Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blog Action Day "Inequality" Post

So for Blog Action Day I'm supposed to blog about "inequality". I'm sure I could post about plenty of inequal things in life: inequal pay for women in the workplace, inequal college admission rates among races, etc. From viewing the Blog Action Day website I'm pretty sure wants me to talk about how the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. But instead I am going to talk about: inequal charitable contributions among conservatives and liberals. Apparently according to multiple studies conservatives give nearly twice as much to non-government charitable organizations as liberals do, despite making up to 38% less income. Blue states are less charitable than red ones, and 9 of the top 10 charitable states are either heavy Morman populations (Utah and Idaho) or in the Bible Belt. So why is this? Here's my probably-not-very-popular-on-the-web opinion: conservative Christians care. Non-conservative, non-Christians don't, or at least not as much. And when liberals do care, they tend to petition to have taxes be raised and re-routed to fund government programs to fix the things they care about, they don't give their time or money to nonprofit charities to do it. They're more likely to give to and campaign for a political candidate who they think will "take care" of the people they're worried about (sick, homeless, poor) than they are to do it themselves or give to a church or charitable organization that is actually out there taking care of these people. Is that really what's happening? I mean I don't profess to know for sure, that's just what the numbers look like to me. What do you think? Which group (conservatives or liberals) really do "think of the children!"? Be nice! :;

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Acuvue in the News

No surprise that Johnson & Johnson's contact lens arm has been and is still the #1 seller in the U.S. with their excellent Oasys product line. Recently they made a few changes that affect their consumers: Firstly, boxes of Acuvue products are no longer sold in 6 packs. 12 packs only now. The cost did not increase, you just have to buy more at a time. Secondly, the Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism lens now has increased parameters to include -2.75 cylinder! In English that means more astigmatism! Many of the folks who had "too much" astigmatism to wear any silicone hydrogel lens can now wear Acuvue! That's exciting because many "high cyl" cases very much need to be wearing silicone for both comfort and corneal health, but until this time could not b/c of their "high" astigmatism. Pretty cool. The best part IMO is that the new higher-astigmatism powers are the SAME COST as the lower astigmatism powers. Many high cyl patients are accustomed to paying more than 2x the price of their non-high-cyl counterparts, so they're going to be pretty happy with the news.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Home Recording on a Budget

I am in the process of recording my debut solo EP. I liked working with my brother on our Christian band TACKAPBAND, but he doesn't really have time. His job is too demanding. And so I have decided to branch out and record my own EP at home and I'm using a different approach than I've used in the past. Our 3 song TACKAPBAND EP cost about $1800 to record, mix, master and produce. I won't tell you how much we "made" on it, but it was WELL under $1800. This time I'm spending very, very little. I hope to have the EP finished before Christmas of 2014, not because it will have any Christmas songs on it (hey not a bad idea tho...), but rather Christmas time was just an arbitrary constraint I put on myself. It's a goal I think I can achieve. Anyway it will be a 4-5 song EP, 1 or 2 of which will be instrumentals and three praise/worship songs. I'm going to provide the songs free for download to churches and music ministers/praise bands, with words and chord charts, etc to help them perform it completely for free if they so desire. But the point of this blog post is how I am going about recording this very inexpensively. The big cost is that I'm using my Samsung Galaxy s5, which is...not cheap. But the software works on other, older, cheaper android devices like the Galaxy s3 and s4, the Note 2 and 3, etc. any device that runs Android OS 2.2 or higher. 1st I bought this $6 device on Amazon
It's a guitar-to-USB interface, but it works with microphones as well. I also purchased a micro USB cable for $2. I already had microphones (my main microphone was purchased for $5 in a TJ Maxx clearance bin!), headphones, guitar cables, an acoustic guitar, a bass guitar, a drum machine (used/cheap on ebay!), an electric guitar, etc. The Software I use is Audio Evolution for Android, which I found in the Google Play app store for $7.99. I had to purchase the in-app $6.88 charge to use the USB function. The interface, cable, app and in-app USB purchase totaled just under $25. I don't really count my Samsung Galaxy s5, guitars, amps, guitar cables, drum machine, microphones, etc as part of the cost of this project because I already had all of those. After a few days of recording demos and scratch tracks to learn how to use the software, I began recording in earnest last night on the 1st song of the EP, "This Grace". After the song is written and mapped out (verse 1, chorus, verse 2, chorus, bridge, etc etc) my 1st task is to record the drums. I have an old Alesis SR-16 which I use for this. I play thru the song with guitar, and record the drums using the pedal function of the drum machine to add appropriate fills and changes in drum patterns. After the drum track is down, I play the acoustic guitar part on track 2, add an electric guitar on track 3, bass on track 4, and so on. Later I go in and change the sounds, adding compression, chorus, reverb, etc to the existing tracks as well as change the levels and do some "mixing". When the backing tracks are mostly finished I start adding in the vocal parts one at a time. It takes hours but is pretty much my favorite thing to do so it doesn't feel like work to me. It's hard to find time to do it with 2 kids still at home and a wife getting her double masters haha but I'm making progress. Pray for me! Here's my project website: As I get tracks up I'll post them to SoundCloud and have them available though my site and will also link them here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I Just Performed an Eye Exam on Peter Parker aka "Spider Man"

Famously in both the comic book and the movies, Peter Parker wears glasses, until his spider bite. Then he suddenly sees perfectly and no longer needs glasses! Impossible you say? Well I just saw it happen with my own eyes! Read further b/c it's not quite as miraculous as you think! A patient came in this morning saying that a few weeks ago he had been bitten on the left upper eyelid by a spider. The bite caused his eyelid to swell up nearly shut and be "hard", full of infected material (I promise not to get too gross here), that's called "preseptal cellulitis". He was put on antibiotics by his primary care provider. The swelling subsided as the infection was treated, and when his eye started being open enough to see again he noticed that he now sees better out of the left eye WITHOUT his glasses! He came in telling me that he thought the poison from the spider bite made that eye not need glasses anymore! And when we evaluated him...he was right! His formerly nearsighted left eye was...NO LONGER NEARSIGHTED! It was "mixed astigmatism", and his uncorrected acuity in that eye was 20/25! So here's the skinny: the swollen, hard left upper lid temporarily deformed/distorted/flattened his left cornea, temporarily eliminating his myopia (but inducing astigmatism) making his myopic glasses blurry and his uncorrected vision in that eye BETTER. The topographical map shows central and superior flattening ("ortho-k" effect) from the constant pressure of the swollen/hard/closed left eyelid. Pretty interesting! Unfortunately I had to inform him that it was not the "poison" (not directly, anyway) that caused his vision to improve, and that sadly this was a temporary effect and will wear off when his corneal distortion resolves after his eyelid swelling goes down. Ah well. It was too good to be true anyway!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Whew BTS is Over, Now on to Fixing my Galaxy s5

BTS = "Back To School: *THE* busiest time of an optometrist's year. Everyone needs a new look and a new prescription for glasses & contacts when school starts. Students, teachers, well as their accompanying parents, spouses, etc. It's good for optometrists because we finally get in the black for the year (most optometrists operate in the red until sept/oct), but it's really no fun. 35+ exams per doctor per day from the beginning of July thru the 2nd or 3rd week of Sept. It's BRUTAL. Exhausting. Anyway today was the 1st kind of normal, "not-insanely busy" day I've had in months and I am very, very thankful for it. So I finally got to mess with my 1 mo old Galaxy s5. Chrome recently had an update that I *hate* (multiple button-pushing to reload a page) so I'm ditching it for CM Browser by Cheetah, which has an easy-to-locate 1-touch reload. I'm already loving it. It's notably faster than Chrome, and has a great interface. Also ditched this round is HootSuite, which I've used for years but irritates me b/c it's hard to change your profile pic and now on my Galaxy s5 it frequently just refuses to reload. Push reload...nothing. Have to close it and reopen THEN reload. This occurs probably 30% of the time. It's really bad. I'm trying "Plume", which was an easy setup and is easy to change my profile pic and background...and also loads instantly every time. I could do w/o the banner ads at the bottom, tho...might hafta pay the $5 to get the premium version to get rid of that. Oh well!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Has the 1-800-CONTACTS Bubble Burst?

Just like the dotcom bubble burst in March of 2000, so will the 1-800-CONTACTS bubble soon do the same, if it hasn't already. The cracks are already beginning to show. Online contact lens sales are down anyway, and Alcon and J&J both recently announced "unilateral pricing policies", i.e. no longer will WalMart or 1-800-CONTACTS (or anyone else) get special pricing. For the retailers it means everyone is back on a level playing field and in-office convenience now trumps online bulk pricing. Uh oh, 1-800's. That was their niche and they just lost it. Local retailers get to price-match the online retailers and WalMart can no longer afford to sell $12.59 boxes of Acuvues. I am super broken up about it, too [/sarcasm]. 1-800-CONTACTS talks a big game but consistenly makes the prescribing doctors mad by marketing directly to the consumer, having some questionable-at-best business practices designed to ("IMO", see what I did there?) circumvent the verification portion of state optometry laws, and backing legislation (with big dollars!) that would allow opticians to refract and Rx's to be avilable w/o seeing a doctor. Does this sound like a company that has patients best interests in mind? I find it um, rewarding... yeah that's the word I'm looking for... that the contact lens companies have finally figured out that WalMart and 1-800-CONTACTS are not their friends. They never were, but the manufacturers were wooed by the promise of HUGE sales if they offered BIG/deep price cuts. What, it's not working anymore? You don't say? 1-800-CONTACTS in its heyday openly taunted optometrists with their advertising (remember the "your eyes are not special" and "the number is on the box" ad campaigns?), and even went so far as to have employees (I won't name names but his initials are "M.C.") come onto optometry related bulletin boards and taunt/argue with/make fun of OD's and their attempts at competing for sales. They basically made themselves detested by the profession and it finally, finally is coming back to bite them. Can't say I'm too surpised, nor am I upset. Maybe I'll call 1-800-JUST-DESERTS and talk about it with them. Edit: I just found out that the #specialeyes ad campagn is ongoing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Google/Alcon Partner on Blood-Sugar Monitoring & Autofocus Contacts

Potentially big news in the contact lens world. Novartis ("Alcon" is the contact lens division of Novartis) has partnered with Google to work on contact lenses that monitor blood glucose levels, and also "autofocus" lenses for presbyopia. Both of those would be really exciting! Google Enlists Novartis To Ship Glucose-Sensing And Autofocus Smart Contact Lenses In As Little As 5 Years