Month: April 2007

Isn’t your Health Worth a Free Lunch?

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This post will proabably NOT be a fun read for most folks. However, it’s a topic near and dear to my heart. You’ve no doubt seen the recent headlines proclaiming, “Dr.’s still receiving gifts from pharmaceutical companies.” If you read the articles, it’s obvious that the intent is to show that pharma company influence doctors to prescribe their medications by enticing them with gifts. But what the articles don’t generally tell you, are how these gifts are given and what they Dr. does to get them.

A little history though first: Yes, years ago there was a lot of gift giving and glad-handing going on and yes, watchdog groups did a generally good thing by bringing these practices to light and significantly slowing them down. But we’re to a point now where the regulations are adversely affecting the industry, much as we’ve seen with tobacco industry. I mean, when a company is forced to spend money asking people NOT to use their product, aren’t we going the wrong way for a capitalistic society?

The FDA has placed strict limits on what can/can’t be given to Dr.’s in return for their ear. Here are the general guidelines–what you won’t see in the article:

  • Lunch: Sales reps can bring lunch to the Dr.’s office for him/her and their staff. Now here’s the thing about lunch. How long do you spend with your Dr. actually talking? 5 minutes? Maybe 7? And when you go home at night, how much time do you spend educating yourself about your industry? personally, I spend almost no time outside the office thinking about work. It’s the same for Doctors. The only time they have to educate themselves about new drugs, is when they are in the office. So is it so wrong for a sales rep to say,

    Hey, I’ll bring in lunch and let’s you and me sit down for 10 minutes and
    talk about this drug and what it does and does not do.”

  • Payment for speaking: Every industry hold conferences where you can learn about the latest new widget and how to use it. No difference for the medical field. In fact, I want a Dr. that knows what’s going on out there rather than someone who graduated from med school 10 years ago and hasn’t brushed up on his skills since then. What happens here is that a pharma company pays a Dr. to speak at a conference on a particular topic. Now, that topic obviously relates to some medical condition that the pharma company has a medication for. But here’s the kicker that these “anti-pharma” articles don’t tell you: The doctor cannot mention the pharma company by name during his presentation, nor can he pitch their drug. So, even though Big Pharma Company A is paying a Dr. to speak on hemmorhoids and the treatment of said inflammations, they’re getting no promotion out of it other than maybe public awareness.

And folks, that’s pretty much it unless a Dr. does research for a pharma company, which isn’t really anyone’s concern since it doesn’t influence what medications he or she prescribes.

See, they’re not so bad really. Are there doctors who try and abuse the system and will there always be someone out there who lets them get away with it? Yes, but no more so than any other industry. I just don’t get these socialists who think that our healthcare system would be better off if Sales Reps didn’t promote their products. I don’t think they understand how many jobs would be affected (sales, research, general office staff) if our capitalistic healthcare system went the way of our friends up in the great frozen north (Canada).

Next time you’re sick and want to see the doctor, try this little experiment. Call a general practitioner in Canada and see how long it takes you to get in. And then call your doctor. And later that day when you’re driving to the pharmacy and paying your $10 co-pay for a miracle drug that’s gonna fix you up, thank a pharma company. Just try it…


Ok everyone, let’s cheer…very quietly

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Like many men I know, I am married to a working woman. Society has made great strides towards ensuring that women aren’t “wasting” their time raising children, and are instead, in the workplace where they can put their significant talents to work making money driving this grand economy. I personally feel that we can thank today’s real-estate prices on the dual-income family, but that’s another topic for another day.

At any rate, my wife has been very successful in the workplace. She’s educated, having gotten her Master’s degree and then after college, when we got married, she went to work for a fairly small pharmaceutical company and has been there ever since.

The company is really close to where we work, which for Atlanta, is a God-send. That’s also been a bit of a curse, since, despite it being a huge “good ol boys club”, the location makes up for a lot of downsides. However, in her 7 years there, she’s gotten 3 promotions, which, if you compare that to how many in-company promotions I’ve gotten (zero baby!) is pretty darn good.

Other nice things about where she works:

  • no cubicles. Even as a newbie, she shared an office. Now has one of her own. I, on the other hand, have always had a cubicle and it looks like I always will
  • close to our daycare so she can drop off/pick up kids at will
  • they throw a decent Christmas party every year
  • yearly bonuses

So, all in all we can’t complain.

While my wife was on maternity leave, a position came open as Prod. Manager of a new drug they are coming out with. She was fully qualified and decided to go out for it. So, she went back to work two weeks early, prepared a full launch plan for this new drug (took a week), interviewed yesterday and didn’t get the job. The person who did get the job is, not surprisingly, a District Manager who’se job is getting eliminated AND did I mention he plays golf with the VP? Yeah…

But here’s the deal…she really wanted this job even though it would have meant a good deal more travel, which is strange cuz she’s always going on about wanting to be here for the kids. Now personally, I’m a bit relieved she didn’t get it. Yet ANOTHER promotion aside, I wasn’t looking forward to schlepping the kids 8 miles (one way) to daycare on the days that she’s travelling. So, part of me feels bad that I don’t feel bad for her, but part of me is pretty thrilled.

Unfortunately, the excuse they gave her, if you choose to believe it, is because she never worked in the field as a lowly Sales Rep and he did. However, she has an MBA and significant marketing experience launching another product (Androgel), neither of which this guy has. So the question that she posed to the hiring manager is, “So, you’re telling me that in the future, if I want to go for a promotion, and anyone with field experience also goes up against it, I won’t get the job?” The answer was pretty much “yes.” So basically, she’s done at this company, unless they come back later and admit it was a bullshit reason for not giving her the job and they really just wanted to keep their golfing buddy eating at the family trough.

Could it be the end of the good locale job? We’ll see…

When is a Vacation…not REALLY a Vacation?

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There are times in every man’s life, when he just has to suck it up and take one for the team. I understand that…even expect it as part of having a family…I just didn’t expect to have to do it so often.

Ok, so here’s the story. My wife’s grandmother is in her 80s and her health is fairly rapidly deteriorating. However, despite the best efforts of her local parish to milk her out of every dime her deceased husband left her, (“Um, yes we went ahead and signed you up to donate $20K this year, OK?“) she still has a good bit of money left. With more children and grandchildren than she can count, I figure she thinks she should just spend the money now and have fun, rather than try and figure out whom to give it to when she passes on. So, about every year or two, she pays for the core family to all get together for a vacation. When Megan and I got married, she paid for everyone to go to Disney. We did a beach house a couple of years later. The trend continues this year. Last year it was Disney again (we opted out along with a couple of other siblings) and lo’, this year it’s a beach house again. This one to be more precise.

But wait! A fairly free vacation at the beach…what could be so bad about that? I dunno, let’s see:

  • This house sleeps 34 people. We’re going to fill it up and overflow into a second condo down the street (folks, that’s 34 people, including several crying babies and more than a dozen grandchildren all in one house!)
  • The 8 hour drive with two children in a car-seats
  • Usually, we all take turns cooking for the night. What? Am I running a restaurant here?
  • There will be no rest. There will be no one who wants to help watch our youngun’s cause they’ll all have their own.
  • Logistics, logistics, logistics. OHMYGOD! You mean all four of us are going to have to sleep in a single room for a week? Seriously? You do know that newborns (by then he’ll be 4 months old) don’t sleep well at night.

What makes it even worse is that instead of it just being the core family (her children and their families), they’ve also invited cousins and families. Seriously, I can’t see this being fun at all. In fact, I remember a couple of years ago when we first did this, my being in a decidedly constant bad mood and my wife and I getting in fights over it. She knows I hate crowds, yet again, she asks me to participate in what can only become a major problem for me. And it’s not like I can just go home and get away for a while. At the beach in July, there’s no getting away. Even a walk on the beach won’t be getting away. There’ll be hundreds of other people…

I know I’m just complaining here, but this is a week of vacation I’m blowing to go do something that I’m not just “not” looking forward to…I’m physically dreading this “vacation.”

Roxanne!…You Don’t Have to Put on your Red Light…

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Landscaper Update: After having a heart-to-heart with my landscaper on Sunday morning, he finally admitted that he wasn’t holding to the letter of our agreement, which was that, once started, the job was finished in sequential days. Not this, “show up one day, skip a day and show up at 2 p.m. the next day.” He “feels really bad” about his behavior and I’ve given him another chance to make it up. As if me and the $2,000 of mine that he has really has a choice.
And now a Haiku:
Generation “Y”
There are things that you must learn
About your MySpace

After a rather revealing conversation with one of the few daycare workers that we actually like, we learned that she only makes $8 p/hour. My wife and I immediately looked at each other and thought, “Damn! We pay more than that for our childcare each week.” This immediately prompted a conversation about, “Can we afford a nanny after all?” Which led inevitably to the Internet.

Now, apparently, we aren’t the only people to have this brilliant idea as there are literally dozens of Nanny sites out there all claiming to have “highly qualified WhiteBread Nannys for Hire.” Ok, I made up the “WhiteBread” part, but really, it’s in there between the lines if you look closely enough.

However, not wanting to shuck out $150 for every Nanny for Hire Web site, we turned to everyone’s favorite “Craig’s List” here in Atlanta. I posted an ad and within a day I’ve gotten two replies. The e-mail were both very lucent and they seemed like good candidates. But being the savvy techno-Taurus that I am, I went a lookin’ on the Internet.

A Google search of the Web revealed minimal details…mostly just their e-mail with some generic conrrespondence. No images to speak of either…what would I do? Then, in a flash of Gen-X brilliance I remembered, “Ah, MySpace.”
GOLDMINE! I found them both!

Let’s review them as a group shall we?
My comments in yellow Italics

The first potential Nanny…
Name Witheld
Orientation:Straight (always a plus)
Here for: Friends
Gender: Female (yeah, sorry guys, wouldn’t hire ya)
Age: 21

Opening line in her Intro: “Wuz good ya’ll this Ashley aka Goldie. Im 21 years old and I live in Stone Mountain. I have a 1 year old son… Carson aka Nuk that is the love of my life.”

Hmm, she didn’t say in her e-mail that she has a child. I might be willing to overlook that though. A playmate for my sons might be welcome.

Some answers to those random questions that apparently MySpace posts:

Q. Are you close to any family members?
A. My Little brothers (aw, that’s sweet!)

Q.What’s the best feeling in the world:
A. Being a Mommy (good answer for a possible Nanny!)

Q. Let’s walk on the:
A. WILDSIDE ha ha (um, what?)

Q. Ran away from home:
A. Yes (ok, you were probably young…whatever…)

Q. Done a drug:
A. I plead the fif (wait what…what just happened here????)

Q.What makes you scream?
A. Bad Ass Kids (Ok, I think that’ll just about do it…)

Folks, I can’t make this stuff up…it’s all true. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll post the 2nd one’s details. They are equally interesting I promise.

Ya’ll come back soon now, ya hear!

Thanks for the Memories

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But first, a “landscaper” update: My landscaper showed up yesterday around 2 p.m. and started installing my small landscape timber retaining wall. He also tells me that the dirt that was supposed to come yesterday, and without which, no plants can be inserted into said ground, won’t actually come until next Tuesday, and “Is that OK?”

Is that OK? No, actually it’s not OK. But what’re ya gonna do? He’s here because I didn’t want to get bogged down in the very logistics that he’s getting bogged down in, so it’s more than OK, it’s friggin just what the Dr. ordered! No, seriously I’m kinda ticked, but I guess I can wait a few more days for my perfect yard.

Now on to today’s topic.

You never know what’s going to set off a memory and today’s path down things best left forgotten comes from a photo mailer. Yes, a photo mailer. You know, one of those moderately rigid cardboard envelopes that you mail photos in…the ones that say, misleadingly “Photos – Do Not Bend!”

Ah, but they DO bend and therein lies today’s memory…

When I was in Air Force boot camp (yeah, ha ha! Suck it up jarhead! I might have only been in bootcamp for six weeks, but at least I was smart enough to learn a skill I could actually use in the REAL world!), we had this one big room that we called “The Day Room.” Now why we called it the Day Room, I have no idea. It’s what our Training Instructor (TI) called it and you don’t argue with a TI unless you want to be verbally abused for the next four hours. Anyway, we all gathered our shaven heads in this dayroom usually twice a day–once in the morning and again in the evening. It’s where we received any information we needed as a whole, rather than the usual “down the chain of command” information flow that normally presided.

Now, in the evenings we got mail. This was a special time because for the first few weeks we weren’t allowed to call or write home. We couldn’t eat candy or drink soda either, so the mail brought an opportunity for something special…or so we thought. Those poor saps who received a package were forced to open the package in front of everyone and pray to GOD that it didn’t contain anything contraband…which was pretty much anything good! One poor guy’s wife and friends thought it would be funny to send him a sexual blow-up doll. Oh wow! Was that a bad decision…

Anyway, if you received food and there wasn’t enough for everyone, you had two choices:
A) Eat it all by yourself right there, right then
B) Throw it away without touching it

The smart ones simply threw it away, but the first couple of suckers actually tried to eat a full load of brownies and ended up sick and humiliated.

The best thing to receive in the mail, was a letter. It was simple, it was fairly private and usually safe from prying eyes, though not always. Our TI had this little game he liked to play where he would sit in the front of the room and after calling your name, he’d try and spin the letter across the floor and under the door that separated our Day Room from the group beside us’ Day Room. If he was successful, he thought it was hilarious (and quite frankly so did we as long it wasn’t OUR letter being launched). If the letter didn’t make it, you got to pick up your letter and immediately read it.

Besides the letter, there is our good friend the Photo Mailer. Yes, the very one that says, “Photos-Do Not Bend,” to which our TI always replied, “Oh, but they do…” as he proceeded to bend and crease them to his heart’s desire. Once mangled, the poor slob who got them in the mail was forced to open the mailer and show everyone the pictures that he was sent of Mom, his girlfriend, whomever; and of course this opened the lucky receiver up to all sorts of derision.

So that’s today’s memory brought on by a quick trip to my kitchen where I have a stack of photo mailers sitting on the counter. I’ll get them out at some point, but right now I’m kinda enjoying just looking at the envelopes and remembering the bad ol’ days.

No really, I’m gonna replant!

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I’ve been going on to people at work–because they’re the only people I talk to other than my in-home family–about my errant landscaper. He’s fairly young and inexperienced, so yes, the term “landscaper” is a bit generous. Let’s call him “my yard guy.” That might more appropriately represent his help to me.

At any rate, he did show up after not showing up the first day and then not showing up until late the second day, oh and then not showing up yesterday despite having told me that even if it rains he has covers he can work under. Riiiiight.

Here’s pretty much all he’s done this week:

See all that blank area in front of the house on both sides of the door? Well, if you look closely, you’ll see stumps from the shrubs that were there previously. He hacked those out with some power hackers that he was very proud of (“These cost $400!”). He said he’d return the next day with a stump grinder, but I’ve not seen him since.

However, I do have my plant material that he’s purchased for me (below). I’d have hoped to have something a bit larger on the Japanese Maple, but they do get pricey. I got a “Waterfall’ variety for in front of the house and a Sango Kaku for the top of the yard and a Seiryu for the far right side.

Can you believe that tiny little pile of rocks cost me $70? I had to go get those myself from Pike Nurseries Stone Center here in town.

So, work is being done, just not too often. The dirt is supposed to be delivered today, but he has to build a small timber retaining wall before he can place all the dirt, so I’m sure I’ll be looking at a big pile o’ dirt for a few days.

But I’m confident it’ll look good when he’s done and if not, well, at least I’ll have all the materials there to fix it myself. 🙂

Oh the games we play

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My wife hasn’t slept well the last couple of nights. For some reason, everyone we know has a baby that sleeps at least 4-5 hours straight each night (around the same age even), and ours is lucky to get in 3 hours of sleep after we put him down for the night the first time, and then each subsequent feeding at night lasts for maybe an hour and a half.

Currently, with her off work on maternity leave/vacation, and me working, we’ve been doing the following schedule:
– she puts him to bed (usually around 9-10 p.m.) and takes care of him till around 4 a.m.
– I get up around 4 a.m. and take care of him till I leave at 7 a.m. My only complaint about this is that I have to go to bed by 9 p.m. just to ensure that I’ll get 7 hours sleep. Anytime after 9 p.m. and I’m just hurting myself the next day. As it happens our older son doesn’t go to bed until 8:30-8:45 so I’m never in bed, much less asleep by 9 p.m.

Anyway, I offered to work from home so as to allow her to sleep in the next morning but she opted to go to bed first and get up a 4 a.m. (flip-flop our roles basically). Cool! Whatever.

So, I put the baby down around 9 p.m. and drift off to sleep by 9:30, not cause I wanted to but because I figured I’d need all the sleep I can get. The baby slept till almost 1 a.m. and then after I fed him, he went back down till around 3:30. So by the time my wife got up, I had already gotten about 5 hours of sleep, and then I went to bed and slept for another 3 hours for a total of at least 8 hours of sleep. Which kinda makes me feel bad for my wife, because it appears that she got the shaft last night with only 6 1/2 hours of sleep…or did she.

Let’s do the math for a usual night:

Let’s assume a few things:
– baby goes to bed by 9:30.
– He usually wakes up around 12:15 a.m.
– It takes at least 30 minutes to change, feed and put back to sleep.

So, based on that, my wife normally gets the following:
– almost 3 hours of sleep between 9:30-12:30
– if baby wakes up every 1.5 hours thereafter, by 4 a.m. she gets another 1.5 hours of sleep.
– uninterrupted sleep from 4 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.
This yields a grand total of 7 hours of sleep each night.

Now, let’s do the math for me:
– go to bed at 9:30 and sleep till 4 a.m.
This yields a total of 6.5 hours of sleep each night.

Hmm, now who should feel bad for whom? It all comes out in the end though, but I find it interesting that neither of us really push the whole, “Well I get less sleep than you do” thing because I think we both fear having to swap schedules with the other.

But either way, in two weeks when my wife is back at work, we’ll have to devise a whole new plan.
Let the games begin!