Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

Itchin’ to get out

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Last night, Melle and I went to a public lecture at the UW Pharmacy School. This one was about Anaphylaxis with Dr Mark Greenwald.

Greenwald pulled about 150 slides in 70 minutes (well over the promised 45), and slid right through the stuff I think most of the people wanted to learn about–how allergens engender the development of t-cell receptors and white blood cells, why anaphylaxis is hard to predict, hard to analyse and hard to manage, and so on. Since he said several times that he was presenting to “pharmacists”, and only one person in the room was a pharmacist, that might explain it.

He presented a few case studies, which had the potential to be good learning tools if they weren’t so rushed. In one case, he presented a young boy who’d never had peanuts, but whose older brother had a severe allergy to them. Question was: should he have an epi-pen? How do you know if he’s at risk for anaphylaxis? As Melle and I turned to each other and muttered give the kid a peanut, Dr G joked that a double-blind study with a peanut is what should be done. But then he said something ethically you can’t do it. I still think it’s a good idea. Whatever.

I did learn a few things:

  • For venom allergies (like bees & hornets), the best thing to do for a child is immunotherapy (i.e. allergy shots)
  • Many anaphylaxis events are dual – the person has a reaction, then nothing and then something comes back, and sometimes it’s much worse. Problem is that the “downtime” is most often longer than how long patients are kept under observation in a hospital.
  • You can outgrow some allergies, but not others.
  • There’s a high concordance of poorly managed asthma and chance of a strong anaphylaxis reaction to food or other allergens.
  • In many cases, epi-pen doesn’t work: the needle isn’t long enough (hello rampant obesity), no one knows how to use them properly, and it must be in the muscle, not just the skin, and even more than that, apparently the thigh is the only sweet spot (the arm isn’t good).

The question period devolved into some older lady telling us about her visits to the allergist, and stopping just short of her sharing about her poops (as Melle so aptly described the exchange).

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Being a big fan of the PI public lectures and these, I have to say that there is a big difference in the attendee profiles. Physics nutters are loveable. They ramble a lot, and some of them think that the laws of physics include aliens and tinfoil hats, but pharmacy nutters are hypochondriac know-it-alls. Instead of it being fun, it’ s really a race to the door before they start telling everyone about aliments and why xy medication should/should not be taken in higher/lower doses.

Not sure I’ll be attending in person again. It was just that painful.

Firsts

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I went for my annual *cough* check-up today (which was 3 years in the making, but who’s counting?). Decided that I should take advantage of all of our commie-pinko-socialist healthcare and all that. Up til now, I’ve been rather ambivalent about getting the H1N1 flu shot–I’m not in the high risk group and I never get flu shots. Doctor had other plans. Doctor made me get an H1N1 flu shot. This being my first flu shot ever, I have to say I’m not a fan: my arm (particularly my shoulder) is really freakin’ sore and my elbow is achy. I think I have swine flue in my elbow. But, I know one or two people who went through the H1N1 itself though, so I guess as long as this goes away and it works, it was a good thing.

Apparently, I have the blood pressure of a teenager. But as I’m chronologically more challenged than that, I get to do a series of more tests to check that I’m not falling apart at the seams or something.

In this, my month of firsts, I also purchased winter tires for the first time.  As far as winter tires go, you’d think that all Canadians have them but that’s really not true. I learned old skool: you learn how to skid and how to control you car and pump your brakes. Which is another thing: ABS is stupid. I don’t want a car telling me when I’m pumping and when I’m not. I KNOW when I want to pump and the damn car should not be making those weird shuddery noises and popping the brake when it feels like it. It’s unnatural. Anyway, the tires. So far, I’ve noticed that braking feels different and winter tires are noisy. Of course, we’ve had a gloriously warm November so far, and now I think I may have jinxed us to getting eleventy feet of snow because I decided to purchase winter tires for the first time in my life and now my car has ABS AND winter tires, which is the equivalent of saying “Hey, Mother Nature, please pelt me until I am wimpering in submission for the arrogance of these modern inventions.”

I also got switched to “smart hydro” today (being hydroelectricity, not hydro=water–I was very confused for the first few years of home ownership as to which is which).  Basically, they’ve got winter and summer “sweet zones” where you pay less money for electricity usage as well as prime zones for usage, and you pay more for prime usage. With the new meter settings, they now track usage hour by hour. I think this is a pretty good concept, and someone like me, who can be flexible on when I’m doing laundry and so on, has the ability to probably save some money on my previous bills. Or it would be, except for the fact that I get my brand new gas fireplace in a few weeks, and since it uses some electricity to get the pilot going, and I will most definitely run that baby during prime hours, I’m probably not coming out ahead. And I don’t care. Fire. Book. Scotch. Seriously… life will be good.

Though it was rather satisfying when California slid away

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

I abhor blockbuster movies. I love nutters and conspiracy theories. So you can imagine my consternation regarding whether or not I should go to see 2012. I succumbed this afternoon.

(more…)

The right to blog

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

A friend of mine moved to China with her family a few weeks ago. Before she left, we talked about her setting up a blog so that she can keep in touch with friends and family in Canada and Sweden.

We were talking today and I asked about the blog, and she told me that she hasn’t been able to get one set up. No access to WordPress, Blogger, Blogspot…or Twitter, Facebook …

I mean, I knew that the government of China blocks Internet content, but it made it more real. And then I got indignant on behalf of the 1,325,639,982 people or so that are there and effectively gagged. They have no right to blog. Just think about all of us who can jump on and blog about our electric ass, or our cat, or our thoughts on healthcare. They can’t do that. They can’t read what we read, or have the opportunity to know what we know. That’s deplorable. This is the same week that Obama hailed China as an economic partner (with no strings attached to human rights abuses).

If you want to know how to get around it, btw, sounds like the best approach is to create a blog account outside of the country and these use a POP connection to email in your entries. I’ve offered my friend some help to do just that.

Have at ‘er

Friday, November 13th, 2009

2012: yes and no

Taps

Friday, November 13th, 2009

As you all know, Dollhouse will be no more. There is gnashing of teeth, but unfortunately this time is bowing to the inevitable.

While the last few eps have been pretty good–especially the last one where we go to see Sierra’s back story–on the whole, it has never been of the calibre of the rest of the Joss oevre.  What really gets my goat is that it had a longer run than Firefly, and that makes no sense. And then I get all ragey again and want to box Fox executives about the ears.

I’m looking forward to the back half of the season. Joss says that we have some  good storytelling still to come.

Truth be told, the biggest problem with Dollhouse was its star. Dushku was never up for the challenge, and her star vehicle really served to expose her shortcomings as a versatile actress.

What am I grateful to this show for? How about the awesome talents and dance moves of Enver Gjokaj and the sweet versatility of Dichen Lachman, who showed up Dushku in every scene that they were in together. I guess the best news out of all this is that now we have two new additions to the Joss players.

I’ll be watching all of the double eps in December, and will hoist a final scotch when it all ends. Go big, Joss, go big.

The blue hand

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

I’ve been thinking about blue hands lately due to Flash Forward.

<spoiler>

If you’ve been watching, then you know that certain people with the blue hand are either trying to thwart the good guys from figuring out why the flash occurred, or they are simply the bad buys of the bad guys who did not see anything in their flashes, and are now following some nihilistic impulse to finish things off on their own terms.

Of course, one immediately thinks back to men with “hands of blue” in Firefly. These were the guys that had ESP zoning in on River, working with the secret government group who helped to create her.

Knowing that Flash Forward is very loosely based on a book by (gag) Robert Sawyer, and Firefly of course from the mind of Sir Joss, I wonder what the more base symbology of the blue hand might be. I can’t be sure that Sawyer included it in his book since I haven’t read it, so I guess it’s possible that it’s an introduction or maybe even an homage to Firefly.

In both cases, the hand is a symbol of knowledge–of life and death, maybe, rather than good and evil, though some might argue there’s layering of meaning there. In both cases, the wearer is identified as a bringer of death, and as one who wants to use others for a specific purpose–for sure in Serenity, and seems to be going that way for Flash Forward.

</spoiler>

I thought for sure that it would be easy to find some older meaning for blue hands on the Interwebs, but there’s nothing directly involved. I’m sure there’s a Joss scholar out there who will know something. Here’s what I did find:

The eye-in-hand amulet. A popular one being a blue-glass charm from Turkey. Since the amulet is meant to be a magical protection from the evil eye. What can one make of a group of men who claim a hand of blue without the eye – that they are blind to their evil, or that they are immune from the charm because they are able to subvert its characteristics? It’s definitely true in the case of River that her life depends on avoiding the “gaze of evil”. Even as she has the extra “eye” of her ESP to sense when they are nearby.

This is one of those times when i wish Joss could stop by for tea. I need to know if this is based on something deep or just a tv coincidence…

Thumbs down, thumbs up

Sunday, November 1st, 2009
  • Thumbs down: Where the hell were the kids this Hallowe’en? I think I got no more than 20 kids this year, which means I’m staring down a box and a half of mini-chocolate bars, and they are seductive in their little charms.
  • Thumbs up: to the fact that we made it through the entire month of October without any of the “s word” – the neige…
  • Thumbs down: to these recent commercials for carpet cleaners where the “woman of the house” refused to let her friend in the door because the WHITE carpet is all mussied up from foot traffic. Okay, here’s a thought: who the hell puts white carpet in their front hallway???
  • Thumbs up: I finally got around to a) cleaning out the closet in the guest room and b) priming over the violet paint in there, preparing to make it a lovely cream
  • Thumbs down: Harper trying to be all friendly and crap with a piano after cutting funding for the arts; Ignatieff thinking he’s a “man of the people”.
  • Thumbs up: Mr Johnny Cash