Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who says modern medicine has its priorities out of place?

I didn't think there was much, beyond the Viagra and Cialis ads that flood the prime-time airwaves my son will eventually view, in terms of prescription medication developed for entirely discretionary / non-life-threatening conditions.

but hey! - now there's Latisse - to help prevent the life-crushing malady of "hypotrichosis" - excuse me, i mean inadequate or not enough eyelashes.

aside from being born with a condition where your eyelashes are so short as to not serve their evolutionary function of filtering dust and other irritants from your eyes (and i'm not convinced that Brooke Shields' "before" example here fits that bill), is it really worth the possibility of "skin darkening, eye irritation, dryness of the eyes, and redness of the eyelids"?

to the credit of the makers of Latisse, there's no mention of possible explosive diarrhea or insanity / suicidal thoughts, but still it seems a bit of an annoying potential downside for a little bit of body fashion. aren't there eyeliners on the market that give the ladies' eyelashes an illusion of being longer without the cost of prescription copays or physical side effects?

bottom line: scientists spent a good amount of time and R&D money figuring out how to make eyelashes a little longer while the riddle of cancer continues on largely unsolved.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rules of the road

as i continue my early descent into the crabby "get off my lawn" phase of adulthood, from time to time i encounter situations where i get really annoyed with the selfish 'me-first', no-logic attitude put on display by some of the other human beings on this planet.

since i spend a decent chunk of my day in my car it's not surprising that a lot of these encounters are vehicle-related. in the world of driving there are certain fixed rules (speed limits, drive on the right side of the road, red light means stop, etc.) and then there are unwritten rules based on the concept of 'hey we're all in this together' and common courtesy. most of the problems you find on the highways and byways of America are due to certain people who willfully ignore the latter set of rules for their own immediate but ultimately insignificant benefit.

a good case in point that happened to me just this morning on my usual route to work downtown:

there's an overpass on a stretch of my highway commute where two lanes converge down to one as the overpass filters you onto the connecting highway. a logical and courteous driver quickly reviews the issue [two lanes' worth of cars must assimilate into a single lane without incident] and concludes , all cars and drivers presumably being equal, that at the point when the two lanes definitively become one the order of assimilation would be 'Car 1 from Lane A merges, then car 1 from Lane B, then Car 2 from Lane A, and next Car 2 from Lane B', and so on, presuming that car 1 in Lane A was slightly ahead of car 1 in Lane B as they neared the merge. this elegant ballet of merging cars occurs all over the US on a daily basis usually without a hitch because most people get the system.

what i see happen a lot to other drivers and today to me is when one of the cars in the other lane decides to circumvent the natural order.

so say i'm car 2 in Lane A; Car 1 in Lane A has gone ahead, then car 1 in Lane B goes - ok it's my turn now - fantastic.

but hey! - car 2 in Lane B sees me moving forward to my place in the merge and then proceeds to zoom up right on Car 1 B's bumper, keeping pace with me as our two lanes' width of total car-nage creeps up to the point where only one lanes' width will be able to proceed.

it's usually at this point that i start giving the pissed-off look and making the internationally-recognized criss-cross hand gestures that represent "hey , dummy, first one lane goes and then the other - get it?"

most of the time i get a look back like i'm the one who's being a jackass - there's about a 0.001% chance the other driver will cop to being the one who is in fact out of turn.

being desirous to avoid either vehicular body damage from collision or personal body damage from an unknown crazy person packing heat, i typically back off and let the baby have his bottle and we both drive off in a mood degraded a few points from earlier before the merge.

and what did the other guy get out of it? he's exactly one car-length ahead of where he would have otherwise been , something on the order of 0.3 seconds quicker to his destination, and for that minute gain a cost of shifting the world's vibe meter perceptibly more towards 'bad' than 'good' and also further cementing my conviction that the bad-natured people of the world will inherit the earth by stepping all over the meek.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Rockabye Baby!

Not too long ago I was scouring Amazon's MP3 section to find some lullaby songs to download to my iPod that we could play in Adam's room at night while he sleeps (the speaker set to which the iPod is connected is an old set of desktop computer speakers that I had stored away; the set includes a cubical subwoofer whose presence may be a first in the history of baby nurseries) I'm amazed right now to think that in another ten years that setup will most likely be as relevant in technological terms as Mother Goose on 8-track.

I did eventually settle on a good CD of largely instrumental versions of classic children's songs and that seems to have worked out well so far. All's well that ends well.

The interesting sidebar to the pursuit of slumber-inducing-or-furthering music is the set of children's music that I was thoroughly amused and impressed with but did not buy.

That would be the Rockabye Baby! set of albums that take many of the most popular rock combos from the 1970s to 1990s that kids of that era (now parents) loved so darn much and converted their songs to toddler-friendly instrumental versions.

Nirvana, Metallica, Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Pink Floyd - all the most influential bands are there, with their songs safely stripped of any lyrical messages about drugs, insanity, sexual frustration, and their crunching metal riffs and driving drum beats replaced with tinkly piano and xylophone.

I've previewed the albums of all of the bands that I like and have to say I'm really impressed with the production - all of the songs are quite recognizable, just as if they were part of a Sesame Street remix compilation suitable for young'uns. That said, only the Radiohead album in my list would really make a suitable selection for kids asthe songs of bands like Metallica and Tool have too many dark minor chords as their backbone to sound like a soothing nighttime lullaby, even if filtered through instruments normally reserved for Muzak.

If anything, the albums might be a worthwhile purchase for the parents - I could see myself enjoying a more laidback version of my favorite heavier bands as I braved the slow commute to work or while slogging away on a project at work.