To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pharmacy made mistake in horse drug

What an awful thing.

I used to work at a company that (among other things) tested animal feeds for active ingredients. Our customers were the major drug companies that also make people drugs. They sold the drugs to feed mills, which blended them into feeds and premixes, and then sent samples to us to verify that they were at the appropriate concentrations. The drug companies paid for this testing so that people didn't accidentally poison their animals and because the FDA watched this with an eagle eye - most of those animals were in the human food chain. Sometimes we got samples marked ADR or ADE, Adverse Drug Reaction or Event. It could mean that animals weren't responding to treatment, so it was suspected that the concentration was too low or the drug wasn't present at all. Or it could mean that animals had sickened or died. There are drugs that are safe for cows and deadly for horses so sometimes we had horse feed that we had to test for those and we always hoped not to find them.

My boss there was one of the most compulsively painstaking people I have ever known. There was a drug in cattle feed we tested for, and the amount could range from 50 to 150 grams/ton. If we reported 83.2 g/ton due to a rounding error when the actual result was 83.3 she got all uptight about it. I always did the nonconformance/corrective action things but I also would tell her: "No animals have died from this." After a while she thanked me for the perspective. In fact, it almost got to be kind of a joke. If one of my techs made a little error like that and I caught it I would take it back for them to fix and sternly say "Cows could die!"

Now horses have died, apparently because someone made a non-trivial error and it wasn't caught. I don't know what kind of legal repercussions there will be, but I know they regret that mistake mightily. Hate when that happens.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Been thinking some more about words. I wrote here about running across the n-word in vintage literature, and how our views of what is or is not acceptable language change.

"Retard" is another word that's losing social acceptance when used as slang to refer to an idea, a thing, or a person as being stupid.

I've seen, though, in more than one place, a person objecting to the use of "lame". Do people really refer to those who, for example, need a cane to walk, as "lame" anymore? I just really don't see that word in use. "Retard" as a stand-in for stupid or incompetent stings because "mentally retarded" is used, along with developmentally disabled, learning disabled, and so forth, to refer to a group of vulnerable people. ("Special Olympics" is even worse, in my view, because it can't mean anything else. At least you can talk about malnutrition retarding growth.)

But "lame"? I wonder if its use is more acceptable to a lot of people because the use of the word to describe people with a walking difficulty is just not something they've ever run across.

There are those who might want to doubt this. But I remember something that happened in Memphis several years ago. A student who worked on the University of Memphis newspaper (it was Memphis State back then) took a picture of some kids playing cards in the Student Union. Behind the students was a window and you could see that it was raining cats and dogs. They ran that picture in the paper with the caption "A Fine Day for Spades". The problem was that the card-playing kids were all black. There were protests, of course, the newspaper was stolen from all the stands where it was distributed, and the photographer's life was made hell for a while.

But she had never heard the word "spade" applied to black people, she tearfully explained. She meant the card game. I'll add here that while it's tempting to try to bring about the age of aquarius or whatever by raising perfectly color-blind and racially naive children, I thought it my duty to point out meanings of words like that to F as we ran across them so this didn't happen to her.

So I think sensitivity is kind of a two-way street. On the one hand, it behooves a person not to use language that he or she knows stands a good probability of causing offense. On the other hand, one might refrain from assuming ill-will on the part of a person using a word one doesn't care for, and I'll even stretch a bit to suggest that one might refrain from lecturing a stranger on how that stranger ought to conduct his or her verbal communications.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Okay, I guess Now It Can Be Told.

For anyone who's read my tedious ramblings going back to Sept. 2007, you may recall that the owners of the chemical plant where I work laid us all off while in the process of selling the plant. The sale did not go through, and a small group, including me, were brought back in to run one part of it. We've been doing that for a year and a half, and now the plant really has been sold.

I still have my job. Don't know particulars yet - it looks good for my pay rate to continue as-is. There's one funny thing: I talked to the president of the company that bought us last year before any of us knew this would happen. He had interviewed the plant manager where I worked in Memphis, and he called to talk to me about him. They didn't end up working anything out, but they liked each other, and that plant manager had told this guy that I was the best lab manager in the world. He didn't, this man told me, confine this statement to North America. So I have a tremendous build-up in place. We'll have a one-on-one discussion tomorrow - well, one-on-two, it'll be him and the new plant manager.

It's kind of strange. Normally in a job interview, there are two decisions being made: does the company want to hire the candidate, and does the candidate want to work for the company. I asked a lot of questions about the about-to-be-previous owners (not that I or anyone else knew what was about to happen, they didn't either or they wouldn't have paid for my relocation). Now this is a done deal, although we are of course free to walk away if we want. I hope it doesn't turn out to be another mom-and-pop. Sometimes I fear that that is my destiny.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I hope everyone had a good Easter weekend.

It was over too soon.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Goodfriday, 1613. Riding Westward

LET mans Soule be a Spheare, and then, in this,
The intelligence that moves, devotion is,
And as the other Spheares, by being growne
Subject to forraigne motions, lose their owne,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a yeare their naturall forme obey:
Pleasure or business, so, our Soules admit
For their first mover, and are whirld by it.
Hence is't, that I am carryed towards the West
This day, when my Soules forme bends toward the East.
There I should see a Sunne, by rising set,
And by that setting endlesse day beget;
But that Christ on this Crosse, did rise and fall,
Sinne had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for mee.
Who sees Gods face, that is selfe life, must dye;
What a death were it then to see God dye?
It made his owne Lieutenant Nature shrinke,
It made his footstoole crack, and the Sunne winke.
Could I behold those hands which span the Poles,
And turne all spheares at once, peirc'd with those holes?
Could I behold that endlesse height which is
Zenith to us, and our Antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood which is
The seat of all our Soules, if not of his,
Made durt of dust, or that flesh which was worne
By God, for his apparell, rag'd, and torne?
If on these things I durst not looke, durst I
Upon his miserable mother cast mine eye,
Who was Gods partner here, and furnish'd thus
Halfe of that Sacrifice, which ransom'd us?
Though these things, as I ride, be from mine eye,
They are present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them; and thou look'st towards mee,
O Saviour, as thou hang'st upon the tree;
I turne my backe to thee, but to receive
Corrections, till thy mercies bid thee leave.
O thinke mee worth thine anger, punish mee,
Burne off my rusts, and my deformity,
Restore thine Image, so much, by thy grace,
That thou may'st know mee, and I'll turne my face.

- John Donne

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I know he loves me because when he got paid today he made a special trip to get this clock for me. Because he knew I wanted it. Even though it horrifies him.

Yes, the mouse is a pendulum.

...And Bonnie heard the camera turn on.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

What we did today

I love Florida.