Friday, May 11, 2012

Warning twinges

Knowing my love of Madison Avenue's attempt to explain Women to ourselves, Carol sent this:

Long before couples were setting up bathtubs on hillsides, and cautioning us that Trizominex is not for everyone, but do (DO) ask your doctor... And long before Madison Avenue stopped making us READ so much COPY...
Li'l Pharma promised us everything and delivered .....

Let's break it down. 
Not even your mother has heard of this.

So what the hell was it?
So you're suffering from "periodical indisposition," and you were supposed to meet this other couple and their stag friend inside a Thurber cartoon, but you just have these depressing pains.

And this is a...drug?

I know what that is.  What's KAMNIA?   
An excellent play!  Circle gets to open...
The Antikamnia chemical company claimed their name meant "opposed to pain."  In what language, is anyone's guess.  I can not find a word origin.  The Google translator detected it as Filipino.  Possibly because I used the word Filipino in yesterday's post, and Google is highly impressionable.

In fact, it is difficult to break past Google's insistence that you mean KAMINA, which will take you down some anime/plushy path that is hard to back out of.  This is K-A-M-N-I-A.  But then "thousands of women just ask for A-K."

How many should I take?
One.  or Two.   We're not doctors.

What's in it?
I am so glad you asked.  May I approach the bench?

Citing the case of  United States v. Antikamnia Chemical Co., 231 U.S. 654 (1914), the plaintiff claimed the defendant had violated the Food and Drug by failing to specify the product contained acetanilid,

I swear your answers just beg more questions.
It's true.  The Internet is like that.  I started this post 2 years ago.
Acetanilid is what we used to take before aspirin, and before it was found to be more beneficial as photographic developer.  If you want more than that, you'll have to ask someone who took high school chemistry.

What about "always sure - always safe"?

Sometimes they're wrong.  Did your headache go away, though?

I do hate to give up all idea of a party.
Then Get Liberated, Sister.  Put on your white shorties and ride your bicycle over there.  You've got some well-earned relaxation due.

 (You may also forget what season it is, and wear a sweater and a hat with your shorties)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Push me, poll you

The trouble with the Don't Call list is that "political outreach" is exempt

I was just Push Polled by some mysterious operation called "Topical Marketing" asking me to respond to some "theoretical" rumors about our senatorial candidates, then respond whether that information made me more or less likely to vote for that person.

Ex:  "Which party do you have more concerns about, Democrat or Republican?"
I challenged the pollster to clarify her terms.

I said, "What kind of concerns?"
"Yes, that's right."
"You didn't answer my question.  What do you mean by concerns?"
"Which one concerns you more?"

After going through the usual non-question/questions ("do you think things are going in the right direction?" )she dragged me through a bunch of "Have you ever heard" about both Warren and Brown.  I was supposed to say whether I had heard that accusation (her word) and whether it was very, somewhat, blah-blah likely to change my opinion (the one I hadn't given about whom I would vote for).

There were FIVE of these.

"Are you more or less likely to vote for [this candidate]?"
"Than what," I said.
"More or less."  
"Than the other candidate?  I just told you I do not have a leaning."
"But based on these statements --- "
"Your choices don't make sense."

Frankly, it doesn't surprise me that Elizabeth Warren now presents herself as a Native American.  She used to present herself as having brown hair and glasses.
It doesn't surprise me that Scott Brown's house is valued at $1M.  We live in Massachusetts.  All that means is his house has 10 rooms.

The pollster says, " I am now going to read you some theoretical statements about [the other candidate]..."  I said, "Let me stop you.  I am going to give you the same answers as before.  I have not heard these statements, and they have not changed my mind.  If you want to write those down now and end the survey, we can.  or we can end the survey.  Your choice is A or B."

Then I stopped talking, so she thought I hung up.  She disconnected.

And America....
She called me back.

"We just completed this survey," I said.
"If you would let me read the statements, I can enter your answers."
"Why is that important?"  I said.
"It's important that we finish."  (in the Milgrim experiment, this is pronounced “The experiment requires that you go on”)

I almost said... "Are they holding you there against your will?"  but instead I said, "Who is sponsoring this survey?"
"Topical Marketing, she says.

"Topical marketing is conducting the survey.  for whom are you conducting this survey?"

Oh, don't make me whoooom your ass, girlie.... I am home allll daaaay.

She stammered and admitted that she wasn't made aware of that.  I said, "Your questions are not based in fact, you won't cite who these 'supporters' and 'opponents' are, the answers don't match the questions, and you won't tell me how the data will be used.  Why is it so valuable?"

I am so sorry to say that in the end she won.  I let her read the questions so she would never call me again, but I banged a lot of dishes while she did it.  Very mature.

Demographically... my options were single, married, living with someone, divorced, widowed , or never married.
Let's review.
"Single, divorced, widowed AND never married?"  You know how I love to be called unmarried.

How's this for the ethnicity question:
"Is anyone in your family Native American, Asian, Spanish-speaking, or African-American."   
Spanish speaking?  Yes, my Filipino cousin is Asian Spanish-speaking, and my Nipmuc sister-in-law is African/Native American.  I said, "Any of those?  Yes."
"Can you be specific?"

Because f**k her.  She doesn't even know who she works for.  What is the frequency, Kenneth?

In the end, she apologized for calling me back.  I said, "I am sorry they made you do that."
And reminded myself to answer the phone more vigilantly in the future.

Countdown to "this finally stops":   181 days

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Lord, help this poor film

I found I had more to say about The Raven than my usual Facebook movie review capsule could contain.

Having started this post, I discovered that more legitimate reviewers and scholars than myself had already made many of the points I would have made, so I will direct you to them below and save my breath for how I received the film.
I enjoy the little scuffles that arrive in the space of an FB review, often over the stars themselves, which I always have to clarify are not an expression of how "good" the film is (or skilled, or important, or what have you).  They are Netflix stars, which have always been a measuring of "liking" the film, and if Facebook understands anything, isn't it LIKING? 

So, in Netflix parlance, 3 is "liked it," 4 is "really liked it" (no, really) and 5 is "loved it."  (in case you are curious, 2 is "didn't like it" and 1 is...)

And I can Really Like/Love a terrible film (see everything in the juvenile delinquent genre, and most of the Jodie Foster oeuvre).  And I can just hate things that I recognize are the best of their kind (Harry Potter, I assume, though I really wouldn't know...)

The Raven... I'm going to go with 4 Netflix stars.  I did "really like" it, though there was a lot just...not good about it.

I will not quibble with historical facts.  This is fan fiction, and it is entitled to its full fantasy.  You want the facts, explore below.

Reel Facts
The Reynolds Legend
Unrequited Lurv

What the opening titles report is true:  we don't not know why Poe was in Baltimore in October of 1849, how he came to be in the condition he was found, or even what condition that was.  There are not even enough medical notes to take a modern review of vital signs and symptoms.  (oh...for an EHR... don't click that; it's boring.)  So have at, America.  Here is one speculation.

John Cusack is younger than I am, and we are both too old to play Poe, but that doesn't bother me either because... it's John Cusack.  I actually enjoyed him -- intense, but not morose, a little flirty, a little bitchy, a lot drunk... He could get his mouth around the language without sounding like Maurice Evans, and he still made me want to spend the summer with him and learn the sport of kickboxing.

When the language isn't working, it is distracting.  Watch the Internet forums soon for the complaints of linguistic anachronism (just for the fun of saying it) as "serial killer," "gun-toting" and "OK," are bandied about.  I looked into "OK," which is older than we ever think, but not likely in the vernacular of a society maiden, even when she is trying to keep it together buried inside a box.

I never say SPOILER ALERT.

What I am tired of, I realize, is this notion that madmen have all the time and energy in the world (in between baiting and disemboweling the passersby) to leave clues all over the place like it's Christmas morning at Pee Wee's Playhouse.  But that is the nature of these stories, so have patience through the numerous climaxes, the red herrings, the solving of Sudokus and Rebuses, and (no, seriously) longitudinal charts just to get to the next clue station.  The lat/long clue sequence is the stupidest nonsense in any detective story -- any time, any author.  Stop it.  that was dumb.  I won't write it all down for you, but after you see the film, try to backtrack from the clue outcome to its origin, and tell me if you don't take a tincture of your own just now.

But it is scary.  And bloody.  And gloomy.  The sets are crammed full of antebellum sootiness and everyone has cravat and muttonchops and whalebone just so.  Which I enjoy.  The murders are crazier than Se7en -- you won't believe them for a second -- but then, if you have ever read any Poe, you don't expect to.  If a film like this is expected to revive Poe in the mass-market, let me give you a hint:

This process, however, afforded me no means of ascertaining the dimensions of my dungeon; as I might make its circuit, and return to the point whence I set out, without being aware of the fact, so perfectly uniform seemed the wall. I therefore sought the knife which had been in my pocket when led into the inquisitorial chamber, but it was gone; my clothes had been exchanged for a wrapper of coarse serge.
No it won't.

But if you do like your Poe references, and the stories more than the poetry -- and if you like a wild ride even if it brings you right back to the starting line -- and if you are not too claustrophobic or squeamish -- and if you like your Poe taller and less Boothy --- you might agree to 3 or 4 stars.

The narrative makes no sense, and the closing credits belong to a completely different film.  But you may get shut out of The Avengers this week, so consider it a fallback.


I don't know why I stress about coming up with topics.  They are just lying around waiting to be noticed.

I have never doubted the power of the white coat to make us swallow just about anything.  Behold, Future World - the Pill Cam.  

More boringly known as video capsule endoscopy, this is exactly what it looks like it is.  And I expect that given time, you too will decide that "they must know what they're doing."

The floor is now open for questions.

Ok, well, I just want to know how big that is.
This is like that weird hamburger pinky-hold you see in commercials, which disguise the size of what's on the value meal.  The capsule looks big enough already... girth-wise... but you can't see the end of it.  Another way to obfuscate is to use metrics:  " Both PillCam SB and ESO video capsules are 11 mm x 26 mm and weigh less than 4 grams."

So... how big?
I have no idea.  I'm American.  This big:

And it does what, now?
"The smooth plastic capsule contains a miniature video camera and is equipped with a light source on one end, batteries, a radio transmitter and antenna. After it is swallowed, the PillCam SB capsule transmits approximately 50,000 images over the course of an 8-hour period (about 2 images per second) to a data recording device attached to a belt worn around the patient’s waist. The small bowel images are then downloaded into a Given® Workstation computer where a physician can review the images in order to make a diagnosis."

Oh, but why?
I believe you are familiar with the alternative method. 

How come I can't swallow a watch battery, but I can swallow this?
"PillCam SB was initially cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2001."
That's not an answer.
It is to them. 

Ok, so I swallow a camera, and... what is it again?
From what I can make out in this video, it  is a microchip, a... ball bearing?, 2 button batteries, some kind of copper coil, encased in plastic, like a toy from a gumball machine. 

yuh-hunnh.... go ahead....
"PillCam capsule endoscopy offers a simple, safe and non-invasive alternative to traditional imaging procedures."

It's an interesting use of "non-invasive" that you have. 
Then look at this! 

I am always amazed how much our innards look like pasta.
Make sure you pause that first frame to learn that this V2 is not yet approved in the US.  But by all means "ask your doctor."

I suppose I know how this ends.
"Both the PillCam SB and PillCam ESO disposable capsules make their way through the rest of the gastrointestinal tract and then are passed naturally and painlessly from the body, usually within 24 hours."

{{sigh}}  Side Effects?
When will you ask this question first?  WHEN, America.
You shouldn't use it if you have a gastrointestinal obstruction.  Recreational purposes only, one would assume.     
"Capsule retention" may occur.  I expect it's on YOU to determine whether it has.

"There is a rare risk of capsule aspiration while patients are attempting to swallow a PillCam video capsule or Agile patency capsule.  There is also a low risk of skin irritation from the SensorArray sleeve adhesive or silicone exposure.
Medical, endoscopic, or surgical intervention may be necessary to address any of these complications, should they occur."

I thought you might say that.

Modern medicine is a marvel, isn't it?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Minute Clinic...Medieval Barber

Can you get enough stories of me, trying to navigate a CVS?

Somewhere between my last day in Va, and a drive back to New England, I picked up a southern woodsy tick, which I discovered in the shower, embedded in my hip.  After trying all the usual methods (and some less usual) I did manage to kill it.  May I recommend that all-purpose healing poultice toothpaste, which must burn like a mother, even to something with an exoskeleton.

So it fell off, but of course, not all in one piece.  That's how those little bastards get ya.  I poked and hacked at it long enough to risk tetanus, then I decided to find a medical paraprofessional.  At the CVS.

Has your CVS opened a clinic?  It's not as sketchy as you think, actually, but a little Bramwellian.  We have them all over eastern Mass (thanks, individual mandate!), but not everywhere.  They operate like your usual doc-in-the-box, except it is CVS, so you may see your neighbors shopping for birthday cards, or your Aunt Tillie picking up her "perscriptions." So maybe you'd prefer one in a different town. And it's not a doctor.

Follow the signs on the floor of the CVS to the back, where there are four chairs, no reception, and a computer into which you sign.  Screens, screens, screens.... but all information you know...then the screen tells you how many people are ahead of you, and you wait.

For various reasons, I have been waiting in a lot of exam and waiting rooms recently, and I can tell you for sure that they are not soundproof.  I can also tell you that the "P" in HIPAA stands for Portability, not Privacy, so in spite of all the rules of record-keeping and confidentiality, your being overheard is not a breach.  Think about that next time you are inside the exam room, because people like me don't bring a book to entertain themselves.

It is a little funny that the drugstore doesn't have magazines in its waiting area.

Let's call my NP Cherry.  I expect that Cherry Ames would be a Nurse Practitioner by now.  In her very efficient little exam room (1 desk, 2 chairs, the rolly stool, 1 sink, 1 bank of cabinets and drawers) she could not find her very efficient little tick extracting tool.  Which is not, you may be surprised to hear, tweezers coated in Crest Total.  It's this ingenious device, and I just have to blow this part up for you:

I think you know who you are

Because she can't find it, after several minutes of looking -- in a space smaller than your bathroom -- I sat down and buttoned my pants.  She looked for other implements, like hedge clippers, a long thumbnail, or a rusty saw.

With regular forceps too large for the job she went to work on the embedded head, about the size of a thorn-splinter, at the depth of a mass grave.  And I thought... this is what I was doing yesterday.  But then, I didn't have a lab coat.

Now.  Once your cadaver head, forceps, and skin are bloodied, it is just a slippery mess.  I am standing, braced against the wall to (a) avoid throwing a shadow and (b) scrawl HELP ME into the cinderblock walls of this torture chamber.

"Are you ok?" she asks, with some compassion, though not as much as your mammography tech.  "It's fine," I say, because I do have a surprisingly high pain threshold, and notice that I didn't say I was fine.  I said that it was fine for Sh***y Healthcare to pay for this rather than my Lyme disease.  I can stand it if they can.

Readership, I want you to know that when she finally extracted it, it felt like a dipstick pulling out of the oil tank.  I actually felt it retract, even though neither of us could really see it once it was out.

What they are charging Sh***y : $79 .  To bore me out with an apple corer, which the local crone could have done, plus serve tea and read the bumps on my head.  Throw in an antibiotic and we're all happy.

What a racket.