Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday Magic!

Just in time for the holidays, it's CAT GLITTER -- the clumping cat litter that Sparkles! In a variety of festive colors, Cat Glitter is purr-fect for families with pets! Kids want to decorate for the holidays? They'll love scooping the litter box when they dig up treasures like these! Just have them screw in the ornament hangers included with every bag of Cat Glitter so they can hang their beautiful discoveries on the tree!

Cat Glitter clumps harder than ordinary clumping litter, so you don't have to worry about breakage! And your cat will learn not to dawdle in the box after getting stuck to a clump a time or two! So don't delay! Get this fantastic product for the holidays! Do it for the cats! Do it for the kids! Cat Glitter: buy some TODAY!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

One after another

My wife has polycystic kidney disease. Her nephrologist said he would prescribe Tolvaptan for her. It was recently approved to slow the growth of the blood-filled cysts that progressively destroy the kidneys of people who have PKD. This is good,  but he said he could only prescribe it because she has health insurance through her new job.

A course of Tolvaptan costs $100,000.00 a year. One hundred thousand dollars a year.

Things like this remind you starkly that life is a series of temporary measures. Some remain in effect longer than others, but each is just a fragile refuge against implacable forces of destruction.

As long as she has insurance she will be allowed to purchase the drug on which her life depends. Its cost must be spread across the whole group of policy holders.

How much is the price distorted by the fact that the maker of the drug knows that an insurance company will be forking out for it? How much of the stated price actually gets paid? Someone with insurance is not expected to ask. Most probably don't. They're just glad to get what they need. It would only matter if the insurance went away.

Should I go on and write a Malcolm Gladwell-style book on all the temporary circumstances that make up every life? It's late and I have to go to my own job tomorrow. That was a temporary measure that has turned out to persist a remarkably long time.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Winterize the lawn mower

Various things kept me from my own winter preparations in October, so on a chilly November afternoon I went out to winterize the lawn mower.

First I wanted to run it out of gas. I've heard conflicting advice on this. One school of thought says to get rid of all fuel in the system. The other says to fill it to the brim so the inevitable remaining fuel has less opportunity to absorb water from the air in the system with it. I've had good luck removing the fuel, so I keep doing it.

Since the mower had to be run anyway, I figured I could chew up and blow the leaves off where they had collected. This was after dumping a few bushels of them under the new porch to inhibit erosion where rainwater runs through the planking and off the steps onto the dirt below. Gutters and water bars eliminated roof runoff and any flow that might have developed across the yard, but a pesky runnel has remained. The telltale drip marks around it show the source of the water.

The mower is temperamental. It might go several times without a problem, but then it will simply refuse to start. Since your basic mower these days has some sort of solid state ignition and an automatic throttle, you can't tweak anything. You can only make sure it has fuel, that the spark plug is connected and undamaged, and yank away on the starter cord. When that yields nothing but fatigue, blisters and perhaps a nice pulled muscle it's really tempting to destroy the mower in some creative way and go buy a new one.

I discovered a solution by accident a couple of years ago. We had just about given up and decided to get a new mower when I gave it one more round of spark plug checking and air filter cleaning. This still did nothing. At a loss, I dropped to all fours to peer at the machine from its own level. Maybe I would notice something. Coincidentally, I looked like I was prostrating myself before it.

On the next try it started.

Since that time, whenever the mower has refused to start, whichever of us is trying to get it to go assumes the position. The mower starts.

Today was no exception. I thought I might have trouble since the mower had been sitting for at least a month in the shed, including some sub-freezing nights. Today is not exactly warm, and November's sun adds only a stabbing light, not a generous warmth. So, after several fruitless yanks on the cord, I got down on all fours, nodded my head, patted it encouragingly on top of the starter reel and pulled the cord. Vroom, off we went.

There are forces in the Universe that we do not understand. This lawn mower is definitely one of them.