Doctors Foster and Smith: A Curious Timeline

adequan canineOur older Labrador Shadow has been taking Adequan injections to help with his arthritis. That is, he was taking it. He just got through an initial month with the medication when we had to stop. Our vet advised that the drug was on nationwide backorder and simply was not available.

In fact, she had told us this quite early on. Based upon her advice we had placed an order with the vet, placing us in queue to receive some of the medication should some become available.

Further, I hunted around for alternative sources. Other vets, online pharmacies, that sort of thing. None was to be found, but I kept looking.

On the 9th of June I found that Doctors Foster and Smith, an online veterinary supply & pharmacy based in Wisconsin, had some Adequan in stock. Their online inventory showed it stock. Wanting to be certain, I called them and confirmed that they had some on the shelf.

Of course, dispensing the medication required a prescription be issued by our vet. I advised the vet, who was happy to comply. In the process of placing the order it was easy to tell the pharmacy to contact the vet to confirm the prescription.

Happy with my find I placed an order. That was June 9th.

We heard from the vet that they were contacted by Doctors Foster and Smith on Tuesday, June 14th.

We finally received shipping advice on Saturday, June 18th.

As I write this it’s Thursday, June 23rd and UPS advises that the package should arrive tomorrow…June 24th.

Apparently Novartis Animal Health, maker of Adequan, is upgrading the facility in New York state where it’s manufactured. However, looking around it’s easy to see that it’s been in short supply at various times in recent years. Clearly, they have issues or the supply would be more constant.

Also, I find it astounding that Doctors Foster and Smith took so long to process the order. Nowhere on their web site was there any indication of processing time. Nor do they give any indication of how long it would take for them to contact our vet.

Had I known they would take ten days to ship I would have selected overnight shipping. As it stands, we’ll receive the goods just over two weeks since the order was placed.

I find myself incensed by this experience. Maybe I’m just too accustomed to Amazon Prime. The idea that an order for something that is in inventory takes ten days to ship makes no sense to me.

Incidentally, the vet just advised that they now have some Adequan that I could pickup today.

Recommending Richmond’s Air

trane6Thursday at the close of my working day I sauntered from the office to the house (it’s a short distance) and met with quite a surprise. In the house is was nearly 90 degrees! The central air conditioner was blowing…warm air. Our normally learned Nest thermostat looked positively befuddled.

The dogs, who look forward to the end of my workday as the warm-up to their dinner, saw that clearly something was wrong. While I was opening windows & doors to get some ventilation happening, they trotted back to the comfort of the office. It’s constant 74 degrees assured by a very nice Fujitsu Halcyon mini-split air conditioner that I’ve described elsewhere. Sensible creatures, our dogs.

It was around 7pm when I telephoned our regular AC service company. While they would gladly take the after hours works at a premium rate, they had no-one available to investigate the trouble. The best they could do would be the next morning. Ugh!

So, I consulted that know-it-all Google, and literally stumbled upon Richmond’s Air. At first glance several things that appeared to be in their favor;

  • It happens that they have an office nearby on Yale Street.
  • Google reported that they officially closed at 9pm so they were "still open."
  • Their home page includes an image of an American Standard AC unit….Our Brand, as it happens.
  • Their home page also includes an image of a Labrador Retriever, also a house favorite (we have two!)

I called. They answered. James said that he wasn’t at the office, but he wasn’t far, and would be at our location in around 30 minutes.

While we waited. We sweated. Stella had me cut open the last of the windows that had been painted shut when the house was painted. Nixcon did a great job on the painting. Highly recommended.

James showed up as promised. He was quick to notice that the compressor simply wasn’t running. Some electrical parts had to be replaced, but had those in his truck. In about an hour he had the system restored to functional.

The whole exercise, from "Hi" to "Bye" took less than 2 hours. By 9:15pm the house was starting on it’s way back to habitable. It actually achieved our usual nighttime temperature around 11:00pm.

Better yet, the cost for this little adventure, with parts, was just $50 more than our usual company quoted merely for the pleasure of their company. I can’t recall the last time that something potentially catastrophic, like an AC failure, was dealt with so easily.

Richmond’s Air has won our future business.

Travels Within The USA

From 1995 to 2013 I travelled North America extensively as part of my working routine. So much so that more than once I thought about getting tour T-shirts made up, listing all the cities that I had visited in that calendar year. Since my esteemed employer didn’t see the value in such a project I didn’t ever actually get that done. These days I’m a homebody.

Recently I discovered a web site that makes it easy to create a map denoting the states that you’ve visited, thus highlighting those that you yet to see. Here are my results.

visited 7 states (53.8%)
Create your own visited map of Canada or Amsterdam travel guide for Android

visited 42 states (84%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or Amsterdam travel guide for Android

Invino: A Tale of Customer Service

Octavia Pinot NoirSome years ago my brother-in-law and I took something of a deep dive into the world of wine. It started with a monthly club membership that got us trying new things as a matter of routine.  The came some classes. Then some more classes. Then a test. He took still more classes. You get the picture.

We have both purchased wine from various online sources. I tried He tried Lot18. Last year Lot18 stopped shipping to Texas. This influenced my initial move to try I’ve placed a few ordered with them in the last 6 months. I’ve been pretty happy with the profile of their offering. It’s well matched to my tastes and budget.

Having earned my confidence earlier,  on January 3rd I rather impulsively ordered a case of 2009 Octavia Pinot Noir (Wine Searcher Listing) that was offered at a rather  modest $99/case, including shipping. That’s seriously inexpensive, a fact that would certainly temper my expectations.

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Halloween 2013


Halloween 2013, a set on Flickr.

Here’s a gallery of 140 pictures from Halloween 2013. Many thanks to everyone who helped to make it both spooky and sweet.

A New & Improved Michael

WSET-Level2-LogoIn the spring I decided to do something different. Just for fun I decided to signup for more formal training in wine appreciation. After a couple of years off occasionally taking casual classes at The Texas Wine School  I signed up for the more formal Wine & Spirit Educational Trust Level 2 Award, aka WSET 2.

I undertook this adventure along with my brother-in-law, Fred Salumunek. The WSET 2 classes took six weeks to complete, including a written exam. I happy to announce that I passed “with merit” and Fred passed “with distinction.”

Fred and I dove into wine as an area of interest at about the same time.  It’s funny, back then I had decided to sign up for Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV monthly wine club. That meant a monthly shipment of wines, to be tasted while viewing a recorded tasting online. It was a way to force us to try different wines, and hopefully come to appreciate them. Our first time was in April 2009.

Back then we both such simpletons. Now we’re truly wine-soaked simpletons. Now we are not only certifiable, but actually certified.

The very fact that we’ve gone through this schooling allows me to use the WSET logo that you see here. It remains unlikely that I will ever devolve into a wine blogger, but I thought it fun to use it at least this once.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon.

Hey, Houston! Help Make This Happen!!

There’s a relatively new effort to create a Maker Space for Houston. I’m very excited about this. It’s been a long time coming.

I’d love to partake of some of the activities that would happen in and around a maker space. I could even see it becoming a base for certain community groups, from jewelry makers to textile artists and welder to kite builders. It can only just be one thing…awesome!

There’s a campaign to raise a modest amount of funds to get started. The money will be used to secure a location in the east end of the city, renovate and equip it to get started. Their plans for co-working space could be an excellent opportunity for SOHO dwellers looking for a change of scenery or a little inspiration over coffee.

A Swallowtail Butterfly Time Lapse

This past week we’ve come to have a number of swallowtail butterfly chrysalis in the back yard. I thought it would be nice to capture the process of one of them emerging into the world. To that end I setup our Audubon Birdcam nearby, setting it in time lapse mode. After a couple of days of waiting here’s the result.

The Birdcam was capturing one 5 MP image every five seconds. This sequence is frame 3700 to 4200 in the series. The source images were loaded into Premiere Pro to be down-res’d, repositioned and played back at slower speed. The final result rendered out as a 720p HD clip about one minute long.

Sebastiani’s Cabernet Week Hangout

Did you know that this week was Cabernet week? That caught me by surprise as well. Somewhere in the Twitterverse I got wind of Sebastiani planning a Google+ Hangout with Mark Lyon, Head of Winemaking. As a Sebastiani club member for the past several years, and fan of their Cherryblock Cabernet, I thought it would be worth sitting in on the session.

I was somewhat surprised to be the only one in attendance.

In the course of the conversation I learned that they had a 2009 vintage of their Secolo. We had really enjoyed an earlier release of Secolo, which is an affordable red wine blend. I ‘ve come to wonder which I would appreciate more as a Wednesday night glass; the Alexander Valley Cabernet or Secolo?

There’s only one was to find out. The experimental method! All in the name of science of course.

Magic Beans From Canada

Tim-Horton's-Coffee-BeansOne of my last major projects working for Pixel Power was an installation at WBNS in Columbus, Ohio. I was reminded of this project, which started in August 2012, when I saw that it was recently written up in TVTechnology.

Columbus, Ohio is notable for being the corporate HQ for Wendy’s International. As a Canadian living in the US I’m also mindful that Wendy’s once owned the Tim Horton’s coffee chain that is a long-time Canadian institution.

One of the treats I stumbled into during several weeks in Columbus was the location of a Tim Horton’s very near to WBNS. It became my daily stop on the way in to work.

In my pre-caffeinated stupor one morning I happened to glance around the store and see that they were selling coffee, including bags of whole bean coffee. Further, it was offered at a decent price…cheaper than nominal beans from our local supermarket. I brought back several pounds in my luggage that trip.

Tim Horton’s doesn’t make it as far south as Texas. In fact, although they are reputed to have over 500 stores in the US, they don’t seem to stray too far from the Canadian border.

While invoking my morning grind yesterday I was reminded that coffee beans don’t last forever. I would soon run out of the Gevalia Whole Bean Coffee that I’ve been using most recently.

I’m not much of a shopper. This, and the fact that we’re a one-car family, has driven me to shop online for most things. In fact, I’m a big fan of Amazon’s Prime program. So as a lark I grabbed my Nexus 7 and put “coffee beans” into the Amazon app.

Imagine my surprise when I found that Amazon sells Tim Horton’s Coffee, in whole beans, in 2 pound bags cheaper than I can  buy similar goods at the local supermarket. I executed the patented one-click order and got me some Timmy’s to be delivered. All the way to Texas.

It’s like a little bit of Canada being lobbed over the fence. What an unexpected treat.