June 25, 2005

Beagle News

And to lighten up from the hospital-related content . . .

We'd been a little upset with Beagles and Buddies, the shelter where we got Digory, because we submitted an update on our boy, with pictures, for their "Success Stories" page, and they haven't used it. In fact, they haven't used anyone's success story for weeks -- Sammy and Duke have been their most-recent success story dogs for quite a while now.

Given that, imagine my surprise a few days ago, when I opened the mailbox to find this:

Look familiar?

Our dogs made the front cover! (No accompanying text that gives us credit or mentions them by name, but hey.)

Posted by Kevin at 12:10 AM

June 24, 2005

A Few Random Hospital Things

. . . that didn't fit into the last entry:

  • Thank God that Shelby came into the emergency room through the back door, in an ambulance, because the waiting area for Anaheim Memorial's ER was straight out of a healthcare horrorshow: packed to the gills with people who were wearing patient wristbands, but who didn't actually seem to be having an emergency. One or two people were in actual distress (and another had been bleeding rather dramatically just a little while ago, judging from the caked blood on his shirt and the bandages on his arm), but most people were completely placid, looking like their needs could've been met in a regular doctor's office.

  • While Shelby was in the hospital, ostensibly improving her health, the dogs and I were on a downward slide: fast food for me, since I didn't have the time or inclination for much else, extra cookies and special treats for the dogs as bribery for having to sit in their crates all day long. It hasn't been much work for me to switch back to the normal routine, but I'm sure that the dogs are wondering where the all of the extra treats went.

  • Speaking of healthy eatin', the hospital's vending machine area had a 'Hispanic' vending machine featuring such low-fat/low-cholesterol treats as a giant bag of pork rinds. The 'everyone else' vending machines weren't doing so great either. Maybe they're just trying to drum up business for their obesity clinic ...

  • One good thing that the hospital had was WiFi! There were not just one, but four open access points available from Shelby's room. (I guess that I can thank my next-door neighbor for that, as she runs their IS department! For some reason, I thought that she did IS for one of the local school districts -- but no, I ran into her in the lobby as I was headed out for my fast-food lunch.) It's funny that the hospital has the same NO CELLULAR PHONES ON PAIN OF DEATH signs that you'll find in any other hospital, but permanently-installed and undoubtedly sloppy 802.11 radios, broadcasting 24/7, seem to be no problem ...

Posted by Kevin at 11:51 PM

What We've Been Doing This Week ...

After more than a year of staying lucky, Shelby went into the hospital on Monday -- but she's back home now.

On Monday, Shelby started complaining about painful menstrual cramps. Shamefully, I didn't pay much attention -- because not only am I our household's agent for the Patriarchy, but because some degree of pain and/or nausea is an unfortunately regular occurrence in Shelby's post-heart-condition-onset life. Late that afternoon, Shelby was able to take a nap, so I figured that things were getting better. Then I heard the crash of breaking glass in the kitchen, and ran to find her collapsed against the kitchen counter, blood dripping (she'd hit her nose in the fall), with a shattered drinking glass at her feet.

Shelby was really out of it -- she didn't know quite where she was or how she got there, and wanted nothing more than for me to let go and let her lay down right there, in the middle of the broken glass. I coaxed her back to the bed; making it those few feet was difficult enough (and she didn't seem to be getting any more coherent) that I decided a trip to the hospital in the car would be too much; I needed to call 911.

We haven't called that many ambulances, but after getting off the phone, I fell into a role that I knew how to play. I made sure Shelby was comfortable on the bed, then I went to unlock the front door for the EMTs. I closed all of the windows and herded the dogs into the crates. I had Shelby take off her rings and her wristwatch, so that we wouldn't have to worry about keeping track of them in the emergency room.

The EMTs took us to Anaheim Memorial Medical Center, which happened to be our closest hospital. You can pretty much wrap all of my feelings about Anaheim Memorial Medical Center around a single interaction:

At 6 PM on Tuesday night, we had our first encounter with Dr. Badr, the internist who was supposedly coordinating Shelby's care. He came into the room complaining about how the nurses on duty the night before had called him at 10:30 PM and 2 AM to ask what should be done for Shelby's pain and nausea -- and he wasn't "complaining" in a ha-ha see-what-I-go-through-for-you kind of way; he actually seemed quite disturbed. Maybe if being on call makes you so upset, you shouldn't take the paychecks you get for being on call, Dr. Badr?

But things were just getting started. He began running down the list of various risk factors (Do you have a history of such-and-such disease? Are you pregnant? Do you smoke?), and when Shelby answered "Do you drink?" with "Moderately", he pounced.

"Okay, what do you define as moderate drinking?"

"Two to three glasses of wine, once or twice a week."

"Two to three glasses of wine? Are you sure that you don't mean four-five-six glasses? Two-three-four times each week?"


"Two or three bottles? Once or twice a week? Three or four times a week?"

"No ..."

"You know, there's a behavior called 'binge drinking', where people 'only drink on the weekend' -- but when they do drink, they'll drink four-five-six bottles at a time. Do you drink like that?"


After that, he seemed content to let it go, until he started reading down Shelby's list of medications and found one that had the possibility for addiction.

"It says here that you've been prescribed -----, to take one or two tablets 'as needed'. How often do you take -----?"

"Several times a week."

"I see. And ----- commonly comes in 5 mg and 10 mg doses -- which one do you take?"

"The five-milligram."

"So then ... you're taking two-three-four tablets of -----, the ten milligram dosage, one-two-three times a day, every day of the week?"

On that one, even I had to jump in with a "NO!!" At that point, I was pissed -- here Dr. Badr had in front of him a patient with an elaborate history of heart problems (and the fact that she's got a $30,000 implanted medical device should be good evidence that she's not a drug-seeking addict who's invented an elaborate tale), who's making a gastrointestinal/gynecological complaint -- and he appeared to be completely ignoring that in favor of going down the side road of his own fevered imaginings (she just collapsed because she's a lush!), in the most brusque and brash way possible.

Mercifully, we didn't see Dr. Badr again, except for one brief visit the following day; while his name stayed on the charts, he effectively gave up Shelby's care to Dr. Ho, the cardiologist who was the one bright spot of Shelby's stay. (Dr. Ho was a Berkeley grad, of course; we had a "Go Bears" moment where she confessed that she started out in engineering but switched to pre-med because medicine was less difficult!) Dr. Badr ordered up a panopoly of tests for Shelby, including two gastroenterologists, a Medtronic rep to interrogate Shelby's ICD, and a neurologist. All of these people with all of their tests eventually figured out:

  • that it wasn't Shelby's heart (in fact, her heart was doing better than it was at her last regular cardiology visit);
  • that it wasn't Shelby's head;
  • that her ICD hadn't fired (continuing its perfect record of doing nothing);
  • . . . that her fainting was probably a vasovagal response -- fainting as a result of low blood pressure and heart rate, triggered by the pain of her cramps.

(Note that the severe-enough-to-induce-fainting, worse-than-ever-before menstrual cramps weren't enough to order up a gynecologist while Shelby was in the hospital; I guess that Dr. Badr doesn't have an ob/gyn in his docs-who-need-work-thrown-their-way weekday lunch group. I'm surprised that he didn't have an AA/NA social worker come by to drop off a pamphlet or two, though.)

And that's it. The Beagles and I are very glad to have Shelby back home.

Posted by Kevin at 11:03 PM | Comments (1)

June 18, 2005

Ich sprache alem�n

My brain really only has enough space for two languages: English and "other".

Just a little while ago, I was out in the front yard, doing yardwork, when an evil neighborhood leaflet distributor came walking up the street, leaving pamphlets on peoples' porches for our neighborhood realtor. Since I was in front of the house, he did me the courtesy of asking -- in Spanish (why? because it was his only language? because I was doing yardwork?) -- whether or not I wanted paper junk left on my steps.

My brain heard "foreign language", so I answered using my best foreign language: "Nein, danke!"

Posted by Kevin at 03:10 PM | Comments (3)

June 14, 2005

Following My Conscience

I'm a week or so late to the table on this one, but: Albertsons is allowing their Illinois pharmacists to exercise their 'right of conscience' and refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control and emergency contraception. So I'm exercising my right of conscience by no longer shopping at Albertsons 'family' of stores (Sav-on and Osco, among others) until they tell their pharmacists to live up to their responsibility as a licensee of the state by dispensing all legally prescribed medication.

If you agree with me, why not take a moment to drop Albertsons a line and tell them how you feel?

(In our case, deciding to boycott is a complete no-brainer: the people behind the pharmacy counter at our local Sav-on are such a gang of idiots that we were planning to move our prescriptions to Walgreens anyway. Nice of them to give us a final push into action!)

Posted by Kevin at 04:27 PM | Comments (1)

Crafts Time

This past weekend was a home-centered one. On Saturday, we went to the Arts & Crafts Show at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel. The Grand Californian itself is quite a piece of work: built just a few years ago, but in an Arts & Crafts style meant to hark back to great lodges of the past, like Yosemite's Ahwahnee Hotel, Yellowstone's Old Faithful Inn, or Mt. Hood's Timberline Lodge. Frankly, the outside isn't much to look at (more of a mega-hotel wrapped in Craftsman shorthand than the real thing), but the interior is exquisitely detailed.

The show was a mixed bag. Everything on display was beautiful and highly covetable, but most of it came with a pretty steep price tag — for many vendors, "Craftsman" or "Arts & Crafts" is synonymous with "license to print money". Of course, in many cases you're paying for the quality of a one-off, handmade-in-America art item (like the $3,000 secretary that Shelby was drooling over), but you've also got a gigantic field of people selling made-in-Taiwan cheapware, riding on the coattails of their more prestigious bretheren. (And would the founders of an artistic movement built on honesty and simplicity really have sold "Craftsman" media centers, complete with a space for your 61-inch flatscreen plasma TV?)

Still, we saw a lot of interesting things, and got some good ideas for our house, particularly in the realm of curtains and window treatments (we're still using the cheapo curtains that the previous owners left behind, until Digory tears them off of their ten-cent potmetal rods). Some exhibitors of note:
On Sunday, we took the Anaheim Historical Society's annual home tour. There were eight homes on display, all within a few blocks of our house; we got to six of them. The homes that we saw were built from 1911 to 1917, slightly younger than ours. Some owners had performed feats of extensive restoration (one man had been working on his house for twenty years — and was still going!), while a lucky few had recieved their homes mostly intact, with unmolested woodwork, fixtures, and stained glass (as Shelby observed in her recap, unartful application of white paint over stained wood seemed to be most restorers' major nemesis). It was clear that most people with a house on display had used the home tour as a kick-in-the-butt to get them over the hump of a major project; one house made us put on painters' booties because they'd just refinished their floor a few weeks before!

One house came from our 'class' -- it was part of the same set of threatened homes that was moved and renovated along with ours. So despite today's hollow-core doors and the front bathroom with the Cheesiest Vinyl Tile Ever, we can nourish hopes of having our house be a featured stop in a tour a few years from now . . .

Posted by Kevin at 03:13 PM

June 12, 2005

First Earthquake in New House!

About forty minutes ago, we had our first earthquake in this house -- the first earthquake that we could feel, anyway: an initial sharp shock, followed by 15-20 seconds of light rolling, and finished by another, slightly stronger shock. The U.S. Geological Survey's web site says that it was a magnitude 5.6 quake centered near Anza, California, which is about 75 miles away from us here in Anaheim. (Both Shelby and I know Anza as one of those middle-of-nowhere small towns that you drive past on your way to scout camp.)

Shelby manifested a blasé-Californian that-was-nothing-special attitude toward the quake, but it was at least enough to make items on shelves rattle back and forth. (Which reminds me -- I should probably put down that earthquake putty that we bought for our curio shelves sometime soon . . . and it wouldn't hurt to put together our household earthquake-survival kit, too, for when the real earthquake comes and Southern California descends into anarchy.) And as for dogs being able to detect and react to an earthquake before humans do: forget it. One of them might have shifted their sleeping position or lightly twitched a paw, but that was the extent of the canine reacting going on in our house.

But the quake gave us a chance to use one of my favorite Web applications: the Geological Survey's "Did You Feel It?" survey, which asks you a set of simple questions (did objects fall from shelves? were picture frames set askew? was there cracking of walls?), computes an intensity based on your answers, and then records your data along with other respondents' to create a map of percieved earthquake intensity across the region. Here's the map of percieved intensities for this morning's quake.

(And may I note that one of the entities contributing to the USGS's earthquake-mapping program is UC Berkeley's Seismological Laboratory? Go Bears! I knew someone who used to work for the seismo lab; one of his standard-issue pieces of equipment was a pager that went off whenever a significant earthquake had been detected, which happened all the time, often in the middle of the night. His wife was not pleased; I think that everyone was much happier when he went off to help search for extra-terrestrial intelligence instead.)

Posted by Kevin at 09:23 AM

June 07, 2005

Geek Corner

And what kind of a geek would I be if I didn't take note of yesterday's blockbuster announcement from Apple that they'll be switching the Macintosh line to Intel processors over the next few years? I'm surprised that I wasn't able to hear the screams of pain and anguish from Mac zealots everywhere; I'm sure that the revelation gave some of my more Mac-centric colleagues from Hamburg who are attending this week's WWDC more than they bargained for.

I'm sure that Apple can do it; after all, they've pulled off two major transitions before, when they switched from using Motorola 68K processors to the PowerPC family, and when they pulled everyone from using 'Classic' into OS X. And I'm sure that they'll be able to foist off the blame for any delays in the transition process onto third-party developers, just like last time [Mac Zealot: "But Steve showed a demo of Photoshop running on OS X two years ago!!!1!!1!!!! Why hasn't Adobe released OS X versions of all of their apps yet???? Steve said that porting would be easy!!!!!!!1!!! I'll bet that those greedy Adobe bastards are holding out so that everyone will switch to Windows because now Adobe hates the Mac -- and after all Steve did to help them get started back in 1985!!!!!!!" Hint for the zealots: It was a demo, folks. Demos are not reality -- and a lot of what might be said during a demo is not necessarily true.]

We'll have to see how the market reacts while things solidify, though. I probably should have sold that Apple stock a while back ...

For a Mac developer, the upside is that the switch might finally put a knife through the heart of Metrowerks Codewarrior, the most excreable excuse for a development environment that's ever overstayed its welcome on any platform. My heart is gladdened to see "This product is temporarily unavailable" appearing underneath the CW for Mac link on Metrowerks' desktop products page. (Yes, we still use CW. Yes, the PPC-to-Intel transition is only supposed to be a painless switcharoo if you're using Apple's XCode instead. Good thing that we pay hardcore Mac people to worry full time about making that switch!)

[And the disclaimer: Any opinions on the computer industry, other software publishers, or platform zealots that appear in this blog are solely my own and are not those of my employer.]

Posted by Kevin at 12:33 PM

The Case of the Cursed Birthday

Shelby's birthday is coming up soon (the 15th, for those of you who'd like to send cards and e-mails), and I've been keeping a mental list of possible birthday presents. Last Sunday I drove around town, running down the items on my list one by one, only to be rebuffed at every turn -- "we don't have that size right now" (the only sizes they did have were children's small, children's medium, and adult XXXL). "I'm sorry, that's out of stock until mid-to-late July." "We don't have any of those, either."

After having taken a few rainchecks, I went back home, dejected -- here we are, living in Orange County, materialist paradise, and I was a bad shopper. But I knew that Shelby wouldn't go completely giftless, as I'd made an Amazon.com order a few days before.

Well, this morning I got an e-mail from Amazon, telling me that the books I'd ordered for our house had already shipped, and the book I'd ordered for myself was also coming right along -- but that everything I'd ordered for Shelby's birthday was delayed for another week or two. Maybe more.

This birthday is cursed, I tell you -- cursed!

Shelby has made it known that she'd like to go to the Lazy Dog Cafe for a birthday dinner, but I'm not sure I want to jinx a favorite eatery like that -- at the rate we're going, we'll pull into the parking lot to find the place on fire.

Posted by Kevin at 10:46 AM

June 02, 2005

Premature Curmudgeonhood

A conversation held last night, just before going in to watch Star Wars, Episode III:

Me: So, I think we'd like to get a #1 combo. [That's a large popcorn and two medium soft drinks.] But you don't have any prices posted on the board -- how much does that cost?

Behind-the-Counter Guy: Um, the number one combo is $14.75.

Me: Heh -- you're joking with me, right?

BTCG: [Making a 'where did this guy come from?' look] Um . . . uh, no. It's $14.75.

Me: Dear God, you're serious! $14.75 for popcorn and two drinks? [Pause for a moment of horrified reflection] Well, how much for just a large popcorn then?

I did end up purchasing the large popcorn ($6.25), just so we wouldn't have to suffer the Unamerican shame of us Not Buying Anything. And as I walked away from the counter, I didn't mutter about how when I was a kid, you could buy three candy bars for a nickel! Gas was fifteen cents a gallon! You whippersnappers don't know how bad things are nowadays! But if current trends continue, I don't think that you'll be able to take me out in public by the time I reach my forties ...

Posted by Kevin at 10:40 PM