Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Read your Labels

Yesterday I finally got around to getting some medicine for this stupid cough. My doctor (the pulmonologist) usually has me take Mucinex when I start to cough. Mucinex is extended release guaifenesin--600 mg to be exact, released over 12 hours. In my discount store-of-choice, however, the only plain Mucinex was $30. There were either 40 or 48 tabs, I forget which, but that didn't matter much. THIRTY DOLLARS. I just didn't get it.

I knew guaifenesin was an old drug. I clearly remember taking it as a child, in over-the-counter cough syrup. I had some recollection from nursing school that it was plant-derived--surely not a scarce commodity. After I started thinking about it, I did a little research. Not only is it old, guaifenesin can safely be called ancient; there are records of it being used in the 1500's (albeit for syphillis) and it was grandfathered into the FDA system as an old drug.

What's more, it's all over the OTC shelves in dozens of other products. Although it took a few minutes to read the labels (since so many were combination products and I didn't want any other medications), I settled on a bottle of plain Robitussin, with 100 mg guaifenesin per tsp, and a bottle of 60 of a different mucus relief tablet--400 mg guaifenesin per tablet, to be taken every 4 hours. Total cost for both: about $6. Same drug, in sufficient quantity, for $24 less than the Mucinex. (I wonder if that's why they advertise so heavily on television?)

I also learned that the maker of extended release Mucinex developed and holds the patent for the extended release formulation--hence the price difference between it and standard release. For me, though, the convenience of that every 12 hours dosing is just not worth all the extra money! I'll just have to keep up with my dosing until this cough is better. Besides, I'm not positive I need liquified mucus in the middle of the night anyway. Cheers!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Our Special Girl

Over Halloween weekend hubby and I visited his daughter and granddaughter, who used to live nearby until a year ago--now they're six hours away. We had a delightful time! Hubby's granddaughter, Alexis, turned 3 years old earlier in October, so this was also our chance to celebrate her birthday with her.

Alexis was born in Guatemala and her adoption was finalized when she was almost 8 months old. Since then, she has grown physically, like all kids, but she has also grown to fill our hearts! It's so wonderful when we see her, she's like a little jumping bean! She bounces up, up, UP, UP!--until we catch her in a big hug. She just goes wild when she sees us, which feels incredible, and is even more heartwarming for me, a "step-grandparent."

During this last trip, the entirety of the extended families went to see one nephew play in a college football game not too far away. If you're a follower of this blog, you probably already know I'm not a huge sports fan--although I happen to know the game, in part because my ex was a coach. So, being the most distant "relative" of our player (and not a big fan anyway), I spent nearly the entire game entertaining Alexis while they cheered him on. I taught her how to use my digital camera--with me holding onto it, of course. You would never guess how delighted she was when she realized she could take pictures, and then go back and look through them, stored in the camera. We took the football players (focusing on her cousin), then it was the cheerleaders making a tower, then the play clock and endposts. Then she focused on taking grandpop, mama, mommy, auntie, grandma, grampy...every member of her extended family! She called to each by name, we held the camera, and she snapped the shot. She was fascinated and enthralled as we reviewed her pictures! I think I'm going to make an album for her so she can see her pictures, and later will have something to remember.

Alexis is the reason I'm involved in Kiva (their banner is just above my quick profile, in the margin). Kiva is a micro-lending website clearinghouse. On Kiva, anyone can make a small loan to an individual entrepeneur from the developing world. Kiva aggregates the money (as little as $25 from any individual) to loan moderate amounts (my reading of the website has shown loans are generally $500-1200). Each lender has a repayment schedule, and as long as all goes well, each loan is repaid over about a year. (There are defaults; more in certain locations and market sectors than others.) The repayment is returned to one's Kiva account, when the lender can either withdraw the money or loan it again to another entrepeneur.

Kiva operates in third world countries throughout the world to help alleviate poverty. Guatemala is an impoverished country, and Kiva has an agent there who lends to individuals. Recently, Alexis' mother forwarded a specific loan request she found on Kiva to us--from a young woman trying to establish a local grocery store in the tiny town where Alexis was born. That's when I got involved. Maybe, helping one woman and her family out of poverty in one small town might just give a little boost to our Alexis' original family. I hope so.

In fact, I intend to keep loaning specifically to Guatemalans (on a quarterly basis, I think) as there are 1-2 new requests every few weeks from there. Hopefully, helping to provide small loans to small business persons (many of whom are women) in Guatemala can, in some way, help the people who cared for Alexis and gave us the opportunity to love this wonderful little girl. I hope so.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Where Does Time Go?

I haven't managed to find the time to sit down and write a post recently--unfortunately--I miss it! Life has been quite busy, with so many activities and travels going on. I've also missed reading the excellent writing of my fellow bloggers on the blogs I follow--but I caught up on some of that early this morning.

Seems the more I get back into the swing of things at work, the busier I become! Did I forget that part about work?? And it's busy too; I've had 4 new cases in 2 weeks. I'm also in an Italian class--which only has a couple more weeks before it ends (I haven't even had the time I would have liked to study my Italian, which I love, and this class moves along very quickly!) What's more, both hubby and I have started yoga classes (him for the first time, me returning from a bit of time away). He really seems to like it, and I'm very happy he's so interested in it; it's really good for one's body.

Now, we have Thanksgiving upon us in less than a week. As it always seems to, it has snuck up on me (I looked it up, and "snuck" and "sneaked" are both correct--but both sound weird!) One reason may be that we have been in the midst of an Indian Summer here, with unusually warm weather lulling me into thinking it's maybe only September. On the other hand, I have been having recurring nightmares that it's about 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve and I have not purchased a single gift for anyone, much less wrapped anything. I guess my internal calendar still works on some level.

[24 hours elapse] See what I mean about busy? I paused to think about an ending for the above, and ended up getting too busy to wrap it up! Perhaps a lesson to make posts more succinct, more topical?

Perhaps--or maybe just to limit my hobbies a little and share the computer less with the teen, since in the past 24 hours I have read some of a book, talked to a friend who lost her job yesterday (poor woman), crocheted half a hat for a certain granddaughter (actually, I crocheted some, then took out half a hat, looked for a better pattern, then crocheted half of a different hat), Jazzercised, cleaned up, and helped a friend move....perhaps I just want to do too many things. Keeps life interesting, though.

Well, I think I will stop this aimless post's wandering and try again later.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I need to confess. I'm not writing a 50,000 word novel this month as previously announced with the other NaNoWriMo fanatics. I tried. I was away on November 1, but started the next day with a creak (not a bang). I wrote about 300 words--barely got started. The idea of creating characters out of whole cloth was almost overwhelming--not because I had no ideas, but because I had so many widely varied thoughts on whom I might create.

During the last week of October (NaNoWriMo started November 1), I did some reading on character development, plot, story development, etc. It all seemed very workable; you get your plot idea, shape your characters, develop the theme...but I just didn't know how I could possibly do it without extensive outlining to know where it was all going. (I know, NaNoWriMo's motto is "no plot, no problem"--I just can't go with that.) But, in the end, the fear of creating some characters, starting a hastily conceived plot, and then potentially having all of the wrong people in my story, none of them capable of doing or being the people I needed to fulfill the plot (after maybe 20,000 words, say) is what really stopped me. Without enough time to clearly outline a good plot idea, how could one develop the right characters to fulfill it?

I actually stopped novel-writing on November third (it took this long to return here to admit it). I just could not take the time on something which was not well-prepared, which for that reason would likely end up a waste of time. I think I'm just a planner, and need some assurances that a story I would start, with characters I would create, could make it through to the end with some degree of believablilty.

Upon reflection, I think I'm more suited to a fact-based book anyway; a dream of mine would be to write a travelogue, or perhaps a memoir of sorts, or a guidebook. It's what I read, so it's what I like and know.

Also, I just am not free to spend that much time on something that I view as I described above. My Italian studies (L'italia intermezzo, Tuesday evenings) were already suffering from my normal activities, and hubby and I have started taking Yoga (him for the first time, me, a returning student), my work is all backed up since my illness, and I'm just recently feeling well enough to try to work back to my old state of physical fitness, and I'm also making things for Christmas gifts these days. So, I have a lot of other priorities right now.

Funny, I gave my whole reasoning above when I could just have explained by saying I decided not to do it because I didn't want to do it. Anyone else ever feel like that? You have to fully justify a decision (or changing your mind) to that unseen "someone," as though you'll be judged inadequate unless your reasons are "good enough"? But that's another post, I'm sure.

So, don't be looking for a novel out of me anytime soon, but you bet I'll write one after I have fully thought-out the plot and characters!

Monday, November 2, 2009

World Series

It's World Series time. If the Philadelphia Phillies weren't in it, I'm not sure I'd have noticed. But my world is filled with Phillies Phanatics. I'm a Phillies fan, but I just don't go the extra several steps to the Phanatic level. I almost feel guilty at times for my lack of true emotional dependence on the Phillies' wins and losses.

I know the game well (I've followed various games closely since 1987), I know the Phillies' players, I've watched or heard many hundreds of Phillies games over the years...but it doesn't crush my world when they lose. I had the same sort of day today (after yesterday's loss) as I would have had if the Phillies had won. Am I missing that pro-sports mega-fan gene?

Perhaps it's upbringing...we never watched pro sports in my house growing up. The Indianapolis 500 was the only sporting event I remember ever watching on TV (in the years after it was only on the radio, when we listened to it.) I did get into basketball in high school, and watched a few Boston Celtics' games at home, but I was by one else was a sports fan.

I really doubt my lack of passion for the Phils is a female thing, because my three best friends from law school absolutely live and die by the Phillies' successes and failures. One friend even goes to Clearwater for a late winter vacation every see the Phils at Spring Training.

I sure would like to see those Phils win the World Series again, and I think they have the tenacity to do so, but in my world, it's also just a game. I know that many many people would differ, but those are the differences which make the world interesting.

Go Phils!