Archive for March, 2012

Another App – Which is healthier?

March 14, 2012

And while I am thinking about apps, this came to me while watching two ladies shopping at Costco. The problem these two were wrestling with:

Which of these two coffee creamers is lower in calories?

To complicate their analysis, one creamer quoted per 1/2 oz serving, and the other quoted per 3/4 oz serving. The ladies commented that they used about 2 oz per cup of coffee…  But there is a generic problem:

Which choice of (name your product) is healthier?

Food labels are required to state these standard dimensions of food nutritional value:

1) grams of saturated fat, 2) grams of trans-fat, 3) grams of sodium, 4) grams of carbohydrates, 5) grams of fiber, 6) grams of sugar, and 7) grams of protein.

Amazon’s Price Check app scans the bar code of a product and presents a long list of merchants and the prices they charge. With just a little twist on this app and a database to refer to, this kind of app could compare two items (or heck, why not three or four) and graph the seven nutritional statistics for an easy visual comparison.


  • Doritos to Cheetos, or
  • Pork bacon to turkey bacon, or
  • Jimmy Dean biscuits to Hot Pockets, or …

Just try it. It takes quite a while to compare by looking at the packages, but if you had a trusty app… Well, maybe there is an “app for that!”  But, not that I know of.

Hmmm…  I’ll “talk this up” with some friends and see what it would take to make “an app for that!”


DING – Take Your Medication!

March 14, 2012

My veterinarian has our poor kitty cat on medication with this schedule for pill #1 ( a steroid):

1 pill twice a day with food for 3-1/2 days, then 1 pill once a day for 3 days, then 1 pill every other day until gone;

and pill #2 (an anti-inflammatory):

1 pill twice a day until gone.

I am saying to myself, “This is a little bit complicated…”, so I spent a few minutes sitting with the Vet’s receptionist before I left, and we created four calendar events together that she e-mailed to me while I watched. I immediately whipped out my trusty iPhone in the office, retrieved my e-mail, and “added” the calendar event to my “home calendar”.  And, presto-chango, I now get an alarm whenever Misha needs to get her medicine. It took us about six minutes to make the calendar events, send them by e-mail, and then delete them from the receptionist’s Outlook account.

These are standard “.ics” calendar files that Windows Outlook, Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, Mac iCal, Thunderbird, Sea Monkey, your Windows phone, Android phone or iPhone will all understand –  and a slew of applications I don’t even know about will understand these files, too – even Lotus Notes likes the ics files… See IETF RFC 5545 for more info.

So simple – every pharmacy should do this when they print the medication label!  With so many people taking multiple medications – and older people taking medication that they do not manage well because they forget, you would think that this would be a “no-brainer”. The “app” that prints the label could do the calendar events and e-mail them – if those application writers were thinking just a little harder than they seem to be…

I have a dream…

March 2, 2012

I have this darn recurring dream of sorts – several, as a matter of fact, but one is much more recent and troubling… Not every night, mind you, but once every month or two.  It starts out near our home in “the canyon” – in an area of community land in our neighborhood that is undeveloped and rather peaceful in a way. It is winter time, and it is cold.

I wake up (in my dream) in a tent in a sleeping bag – it is really cold, and there is a wind blowing right through the tent. Someone is shaking my shoulder to wake me – a different person each time I have this dream. “The National Guard is here, and they are asking for you.”

“OK,” I say, and I get our of the sleeping bag and step into the weather in the canyon just a hundred feet from my house.  I get a drink of water from the filtration system just outside my tent, and I look at a dozen or so people who are milling around outside my tent waiting for me – they all look rather sad at a glance. It is cold and misting, and I sit for a few minutes beside a neighbor and help him start a fire to boil some water for some tea. I am lucky – I know I am lucky to have a few pounds of tea in a tin. I serve tea to anyone who visits and needs to talk about something. I think to myself that the tin of tea will last another week before it is gone, and I cross my fingers that more will arrive with some food soon.

I meet with a Captain Lee who wants a report. Lee asks, “Who needs a doctor?” “What medicines and medical supplies do you need?” “Anyone died since the day before yesterday?” “What are the addresses of occupied houses, and what are their names?” “Who are old or dependent on some level of care? Any changes since the last report?” I have answers for all his questions, and he is pretty happy to meet. He says, “You are pretty well organized here. I wish other communities were as well prepared for this disaster. It makes my job to give you support a lot easier.” Lee takes out a pad of paper and looks at something that I know I gave him a week ago, and he makes a few notes and leaves. “Thanks Brian.” he says, and he is off.

“Oh,” I say, “I need more solar cells – can you get me more solar cells?” Lee says he can get me 12 more cells, and he leaves. I need 10 cells for a laptop battery charger – I think (in my dream) that this is a valuable triumph. I have cells and batteries for some lights in the tent and for a radio and a small pocket TV. The entire community – almost 300 people gather every night around my tent to listen to the radio at 8PM. Now, with the laptop, I can manage the community a bit better, and I can put a movie on the pocket TV. I feel (in my dream) that this is getting “almost civilized”.

At this point, the dream changes every night. One night, we eat beaver for dinner that someone cought in Johnson Creek that runs along my tent. Our two cats show up and get a bit of the beaver to eat, and I feel guilty that they get a morsel of food and that perhaps some of our neighbors don’t even eat dinner that night. Misha and Skyler curl up with the two of us that night in the sleeping bag and purr for hours.

One night in my dream, we have two strangers walk into the campsite and demand food and water. One homeowner now has them on the ground with a gun to their head and asks, “Brian, what do we do?” “Give them some food and water. Tell them to come back with food and water to repay us when they are able.” I say, and I look at the scared faces of the two strangers. I remember that I leaned in close to their faces and said, “We don’t have much to share with you, but we will share what we have with you – next time you come here, you need to have something to share with us, or you won’t be welcomed very warmly.”  Their names were James and Howard, and they were from  the freeway camp a mile away.

One night in my dream, we have a meeting with the leaders of the communities across the street from us. “How many died?” I ask.  “More than 60 (about a third),” he says. I remember thinking that we had only two die and think that we were lucky.

One night, we see streaks of light across the sky and we hear explosions at the airport a half hour drive north of us. I wonder what is happening. The TV has no signal. The cell phone signal dies suddenly. I know that we need to put out the fire and go “dark”. We do just that.

One night, Lee shows up with canisters of oxygen and an ice chest with insulin and some cough syrup and antibiotics. He is just in time for a few of us in the neighborhood who need these medical supplies. I sign a form and he goes off quickly to another neighborhood. “Want some tea?” I ask, and he says, “No. Here is a thermos of coffee for you. You are doing better than any other of the communities around here.”

One night in my dream, Lee comes to the campsite – it is warm, now. He says, “Brian, come with me. We need to meet with our command staff, and you need to meet these people.” Off I go in the jeep. I wake up while I am in the jeep…

One night in my dream, we have a party. We have harvested some vegetables that we planted along the creek. We had lots of carrots and potatoes. We had lots of peppers, cabbage and some fruit. I sent out a team of homeowners to get an inventory of food crops that our homeowners were growing. “We would have food for four months,” I recall saying to myself.

One night, I remember thinking in my dream, “Everyone is in their homes, and I am still in this tent!” I wondered why that was. But we still had no power or running water in any of our homes. I remember thinking, “Why live inside a box?” Later, as I walked the neighborhood with a neighbor, we saw an animal grab a fig from a nearby fig tree and scurry off with the person responsible for the orchard in hot pursuit, and I thought to myself, “A few more of those figs, and that critter will be plump and slow, and we can have another barbecue!”

One night in my dream, a number of homeowners arrived at my tent with barbecue (was it the animal that stole a fig?). Someone had what appeared to be chicken, someone had sauce, someone had french fries, and someone had home made beer. We had a small feast, and I recall thinking that everyone here had lost a lot of weight. By now, we have solar-powered lights throughout the neighborhood, hydroponic farms at every home, ample water, armed guards on our community perimeter, and we have accepted “immigrants” as rapidly as our infrastructure allows us to – we are now more than 600 people. Our problem is to obscure our resources so that we aren’t noticed by desperate people passing by and overrun.

One night in my dream,. I recall a funeral for a neighbor. One of our homeowners was a preacher, and I recall thinking that he did a fine job making everyone realize their attachment to the person who died and bringing us together in a way I could not.  We were surviving when many around us had not.

This dream plays on and on, advancing in time most nights. People age. New people appear. We struggle, but we overcome our hardships. People have new purpose and regain a sense of happiness and contentment a little more each night I have this dream. I have had this dream over the past two years or so.

What does it mean?  Anyone interpret dreams?