Monday, December 30, 2013

Stop Motion Pharmacy Material

Stop motion sequence tests for links in a pharmacy education film series.
(c) 1991 The Animating Apothecary
Original tests on Super 8mm film; subsequent work on 16mm

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Puppy Alarm!

(c) 2013 The Animating Apothecary

Sparrow makes certain that daddy won't oversleep past 6am .... such a nice puppy ...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Epi Pens Pack a Punch

Just in case anyone is wondering IF Epi-Pens work fast and hard, here's a personal experience.
The pharmacy received about a half dozen outdated pens for destruction, so in keeping with a need to reduce space, your humble typist thought it wise to depackage them before tossing them into the sharps container.
Along the way, one of them went KerPOW and right into my left thumb. 
Quick reactions notwithstanding, a few drops managed to penetrate the epidermal layer.
First of all, the needle didn't handle the experience well, either:
And then there were some changes in the physiological makeup of the left thumb (note- it didn't really look that green):

And then came the bruising, with just the hint of numbness along the top.  Fortunately, it was just a drop, and the effects began to reverse with continuous warm water soaks and jamming the thumb in question into the heat vent of the dashboard on the trip home. 
The next morning, all was well, with just the lingering sensation of having annoyed a bumblebee....

Friday, October 11, 2013

Prayer in Schools - just thinkin' ....

     In an 1802 letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase “separation of Church and State.” He used it to explain his conviction that the first amendment to the Constitution was meant to “restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties;” that there should not be an established church by the State, but that all citizens should have religious freedom in this nation.
      His was a time of forced tithing to the Anglican church, with its doctrines carrying the essential force of law. Because Jefferson was tolerant of all religions, he was attacked as atheist, just as Socrates was called “that atheist who only believes in one god.”
      The phrase, “separation of Church and State,” has been held as a banner by both sides of the prayer issue. The issue, actually, is moot.
     There is no prohibition on prayer in schools.
     What there is, however, is a prohibition of an adult authority figure, whose salary is paid by public funds, to initiate a group prayer activity toward impressionable youth who are heavily influenced by peer pressures.
     Those who contend that prayer is “forbidden” are actually upset that “their” prayer is forbidden. The Gallup and Lindsay poll of 1999 indicating that 2/3 of the population supports an amendment that would permit prayer in school shows how effective that campaign has been to give the perception that prayer is somehow presently disallowed.
      I grew up in a time of public school, teacher-lead prayer over our mid-session Kindergarten snack of dubious nutritional value.
     The rote repetition of “GodisgreatGodisgoodLetusthankHimforourfoodamen” meant nothing to me, and its court mandated absence in 1962 also meant nothing. I only recall asking my teacher about the word “amen,” thinking it should be “a man” or “the men” and being told it was time for my nap.

Language as a function of culture

(trimmed from an assigned essay for an MCTE program at FSU, ca. 2002, discussing whether "ebonics" was a language or a dialect...)

      At its most basic, language signifies “any sound utter’d by an animal, by which it expresses any of its passions, sensations, or affections. The amorous pigeon does not trust solely to his plaintive cooing in order to soften the rigour of his reluctant mate, but adds to it the most submissive and expressive gestures.”(Encyclopoedia Brittanica, 1771)
      The definition of two centuries past correlates well with the concepts with which we regard language among societies and civilizations today. Language both represents and reflects many aspects of a culture, and it can be seen as a sign of unity among members of a particular culture group. It can be analyzed—in terms of vocabulary and structure—for clues about the values and beliefs of a culture group. When communicated in writing, language can also become a visible marker that provides a way of tracing the history of a culture. Language also includes the non-spoken expression and gesture, with a wiggled eyebrow or smile adding depth of meaning beyond the uttered word.
      Language may represent a means of stereotyping one group or another. It may be used as a means to classify one’s educational background, or receptiveness to its enhancements.
      The wrong choice of words may come across as substandard or crude. When the Normans invaded England in 1066, they brought with them their French culture and Romance-based language to the Saxon throne. Words that were derived from the Germanic or Anglo-Saxon background became considered crude and have carried this stigma to the present day (many of the seven words George Carlin explained you “could not say on TV” descend from Anglican and Germanic, not Latin, roots; the same words in Latin or French are considered medical diagnoses).

Tips on Writing Essays - a revisit from the past (ca 2003)

    My basics of writing a theme make use of the theories of three fairly important writers. First, I consider Peter DeVries, who wrote that all stories should have a "beginning, a muddle, and an end." Then I move on to Aristotle and his contention that we begin with a "thesis," create its opposite, or "antithesis," and then find a manner of integrating the two by creating a "synthesis." Finally, I bow to the venerable and often veneered Benjamin Franklin, a writer who took the pragmatic approach of creating lists as a means of reaching a conclusion on nearly any subject.

The approaches of these three men forge a universal template I use in my general, theme-based writings. I sum up the ideas as follows:

1. State your thesis in unequivocal terms in an opening paragraph. Strive to be definite about your thesis, avoiding "seems" and "could be" and "perhaps" in your wording. The idea is to sound authoritative, thus giving the opportunity to promote discussion and interaction. (This is a variation on the Strunk and White adage of, "If you don't know how to pronounce a word, say it loud.") To make things sound more "worldly" try to incorporate something you have recently read, or may assume many others have already read, as a reference (and if not recent, well, use something you remember well). This will make your thesis sound knowledgeable, or at least give the impression that you have examined more sources than the primary assignment stipulates. Again, using "public domain" material, or easily recognized material helps considerably, and if there is a special niche to which you have intimate knowledge, incorporate that as well.

2. At this point, take full advantage of the miracle of word processors and write your concluding paragraph. You should restate your thesis in new terms, perhaps adding a generalization about society that can be drawn by common knowledge. This may end up sounding like a load of "yadda yadda yadda," but it gives closure to the report. It may seem out of place to do so at this time in the writing, but you have your idea still fresh in your mind at this point. The first and final paragraphs are the most important for demonstrating your creativity, since teachers are (often) human and sometimes struggle with deadlines of their own.

3. Now the listing starts. Between the two paragraphs you have now written, generate a list of "pros" and "cons" that can bolster or shatter your thesis. Having now followed the lead of Dr. Franklin, consider Aristotle–is there a way that an "antithesis" can be assimilated into your initial "thesis" as a point of discussion?

4. If you find you have at least a half dozen points supporting your contention that outweigh those that could dispel your statement (by number or by strength), then begin the task of creating sentences for each of the points. Here is where a thesaurus is vital, or better yet, with modern word processors, practically every word in the English language is listed with its synonym or antonym available in the menu bar. USE THESE FREELY. Often you will find that a new word can generate a completely new idea or help create a completely new sentence.

5. Now cut and paste. Move the sentences around, adding whatever thoughts may emerge as you do. You will find that certain sentences are redundant or that some of your ideas "don't play well with others." You may find you have several ideas that emerge and then seem to naturally group together. To state the obvious, group them together! If enough of them emerge that your paper is becoming larger than anticipated, list the general ideas at the start of the paper and then break your composition into sections that elaborate on each of your ideas.

6. Provide transitions between your discussion topics. If you are talking about the weather in one part and then jump to analytical chemistry in the next, you will need to toss in a few lines as a separate paragraph to ease the reader to the next subject without the transition becoming abrupt.

7. Finally, if you have a "grammar check" with your word processor, USE IT FREELY. Often such a check will help you identify sentences with changes in verb tense or conjugation. These things can occur very easily when tossing in ideas as a general list. They often give you a word count as well, so you can feel properly amazed at how quickly you were able to generate a load of material in a relatively simple (if somewhat mechanical) fashion.

I use this approach whether writing the interminable reports or generating the rather mundane monographs for pharmacy journals. I also wait until the very end to do things like double spacing, tabs, and's always more important to clutter up that intimidating blank page with ideas first.

    Of course, I also throw many of these concepts to the wind in blogosphere rants, just because I never listen when I talk to myself.

PS - if you have the luxury of time, once completed with your opus, let it sit alone for at least a day and think about what it has done... then revisit it with a clear head... that's when the fun (rewrite) begins!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Stop Motion Test Frames - June/July 2013

Just a couple of deferred lunches, a few hundred frames, and a nice couple of walks around campus on some only moderately hot afternoons.  Need to play a bit more with this...yet another 'work in progress...'

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ferris State College and Big Rapids, ca 1976

From a crumbling 1/2 reel to reel tape, of a transfer from a 16mm original, glitches, drop outs and all...for the hard core historian of Ferris and Big Rapids in the 1970s.  There may be more than one.  Soundtrack is a randomly generated piece from Sony's Vegas software during the final render.  It runs almost 90 seconds.

The title reads 'college' since Ferris still hadn't evolved to university status in the mid-1970s (I think they were still trying to use up letterhead that read 'Ferris Institute' at that point).

The model pharmacy shown is virtually unchanged since this was filmed.  Which, of course, means it has been virtually unused for almost 40 years.  Egad.  I do not appear in this clip, but I had a pair of bell bottom pants like the ones worn by the 'patient' in the film.  And those are probably in a box somewhere, as this video was.

This was originally filmed to be part of a pharmacy promotion video to run during student orientation at Ferris State College.  It hasn't aired since 1977, probably to the relief of the administration of the pharmacy school.  Only one of the pharmacies shown - Martz and Shapley's - is still in business, but in a different location.   Growing up in Big Rapids, that pharmacy was the primary 'walk through' to the main business district, and it always smelled of witch hazel and guiafenesin.  ... and they had the nastiest tasting trading stamps, too.   The things one remembers.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Bragging up the dog

OK, so it's the animating apothecary site, and I really do try to make things apply to animation or pharmacy...but dawgunnit, this little puppy of mine is so CUTE!!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Cursory Analysis of a Blue Cross Audit

One of the most dreaded notifications a pharmacy can receive is the prospect of an insurance company audit.  Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) are notorious for trumped up reasons to refuse claims on the most ridiculous of reasons; auditors even get a percentage of the 'disputed claim' paybacks, so you know where their interests will lie.  But the standard audits from typical insurers can be - well - let's call their mathematical algorithms poetic.

For example, here is the breakdown on how Blue Cross of Michigan determines its disputed claim payback.  This was all carefully written down during the 'debriefing' phase of a recent audit, as the auditor would not leave a copy of the formula with the pharmacy.

175 prescriptions were chosen from 2012, 'at random' prior to the audit, with the instructions that the original prescription, signature logs, and dispensing history were to be made available to the auditor.  A 'small number' of additional prescriptions were to be requested, with a dispensing history, at the start of the audit.  This 'small number' turned out to be 20, or 11.4% of the initial number.  This  brought the number of prescriptions to 195 for this particular audit.  It was explained that this represented one prescription for each day the pharmacy was open and doing business with Blue Cross of Michigan.

The trouble is, however, that the pharmacy was open 294 days in 2012.  The ratio 195/294 is 0.663.  This becomes important when considering the rest of their analytical algorithm.

The prescriptions that were found to be 'payable' mainly amounted to electronic prescriptions that were handed in to the pharmacy without a physical handwritten signature from the physician.  In this case, three were noted (however, the three were true electronic prescriptions, but for purposes of argument, we'll let it ride).

These three prescriptions represented a total of $140 in payments from Blue Cross that they wanted back.  That is fine, one could argue, but it doesn't end there.  They EXTRAPOLATE this $140 in this manner:

1. Blue Cross adds up the dollar amount of all prescriptions in the audit.  Here, those 195 prescriptions amounted to $45,000

2.  They then take the disputed prescription value of $140 and divide that by $45,000.  This yields 0.003111.  Seems like a pretty small number, to most eyes, BUT...

3. They THEN take the dollar value of the ENTIRE YEAR'S BUSINESS with Blue Cross - here it was $6,600,000 - and multiply THAT by 0.003111.  That number becomes .... 20,533.26

4. They then put a dollar sign in front of that number and say THAT is your payback bill to Blue Cross for the audit.  Yes, you read it right - $140 is inflated to $20,533.26.

Now, back to the numbers themselves.  First of all, the number 195 somehow representing the days a pharmacy is open.  Again, this particular pharmacy was actually open 294 days in that year.  This means the results are OVERestimated, even by their peculiar method of statistical analysis, by 32.7%.  That alone would make the 20K damages more like 13.6K, still a hyperinflationary amount.

And then to examine the 'randomness' of the audit.  Of the 195 prescriptions chosen, 155 were for those where the drug cost in the prescription was over $150.  There were many ways to manipulate that total cost of $45,000.  In addition, carefully choosing which prescriptions to require a payback upon has a significant impact on that minute figure used in the final calculation - each 0.0001 represents $660 in the end.  One could eye the term 'random' with suspicion.

This is why pharmacies go out of business.  This is why pharmacies who deal with insurances (and that is all of them with the possible exception of two nationwide) cannot just fill prescriptions, they have to micromanage each of these scraps of paper.  It doesn't matter if the drug is right, that the dose is right, that an interaction is uncovered or a life helped or saved.  Place an initial in the wrong place, and this is the consequence.  And Blue Cross is one of the 'better ones'...

Blue Cross of Michigan is currently regulated under the State of Michigan.  This year, the State congress and Governor Snyder pushed through a series of their notion of reforms, under the guidance of Blue Cross, to convert it from its current form to one of less regulation and oversight by 2014.. the conversion will make Blue Cross a 'non-profit.' (an oxymoron in the insurance industry)  The reason cited is to increase 'competitiveness' of Blue Cross.  I doubt this sort of creative mathematics will be improved in such an environment, just as I suspect more and more will be done by Blue Cross to maintain its CEO's $3.4 million salary.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

A blast from 1974

Ev Nienhouse was among the finest instructors to stimulate a frontal cortex - and in the 1970s, when the concept of college video production was something other folks did, he and Gary Nash created a series of instructional tapes that were meant to run in tandem with the Morrison and Boyd textbook in use at Ferris State College.  With laboratory work being somewhat dry (or somewhat explosive, depending on the reagents used), they enlisted some student help to create 'commercials' for the course.  Here is one, back when we all had more hair, and it was mostly one color....

Strange - and possibly TRUE!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

James B. Turner, WGADOSA (1927-2013)

From the Big Rapids Pioneer:
BIG RAPIDS James Bevier Turner, 85, passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, supported by his family's presence and gentle care. Jim was born on May 26, 1927, in Flint, the second son of William H. and Geneva Postal Turner, who preceded him in death. His older brother, William Postal Turner, passed away in 1949.  
James Turner, WGADOSA
In 1948, after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II and continuing his studies in pharmacy, Jim married Helen Joan Moore; together they had two children, Nancy E. (Ed Andres) Turner, of Traverse City, and James J. (Denise Sloan) Turner, of Lansing.

In 1988, he married the former Wanda V. Johnson and enjoyed that nearly 25-year union until his death. They enjoyed many years together and especially enjoyed spending time each summer at Sturgeon Bay. Surviving are his wife, Wanda; his two children, Nancy and James; and two grandchildren, Erin (Ben Scott) Sloan-Turner, of Macomb, Ill., and Patrick Sloan-Turner, of Burbank, Calif.

He will be remembered by two beloved local families, Curtis Erb and his son, Jaden, and Lois and George Helbert, as well as Wanda Johnson family living in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio. Among others are the cronies who were regulars with him on the golf course, those who fly-fished with him on the Au Sable and the guys who swapped lies at the early morning gatherings at Currie's.

Under the mentorship of his maternal grandfather, Jim became captivated with fly-fishing at a very early age. He learned all about fly-fishing, including how to tie his own flies, thanks to his beloved grandfather. As well, he was introduced to golf at age 8; that avocation became another passion for life. He was especially proud of winning the club championship in 1980 at the (former) Meceola Golf and Country Club where he was a member since 1961.

Jim also had a love of music, inheriting that love from his mother who taught piano in the West Michigan area for decades. He especially loved to sing, starting as a member of the boy's choir at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids with his older brother and then continued singing throughout much of his life, most recently under the direction of Bill Donahue in various locations around the area. He also was a very fine cook, especially enjoying preparing breakfast for his grandchildren and wife Wanda.

Jim was an active volunteer in the area as well, chairing the Survivor's Walk for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Mecosta County for 10 years. Additionally, he enjoyed being involved with the Meals on Wheels delivery in Big Rapids; he not only delivered nutritious meals but also provided an essential connection to the outside world and a social respite for those who received the meals.

Professionally, Jim was singularly involved in the practice and teaching of pharmacy and administration of the student academic affairs function at Ferris State University. He graduated from the Ferris State University College of Pharmacy in 1949. He then practiced as a pharmacist in Alpena, Hastings and Cadillac before purchasing the former Fairman Drug Store in Big Rapids in 1960. He operated the store as Turner Pharmacy until 1975, when the store was sold but still functioned as the Turner Pharmacy. Shortly thereafter, he joined the faculty of the College of Pharmacy at Ferris State University as a teacher of pharmacy practice. He quickly moved into administration in the area of student academic affairs, retiring in 1994 as Associate Dean of Student Academic Affairs. He was awarded the Clark A. Andreson Alumni Recognition Award shortly after his retirement.

During his career at Ferris, Jim was a member of the American Pharmacists Association, Michigan Pharmacists Association and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. He also met and collaborated with his cohorts in student academic affairs across the nation on a regular basis. He continued his education, earning a Master of Science degree from Central Michigan University and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Cremation has taken place. In lieu of a traditional funeral, the family will greet friends from 2 to 4 p.m. on March 2, 2013, at the Holiday Inn to celebrate Jim's life.

Memorial contributions may be made to the James B. Turner Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Ferris State University College of Pharmacy. Alternatively, Jim asked that memorial contributions be made to the Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity, Women's Information Services (WISE), the Big Rapids Community Library or the Mecosta County Senior Center (Meals on Wheels and/or Medical Transportation). Hospice of Michigan also is suggested by his family.   (end of Pioneer article)

That's the official line. When growing up in Big Rapids, the Turner Pharmacy was the alternative to the old Martz and Shapley's on the main street, and both places smelled of Robitussin and witch hazel.  Later, as I found myself awash in the often frustrating curriculum of pharmacy at Ferris, Jim Turner was one of those too-rare bright spots in the education sphere there.  His sense of humor was dry and deliciously scewed - and with little provocation he could launch into a Great Carsoni routine or extrapolate from dialogue by Bob and Ray.  He related to me his shock on learning, during his last minute decision to get a retirement physical ("Hey, it was still on the college insurance at that point."), that prostate cancer was a new visitor in his life.  Certainly his bright outlook gave him more time than any physician could have predicted.  "Guess all I have to do now is grow a beard," he said of his retirement in that conversation.  And while his photo above is how many saw him for the past several years, here is the image I recall when thinking of one James B. Turner, The World's Greatest Associate Dean of Student Affairs:  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

First Compilation - Uncle Stan's Profusely Illustrated World #1

 OK, it's lulu press, but it's finally done.  Another three expected in the series before the scanner fries....

(c) 2013 The Animating Apothecary

36 pages, black and white illustrations at Lulu Press

Here's the cover for the second set of sketches, assembly complete at at LULU:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gibberish - a KAFI 2005 moment

Created for random insertion throughout the Kalamazoo Animation Festival Internationale in 2005.  Never used.  Probably a good thing....

Created in Flash, rendered into a *.mov format from the Flash *.mov format using Quicktime Pro.

HbA1c sketches

In theory, this shows the cause and effect of blending hemoglobin with glucose - creating glycosylated hemoglobin, and with that the monitoring of HbA1c for diabetes therapy 'adherence' (formerly 'compliance', but that term must have sounded too voluntary to marketers...).

1998 The Animating Apothecary

First Commercial Artwork - 1978-79

For the Michigan Pharmacists Association, ca 1978.  Payment - ten big simoleons for each one!

February 1979 Cover Illustration

December 1978 Cover illustration

Interior article illustration - "Winning with ACES" - February 1979

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Flawed Animated GIF - version 1, then 2, and finally 3

Yep, those mislabeled layers can be pretty darned pesky.....
Pesky, pesky layers.....

So let's try version 2:
And version 3 (interlaced and smoothed colors via Flash CS4):

...ok...have to remember THAT one!

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Coming Soon to a Checkout Counter Near YOU!

From the 1994 Calendar:

(c) 1993 The Animating Apothecary

lulu press link:

Confessions by Pharmacists!

From the 2004 calendar
(c) 2003 The Animating Apothecary
See the whole first volume!

Benzodiazepine Use, State of Michigan: 2008 vs 2011

While we wait for the posting of the 2012 data this February, here is a rough estimate of benzodiazepine use in the State of Michigan, comparing 2008 with 2011.
I compiled information on the most popular three - alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), and clonazepam (Klonopin)
The drugs represent total doses of all strengths in their respective category, regardless of dosage form.  Like I said, it's a rough estimate:

Benzodiazepine Use, State of Michigan
2008 vs 2011
(Source: MAPS online data,
) 2011 totals 140,980,138      47,443,216      50,635,373
(doses)       alprazolam       lorazepam      clonazepam
per capita
consumption    14                     4                        5

2008 totals 142,127,310      94,886,436      101,270,751
(doses)       alprazolam       lorazepam      clonazepam
per capita
consumption    14                     9                       19
(Based on 2010 census, State of Michigan population: 9,883,635)
NOTE: Unlike data on narcotic/opiate use, this MAPS information is not yet subdivided into specific zip codes.
When that information becomes available (promised soon), I'll be able to break things to some specific cities and villages in Der Mittenstadt!

Old Apple Storage Building in Battle Creek ca 1840s

It stood alongside the site of the old mill race near downtown Battle Creek (the canal has since been filled in).  When constructed, it was on the southernmost part of the town, facing the mill pond and dams built by the city's founder, Sands McCamly.  It was a tour site for schoolchildren through the 1960s, demonstrating that the walls' thickness could store and preserve apples throughout the year without modern refrigeration techniques.
On Memorial Day, 2011, when tornado-force winds tore through the Surreal City, the building's top was blown off.  The rest of the structure was demolished in record time.
I just happened to have shot some video of the building in 2008.  It took me until now to find it!
And so it goes....

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Experimental Video Snippets - Posting #100

Using a Panasonic Lumix video function with Sony Vegas and some ancient cylinder recordings....
Hypno Kitty:

And then some Solar Powered Plastique Animaux:

And, finally, some local Winteriness here in Nippishnessville, Michigan (and not a groundhog in sight):

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Political Asylum - Work in Progress

Calling it a work in progress is actually's been cluttering space on at least six different PCs since 1999.  If ever completed, it will be a whopping 3 minute opus synchronized to a nice, public domain 1917 recording in my collection.

Part one, created in Autodesk Animator Pro (DOS version!!!) plays with an 1846 photo from the Library of Congress:

Part two, created in Autodesk Animator Pro for Windows 3.11 (beta version), works with multiple layers that had to be sandwiched, optical printer style, in the render that took, as I recall, about 8 minutes...

This third clip is a frame-by-frame reconstruction of some 8mm footage shot in 1973 that may be put to use as well:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

An R Crumb Moment, 2000

Inspired while at the 2000 Ottawa Animation Festival.  The two were seated near the program auditorium when I arrived for registration at 8am, and they were still at the same bench when I took an afternoon break at 4. 

Illustration compilation at lulu press.  Here's the link: