Deus Ex Miller Faucher and Cafferty L.L.P.

Just as I was running out of money (temporarily) because the government thingy was being slow and bureaucratic and dumb, something happens that never, ever happens. I was part of the class in a class action suit against SmithKline Beecham about Paxil. They lied about withdrawal symptoms, essentially.

Based on the (large) amount of money I spent on Paxil over the years, I just got a check for $477.08.

Suck it, Smith and Kline and Beecham. That withdrawal was worth more than $477.08 in pain to me, but I’m glad to have it right now.

Apocalypse at the CVS

I went to my pharmacy today, which is usually a nucking fightmare. Nothing’s ever ready, the computer takes forever, the insurance info is wrong, and there’s always someone screaming at the staff.

Today the computer was slow, as usual. The woman filling my script just kept typing and typing and typing, and I remarked that she seemed to be typing in the entire chemical structure of the drug. There was a guy in a tie just sort of hanging out in the background and he laughed. Then it appeared he was watching what the staff was doing, and occasionally he’d step in to show them something on the computer or to ask what the pharmacy assistants were doing.

Turns out he was the Efficiency Expert and I.T. guy. But, unlike every other one of those I’ve met, he was really good. Pleasant, observant, helpful, and very interested in making things work better. He’d already set up both the computers and the staff process so that people actually there in the store waiting were at the head of the queue, which incredibly had never been done before. He was also there to prepare the staff for the new computer system, which he said was “more drop downs, less typing, and easier.”

Then he stopped me on the way out to ask how well they’d done. The answer was perfectly: my two prescriptions were done in 10 minutes.

Now if I could only get a plan where it didn’t cost me hundreds of dollars a month to get the meds I need…

short attention spam

This is a series of random observations or questions. They’re short because my ADD-like symptoms are bad and I can’t comprehend big ideas right now. Which pisses me off to no end! But anyway:

Nick and I keep discussing that action-movie shot in which our heroes run or jump in slow motion away from a big fiery explosion. They almost always jump while running in the air and extend their arms, and are silhouetted against a wall of flame. Is there a name for this shot? There must be, because almost every action movie has one. We think it originated with the Lethal Weapon movies but we’re not sure. Anyone know?

I was at the grocery store late last night. It being Friday night, there were a number of couples there picking up items after a date and before going home: beer, ice cream, snacks, wine. The couple behind me in line seemed like nice people and were alternately looking a little annoyed and then laughing about something. The guy kept leaving and coming back as we waited. The line was long. I caught her eye and said “What, can’t he find the goldfish crackers?” Turns out he was trying to get condoms, which were in a locked case near the back of the store. There were only a couple of employees in the whole place so it was difficult. I looked at the line behind her, all couples with snacks and beer. “You’d think they’d know better…” she said and then started cracking up again. He returned and we all decided that instead of a lock, there should be a happy bell clang and circus music whenever anyone got a condom, or maybe a booming CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR SEX! announcement.

burntcurtis is a great date. We IHOP’d it last night and had a good long chat, after I introduced him to Andy A and they nerded out about circuit boards and other electronic hardware items and their manufacture. The IHOP people were using an unusually sexual advertising technique to sell French Toast. Is “leave happy” like “happy ending” but with breakfast food?

Does anyone know where one goes to shoot rifles around here? Yeah yeah I know, lol clocktower. I mean for real, for learning. I want to get a .22 and poke little holes in things at a distance.

The orange cat who guards my street 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, approached me this morning as I stood on my doorstep, pointed its paw at me, and said “Gnaaaaarp.”

hated and then loved

Some of my favorite art (books, music, food, all of it) I have hated the first time. Some of it is understandable: the shock of the new. Bitter foods, dissonant music, singers with weird voices, idiosyncratic writers. Other things I still don’t know why I hated at first. A partial list is below. Heavy on the pop music because, well, I am heavy on the pop music. But for some reason my taste there is fluid and weird. I love everything below but couldn’t stand it at first:

Gang of Four
Cilantro
Joy Division
James Joyce
The Mountain Goats
Bill Hicks
Van Morrison
Prefab Sprout
John Coltrane
Faulkner
Neil Young
Thomas Mann
Sashimi

Part of it is just maturing, I think, and not needing everything to be accessible. But I liked bitter, weird, dissonant, and generally obscure crap starting very young. I can’t explain those taste changes. Glad I enjoy all those things now.

The list of things I liked and now despise is shorter, more boring, and pointlessly negative so I won’t share. Most of them are pop culture that I liked because of some personal context and then realized was shit, or things I enjoyed because I was immaturer and later found the real version thereof.

good times with little pills

My doctor and I are changing the medications I take to make my brain behave better. This is probably a good thing, and I’m game. Especially since I’m not working right now I can afford to take some chances in order to improve things. Plus: SCIENCE!

The first thing we’re doing is switching out Wellbutrin for a drug called Lamictal. As the “ictal” in the name suggests, this stuff is used to reduce seizures. It’s also given to people with bipolar disease, which I don’t have. However, the problems I do have include some things that bipolar people get too like racing thoughts and mood swings. And this drug is also good for plain old depression, which is one of my symptoms. The other benefit of Lamictal is that part of the plan calls for dumping the Lexapro too, and that is apparently much easier with this stuff added. I applaud that because I tried to quit Lexapro before and the discontinuation symptoms were just as bad as the recurring depression. Ecch.

Lamictal is also a tricky drug. You have to start it very slowly. This is mostly because one of the (rare) side effects is a rash. If you get the rash you stop taking the stuff right away, because it can be lethal. Therefore the FDA requires that you start with a very small dose so that you’ll know to stop it before you take enough to make yourself sick. Good call. Another problem is that Lamictal acts weird with other drugs, much more so than most of its colleagues. A quote from the always useful and amusing crazymeds.org site: “Will interact with medications you aren’t even taking.” Apparently it can also give you headaches. I’d notice that for sure because I never get headaches.

If I don’t get a rash and/or die and if it seems to be treating me well at full dose, then we’re going to phase out the Lexapro. The likely next step is that I will take one of a class of drugs called MAO Inhibitors (MAOI). These have been recommended to me before because of my particular symptomatology. They are very powerful and useful in a lot of cases. Unfortunately, they also come with dietary restrictions. They mess with a digestive enzyme and certain foods become toxic. A lot of good foods: real cheese, red wine, real beer. It’s a huge pain in the ass and a big quality of life hit. I’d also worry that I would just forget and eat the wrong thing and die.

The good news is that one of them is now available here in a patch. The patch makes the dietary problems way less, especially at low dosages, because it’s not mixing up with food in the gut. So I might be able to get the benefit of the MAOI without dying or giving up lots of foods.

The whole business is tricky and complicated. I trust the guy who’s working on it to know about as much as anyone in the field does, but everything is a science project in psychiatry especially when there are multiple drugs going on. No matter what it seems that I’m likely to be on four separate neurologic or psychiatric medications for quite a while, and I wonder if anyone even knows what’s going on.

Here we go…

objects in the rear vision mirror

I miss Saturdays on the patio at Diedrich. It hit me hard today that I really wanted to go there and see my friends, hear their stories of the week and tell mine, talk about everything and nothing, maybe go for a meal later or just spend the evening talking.

I want those people back and that place. But it’s not what those people need any more, and the place is gone.

It is probably not very grown-up to want and need that big social group and the hangout. Certainly the others in that group grew out of it into something more satisfying to them, and I want them to be happy.

I suppose I should figure out what it means for me that I miss that experience this much.

It was good while it lasted

Unless a miracle occurs in the next 48 hours, I’m going to be on disability or unemployed next week. The new regime at work requires my position to be 9-5 in an office and I’m not physically capable of that currently. After five years I have a near-instant ultimatum to do the Dilbert or leave.

The prognosis for my neurofeedback treatment is that I should be in the period now where improvement occurs, but that’s roughly a two-month period according to my practitioner. That’s not an acceptable timeframe for my bosses. So, depending on bureaucracy and things I don’t understand well enough to predict, I’ll either go on temporary disabiliity and re-evaluate at some point for possible full employment, or just lose my job.

Either way my income is about to dive. I have debt and I’m bad with money, and all the therapeutic interventions require cash too. I’m also bad at filing claims, with the result that I’m way behind in getting reimbursed for things. And anything that might speed recovery requires yet more cash.

This has left me in the unfortunate position of being that middle-aged geek who has to ask his family for an allowance. I don’t enjoy the stereotype, but it beats actual poverty. I shall try to feel lucky about that part and rise above the shame.

apple blues

The hard drive on my 15″ Aluminum Powerbook G4 is clearly defective and has been for some time. It likes to hang and say “disk0s3: I/O error” into the logs at times when certain files are touched. The Disk Utility thinks the drive is fine and so does the “SMART” status. Maybe a cable is loose in there. The voice of authority in the form of dr_strych9, who knows, told me to get it replaced but I didn’t.

Now of course it’s worse. An unknown number of my music files now make this thing happen, and the new iTunes insists on doing a “gapless music analysis” on each file on startup each time that can’t be disabled and keeps hitting the problem. I remove a file and it “finds” another. Plus, the update prebindings thing that installers like to do sets it off. My computer is becoming less and less usable.

I realized that I haven’t fixed this mainly because I hate dealing with AppleCare and the Apple Store. The last couple of times I went to the Genius Bar, the Genius gave me the third degree. Well sir we might have a K key to replace this broken one, we have some in the back, but if we don’t you’ll have to pay for a new keyboard. Yes I know you have AppleCare but the wear & tear, sir. Pointing to the spots where the sweat from my wrists had pitted the aluminum and talking about “moisture corrosion damage issues,” looking for anything that meant I had been using the thing to hammer nails, etc.

They’ve clearly been told to be hardasses and refuse AppleCare to anyone they can, especially laptop owners. I understand that they’re plagued with people who pour a Coke on their computers and try to get a new one, but being treated like a criminal isn’t fun. Considering the expense of the computer and the AppleCare plan itself, I’m aggrieved to find myself having used car lot conversations with a supercilious geek every time I need help.

Plus, of course, I put in my own memory which invalidates everything because Apple wants to insist on selling RAM at a huge markup over retail.

It’s hard not to see the whole thing as a scam, and it makes me angry, and I don’t like being angry. It’s particularly humiliating to have to defend my computer maintenance skills in public to someone who’s just going to win if he wants to and has poor enough social skills that he’s going to push all my buttons.

So I guess I’ll just buy a new hard drive with cash and try to transfer the data over somehow. I’m not sure I’d buy a new Apple now, though, and I’m certainly not very jazzed about AppleCare. It has been useful before when undeniable problems happened early in hardware ownership, but I don’t any longer think it’s better than another computer vendor’s warranty.

I needed native x86 and Windows for radio stuff so I ordered a cheap-ass low-end Dell this week. I paid for the accidental destruction coverage on it. Maybe Apple should offer that separately from the service at a higher rate, instead of making us fight with their employees about whether we’re good stewards every time something goes wrong.

I freely admit that my own problems with conflict and my button pushes are at least as much the problem as Apple’s policies, but I’m also tired of bait and switch, and tired of Apple’s denial about actual design flaws like the AC Adapter. They do so much so well, and then the Reality Distortion Field intervenes and says “We’re perfect, and you, the customers, are imagining your problems.”