After my stint was installed, I was put on Toprol XL (a Beta Blocker), Hyzaar (ACE with diuretic), Lipitor (cholesterol reducer), Plavix (anticoagulant) and 325 mg of aspirin.

Since I knew that all meds have side effects, I carefully scanned the Internet for all of the information that I could find. Noting that some of the meds have similar side effects, I put together a grid of side effects vs meds. That way, if I experienced a side effect, I could quickly cross reference it and note which med/meds could be causing the problem.

After about 3 month on the new meds, I became terrible absent minded. It started out small at first. I would misplace my car keys or my coffee cup, little things that we all do. But then, things got more severe.

I would do things like get in my car and start driving only to realize that I couldn’t remember where I was going. And once I went to Meijers (regional grocery chain), bought a whole cart load of groceries and then left them in the parking lot. Fortunately, someone hollered at me so I stopped and put the groceries in the car.

At work, I started becoming confused. My boss would tell me to do something and I would think that I had done what was requested only to discover that I hadn’t done it at all. Or worse, I would do something and not remember doing it. In short, for a year, I lived like I was drunk, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sometimes my speech was even slurred and my motor skills impaired.

I thought I was loosing my mind. I checked and rechecked the Internet for side effects of the drugs and none of these symptoms were listed. Have I suffered a stroke I wondered? Do I have a brain tumor? The doctors were at a loss. I was at a loss. My boss was at a loss as I was no longer dependable. People at church were beginning to whisper. I was going through life in a haze; a fog that never seemed to lift.

I was told when I started the Plavix that I would only have to be on it for a year. And what a year it was.

If I nicked my self while shaving, it might take me 20 minutes to stop the bleeding. Routine cuts and scraps became major first aid events. I was now a bleeder who had to watch every move and action closely to insure that I didn’t injure myself. Bruising was now a regular part of my life. But I told my self that I would soon be off this drug and to just bear with it.

When my year was up, I went back to my doctor and told him that it was now time to get off of this drug. Reluctantly he checked my charts but in the end agreed that it was time to stop this drug. Yes!!

I looked forward to a normal life where a shaving nick did not require 20 minutes of first aid. Plus, I looked forward to a time when a simple bump did not produce a massive bruise. And I received all of these plus something more.

Six weeks after leaving the Plavix, the fog in my head lifted. My absent mindedness went away or should I say it returned to its normal level. I no longer felt like I was drunk and I could remember and think clearly again. I wasn’t loosing my mind after all. It was the Plavix all along.

I hit the internet again only this time, I started from the end of my Google search and worked forward. Bingo! I found the side effects that the manufacturers don’t acknowledge; I found the side effects posted by the drug users themselves.

In addition to the side effects, I found some articles on wrongful death law suits that are in progress right now. It seems that Plavix is believed to cause fatal brain hemorrhages. Some speculate that Plavix is more dangerous than Vioxx.

I don’t doubt that Plavix aided in my recovery, but it could also have cost me my job or even killed me.


Yesterday, my boss sent out an Email stating that she would be on vacation until April 9th.  Today, there is no one in the office except for me.  Looks like it will be a quiet day.

Bum R.A.P.

Here at the State, the Department of Natural Resources has a number that you can dial to Report All Poaching. It is called the RAP hot-line.

This hot-line is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Because it is staffed 24×7, every time that we need to take the phone system down for a few minutes, we have to make provisions for the RAP hot-line so that they can continue to function.

I am not sure how big of a problem poaching is here in Michigan but the RAP folks seem to think that they provide an important service. And apparently the DNR thinks that it is important enough to have a call center staffed 24×7.

Now understand, unlike calling 911, the RAP folks will not be able to get a game warden to the poaching site in time to save the life of that deer or trout. The best they can do is to get someone to the crime scene while the evidence is still fresh. Even then, it might be several days before the CO appears. Mean while, Bambi is hanging in a barn waiting to become a redneck Sunday dinner and Nemo has been fried.

Given the number of car/deer accidents, I think we need a few more poachers in the state.

A born leader

The Lansing news today is all a buzz. It seems that a Rep. D. from Detroit was seen driving out of the parking lot at the Capitol. Ordinarily, that would not be news but in this case the Rep. has a suspended license.

When asked about it, the Rep. stated that he has had a suspended license for the last 24 years and that he felt bad about the fact that he still drives. He went on to say that perhaps if he paid his speeding tickets, he could get his license back. Go figure!

Someone noted that the license on his 2001 Jaguar was also expired. He responded by stating that it wasn’t his car.

13 years ago, he served time for armed robbery. Who knows, in another 10 years he may become the mayor of Detroit. Only in America, the land of opportunity.

Minimum wage

The other day I was reading an article about raising the minimum wage. The owner of a restaurant was complaining that he has a hard time getting any one to apply for his jobs because the minimum wage in his state is too low. He cited that a friend of his owns a restaurant in a state with a high minimum wage and doesn’t have any problems finding help. He concluded that if minimum wage were higher in his state, he would not have any problems finding help. I wonder if he has ever though about paying a wage that is higher than the minimum wage?  Go figure.


When working at the state, you come across a number of characters. One of these characters was a guy named Earl.

Earl was a tall slender man who was 70 something. If you frequented any of the coffee shops, cafeterias or restaurants in the greater Lansing area, you would eventually see Earl.

Earl never smiled. In fact, Earl never made eye contact with anyone or even acknowledged there existence. He would just sit at the table, sipping his coffee and working the daily crossword puzzle from the paper. Clearly, he was a burned out state employee.

One day, one of the deputy directors was walking to a meeting in another building. On her way there, she noticed that Earl was sitting on a bench under a shade tree by the Capitol. Since it was mid morning, she assumed that Earl was on break. However, when she returned 2 hours later and saw that Earl had not moved from his bench, she decided to notify Earls boss about the long break.

After making several calls, she finally located a manger in Earls work area. The deputy director explained the situation to the manger. The manager stated that while she was not Earls boss she would check to see why Earl was outside and not working. After checking with several of the other managers, she learned that Earl was on vacation for the week.

I guess that while Earl hated this place, he didn’t have anywhere else to go.

Consumers Report

We have subscribed to Consumers Report for more than 30 years. We started with the magazine when we were first married and needed to purchase things. And while we didn’t always agree with their findings, at least they pointed out issues to consider when purchasing things.

Over the years, the format of the magazine has changed as have the staff. Some changes are for the good while other changes are for the bad.

In the past, they used to explain their testing procedures. And while this information was a little on the dull side for those who just wanted to know which thing to buy, it did give you insight into possible flaws in their testing procedures. Unfortunately, they have stopped providing that information.

Even prior to the car seat screwup, I questioned the validity of their tests. In particular, I question their testing procedures for ranges.

In all of their range tests, the high end gas ranges always came in last when heating a pot of water. But, I failed to understand how a 2,400 watt burner heated water faster than a 16,000 BTU burner.

Since 16,000 BTU has twice the heat of 2,400 watts, the only thing that I can think of is that the pot that they test with is too small for the 16,000 BTU burners. In short, the big gas burners probably shoot the flame so far out that it never touches the small pot. But, I don’t know since the article makes no mention of the testing procedures.

I can appreciate the need for consistency in these tests. But, if the tests do not reflect reality, what good are they? In reality, no one would put a small pot of water on a 16,000 BTU burner because the flames would completely miss the pot. This is just basic common sense. That is why gas ranges have different size burners for different size pots.

For consistency, I suspect that CR put the same pot on the largest burner of each stove. And in doing so, they have flawed the tests.

I can’t depend on the accuracy of their test results any more because I can’t tell if their testing is flawed. The only reason that I questioned this particular test was because the results just didn’t make sense.

I suspect that we will quit subscribing to Consumers Report. We are at the point where the only thing we believe about Consumers Report is their failure record.  And, the only reason that we believe that is because it is based on their yearly survey.  FWIW.


To night, we are going to celebrate Passover with a Seder supper.  No, we’re not Jewish but we do enjoy the feast.  You get an Old Testament Bible lesson, a New Testament Bible lesson, singing, dancing and reminder that Christ will be returning, all focused around a meal.

The meal lasts for about 4 hours.  In the past, we have invited friends and family to celebrate with us.  This year, we are having the young people from church.   All and all, there will be about 14 of us. We can’t handle much more than that as we do not have enough tables and chairs.

This year’s will be the largest that we have ever done.  We had to move the dinning room table down into the unfinished addition.  The table itself will easily seat 12 but the addition presently is the only spot big enough for the full table.

As usual, the  meal will consist of roast leg of lamb, red potatoes, asparagus, fruit, veggies, nuts and angel food cake.  The lamb weighted in at a little over 8 lbs.

Usually, we put the lamb in the oven when we first start the celebration.  Then, when we finally make it to part of the celebration where we actually eat the meal, the lamb is done and ready to serve.

Lamb should always be served rare.  If it is cooked much beyond that, it gets tough and a real strong taste to it.  Fortunately, we will be dining by candle light so most of our guests won’t know that it is rare.  And if anyone does  comment on the fact that the meat is red, I will tell them that lamb is always that color.

Trading faces

Many years ago when I was working at Calvin College, I made an important discovery; I have trouble distinguishing faces. And it is not that I don’t recognize people, because I do. It is more along the lines that if I meet two people with very similar features, I will get them mixed up.

This first became evident when we hired some new part time student switchboard operators. There were two girl with very similar features. They were both about 5’6″, 115 lbs, shoulder length light brown hair, blue eyes and average build. To make matters worse, they were both named Karen.

And while I would talk to both of them face to face several times a week, it wasn’t until they were both working together that I made the connection that there were two Karens. This, of course, would explain why some of my conversations with them were met with strange looks.

This problem continues today, particularly with TV and movies. If there are too many characters with similar features, I get confused as to who is who. I need distinguishing features in my characters like Mr T or Dolly Parton. Pacino, De Niro and Stallone used to drive me nuts.

Sundays will never be the same

When I was in high school, I was dating a girl from a very conservative religious family. Every Sunday, we would go to church together and then have Sunday dinner together. To add a little variety to this routine, we would alternate churches and households for dinner. When we went to her church, we had dinner with her parents. When we went to my church, we had dinner with my parents.

Early in the summer one Sunday, I drove out to pick her up as we were planning on going to my church. And in keeping with the routine, we were planning on dinner at my parents. Since she wasn’t ready when I arrived, I had a light conversation with her mother.

During that conversation her mother asked what we were going to have for dinner. When I told her that we were going to be grilling steaks in the backyard, she got a funny look on her face. Moments later when my girlfriend appeared, her mother quickly got her off to the side and they began whispering back and forth to each other. After emerging from the huddle, my girlfriend suggested that we have dinner with her parents instead. Since that was fine with me, I called my parents and let them know of the change in plans.

Later that evening, she explained to me that it grilling was not a proper thing to do on a Sunday. She went on to say that Sunday should be a quiet and restful day with church as the only activity.

I was both surprised and confused by her comments. While my folks were grilling in the backyard, her mother was doing the wash and vacuuming the living room. Somehow, my parents Sunday seemed more restful than her mothers Sunday. And so I pointed that out to her.

Later, during the week, she told me that she had shared my remarks with her mother. Her mother commented that I just didn’t understand.  I guess I still don’t.