Friday, July 24, 2009

More Simon's Cat

I just found out there's a new Simon's Cat.

I love how he illustrates the silly things real cats do, like the butt-wind up before the pounce, and how they play with bugs. And the destruction left in their wake:

Finally The Plumeria Blooms

Which is quite a miracle this far North:

The photos aren't as clear as I'd like. I was trying to shoot around a large spider web without falling in.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Exotic Instant Meals – Also, Dieting

I'm a sucker for the “International” aisle at our local Wegman's grocery store.

I love checking out all the stuff we don't normally see in other supermarkets. Jammy Dodgers and Wine Gums from Britain. Naan, sauces and spices from India. Neat little instant meals from Asia, like this one:

These Nong Shim Neoguri noodles will kick your butt, with their yummy, spicy hotness. Usually, I won't buy instant noodles because of all the sodium, but these are a special treat. I've never had noodles that were this spicy, except in restaurants. Soooo good! Just drink lots of water.

I also tried this microwave curry from India recently:

Comes in a sealed silver baggie, and looks awful when you pour it into a bowl. After a few minutes in the microwave, it's really quite good. Tastes like vegetarian chili. Not super-spicy. On the plus side, the sodium levels are less insane than the noodles (610mg vs. 1040mg).

Neither of these are too terrible in the fat and calorie department, provided you only eat half the package. It's not hard to do if you're watching what you eat, but still want something different and yummy.

Which brings me to the next thing. My diet.

I've put on close to 20 pounds in the last 6 years – although some people would say I was too thin before anyway. I still hate that my old clothes don't fit, and now that I'm getting older, the extra weight only makes my jawline saggier.

Anyway, I'd be happy to lose 10 at this point. I've tried so many diets. Low-carb was the last one, and I didn't lose a pound. I felt great getting off all the carbs, but even with working out 3 days a week, I lost nothing.

Seems the only thing that works for me is “eat less and exercise”.

Yeah, I know. DUH.

I'm trying better portion control, along with healthier, lower fat and calorie foods. And exercise, of course. I picked up a box of Slim Shots to help curb my appetite:

They're supposed to be used in conjunction with a healthy diet, and don't contain any weird drugs. They look like little coffee creamers, and you take one with breakfast, one with lunch, then eat a healthy dinner.

I read quite a few reviews, and the biggest complaint was that they tasted terrible. I didn't think they were heinous - definitely odd, but not bad enough to stop me from using them. Kinda tasted the way an old, plastic water bottle smells. With vanilla.

Supposedly they're made of a patented blend of natural palm and oat oils, which somehow trick you into feeling full longer. I've been using them for the last 4 days, and it does curb my appetite. We'll see. It's still too soon to tell. I could wake up next week and find they do nothing.

Besides, I'm a stress eater. When work gets crazy (which is most of the time recently) I want snacks. Lots of them.

So I'm reading a book on stress eating, but I won't say too much on that now. I'll report back once I've finished it, and can reasonably apply anything I've learned.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kitteh's Day Planner

6:30 am – Wake up. Walk up and down on The Master. Check Mommy's breathing. Stuff head up nostril. Burrow under pillow. If all else fails, do this:

6:31 am – Locked out of bedroom. Whine, attack door.

6:35 am – Head downstairs, use litter box. Play with toys. Play with poo.

7:00 am – FRESH KIBBLES! Inhale half, knock over water bowl. Play in water.

7:30 am – Relax on couch.

8:00 am til 10:00 am – Have a spaz attack. Beat up on mousey, chew on mommy's arm, attack television, run across dining room table, jump up on countertop, pull paper napkins onto the floor. Shred.

10:00 am – Nap on Mommy's lap.

10:30 am – Move to couch. Power nap.

1:00 pm – KIBBLES!

1:15 pm – Window time. Stare at birds, squirrels and deer in backyard. Show them who's boss.

1:30 pm – Nap.

3:00 pm – TOYS!

3:30 pm – Visit Master in lair upstairs. Climb chair, hang over Master's shoulder and watch him work.

4:00 pm – Nap.

5:00 pm – Time for Mommy to quit work. Launch self onto keyboard.

5:30 pm – Sit forlornly in front of food bowl until Mommy gets soft food. Help get can from fridge. Get stuck in fridge.

6:15 pm – Help with dishes. Lick every exposed surface in dishwasher.

6:16 pm – Dry self off after getting wet from squirt bottle.

6:30 pm – Climb front window. Sit on top half of pane and glare at neighbors.

7:00 pm – Nap.

10:00 pm – Spaz Attack Part 2: The Scratching Post. a/k/a – Kitteh The Billy Goat:

11:00 pm – Follow The Master and Mommy to bed.

11:01 pm – Climb bookcase, launch self onto television set, hop over to dresser. Knock over cologne bottles, shred papers.

11:02 pm – PLAYTIME! Attack Mommy's hair.

11:03 pm – Attempt to look cute. Roll onto back, paws up. Bellyrubz??

11:04 pm – Pass out on Mommy's head.

Thanks to my Sweetie for giving me the idea for “Kitten Day Planner”!

Friday, July 17, 2009

National Health Care

I am by far no expert on health care.

I do find it disturbing that we're about to institute national health care similar to Canada and the UK, which have serious problems, instead of trying to fix the system already in place.

The administration says it's all about giving health care to every American, including those who cannot afford it. That's great, but I thought that's what Medicaid and Medicare were for.

I gathered up some very recent articles on the Canadian and UK health care system. It's pretty interesting, and if you don't feel like reading the whole article, I've posted some snippets below.

Article on Canada's wait time from June 2009 (WTA = Wait Time Alliance):

"In this year's report, the WTA evaluated wait times in the priority areas and beyond and found that a majority of patients had wait times that exceeded the 18-week target used by the WTA.

'The study showed that for many of the medical specialities in Canada examined, we don't even come close to meeting that target,' said Bellan. 'There remains a great deal of unfinished business when it comes to addressing wait times in Canada.'"

The full article can be found here.

Here's an article on wait time in Wales from July 13th 2009. Keep in mind, 26 weeks is over six months. Targeted wait time is 14 weeks - that's still over 3 months:

"DOZENS of patients requiring hospital treatment outside Gwent are waiting longer than anticipated - and the delays are worrying health chiefs who are working towards ambitious new targets.

By the end of December, no-one in Wales should have to wait more than 26 weeks for treatment from the time they are referred on by their GP.

Within this 26-week period, known as the referral-to-treatment time (RTT), there are a series of what are called component waits, for the likes of first outpatient appointments, diagnostic tests, alternatives to treatment such as physiotherapy, and treatment itself.

The target component wait for treatment is 14 weeks, and the latest available figures - for the end of May - show that 127 Gwent patients had waited longer than this."

The full article can be found here.

Wait times are getting better in the UK, due to the NHS instituting target time frames. Unfortunately, this has created another serious issue. This article is from the Times Online (London), from June 9th, 2009:

“Waiting time targets in the NHS are hampering efforts to reduce “superbug” infections such as MRSA, doctors’ leaders have claimed.

Patients are being placed on dirty beds to help hospitals meet the requirement to start treatment within four hours of admission.

Today the British Medical Association (BMA) called on the Government to allow more flexibility in the target to ensure there is enough time to clean equipment.

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said: 'This report provides further evidence that the Government's obsession with targets is putting patient safety at risk.'

'Ministers need to stop micromanaging the NHS and trust doctors and nurses to decide the best way to care for their patients.'”

The full article can be found here.

From a more local perspective, Matt Best at has some excellent questions here.

And finally, a Steven Crowder mini-documentary on navigating the Canadian health care system.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fist Of Deth

Photo credit to Dilbert

Another big weekend.

I have put in 40 hours at work since Friday evening.

I'm still tired, and have no tolerance for buttheads at work that don't listen to the resident expert, which is me.

On Sunday, I got a call to check if there were any problems in our application's logs. It seems another app support group who's software talks to mine, saw an intermittent error. Butthead insisted that the last time it happened, it was a code problem on my side.

Well, here's the thing. We haven't had a code change in weeks. Server was trucking along with no issues.

So I ask if he's traced the transmission to see if there's data missing. Because, dude, that's what your error means. Data. Missing.

Of course he didn't, because he ASS - U - ME D that it was us. Didn't look any further. It took an act of God, and lots of threats from me, to make him finally do it. And guess what? It was data missing on his side.

Two hours of my life I'll never get back.

Today, a different butthead asks for an approval for a code change. Emergency fix, you know. Has to be done tonight. If I'm putting my name on an approval for a change to code, I'm sure as hell going to make sure due diligence was done.

Turns out he never tested part of it. I won't go into the specifics, but it wasn't done as proper procedure, and he knew that. Told him to go back and test. He decided to try and push it through anyway, and went to someone else for approval, and got the smack down. Thankfully, this other person realized that butthead was pulling a sneaky.

Told butthead to load the new code for testing (in a test application). He made another analyst do it.

Lazy fu(k3r.

I don't normally have this problem with people. I don't know why, exactly, these two give me crap. Although I have a suspicion that it has something to do with them belonging to a culture that still buys and sells women, and treats them as property.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Officially Infected

I finally got hold of the new doctors office. They are accepting new patients – yay! But cannot book me an appointment for at least 6 weeks – crap!

It seems only existing patients can be seen immediately for an illness. Which is fair, I was just surprised at the wait time for new patients. In the meantime, they told me to go to the urgent care office at the local grocery store. I told them I equated that with going to the emergency room, so I opted to go to back my existing doctor.

I better get used to it though. A 6 week wait will be nothing compared to the wait times once we have national health care. Also, I won't be allowed to be snotty about which doctor I want to see, since I won't have a choice. I did the HMO thing for several years, and let me tell ya, it ain't fun.

Anyway, I saw the physician's assistant at my old doc's office. I am officially the owner of a nice, fat sinus infection and bronchitis. I started my round of antibiotics last night and I'm already feeling a little more human. Exhausted and sick to my stomach, but less congested.

In other news, at work we've been asked to put together our mid year objectives. Considering I don't know if I'll have a job by the end of the year, I'd say my #1 objective is to remain employed, really.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I Am Sick. Also, HersheyPark

Apparently the eye goo issues from 2 weeks ago has now become a full on head/chest cold. The problem here is that I generally don't go to the doctor unless I'm dying.

The last time I went to my family doctor for a “real” problem was 2 years ago. I let my cold go on for the better part of 3 months, and ended up with bronchitis. You'd think I'd learn. So now I'm trying to get an appointment with a new doctor – old doctor just never did it for me – and they're out to lunch.

I don't understand that. Every doctor's office I've ever dealt with has mandatory lunchtime at noon, and no one to cover except the answering service. The answering service doesn't want to talk to you unless you're having an emergency, in which case they'll tell you to call 911. What's the point then? So how difficult is it to stagger the lunches for coverage? Say one person takes lunch at noon, the other at 1pm. I mean, geez. I don't even take lunch half the time. Many working people can't even call the doctor unless it's at lunch.


During one of my less ill days last week, we went to Hershey Park. I haven't been there since I was 16 and it was pretty fun.

Of course, the biggest plus here is that they had numerous clean bathrooms. You know you're old when you count the quality of bathroom as your number one reason for having a good day.

A few things were disturbing though.

We got there around 10:30am just after the park opened. After a 2 hour drive, I needed to pee. Found the first bathroom and was thrilled it was clean. Mostly. It had obviously just been cleaned owing to the scent of bleach and disinfectant. And someone's morning constitutional, apparently. Dude, couldn't you have gone at home? It's was 10:30am already, for criminy's sake.

While we're on that subject, it's rather amazing to me that the ladies who use these public bathrooms are such pigs. I've mentioned this before

I saw one woman throwing balled up wads of toilet paper under her stall into the next one. Is it that difficult to aim for the pot? I mean, it's practically a bullseye.

By the end of the day, I didn't expect the toilet's to be spotless, but this was ridiculous.

One stall had a big, steaming, heap of brown, about a foot in front of the toilet. How does this happen?!? Are here that many people out there with explosive diarrhea? Is it an epidemic I'm not aware of? Should we be in touch with the CDC?

I feel sorry for whoever had to clean this up. I hope they had a biohazard suit and disposable mop.