Monday, November 12, 2018

Identifying photos - please do.

I spent this weekend finally finishing up the scanning and labeling of all of my Mom's photos.  She died almost three years ago, so I can't claim to have been hurried.

The main point of scanning them was to share with various siblings and relatives.

I did the same thing when my Dad died.  And ran into the same problem. 

Who ARE these people?

For one thing, sticking photos onto albums means they may or may not be able to be removed later.  So if there was any identification written on the back, well, there's no way to tell if there is writing on the back.

But even with loose photos it's hard to figure out.  Some people can tell the difference between one infant and another, but I can't.  Which brother is this?  I don't know.  If there was a date I might be able to figure it out, but many of the photos we have, my dad developed himself.

No dates. 

And the people from my parents' generation or before?  Don't assume we're going to know who they are.  The next generation down will recognize even fewer people. 

I asked my mom once "Who is this?'.  "That's your great-grandmother."  "Well, write that on the back."  "I told you. Just remember."

Sigh.  I didn't.

It's really a shame.  There are some interesting, very old pictures in their collections.  One was a boy about 3 years old with a cigarette, which may or may not have been my dad.  One of a great-great-aunt was actually marked.  That was thrilling. 

So please, please make sure your photos are identified.  Your heirs will appreciate it.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The defective smoke alarm

Four years ago, tired of changing 9v batteries, I bought a set of smoke detectors with sealed lithium batteries guaranteed for 10 years. At which point you have to replace the entire unit. 

Yeah. Yeah.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.

A month ago, the smoke alarm at the top of the stairs went off in the middle of the day.  Thankfully,  it was not the usual middle of the night claxon.  Still startling.  And scared the dogs.

Anyway, the other 5 weren’t shrieking, I figured the unusually high humidity was affecting it. I unwired this one and set it on the bottom shelf of the desk to look at later. 

Then didn’t.

A few days ago – in the middle of the night – it went off again.  With a sealed unit, I couldn't rip out the battery. So I threw it in the freezer.  That shut it up.

Except last night I got up to go to the bathroom and heard a weird, quiet, repetitive beeping.  I tracked it down to the freezer. 

The smoke alarm was going off IN THE FREEZER. 

I  closed the freezer door and the sound was muffled enough not to be heard in the bedroom. I went back to sleep and forgot about it.

But just a few minutes ago, I heard more subtle beeping.  Yep, it was going off again! 

I took it out to the garage and smashed it with a sledge hammer. 

Never again will I buy units with sealed batteries!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Lego Ghostbuster Firehouse

I recently assembled Lego's Ghostbuster Firehouse.  There are 4,634 pieces partitioned into 14 different sets of packaging. The instruction comprise of 600 steps

The build was pleasingly accurate, and the interior details were impressive. But I had issues with the project. 

Why did they print the instructions on a black background?  Artistic decisions like that should be guided by usability.

Some of the steps seem unnecessarily complex.  Like doing a single 4 across four double twos instead of across one double four.  That seemed to me just an excuse to ramp up the piece count.

And maybe I'm slow, but it took me a while to figure out how to attach the ghosts to the building.  A simple picture showing the removal of the brick facing would have saved me a lot of time. 

The firehouse shared the Creative Expert technique of having each floor lift off the one below it to expose the interior.  The firehouse also has a side that opens to all three floors. However, I had a difficult time opening and closing the "arms".  Nine out of ten times one of the separating floors would detach from the arm as I opened it. And it was a little tricky to close again without scraping the bottom floor.  Perhaps, like the attached ghosts, there is an undocumented secret to opening the side without issue. 

I am very disappointed that the scale is different from the Creative Expert buildings, despite the same size mini-figures. I had hoped to use this as the fire station in my street scene tableau since the retired fire station kit is far too expensive.  

The other buildings average 4 1/2" per floor.  The firehouse is just over 5".  Besides it's longer than the others.  I know it's not unheard of for a neighborhood to have different sized buildings, but the firehouse just doesn't fit in with my street like I had hoped.

Once my sister sees it, I will probably disassemble it.   

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Medical grifter?

I am still perturbed about this so I am going to vent.

I was not pleased at my annual exam when my NP decided I needed to see a cardiologist because of a a Premature Atrial Complex blip on my EKG.  This is something I have had for at least 7 years and no other doctor has considered it worthy of followup. No even a Mayo-affiliated doctor.

But I promised my sister I wouldn't skip any recommended referrals.  She worries.

The initial visit with the cardiologist started out a little odd.  His NP took my blood pressure without ensuring I was relaxed.  And with my feet dangling off the exam table.  Even I know this isn't optimal and this NP works in cardiology.  Add to that "white-coat syndrome" and, of course, my blood pressure was high.

The cardiologist was personable.  Agreed that the blip was probably nothing.  But said we should do a stress test and an echocardiogram anyway.  For a baseline. He wasn't concerned about the one-time blood pressure. But since I was coming back anyway, I should keep a blood pressure journal.

OK.  Made sense.  I made the appointment. The insurance wouldn't pay for the echocardiogram, but  I did the stress test, with a very pleasant technician.

So far so good.  Or at least, not bad.

The day of my follow-up visit, a different NP greeted me.  And proceeded to tell me how many ways my heart could be damaged that would only have been detected by an echocardiogram.  Really tried to frighten me. 

I was riled up, but said nothing.  I wanted to hear what the cardiologist had to say.  He glanced - briefly - over my blood pressure log and said it looked fine.  Said my stress test results were good and showed no signs of blockage.

THEN went into his pitch.  He said I really should have an echocardiogram and it was a shame insurance wouldn't pay for it.  But he said he wouldn't appeal.  Since an echocardiogram is for diagnosing issues when a problem is suspected and he just said my stress test results were good, I was getting angry. 

He continued on to say that he wouldn't prescribe any medication "at this time". I didn't say anything.  I decided it wasn't worth the effort.  But why would I take medication if I don't have a problem.

Then he said he would see me in 6 months. 


If my insurance hadn't balked, they would have gotten the money for a medically unnecessary procedure.  Echocardiograms are between $1000 and $2000.  I'm sure trying to frighten me with tales of what could be going undetected was a ploy to get me to pay out of pocket.  And telling me to come back every six months seemed like a way to schedule income.

I felt like I had a session with a used car salesman, not a cardiologist.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Crafty Flicker

I have three hummingbird feeders I keep filled.  Partly to attract hummingbirds.  Partly because I like the gilded flickers that also frequent the feeders.  

Notice the yellow spots on the base of the feeder in the above picture.  Those are the plastic flowers that cover the feeding ports.  Supposedly they serve to attract the hummingbirds.  They also keep the birds from completely emptying the feeder.  Probably not the intent. 


I was quite surprised when I took this feeder down to refill it.  Completely, totally, bone dry.  Then I realized all SEVEN of the plastic flowers were missing. 

I admired the cleverness of the flickers, since they are the only birds big enough to remove the flowers.  I figured I would gather up the discarded flowers and reinsert them.  

Nope.  Not a single flower could be found under the hanger stand.  Every single flower had been taken somewhere else.  

Outfoxed by the flickers, I hanged the feeder up with its flowerless holes and told them to help themselves.  

Friday, August 3, 2018

I love, but not their commercials

I have an Autoship with for dogfood and treats, so it's not that I'm not a fan of the web site.

I mean how can you not love a company that sends such a cute note with your first order.

But I HATE one (or is it more than one) of their commercials.

You know, the one that says "No more lugging heavy dog food bags."

Well, yeah, you don't have to lug it from the store. 

But unless you keep your dog food at your front door, you are still going to be lugging it from the front door to wherever you do keep it.

And I think it's harder to carry the box of dog food than it was the bag of dog food.  In fact, I generally open the box at the front door so I can just carry the bag.  Then the empty box.

This doesn't mean I'm going to stop ordering from Chewy, but the commercial does irritate me every time I hear it.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Elderly or ailing dogs can be expensive

I'm happy to say that Angel's latest foray into acupuncture is going well.  (Further adventures in Canine Acupuncture) She can get up from the floor more easily and her muscles are less tight.

We stopped the laser treatments after only two visits because doing them after the acupuncture seemed to stress her rather than assist. 

But yesterday we did the treatment BEFORE the acupuncture.  It seemed to help relax her and let the acupuncture needles do their work more effectively.

Yesterday was her 12th acupuncture treatment.  And we are booked weekly for the next couple months.  I love that it gives her some respite from the pain and stiffness.  But it's pricey. 

One acupuncture session is $68, with my United Pet Care discount.  Add laser treatment for an additional $29.  Per week.

On top of that, she has developed an itching problem.  Neither Zyrtec nor Benadryl have helped so we are trying a shot that is supposed to last a month. For $120. 

Plus, she has these two weird sore spots on her back and shoulder.  The oddest scabs the vet or I have ever seen, all crumbly instead of flat.  One course of antibiotics helped, but not completely.  We thought they would go away on their own after that. 

They didn't. Topical antibiotics helped, but not completely.  So now we are going with a human antibiotic.  I looked it up on GoodRx.  $80 for 30 tablets. 

Of course, part of the reason treatments are so expensive is that I have large dogs.  The anti-itch shot dosage was based on her 104 pound weight.  As was the dosage of the antibiotic. 

Large dogs are just more expensive in general.  More food, bigger treats, higher dosages. 

But I love my large dogs.