Monday, November 30, 2009

A good example of runaway costs

There is a nifty little device you can wear on your teeth at night called the NTI tension suppression system. It's not a standard night guard, which is designed rather like one you'd wear for sparring--covers all your (usually) upper teeth. That kind is meant to redistribute the pressure generated by nighttime biting or clenching. The NTI thingie just fits over your incisors and supposedly positions your jaw so as to actually prevent clenching or grinding. It's been FDA approved as a treatment for tension migraines, for what that's worth. Anyhow, it's a little, dinky piece of plastic. According to an interview with the Chicago Dental Society this costs the dentist between $20 and $110, depending on whether or not they send it in to a lab to be custom fitted. Well, I rang the three dentists in Vancouver who provide this little piece of plastic. One quoted me a price of $800. One quoted me a price of $821. The third, with whom I have an appointment on Thursday quoted a price of $250. I surely do hope this is not because he's some awful, dodgy dentist. But it seems to me that a greater than 700 percent markup is...unethical. Those first two dentists also quoted prices in excess of $500 for standard night guards, which can be purchased online for closer to $150 and come with a money back guarantee. Catch a dentist offering a money back guarantee.

Friday, November 27, 2009


do recipe instructions end with "serve"? Do they really think you're just going to put your results on a pedestal for all to admire or something? Just wondering.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Not-terribly-original thoughts about the holidays

So today was Thanksgiving, when it is mandated that we play happy families and be thankful for everything. While I do love my family, there are times when it's easier to love everyone in small doses. I recall really disliking big family dinners where I got quizzed about minute details of my life and got relegated to the kids' table because I wasn't married (and I was thankful for Grandmother who may have sensed my disgruntlement and sat at the kids' table too because she wasn't married either). Yet, I miss my family. I wish they lived closer or could visit more frequently. I wish we could travel more ourselves. I wish we could drive each other just a bit battier so we'd be happy for time apart.

We had a lovely, relaxing day doing nothing much in particular. We had a nice Thanksgiving lunch, thanks to several local farmers and our own efforts. I didn't get a headache or a stomach ache. But the Spawn is never going to have the connection with her grandparents that I had and have with mine. She is never going to have aunts and uncles and cousins around except in the most fleeting way. And holidays like this bring that home.

I have my health, for the most part. I have a most excellent spouse. I have a wonderful, if at times exasperating child. I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back (and front and legs, etc.), and good food to eat. For all this I am truly thankful. But virtual family isn't the same.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Today's profound thought....

Due to lack of sufficient sleep--for several days, not just today--the Spawn had one of THOSE days. This has led me to a greater understanding of some of the things in my childhood that had previously been obscure. And once again I marvel that the human race has managed to propagate itself so successfully. Here's hoping for a rising time that's after 5am tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vive la différence!

So maybe stating the obvious, but having only one offspring and that of the female persuasion, I don't have opportunities to observe the differences in male-spawn versus female-spawn play. Yesterday we went to the indoor play park at a local church--still working on the whole jacket issue for outdoor play--and I had a chance to do some first-rate sociology fieldwork.

Cars, roads, and road signs were the articles of play. The Spawn, who was amongst the earlier arrivals at the place, wanted to get out the just mentioned items to play with them. We set up the roads together. Then she put road signs at frequent intervals along the road, after asking what the unfamiliar ones meant. Next she carefully selected two cars and proceeded to drive them along the road. They stopped to comment and exclaim over each of the signs. They encountered one another and had long conversations. They expressed woe over a stop sign.

Along came two boys, rather smaller than the Spawn, but probably a little older. They each grabbed a couple of cars and proceeded to zoom them down the road with all the sound effects. They zoomed and vroomed. They screeched and crashed. That last sound effect was literal crashing, by the way, in addition to vocal crashing. The Spawn was rather nonplussed and soon decided to move on to the wagon full of plastic animals--who spent a lot of time discussing who ate meat and who at leaves and "feed".

I guess there really IS a difference...though I refuse to speculate on the amount that can be attributed to nature versus nurture.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Will the excitement never end?

I went down to the train station this afternoon with the Spawn. She got to watch the large crane swinging crushed cars around. I got to buy tickets for our trip to Seattle next weekend. Hooray! I'm looking forward to this absurdly much. We'll primarily be doing stuff to amuse the Spawn--aquarium and zoo, anyone--but the trip is actually a celebration for me. Who knows, maybe we'll stop in at the Science Fiction Museum for me. Pending the finance audit, I'm set to graduate this month! I've been working on this degree for...well, let's just say it's old enough to drink in any state in the US. I started off with a degree in music performance. I'm graduating with a degree in Asian studies. That means I'll have a nice, expensive piece of paper that means damnall except that I'm tenacious. Cause enough for celebration, I think!

Look Ma, no shoes!

The Spawn often gets asked, "Where are your shoes?" Fact is, she doesn't like wearing shoes and mostly doesn't. I've yet to hear a good reason to wear shoes to the library, for instance. Anyhow, I just found a fun website about this very thing! It's called Parents for Barefoot Children. Sometimes the internet amazes me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mystery solved!

Ah, yet another joy of living with a toddler--the drama of not being able to find THE toy of the moment. Of course, it helps if you know what that toy is. The Spawn went into full meltdown mode yesterday because we couldn't find "the other guy". Ah, right. The other guy. Not one of the Lego people, or the doll house people. Not one of the stuffed animals. "He's not soft, he's HARD!" Right again. Not a train. Not a small plastic animal. The other guy. This morning she found what she was looking for. It was a small figurine of a space alien acquired I know not where but before the birth of the Spawn. The alien guy = the other guy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Turkeys 1: Humans 0

I believe the fact that we have turkeys has come up now and again. They're tremendous pains in the rear, in fact. As chicks, they were cute and fluffy and very noisy. Things went downhill from there. When they were first introduced to the outside world, they were too chicken (pardon the pun) to keep the chickens from eating their food. That means the Better Half had to guard them while they ate.

Once they got larger, they figured out how hold their own on the food front. They also learned how to fly over the fence into our yard and, better yet, into the neighbor's yards. They discovered that they were large enough to bully the chickens, but only as a gang. The ringleader of that got butchered a while back. One on one, the chickens can still hold their own. Anyhow, it's about time to butcher the other five turkeys. It seems unlikely they'll be getting any bigger and they don't produce eggs that we've found.

Rather than attempting to chase down the turkeys and catch them for manual slaying, the Better Half attempted to shoot one of the hens with a pellet gun this morning. Four or five pellets to the head later, there were four frightened turkeys and one dazed but otherwise unharmed turkey staggering off to join her flockmates. It would appear turkeys have thick skulls, leaving even less room for brains inside those tiny, reptilian heads.

Next up is the construction of a leg catching device to enable hoisting them by the leg from a distance. They don't generally start running until you get within a meter or so of them, so such a device should be enough to enable the catch and stab method again. Such are the joys of homesteading, even urban homesteading. Which leads me to thinking about how different the attitudes toward animals we're imparting to the Spawn are from those of our peers. But that's another post, perhaps.