Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Connells: Buy 'em!!

As promised several months ago, for the first time in far too many years, albums from Raleigh's own Connells are available once more.  Currently, access is limited to MP3 download only from Amazon, but the band hopes to have CDs and albums in stores soon.  

Doesn't appear that their first album (1985's Darker Days) or most recent album (2001's Old School Dropouts) are available, but every release in between is out there.  If you're not familiar with the band please, please, please check them out.  Boylan Heights, their second album from 1987, proved to be a good starting point for me thanks to an incredibly exciting album review in the Washington Post the year after its release.  And if you're familiar with the band only from their fifth album, 1993's Ring (or maybe just from the single "'74-'75" from that album) you need to hear their other work.  Weird Food & Devastation from 1996 is not only a very good album -- no matter what 50% of Amazon reviewers would have you believe -- but a pretty brave one, too, given the drastic change in sound & direction they settled on following the huge success they had with Ring (and it's that unexpected change that accounts for so many unfair listener reviews of the album, of course).  And 1998's Still Life is one of those albums that is so overlooked & unknown that you just have to shake your head.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bloody Good Time

In a post from April 2009, I declared as ridiculous the overly cautious policies of the FDA that meant that I was prevented from ever again donating blood because of the suspicious results of a single blood test.  Specifically, despite being a longtime regular donor, I was put on the deferred list due to a positive result for Hepatitis C.

Everybody appreciates a high level of caution to protect the blood supply, but to ban someone over a single result -- not making any allowance for the possibility of false positives -- seemed to me to be too much.  So for the past 17 months, I've been unable to do anything except grow frustrated whenever I'd see occasional reports of critical blood shortages in the Raleigh area.

Until now, that is.  Thanks to a revised FDA policy, I was able to go back into the blood services unit for a retest earlier this month.

I got a letter in the mail today showing negative results on both of the tests used to detect Hep C, so I have been cleared for additional needle sticks.  And I'm wasting no time getting back into the routine: I'll donate platelets at the Red Cross donor center in Durham after work tomorrow.

I'm pretty happy about this.  I hate the needle part, to be perfectly honest (I'm one of those wimps who has to turn his head away when the tech inserts the needle), but the platelet donation process itself is extremely cool -- the pulling and pushing of blood, the centrifuge, the machinery whirring and clicking, the cool graphics showing flow rate & estimated time remaining, etc. -- and it's the closest I come these days to volunteer work.  I've really missed it over the last year and a half.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bad Ideas in Safety Pharmacology

I just picked up a refill for a prescription that I've been on for over a year now.  I noticed a new warning label on the bottle that I'd never seen anywhere before:

This struck me as a bit odd.  And then it struck me as funny, albeit in a purely twisted manner.  I've been prescribed this medication for off label use because it's been found effective in treating certain types of neurological pain, but the medication's approved indication is depression.

Did no one involved in the decision to label this drug find it self-defeating to encourage depressed patients to stay indoors with their curtains and shades drawn, avoiding sunlight or any aspects of a healthy, normal life that may accompany said sunlight?  "Suddenly feel like going outside for a walk?  Oh no, not so fast there, Frowny!  FDA strongly discourages you from attempting to escape your bleak basement existence.  So turn that TV back on and enjoy another few hours of that 'Smoking Gun Presents: World's Dumbest' marathon!"