Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Bend Over: Pharmaceuticals

TB has been taking liquid Zyrtec for years. At least since he was two or three. He's always had allergy issues, and is borderline asthmatic, but this stuff really seems to do the trick for day-to-day maintenance.

Under my prescription plan, we were getting a 90 day supply for $100. We stretched it a bit, so it was probably more like a 100-120 day supply for us. Still, it cost us $300-$400 a year for this stuff.

On January 24, Zyrtec went OTC. Yippee! I thought maybe some savings would come of this, but here's the breakdown, based on the mail order prices from the place we've been getting our prescriptions:

If he keeps taking liquid, a 4 oz. bottle is $13. 4 oz. = 12 days worth. 365/12 x $13 = $395.42 for the year.

Or, he could take chewable tablets. Chewable tablets are $12 for 12 tablets, or 12 days worth. 365/12 x $12 = $365.00 for the year.

Bend over! That's no savings at all. So, the other option is he take regular tablets that he would have to swallow. He's only six, so I'm not sure he can do that.

Still, they have the generic tablet version for $45 for a 300 day supply! Now that saves us some dough.

We still have a bunch of the liquid available, so I guess the boy will be practicing his pill swallering, maybe with his Flintstones vitamins.

Monday, January 28, 2008

It's a Love/Hate Thing

I've been tagged by Country Dew with an interesting little meme. Who am I to disappoint?

I love to eat: almost anything, but my favorite would be seafood or my mother's chicken and dumplings.

I hate to eat: most cold cereals. I think I grew tired of it because a bowl was laid out for me every morning growing up. In college, it was like cereal heaven. There were dozens of bins lined up and it was all you can eat. I'm not sure I had any during those four years because I was so done with it. Today, I do enjoy a bowl of Life once in awhile and some of those with almonds floating up in there are OK, but it's rare.

I hate to go: to church. Sorry, folks, I know that's not a very popular position around these parts, but it's how I feel. Church makes me very uncomfortable. The Lutheran church was very important in G'diddy's life. Out of respect for him, I would go with the family a few times a year. We do take our son to Sunday school, which I have mixed feelings about, but I suppose there is no harm in it. My parents are Methodists, but they haven't gone to services in 40 years. I have my own thoughts about higher powers and things greater than me and all that. It doesn't mesh with Christianity, and I don't think I'm wrong, so church is not for me.

I love to go: to the beach, the golf course, hiking up mountains, skiing, walking around the neighborhood, to my son's sporting events, to my front porch with an ice cold beverage on a hot, sunny, summer afternoon.

I love it when: there is a sudden thunderstorm and I'm on my front port with an ice cold beverage on a hot, recently sunny, summer afternoon.

I hate it when: there is a sudden thunderstorm during a swim meet.

I love to see: the clock strike 4:00PM on a Friday afternoon. Not that I punch a clock, but that's generally quittin' time on Friday.

I hate to see: the wastefulness that springs from the overblown sense of entitlement we have in America, and the fact that it has completely infected the younger generation through all social strata. Think about all you can eat buffets, happy meal toys, Webkins, etc. The other night, the boy and I were on a quick turnaround before a basketball game and we went to Cici's pizza. Yeah, I know, that was our first mistake. There was a group there that must have eaten ten slices of pizza each. They had a little obese, bratty, whiny kid. He kept asking for quarters to go fish things out of a bin with a big claw. He did this about 25 times and the table was covered with the biggest pile of mess you've ever seen (cheapo stuffed animals, plastic snakes, little boxes of candy, who knows what else). When they departed, they left most of this junk behind on the table. These people, who from the look of them could barely afford to be there in the first place, dropped about $10.00 on cheap plastic junk that peasants in China worked all day to make, and then just left it there to be swept into the trash bin by the bus boy. WTF? Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

I love to hear: My wife's laughter. You can literally hear her from blocks around, and it's infectious. If LBB is cackling, people are having a good time. Also, I love to hear the wind. Sorry, CD, but I have just the opposite feeling about wind. It's my favorite weather. Even though it once launched our deck umbrella into our neighbor's minivan, which caused significant damage, I still like wind.

I hate to hear: my son coughing in the night. His allergy issues have subsided greatly, so this is far less frequent than it used to be. Still, even if he's sleeping through it, it tears me up to hear it.

So there you have it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Soft Construction With Boiled Beans

No, not Dali, but chili! I'm cooking up a big pot of it this afternoon. I have a recipe that I usually follow (loosely), but today I'm using a sack of "Fartless Chili Makins". I hope that proves to be true, since we are serving it up for company.

My New Favorite Song by an Old Favorite Band

Where Do You Think You're Going by Dire Straits. Wow! I just discovered this song from the Communique album. This may be the most perfect guitar ever. The original studio version is flawless.

Never mind that it looks like Mark Knopfler is wearing a union suit in this video.

Has Bob Costas Been Demoted?

Yesterday while I was at the gym looking at the wall of TVs I noticed that Bob Costas was covering the US Figure Skating Championships. I wonder what network executive he pissed off. No offense to you figure skating fans out there, but it's not exactly a premier showcase event. Wasn't the winner like a 4th grader or something?

Costas is NBC's number one sports guy, and you wouldn't really expect to see him there. I would think he gets his pick. Maybe he really likes figure skating?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Drunks in Chimneys

I think it's time to pull the Drunks in Chimneys list from the sidebar, so off it goes, but if I hear about any more dipshits stuck in the masonry I'll be sure to tell you.

Blogger Line Feed Mystery

Any Blogger users ever experience one of your posts suddenly adding space between paragraphs with line breaks that were previously not there?

My most recent post, when I last looked at it, had three lines between each paragraph. I swear that was not the case earlier and I hadn't made any edits. I promise, two hours ago it looked fine, on both IE and Firefox. I've since fixed it.

Gremlins are among us.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Yipe, A Year

Today, it's been one year since I unfurled this blog experiment. Thanks for stopping by.

I didn't quite make my recently stated goal of one post per day. Still, 336 posts in a year is not bad, especially since I tried hard to keep this fun. I didn't want to get to where blogging felt like work, and I believe that is what sustained me through periods of doubt.

Of course there are great bloggers who show up only once or twice a week, and crappy ones that pepper you all day long, so quantity is not a big factor anyway.

I've had over 11,000 visitors since I started counting, and the trend has been up, so I'm excited about that.

Also, today was a record google ad revenue day, $3.30! I think Giants fans are hitting that "Psyche Tom Brady Out" ad. It's from all the Tom Coughlin traffic.

Over the year I promised more design overhauls than I actually did. Overall, my template has remained pretty static, with a few rearrangements here and there. Two reasons for that: I kinda like it the way it is, and I realize that if I'm ever going to take it to the next level, I'll have to ditch Blogger anyway. I'm not going to spend a bunch of time until I make the leap to Wordpress.

Tonight, I might go through all my posts over the year and see if I can update the "Top Nine" on the right sidebar. It's a little skewed toward the earlier stuff.

So, on to a new year!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ooh, Better Yet!

That big traffic spike I showed you also led to a big day in Google ad revenue. I made $1.03 yesterday. A new record! I'm on the road to early retirement.

Big Spike

Whoa! Look at this giant traffic spike. All because I made a few quick references to Tom Coughlin's beet red face during the Giants win in Green Bay.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It Won't Let Met Loose!

The player just went from Dylan's Tangled Up In Blue, to 50 Cent's In Da Club. How could I shut it down?

By screwing up and closing the wrong Firefox session, that's how.

I guess that means it's bedtime.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


As soon as I think I can leave I get reeled right back in. This time, it's Dr. Feelgood . . . . oh yeah, you know it, you like it, you want to hear it, if it's on the radio you turn it up. Yes you do, don't deny it.

I'll Never Get To Bed Now

Crap. It's Sunday night, and I need to get up for work early tomorrow. . . but, the FineTune player just sent me some Black Box. There's no way you can just shut that off. I can't find a good quick link to give you an taste of it but it's great house music.

Gotta dance . . .

I'm getting nostalgic, because this music reminds me of a good friend in DC who died just before our son was born. I miss him, and then I remember that my family is in DC tonight and I feel connected but distant.

Solitude is great for a day, and only a day. I used to live alone and it was fine

Oh, but now the FT sent me Big Sleep, by Simple Minds. Might that be a hint?

Dive, Dive, Dive in Me!

Whoa! Wow! My much neglected FineTune player just spat out Dive which I think is a very overlooked Nirvana song.

It predates their huge success, but it's better than nearly everything they released later, except Drain You, which is a masterpiece. A snippet:

" I don't care what you think
Unless it is about me
It is now my duty to completely drain you"

Six Degrees of Tom Coughlin's Red Face

I need to beer blog more football games and other sporting events because I've had nearly a hundred hits in the last hour. Usually, that's a great total for a full day.

Amazing what you can come up with when you're trying for 42 posts in 4 days.

Jimmy Johnson's Face Is Falling Off

OK, they got Tom Coughlin in and warmed up. His face is still red, but I think he will be OK.

Now, it's Jimmy Johnson's jowls I'm worried about. Did you notice though this whole game, the commentators had a tough time with their diction? That's because they are all freezing to death! For crying out loud, get Jimmy Johnson inside!

Third Tynes?

Is this clown going to blow another kick????? . . . . . NO! The Giants are in the Super Bowl. The goat becomes a hero. Amazing. They deserved it after their run through the playoffs. What a good game!

After the struggle the Patriots had today, I'd say the Super Bowl is nearly an even match.

Prediction: Patriots 28, Giants 24

Tom Coughlin's Face Is Falling Off

Isn't it? Anybody watching this game? His face is rosy red and ripe for pickin'. It's going to snap off in the cold. Giants are looking good in this game, though.

It's so nice to be home watching TV by a crackly warm fire. My face may be red, but at least it isn't going to freeze and crack off onto the ground.


Farve? Favre? Farrv? Favr? Fravr? Fvavre? Bret Favr? Bret Favre? Is that it? How does that come out to be "farv"?

Witch's Nip

Whoa! Wow! This is about as cold as it gets in SW VA: forecast low of 9 overnight, with wind chill near zero.

9. Can you imagine?

It's -2 at the Giants-Packers game tonight. Wind chill -23. I'm waiting for the football to crack in two.

I'll Never Make It

My one year blog-versary is coming up Thursday. I was hoping to average a post a day by the end of the year but the odds are grim because this one is #323. Let's do the math: 323/365 = 0.8849. If I'm going to make it to a once daily ratio, I need to post 42 more times by the end of the day Wednesday.

Ain't bloody likely, but it's an interesting challenge. I'm not sure I'll try because there is football to watch. Bye bye now.

Parking Peeve

What is it about Roanoke that people think they can park on the wrong side of the street?

If it's a one way street, by all means, park on the left or the right. Enjoy the luxury of choice! But if it's a two way street, you are supposed to park with the passenger side along the curb. That's just the way it is. The rules of the road. The law. This is the only place I've ever lived where people crap all over this rule. In DC, you'd have a boot on your wheel before you get your coat off.

I see this all the time, even on my big, wide block where street parking is abundant. What, don't they teach the three-point turn in driving school around here?

Park proper, people!

Craigslist Offerings

Anyone looking for

Stop on by, make us an offer!

Uncomfortable Being Comfortable

I saw a comedian on TV last night who was suggesting that we need a dress code in airports because too many people show up in their PJ's. People looking that comfortable make him uncomfortable.

It was hilarious.

Last night, in my own house, with nothing to do, and my wife and child out of town, after I got out of the shower, I thought about putting on sweats or PJs or other "comfortable" clothes, and I just couldn't do it. I had to put on jeans, a shirt, and shoes. That is how I'm comfortable.

This drives my wife nuts, because she wants a clean floor, but it's completely against my nature to take my shoes off when I walk in the house. If it's rainy, I try to remove my shoes by the door so I don't make a big mess, but sometimes I forget.

I just don't like walking around in my socks.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Gift Card Home Run

I had a $50 gift card to Barnes and Noble that I decided to burn today. Have you ever had a gift card that you just wanted to use up, so you bought some things that you may not have otherwise spent your own cash to buy?

Today, I went all in on a couple things sight unseen, or unheard, if you will, and I hit the jackpot.

I was in a more musical mood than literary, so I picked out one good book (Absurdistan, by Gary Shteyngart - I've heard great things) and then focused on the CDs. Barnes and Noble is not cheap for CDs, but they do have a few bargains here and there.

First thing I saw walking in was the new Radiohead record, In Rainbows. I'll get back to this, but it's the one they offered online for whatever people wanted to pay. Crazy. Revolutionary. A major middle finger to the industry. I think they averaged about $4 per download. Whatever. I heard it was good, and I like a CD with all the trimmings, so at $11.99, I thought it was a bargain.

After that, I looked around for twenty minutes or so, trying to get in the mood for something. Usually, when that happens, I start easing back toward the familiar: bands I loved growing up, albums I had on vinyl or tape years ago. I found myself flipping through King Crimson.

Now, I've only known one King Crimson fan other than myself, and I haven't seen him since high school. I'm not an i-Tunes subscriber, but on Rhapsody there is almost no Crimson.

King Crimson has gone through (at least) four major phases as a band, and they all have their pros and cons. They are all anchored by Robert Fripp on guitar and other devices. They started in the late sixties with Greg Lake (of ELP) on vocals. You know some of those songs: In the Court of the Crimson King and 21st Century Schizoid Man most likely.

That lasted a few years, then in 1973 they put together a new line up. John Wetton became the lead singer. He was later the singer for Asia. Bill Bruford joined on drums, after leaving Yes at the peak of their success.

Their first album with this lineup was Lark's Tongues in Aspic, and that's what I picked up today. I have it on cassette, melting up in the attic. As hard as it is to get their older albums made this a major find. Give a listen to this album, or Red, and you won't believe this is the same singer (and bass player) who did Heat of the Moment.

In the 80's, they morphed again, with Adrian Belew on vocals and Tony Levin on bass. You may know the song Heartbeat but probably not. This is the incarnation I found first, and absorbed completely.

From the 1990's to today, they have gone through a number of odd changes, but most all of their material revolves around Robert Fripp's guitar experimentation. It's good, but I'm not loving it like the older stuff.

Now, on to the new Radiohead album, In Rainbows. Wow. Absolutely freakin' wow.

I rarely love a CD on first listen. It's hard to these days, because most artists give you a single or two and a bunch of nothing. The latest from Radiohead is astonishing. There are a couple tracks that are languid, but they still evoke the best moments of their best languid albums, like Kid A. There are pieces as good as the best of OK Computer, there are moments of genius, like on "All I Need", and believe it or not there are tracks you can dance to. You won't, but you could.

I haven't heard every Radiohead album all the way through, so I can't say this is their best ever, but it is one that held me, beginning to end, and left me stunned. One of the best I've heard in years, and one of the best I heard today . . .

. . . except for this other one I bought today, which is flawless: Global Drum Project, by Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju, and Giovanni Hidalgo (and others).

Oh, my, god! I'll say it again, this record is absolutely flawless.

My favorite music is repetitive, trance-like, inspiring, and full of heavy beats. This record has it all. It makes me wish I were trying to learn drums instead of guitar (although the guitar work here is exceptional as well).

Mickey Hart is one of the two drummers from the Grateful Dead. I always thought his talent was masked with the Dead, but not his enthusiasm for the music. It's unusual to see a picture of Mickey Hart where he isn't smiling.

You either love the Grateful Dead or you don't. I'm one that loves them, but not as a follower. I've been to one Dead show. I did partake as one should, but I rode home on the Metro and went to work the next morning.

Post-Dead, Mickey Hart has explored world music like no other, and the rhythms on the Global Drum Project are nothing short of life affirming. It's a must.

That was the best gift card I've ever used.

What Kind of List Is That?

My wife and son are going a'visiting up north for the next couple days, so I find myself with 48+ hours to myself. I asked her to jot down any chores she might want me to deal with while they are gone. All she came up with was:

  • move a bookshelf
  • vacuum
  • feed the cat
  • post a few items on Craigslist
  • put out the order for the milkman on Monday

What? That's it? I thought she might want me to paint a room or build a bookshelf or clean out the basement.

This is great, because now I can work on my own list. I really should clean out the gutters on the garage, but naw, too cold for that.

I think I'm going to have a long workout at the gym, go to Barnes and Noble and spend my gift card, and work on finding some online guitar lessons. There's some excellent NCAA basketball today, and then tomorrow the NFL conference championship games.

So, I'm going to miss them, but it looks like I'll have a pretty good weekend, too.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Whoa! Where's Tennessee?

In spite of this ominous looking radar picture from our south, I expect our local weather pundits have overreacted and we will get about an inch and a half of snow and then some cold rain. Just a guess. The hype is always overblown for the first storm of the year.

I hope I'm wrong, because my boy has some great snow sledding gear. One way or the other, I'm sure the decision makers have already decided to shut the schools down tomorrow.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Watching the Cowboys-Giants game this evening, I can't help pulling for the Giants, but then I got to thinking, who would I rather see suffer a major beating by the Packers or the Patriots?

The Pack is looking good, but I don't have as much confidence that they win next weekend, regardless if it's NY or Dallas. New England is going to shove SD aside like they are a Pee Wee team.

So, I hope to see the Giants win today, but if they don't, it will be fun to see the Cowboys lose the Super Bowl 75-0.

Friday, January 11, 2008

20 Minutes to Yourself

Let's you just finished up a task, or you arrived home a little earlier than expected. No one is around to talk to, and you have a small chunk of time, say 15-20 minutes, before you have to take off for the next scheduled event.

What do you do with that little piece of freedom? Watch TV? Make a grocery list? Meditate? Do a household chore? Read? Masterba . . . ahhhh, wait, no don't tell me if that's what you do. That's your own personal business and I don't really want to know.

What do you do with 20 minutes? Let me know in the comments, otherwise, we will all assume it's that last thing. Call it comment blackmail, if you wish.

I've Got Nothing or I Used It All Up

Note the six day absence from this blog. Note the anemic trifle offered just before it petered out completely.

I've got nothing, folks. I entered the New Year with a plan and a purpose and it floated away and out of sight, like the balloon you let go of at the carnival before you had a chance to tie it to your wrist.

While we've been getting some good rains to refill our reservoirs, I find my own tank approaching E. The warning light teases me: uphill, on, downhill, off; in the flats, it flickers and fades, flickers and fades. I don't know if the next station is right up ahead, or if I'm speeding away from it, setting myself up for a long hike back to familiar lands, a beggar with a gas can. AAA wont help here.

I haven't felt like posting a thing, so I haven't. I've been reading my usual blogroll, but I've been too lazy to comment much; a shame, because I've seen some really good stuff out there lately. I need to revise my latest monthly piece for the paid gig. I don't wanna. I'm aching to rethink my blog, its design and its direction, but I don't feel like it right now. I need to get going on a bigger project I've been thinking of, but it's too much trouble.

Is it the season? Post holiday blues? Have I been playing too much Wii? Not enough blood to my brain?

Ah, whatever. I'm hopeful this lull is just a psychic reorganization, a catching up, my mind saying, "Hey, wait a minute, I'm tired. Let me get a donut and some coffee. Then we'll talk about it and move forward, together."

I always noticed, when my son was a toddler, whenever he went through a phase of extreme fussiness, bad behavior, or other unpredictable nonsense, it was always followed by a major breakthrough - walking to running, words to sentences, "Gimme" to "Please may I?"

I choose to hope that's where I am now, on the edge of something better, a balloon man right nearby.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

What in the World Is Going On Here?

60 degrees outside, at 5:00 PM, on January 6. Possibly 70 for the next two days. We just went for a long walk in the park. It was packed! Packed, I tell you! Even the birds are confused, all chirping and flying around like they do.

I ain't complaining. I want one good snow so my boy can go sledding. Then, the hell with it. Bring on summer.

Santa Was Good To Us

A week ago I had a lot more to say about the holidays, but now it's way too late. In summary, Santa was very good to TB this year. He (we) got a Wii (wheee!), and this cheapo, "authentic" Def Leppard guitar. I think it will be a year or two before his hands are big enough to actually play. It's as much for me as for him, since I used to play back in high school. I'm looking forward to learning it again. Rock on, kiddo!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What's Going To Be Different In 2008

Here are a few things, personal and otherwise, that will change this year:

1) I'm going to do better at following through on promises. Like the promised, but yet to be posted, review of Christmas on Jefferson Street, complete with joyful photos. Yes, it's coming, here in the next few days.

Also, the promised blog refocus and overhaul. One of these days.

2) I will stop putting off my South Roanoke Circle column until two days before the deadline. I have a whole month, so why am I always scurrying to finish it?

3) I'm going to work on writing more regularly, with more variety and experimentation; also, to market my writing more aggressively.

4) I'm going to lose 20 pounds. I need to lose 40, but I'm going for incremental milestones along the way.

5) I need to call my mother more often. God knows she won't call me. I have no idea why, but she just doesn't.

6) The attic must be cleaned out, and a big whopping yard sale will happen this spring on Jefferson Street. For you locals, I'll give you a rundown of our sale inventory as the date approaches.

7) Paperwork purge. I have a filing cabinet that contains every paycheck stub and bank statement I've received since 1983. What's the point? Why do I keep this stuff?

8) My son and I are going to create an ass-kickin' pinewood derby car. This year is our first entry in this event, and we are going to win it all, baby!

9) I'm not going to have any more hangovers. I've slept away one too many weekend mornings lately as a result of holiday revelry. I'm getting too old for all that. Besides, who wants to feel lousy on an already too brief weekend?

10) I'll try to project a more positive attitude. Say "yes" more than "no"; enjoy the moment; stop fretting the future and lamenting the past; be nicer to my wife. All these things are wrapped in a bundle of anxiety of which I'd like to rid myself.

11) Encourage my boy in the things he likes to do.

12) Learn (again) to play the guitar.

13) Pay more attention to local events. Take advantage of seeing live music, art events, and other festivals. There's plenty to do around here if you look around. Maybe I'll even suggest something to my wife and friends. Usually, I'm just going with the flow instead of organizing anything myself.

14) Hike weekly (if the weather is good).

15) Visit friends in DC and northern Virginia, at least once.

16) And finally, I'm going to patiently suffer the exhausting election campaigns, knowing in the end that we finally get to elect a new president. That's got to be a good thing.

Let's see how it goes.