Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In Which I Am Impressed By The Level Of Some People's Commitment To The Holiday

Winner!  It's hard to top this yard for its authenticity, scope, and overall design. It's too bad that realty company Berkshire Hathaway had to destroy sight-line continuity with its sign, but hey--that's business. And you know what President Calvin Coolidge (famous dead guy said), "The business of America is business."

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fear Factor

Today on my walk I played a little game in honor of all of the Halloween decorations. I called it "Which Yard Is The Scariest 2014?" (It was a long walk because not only did I need to oust a Severe Case Of The Crabbies, but I also needed to go to the drugstore. I took, therefore, a circuitous route which gave me a nice three miler or so.)

Anyway, I took some photos, and here are the two Finalists.

Number One:

I'm impressed.  That thing is like fifteen feet tall.  Along with the inflatable Christmas Eeyore, it may be the only yard inflatable I will ever sanction in my neighborhood.  It's scary, yo.  But get ready; here is Entry 

Number Two:

Holy crap.  Do you see what I see?  That's about thirty bags of mulch that need to be spread!  Talk about Scary!  The chills that went up my spine when I saw that...brrrrr.  Not to mention the sick feeling in my gut just thinking about the smell and the stains on my hands, my socks, my arms, and whatever else came in contact with that stuff.  We won't even talk about what it would do to Rick's back.

Yikes.  I think we have a winner.

candycorn monster pic

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Oddments And Doodads And Road, Oh My!

In lieu of a lobotomy, let's see if an offload of brain litter might help me get rid of some of the Distraction and Scatter that I feel in my head lately. Honestly, I can't even read a book anymore, and it is with Great Sadness and Terrible Alarm that I confide that to you. Naturally, I'm going to pin all of it on that handy Scapegoat, The Menopause, even though technically, I'm probably done with it. But humour me and let's Go With It, shall we?

Oh, thank you.

~*~THERE'S A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE. Rick and I were on the way to our Dinner Date (!), and my omnipresent GPS suddenly displayed, ever so helpfully, this:

O-Kay,  I am grateful, however, that this selfsame GPS never had a bout of The Menopause like this as it navigated me past Washington, D.C. (ugh, the Capital Beltway!) or through The Traveler's Oasis (how I hate the Breezewood exchange on the PA Turnpike!). Or any other routes I have driven, so I will forgive it this minor Episode.  (For the record, Road had a name, and we were, in fact actually ON it, not askew between the river and ... whatever.)  Yikes.

~*~HOW SOON WE FORGET. So, I chopped all of my hair off in a fit of boredom and faux bravado. Oh, yes I did--all of it. I have one of those spiky pixy dos and I am now thoroughly disenchanted with it, but oh well. It's not that I dislike it, exactly, but it's a case of "Okay, I did that, so...can it be over now?" Why I didn't read all of my old posts from the last time I cut off my hair, I really don't know. What I should have done is asked my mother, who came right out and told me just a few months ago, when I cut my hair like this

that she didn't like it. I think her exact words were, "Nance! You cut your hair! Why? I guess I just liked it better the other way." For the record, this time, with the pixy, she keeps staring at it and saying, "It's very attractive." I think word got back to her about the last time.
(P.S. Mariska is still on My List.)

~*~WHAT'S IN A NAME? Oh, everything when it comes to my Fantasy Basketball Team. Previously, it has been named the West Egg Gatsbys and then, after a tragically mediocre draft, I renamed it the Puppycats. This year, I'm in mourning after losing Paul George of the Indiana Pacers to a horrific injury (Seriously, don't even watch it when you Google it unless you have a very strong stomach.) during the summer league. I'm trying to decide whether to go back to the original name, keep Puppycats, or get a new name. Last year, I named one of Sam's fantasy football teams The Fluffy Bunnies. He went on to be the most fearsome, most dominant team in the league and won the championship. Imagine the men sitting at home, setting their lineups and saying, "Damn, the Fluffy Bunnies are kicking ass, and I have to play them this week" or "You got the Fluffy Bunnies this week, Craig? Good Luck!" or "I hate those effing Fluffy Bunnies!"

~*~HEY, GREAT JOB! My Maryland buddy Leanne, fabric hoarder and quilter extraordinaire, recently received this confirmation of her shipment of fabric from the Missouri Star Quilt Company. I don't sew at all, but I might drop them a line just to express my admiration for their Wonderfulness. Or to ask for a job. Here, read:

Thanks for your order at the Missouri Star Quilt Company!

We just want to let you know that your quilting supplies have been meticulously gathered, placed on a red velvet pillow, and delicately escorted by 25 of our finest employees to our shipping department. Our master shipper has dutifully performed his craft, lovingly packing your order in the finest materials known to man.

Our team gathered to give your package the proper send-off it deserved. Tears of joy were shed, speeches were given, and there was even a farewell cake. Following the festivities, the whole group, led by our local high school marching band playing the song Leaving on a Jet Plane, ushered your order through downtown Hamilton, Missouri. No, we don't own a Jet Plane, but your package was placed in the care of a roguishly handsome man who is riding in a majestic horse-drawn carriage which is on its way to your home as you read this.

Although the products you've ordered will be sorely missed here at MSQC, we are overjoyed that they have found a good home. Take care of them, treasure them, and when you make something beautiful with them, make sure you share it with us on facebook, twitter, or just send us an email; we love to see what you make!

*Note: the above is a slight dramatization of what actually happened with your order, but seriously, we did ship it, and here is the tracking info:

Holy crap. I want so much to meet that person, that one employee who is making his/her job so much more awesome than it has to be. That person right there is A Difference Maker.

~*~FOLLOW THAT CAR. I'm not a bumper sticker person; I wouldn't put one on my car unless it was an election year and I wanted to make a very specific statement politically. I do enjoy, however, other people's statements on the back of their cars, and I'm entertained by so many of them. Today I was actually moved by one that I saw. I had been listening to NPR's guest, who was giving a very dismal assessment of things in the Middle East, and suddenly, this car pulled ahead of me in the next lane.

I wanted very, very much to believe it, but at the very least, it reminded me that while there are chaos and ugliness in the world, and violence and brutality, so, too are there paintings and literature, sculpture and architecture, poetry and music.  I took a deep breath and changed the station to something lighter and poppier, feeling a twinge of gratitude for the woman in the black Honda Accord.  (Coincidentally, 90.3 is NEO's NPR affiliate station.)  She was, for me, A Difference Maker.

thanks to Leanne for the shipment email

Friday, October 03, 2014

In Which I Am Tired Of Being Inundated By Pharmaceuticals Which Want Me To Ask My Doctor About Them

For quite some time now, the Dept. has been without cable television. Aside from the occasional jonesing for MSNBC or CNN every now and then, (and okay, maybe some Top Chef or Project Runway, but only if it's Old School), we honestly Do Not Miss It. We are very content Cord Cutters, the growing breed without cable and satellite television services who watch network TV, stream select shows from our computers using an HDMI hookup, and, in our case, have a Roku box and Jared's Netflix password.

One of the things I'm continually amused by is the carefully selected advertising on some of the over-the-air networks. It's clear that they have studied their audience demographics, and that they are targeting them like the bullseye on a dart board. My favourite example of this is a network called MeTV, one which shows reruns of old popular shows that were huge faves in their day. Here's a typical lineup of their primetime: MASH, The Andy Griffith Show, Hogan's Heroes, Gilligan's Island, Welcome Back Kotter, Perry Mason. (Rick and I watch MASH during dinner every night. It replaces Seinfeld, which was our choice during the Heydays Of Cable.)

During MASH Rick and I are offered a variety of medications, information on life insurance and reverse mortgages, and several medical devices including catheters, back braces, and of course the medical alert system for when we've fallen and can't get up. Oh, and the walk-in bathtub. But the amount of prescription medications we are urged to "talk to (y)our doctor about" is ridiculous. And lately, I've noticed that it's not just on The Old People's Network. It's all over the networks, and it's all over primetime.

Obviously, the pharmaceutical companies wouldn't advertise on television unless such advertising worked. It's like negative political campaign ads: people say they hate them, but their effectiveness is undeniable; they work. And so do prescription drug ads. That's why they are so ubiquitous. The US federal ban on direct to consumer (DTC) advertising for prescription medications was lifted in 1997. But do you remember there being so many ads on television in, say, 2005 as there are now for medicines?

And the names of these meds are fascinating. Januvia, Latuda--I think I may have had them in class. Eliquis--wasn't that the name of a car not too terribly long ago, maybe the Mercury Eliquis? And Linzess--sounds more like a chocolate or maybe a fabric, or even a feminine hygiene product. But I digress.

I'm irritated by so many facets of this: Advertising, in many ways, creates demand. One health writer noted in her article this February that "70 percent of adults and 25 percent of children are on at least one prescription drug" in this country. For adults the most-prescribed medication is an antidepressant. For children, an ADHD med. (It's noteworthy--and a relief--that I've yet to see any adverts for ADHD meds on TV, at least in my area; the vast majority of commercials seem to be for male sexual performance drugs. I'm struggling to think of any ads for children's prescription medications at all.)

A second feature that irritates me is that we, the health consumers, end up paying in time and money for these slick little commercials in which men sidle up to their wives and get feely, or the grey-faced woman looks disinterested and hopeless. It drives up the cost of a pill which the drug companies are already providing samples of--along with free lunches, doodads, and other perks--to our doctors while we sit idly out in the waiting rooms as the reps take up a patient time slot. And I'm sure I'm not alone in having had to wait as long as an hour to see one of my doctors. (Back when I used to go and see them. Don't start.)

Oh, and one more: stop telling me to "ask my doctor about" this pill when I don't have Erectile Dysfunction, Low Testosterone, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Clinical Depression, or Overactive Bladder, or really, any of the conditions treated by the medicines being hawked at me. So much of this advertising has absolutely nothing to do with me, period.  It's interesting that there are few to no commercials for drugs that battle hypertension, diabetes, or heart-related conditions. (I don't have those, either, but I'm willing to bet that more people do.) Probably the majority of those drugs are now available in generic form, and don't generate much profit for drug companies anymore.

Pharmaceutical companies spend good money in Research and Development, and I've benefited immensely in the area of migraine therapies. I don't expect any business to do business for free. I know it costs a staggering amount to get a new drug to market: according to Forbes, it's 5 billion dollars. It's hardly a dilemma--cut the advertising budget and save a bit by not putting the commercials on television, but sacrifice that revenue stream (Every $1.00 spent advertising prescription drugs is estimated to increase their retail sales by $4.20.). It is, however, quite telling that the US and only one other country--New Zealand--allow DTC pharmaceutical advertising.  Are we getting it wrong?

Geeze. I sound old and curmudgeonly talking about this, don't I? Am I going to start bitching about Kids Today or That Rap Music or Being On A Fixed Income? Should I take back the cute new boots I just got?

(I don't think so either. There's a zipper.  In the back.)

Do let's chat all this up in Comments.  Am I just having an Old Lady Moment?

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