Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Spring Menagerie

Springtime in Lancaster County, PA means new life...We've been watching the horse mommas through the winter and were rewarded in the past week or so with these lovely little foals... I believe, just as the greens getting greener every spring, the babies get even more adorable.

Our own additions are from the goat family. Years ago, before we moved here, we had a small herd of pygmy goats.
My husband and son decided it was time to have pygmies again and prepared a lovely fenced in area on a hill so the goats had a built in climbing area to play in. Unfortunately, the fence they built didn't work to keep the goats in - in fact they walked, or should I say ran - through it as if it didn't exist. So, the first few hours of goat ownership was spent chasing goats through acres of Christmas trees.

We caught one of them - well, she walked up to our son and he just picked her up. We tied her in am enclosure and the other two came to join her... much easier than the fruitless chasing!

The guys corrected the shortcomings of the fence and we released them again into their lovely new home. They were much happier - and we were relieved. The black and white ones are still a bit skittish, but the tan one, who we have named Martha after our favorite goat for the first herd, is very friendly and sweet. I'm sure I'll be getting some better pictures when they are more confident and come out of the shadows to see us!

Of course, we can never forget the banties...
They are still around, although a number of them were lost to a hawk over the winter. When we realized what was happening, we made an effort to protect them more carefully and those that are left have thrived.

I suppose I should be sorry to tell you that "The Captain", our nemesis, was one who fell to the hawk, but I'm not and the remaining roosters seem to be happy to share their area with us and the goats.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Drug Freebies - a physician's view

We interrupt our regular light-hearted banter to share something important. This article was in our Sunday Paper and I think it needs to be posted here, too. The more people who are aware of this situation, the better...

Time to opt out of drug freebies'
By JOSEPH IRWIN Special to the Sunday News

I am a family physician practicing medicine in Ephrata. I begin this letter with an apology to all of my patients for my complacency with the excessive marketing practices of the pharmaceutical companies. Although I have been concerned about the infiltration of pharmaceutical companies in my practice for quite some time, I admit that, until now, I had not given the issue the time and attention it deserves.
I joined a practice eight years ago, which, like many other medical practices, received certain "perks" from pharmaceutical company representatives, aka the "drug rep."
From the moment the drug reps walk into a practice, they are loaded up with medicine samples (which actually help patients and which I will continue to accept), but also with pens, paper, clocks, staplers, hand sanitizers, paper-clip holders, stuffed animals, mouse pads, tissue boxes, magnets ... you get the idea.
One of the favorite perks is the "drug lunch." In the back room away from patients, the drug reps lavish me and my staff with a gourmet lunch. But there is no free lunch in life. During this lunch, my prescribing practices (which the drug reps already know because the pharmacies sell my prescription patterns to them for considerable sums) are analyzed and every effort is made to refute a competing medicine (one that I might prescribe more frequently).
During this meal, there is little unbiased information presented by the reps.Their job is to get their drug sold. The more prescriptions they get in their territory, the better they do for themselves. (I have no animosity for them; they are simply doing their jobs. It is the flawed marketing system that I dislike.)
I am in one of the few businesses where, due to the power of the prescription pad, I am a commodity. There is no doubt that my business overhead is lowered because the pharmaceutical companies hope to sway my prescribing habits with these "gifts." It is argued that these items are of nominal value and of no consequence. I argue that they are part of a pervasive and wasteful marketing campaign by multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies who are focusing too much of their time and money on their marketing departments and too little on their research departments.
This marketing phenomenon is clearly illustrated by the explosion of television and magazine advertisements for different drugs. The public is bombarded by ads urging them to "ask their doctor if drug X maybe right for them." The ads are expensive and do little to advance and improve health care. Pharmaceutical companies have developed a group of "me too drugs," drugs that treat the same ailments with the same efficacy. By marketing these "me too drugs" aggressively to the public, these companies hope to create consumer preference, like the choice of Coke over Pepsi. Unfortunately, medicine is life-sustaining. It is a necessity, not a commodity. It must be treated differently than other consumer goods.
I have patients who face exorbitant bills for medications they need to keep them healthy. They are often faced with impossible choices: medicine or rent, medicine or food. The excessive and unnecessary marketing by pharmaceutical companies directly contributes to the skyrocketing prescription costs. This has to stop. The cost of medications to my patients, to all Americans, needs to be reduced now. I call on the pharmaceutical companies to stop spending billions on marketing and to fund research instead. I call on physicians to stop this relentless infiltration of "freebies" into your,practices.
So again, to all my patients, I apologize. I have taken steps to remedy the situation. My overhead costs will increase but it is the right thing to do.
Joseph Irwin, M.D., is a physician in Trout Run Family Practice, Ephrata, PA.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Long 2 Weeks

Sorry I've been so lax with my blog, but it's been a long couple of weeks. You can see that spring has finally spread across our county. The green grass is so lush and the sky is so blue. Baby animals are making their appearance as evidenced by the lambs among the sheep in this picture.

It started out when my guys came home from a cross country trip. The next couple of days, I managed to paticipate at the York Intergalactic Show as a vendor, tagging along with my friends, The Bead Ladies", Laura and Nolly. It was a great show and I think it convinced me I might be ready to do a table by myself.

On the way home from the show on Sunday, I got a call that our brother, John, was taking a turn for the worse and it looked like we would be making another trip to the hospital to check him in.

We managed to put it off for a few days, but he wound up in there anyway. He stayed for a week and a half and we spent a lot of time there trying to make sure the doctors were aware of the things we were. Somehow, their 5 minute visit in the AM didn't give them the same perspective we had! It all turned out okay though and he came home somewhat better.

I think he may not like having his picture taken, but after he was well on the mend, I snapped this one as he grimaced for the camers!

Somehow, during the time he was in the hospital, we still managed to get orders out and a few batches of soap made.

This past weekend, Tina and I were vendors at the Pennsylvania Herb Fair in York, PA. It was a lot of fun and a pleasant change from hospital duty.

The picture to the left shows our tables - that's Tina on the left!

Last evening, I finally sat down at the torch to replenish some of the "beadie" things I sold at the bead show and the herb show. The "Nebula" beads seemed to be in demand and so, I tried some new base colors to see what would happen:
First, the "Faded Denim Nebula". I can't remember the name of this oddlot gray/blue. I love it and was curious how it would turn out. I like it a lot and am pleased with the outcome.

Next, I tried Ladyslipper as a base and was again pleased with the result above. I tried making a few matching spacers, and they are okay, but very much on the gray side...

Finally, I grabbed some regular old pastel lapis and used a lot of silver to see what would happen. There are fine dots of silver all over the surface and the green reaction is something I really like about silver on blues...

These will make some really gorgeous bracelets for the next show at Landis Valley on Mothers' Day weekend.