Friday, October 13, 2006

Pill Popper, M.D.

Once again, the Blogger community has given me inspiration and solace in the fact that I am neither alone in my thoughts nor stuck in the mire of commonality. As happened last week, there are great revelations that occur when we think and share ideas. Again today.

When I got to item number 12 of yesterday's Thursday Thirteen, I started thinking about the decision I made to relieve myself of the burden of Paxil. In addition to the constant yawning, tiredness and general malaise I found myself in, I couldn't get it up.

What good is feeling good if I can't follow through? Of course, it would have been made better with a healthy dose of Viagra. The fatigue could have been cured with a little change in medication, but the ensuing increase in energy may have required a little Lunestra. To cure one particular ill, I could have found myself taking at least three different medications. The pharmaceutical industry would love me for it.

After reading kara's post of a Bill Maher essay today, I started thinking that maybe I'm not the only one who feels like America is falling under the influence of the drug companies - sick mind notwithstanding.

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol. The number had gotten up to 225, and with a lousy family history, my doctor threatened to put me on Lipitor if I couldn't get the number to some acceptable level. Vigorous exercise wasn't doing it, so I turned to the local vitamin shop for an answer.

Every day, I take 1200mg of something called Red Yeast Rice, as well as Omega3 fish oil tablets, folic acid and a multi-vitamin pack that could choke a pony. Combined with my exercise program, the number got to 156 in less than six months. Common Americans would have relented to the sofa and the safety of Pfizer's miracle drug, but for those of us who would rather make our own path in life, the simple answer was not the right one. The vitamins cost me more than my prescription plan would for the Lipitor, but my self-respect is worth more than the money I would save. So, I say, "Pfuck you Pfizer", I'll do it myself.

I read a statistic in the newspaper that said more than 40% of American adults are taking at least one prescription medication. If you think about it, it isn't too hard to imagine. Arthritis, cholesterol, depression, high blood pressure, anxiety and good old impotence probably account for most of it. There are medications to keep people from smoking, drinking, eating and insomnia too. As has been said here before, we are a fat, lazy country of convenience; and nothing is more convenient than a pill.

When junior sees mom and dad popping the meds to escape the reality of having shitty kids, lots of bills, a lousy job and no place to go; they see it as the perfect solution. When they are old enough to sign themselves out of school because their teachers are jackasses, the prescriptions for ADD (and it's older cousin ADHD) start flying. Keep the kids medicated. Mom and dad will be less miserable if the kids are so doped up that they can't see how miserable mom and dad are. The circle of life, brought to you by Merck.

My version of reality came when I realized that my feeling lousy was the result of the woman in my life making me feel like a pile of crap, regardless of my level of involvement in the relationship. My intital answer was to blame myself and seek the appropriate medication. You can't blame me for falling prey to the constant advertising and reassurance that my problems must be addressed through 10 milligram doses of instant gratification. When the gratification was neither instant nor acceptable, I decided that the pills didn't either cause or correct the problem. Since there was no pill for BITCH, I quickly realized the real issue and have since found peace with myself; no thanks to pharmaceuticals.

Granted, there are legitimate illnesses that require medication, but we have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of advertising done for prescription drugs over the last five years. Each one uses the tag line, "Ask your doctor if [drug] is right for you." Ask my doctor? Isn't it his job to tell me? The drug companies have figured out the perfect marketing campaign:

Nothing works better than a persuasive TV ad. Add to it the fact that doctors are barraged with salespeople from the drug companies, pushing their medications. When Mrs. Miserable comes in and starts yakking about her shitty kids and her lousy job, Doc Holliday comes to the first logical conclusion: TAKE A PILL. She can't kill the kids. If she does, the drug company loses another customer. The logical solution is some anti-depressant, because the pill will fix the shitty kids and the lousy job. Even if it doesn't, she'll take it long enough to believe that it does.

The cure for what you think ails you doesn't come from the pharmacy. Ask your doctor. If he tells you it does, maybe you need to ask another one.
Dennis Shea, a professor at Pennsylvania State University's college of health and human development, found mixed news in the report.
"Certainly, in the 1990s there were lots of advances in being better able to target drugs to conditions," he said. "But there is that danger that people are overmedicating . . . taking so many medications that they can interact, make one ineffective or cause harm."
And, he added, "Americans seem to look for that magic pill, don't they?" In many cases the patients pressure physicians: " 'Give me the pill, I don't want to change my diet, I don't want to exercise.' It is an easy way out but may not be as effective," he said.
The benefits of improved diet and exercise can extend beyond any single ailment, he added.

Filthy Foot's Big Ass Booty

Hmmmm ... what an interesting title. Anyway, for those of you who have been wondering, yes the good people at Big Ass Fans have sent me the swag they promised. The Big Ass envelope came with Thursday's mail, and it contained lots of Big Ass stuff.

My cat was interested as was I:

Once I got his furry nose out of the way, I was able to bust open the Big Ass envelope and disclose the contents:

Thanks to my newest, bestest buddies at the Big Ass Fan Company, I can stick my head up my Big Ass ball cap, I have a T-Shirt that creates educational opportunities for those who see my big ass in it (size Grande) and four little Big Ass Squeeze Toys. How did Cynthia know I had a cat that would love to play with my Big Ass?

As for the shirt, it fits like a glove and will look great at the bar during the next Eagles game. The bar has some big-ass waitresses and bartenders who will appreciate the slogan on the front:
and an even bigger Big Ass logo on the back:

So, thanks Cynthia and all the good folks at Big Ass fans. You have a fan here, too. To make it even better, Monday is my Big Ass birthday. Could you send a Big Ass cake? Those squeeze toys are too chewy.

The next time you're out with your friends, keep your eyes to the skies and you may spy a Big Ass Fan -- or me, if I'm swinging from the ceiling.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thursday Thirteen v.5

Thirteen Times I Needed a Delorian

...and some Plutonium. Times of regret - we all have them. So, let's get in the Delorian, crank it up to 85mph and take care of all of those "Biff" moments that would change my life for the better.
Here are 13 things I would go back in time and change.
Screw the space-time continum, I want to be happy now.

1. My wedding day. October 13, 1990. To stop it before it got out of hand. Mostly, I felt badly for the guests who gave up a perfectly good Saturday to attend and buy a gift, and I missed my 15-year high school reunion. She has been gone since 1996, but I did get a nice cat out of the deal, so it wasn't a total loss.

2. Buying those shoes. What was I thinking? They weren't going to fit any better at home than they did at the store. Is the air pressure different in shoe stores than it is at home, that makes my feet shrink? I have more shoes that I don't wear than ones that I do. A word of advice: Never buy shoes from a mail-order catalog.

3. Quitting the guitar. 1981. Playing was a lot of work, but satisfying. Once the fingertip calluses go, the playing suffers. Plus, I don't meet nearly as many women as I used to.

4. Giselle Geisele. 1989. I met her while I was dating #1. We talked about it, and agreed that I should stay with #1. I loved her name, and called her by it, even though she preferred "GG". I wonder where she is and I wonder if she wonders where I am? Google me, GG.

5. All those cases of sunburn. 1970s. Summers at the Jersey shore when all we had was Coppertone (SPF 0) that washed off two seconds after going in the water. Melanoma awaits.

6. Accepting that paper route. 1974. A ridiculous attempt to earn concert ticket money. It lasted a little more than a week for reasons that are too long to explain.

7. Buying the Pinto. 1976. Although I drove it for 8 years, it scared more people than the Bush Administration, but it never did explode or cause any real damage, unlike George.

8. The purple car. 1994. I read a story saying that purple was the next "hot color". Word of advice: Don't react to stories you read about how popular something is supposed to be - make your own decisions. The car is gone now. To understand the personal Hell I went through, read this.

9. The baseball cards. 1985-1990. Now, they are mostly worthless rectangles of cardboard that were entertaining at the time, but in my heart of hearts, I knew the money would be better spent drinking or getting a nice massage. They're gone, too.

10. Corning at $1 a share. 2002. They make all the LCDs for televisions and have been making quality glass products for longer than I have been alive. The stock got to a little more than a buck a share, and I had the savings account withdrawl slip filled out to buy a thousand shares, but couldn't pull the trigger. It's at $24.50 today. Spilled milk.

11. The Shore Property. 1978. I'm going back to the late 70s to buy a piece of property at the Jersey shore. It doesn't matter where, just buy it and sit on it until today. Then, sell it for a half-million dollars and retire - but not to the Jersey shore.

12. Paxil. 1999. Feeling kinda crappy, I decided to start taking this anti-depressant med. However, after wasting an entire summer yawning, laying around and generally not feeling too much better, I reasoned that the real problem was my relationship with my soon-to-be-ex girlfriend. LESSON: Never take pills because of someone else. Sometimes it's not you, it's them. And most of the time, a pill wouldn't fix them, either.

13. Dad. 1966. Dad died in April of 1967 at the age of 47 of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). All they could tell him then was to eat more fish. I'm going back with a surgeon from the Mayo Clinic and a fistful of catheters. Hey, nobody said "no passengers"!

Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

It's Not Easy Being Green

One of the cool things about blogging is that we get to share ideas, and although we are strangers, we somehow bond on this strange electronic level. Sometimes, I think there may be more ideas exchanged here than most married couples exchange in their lifetimes. Particularly, I love it when otherwise unrelated blogs express opinions on similar issues. Today was one of those days. There are two related posts that crossed my screen today.

One from
Kate and another from Kara. Kara's was directly related to something I posted Tuesday and an article she read; while Kate's was more of an general question, that relates on another level. Isn't this fun?

Where Kate's and Kara's are related is in the area of self-respect and acceptance, and why it is important to us. One would think that independent adults would be resigned to the fact that it shouldn't matter what others think, but we are certainly beholden to the opinions and ideas of others to validate the ideas and expressions that we have.

My comment to Kara expressed an opinion about the blue for boys and pink for girls issue: I'm especially interested in the blue/pink aspect of the discussion. So often, store ads (usually for athletic shoes) throw me with the color choices. I consider myself to be a "normal" guy, but I find appeal in some of the women's colors. The muted pastels and lighter colors appeal to me, but they are women's sneaks. The men's are generally more contrasty, and generally black/grey/white or dark blue. I wonder if most of us go along to get along, or if the color choices were equally available, whether more men would choose different colors. Then, how would "society" label us?

Kate's issue was the insecurity that we feel (yes, Katie, men feel it too). I avoided public contact by going to the LJS on
Monday because, deep down, I feel that we should constantly be approved. As though, if I wore a pair of pastel-colored sneakers, society would label me as less manly than someone who had chosen the black or white choice. As though the part of the brain that chooses the color is the part that chooses the sexual orientation. Does it matter? It says here that it doesn't.
Chances are, Kate, that if I wore light blue sneakers the comments wouldn't be fake, but would they necessarily be honest?

Would people express an opinion on the light blue shoes because they felt that society demanded they do so, or because they really felt that way? It's a difficult question, and one that requires a dose of sodium pentothal. Our friends may say "nice shoes" or they may choose to ridicule "nice shoes, Mary". Either way, we would not know if the comment was driven by society or genuine.
We must choose to believe or not believe whatever a loved one says, regardless of what society tells us we should think, which is where the issue of gender roles comes in.

"A woman's place is in the home" is as old as the people who believe it, and it is an idea that dies a slow death, and if we are to believe the salary numbers, it is still kicking. Somehow, society believes that the work that a woman does, whether identical to a man or not, is of less value than the work of a man. Why that is would take more space than I have available to explain, but it just is. We believe it and move on. The idea that women should be treated the same as men has been slow to catch on, simply because the fact that we are different is so obvious as to make it difficult to overcome.

The role of the man has always been to support the woman. It takes a different type of individual to embrace the idea that a woman would be the bread-winner, and even more difficult for society to embrace and accept. I know a house-husband personally, and his role has been ridiculed by others (behind his back, of course) while the role of a house-wife (hyphenated intentionally) would be accepted.

Again, this would take enormous amounts of space to explain. So, dear Kate and Kara (and whomever else may apply), my only words of advice and consolation would be to accept who you are. You are both independent-thinking, beautiful creations of the world. You cannot change what others think. You can only think for yourself. Whether the bounds of feminism dictates it or the bounds of society do, it is only restricted by what we think of ourselves - light blue shoes or not.

I had an english teacher in high school who, whenever anyone would mention a famous person and how they were admired, would reply, "He picks his nose". What he meant by that was that we are all the same, and the fame that one achieves is only defined by their job, not by who they are, because they are us.

His belief was that we should behave as we wish, without the adherent views of how society will perceive us. As long as we are doing what we believe to be right, we are within our bounds as people.
Another of his common replies, when asked how we were perceived in public was, "He doesn't know you", which told us that we should not be held to impossible standards established by people we do not know.
"We're all the same schmuck" - Lenny Bruce

Virtual Vengeance

Saddle your horses and get ready to ride, Activision, Inc.'s GUN(TM) Showdown for the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system has shipped to retailers nationwide.
"GUN Showdown lets players experience the renegade nature and gritty lawlessness of the West all in the palm of their hands," said Will Kassoy, senior vice president of global brand management.
In GUN Showdown gamers dole out vengeance as they face-off against corrupt lawmen, a murderous preacher, a renegade army psychopath, and merciless outlaws. In a world where greed, lust and murder reign, players wage war on horseback, hold up banks, collect bounties on prisoners dead or alive, and commandeer trains as the lines between good and evil are drawn in blood.

Gee, it sounds like a hoot! Forgive me if I don't run right out to the local mall and pick up a copy. Actually, I don't have the Play Station console either, so it would be quite the shopping trip.

Is this what people want? Raging war and fighting "murderous preachers"? Activision's web site describes the game as having: BLOOD AND GORE, INTENSE VIOLENCE, SEXUAL THEMES AND STRONG LANGUAGE. The game accomplishes one of two things. (a) It gives players an outlet for their violent tendencies and allows them to reak havoc on their TV, or (b) It encourages similar behavior in real life. I'm not a psychologist, so I'll leave the conclusion to the professionals.

Go to their web site (which is called "gunth
egame" for some reason) and check out the game. There's more gunplay in the two minute trailer than probably occurred in the old west in a hundred years. You can download ironically named "Buddy Icons" featuring the word GUN and a blood-splattered background. You can even get this attractive blood-splattered wallpaper for your computer screen, to forever remind you that guns are a game.

Gun. Gun. Gun. Guns are a game. The word is used so many times it desensitizes the listener. I suppose, because the "game" takes place in the long-forgotten old west, that the company can justify the outrageous amount of violence that takes place? Suppose the game were set in the present-day, where gamers could simulate killing in a real-life environment?

Here's an idea for a game: Schoolhouse Revenge. Players take out their childhood frustrations on the jocks, geeks, dweezoids, bloods and creeps who abused them as children. Shoot up a virtual school and collect bounties on teachers and students, dead or alive. Bonus points awarded for getting your photo on the front page of the newspaper and having CNN give your rampage a catchy icon and title.

Horrible, right? Sure it is, but it's not always a game. Sometimes it's reality.

The rating on Gun Showdown says "Mature", but I beg to differ.

It's a Man's World

I realize that I'm not exactly blowing the lid off of gender inequality here, but I stumbled across this article, where listed the highest paid men and women in American business. The story can be linked here, or by clicking the highlighted text below. I'll present the list, and when you look at it, see what jumps out at you.
The highest paid men:
Eugene M. Isenberg, CEO Nabors Industries - $71.4 million
Ray R. Irani, CEO Occidental Petroleum - $70 million
Lew Frankfort, CEO Coach - $62.3 million
Barry Diller, CEO InterActive Corp. - $61.5 million
Scott McGregor, CEO Broadcom - $57.4 million
The highest paid women:
Safra Catz, CFO Oracle - $26.1 million
Susan Decker, CFO Yahoo - $24.3 million
Suzanne M. Nora Johnson, Goldman Sachs - $23.1 million
Carly Fiorina, Hewlett-Packard - $22.3 million (severance package)
Zoe Cruz, Acting President, Morgan Stanley - $21.1 million
I'm not saying that any of these people deserve that kind of money, especially the crooks in the petroleum business, but I was amazed at the disparity between the pay of the men versus the women. Particularly when you consider the businesses represented by the women. Highly successful companies and leaders in their industries, yet the salaries are less than half of their male counterparts.
Are the women doing a quarter of the work? No. Are they 25% as successful? No. So why the big difference?
What really rankles me is that it screws with my ideal life of being the stay-at-home house husband. I could carve out a nice life here taking care of the house and [kids, cat, plants] while the wife earned the household dough.
It's true everywhere, though, isn't it? Even in sports, where the leading money winners on the LPGA tour earn much less than their male counterparts. Here's the list of the top five money winners on the women's tour this year:
Lorena Ochoa $2,124,122
Karrie Webb $1,873,753
Annika Sorenstam $1,769,408
Cristie Kerr $1,472,112
Mi Hyun Kim $1,272,318
...while the top five PGA golfers earned substantially more this year...
Tiger Woods $9,941,563
Jim Furyk $6,429,016
Phil Mickelson $4,256,506
Geoff Ogilvy $4,228,870
Vijay Singh $4,163,832
While it's true that Mickleson has bigger boobs than Annika, does that justify earning four times more? A million four is pretty decent money, but I'd sure as Hell rather hang with Christie than Vijay. Hey, any of you ladies need a caddy?
Maybe that's why Michelle Wie wants to play on the men's tour?
Ya think?

Monday, October 9, 2006

Filthy Foot Chang the Shrimp

It's Columbus Day, where we celebrate a dumb guy who thought he was someplace, but was really someplace else. Days like this should be accompanied by heavy drinking, but instead, I chose to do some housework.
Go ahead, question my sanity.

I got to the point where I needed some food, but I hadn't showered or shaved since Sunday morning, and I looked like Andre Agassi on a 3-day binge. The only viable solution was the poorly named drive-thru. It's really more of a drive-by. If Billy Joel was using it, it may be a drive-thru, but he doesn't do his own cleaning.

The drive-by in question was the neighborhood Long John Silver's, which, beside being a cool porn actor name, is a good place to get some greasy fried fish. It is conjoined with Taco Bell, in a one-stop food extravaganza. Nothing hits the spot on a phony holiday like some greasy fried fish.

I decided, after ample self-debate, to go with the venerable "LJ8" selection. Two pieces of fish, 3 pieces of chicken and some other junk. And water. Gotta have water.

Generally, I don't look at receipts from fast-food joints. The less I have to deal with it, the better I feel. I don't eat the stuff much, and it's probably best for my cardio-vascular system to destroy as much evidence as possible. I'll lie to my doctor later. But, it's nice of them to give me a receipt, in case I have to prove that the bone that got lodged in my throat came from the LJS, store number 022267. I read that they have 1,200 units worldwide, so I have no idea where that number comes from.

While it would seem that $8.21 is a bit hefty a bill for lunch, it did satisfy my craving for the fried fish (and create a new one for the fried chicken), but upon closer inspection, the meal turned out to be a bargain.

Even though I didn't order them, the good folks at Long John's saw fit to include crumbs for free.

Shiver me timbers!

By the way, Filthy Foot Chang the Shrimp is my Pirate name, and not a cool porn actor name. Stop by the site and see what yours is, matey.