Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Religious Bigotry and Stupidity in SLC Mayoral Office

It's been pretty typical for Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson to put his foot in his mouth. Many times in his career he's said bad things about the LDS Church, and just about everybody living in Utah outside of Salt Lake City. He's been kicking into overdrive lately, though.

First off, he staged a political protest against President Bush. The President was the keynote speaker at a VFW convention. The irony here is that Mayor Anderson wants to encourage conventions coming into Salt Lake, and was happy to take the VFW's money, all the while using his mayoral office staff and materials to organize a protest against them. I don't have a problem with Rocky Anderson protesting as a private citizen. People should speak their mind. It's a part of the Bill of Rights, for heaven's sake. What I object to the Mayor of Salt Lake City protesting a speaker at an event that Salt Lake City takes in money from. If Rocky wanted to go out and scream and shout and protest, fine. But he used tools and materials provided by Salt Lake City taxes to further his personal agenda. Others have been fined or impeached for things like that.

Next, it turns out that Mayor Anderson is a bigot. Not a racist, mind you, but a full blown bigot when it comes to religion. A lot of his staff members have been resigning because of it. In this KSL article Deeda Seed, his former Communication Director, is quoted as saying, "I'm very relieved I don't have to deal with that any more. Rocky creates [a] hostile work environment, uses foul language, berates people...He's a religious bigot." In a separate radio program I heard, he apparently likes tells off-color jokes belittling members of the LDS Church, including members within his own staff, as well as just being a general pain in the derriere.

While he and other staffers are are defending him, I tend to think that Deeda Seed is closer to the mark. He got elected on a vaguely anti-LDS platform to begin with. Of course, he's always happy to take the Church's money when they do things like rebuild and revitalize structures in downtown Salt Lake. He just wants them to go away, and leave their money on the doorstep.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Unmotivated in Sandy

Ever have a day when you were so unmotivated that you could barely move? That's the kind of day I'm having. I'm sitting here at work, trying desparetely to come up with a reason to actualy do something contsructive, and I just can't. (Don't worry, o' employer o' mine. I'm working, I just don't like it.) I'm so unmotivated I can barely blog. Yes, it's that bad.

Trouble is, I can't figure out why. Maybe I'm just stressed. I'm going back to school to pursue some post-grad stuff this week. It all starts in two days and it's adding a level of complexity to my life that I don't really want. I'm resigned to it though. Maybe that's it. I'm not excited; I'm just resigned. Whatever it is, I hope I get motivated when it comes time to get to class.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Gas and Drug Companies Continue to Screw the Poor

The numbers are in, and it doesn't look good for the poor and middle classes. Greed is rampant in the pharmaceutical and oil companies, with prices going through the roof, and beating out standard inflation rates by a long shot.

According to a recent AARP study (via Yahoo News), wholesale prices for the brand-name prescription drugs rose at more than twice the rate of inflation during the year, ending March 31. That's a 6.6 percent increase in drug prices (general inflation rates rose about 3 percent). The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America accused AARP of using "fuzzy math."

Yeah. Right. Silly accusations are a lot more convincing than hard numbers. Give us a break, PhRMA! How stupid do you think we are? The AARP found a price increase in 110 of the 195 medicines they looked at. That's a significant number.

Gas prices aren't helping any, either. They've risen by more than 60 cents a gallon over the last year. That means if you drive 15,000 miles a year and gets 20 miles per gallon, you pay an extra $450 a year at the gas pump. That's a big chunk of change for most people. This is compounded by the fact that many lower-income families commute long distances to work, because housing in rural areas is lower in cost, but more jobs are found in the larger cities.

Add this together and we get a greater divide between the rich and poor. The working middle class starts to disappear as more and more money is spent on things they need, medicine and transportation just so they can get to work.

And the fat-cats in the large pharmaceutical and oil companies just get richer as they line their pockets with the additional money spent by those who can least afford to spend it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Mattress Talk

Cozy, my wife, likes soft squishy mattresses. I hate them. I'd almost rather sleep on bedrock than something I'm going to sink into very far. The trouble is, she's been having a tough time getting comfortable on our bed at night, and so she tosses and turns quite a bit. All this movement in the bed might be nice if we were both awake, but all it seems to do is wake me up, instead of her. So we've got to do something about our divergent mattress tastes.

I've thought about getting one of those mattresses that you can adjust the "hardness" levels on. They're really expensive, though. To be honest, I don't know if I could come up with a "sleep number" even after several weeks on the thing, anyway.

Cozy decided to solve the problem for us. Well, at least for her. One of her close friends was getting a new mattress with a memory-foam top, and was getting rid of her old memory foam mattress cover. Cozy, in a fit of pure unthinking greed, decided it would be a good idea to take it off her friend's hands, and put it on our bed.

Without going too far into the reasons behind why you should never sleep on a mattress that another couple has been sleeping (and copulating) in, it should be no surprise to anyone that I didn't want it. (At least the darned thing has a cover that could be washed in bleach before putting it on the bed.) Cozy is very sneaky, though. She called me at work and asked if I wanted their old mattress. Of course I said no, after forcing the bile back down my throat. She didn't ask about the mattress topper. No fool, her.

Now, I love my wife. I really do. I also love my sleep, so I was willing to have a go at it. So far it's been, shall we say, less than ideal.

Let me explain something to you about foam mattress toppers. This one has a two-inch section of firm memory foam, backed by about four inches of regular squishy foam. Regular squishy foam doesn't bounce back; it just fools you by making it look like it has.

On my side of the bed is what I can only describe as a sinkhole, and it's right where my pelvis should be. Cozy's friend is only slightly shorter than I am, but let's face it, as some might say, "baby got back." Based on the difference between her, and her husband's builds, I'd have to guess that this side is the one she slept on. So now, in an attempt to be considerate to my wife, I find that I'm sleeping on a squishy mattress in her friend's butt-divot.

Let's not mince words. My side of the bed now has an ass-hole in it. Some might say it always did, but that's a different story.

Needless to say this is causing me all kinds of physical and emotional stress. On one hand, it's really disturbing to think that my butt is trying to occupy the same space as Cozy's friend's butt did. It's not as bad as sharing underwear, but you get the idea. To top it off it means that my butt sinks into the mattress at an alarming rate, screwing up my back and letting my feet fly up above the level of my head. Not a comfortable position in any case.

On the other hand, Cozy's tossing and turning a lot less, so I wake up less. Or at least I wake up for different reasons.

I don't know what to do. She's promised to turn the mattress topper around today so she can sleep in her friends butt divot instead of me, but that's just as disturbing. I'm weirding out just writing about it.

We've got to do something, though. I can't keep waking up several times a night just because my wife wants to roll over. My schedule is going to become way too tight in the next few weeks to put up with more of that. The only thing that is certain (so far) came out of a conversation I had about the whole thing with Cozy this morning.

"You know I'm going to have to blog about this," I warned her.

"You're not serious," she said.

Oh yeah, I'm serious. "But don't worry," I told her. "I won't mention any names but yours."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Free WiFi in Salt Lake

File this under cool.

Local ISP, X-Mission, is offering free wireless internet access at certain locations along main street in Salt Lake City. According to this KSL article:

This morning, Mayor Rocky Anderson announced free wireless internet access on Main Street, from South Temple to 400 South. The free service is also accessible from the Gallivan Center and the Main City Library.

That's not a huge amount of real estate, but it's still pretty cool. It makes me want to get a wireless card for my laptop and hang out downtown more often.

It's also a major PR stroke for X-Mission. They're giving the service to Salt Lake City for free.

X-Mission has been plagued with a changing reputation over the years, ranging from "really reliable" to "corporate Internet Nazis." But from my perspective, this latest move is certainly a feather in their cap. Kudos, X-Mission!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Pain Bad! Morphine Goooood!

Last Thursday at 5:30 AM my four year old decided it was time to get up. Not only did she decide it was time for her to get up, it was time for Mommy and Daddy to get up, too. I'm always torn when my kids do this, or at least when they do it with a smile. On the one had, it's great to see them in the morning being happy. On the other, I like to sleep, thank you.

Interestingly enough, she wasn't the biggest pain I had that morning, though. As I started trying to extricate myself from the mattress, I started getting a pain in a band across the top of my abdomen. At first I thought it might be muscular. I've started working out in the evenings and hitting my "core" muscles pretty heavy. Trouble is, it didn't go away.

I took some ibuprophen and tried to get ready for work, but things just kept getting worse. I even tried eating a light breakfast but that didn't go so well. The pain just kept intensifying, alternately feeling like an ache on steroids and a muscle "burn." My back started aching, too, mostly from bending over and trying to hold the rest of my body up.

Have you ever been in enough pain that you can't think straight? That's where this was taking me. Finally, at about 8:00, I gave up on going to work and told Cozy to call the doctor. He couldn't see me until 10:30. After bit of hemming and hawing about the cost (we've got really crappy insurance through Healthwise Blue Cross) for a half an hour, I told Cozy to wake up the older kids (to watch the younger ones), and take me to the hospital. I couldn't wait two hours to see a doctor; I hurt too much. It hurt when I moved, and it hurt when quit moving, so I'd hit my limit.

Cozy drove me over the emergency room, and I was seen pretty quickly. When the triage nurse was taking my vitals and interrogating me about my condition, she asked, "On a scale of one to ten, with one being very little pain at all, and ten being someone tearing your arms off, how much pain are you in?"

I told her, "I don't know. A seven? I've never had my arms torn off so I don't really have a point of reference." She just looked at me in disbelief, tried not to smile, shook a hear head and moved on. I can't blame her. I get that a lot.

They showed me to a tiled stall (I'd hate to call it a room) with a gurney, a window, and a drapery over the opening. Then they hooked me up to an I.V. and took several phials of blood out of my arm.

Eventually the doctor came in and proceeded with the interrogation. She poked and prodded my belly so she could find just the right place to make me scream. One thing I will say, she's was good at it. I must have told my would-be captor what she wanted to hear, because she gave me morphine as a reward for good behavior.

Pain bad. Morphine good.

About 15 minutes later I was pretty zonked. The pain was gone, thank goodness, and I was in morphine heaven. The nurse wheeled my stoned butt down the hall to get an ultrasound done. After more pushing, poking, and picture taking, I was taken back to my stall to sleep off the rest of the morphine.

A bit later the doctor came back and declared me a victim of gallstones. My gallbladder was throwing rocks at my small intestine and causing all the trouble. Funny. I never realized the two of them didn't get along.

I was then referred to a surgeon for a consultation in a few weeks. The doctor promised me more pain and torture. I think they want to take out my gall bladder. I know it's been misbehaving, but ripping it out of my body seemed a bit drastic at the time.

My captors didn't find sufficient evidence to hold me on charges, so they let me go home, with a prescription for Lortab. I don't like that stuff, to be honest. It doesn't do much for my pain; it just makes me nauseous. When my head hit the pillow I was out like a light. Yeah, the doctor said the morphine would wear off in two hours, but I don't believe her. I slept straight through the day until 5:30 that night, exactly twelve hours after my daughter had first woken me up.

At this point I'm thinking I'm going to have to beg off on the surgeon. If I can keep this under control for a while, without resorting to surgery, I think I'll be better off.At least I'll be better off financially. Like I said, we've got crappy insurance. On the other hand, I was in a lot of pain and I'm not looking forward to that happening again.

Then again, maybe it's the morphine calling.