Saturday, April 30, 2011

Boulder Canyon Chips

For many months Costco was selling Boulder Canyon spicy rice crackers.  My wife was not too fond of them, but they were certainly my favorite gluten-free "chips".

Since Costco sold a big twenty-ounce bag for $4.59, they were affordable at $0.23 per ounce.

Now they are out of rotation at Costco.  Sadness!  Amazon and the local grocery store both sell only five-ounce bags.  The cost per ounce is double.

I'll have to wait a few months for my favorite "chips" again.  Oh well.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Medicine Costs

Last year I blogged a bit about my lengthy sinus infection, which I think I've only mentioned once this year.  Even without the infection my sinuses are still inflamed.  Now allergy season is here too.

So I went to both my doctor and a naturopathic physician friend to get more help.  I'm now on quite a few medicines and pills.  Fortunately, I have nice health insurance that pays for most of the cost of the prescriptions.

All this stuff I'm putting inside me is working wonderfully.  I've gotten most of my energy back.  I'm not constantly congested.  I'm not suffering nearly-daily headaches.  Hooray!

Here's what feeling well is costing me...

First, the prescriptions.
  • Rhinocort - $37.50 for 120 sprays (30 days) - $1.25 per day
  • Wilson's Solution (Gentamicin in saline) - $37 for three month supply - $0.41 per day

The Rhinocort is anti-inflammatory.  The Wilson's Solution prevents another sinus infection.
  • Power-Dophilus (four probiotic blend) $14.99 for 100 tablets (33 days) - $0.45 per day
  • Aller-Essentials (Pure Encapsulations) $12.61 for 60 capsules (15 days) - $0.84 per day
  • Allegra (CostCo) $35 for 90 tablets (90 days) - $0.39 per day

The probiotic might be helping if my ratio of T1 to T2 cells was off, which often happens with allergy sufferers; having T2 too high increases mast cell activity.  The other pill is designed to stabilize mast cells so fewer histamines are triggered.  Allegra is the antihistamine that works best for me.  So I have something dealing with all three of the main stages between "body notices pollen" and "histamine produced".

This supposedly helps with relaxation.  I've certainly noticed that when I have more tension in my neck and upper back then it exacerbates my allergy symptoms.  It seems to be working well, although for about a quarter per day I would even be happy with even a placebo effect.
  • Multivitamin (Trader Joe's) $7.99 for 100 tablets (100 days) - $0.08 per day
  • Vitamin C (Trader Joe's) $12.99 for 250 tablets (125 days) - $0.10 per day

Finally, my vitamins.

Total is $3.79 per day.  That's a lot more than I have been spending on health for most of my life.  But not too bad considering that it is Springtime allergy season, and I had been suffering from daily congestion and headaches due to swollen and inflamed sinuses.

Science Factory

Videos at all the links but the first link!  I have not done a nice blog post about Smiley playing in a while, since I was foolishly trying to keep videos chronological and am still way behind in processing December videos.  Well, enough pointless procrastination.  Here's some very recent footage.

Yesterday Smiley visited the Science Factory for the first time.  A friend of his invited us.  Guest admission is free with a member.

Spring weather and flowers have really arrived.  The park in which it is located was beautiful.

The two boys would have been very happy just playing outside.  They climbed and jumped on a bench and chased some ducks.  (I only got the very end of the duck-chasing on video.  I was astonished that the ducks ran so much, instead of immediately flying away.)

The first exhibits were a bit too old for Smiley.  He liked the noises the circuits and cams made but did not really comprehend what was happening.

But the Gravitram was fascinating.  I took three videos over the course of ten minutes, and a fourth when he returned to it later on.  He must have spent half an hour watching the thing.  While driving home he talked about it.  "The machine with the balls had a man with a hammer.  He stopped the balls.  He was not nice.  I don't like him."  (In that first video you can see the little-man part of the contraption if you look carefully.)

Smiley also enjoyed the Kinetica, a simpler device with more user participation.  The Archimedes screw was also fun, although he had to wait a while until it was not mobbed by other kids.

At the end of the visit, when he was getting tired, we went to the "Five Years Old and Under" area and he played with a crane.

Smiley has a few friends with memberships.  He already had a play date scheduled with one of them for today.  We were going to visit a park, but since Smiley really wants to return to the Science Factory and his friend also enjoys it then I expect we're returning there this afternoon.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Dentist and the Skate Park

Smiley has been worried about dentists.

A month ago I had a routine dentist visit to get my teeth cleaned.  Also, my grandmother has had a lot of dentist visits lately because her false teeth are having problems.  We both have good dentists.  No one hollers or screams.

However, Smiley knows about the dentist from Finding Nemo, who is not a good dentist.  His patients holler and scream.

So Smiley has been worried that my dentist, or my grandmother's dentist, might not be good dentists.

What to do?  Wednesday we visited my dentist.  No appointment, just stopped by to say hi.  (I had called ahead to make sure this was in general an okay thing to do, and asked for the time of day they were least busy.)  A dental technician gave us a tour.

Smiley likes the dentist's.  The office has a tape dispenser.  (He likes tape.)  He got to move one of the chairs up and down.  He smiled when the dental technician blew air and water on his hand from that tool.  He got to see patients who were not hollering or screaming.  He was given a blue toothbrush, two stickers, and a high bounce ball.

A few of the dentists and other technicians were bored, and stopped by to chat.  He was probably the cutest visitor that morning.

It was a nice visit.  He wants to go there again, to spend more time playing with the buttons that work their accessible entryway doors.

So... what to do with his first high bounce ball?  I drove him to the skate park at Crescent and Gilham.  It was a slightly rainy day, so no one else was there.  Skaters don't like puddles.

Life does not get much better than a three-year-old with a high bounce ball in an empty skate park.

Woof Woof

I've been doing more barking than usual.

First, there is Jeeves and Wooster.  My wife asked for that DVD set as a holiday present.  It is something funny to watch together in the evening.  Smiley asked about it, so we let him watch the first part of the second episode, "Tuppy and the Terrier".  In it Bertie Wooster is playing golf.  He is also babysitting his aunt's terrier, who is with him at the golf course.  The dog keeps barking (prompted by the mischievous Bobby Wickham) just as Bertie is taking a swing, ruining his game.

After watching that, Smiley asked to try playing golf.  So we set him up with a long cardboard tube from a wrapping paper roll, a small plastic ball, and a box on its side.  He enjoys trying to hit the ball into the box.  But in his mind golf requires a distracting dog.  So my job is to bark as he is about to swing the tube.

The other barking is from the delightful Boynton board book Doggies.  It has joined the ranks of books Smiley enjoys "reading" to himself.  Since his barking is incredibly adorable (although I have so far failed to catch it with our Flip video recorder) I have been reading it to him more often, to keep it in his mind.

(By the way, that board book should be part of all premarital counseling.  A couple that cannot count and bark together may have a troubled future.)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Laptop Hard Drive Problem

Sometimes my laptop's hard drive makes alarmingly loud noises.

It was doing this often several months ago.  Then the problem went away.  Two weeks ago it returned.

Ubuntu has had problems with some laptop hard drives in the past.  But more recent versions of the operating system have supposedly fixes these, so I doubt that a recent update has reintroduced the problem.  Furthermore, the two fixes:
1. Turning off "spin down hard disks when possible" in both places (plugged in and battery power) within the Power Management preferences.

2. The terminal command
sudo hdparm -M 128 -B 255 /dev/sda
Do not help, neither months ago or currently.

It might be time to shop for a new laptop--one that is designed and sold with Ubuntu.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Dominion Three-Set Box

In early January I mentioned that Amazon sells the Dominion card game in a three-box set.

Oddly, most of the comments are about how the organizational system that comes with the box does not sensibly organize the cards.

Why is this an issue?  Just alphabetize the cards, except for the bigger slots especially made to hold those few card types for which there are more than ten copies.

Here's a photo.

Much easier than trying to set up or put away the game from three boxes!


I have been loving our spa in 2011.  I am still dealing with frequent sinus congestion and headaches.  No medication helps as much as soaking twice a day to let hot air and steam into in my head.

My wife was amused to see that the spa also helps our planter box of strawberries.  At the end of January we got to eat fresh berries from our yard.

A nice snack on a snowy day.

Matchbox Car Weights

I noticed the Matchbox cars I have saved from my childhood weigh more than the ones currently sold.  They must have more metal and less plastic.

I weighed two fire trucks just because I'm that kind of nerd.

The old one weighs 52 grams.

The new one weighs 40 grams.

On the other hand, their prices have not changed since I was a moppet.  The fire truck may have lost 23% of its weight, but it's still a better deal for a pile of inflation-adjusted nickels and pennies.

First Soma Cube Photos

Back in January I wrote about the soma cube.

I finally got around to uploading some photos of the puzzles I've solved.

(I confess I have not looked at the thing since late January.)

More Picasa Photos

Whew.  My laptop has been acting up, but I did manage to get some photos commented and up on Picasa.

Our 2010 album is finally done!  The 2011 album only has January's photos, which were few.  I'll try to get caught up soon.

Friday, April 01, 2011


Our neighborhood has too many deer.  The number of deer families has more than tripled since we moved here.  Deer are not a native species, but since they are cute as well as destructive then the local government does not provide any way to deal with them.

During the past two years their crowding has caused them to eat even the English ivy, daphne, and sword ferns in our front yard (three plants deer normally do n0t eat).

So we've been planting hellebore.  It's now the only plant that's safe.

A local nursery, Northwest Garden Nursery, is one of the foremost hellebore breeders in the world.  So at least we get an unusual amount of variety with the one pretty plant the deer won't eat.

A few weekends ago we purchased eight more hellebore.  They have been sitting in their pots, waiting to be planted.  Yesterday I planted two in the back yard.  Today I'll plant the other six in the front yard.  These are the perfect days, since it is finally dry enough that I'm not hurting the lawn by walking on sogginess, but still wet enough that digging is very easy.

Perhaps I'll even attack the winter's new blackberry invasions, too.  (I weeded the first spring crop of dandelions yesterday.)