason that she greatly desires at the age of 16, I can refer her to this and tell her it is payback. "Had you gone back to sleep that night, I would have bought you a pony. Since you didn't, you can only drive the car on Feb 29th. You have no one to blame but yourself." Luckily for Colin, I was not blogging through his early childhood and such episodes are all forgotten in that fuzzy glow of parental memory. He may get to use the car on the 31st of each month.

The snows hit us a couple of days ago, landing a foot in our yard and driveway. We valiantly stuffed the kids and ourselves in snow gear, intending to have a grand old time with sleds down the slope of the side pasture but the 40 mph wind worked against us. Charles tried his level best but even he had to give up as the winds damn near blew him up the hill. So we shoveled the walk, Sara floundered and ate snow, and Colin climbed the 4 foot piles made by wonderful neighbor, Steve, who again plowed our drive. Emma gleefully realized her inner wolf.

And so it is Monday, again. Ah, caffeine, sweet nectar of life.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Shock and Awe

Message board outside one of the churches you pass when heading into Freeport: Christ! Still the same in 2005! I am not sure if this is a comment on the horrifying lack of change in the sermons or what. Something along the lines of what I scream in my head at yet another wretched mandatory meeting.("Noooooo! The same damn crap, yet again.")

Last month's message was also a hoot: Be surprised by the God of Christmas! ([Clutches chest in shock] AAAAAaaaaahhhh! God of Christmas, you surprised me! Don't DO that!)

I love this town. The only thing I can't figure out is if the off meanings are intentional or not. If so, the composer is someone I want to meet.

Finally, I would like to thank the God of Christmas for the inspired soul who thought putting seat warmers in cars would be a fine idea. Trust me, at -10 degrees in the 40 minute commute, this guy is a freakin' saint.



Sunday, January 16, 2005


Joke of the day from Colin:

Why did the snowman cross the road?
Because he had no guts!!!!!

Guess you not only had to be there, you had to be a 6-year-old boy.

Not so amusing if you are searching for value from your network viewing experience, shows are shrinking. Used to be if you were to sit down to an hour show, you got, in general, substantially more show than commercial. As I now have time, I am watching shows I caught incompletely or not at all. Shows from 10 years ago or so (early X-Files, Due South) run about 48 minutes per show on DVD. A few years later (Northern Exposure) they run about 45 minutes. Shows from a year or 2 ago (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) run sometimes as short as 39 minutes an episode. Now, since I run on the treadmill in front of the TV, I ask you is this fair? I mean, I run 4+1/2 miles 4-5 times a week to be able to eat my current allotment of chocolate, bread, cheese and red wine. What do they think I am? Some track star? I ask you! And they wonder why I no longer watch the networks themselves.

Sorry for the dearth of posts lately, really nothing going on. It is mid January in Wisconsin. It is booger-freezing cold. If it were otherwise, it would be newsworthy.


Saturday, January 08, 2005

Ode to a Vacuum Cleaner

You never really seemed to work
Leaving fuzz and hair and dirt.
Heavy, tippy, hard to carry
Cursed you often. Annoyed? Very!
Spewing smoke,
Now you're broke.
Buy another Hoover? What a joke.

Yup, it finally died. Huzzah! It was actually the 3rd Hoover we'd owned in 15 years or so. The 1st, worked like a champ. The 2nd was so-so. I forget how it died. The 3rd was downright annoying. It didn't even have a way to carry it up and downstairs, like a handle, just this tiny finger grab sort of shelf-thing, something that an experienced rock climber would pass by as impossible to grip. It finally gave up the ghost by attempting to suck up a piece of string left over from the Great Putting Away of Christmas. One end of the string went one way and one end the other way around a plastic guard on the way to the brush roller and, presto!, it garrotted itself, spewing very stinky smoke out the foot-end. ON THE VERY FIRST ROOM TO BE VACUUMED! Bastardo. And this was not an ordinary weekly vacuuming, it was the first vacuuming after the Great Putting Away of Christmas. Pine needles and sequins and glitter everywhere, not to mention extra large drifts of dog hair. A dire situation.

Today, we went shopping for a new vacuum. One that would not disappoint. One that would actually, well, vacuum. First step, we pulled out our trusty Consumer Reports guide. It ranks the damn Hoover high but also the Eureka. We slog off to check it out, fortified with bakery breakfast.

"Can I be of any help?" says the trustworthy sales guy.

"What is the difference between these 2 Eurekas?" I ask, pointing to 2 with the same name as the one recommended by Consumer Reports, priced about $50 differently.

"Well, honestly, they are the same except the more expensive one has a couple of 'gimicky' things that really aren't doing anything to clean your carpet better."

"Good to know. I appreciate your honesty. Which would you get?"

"Well, I know that Consumer Reports ranked this one (points to one of the Eurekas) as a best buy, and it is fine, but if it were up to me, I would get the Dyson over there."


"It may be more than you're ready to pay, but has by far the best suction, is bagless, and easy to use. And the suction does not decrease over time as the dirt doesn't get pulled through the motor."

Makes sense. We stroll down to the Dysons. Another guy is also looking at them, and we become a 3 way conversation. We poke and lift, push all the levers and, indeed, it seems most easy to use. To make it short, we left with it.

I let it sit in the box for a whole 4 hours, until after lunch and a decent nap interval, thinking I would let the vacuum wake the kids. Turn it on and, damn, the thing is quiet. Kids don't wake. I also notice that the drifts of dog hair, instead of fleeing the vacuum, come toward it as though happy to join their dust-bunny friends in the bowels of the machine. Huh. Never had that happen. Always end up chasing the damn things around the floor until they are cornered and have no where else to go but under the brush. Sort of takes the sport out of housework.

So, if that isn't piffle, I don't know what is.

In other news, it snowed a foot last week among much rejoicing of students. Both Colin's and Charles's districts were closed for 2 solid days. (What? I thought this was the Midwest, where we took pride in no school closures. Ever.) Charles, of course, had to go in as administrators don't have snow days. He can't win. And, as Charles was just about home, our amazing neighbor, Steve, stopped by with his 4WD with snow plow attached and plowed our whole drive. Just gotta love Midwesterners. And it gives me an excuse to bake tomorrow. Hey, he deserves a big batch of Triple Chip cookies, and not all will fit on the plate.

So, once again, all works out.

Good thing Charles won the football pool.


Monday, January 03, 2005


Yup, that's me. A slug.

Mentally. Physically. Slow. Mucusy. Bleh. I strongly suspect if you upended a salt shaker on me I would dissolve before your very eyes.

Fortunately, today is slow at work. I have finished all my dictations, chart reviews, and reviewed the results from previously ordered expensive tests. My desk is clear and as I do not have the mental where-with-all to deal with the pile of journals on top of the file cabinet of the Bat Cave, I am left with inflicting my whiny self on you. If I were you, I would cough into my hand and back out of the room with some flimsy excuse. This is not worth reading. It is barely worth writing and when I am done, will be faced with solitaire unless a patient mistakenly drifts in through the door along with the slush.

It has been doing the sloppy winter weather thing here. Freezing rain, sleet, brief bits of wet snow. All of the surrounding schools releasing early except Freeport. Once again Charles misses out. Patients are staying away in droves this afternoon. Lots of standing water that will become standing ice when the sun dips. Lots of salt on the roads. Guess I'd better be careful slopping out to the car tonight. Hate to slip, fall and dissolve in a pool of salty slush. Tres embarrassing.

Colin is finally better, having developed hives from his influenza drug. Sara got worse and is now doing the persistent fevers but seems fine as long as we dope her up with kiddie Motrin. Not to be outdone by her brother, she too developed hives. Yeah team.

Ah, I see some poor souls are braving the muck and are coming in to clinic. Heh. Pity them.

I told you; you should have fled. You have no one to blame but yourself.

Snort. Snort. Snuffle. Ooze.