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Monday, August 31, 2009

Ten things you don't want to see on moving day

It's the start of another semester, and for my husband and I - residing in walking distance to two colleges - it's the week of brand-new neighbors. Ugh, people! Further ugh - young people!
After grouchily observing various move-ins through the blind slats, I've compiled a list of things you don't want to see as your neighbors move in.
1. Diesel truck pulls up. As the wrangler-wearing occupants open the doors, six or seven empty beer cans tumble out as well.
2. The back of the moving van opens, and you stare in horror as 4 pet crates in successively larger sizes are removed.
3. Random car parked in your driveway.
4. Moving van blocking your driveway.
5. She's installing a red light bulb on the porch.
6. Drug trafficking before his parents have even kissed him goodbye
7. The movers carry a bed into the single-bedroom apartment, followed by eight folding cots. EIGHT?!
8. Any item with a Marlborough or Corona logo on it.
9. Enough bumper stickers to obscure the color of your new neighbor's car
10. An empty electric guitar box in the trash.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Katrina Anniversary Reflections

Four years later, I want to express my gratitude to the brave people who worked to rescue storm victims. Many rescuers were neighbors, volunteers, or Coast Guards. Most had no personal stake in the rescues but risked their lives out of the goodness of their hearts. My brother in law spent days helping boat people to safety before he fled the city himself. Thank you, Chris.
I'm thankful to the medical personnel who stayed in fetid, hot conditions and cared for patients by hand. These people gave up their own food, water, and resting places for the patients they cared for. I remember an image I saw in the newspaper of patients being lifted to helicopters hovering over Baptist Hospital. I recognized the man holding up the sick baby - he was a pharmacist I had worked with. Thank you, Glenn.
I am still disgusted with FEMA for not even knowing that you could take River Road into the city when the I-10 was flooded - this lack of research caused a dramatic delay in the arrival of help and many died because of it. Thanks a LOT, FEMA.
Our ex-governor Blanco is the epitome of poor leadership. She allowed her ego and her pride to make decisions - and in doing so cost innocent victims their lives. Thanks, Blanco - I know it is hard to make decisions under duress but you were foolish and ineffectual.
I'm thankful to God for allowing this city to crawl back bravely and I'm thankful to all the people who moved back to their homes and tried to build their lives back. We're a brave city! Keep your chin up, NOLA!

Signs of Fall

The ear-splitting hum of cicadas announces that Fall is on its way in Southern Louisiana. This week I started hearing the insects - and I saw a few, too (including one that parked in front of my back-porch laundry room, with the result that we had no clean towels for 6 days. These guys don't move much). The rather shabby Blackberry photo above shows a cicada that just climbed out of its molted shell! I spotted him in our church parking lot. Pretty cool!
On a more disgusting note, my dad eats these. He read that they are a fantastic caloric source and he occasionally pops one in his mouth in order to terrify teenagers into submission (he's a high-school teacher). Barf.


Really. I want creepy old guy stories. Prize is pearl earrings, you pick the accent color. How about that.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The creepy old man contest

This is a contest for the creepiest old man story.
In case I forgot to tell you, I'm a jeweler. I make fabulous jewelry. The winner of this contest gets some fabulous piece of jewelry...I haven't made yet. I'll post a pic of what I think of to make later today.
So! Here are the rules. Contest ends Sept. 7th. Post your creepy old man stories, as many as you like, I'll pick my favorite and send you awesome jewelry! I'll start things off with this little tale:
A guy called the pharmacy for advice last night. I helped him out over the phone and I thought his problem was solved. But he showed up at the pharmacy anyway and introduced himself; he said he had to come meet me because I "sounded cute over the phone" (bet he was disappointed, haha!). The guy was 70 if he was a day! He looked live Steve Tyler's DAD! Ugh!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My worst day of work as a far!

I had the perfect storm of miserable working conditions this past week. It started with an hour's drive to a store I'd never been to. I kicked things off right by going to the wrong store. I showed up all cocky and ready to go and there was already a pharmacist in the pharmacy. She informed me that there are two stores on the same street and I needed to head east for 3 more blocks. Yeah. Probably should have checked the address...So I finally made it to the store where I was supposed to be working and walked in to relieve the night pharmacist. He greeted me thusly: "Your 8 am technician called in, your 11 am technician will be late, and these people here will eat you alive. And if anyone tries to rob you just give them the drugs, they're probably armed. Good luck." Seriously. So I introduced myself to the cashier and tech trainee and got to work! I basically had to do all the work the technician would have done, because the trainee was new. I realized in about an hour that our 9 am cashier had never come in...she never did, and she never called either. I noticed three things about the clientele of this store as the morning heated up: 1. No one can figure out the automated refill line. Every single person held to speak to a pharmacist just for a refill. 2. Mainly addicted. Lots of drug abuse going on, and frankly I am not that stupid people, your story that you dropped a full bottle of Lortab into your toilet is just not going to fly with me. 3. Subsidized. I never saw so many able-bodied people picking up Medicaid prescriptions in the middle of the day when they should have been either working or looking for work.
By mid-morning things were insanely busy and I could not wait for the relief pharmacist to show up at 11. She walked in at about 11:20...and it was someone I know. Someone I know and do not like. I had worked with her on a case study at school and frankly she did not pull her own weight at all. I was very disappointed in the shifty way she tried to get everyone else to do her work. I guess it was a character flaw and not some fluke, because she continued such behavior all day: she not only made multiple errors (always check your meds, folks. Always.), she got on the phone and made a 45 minute personal call right off the bat! As the lines were ringing crazily with people requesting refills!
I was dying for my eleven o'clock tech to come in, but of course she was late that day; she made it in at about 1 pm. At this point the pharmacy was mildly controlled chaos. In walks my tech...I am not kidding. She was a midget. Honestly. She could not reach any of the counters so I had to continue to do all her work for her! Did nobody think to buy this girl a step stool?!
God help anyone who bought medication that day is all I can say. Phew.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rather late Foody Friday: Try the new Vitamin Water

Did anyone else quit drinking Vitamin Water when a rival company ran this add pointing out that one bottle had the same number of calories as a super-sized Big Mac meal (or something close)? I did, and I used to drink them as a pick-me-up when my work day was dragging. Now you can buy a version that tastes similar but has just 25 calories per bottle. I do not usually recommend anything with artificial sweeteners in it, since they make most people crave sugar (stop trying to trick your body! It's smarter than you think!) and since the safety of many of these sweeteners is still questionable. However, Vitamin Water 10 is sweetened mainly with stevia, a natural product. Stevia doesn't give that artificial aftertaste, but it does sort of have a medicinal quality to it. That's ok though, because it suits Vitamin Water. Your body might still think it deserves more calories after getting all that sweet taste and you could feel hungry...but I guess it's ok for a snack. I give you permission. Go drink one.

It's me, with a life tip!

My busy work week has kept me pretty mum - my apologies. I am up late on a Friday night nursing my sick hubby, who actually does have swine flu (I thought I had it earlier this summer, but this was never confirmed). This area is rampant with the squirmy little virus right now. My poor little baby!
Well anyway, my life tip:
That's it. It will save you tons of time and tears in the eventual long run. As a close friend of mine recently discovered, you might need a resume at any time - especially in this economy - and updating a resume with 4 years of info is very difficult. Save yourself the headache and heartache and do a twice yearly update while your accomplishments and projects are fresh in your mind! Then in the event of a job loss, career change, or application for advancement you'll be ready to go.

Here are some good tips on writing a resume (geared toward law students but the general hints work in any career field), and here are my old tips from this Spring on swine flu sanitation.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Help me wear my fedora

I bought a black straw fedora. Every time I wear it I look like I'm trying too hard. I don't know why, since it's such a classic piece.
Here are some ways I've worn it:
1. With a solid-color maxi dress to keep the sun out of my eyes. I looked like a preggers Jamie Lynn Spears.
2. With skinny jeans and a tank top. I looked like I should be making you a soy-milk latte with extra foam, whilst examining fondly my new inner-arm tattoo.
3. With a skirt, blouse, pumps, and a trench. I could have stepped off the Casablanca screen.

So clearly I need a little help here. How should I wear my fedora? Design me an outfit!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ten "celebrities" I do not care about

Celebrities are good for one thing...outfit-stealing. I like to check out their pricey clothes and pick trends I might copy. That's about it. I don't really care if so-and-so ate frozen yogurt or broke up with her boyfriend. But I REALLY hate hearing about these folks:
10. Jon Gosselin. He's not even a celebrity. He's chunky, ugly, and selfish and since he didn't carry 6 babies in his tummy he really can't claim any fame here. Boring.
9. The Jonas Brothers. Little kids in motercycle-girl clothes. Big deal.
8. Michelle Obama. She's the first lady, not a fashion icon...let her do her first lady thing and over-analyze someone else's sweater set.
7. Jessica Simpson. Minimal talent, zero taste in hair, clothes, or makeup.
6. I know everyone hates them, but that Spencer Pratt kid with the lying habit and his hair-brained girlfriend bore me to death. Nothing real ever happens to them so they make drama up. Yawn.
5. Mischa Barton. I never like her look: too much eyeliner and not enough clothes.
4. Random Kardashians. I hate to bash the Armenians, but come on - what have you ever done to deserve fame?
3. Lauren Conrad. Where there's smoke, there's fire: if it seems that you keep collecting enemies out of the blue, you might be annoying and hard to get along with.
2. Megan Fox. She is trying too hard to be "sexy". True attractiveness doesn't require effort, and it certainly shouldn't look like you put effort into it. We used to call this the "it" factor. Megan Fox does not have IT.
1. Paris Hilton. I do hand it to her for staying in the camera's eye for so long - I think she must be smarter than she looks, acts, or seems. But I am sick of her ugly clothes and silly escapades.

Did I miss any?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The mystery of the broken bike wheel!

I, being the wonderful and adoring wife that I am, went out of my way to buy my husband a bike last week. Of course I bought one used because I'm a cheapskate. I'm not a bike expert, so when I bought it I just kind of rode around, changed gears used the brakes, etc. After I brought it home I tried it out on a longer ride, heading up to the top of the levee by my house. I liked it. It was a smooth, fast ride and the bike was light-weight for a mountain bike. I put it away in the back yard in anticipation of a morning ride with the hubby.
Here's where it gets weird. The next morning when my husband got on the bike he tried to peddle it and it wouldn't go. The back wheel was stuck - actually it was hitting the forks, completely bent out of shape! Somehow the wheel had become so severely bent that it couldn't even turn - yet the evening before I rode it all over with no problem. Surely I would have noticed if I hit a bump so hard it mangled the wheel. But what could possibly have happened? It is a mystery! Frankly I think my neighbors borrowed it. They're kind of shady and often eye my bikes with jealousy.
That's my theory. David's theory is that the wheel was bent before and the guy who sold me the bike bent it back, but David's heavier weight on the bike popped it back to its bent-ness. Hmmm.
What's your theory? If you figure the mystery of the bike out, you win a bent bike wheel! How cool is that! SO put your Nancy Drew caps on and help me with this one!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Foody Friday: Meet Sucre

If I haven't already introduced you, check out this gorgeous website. Or if you're in the area go there yourself. The experience is half the fun - it's such a fun place to go for desserts. The other half of the fun is eating beautiful glittery desserts!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A neat bobby pin tip

Bobby pins have a stiff, straight shape that really does nothing to help their function. Yesterday during my lunch I was browsing hair accessories and found slightly curved bobby pins that were marketed for "use when growing out bangs". Great idea, except the pins were not true bobby pins with the wavy gripping edge so you couldn't use them for much else. Also they were like $3 for a set of 6 which seems like a waste.
I've actually been making my own curved bobby pins for years. I simply bend them by hand, as shown above. Once they're bent they fit against the head much better and hold the hair closer to the scalp. Plus, if you use them like a barrette, the curved shape allows the end of the bobby pin - which usually sticks up annoyingly - to slide neatly under a layer of hair. In the second picture, compare the first pin, which sits nicely against my head, to the second pin, which is sticking out. The first pin wins hands down! Much sleeker, don't you agree?
Sorry for the horrid pictures... I'm rushing out of the house this morning!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What's in my medicine cabinet?

Since I'm a pharmacist I get lots of questions about over the counter drugs to take for various conditions. I actually don't take a lot of medication myself - nothing prescription, and I use over the counter drugs very judiciously. But I still have a large assortment since I like to be prepared for anything!
Here's what is sitting upstairs expiring in my cabinet:
Pain killers:
Ibuprofen. It helps with pain, fever, and inflammation, plus it is the drug of choice for menstrual cramps.
Cough and Cold:
Antihistamine: Cetirazine. It's second generation, so does not cause drowsiness, but it's more potent than loratidine. I also keep diphenhydramine on hand in case of a major allergic reaction, which I get occasionally. It causes big time drowsiness but if I have a rash all over my body I'll take it.
Decongestant: Pseudoephedrine. Purchase in the United States requires your ID and signature thanks to its use in the production of methamphetamines, and in Louisiana it will soon become a controlled substance. However it is vastly superior to phenylephrine, the substitute many companies are using in cough and cold products. Phenylephrine is broken down in the gut so you don't get much of the drug to actually do its job, so purchase pseudoephedrine behind the counter.
Cough: I only buy cough products if I need them. If it's a wet cough buy plain Robitussin to help you cough it all up. If it's a dry cough buy Delsym to suppress it. I don't buy Mucinex although people swear by it - it is a long acting guaifenasin preparation to expel mucous but it can be very drying so I like the shorter acting drugs instead. Then you only use them when you need them.
Sore throat: Sucrets or Cepacol lozenges can numb the throat better than a throat spray, which washing away quickly.
Tummy troubles:
I rarely have GI complaints but here are my recommendations:
Nausea: nothing OTC works.
Diarrhea: loperamide; take it with fiber to soak up the liquid in the intestines.
Gsa: Pepcid complete helps with sour stomach with gas; for gas alone use simethicone by itself.
Acid reflux: If it is just occasional you can use an antacid. Gaviscon is best if you feel a burning in your throat because it floats so enters the esophagus before the reflux does and protects the esophagus.
Neosporin plus pain relief - kids love this; 1% hydrocortisone cream (again, I get allergic reactions! BTW the best thing to do for a bad reaction such as a large, swollen insect bite is diphenhydramine by mouth and a steroid like hydrocortizone topically - don't waste time applying Benadryl itch stick etc); black drawing salve (Ie ichthamol, to draw out deep splinters); clove oil for toothaches.

Well, that's my cabinet. Notice that I rarely use combination products. I'd rather treat only the specific problem I have, so I never buy cough and cold tablets with several ingredients. You're almost sure to take a drug you don't need. Don't forget to read doses and warnings, too. All drugs are toxic to some extent!