Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Who Cares . . . It's Free! (i.e., Public School)

We recently switched my son David from a Jewish day school to public school. The transition has not been as smooth as we had hoped it would be. A few problems have come up, including one really big one that had us wondering if we should switch him back to the day school. This problem is really bothering us and it is something that we need to address, but we're just not sure how to do it.
And the other little problems in the meantime? Some of them caught me off guard, but they don't bother me. Not in the least bit. Sometimes my wife Kineret complains to me about this or that, but I'm not interested. I don't want to hear about it. I really don't care because . . . hey, it's free!
It's amazing how low the bar of expectations becomes when you're not paying good money for something. I'm not saying we pulled David from day school for solely for financial reasons. Thank God we could pay the tuition. But hey, free is still free and it's hard to ignore this benefit of public school.
The truth is that at some point we may end up hiring a private tutor so that he can keep pace with limude kodesh, which would eat up any savings from the switch--and possibly cost even more than the day school. But for now I'm really enjoying dismissing our complaints with a waive of the hand, a smile and a thought of "who cares . . . it's free!"
(Yes, I'm aware that's it's not really free and that I pay for public school with my taxes. Eventually I'll start complaining about every little thing in the public school too and rant about how the cause of my discontent is being funded with my own hard-earned income. But in the meantime I'll revel in the bliss of "who cares . . . it's free!")

Monday, September 27, 2010

Similac Recall; Preventing Birth Defects

"Abbott is initiating a proactive, voluntary recall of certain Similac-brand, powder infant formulas in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam and some countries in the Caribbean." For more information, visit the Abott website here.
This recall is being conducted by lot number rather than by NDC number. The lot number is a unique number assigned to a specific production run from a particular time and place. The NDC number is a more general number that is assigned to a particular strength, formulation and size of a medication, regardless of production run.
The recent recall of some common over-the-counter pediatric suspensions (e.g., Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl) had been conducted by the more general NDC number. I thought this was silly because in fact not every lot had been at risk. On the other hand an NDC recall provides better protection for the manufacturer, which has to assume that the average consumer is an idiot. So rather than leave it to the customer to figure out whether the bottle they have at home is from an affected lot, the company simply recalls every lot.
* * *
A few days ago the FDA approved the marketing of Beyaz, which combines a popular oral contraceptive product (YAZ) with folate (actually a folate metabolite). The FDA explains (here) that "a known association of low folate levels and neural tube defects (e.g., spina bifida) has resulted in recommendations that women of childbearing age supplement their diet with folate."
My initial reaction was to chuckle. Why combine a birth control product with an additional ingredient that can contribute to a healthier baby? But of course many patients who use birth control will eventually discontinue it in order to conceive and it makes sense to combine a medication that patients may not immediately recognize as important with a second medication that they take religiously. (Actually it might not bad idea to combine many other medications with birth control formulations in order to improve patient compliance.)
The truth is that many insurance companies don't cover YAZ, but don't start reaching for your cash even if your doctor sees a benefit in the new Beyaz. You can simply continue using your regular birth control and take the folate supplementation separately.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Show and Tell

On the way home from NJ tonight we somehow started talking about "show and tell" in school. We asked David what he would bring to show in school if they have "show and tell." He responded that he would bring his baby sister.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Are There Little Men in the Television?

David used to be fascinated with the answering machine. I remember the time his teacher left a message and he would stand there listening to it over and over again. Was there actually a person inside the machine? It was the equivalent of the kid who thinks there are real people inside the television box. (I wonder if kids still think this with our modern flat screens?)

He also didn't--and still doesn't--understand the limits of the telephone's capabilities. One time we were speaking on the phone and he started talking about something, all the while assuming that I could see what he was talking about. Just yesterday Kinneret eavesdropped as David spoke on the phone with his friend A. from the confines of our bedroom. (He likes to talk in there behind closed doors to preserve his privacy.) David complained to his friend that his knapsack stinks terribly. (Let that be a lesson to him so next year he doesn't let an entire summer pass with forgetting every night to hang up his wet towel and bathing suit.) "Here A., smell it," he offered his friend as he placed the phone next to his knapsack.

* * *

Today I called up a friend and her daughter answered the phone. I couldn't believe how old she sounded. All I remember is that about seven years ago I was working on a big project with her mom and she--six years old at the time--would call and interrupt us every three minutes. It was pretty annoying, but what did I know? Now it's David who has mastered the telephone, calling me every three minutes. I have an insurance company on one ear and a doctor on the other ear and now I have to use my feet to answer David's calls on the cell phone every three minutes because he wants to know why I'm still at work.

(As long as we're on the subject of feet I must relate this cute story. A few weeks ago we were lying in bed together and I asked David to add twelve and five. It was taking him a long time to get the answer and I was about to tell him, but he told me to wait, removed the blanket covering him and proceeded to use his toes to help him add above ten.)

In the mornings he likes to call Baba Dora and he puts her on speakerphone as he walks around the apartment. Thank God he no longer dials 911, but he's figured out how to use the caller ID, which can be just as dangerous in his hands.

Finally, his penchant for basic reading does not couple well with his ability to use a phone. This morning he got the phone number for Kids in Action from a birthday invitation and called them to find out if he can also make a birthday party there. Then he used the number for a barber from an advertisement in his camp calendar and called to make an appointment. Imagine all the power he yields with a mere telephone. Before I know it he'll have more dangerous tools at his disposal, like a driver's license. But then again he may not wait that long, as two weeks ago he climbed into the front seat and tried to put the car in gear . . .

Friday, September 17, 2010

Second Child Syndrome

Yesterday Kineret told me that Ora clapped her hands. "Did you get the video?" I asked.
"Nah," she replied sheepishly.
(Ora also finally started crawling last night, albeit just a few inches and it was more from hip propulsion than actual leg and arm movement. For this I was home and I did run to get the video.)
* * *
Last week Oren asked me if I am speaking to Ora in Hebrew the way I did with David. Unfortunately I don't get spend as much time with her as I did with David and so I haven't really stressed the Hebrew with her. I started to say that I feel bad about it, but Oren cut me off. "Yeah, spare me," he said, "everyone feels guilty with the second child."
While Kineret was pregnant I remember talking to my cousin about how I wasn't expecting to see as much of her as I did David. She smiled and said there is nothing like the relationship with the first child.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Minhag Philadelphia

From Isaac Leeser's Mahzor (1837), vol. 2, part 1 (Yom Kippur):

Click on image to enlarge to see the instruction in the footnote that שאו שערים is not said in Philadelphia.