Great iOS software: Pillboxie

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I have a simple pharmaceutical regime, but a complicated schedule. Three drugs total, one needs to be taken every morning one hour before I eat, a second immediately after I eat (along wth some allergy meds and vitamins at that time). The third one is trickiest, it has to be right before I go to sleep, but only on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

I've had this schedule since November of 2009, and I did pretty well for the first two years or so. It was ok to forget once in a while for 2 out of the three drugs but a couple years in I started to lower my dosages and I started forgetting at least one a week, then more than once a week. I tried the standard alarms on my iPhone, but they were a bit too invasive (they always went off audibly, usually hours after I took the pill already) and no one likes an alarm at 10pm twice a week when you're starting to go to sleep.

Eventually I found pillboxie. I've been using it for a couple months and it works great. Every morning an hour after I normally take a pill I have it set to remind me with a silent notification on my home screen. I can check off when I remembered to take it, and take it if I forgot. Since I check my phone when I wake up and when I go to sleep, during those once or twice a week times I might forget to take a pill, my phone has a nice notification telling me to and I haven't forgotten a pill since I started using Pillboxie. It's simple and it works, and if you have medications on different timetables and you use an iPhone I wholeheartedly recommend it.

RIP Papa

Let me just get this out in open right away: I was an extremely lazy and extremely whiny kid. I never liked to do anything that resembled work, I complained about everything all the time, and I quickly learned to do the minimum necessary for anything assigned to me. Aside from legos and computers, I expended as little effort as possible in everything I did each day.

The funny part was my parents in many ways enabled it and slightly encouraged it. They had a hard life of labor, standing on their feet, working near 200 degree ovens, and were working 12-13 hours most days. They would come home from work exhausted and stinking of grease and dirt and tell me every single day that their life was the pits. “Use your brain, get a job where you get to sit at a desk and use brainpower instead of this horrible life we have working so hard.” Thankfully, I excelled at school and I even remember in junior high and high school when I figured out at a A- counted the same on my GPA as a A+ (my schools didn’t do the 3.67 or 4.33 for A- and A+ grades, it was all worth 4.00). I quickly became an expert on figuring out how much I needed to study and what grades I needed on exams to hit that minimum 90% in every class. Heck, I also realized teachers felt bad giving me a B+ for a 89% grade so I started shooting for 88-89% knowing I could eek out a A- and eek out a 4.0 grade from classes.

Every summer I spent a week or two with relatives, most often it was my mom’s parents, my grandma and papa. They were retired from my earliest memories so often we’d go to the beach, travel around to see other relatives, and my papa had this habit of helping out his elderly sisters and brothers with home improvement projects. He also maintained gardens at home, cured and pickled his own olives and vegetables, lots of Great Depression stuff he never stopped doing.

When I was about seven I was with my grandparents and we went off to see my aunt Lena to help out around her house. I think I started the day watching cartoons on the couch and I remember my papa coming into the living room and being grumpy, turning off the TV and asking me to help with the yardwork. As long as I can remember, I lived in a condo or a small house and I was either too young to do yardwork or yardwork was handled by the condo association. I didn’t actually buy my first lawnmower until I got a house around the age of 31. When I was a teen I would get a lot of flack from friends, since that was a standard teen chore they all had to do but I got out of.

So Papa wanted to show me how to mow a lawn at age seven, and I remember it was a push mower and Auntie Lena had a pretty sizable yard (several football fields in size to my seven year old eyes, probably meager if I visited it today). I remember what a pain it was, pushing that old rusty mower, constantly getting tripped up by too much grass in the blades, having to redo parts again and again. Over the course of a few hours I eventually got the entire lawn knocked down and my hands were blistered from the rough wood handle. After dinner, I collapsed on the living room couch and asked if I could go to sleep before 8pm.

Just before I was drifting off to exhausted sleep, my papa entered the room and said something along the lines of “Matthew. You’re tired right? Do you feel exhausted?” I said yes and he went on “Good. Now you know what an honest day’s work feels like. You’re tired and you’re exhausted but you did a good job today and you should feel proud of all you did out there. Someday you may have to do work like that every day but you will get to feel satisfaction from it like you did today.”

It’s funny, I continued to be a really whiny kid after that experience and I don’t think I ever fully kicked the laziness habit, but I do feel after that day I learned it was ok to plunge into projects and work and school assignments and hobbies and jobs with the concentration and dedication I once only reserved for new lego sets and a Commodore 64.

Thanks papa for teaching me what work means and though I’m sad to see you gone you did live to 96 and I got to spend nearly four decades with you around.

Transformers/Avengers rated: PTSD

I saw The Avengers yesterday since everyone I know has been raving about it for weeks saying it was better than every other big budget comic book summer blockbuster (because it had a good script and good cinematography). I thought it was very good for a comic book movie, pretty good overall. It was entertaining, but at the same time disturbing. It took several hours after viewing to figure out what I found unsettling about it, and I’d have to say (slight spoilers) it was the battles that took place in NYC between giant metal evil snake things and the heroes.

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Of course it’s all computer generated and this is a movie, but it was distracting to see aliens and their ships constantly brushing up against buildings supposedly filled with office workers, knocking down buildings in some cases. While the comic book hero team was trying to save one or two buildings full of people, you’d see a dozen more get damaged. In the end the world gets saved but there’s no mention of all the damage and lives lost in the final scenes. It felt weird, like a minor side plot point that was previously mentioned was never mentioned again.

I hadn’t felt conflicted with entertainment since last summer’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The movie was tough to get through and a total assault of the senses in the battle sequences. It was like watching a difficult war movie (think: Platoon or Thin Red Line) and I couldn’t wait for it to be over (I nearly walked out halfway through).

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With Transformers, the influence was more obvious as the director used constant visual references to 9/11. There was a burning city with smoking skyscrapers, buildings went down after collisions with robots, and there were people diving out of planes (in wingsuits) shown in vertical poses next to buildings like iconic horrifying photos from September 11, 2001.

I never thought I was all that affected by the events of 9/11. I was on the West Coast, slept through the first crash and only got to see the second building collapse live on TV after reading everyone’s reactions on MetaFilter. I never experienced it in person with my own eyes, just through media from thousands of miles away.

Seeing these movies and remembering the horrifying events of that day, I can’t sit and watch a movie with CGI monsters battling in a city full of people and not think about the substantial collateral damage happening. Part of my mind knows this is all done on a computer and it’s fake robots in fake fights with a few extras running around on the ground and no one was hurt and this is all fiction, but a larger part of my brain remembers the horrifying images from TV that are permanently burned into my brain and I can’t really enjoy movies that mimic them in any way.