Rx Insanity

I haven’t posted in awhile, it’s been busy around here all through this long hot summer. Today I wanted to share this experience with you because it seems insane to me and I don’t understand why things have to be this way.

I take a prescription medication for an underactive thyroid. I have to take it every day for the rest of my life.

Over the past year I have been filling this prescription through a pharmacy in Canada because they let me have 100 pills for $34 dollars and they send the prescription to me through the mail. I can order 200 hundred pills at once.

That’s .34 cents per pill.

Today I decided to fill the prescription at the local pharmacy because it is so hot outside I think it may affect the the integrity of the dosage to have it mailed and sitting around in postal trucks and mailboxes. Thyroid medication has to be precise or you get really sick so this is an important consideration when the temperature in the sun is over 120 degrees.

At the pharmacy they informed me that if I use my insurance they can only let me have 30 pills at a time, and that these 30 pills will cost $22.17. So I can go down there every month to refill the prescription, and altogether using this system 100 pills will cost me $73.87.

This is approximately .74 cents per pill.

It’s also a major pain for me to have to do this over and over for no good reason.

When I informed them that I wished to have 100 pills like the doctor wrote on the prescription and not use my insurance, they charged me $127.67.

This is the same rate somebody who didn’t have insurance at all would pay. It’s $53.80 more than somebody who has insurance will pay, and $93.67 more than I can get them for by ordering them from Canada.

It’s $1.28 per pill.

Keep in mind that the US first sells these same pills to Canada at a profit before Canada sells them back to me at the .34 cents per pill price. It’s the exact same stock bottle with the American label on the bottle.

This is insurance in America and it sucks. There is no possible way that health is a more important consideration than profit.

Movies at School

Recently one of my daughters graduated from high school. I have another daughter about to enter her junior year. One of the things that rankles a bit with the education here in Texas is the amount of wasted time.

So, to illustrate one aspect of time-wasting that goes on at our high school, a couple weeks ago I asked my senior to make a list of all the movies they watched at school over the course of her senior year as best she could remember. Here is the list:

  • Approximately 20 BBC documentaries on astronomy
  • Hamlet (a parody)
  • The Prestige
  • Wuthering Heights documentary
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Like Mike
  • Zone (blues music documentary)
  • Men in Black
  • Astro Spies documentary
  • Contact
  • Runaway Jury
  • Supreme Court PBS show
  • Political ads documentary
  • Gideon’s Trumpet
  • Sybil
  • Seven Pounds
  • Pursuit of Happyness
  • Rudy
  • The Rookie
  • Pay it Forward
  • Avatar
  • Lucas
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Maxed Out
  • 5 People You Meet in Heaven
  • The Peaceful Warrior
  • ESPN Sports
  • Inspector Gadget
  • Back to the Future

The BBC documentaries were 60 minutes each and used up one class period, all the other movies as best as she can remember took up two class periods. Hopefully ESPN Sports only lasted one class period.

Generally I don’t have a problem with documentaries because I think they add a lot to a class in certain subject areas. And even some of the classic movies like Pride and Prejudice are marginally OK. But seriously, this represents 78 class periods used up in movies or documentaries. There are 180 days of school, so approximately every 3 days one of her class periods was a movie.

Just one example of why the US education system is falling over a cliff.

Farmer’s Market Opens Today

Spring is here in central Texas and the Farmer’s Market opened today. I always look forward to this because you can’t get better vegetables. If you like your vegetables to be sattvic and have flavor it’s definitely the way to go.

There are several in the area and they have a new website this year if you’d like to check it out.

This year I’m going to try to buy some bigger quantities and freeze some of it so I can have organic vegetables with lots of flavor and vitamins longer through the year.

Sugar Addiction

On October 12 I stopped eating all refined sugar and flour. I went cold turkey, which for me is usually pretty easy. I just set my mind and say ‘from this day forward’… and then I do it. But I was not prepared for how difficult this would be.

What precipitated my decision was the evening of October 11 I ate 4 cookes while reading a book. Within 5 minutes and while sitting up I took a mini-nap and woke up 10 or 15 minutes later feeling totally wired. Like almost a buzzing sensation. Besides that I noticed for awhile I could easily take 10 naps a day. If I sat down, or laid down to watch TV, I could take a power nap no problem. At least I thought they were power naps. Also for many years I thought I was hypo-glycemic. If I got hungry I would soon feel sweaty and shaky and feel my blood sugar plummet until I ate something.

Anyway, it seemed to me falling asleep immediately after eating sugar was not normal. My internet searches confirmed this, in fact many people with diabetes have this problem. Like mini-diabetic comas.

inside a sugar processing plant in Lousiana

So I made the goal to quit sugar and refined flour for a week and see what happened. But then I began having some pretty major sugar withdrawal symptoms – nausea, night sweats, tiredness, tingling hands, flu-ish symptoms, and worst of all really bad sugar cravings. This all lasted about 2 weeks, with the sugar cravings lasting another 2 or so weeks after that. Also I noticed these last couple weeks some mood swings as my body rid itself of the sugar and got back to normal. I know for sure I have lost some weight, which was definitely not one of my goals.

The withdrawal symptoms were so apparent I decided to keep going with the new diet plan for much longer than a week.

Since I began this I read someplace on the internet that sugar should be considered a drug. It is manufactured, you get addicted to it, when you try to quit you have withdrawal symptoms, and it takes more and more of it to feel the sugar buzz. Eventually it can kill you if you develop diabetes and leave it untreated. They say the withdrawal symptoms are exactly the same as someone withdrawing from a drug addiction, although to a much less degree.

One of the more difficult aspects was figuring out what to eat. I used to eat a lot of granola bars (candy bars in disguise), and even things like sweetened yogurt are loaded with sugar. Then there’s chocolate milk, sweetened soy milk, and ice cream – all of these have a ton of sugar. So besides all the withdrawal symptoms you have to retrain your food choices. This also is pretty tough.

Now that I’m through the whole process there are many benefits. When I’m hungry I’m just hungry. I can be hungry for quite awhile and I have no hypoglycemic effects. My energy level stays constant throughout the day. I don’t need naps anymore. I awake feeling more refreshed. Normal food has a lot more flavor and sweetness all to itself – did you know lettuce is sweet? I think way back somebody knew this which is why the French (and probably other countries) eat their salads at the end of the meal.

Anyway, this was a really tough journey. So much harder than I thought it would be. But I feel so much better now I am going to continue to limit my sugar and refined flour intake.

The Cove

One of my favorite TV shows when I was little was Flipper. It was about a wild dolphin who befriended this family and did amazing dolphin stunts for them while enforcing the law, rescuing people at sea and taking care of Sandy and Bud, the two main characters in the show.

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Here’s Flipper, actually Flipper was played by 5 different dolphins,
most of the time by a dolphin named Cathy

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Sandy and Bud

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Ric O’Barry, the trainer who personally caught all the dolphins in the show

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The TV-show house which in real life was Ric O’Barry’s house located at Miami Seaquarium

I liked the show so much I wanted to be a marine biologist for awhile. So many people liked the show so much that it started the whole industry of Seaworld and all the other sea aquariums where dolphins and whales put on shows for the public.

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The show ran for 3 years and during this time Ric O’Barry got really rich. He was considered the top dolphin trainer in the world.

He said about the show:

I captured the five dolphins that collectively played the part of Flipper. I trained all of them, from the very beginning of the first show to the last show. I lived with all five of them in the Seaquarium. And on Friday nights, at 7:30, I would take the TV set, with a long extension cord, out to the end of the dock, so Flipper could watch Flipper on television. And that’s when I knew they were self-aware. I could tell when the dolphins recognized themselves and each other. Cathy, for example, would recognize the shots she was in, Suzy would recognize her shots, and so on. Dolphins are hard to read, because you have to look at body language. Almost all other animals you can read by looking at their faces. But dolphins have this built-in “smile” that makes it look like they’re always happy.

The truth was, and still is, that dolphins in captivity are miserable. They spike their fish with Tagamet and Maalox to help relieve the pain of their ulcers from the stressful conditions they live under.

Anyway, the turning point for Ric O’Barry came when his favorite “Flipper” dolphin Cathy died. He explains this in the movie The Cove, and here is an excerpt from an interview in New York Entertainment where he explains how.

How did your ideas about captivity turn around?
Cathy died in my arms, of suicide. It was just before Earth Day, 1970. The next day, I found myself in a Bimini jail, trying to free a dolphin for the first time. I completely lost it.

How do you know it was suicide?
You have to understand, dolphins are not automatic air breathers like we are. Every breath for them is a conscious effort. She looked me right in the eye, took a breath, held it — and she didn’t take another one. She just sank to the bottom of the water. That had a profound effect on me.

And now, for the last 30 years, O’Barry has been trying to undo what he basically started. He goes around the world trying to free as many dolphins as he can in as many places as he can and tries to bring as much awareness as possible to the horrors that lie behind these businesses.

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Photo from The Cove, produced by the Oceanic Preservation Society

The movie The Cove talks about all of this in general, but focuses mostly on the Japanese city of Taiji, where dolphins are rounded up between September and March in huge numbers.

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In these fishing boats they round up the dolphins by putting long metal pipes into the water and banging on the pipes with hammers – because dolphins are hyper-sensitive to sound, and because it is their primary sense, it is easy to herd them in the direction they want

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No doubt they want to keep everyone away from the area

The first day the dolphins are caught they are sold to sea aquariums. Trainers and buyers come from all over the world to select the animals they want, usually young females, and pay $150,000 apiece for them.

The Cove in Taiji, Japan tucked away in a National Park and is a

On the second day, the dolphins who are not sold are rounded up into this cove

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Under the cover of darkness they begin to kill EVERY SINGLE DOLPHIN

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It’s sick and disgusting. Seriously, what is wrong with humans? To get these photos the team of people working on the movie had to cross over rows of razor wire using night vision goggles and hide cameras in fake rocks so as not to be discovered. Literally they made this movie at risk to their lives.

They kill 23,000 dolphins every year in Taiji, Japan.

After this, the nightmare continues as the dolphin meat is unknowingly sold to the Japanese as whale meat. The allowable level for mercury in fish is .4 parts per million. Dolphin meat from Taiji has a 2000 ppm contamination level of mercury. One of their government plans to get rid of the meat was to give the food to their school children as part of their compulsory school lunch program. In interviews the Japanese public were unaware all this was going on.

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Toward the end of the movie O’Barry walked into an International Whaling Commission meeting with a TV strapped to his chest playing a loop of the carnage that goes on in Taiji. A really brave way to stage a peaceful protest.

Anyway, this movie deserves support and the word needs to get out about this. To find out more about what you can do go to takepart.com/thecove .

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Ric O’Barry today, who said if he had really been aware of what was going on at the time during the TV show Flipper and where it was all headed, he would have not looked away but would have, and should have, set all the dolphins free

Food, Inc.

Yesterday we went to see the movie Food, Inc. It’s not exactly a fun light-hearted movie, but on the other hand, if you eat food and live in America you should try to see this movie as soon as possible.

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The movie exposes the industrialized food system in America and the effect it has on the environment, our health, the economy and worker’s rights. It ain’t a pretty picture, as they say.

You’ll never look at dinner the same way.

If you don’t know what industrialized food is, it’s mostly everything sold in the middle part of a grocery store that comes in a box. Estimates are there are 47,000 food products in the average supermarket. Most of it is industrialized food that is created in a chemical laboratory and is designed to have long shelf life and never rot. While normal food spoils in a few hours or days if left on a shelf,  industrial food can sit in your pantry for months virtually unchanged and show almost no signs of degradation.

All the following pictures are from the movie.

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This is the owner of Polyface Farms, where cows live in and eat grass like they were designed to do.

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These are feedlot cows standing in piles of manure. This is where US beef comes from. (Not sure why I could only find a picture like this with the lines across.)

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This lady was a Perdue Farms chicken grower. Perdue wanted her to change her barn with the windows to the new type where the chickens live in complete darkness their whole lives. She didn’t want to and ended up losing her contract after allowing the film crews into her chicken barn.

The movie talks about a lot of different topics including high fructose corn syrup, treating chickens, cows and pigs as commodities instead of living, breathing animals, the growing prevalence of E Coli 0157 and it’s relationship to cows eating corn instead of grass, Monsanto, federal farm subsidies, how the ability to buy healthy food in America (ie. not industrialized or fast food) has more to do with economic status than anything else, how all this affects the environment, etc. It’s a pretty bleak picture.

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Chickens as commodities: in 1950 it took 68 days to grow a chicken, in 2008 it takes 47 days to grow one that is really huge thanks to hormones and antibiotics. The 2008 chickens can’t stand up because their bones are too weak from growing so fast and having to support so much unnatural weight.

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Inside a processing plant.

Then at the end the movie leaves you on a positive note by giving you 10 things you can do to help change this. Some of the most important ones are to buy local, in-season, organic food and reduce your intake of animal flesh.

As they say in the movie, you vote 3 times a day by the food you eat, and consumer choice is the biggest factor by far to make changes in the US food system.

They also provide a web page where you can find out more information about the issues on these and related topics.

A good, thought-provoking movie.