Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Fortunate Moment

Having read about the Beijing Beef at Panda Express on The Impulsive Buy this week, I decided to give it a try today. There's a Panda Express not too far from where I live so I went there for lunch. The food was pretty good (I also got Kung Pao chicken) and even if it's not authentic Chinese, it's still tasty. Hey, I'm from New Mexico and I still eat at Taco Bell every now and then, so back off, food purists.

Anyhow, they always include a fortune cookie with your meal there, so after I was done eating, I cracked mine open. I looked at the fortune and initially read "YOUR THOUGHTS ARE HIGHLY RETARDED." I did a double take and looked again, this time reading what was actually printed on the paper, which is "YOUR THOUGHTS ARE HIGHLY REGARDED."

I thought it was kind of funny, and it got me to thinking...maybe rude fortune cookies would be a good thing to mix into the regular ones! After all, everyone has seen the same old bland, optimistic fortunes over and over again...why not add a few zingers into the basket? "WHY ARE YOU EATING OUT? YOU SHOULD BE ON A DIET!" People would never forget your restaurant! Of course, this might be bad for business if someone got a rude fortune with their meal who had no sense of humor.

I do remember reading a story in Reader's Digest years ago, about a lady who got a fortune cookie at a restaurant, only to find a blank slip of paper inside with nothing printed on it. She told the manager about it, expecting he'd give her another cookie. Instead, he said, "No news is good news!" and walked off.

For an interesting article about fortune cookies, you can check out this article from the New York Times, by an author who has literally written the book on them. One interesting fact from the article: the fortune cookie was actually invented in Japan, not China, and in fact fortune cookies are rarely served with meals in China itself. Since my airline flies to China, I may someday be able to verify this fact by personal experience, but not any time soon.

If I keep up these short posts, I should think about trying out a Twitter account. Of course, once I got going, this post turned out to be longer than I originally thought it would be. In any case, it's good to be getting back in the habit of blogging again, even if it's only in brief.

Best Quote About Work I've Heard In A While...

From a postal worker in Albuqerque attempting to explain a particular Post Office policy to me: "I don't know why they do it this way, but I'm so low on the food chain, I don't even qualify as bait!"

I don't really feel that way about my current job, although it does sum up my experiences at a few prior employers rather well.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Keyword Analysis

From the kick-ass and free website meter I use at statcounter.com, I bring to you a few favorite keyword searches that have brought people to my blog:

Getting High Off Mucinex

Hmmm...I never had any luck with that, myself, but feel free to give it a try.

Peanuts Reduce Gray Hair

As a salt-and-pepper peanut fan, I'd have to say that isn't true in my case.

Ruidoso NM Hotties

Trust me, there's not very many of them, unless you prefer age 60+ hotties.

Failed Drug Test Prior To FAA Exam

Um, can't help you there, sorry. But I'd advise avoiding Mucinex.

And, here is my favorite keyword search:

Can My Probation Officer Track My Airline Flight?

Never having had a probation officer, I can't say for sure, but my answer would be: Yes, probably. But good luck getting out of town!

The Agony of De-feet

Well, either you are throwing virtual tomatoes at me for choosing this post's title, or you are wondering, WHAT agony? Turns out, yours truly has (or had) an ingrown toenail on my left big toe. (I suppose I could have titled the post "The Agony of Da-Foot" but it doesn't have the same ring to it.) I got it removed yesterday, by a professional (are you listening, Dariush?) although fortunately, he just had to remove the right edge.

This isn't the first time my toes have gone "under the knife," so to speak. Way back in the late 80's, I had several incidents with ingrown toenails on my right big toe...and it was removed a total of I think three times, ultimately growing back rather thick and ugly-looking. I always said if it happened again I'd just get the whole nail removed, but so far I haven't had to do that.

This time, it was my left foot's big toe that was the problem. It was actually acting up on me before my trip to Amsterdam, so in order to be able to walk around while I was there, I trimmed it REALLY short on that side. Not a medically wise thing to do, I know, but I wanted to be able to ambulate without pain while I was there.

I went to my regular doc's office after I got back from my European adventure. I had caught some kind of cold or bronchial infection while I was on my trip, and wanted to get it checked out. My primary doc also looked at my toe once I mentioned it to him, prescribed some antibiotics, and referred me straightaway to a podiatrist, which is where I went yesterday (and where the minor surgery occurred.)

My toe wasn't that inflamed when I went to the podiatrist's office yesterday (probably due to the aforementioned antibiotics) but he felt removal was the best option, which I had no problem with. He also wanted to prescribe more antibiotics, and some kind of ointment. Unfortunately, when I got to the pharmacy, I was told the total for those two items was going to be about $80 ($50 just for the ointment) and that there were no generic equivalents available.

Now, I do not skimp on my health, let me make that clear. If I have to get something done, I have no problem going to see a doctor or get the medicine they recommend. But in this case, the after-insurance price of the drugs made me take pause...especially since I didn't think my toe was all that infected. And no, I'm not a doctor, but I have had severely inflamed ingrown toenails in the past, and this one wasn't like that at all. Also in the past, doctors have said that plain old over-the-counter Neosporin works fine as an ointment, post-removal. I opted to not get the prescriptions filled yesterday and called the doc's office to leave a message asking about them. Of course, nobody had returned my call by this afternoon.

I finally called back and got the doctor's nurse. I asked to speak with the doctor and got the reply of, "Is there something I could help you with?" I swear, getting a doctor to talk to you directly on the phone is like pulling teeth sometimes...but I went ahead and explained the situation to her. "Well, that's what Dr. Nag likes to use with his patients," she replied. "There's no generic available. You haven't gotten it yet? Hold on, I'll talk to him."

She came back a couple of minutes later. "Dr. Nag says he prefers the mega-overpriced foot goop but says you can use Neosporin if you insist." (OK, she didn't really say the mega-overpriced part.) "He said you don't have to take the antibiotics either, if you don't want to, but to soak your foot in warm water with some vinegar twice a day for a week." I never did speak to Dr. Nag (not his real name, if you hadn't guessed) directly today, but if I can avoid spending money on overpriced foot goop, I'm all for it.

My question is, do doctors ALWAYS choose the most expensive option in determining how to treat patients? If I didn't really need an antibiotic, why did he prescribe one anyway? Oh well. I guess I'm fortunate that I don't have any kind of chronic condition or ongoing prescriptions I have to get all the time...my mother does, and I know how much those can add up to be. All the same, I wonder if many doctors here might do better not to blindly prescribe expensive medicine if it isn't really necessary.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Captain Trips

For those of you who say I don't post enough...you're right, and it has been too long. But, better late than never. I decided to dedicate this post to my recent mini-vacations over the last few months, starting with the trip I took to Albany last October. Bonus geek points if you get the Stephen King reference from this post's title.



I suppose that after reading my last post you might think I didn't have a good mini-vacation in New York...however, other than that incident, it was a pretty fun getaway. We went hiking on Saturday, and out to dinner Saturday night, where my friend had the wait staff sing "Happy Birthday" to me, much to my embarassment. Getting home was a pain, but I did make it on all the flights I wanted to get on, and that's the important thing. Whoever said that getting there is half the fun definitely never traveled on standby. I took the picture to the left at the summit of where we hiked on Saturday, near Lake George in New York. The person in the picture is my friend Melanie, who is much more photogenic than I am.

I didn't travel again for a few months after that, but I did manage to finally get out of town before my nephew's basketball season ended. He's in his senior year and I had been wanting to get up for one of his games...it's a bit more challenging to do that now rather than when I lived in Wisconsin, but hey, what are flight benefits for? I got to see him play in two games, actually, during his end-of-season tourney. We also went out for food and saw "Vantage Point" one afternoon. All in all, a good trip, but I did discover I do not miss snow, at all. I didn't take any pictures of the snow, but I did make a YouTube video of my nephew in a 3-point contest before one of his games.



Fast forward to this month, when I finally decided to head overseas to complete my international flight deck observation requirement for the year. I'd never been to Amsterdam, and we fly there nonstop, so that's where I headed for a couple of days. I had one day for sightseeing, which isn't much but is better than nothing. I did take some pictures this time with my cellcam and uploaded them to Flickr if you'd like to check them out. It's still a bit chilly in northern Europe, but I had a good (if all too brief) time. I was able to visit some historic sights, including Anne Frank's house, and I took a boat tour that was kind of fun. I also checked out a Torture museum to get some ideas for my storage closet which I thought looked interesting, but turned out to be a bit dull. The torture museum did have a historic guillotine set up with a sign saying "do not sit on or lie down" posted nearby. I guess lying under a guillotine blade might make for a nice picture but it strikes me as a good way to make it into the Darwin Awards. Of course, you can never tell what an intoxicataed tourist might try, so I suppose the sign was a good idea on the museum's part.

It is very expensive there. Even knowing I would get reimbursed for my hotel and meals, I still felt like I was spending too much money. Next time, I'm heading somewhere with a better exchange rate. (On a positive note, the high prices did keep me from being tempted from trying anything crazy in the Red Light district.) It's definitely a really interesting and scenic city, even if it's pricey.

I actually got a first class seat flying over, and I rode back for about half the trip in the cockpit, fulfilling my annual observational requirement, then went back to coach for the rest of my journey. I was also able to visit an ATC facility at the airport there before I flew back, which is always educational.

I'm writing this post in Albuquerque, on my latest trip to see my Mom. Beautiful weather here, although a bit windy today. Back to Texas tomorrow, where I'll finish this post up, add all my pictures, and post it. Of course, I can't just kick up my heels the whole time I come home, as there are always some maintenance items to take care of on a 40-year-old house, but since we've increased Mom's caregiver hours it does give me a chance to run around more on my own without worrying about her.

I went to see a movie last night at a theater I used to go to in high school sometimes...it was a serious 80's flashback. That place, The Guild, has been there since 1966. It was closed for a little while but now is reopened, and doing fairly well from what I hear. It's a small, one-screen theater (the only one remaining in Albuquerque) but it's fun to see a movie in that environment from time to time...plus the tickets, at $7, didn't feel like a huge price gouge.

I don't really make full use of my travel benefits, I guess, but I do try and get away from time to time. I really do like traveling when I get the chance. I figure that if you put up with all the BS in the airline industry, and you don't enjoy travel, you'd be wise to find a lower-stress and more secure job outside of aviation...at least, there must be SOME reason I'm still doing this after a dozen plus years.