Archive for June, 2007


Sunday, June 10th, 2007


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Those darn "yellow-bellied" marmots.  Yes, my wife and I did talk with the Minister of the Blog-O-Sphere last Saturday at the Shabby sale.  I was telling him, while my wife laughed WITH me, not AT me the infamous tales of the marmot wars going on at our home.



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We live up on a hill.  It has always been peaceful.  Then one day, while playing my guitar sitting on the deck…I see what??  This big flowered plant in my wife’s garden area is shaking back and forth.  What??  Did my eyes deceive me??  Looking around the lawn and into the aspen trees, no wind was noted.  Then suddenly, like someone had yelled, “TIMBER” in my ears, the plant fell over..crashing into the lawn.  Now one might think I was crazy.  But, I carefully placed my guitar on the stool…walked over to the now fallen beautiful comrade.  Yup…eaten flat across…sharp dissection as with a scalpel blade…less bloody in vision, but more bloody in revengeful feelings.  Let the war begin! 

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We had been having trouble with some of our plants and flowers.  It continued randomly until more lakeside building below us happened.  These marmots, cute, furry, and cuddly, are quite the resistant critter.  What to do.  One of the local varmint guys said, “All’s you can do is shoot ‘em.”  In the neighborhood I thought?  Hardly.  Plus, they’re stealthy and quick.  They watch for you.  A squeak from a door alone will alarm their defensive dive into the ground.


We saw an ad or product about keeping the varmints away.  They were these submarine-torpedo looking aluminum rods.  Standing about 20 inches tall and 2 inches in diameter, with batteries loaded, you push them into the ground.  At random times, a signal is sent shaking the earth…maybe similar to the new movie, Ocean’s 13.  Well, anyway, we had these avenger rods throughout our garden and greenery.  Day after day…the plants were felled like a clear-cut in the woods.  What were we to do…?


We thought there was a rather large family reunion of these varmints, marmots now called of the squirrel family…near one of our home-grown rock planters.  I paid my son and his buddies years ago, a dime for every rock bigger than their hands, to build these planters.  This area became ground zero.  So, the water hose it was, "water boarding," I thought.  We waited and stalked the critters.  Flushed for hours, trying to make their life miserable.  What did I see?  I swear to the Almighty, one of them sliding down the hillside, like kids on a Slip n’ Slide®!


Now knowing that my enemy was strong and well fortressed, it was time to talk with more professionals.  Well, my attention was directed to the smoke bombs.  These things are more powerful than Superman, more web entangling than Spiderman, and more dangerous than CatWoman.  So I purchased a sleeve of these poisonous smoke producing rods.  Well, off to the planning stage again, securing a savagely strategic plot against those critters.  No more buying flowers and plants redundantly.  Think of the money to be saved.  Early retirement I thought.


So, I carefully inspected the hillside.  Monitoring each and every move by these unwelcome visitors, THIS plan would become the "Mission Accomplished.” 


While holding my breath literally, I lit one of these smoke bombs and slid it into the hole.  Then number two into another, then number three, and lastly number four…like torpedoes being called from the master.


I thought this will be it.  Victory so close to grasp. 


After about three to four minutes, happily watching from my perched binocular position, an amazing universal, near existential experience was witnessed.  My whole hillside now smoked, not the four holes…but hundreds.  Like the exhausting sulfur gas fields of Yellowstone and Glacier, the property was steaming with this poisonous smoke. 


Within a few minutes, I thought, someone is going to call the Fire Department due to all the smoke.  Outlet after outlet, the rising smoke then diminished.  It was over.  The offensive was over.  My observation keen.  Success.


Call me crazy, but thinking back, I swear the smell of cigar smoke was amongst the gas-smoke smell.  Could those little furry varmints have been sittin’ back with a cold one, smokin’ a cigar in their cozy dens, watching the doctor’s next strategic play? 


The next morning, about three more plants had been felled…But soon, new construction left huge rocks and boulders about a block away.         

It seemed they found a new territory.


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Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

A recent article in the AARP Bulletin highlighted an email of a drug company's inside commentary on drug representatives and their impact on physicians' practices.  Congress was on this subject of how doctors obtain information years ago, and rather than mandating legislation, the Pharma Industry limited themselves.  Now the irony here is that, all the Pharma Industry now advertises the millions and millions of dollars for their new drugs on television, cable and non-cable, radio, and the print media.  How many ads of erectile dysfunction have you seen or watched in the last few years?  What about allergy drugs?  Those ads seem to be everywhere also.

Meanwhile, most doctors get some of their information from drug company representatives.  The doctors of yesteryear were wined and dined – alot.  But all that has changed.  Company meetings for continuing medical information and education are sponsored for cost.  However, the rules are tight.  No trips to Hawaii have ever been offered to me, in 25 years or so.

Now the medical appliance industry, like the artificial hips, pacemakers, etc., are not included in the Pharma SELF-imposed rules.  This industry works like many others.  Recently my awareness was stretched when a person told me ALL hundreds of employees of a beer industry were wined and dined, golfed, and brought to a city with alot of casinos!  All on the company.  And recently a marketing company took hundreds of employees to another city for 3-4 days, for their needs.

Now, most doctors do like to see drug representatives.  We do get good and current information from the reps.  If the doctor has a brain, he or she will and can challenge the drug rep with his product, his information, and his competition.  This is good information.

Literally, thousands of patients through the years have asked for "Any free samples?" Many times we can accomodate some starter paks of medicines that have been given to us by the pharmaceutical representatives.  Most clinics get some samples for patients.  According to a recent study over 75% of clinics get free samples.  Many times the reps will sponsor quick to the point luncheons.  Some doctors join company panels to discuss the highlights and controversies of new therapy.  So, what is the big deal?

Most pharmaceutical reps are good people.  Most earn their living by providing information currently and timely.  Most doctors are good people.  Most earn their living by providing good patient care.  Most patients are good people.  Most enjoy and sincerely appreciate a "few samples" to start their drug regimen.

Now, with the costs of drugs so high, and the pressure on the drug companies to limit free samples or starter paks, it would seem to be soon – a policy that will be forced out.  This will be a loss for the underinsured, uninsured, family of four parents, and others that look at the costs in general of healthcare and delay or eliminate their prescription all together.

The billions of dollars spent on "direct-consumer-advertising" that is endorsed by the FDA and other federal, state, and societal organizations is the first place to cut drug costs.  Those ads drive the physician by patient requests.  Get rid of direct to consumer advertising.  Next, get rid of the massive class action suits against all the companies.  The U.S. has driven the vaccine industry out of the U.S. and the drug making is not far behind.  If the vaccine shortage concerns did not awaken some fear in you, this should.

So, soon, patients will say good bye to free samples, free starter cost reduction cards, and reduced up to date physician information.

As for me, trips, rock n' roll collections, and tennis racquets have not crossed my desk….And to say they do is just crazy by a biased author.  And some of the doctors will stay "chummy" with professional colleagues in the pharmaceutical representative business.  Some might call that professional interaction and ethical education…