Saturday, June 05, 2010

Irish Butter: what's the deal?

After rescuing my E-VIC email from the spam folder where Gmail had consigned it, I noticed an ad for Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter. At $1.99 for a half pound (or a buck a stick) this didn't seem like such an extraordinary deal unless: 1) Normally, Irish Butter goes for $10 a pound, or 2) There is something so extraordinary about Pure Irish Butter that only a fool would pass this up.

I have been to Ireland and honestly can't remember being mystically transported by Irish butter at the time (as opposed to the Irish brews). I'm skeptical. I figured that I'm probably not the only person to be skeptical so I searched the Internet and sure enough, there is another blogger who wondered the same thing. The main difference between she and I is that she bought the butter and then wondered.

During the Atkins craze about ten years ago. I abandoned margarine for butter and usually buy the unsalted butter that cheapest at HT which usually is HT's house brand. I have been tempted by the European butter that is next to it but can't ever justify buying it. But maybe if I was making shortbread...for the Queen, I might opt for the high end butter someday. Maybe.

Spicing up a chicken sandwich campaign

Chick-fil-A ran a very clever Twitter campaign to introduce their new Spicy chicken sandwich. It was brilliant for a couple reasons: it circulated widely but didn't flood the market with coupons. It also worked because Twitter loyalists are much more likely to actively participate rather than just be passive consumers. I fully expect to be surveyed about my Spicy chicken sandwich experience and will happily tell them how I enjoyed it. It was OK

If you've never been in a Chick-fil-A you have missed one of the great customer service experiences fast food has to offer. All the counter people are apple-cheeked young people who have been expertly trained to take and deliver your order with the utmost courtesy and efficiency. You never have to ask them to repeat anything, even at the drive-thru (which always is in perfect working order). The fact that a Chick-fil-A meal is more expensive than most competitors should come as no surprise.

Today, this nice young woman took my order, accepted my coupon and informed me that I was also entitled to free waffle fries and a drink (not expecting this, whoo hoo!) and that for a mere 30 cents I could have pepper jack cheese on the sandwich too (who can turn down a deal like that?) She gave me my drink and invited me to sit down. They would bring my order out to me when it was ready. But, before I could turn around, somebody called my name and handed me a tray with my food on it.

The sandwich itself was identical to their regular chicken sandwich but redder and spicier and just a little saucier. Like I said above, it was OK. Would I order it again? Maybe...probably. Regardless, it was the campaign that impressed me most so, whoever gets credit for this, take a bow.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

My Wesley Long Adventure

Yesterday was Memorial Day and things were kind of slow. I read a little. Communicated with my co-workers and collaborated on a proposal. Teresa had to go to work so I made a frozen pizza for the two of us. I also took a couple of my Glucosamine tablets.

After Teresa left I was sitting at this very same computer typing away when I experienced pain in my chest. I figured it was heartburn and took a couple of Tums but the pain wouldn't go away. After about 30 minutes I took some Bicarbonate of soda. But the pain persisted.

I started getting nervous. My friend and fellow tenor, Andy, who is several years younger than me had a mild heart attack last year. He didn't think it was anything at first either but when he finally decided to go get checked out, he had had a heart attack.

I didn't know what to do and was hoping the pain would go away on its own before I had to bother anybody...but it didn't. After more than an hour I was wavering between calling 911 and just calling Teresa at work. I opted for calling her.

We arrived at Wesley Long's Emergency Entrance, filled out a card and were ushered into one of the treatment rooms. The triage nurse asked me a bunch of questions and asked me to rate the pain on a scale of one to ten. I figured it was about a 4 or 5. After a few minutes a tech came in with an EKG machine and stuck probes all over me. The EKG was done in a matter of seconds.

Then they brought me to another room and told me to lie down. A young nurse came in and asked me the same questions as the triage nurse (on a scale from one to ten...) and took some blood. She figured that she might as well put in an IV just in case. Not long after that a Physician's Assistant came in a asked me the same questions as the other two (on a scale...). She listened to my heart and decided to get me hooked up to a heart monitor. Ten or so minutes later, the triage nurse came back, hooked me up and took my blood pressure. It was 175 over 105. She made a remark about me seeming pretty calm but my bp told a different story.

The pain was getting worse and I couldn't get comfortable (especially with probes stuck all over me). I was getting oxygen too. After a long time the 2nd nurse came back with a G.I. cocktail. Apparently, my EKG was normal and maybe it was a gastrointestinal thing. The G.I. cocktail had lidocaine, Maalox and simethicone in it. I drank it. Nothing happened.

What seemed like really long time they took my bp again which had come down a lot. The PA came back and asked me about the pain. I figured it had grown to about a 6 or 7. She said she would get me some morphine for the pain. She left. The young nurse came back and shot me up with morphine, IV. It came on like a freight train but the pain didn't go away. About that time an x-ray tech arrived to take me for a chest x-ray. She wheeled me down the hall and took two films. I was feeling kind of loopy because of the morphine. More time passed. Yet, another nurse came in for a urine sample.

Eventually a doctor showed up and basically said all my tests were negative. He didn't know what was causing the pain but said it would either go away, stay the same or get worse. If it did get worse I should come back. He also said I should probably schedule a stress test with a cardiologist sometime soon. He said a lot of other things too, but the bottom line was that they were going to cut me loose. There was nothing more they could do for me.

The PA came back with a couple of prescriptions including one fore nitro glycerin. When she left, the young nurse came back, unhooked me from all the probes and sent me down the hall to discharge.

A copay of $200 set me free (God only knows what the final bill will be but I can't imagine it being less than a grand.)

Teresa took me home and I eventually persuaded her that I'd be fine by myself. She went back to work for a couple hours. Eventually the pain did begin to subside but I was still pretty looped from the morphine and just sat in my recliner until Teresa came home.

I went to bed and slept fitfully; tossing and turning and looking at the clock every hour. I woke up this morning with what can only be described as a morphine hangover. I was also seriously dehydrated but after a breakfast of dry toast and coffee I napped for another few hours and started to feel semi normal again.

Still don't know what caused the pain and why it finally went away. Maybe it was the glucosamine but I'd been taking them for over a week with no ill effects. Maybe it was the pizza but I really didn't have much of that. I guess approaching 60 I'm more conscious of my mortality. If I really had had a heart attack Wesley Long was a pretty good place to be. I'm just happy I didn't.