8/2/2015

Panhandling in the age of social networks

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 5:37 pm

Two weeks ago Wednesday I removed 35 stones from the bladder of a Japanese Chin (an annoying, yappy, little brachycephalic breed that generally fall into the classification of ‘armpit pet’).

Neither the surgery, the breed, nor the number of stones that I removed were at all remarkable. It’s a straightforward surgical procedure and while 35 mineral crystals is, yes, a lot to have banging around inside your bladder it was by no means the most, either by volume or by number, that I’ve encountered so far.
Nor was the price of the surgery in any way unusual. The total cost of the procedure was around $950. That’s actually fairly reasonable considering the time the procedure took (a little over 40 minutes) and the pre and postoperative care the dog received.

No, the weird part of this procedure was the method of payment. See the owner couldn’t pay for the procedure herself so she “held a fundraiser”. Which in this day and age means that she set up a Gofundme site so she could ask friends, family, and totally random strangers to pay for what is ultimately her responsibility.
Because one of my receptionists is Facebook friends with a friend of the owner, my receptionist got included on the list of people who were asked to help pay for the surgical procedure. So my receptionist knows that the dog’s owner ended up raising enough to pay for the surgery (around $980 in fact).

Okay. All very well and good. Except, and you knew that this was coming, when the owner came to pick up the dog on the day of surgery she said that she could only pay us $400, she didn’t know when she’d be able to pay us the rest, and it was going to be around the end of September before she could even consider a payment plan on the rest of the bill.
Our office manager is a wonderful woman, a passionate animal lover, superb at her job, and NOT one you want to get crossways with. Since the receptionist had, happily, let us all know about the Gofundme appeal before the surgery the office manager knew that the dog’s owner had enough money to pay for the surgery. And while the office manager didn’t tell the dog’s owner that she knew about the Gofundme site, nor did she say any of the snarky things that all of us want to say, she did give the dog’s owner a flat, fishy, stink eye and told her that she had to pay the rest of her bill by the end of August and that she was going to get an imprint of the debit card which was going to be run on August 31st if the bill wasn’t paid by then.
At which point the dog’s owner started in with the expected wailing and rending of garments about how she didn’t know how she was going to purchase groceries or pay her rent or…… which was, of course, ignored.

The drama isn’t over of course. There’s still an outstanding balance on that account and the client has been marked as “no service” until the bill is paid. We won’t know how it ends until the bill is paid in full.

But that’s the reason I won’t ever donate to a Gofundme site or, with very, very strict exceptions, to any Kickstarter campaign. And that’s the reason I don’t ever give money to panhandlers. I have absolutely no idea what this dog’s owner did with the vast majority of the money she raised for her dog’s surgery — the dog whose medical condition she exploited for the purpose of coaxing money out of soft hearted strangers. I don’t really care what she did with the rest of the money she raised. Whatever she did it was reprehensible because she lied to the donors about how she’d spend their money.

I guess I should be sorry for her because she doesn’t have friends or family from whom she can borrow money when she needs it (and y’all know if you really need money you can ask us, right?). But instead I’m just pissed because she lied to me.

7/15/2015

This…

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 5:38 pm

Just this.

If you see such a petition, fucking SIGN IT!

5/13/2013

Go ahead, I dare you….

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 11:34 am

My husband is in Hawaii for the foreseeable future (or at least until the end of the month) trying to help his father, who went down with COPD fairly soon after we left on the first of April, convince Metlife insurance that there is, in fact, more than 90 days between the end of December and the beginning of April. Metlife doesn’t want to start paying out on the long term care insurance policy that has been paid into for the last several decades, so they’re putting up roadblocks and delays and every little thing they can think of to keep from paying out.
So I’m holding down the fort on my own which is annoying, but do-able, except that I work a full time job. Which means that I’m out of the house for 11-13 hours a day, four days a week.
And so of course when I went out to my car to leave for work this morning I discovered that it’s raining in my garage.
I am currently at home with the water off on two sinks, a toilet, and the shower, waiting for the plumber.
An optimist would say that I should look upon this as a good opportunity to clean out the garage and tidy up under the sink in the master bathroom. I say optimists can bite my chubby pink butt. I’d rather be at work with a grungy garage and the gawdawful mess that has been under the sink in the master bathroom for the last two years.
Anyone got any cheese to go with that whine?

10/14/2012

Petition Drive

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 4:53 pm

I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled Wugga posts when I’ve got the dramatic flair to finish, but for right now I’d like to strongarm y’all into signing this petition.

Probably very few of the regular readers of UADN are regular watchers of the National Geographic Channel. Since it’s a Murdoch subsidiary, I’m sorry to say, NatGeo Channel is far more interested in sensation and strife than they are in good programming.
But their show “The Incredible Dr. Pol” is a low even for a Murdoch production.

So what’s got my knickers all in a twist?

Dr. Pol is an Olde Tyme veterinarian of the worst sort whose son, a wannabe movie producer, convinced NatGeo to produce a show about his dad.
His dad, who has worked in veterinary medicine for better than 40 years, is a disgrace to the profession. Dr. Pol’s veterinary license is currently under suspension (temporary, but regardless) and to refer to his medicine as substandard is giving the term substandard a lot of credit.
Dr. Pol is popular because Dr. Pol is genuinely a nice guy and he genuinely seems to care about his patients.
But he also is genuinely working with medical practices and procedures that were acceptable, barely, a century ago, but are so far behind the times now that he could be referred to as practicing vivisection not medicine.
The show is popular because the viewing public likes shows about fluffy little animals and the viewing public doesn’t know that what the incredible Doc is doing is outdated and horrifying.

THAT’S what’s got my knickers all in a twist.

The petition drive was started by a friend of mine after she watched part of one episode when Dr. Pol removed the eyeball of a dog who had been hit by a car with nonsterile instruments, minimal anesthesia, no fluid or heat support, and no postoperative analgesia. No addressing of the dog’s metabolic status and shock BEFORE removing the eyeball either.

So every time the petition is signed an e-mail goes to the following people:
-six NatGeo perosnnel (spokesperson, management, production staff)
-AVMA CEO Ron DeHaven
-AVMA Animal Welfare division director Gail Golab
-the Michigan state board
-and the Orbitz advertising department, since they are a sponsor of the show

We’re hoping to start adding in pressure on other show sponsors, but that hasn’t quite gotten organized yet.

I’m not sure how successful the petition will be, but we’ve at least got to try.

7/7/2011

Who Thinks This Is A Good Idea….. Two

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 3:53 pm

Athletic gear manufacturer and sweat shop/child labor advocate Nike has re-signed Michael Vick to a doubtless obscene endorsement deal.
Nike originally signed Vick in 2001, but dropped him in 2007 after he admitted to charges of animal cruelty in regards to his involvement in dog fighting rings.

Now “rehabilitated” (I’ll not get into the morass of political ranting around the efficacy of the American prison system to rehabilitate convicts), Vick is becoming the face of one of the major producers of athletic gear in the U.S.

Great.

Someone convicted of one of the most vicious acts of cruelty that one species can inflict on another (and “rehabilitated” or no doesn’t matter. A tiger can’t change his stripes.) is now encouraging children to purchase some of the most obscenely expensive sneakers on the face of the planet (and some of the most obscenely profitable, by the way).

Michael Vick, role model. Wonderful.

Do me a favor y’all and don’t ever purchase anything produced by Nike.

6/16/2011

Who thinks this is a good idea?

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 7:13 am

HR 1406 is currently under the consideration of the Congressional & House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Sponsored by Utah Representative Jim Matheson The Fairness to Pet Owners Act involves regulating veterinary pharmaceuticals.
In essence, the bill as written states that, when prescribing medications for pets, veterinarians have to write a prescription for said medications even if the pet owner wishes to have the prescription filled at their veterinarian’s office.
Means that all pet owners have the ability to take advantage of the lower prices that the bigger human pharmacies can provide. Means that veterinary practices lose the income generated by their pharmacies, but it also means that veterinarians will have lower overhead (less stock in house), lower staff costs (don’t need so many people if prescriptions don’t have to be filled), and we can spend more of our time focusing on our patients.

All very well and good except for a couple of remarkably glaring things that are wrong, wrong, wrongity wrong.

1. The time I gain in not filling prescriptions for my patients will be taken up, and then some, writing scripts for the medications that my patients will need. To say nothing of the amount of money that I’ll have to spend getting the numbers of watermarked, non-reproducible prescription pads that this law will require me to have.

2. A good percentage (I can’t remember exact numbers at this immediate moment) of people with written prescriptions from their physicians don’t fill them with medications for themselves. I have enough problems with client and patient compliance with my medication recommendations already. I DON’T need my clients have to make another stop to have their pet’s meds filled.

3. Even if the client has medications filled for their pet AT THE VETERINARY OFFICE, we’d still be required to write a prescription. Um…. Doesn’t that mean that the client can have twice the amount of medication they’d need? If I fill a prescription for Xanax for separation anxiety for a patient and then the client goes off and gets the written prescription filled at the local drugstore…..

4. This is a biggie.
Pharmacy schools don’t teach anything, ANY! THING! about veterinary pharmacology. Human pharmacists are prone to wild disbelief when presented with prescriptions for something as simple as a thyroid supplement. An adult human (180-250 pounds) takes 0.15mg of thyroid supplement once daily. A 60 pound dog takes 0.6mg of thyroid supplement twice a day.
Cats die if you give them tylenol. Veterinarians are acutely aware of which narcotic analgesic products contain tylenol.
Xylitol in human liquid medications, the differences in metabolism of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in cats and dogs as compared to humans. The differences in metabolism of insulin in cats versus people. Antibiotics in rodents and rabbits. Horses and effervescence.
I don’t know one single veterinarian, and through my online contacts I know a LOT of veterinarians in a LOT of different countries, who doesn’t have at least one story about a patient getting the wrong medications, getting the wrong dose, or getting the wrong information about drug interactions from human pharmacies. Mostly due to ignorance on the part of the pharmacist or misinterpretation of prescription instructions based on their knowledge of human medications and human prescriptions. It’s innocent in many cases, but it’s deadly nonetheless.

Veterinarians have the appropriate knowledge base for safely medicating their patients. If pharmacy schools want to add another year or two of classes to their curriculum I’d be pleased to let the human pharmacists take over that part of my job. Until they do I don’t trust that the majority of human pharmacies are going to dispense the proper medications for my patients.
I’m not qualified to make recommendations and distribute information about medications for people. How is it that having a human pharmacist making recommendations and distributing information about medications for my patients is an okay thing?

And this brings us to
5. The way the bill is currently written, the veterinarian is liable if the wrong medication is dispensed or if the medication is incorrectly labeled.
What? I’m liable for the dispensing errors of someone that I don’t employ in a pharmacy that isn’t on my property? How does that make sense?

Finally
6. Rep. Matheson has sponsored the bill, but the bill was written in part by Wal Mart and 1-800-PET-MEDS. I’ve said my say about Wal Mart previously, but Pet Meds (known to those of us in the biz as PME) is one I’ve failed to comment on until now. PME purchases a lot of their drugs from grey markets. The pedigree of much of their medication (the paper trail between the manufacturer and the dispensary) can’t be traced. The drugs are less expensive, sure, but when you get drugs from PME you might be getting the drug your pet needs, or it could be baking soda attractively packaged in a grubby backyard in central America.

A lot of veterinarians won’t work with PME. I don’t. If I get a fax from PME with a prescription request from a client I’ll write a prescription for the medication (if the medication is needed and safe for the pet, that is). Where the client gets it filled is their business, but I always aim people to online or brick and mortar pharmacies that I trust. I know veterinarians who match prices for medications purchased from PME, even though they’re probably doing it at a loss, just so that they know that their patients are getting trustworthy medications.

I don’t know any veterinarian who won’t write a prescription for client to fill at a human pharmacy, regardless of the human pharmacy, so long as it’s a medication that the human pharmacies carry. What would be the point of refusing such a request?

The official position of the American Veterinary Medical Association can be found here. They’re a little less vitriolic than I am, but they have to be since they’re the political voice of veterinarians in the U.S. Me, I can rant as much as I like.

So the bill as it stands is foolish, a waste of time, dangerous, and serves only the interests of mega pharmacies who are currently starting to carry veterinary specific medications anyway. Would y’all please write your representatives?
And if you’re feeling especially prickly, fax Rep. Matheson a photocopy of your butt will you?

5/25/2011

“Dear KIRO TV….”

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 5:06 pm

Some background is necessary for this one.

About two years ago, I was walking out of a local grocery store when I was approached by a volunteer from an organization called Restoration House Ministries. They were soliciting donations of food, clothing and money to provide shelter for homeless families.

I told the woman who had approached me that I did not give money to folks soliciting in public unless I recognized their organization, and that I would have to go home and check them out online. I then asked her if Restoration House might have need for an older computer or two, as I had lots of friends and relatives who probably had outdated but serviceable computers they would be willing to donate. She said she thought that would be appreciated.

A month or so later I found myself with an older Dell computer that a friend had donated to the cause, and called the number from the flier that the volunteer had given me. I received a call back from the director, Herman Akins, who delightedly agreed to come and pick up the machine that evening.

Herman was good as his word, and arrived later that evening to pick up the computer on the way to another fundraising event. When I saw the look in Herman’s eyes—the pleasure and the gratitude—as he looked at what I had offered to him, I felt a mixture of gratification and shame. Gratification that I had done something to make someone else so happy, shame to know that we lived in a society where the director of a homeless outreach program could be so overwhelmed by the gift of a cast-off POS computer that nobody else wanted.

Since then I have provided Herman, his wife Delores, and their two organizations—Restoration House Ministries and Project Reach—with 5 or 6 computers, donated by friends, family members and neighbors and refurbished by me. Most of these are being used by volunteers for clerical work, both at the Akins’ home and at the Freedom Church in White Center. Our long-term goal is to create a small community computer center at the church, where local folks can come and learn to use word processors, send and receive email, surf the Web, print job listings or résumés….opportunities that are often in short supply in that area. In a middle-to-upper-class neighborhood like ours, it seems as though every third house has an old Pentium 4 PC in the garage or in an unused spare bedroom, just gathering dust because the owner doesn’t know how or where to get rid of it. Folks are very happy to know that their outdated PCs are going to a worthy cause.

Fast-forward—or would that be backward?—to the Saturday before last. While installing another PC out at the church, Herman took me aside and told me that someone from KIRO 7 Eyewitness News had contacted him, inviting him to come in for an interview to give his side of the story on a report they were putting together. He was obviously a little shaken by the prospect. I told him that I would be happy to provide a character reference if he thought that would help, perhaps in the form of a letter. He gratefully accepted my offer.

Later that week, I was contacted by Amy Clancy, Consumer Investigative Reporter for KIRO TV. She asked me a few questions about the letter I wrote, and invited me to add anything I felt might be relevant to the report. Not being at all certain what the focus of the report would be, I didn’t have a lot to add. She also asked for permission to post my letter online, which I gave. She then invited me to watch the report on the Monday edition of Eyewitness News, after which we exchanged some pleasantries and hung up.

I watched the report online Tuesday morning, and was not at all pleased at what I saw. Here’s a link to the report, Victims May Never See Donations Gathered by Local ‘Charity’. If you have not yet seen the report, and plan on reading further, you should probably go take a look at it; I’ll wait.

After I watched the report, I watched it again. And again. then I sat down and composed the following email. I post it here in the hopes that at least some small portion of the people who saw the initial news report might come across this while Googling Herman Akins, Delores Akins or Project Reach for more information. I think a real injustice has been done to an organization that lives hand-to-mouth, and that probably cannot survive an extended period of unearned ill will in the community.

 

To: Amy Clancy
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News

Hello Ms. Clancy,

I wanted to offer some input on your piece about Project Reach, This is Andrew, by the way; I wrote the letter in support of Herman and Delores that mentioned computers.

I was rather disappointed with your report on KIRO 7 Eyewitness News about Project Reach. It struck me as pretty solidly biased against Herman and Delores Akins and their work. For a report two years in the making, there didn’t appear to be a lot of actual fact-based evidence against the Akinses or Project Reach. Instead, the report seemed mostly to use the medium of television to concatenate a scandal out of a vapor of innuendo and hearsay.

Some points, in order of their appearance:

  • From the lead-in: “Many of the area’s best-known non-profits believe donations gathered by an organization called Project Reach don’t necessarily go towards domestic violence victims…” Actually, from what you put on the air, the total number of non-profits that believe this to be the case is two: CADA and DVS. Two organizations that might, in theory, have an axe to grind with Project Reach because of the perception that the latter is encroaching upon their “territory”. Unless you include New Beginnings, whom you did not report as having done anything other than deny a connection between themselves and Project Reach. When did two organizations officially become “many”? Furthermore, how did two organizations from relatively small, outlying communities become “Many of the area’s best-known”? If you have a substantial list of area non-profits that have called the work of Project Reach into question, why didn’t you mention them on the air?
  • My unalloyed sympathy for her aside, there was simply no point whatsoever in showing the anonymous domestic violence victim at the beginning of your report. This woman had not been personally hurt by Project Reach in any way, so her feelings on the subject of their activity in the area were no more or less valid than those of any other Oak Harbor resident you could have interviewed, say, in front of the Wal-Mart where the confrontation between CADA’s Margie Porter and the Project Reach volunteers occurred. But had you done so, you might not have had the opportunity to show that unfortunate woman’s quavering-voiced silhouette. A powerful image—and one that pulls at the heart strings—but not actually relevant to the question of whether Project Reach is misusing the donations it collects, which is after all the presumed focus of the report.
  • Regarding the issue of other organizations’ names listed on Project Reach’s materials: as explained to me by Herman, that list of names was put out to show other organizations that folks could turn to for help. That’s why the paper read “RESOURCES / REFERRALS” across the top. Certainly, if the paper had read “PROUDLY ENODRSED BY THESE ORGANIZATIONS”, I would assume that you would have shown that on the air. To the contrary, at one point you show the piece of paper in its entirety, and at the bottom in large bold letters is a disclaimer plainly stating that the listed agencies and organizations are not affiliated with Project Reach. But one would only be likely to read that part if one paused the video, as I did. Even given what you chose to show on the air, the worst that list of names should have indicated to the viewer would be the crime of bad spelling, and even that could be blamed on rogue spell-check software.
  • The claim made by Porter that, upon being asked if the funds collected by Project Reach at the Oak Harbor Wal-Mart would stay in Oak Harbor, Delores Akins said, “Well if you come back tonight I’ll give you some”. Assuming this actually happened, this statement is, in and of itself, completely neutral. Delores could have easily meant, “we appreciate and value what you do in this community and would be happy to make a donation”. But Porter’s—and by association, KIRO’s—interpretation is, “I’ll cut you in on the scam”. Presumably, had Delores actually said anything of the sort, Porter would have said so, and you would have reported it.
  • Addie Schille’s claim that the person answering the phone at project Reach asked “Where did you get this number?”. I’ll stipulate that “where did you get this number” Might not be the absolute best, cutting-edge-crisis-intervention-theory way to begin a call of this sort, but it is hardly by definition the cynical scam-in-the-making opening line that Schille makes it out to be on camera. I can imagine a lot of good reasons to start such a conversation that way. And certainly, Schille’s report that she heard “the woman” in the background urging the person on the other end of the line to get her phone number would seem a totally reasonable and strategically practical start to a phone call with someone who could be in jeopardy and who might possibly be forced to hang up at any time. But compared to a warm and matronly, “Are you safe?”, stripped of context and without any other data upon which to draw, it paints Project Reach in a bad light with very little in the way of facts to back it up.
  • As does the seemingly gratuitous use of that less-than-complimentary picture of Delores Akins looking up at the photographer outside of the Kennewick Wal-Mart. Perhaps it was necessary to use that photo because it was the only one taken that day that clearly showed Delores’ face. But you used it at least five separate times; I counted. It’s hard to tell the exact number because you dissolved from a medium shot to a closeup on a couple of occasions, but five seems like a decent estimate.
  • The claims by Porter and Abken that members of Project Reach were seen “giving out receipts for tax purposes”. Surely you are aware that many charities that are not tax-exempt 501(c)(3)s give receipts to people furnishing them with donations? Receipts are a typical component of modern transactions in which things of value are exchanged, be they groceries, pedicures or charitable donations. Neither party is reported as saying that they heard anyone from Project Reach actually tell a contributor that the receipt was for a tax deduction. By all appearances, this “fact” was simply inferred. But following the video where Abken makes this inference, you jump to the Charities Program Manager Rebecca Sherrell, asking her what amounts to a hypothetical question about an unsubstantiated claim. Taken in toto, this leaves the viewer with the impression that you have actually caught members of Project Reach breaking state law.
  • For all that this was an in-depth report on the activities of the “alleged ringleader” of a scam, and that said “ringleader” was willing to come down to your studio and speak to you in person, Herman was given, by my count, one minute and forty seconds of video in which to make his case. A great deal of which was given over to earnest and evocative but not particularly meaty prose. Herman may well have been a bit overwhelmed by the circumstances of the interview, and may have not explained himself perfectly, and I attribute some of what you showed in your report to that. Certainly, he did a much better job of elaborating when I spoke to him over the phone than what I saw of him on camera. But I also suspect that your interview was edited to make him appear more confused and evasive, because that better fit the narrative you had already constructed in the preceding eight minutes of video.
  • Finally—and while hardly chief among my issues with the report, this really got my goat—whoever KIRO TV appointed to scan and post my and other community members’ letters in support of Project Reach online did a stupendously unprofessional job of it. The letters were scanned extremely crookedly; they were also scanned in bitmap (black-and-white) mode, with a very high threshold, so that many of the letterheads and logos were lost and, in the case of the hand-written letter, the text was all but unreadable. This made neither the letter writers nor the clerical staff of KIRO TV look very good. We all took the time out of our busy schedules to write letters of endorsement for a cause we believe in; it would seem only fair that KIRO TV take the miniscule amount of time necessary to present our letters in as good a condition as they were provided to you.

While it is obvious that I was not a big fan of your report, I do appreciate you taking the time to contact me the other day prior to its airing, and also your time in reading this letter.

 

Regards,
Andrew Lenzer

4/27/2011

Wow! Pass the brain bleach please!

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 6:37 pm

Not really ranting about work per se, more about people in general, but people in general with whom I would not have interacted UNLESS I’d been at work, so I guess this is a work related rant. Sorry about that.

And I’m sorry about the shotgun commas. I never was very good at punctuation.

What on earth would possess someone to tell an almost complete stranger on the other end of the phone that she was naked?

Seriously!

I was on the phone with a client the other day talking to her about a prescription that I was going to have filled for her through our online pharmacy. She KNEW I was talking about our online pharmacy because we’d just finished talking about the previous prescription I’d filled for her dog through our online pharmacy.
And I quote: “Well I’m naked right now so I’m just going to get dressed and then I’ll call you right back.”
😯

So a: Why did her being naked have ANYthing to do with whether or not she could talk to me on the phone?
and
b: WHY DIDN’T SHE JUST SAY “Gosh! I’m busy right now, can you give me a few minutes and I’ll call you back?” ?!
HELLO? SOCIAL FILTER?!!
and
c: If she were naked and she knew that she couldn’t talk on the phone while she was naked (why not? but that’s another question.) WHY’D SHE PICK UP IN THE FIRST PLACE?! I know she’s got an answering machine, I’ve talked to it often. I prefer talking to her machine than talking to her.

That was an image that just I did not need.

And the second doozy of the week…..

Guy presents me with his very itchy, very badly affected with bacterial dermatitis, dog. I did my exam, took some samples from the dog’s ears then excused myself to look at the goo samples under the microscope.
I came back to the exam room with my microscopic findings (bacterial ottis externa too, what a surprise!) to find him vigorously scratching the dog’s back for her. She was enjoying the scratching and curved herself into a big C shape so he could more effectively scratch at the base of her tail.
I said to the dog “Ooo! The butt scratches are pretty good, huh Sheba?” (name changed to protect the innocent)
and the client replied:
“Yeah, she’s always liked her butt scratched. ‘Course, I enjoy getting my butt scratched too!”

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
-> ! <- I guess I'm lucky. I've never had anyone drop trou at me (and I do know many veterinarians who have had clients bare their all at them for one reason or another), but really.... Did I NEED to know that? REALLY?! I've had people pee on the floor, we had someone poop on the floor at 5 Corners, I had one frighteningly crazy woman scratching her GIGANTIC ringworm lesions against the walls and the table in my exam room. But in terms of flat out gross, learning that this -oh mid 60s-ish - guy likes to have his butt scratched...... I did not need to know that. If there were a barfing smiley I'd be putting that in here about now. I really do wonder about people sometimes.

4/12/2011

Rejoice!

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 6:20 pm

I swear I’ll find something else to talk about besides work (at least one of these days), but this one was so blatant that I couldn’t *not* share it.

I was going to make a connection between the miracle of the loaves and fishes, but considering the nature of the miracle I think it’s far more of a “the lamp burned for eight days with oil only for one” type miracle so I’m giving credit for this one to the Jews rather than Jesus.

I’ve never really had a good head for numbers so I might, just might, be wrong on this one. Y’all check my math for me.

There are 365 days in a year.
There are two years between 12/8/08 and 12/8/10. That would be 730 days right?

Add…hmm… lessee…. 23 days left in December, 31 days in January, 27 in February, 31 in March, and 12 so far in April……
Add another 124 days.

So 730 plus 124 is…. 854 days. I think I did the math correctly there.

So can someone explain to me how, when I prescribed two months worth of thyroid medication (that’s 120 pills) for a dog in December of 2008, the owner can look at me with a straight face and tell me that they’ve been giving the medication as directed and they’re only just running out now?

It’s gotta be a miracle, right?

12/6/2010

“Dear 60 Minutes….”

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:36 am

Truly an ensemble performance for the Sunday, December 5 show, gang. One third of the program dedicated to an interview with the chairman of the Federal Reserve about the flagging US economy, the remaining two thirds spent on an interview with the founder of Facebook. Nice to see that CBS News has its priorities straight. 🙄

12/2/2010

What the hell is WRONG with people?!

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 5:01 pm

Okay, I promise I’ll find something to write about besides work at some point real soon, but for now just take it for granted that I REALLY need a vacation. Or a chill pill. Or a big fat drink or something.

So for the last six weeks or so I’ve been seeing this woman, a client who’d been in a few times before this, whose dog was just not right. Nothing specific, nothing that we could really put our fingers on as “THIS IS THE PROBLEM”, just not right.
Physical exams unremarkable. Bloodwork, urinalysis unremarkable.
The dog has been getting progressively worse. Energy levels dropping, appetite dropping. I’ve spent a LOT of time on the phone with this woman.
And I’ve spent a lot of time trying to work her into my schedule. The woman was having issues getting to us and several times I double booked myself, stretched my schedule, cut into my chart and phone time just to find a time when we could see her and her dog. And sometimes she’d show up and sometimes she wouldn’t.
And the dog has been getting progressively worse.

I finally, FINALLY talked her into letting me take x-rays of the dog two days ago. The dog looked like ass by that point. She hadn’t been eating, her abdomen was grossly distended (a relatively new development), and she’d developed edema along her back legs and her abdomen and chest –dependent edema.
The radiographs, of course, looked like ASS.
Lots of free fluid in the abdomen, a big SOMETHING in the left quadrant of the abdomen, moderate fluid in the chest.
I showed the owner the images and discussed our options. There were three.
Euthanasia.
Referral for abdominal ultrasound to better define the big SOMETHING to see if it were a resectable SOMETHING or
Exploratory surgery.

Understandably the owner was upset. I talked her through the possibilities of what the SOMETHING could be. Best guess was a liver or splenic mass, but with the radiographs I just couldn’t tell. If it were a splenic mass the SOMETHING could potentially be removed if there weren’t complications elsewhere, but again, with just from the radiographic images I simply couldn’t tell her more.
Having discussions like this I’m always quite up front about the possibility that even if we do the advanced diagnostics to find out what we’re dealing with the answer may be that we might find something we can’t do anything about. I told the owner that if she opted for ultrasound (the best option as the dog was a crappy surgical candidate) she’d have to take the risk that the ultrasound would find something that was non-resectable and that she’d have to choose euthanasia anyway.
Didn’t by any means hold a gun to her head and tell her she HAD to get an ultrasound. Referral to the internist for an ultrasound ain’t cheap and I’m fully aware that my medical recommendations have to be tempered by what people will pay for. I don’t make the decisions, I offer options and facilitate getting things done depending on what option the owner chooses.

So the owner chooses to have an ultrasound done. I pulled some strings and got a short list appointment for the dog yesterday. Report from the internist was on my desk this morning. The SOMETHING was a 5 x 5cm mass in the liver with probable involvement of the gall bladder and spleen.
Well that sucks.

But it wasn’t completely unexpected, at least not on my part. At this point in my career I’ve seen enough that I have that little voice inside my head that says “THIS IS NOT GOING TO TURN OUT WELL”. The internist recommended euthanasia and the owner concurred.

The owner called today to make a euthanasia appointment for tomorrow. Was told the charges for the euthanasia, we like to tell people that up front so that they don’t have to deal the charges when they come in for the euthanasia. Owner was perfectly fine with that.

The owner called up about two hours later PISSED OFF. Ranting that she’d talked with her sister and the amount of money we’d quoted her for the euthanasia was completely unreasonable, she could have the euthanasia done elsewhere much cheaper and we were just trying to squeeze as much money, that she didn’t have, out of her before we killed her dog.
Cancelled her euthanasia appointment.

Okay, I’ve read Elizabeth Kubler-Ross just like everyone else with an undergraduate degree from a liberal arts college. I know that the woman is going through the first stages of a natural grieving process, but I’ve just got to say…

DAMN BITCH!
I’ve spent the last six weeks bending over backwards for her, we let her walk the other day still owing us $75 because when she brought the dog in to have the x-rays done she “forgot” her purse and only had a small amount of cash in her purse. We told her not to worry about it that she could pay us later and that our biggest concern at that point was getting her dog seen and treated appropriately as soon as possible.

I guess my mamma just taught me right. When I know that someone’s gone out of their way for me I try not to insult them.

I feel better now.

5/5/2010

The Fox and the Hound

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:44 pm

We’re not huge local network news watchers, and as unlikely as we are to sit down to a half-hour of taste-ish News McNuggets served up by any of the Big Three, we are about a grillionth as likely to belly up to a steaming plate of Q13 Fox News, the pig-nostril fajita of local current events coverage. But Margaret had a double-handful of snakes while I was cleaning their tank, and she didn’t have ready access to the remote.

So she and I were treated to a peach of a human interest story on Fox about a Seattle Air Force veteran who has run afoul of law enforcement at his local Veterans Affairs hospital, where he goes for treatment for his PTSD. From the lead-in:

SEATTLE – He served his country in the Air Force, fought in both Gulf Wars and now suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. His life changed for the better when he got medical help and a service dog, named Rescue. But, now this Iraq vet says he’s in the doghouse with the Seattle Veterans Affairs Hospital over the 6-year-old chocolate lab.

Randy Tobler is aided with his PTSD by his service dog, who accompanies him to his regular therapy sessions at the VA. This is not the problem that got Tobler “in the doghouse”; service animals are welcome at the hospital. The problem is that, for some reason, Tobler insists on having his dog accompany him without benefit of a leash.

Let’s be clear: nobody, including the VA, including me, wants to force this guy to attend his therapy sessions without his faithful hound. The dog is a service animal: it fulfills a clear therapeutic function for him. But we should all bear in mind that we are talking about, for lack of a better term, a dog. And in the city of Seattle, dogs are required to be on a leash.

There are really, really good reasons for this law, that go far beyond allowing the jack-booted thugs at the VA to push innocent patients around for their own sick amusement. Like every other dog on the face of the planet, service dogs come in all shapes, sizes, temperaments and levels of training. Just slapping a nylon vest on a mutt does not make it an antiseptic, perfectly controlled servomechanism that can be left to its own devices. Dogs run the gamut of qualities: from gregarious, impulsive and curious, all the way through unsanitary, aggressive and dangerous. This is why they aren’t allowed off-leash in Seattle grocery stores, let alone hospitals.

Dogs are dependent upon their owners not only for their social cues, but for the mediation of their physical behavior. That’s pretty much the distillation of the difference between adult human beings and other animals. They are not held responsible for their actions; we are. And society—at least Seattle society—has decreed that citizens are not required to leave their personal safety and comfort to chance in the presence of other people’s pets in public areas.

One of the things that drove both Margaret and I so completely nuts about this piece was the fact that, at no point was the question asked of Tobler that both of us deemed to central to the controversy, namely: what is it about the prospect of putting your dog on a leash when you go to therapy that is so fucking detrimental to your mental and emotional well-being? I’m super cereal here: neither of us can come up with anything remotely like a reasonable explanation for this. Despite his no-doubt debilitating condition (for which I feel the government should spare virtually no expense in treatment), Tobler is not physically disabled. He does not have pronounced loss of motor function. Rescue the chocolate lab is not fetching him drinks of water or answering the door for him. However severe the injuries he suffered in service to his country, Tobler does not require an untethered service animal to help him to manipulate or maneuver through his environment. And this being the case, there seems to be no rational reason why his dog needs to be free to roam the campus of his local VA hospital, any more than he should be free to roam the aisles of his local Safeway.

And without this crucial justification, Mr. Tobler’s defiance of what appears to be a perfectly reasonable prohibition begins to look less like a personal stand against the forces of darkness and more like a temper tantrum. I can’t come up with any viable physiological/medical/ethical justification for his action in this particular case. On the other hand, I only have to go as far as my local public park to see lots of examples of what thoughtless, selfish, uncaring dog owners are willing to force their fellow citizens to put up with, to the detriment of everything from their shoes to their limbs and, on occasion, their very lives.

Also from the article:

“I have yet to see a policy of the VA that says service dogs need to be on a leash, until I see that I’m not violating any rules or regulations, breaking any laws,” said Tobler.

And later,

Randy says his last few visits have actually been a lot quieter. But, he says until someone shows him something in writing, “Rescue” will stay at his side without his leash.

“Don’t bother me, I’m not bothering you. I’m here for treatment, I’m here to help myself, helping myself helps society,” said Tobler.

Of course I’m probably not getting the entire story (Entire Story divided by Local Media minus Fox Affiliate equals *ptooey*), but given that what little grist the viewer was given to mill was geared radically towards the side of sympathy for Mr. Tobler, it’s hard to imagine that anything that would give more weight to his side of the issue was left on the cutting room floor. As a result, I’m not in too grave a fear for my immortal soul when I opine that the above quotes don’t show this guy in the best light. If you took “disabled veteran” out of the narrative, what you would have left would basically be a guy who wants to defy city law and common courtesy in the name of his “rights”. You can imagine a similar argument from the guy with the backyard pen full of dogs that bark all night, or the yard full of rusty cars that leak oil into the neighbors’ ground water, or the passel of teenagers who tear down residential streets at homicidal speeds. Fuck you, I know my rights, you can’t prove anything, show me the law what sez I can’t.

The article concludes with mention that the VA hospital is officially codifying their requirement that service animals be on a leash at all times. I can only hope that Mr. Tobler will comply with this perfectly reasonable request so that he may continue to receive treatment there. That’s a right I wouldn’t ever dream of denying him.

5/6/2009

Well, That Was Interesting

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:44 pm

Had me a bit of an experience at work the other day, and I thought ‘d commit it to disk here so that others possibly trawling teh InterTubes looking for answers to a similar problem might come across my words and derive some edification therefrom.

Last week I took it upon myself to build a Virtual Machine server for our office. We have more than a few folks—myself included—who need to be able to tie into our office system from home or abroad. For lots of applications, VPN works just fine. However, when it comes to running our order-fulfillment software, a VPN tunnel just won’t cut it. You can’t run a piece of ‘ware that is at its heart a database-hashing program over a cable or DSL Internet connection, with the database itself on one side of a long string of hops and the client on the other. Not unless you want to take a time-out to go make a sandwich between every minor step in the process. No, for this sort of thing, Remote Desktop is the way to go; you fire up a VPN tunnel, launch the remote desktop client, and you can connect to and control a PC at work as though you were right there in the building. It’s like you never left work at all! 🙄

Thing is, in this age of 500-dollar supercomputers, it doesn’t make sense to build and maintain five extra computers just for people to hook into from home. Not when you can build one computer and have it host five virtual machines instead.

When I started this project I originally planned to run the beast using Citrix’s free XenServer, which is an operating system and virtual server package for 64-bit computers all rolled into one. But since everything in our whole damned office runs on Microsoft software, sticking with the more plain-Jane but also free Microsoft Virtual PC, running on a Windows OS. Likely not as fast, definitely not as exhilarating, but at least I’m fully familiar with all the components, and am not likely to run into any surprises.

Remember that last line, would you? That’s what we writer types like to call “foreshadowing”.

So I toodled on down to my favorite local computer store and picked up a nice spirghtly motherboard and processor, four 2-gigabyte sticks of RAM, and a hard drive to stuff into a spare server case I had sitting around. My first choice for an operating system was Windows XP Pro x64 because it can handle the 8 gigabytes of RAM (32-bit XP can only recognize 4 gigs), but they no longer carry the 64-bit version, having fairly little call for it. The closest thing they had was Windows Vista Business x64. I’d worked with Vista a bit in the last 6 months or so and had found it to be not entirely horrifying, so I figured I’d give Vista Business a try. It was that or waylay the whole project by at least 24 hours.

The install went off without a hitch—Microsoft has really improved the setup process over the days of XP—and a number of hours later I had a fully-functional Vista computer running three (to start) independant Windows XP virtual workstations. All that remained was to slot it into place in our server rack at work and fire it up.

Recall that word I told you to remember earlier….?

Connecting the computer to our domain controller went like butter. Everything was fine….for about five minutes. I had to reboot the machine after joining the domain, and shortly after coming back up, the activity lights on our switches were flashing almost solid yellow. Some piece of network equipment was shrieking volumes of unintelligible gobbledygook into our network, causing all other network conversations—like the ones between all of our clients and our servers—to fail to be heard. Of course, I had a pretty good idea what piece of equipment was responsible, and pulled the Ethernet jacks out of the network ports on the back of the new computer.

The shrieking did not go away.

Frantically, I and David the network guru searched for the source of the problem, or at least the other half, since the incident was almost certainly initiated by the new VM server even if it were no longer capable of perpetuating it. It was David who thought to try taking down the cheap civilian router that manages our guest wireless connections (it’s a little surprising how many network crises can be solved, at least temporarily, by removing one router in a dual-router environment) and the feces-fusillade ground to a halt. Keep the router off and everything was fine, even with the new computer wired into the network. Plug the router back in and everything went to Sheol in a satchel, even if you then removed the computer from the network.

We looked at the usual suspects in multi-router setups: no multiple DHCP servers, no weird NAT traversals, etc. Nothing seemed to be out of place. However, while poring over the router’s settings, I noticed that UPnP was enabled. I disabled it, and voila, the problem disappeared.

Universal Plug and Play is supposed to help various network devices, including computers, talk to and work with each other. In my limited experience, UPnP does little more than help network devices to fail faster and more spectacularly than they would be able to otherwise. You are reading my newest case in point.

Like other pipe dreams of zero-config, UPnP generates a lot of “chatter”, conversations of varying levels of usefulness between two or more devices on the network. In my case above, that conversation took place between our new Vista Business workstation and the guest wireless router, and would seem to have gone something like, “Hey any UPnP devices out there Yeah I’m a UPnP device how about you Yes in fact I am a UPnP device but what about you Oh you betcha I’m a UPnP device and how about yourself Oh indeedy I’m a UPnP device are you Oh hellzyeahI’maUPnPdeviceareyouYesIambutareyouYourFucking-AIamandhowaboutyouaaaaaaaaAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH….” On and on, growing ever more frenetic, until the two devices were for all intents and purposes executing a Denial of Service attack against our network.

It’s like a TCP/IP version of those pointless, crazy-making round-robin conversations that take place between every dog in a given municipality on many a summer night: “Hey I’m a dog are you a dog Yeah I’m a dog are you a dog Yeah I’m a dog what about you over there are you a dog Yeah I’m a dog what about you three over there are you dogs Yeahwethreearedogsareyou twentyeightovertheredogsYEAHWE’REALLDOGS—“

Turns out there’s a reason why this technology is often referred to as “Plug and Pray”. Though “Plug and Scream Obscenities While Clawing Your Eyes Out of Your Skull to Relieve the Pressure of Your Exploding Neocortex” would also apply.

9/17/2008

If Only I Were Smarter

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 3:20 pm

….I might be able to do more than stare at my 401(k) statement and whimper. But I ain’t, so I just tell myself that this particular trough will smooth out over the next 20 or 25 years and I’ll end up sitting on the front stoop in my adirondack chair, sipping a microbrew and reminiscing about the Big Scare of Ought Eight. That is, assuming that the entirety of the retail financial sector has not been acquired in receivership by the US government or absorbed into Wal-Mart Worldwide Financial by then, and I’m actually sitting in a shallow tank of support brine keeping my brain alive because all of my organs have been harvested to pay our property taxes.

Being a medium-grade ignoramus about the economy, I have to more or less take my government at its word when it funnels 85 billion dollars into a pack of avaricious, idiotic nest-wetting carrion feeders like AIG because failure to do so would cause the worldwide financial market to suffer untold damage. After all, the collapse of the world’s largest insurance entity can’t be a good thing for anyone affiliated with it, which from the reports coming out sounds like it might include half the mammalian biomass of the planet and maybe a few million echinoderms as well. And as it stands, having the government hold an equity stake in the doings of a struggling financial behemoth does not seem to be such a bad move. Almost as good a move as it would have been to have a GOD DAMN REGULATORY INFRASTRUCTURE WITH SOME FUCKING TEETH IN IT TO KEEP COMPANIES LIKE AIG FROM SELLING ALL THOSE SUICIDAL MORTGAGE BACKED SECURITIES PROTECTION POLICIES IN THE FIRST PLACE—but, I digress. All dollars under the bridge now. Millions and millions and millions of dollars.

But it all seems so weird; when exactly did it become sound fiscal policy to deny a safety net for individuals for making stupid mistakes yet bail out huge companies for making mind-blowingly huge, earth-shatteringly stupid mistakes? Imagine if the US government had dedicated 85 billion clams towards mortgage relief for homeowners. It would have accomplished the same end result: mortgages wouldn’t have gone into default, so the mortgage-backed securities would have remained solvent. So the dipshit insurance companies who protected those securities with policies wouldn’t have lost their shorts. In fact, that way might have been a whole hell of a lot simpler, even potentially a lot better for the economy as a whole. Keeping homeowners in their homes would have provided aid for every rung on that rickety ladder instead of just those hanging by their nails from the brass ring.

But no: giving money to a desperate homeowner is a handout. Worse yet, it’s rewarding irresponsibility. Not to mention the potential for fraud involved in cutting checks to thousands of individuals whose mortgages are in the ICU. Oh sure, it may not sound as fraudulent as, say, giving the asshole who drove the largest insurance company into the ground a $1 million annual salary, plus $4–$8 million in annual performance bonuses, $13 million annually in long-term incentive pay and a one-time $24.5 million stock package (which admittedly must have taken a pretty big hit in the last few days)….but remember, these people failed to show financial common sense! For the love of bailouts, where’s the accountability?

Quick: what’s dumber than taking on a mortgage you can’t possibly afford? Offering mortgages that people can’t possibly afford. And what’s dumber than offering mortgages that people can’t possibly afford? Offering investment products based on companies offering mortgages that people can’t possibly afford! And now, for the $85 billion grand prize: what’s dumber than offering investment products based on companies offering mortgages that people can’t possibly afford? You guessed it! Offering INSURANCE POLICIES on investment products based on companies offering mortgages that people can’t possibly afford!

[What could possibly be dumber than all that? One might reasonably assume it would be offering a bailout of the provider of insurance policies on investment products based on companies offering mortgages that people can’t possibly afford. But frankly, any dumber and you’d probably have to be watered twice a day.]

I’ll admit that the idea of letting AIG fall completely to pieces does not appeal to me. But using billions in treasure we do not have to keep it afloat—to all but admit that some institutions are too big to allow to crumble, no matter how insane and out of touch they seem—is very disturbing. It’s like….well, to be frank, it’s like being too large a nation on too wack a mission for anyone else in the world to prevent. It’s like sinking all of your money and effort into a big institution (or incursion) while ignoring the little guy. You know, the guy hiding in a cave.

It’s all very unsettling and very, very familiar.

I’m not quite ready to invest in mattress-backed securities yet, but I am regularly checking the market value of my corneas.

8/5/2008

Me=Enmity2

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:46 am

This week Margaret and I are burning off a few vacation hours that we would otherwise not have the time to use. We spent all of our travel budget this year on home improvements, so if we want to take a trip to an exotic locale we have to go sit in our new shower. No biggie: while we love going places other than our home, we also love just sitting around enjoying each other’s company, reading books, watching movies, and serving as slow-moving jungle gyms for our new kittens as they carom throughout the house. Anyway, so if posts are kind of thin, it’s because I’m not turning on the computer quite so much this week. Now on to the festivities.

While we were down in Olympia last week Margaret and I stopped in at Bagel Brothers, a quite-respectable bagel joint in the area, for lunch. Bagel Brothers isn’t a hard-core Jewish deli style bagel place—any comestabulary that offers Cheesy Jalapeno bagels is a bit too goy for that—but they also do not offer, in the parlance of my father-in-law, “round bread”. You know; those puffy, fluffy counterfeit bagels you get at the majority of the chain places or at the grocery store. And they’re a local business, which of course we prefer to support.

This particular Bagel Brothers—okay, the only Bagel Brothers—sits next to one of Washington’s state-run liquor stores. The relevance of this will become apparent in a moment.

As we sat munching our lunches—Margaret a roast beef and pesto and me a bagel with a schmear—an older, overweight man with a red face walked through the door. He sauntered over to the soda fountain, grabbed one of the paper cups used for water, filled it with ice from the fountain, and walked back out the door.

It took perhaps thirty seconds for the scenario to truly register with me….right around the time I remembered the flattish, rectangular brown-paper-bag-wrapped package tucked in the crook of his flabby arm.

This human hemorrhoid had just picked up a fifth of some form of liquor at the package store, then walked into the mom ‘n pop eatery next door to steal a cup of ice so he could go enjoy his refreshing beverage on the rocks. After which, no doubt, he would return via car to his job as a Kindergarten bus driver.

I got up and headed out the door, intending to perhaps confront the man, to at least use my phone to take pictures of his license plate and report him to the police. Sadly my logy neurological pathways had kept me in my seat long enough for him to make his getaway, either on foot or in that presumptive motor vehicle that had now become a loaded weapon.

At that moment I truly hated, hated this man. From the callous inconsideration of his petty theft, through the crushing personal and public burden of his obvious addiction, to the potentially life-endangering felony of his driving under the influence, I wanted nothing more than for him to be obliterated, flensed from the Earth. His hopes, his fears, his sicknesses—none of it mattered; excise him whole and cast him into the void like so much infectious waste. Quickly, before he metastasizes, further jeopardizing the health of the whole.

Of course this was as much a statement of my feelings of impotence and inadequacy for failing to react in time as it was anything about him; I’m not blind to that. But the feeling, much reduced but still potent, endures.

In reflecting on it later, I was forced to come to the somewhat exasperating conclusion that the reason I hated him so much was due to his obvious and all-encompassing lack of consideration for his fellow human beings.

Let’s go over that again, shall we? I hated this man for not loving his fellow Man.

Philosophical and epistemological musings on the subject aside, what I really needed was a term for this sort of sentiment. It took a good half a week to come up with one I thought fit the bill, a kind of doubling-up and folding-over of the concept of hatred of hatred: misanthropistpy.

Better still, a person who practices misanthropistpy is….drumroll please….a misanthropistpist.

I’m particularly pleased with that aspect of the neologism, with its double helping of “pist”. Double-pist is exactly how I felt that day.

7/30/2008

God Damn You, JC Penny….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:03 am

I suppose that if I had actually liked The Breakfast Club, I would be even more resentful about this. As it is, this just makes me feel really, really old. Ancient. Archaic, even.

Fuckin’ JC Penny….get offa my lawn!

7/26/2008

Thanks John, You Make It Easier Every Time You Open Your Mouth

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:23 pm

John McCain needs better handlers. That, or longer naps. Just about everything that has fallen out of his politics-hole in the past few weeks has just made his opponent look that much better.

He did it again today during a radio address to the nation, lambasting Obama for advocating an increase in troops deployed to Afghanistan. He accused Obama of being wishy-washy on the current conflict(s):

“My opponent advocates the deployment of two new combat brigades to Afghanistan; in other words, a surge. We’ll have to wonder how he can deny that the surge in Iraq has succeeded, while at the same time announcing that a surge is what we need in Afghanistan.”

This is, McCain said with much gravity, “not the kind of judgment we seek in a commander-in-chief.”

Oh, absolutely, John. We certainly wouldn’t want someone at the helm who thought there might be a difference between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We wouldn’t want to leave the reins of power in the hands of someone who might realize that Afghanistan is completely different—politically, strategically, historically, geographically, culturally and probably a few other -ally’s—from Iraq. And we sure at shit wouldn’t want to trust our nation’s security and perception in the world to someone who seems to realize that, unlike Iraq, the ruling powers in Afghanistan played a quantifiable role in abetting the attacks on American soil that sparked this whole conflict in the first place.

And if we don’t want a leader capable of making those distinctions, imagine the peril we’d be in if we allowed ourselves to be taken in by a person who might actually believe that a strategy that fails in one scenario might be successful in another? If we don’t elect someone utterly committed to stay the course at all costs—someone that simplistic, that ossified, that fucking stupid—to office, how will we ever manufacture the rationale needed to bring more of that good ol’ fashioned War-On-Terror-style peace and freedom to other imperiled nations of the world? Like Iran, say?

I guess that McCain and/or his machinery believes this kind of highly compartmentalized, alligator-brained thinking still resonates with a majority of the American public—or at least the American voting public. He lets this philosophy shine through in phrases like, “he would choose the path of retreat and failure for America over the path of success and victory”. Big, bold statements of conviction. Solid, immovable, slablike declarations, didactic monoliths, drawing a clear dividing line between him and Obama, Self and Other, Good and Evil, Black and Wh—well, Good and Evil.

Maybe he’s right, but I’d like to think that seven years of “You’re either ready to help us stick a boot up the ass of the rest of the world, or you eat aborted babies for breakfast” has left people a little more open to the idea of thinking stuff over before saying it into an Associated Press microphone, much less before mobilizing a few armored divisions to act on it. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

But personally, I appreciate Senator McCain’s candor, his willingness to speak his mind, and think he ought to do so whenever and wherever he feels he should. He’s making our guy’s job a lot easier.

5/21/2008

So Pretend You’ve Never Had Any Medical Training…..

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 11:18 pm

I know most of you are probably still wiping the laughter tears out of your eyes over the Kasparov video (I know I still am), but I thought I’d provide some clarification about my spoiler from earlier this week….. If for no other reason than it’ll save Dalek from going insane.

Matt and I play a game on occasion called “Pretend You’ve Never Had Any Medical Training” which is the code phrase we use to start a conversation with each other regarding our more interesting medical experiences. The above phrase generally translates into “Oh my GOD you wouldn’t believe the mouth breathing moron that I saw today!”
Although I really think he won the game about 10 years ago when he had a guy walk into the ER in Tacoma where he was working who hadn’t been able to pee for the previous 5 days. Not that this guy didn’t NEED to pee, you understand, it’s just that he COULDN’T. The dude claimed that around about the third day he had thought that there might be something wrong and maybe he should go to a doctor, but then he figured that he’d just wait another couple of days to see what would happen. (For the record what happens is that your kidneys fail and you end up in azotemic hyperkalemic shock, but that is beyond the point.)

ANYway, back to my story about the Veterinary Board of Governors.
So pretend you’ve never had any medical training.
On a Monday afternoon in early December we got a call from a silly woman who said that she had come home from work to find that her terrier bitch was whelping and that there was something green hanging out of the bitch’s vulva. It was 3:45 in the afternoon, we close and leave the building at 7. I had a full appointment schedule, the other on duty doctor had a full appointment schedule for the rest of the afternoon.
Our office manager took the call, came to us at our work stations to tell us what was going on and get our advice on what should be done.
Being as it was late in the day, being that we were both fully booked with appointments, being that WE’RE NOT AN EMERGENCY CLINIC, and it being likely that any bitch, regardless of whether or not she’s had previous litters, that starts having difficulties giving birth is very likely going to need emergency surgery……. We told the OM to tell the silly woman to go away. Not in so many words, you understand, we phrased it more like: “It sounds like the bitch will need surgery and since neither of us is available for the rest of the afternoon the owner should probably just take her into the local ER.” (with an undertone of “shoo, shoo, shoo! Hurry up! NOW!”). Also anything green involved in a prolonged whelping is a BAD sign so there’s more than a little urgency that enters into the case when “something green” is reported to us over the phone.
OM, who is also an experienced dog person and who has assisted at the whelping of more litters than I probably ever will, went back to the phone and told the silly woman to shoo, shoo, SHOO!
Silly Woman bitched, moaned, and complained about why we couldn’t just see the bitch and do an x-ray or something (um…. because it’s likely that the bitch will need surgery and we’re not equipped to do it in the THREE HOURS that we have left before close of business!). Silly Woman also whined about why Dr. Myboss wasn’t there and if Dr. Myboss were there SHE’D do the x-ray and why were we being so unreasonable. However, OM was firm that there wasn’t anything positive that we could or would do if she brought the dog here and finally Silly Woman agreed to take the bitch to the local ER.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning.
Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. Silly Woman’s husband showed up, unannounced, with the bitch in his arms. The bitch had still not produced any puppies, she was still straining, and there was still something green hanging out of her vulva.
In direct contrast to human labors, prolonged labor in a bitch is a VERY BAD THING. Usually if puppies aren’t born and the labor concluded within the space of 6-8 hours it’s game over for the puppies and a really bad prognosis for the bitch. Sadly, people who fancy themselves dog experts just because they can put two sexually intact dogs in a room together and watch them mate, never seem to do any actual research before they participate in this bestiality porn. It’s not uncommon for us to be presented with a bitch that has been in a prolonged labor and have the owner have no idea whatsoever that a 1, 2, or even (my highest number to date) a 4 day labor is FEROCIOUSLY UNUSUAL.
So far as we have been able to determine the bitch had been in active labor at that point for at least 24 hours. Bad. Very, Very BAD.

I was in surgery so it fell to Dr. Myboss to evaluate the bitch and provide Mr. Silly Woman with a treatment plan. She did so, and because I was doing procedures that day the bitch’s care fell to me. Dr. Myboss made it very obvious to Mr. Silly Woman that the bitch would need surgery, at this point the goal of the surgery was to save the life of the bitch and that the puppies were likely dead. Proceeding from that stance we were actually able to stabilize the bitch somewhat before taking her to surgery. This was a good thing because the bitch looked like gently chilled shit on a cracker. She was in shock, she was hypothermic (normal temp for a dog is 100-102.5F, the bitch read at 94F), hypotensive, and painful. We filled the bitch full of warm IV fluids, antibiotics, and pain medications, and buried her in warm blankets and hot water bottles. After 3 hours her body temp was up to 99F (not normal, but much better), her gums had gone from being a nasty grey color to a nicer, if pale, pink, and she wasn’t panting and straining anymore. Lovely. This is a patient who is much less likely to die on the surgery table.
The key to obstetric surgery is speed. You want your mamma shaved and scrubbed at least once before you anesthetize her, you want two surgeons (one to concentrate on mamma and one to deliver puppies) and you want at least one pair of hands per puppy to stimulate them, dry them, and get them breathing.
Honestly the surgery went well. We were expecting a uterus full of dead puppies, instead we got three live ones (including the one whose placenta had been the green thing hanging out of the bitch’s vulva). We spayed the bitch (I almost NEVER do a c-section without spaying at the same time. It’s one of my great joys to be able to charge people this sort of stupid tax), closed her, and discovered that she’d actually done fairly well under anesthesia. Granted the bitch was still hypotensive and hypothermic, but with proper support I was confident that she’d do okay.
It was 2 p.m.
I called Silly Woman, gave her an update and told her that she should show up to pick up the bitch and puppies as close to 7p.m. as she could.
We kept the bitch in a heated cage with warm IV fluids and she recovered well, if slowly, from anesthesia. She was even taking care of and nursing her puppies.
My one big mistake, and I admit there were some less big ones too, was that I didn’t tell Silly Woman that she had to take the dog to the local ER for overnight monitoring. Of course it wouldn’t have mattered if I had told her because she wouldn’t have done it anyway, but the point is moot. I should have recommended it and then documented that the owner declined.

Silly Woman and her husband show up to pick up their just whelped post surgical hypothermic bitch and her three newborn puppies with….. a sweatshirt.
This is December.
No blanket, no box, nothing at all to protect the four very vunerable creatures in their care from the FREEZING BLOODY OUTDOOR TEMPERATURES AND THE NASTY SPITTING RAIN. When told by my technician that she needed to monitor the bitch’s temperature closely Silly Woman said, and I quote “Oh, I don’t need to take her temperature with a thermometer, I can just put my hand on her forehead!”
We provided her with a box, blankets, and hot water bottles, crossed our fingers, and sent her home.

In her complaint to the Veterinary Board of Governors, Silly Woman claimed that the bitch “never recovered from anesthesia and died in my arms at midnight”. What we suspect is that Silly Woman took the bitch and the puppies home, put them in a crate overnight and got up the next morning to find the bitch dead. If the bitch was doing so poorly that she died at midnight, why didn’t Silly Woman call the number for the 24 HOUR EMERGENCY CLINIC that we had given her the night before, at some point before the bitch died? If the bitch had been that closely monitored that she died in the owner’s arms, don’t you think you’d notice that something was wrong BEFORE THEN?
Regardless of whether or not Silly Woman witnessed the bitch’s death at midnight, she didn’t let us know about it before 11:00 the next morning when she called to find out what she should be feeding the puppies.
In her complaint, Silly Woman also “[took] full responsibility for not taking the bitch to the emergency clinic the night before, but [I] refuse to take my animals anywhere where they will use scare tactics to force you to do things that you don’t think are necessary.” I worked at the ER that we referred her to and I’ve had, and have been witness to the same type of conversation that Silly Woman had with whomever she ended up with on the phone there. I know the gist of her end of the conversation was “I want you to do the c-section for my bitch, and oh by the way I don’t have any money.” Which would have gotten her the discussion about options for payment (they work with a credit company called Care Credit and if you don’t qualify for Care Credit you’re pretty much SOL) and when Silly Woman complained about their awful, evil policies and said that she’d just bring the bitch to us in the morning she was warned that waiting could have serious consequences on the health and life of the bitch and puppies. I KNOW that was the conversation she had with the ER, I’ve had the EXACT SAME conversation with god knows how many people.

Silly Woman filed her complaint with the Veterinary Board of Governors one week after the bitch died. She alleged that our care was negligent, that I discharged a patient that was not fully recovered from anesthesia (lie), that we shouldn’t call ourselves a “Veterinary Hospital” if we aren’t able to provide care 24 hours a day that we should call ourselves a “Veterinary Clinic” (what?), that she didn’t understand where it was that we got the idea that medicine is a 9 to 5 job and that if we were truly dedicated to animals like we SHOULD BE (her emphasis, not mine) that we would have seen the bitch on Monday and stayed open late just for her (oh, and not charged her for it by the way…..She didn’t actually say that, but that was implied. Pardon me for having a life, but that’s what the local 24 HOUR EMERGENCY CLINIC is for.), that all the patients of mine that she had seen discharged from the hospital that evening had all been so sedate they couldn’t walk (blatant lie), that I had been defensive and hurried when I went to speak with them before the bitch was discharged (Hurried? Yes. I had done 9 hours of surgery that day, had barely stopped to eat before seeing another 2 hours of appointments, I was exhausted and I wanted the hell OUT, so sue me. Defensive? That I’ll argue.) and a whole raft of additional hateful and mis-represented nonsense.

I have a friend who works in emergency medicine in Los Angeles. He claims that if you don’t get about one board complaint per year that you’re not practicing aggressive enough medicine. On the other hand he works in emergency medicine in Los Angeles. I can’t begin to imagine the crazies that he gets to see on a daily basis and I am so obscenely happy that I DON’T.
I’d never had a board complaint. I’ve been in practice for fourteen years and while I’ve had my share of loonies and while I’ve had my share of lawsuit threats and hate mail, no one had ever forced me into a review by my peers. Peers that I don’t know personally. Peers that have the power to remove my means of making a living. This is seriously scary shit folks.
First I was pissed. Then I was scared. Then I was pissed again.
Then I called my liability insurance carrier and had them hook me up with a lawyer who works exclusively in their license defense department. The lawyer took me through the process, gave me advice on what, and more importantly what NOT, to write in my response to her complaint. Lawyer helped me (us, actually, the complaint listed Dr. Myboss as well) to bundle together all of our paperwork, medical records and so forth to send to the board then he told us to chill the hell out.

It was a frustrating three months between the time we sent our response to the board and the time that we got their ruling. The ruling reads as follows:
“Dear Dr. Hammond
The Veterinary Board of Governors investigated a complaint regarding allegations against your veterinary practice.
After careful consideration of the records and information obtained during its investigation, the Board has determined there was no cause for disciplinary action. The case is being closed as no cause for disciplinary action, as conduct was within the standard of practice.
Blah, blah, blah, if you have any questions please call us.
Sincerely,
Someone at the Washington State Department of Health”

Dear Silly Woman
Kindly shove it up your ass.
Sincerely,
Margaret.

4/7/2008

The Twilight Of The Mind

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 3:03 pm

….is a rewording of a quote from Sci Fi writer Harlan Ellison, “The Twilight of the Word“, describing his take on the advent of the Internet and Net culture, but I think it’s appropriate in this scenario as well.

I was listening to NPR this morning when I happened to overhear a story on the results of the past Saturday’s NCAA semifinals. Normally any story centering on sports fails to register on my sensorium at all, unless it happens to include certain key phrases, such as “raise public funds to tear down a still-unpaid-for sports stadium in order to build a new sports stadium“. Much like the eye of the frog in the famous McCulloch-Lettvin study, I do not merely ignore the majority of sports-related input; my sensory apparatus actually filters the telemetry so that my brain never receives the signal at all. So it was pure chance that this sports-related story triggered enough of a stimulus-response to garner my attention. Lucky me.

Apparently, the much-ballyhooed University of Memphis Tigers managed to trounce their rival, the UCLA Bruins. In a story in the New York Times, freshman point guard Derrick Rose was quoted as saying of their victory, “We knew that we was going to win, so, ain’t too much to say.”

Wait, what? Did he really just say that?

I had to go online and find the article in question so I could make absolutely sure that this was, indeed a player from a team in the NCAA, the National COLLEGIATE Athletic Association. Upon the release of this story and its attendant notable quotable, I can only assume that Tigers coach John Calipari promptly resigned his position in shame, perhaps even going so far as to commit seppuku in the center of Dunavant Plaza. Nothing on the news feeds so far, but I remain hopeful.

I’ve been saying this for years, but the time is finally, irrefutably at hand to dissolve the bonds between professional athletics and academics. The two are completely and irreparably antagonistic to one another. If young people with ability and promise want to hone their skills in the hopes of wringing a career out of their efforts, I have absolutely no problem with that. How fortunate, then, that there exists a ready-made avenue for this sort of endeavor; it’s called professional sports, and it’s an umpty grillion dollar per year industry. Plenty to go around.

How this pursuit might complete or complement the honing of one’s intellect in the hopes of finding personal and financial fulfillment through that, I haven’t the faintest fucking idea.

And since the cultivation and promulgation of the life of the mind was there first, I think it is the responsibility of collegiate athletics to graciously leave the academic sphere and strike out on its own. I’m sure it will have no problem making a name for itself out there beyond the protective walls of the ivy citadel.

3/12/2008

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:53 am

This from today’s Dork Tower:

Horton Hears A Whore

Bra-vo, John, bravo.


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