Percentages…

Maths was never my forte. I like to blame poor math teachers at school but that may be a convenient excuse. The bottom line mostly likely is that I simply don’t have an aptitude for figures. Fortunately that has not greatly hampered my life. However, it has come to my attention of late, like it or not percentages now figure more prominently in my day to day existence. Is it just me or is this a general prevalence?

For example, I am frequently checking what percentage of battery life remains on my various devices, most notably the iPhone, iPad and the PC, and though I seldom ever get near to using up all my data allowance on Netflix or my phone I occasionally take a peek at that too.

Of far greater interest is my monthly blood test results which are just heaving with percentages, most of them more or less meaningless to the uninitiated which is why my doctor or naturopath has to explain their significance. That said what really concerns me is the question whether in fact they actually have any real significance. Unlike battery life on my various devices which do seem to have a very practical relevance, it seems to me those listed in my clinic results are far more dubious. And it isn’t just me who thinks this way. There is a whole body of professionals questioning the real significance for example of viral loads and CD4 counts and their application in supposedly proving this or that theory.

I was reminded of this today when watching a short video highlighting the absurdity of statistics relating to viral loads and CD4 counts and the graphs created from manipulation of same to prove this or that theory. It made me think of a recent conversation I had with my doctor when I questioned the incredible fluctuation between one month’s results and the next. What could possibly account for such variation? Ever ready with an appropriate response she explained that trials she had actually been involved in at St.Peter’s Hospital revealed that not only can one’s CD4 count be affected by all manner of random factors but will also change, often dramatically from hour to hour and time of day. How then can anyone place any real trust in such percentages as an accurate guideline to the health of one’s immune system?

It’s Raining bread….

Actually I think today the shower from our third floor neighbour looks more like tortillas; anyway the gulls, a gulping grey and white commotion of them have arrived within minutes to feast upon the unwholesome largesse. And thank God for them although its consumption can hardly be beneficial I at least have high hopes the lawn outside my window may soon be cleared of this annoying litter which rains down daily from the moron two floors up.

I assume he thinks he is doing the birds a favour and not in fact poisoning then and or their offspring with food I wouldn’t even feed to humans let alone wildlife. In any event he clearly has no regard for other residents or the fact he may well be attracting rats to say nothing of the horrid appearance of the newly cut grass. Last night I happened to look out the window as a local very fat skunk scurried past, hardly pausing to give the day’s bread remnants so much as a disdainful sniff. Sensible creature!

I know of course I could and perhaps should complain in person, and I would certainly have grounds for mentioning my displeasure to the landlord. But the reality is our predecessor frequently expressed her annoyance to this neighbour as does the woman immediately above us; all to no avail! Even the post woman bemoans his actions citing the harm it probably causes the feasting birds. All dog walkers, of which I am one, have to wrestle with their pooches who usually make a grab at the ghastly garbage, although it has to be said Max, not a canine too fussy when it comes to roadside snacks, now actually avoids the white chunks.

A passer-bye recommended I report the man to City Hall for violation of whatever rules govern the proper recycling of food scraps but how far down that combative route does one really want to go? I’ve tried sweeping up the mess but the wretched man seems to regard the absence of bread as a clear sign the birds have consumed it all and now need a fresh helping. It seems like a no win situation so as I sit here watching the house sparrows tuck in (the gulls were scared away unintentionally when I got up to take their picture) I resign myself to bread showers for the foreseeable future.

Bureaucracy: a daily virus…

Our local, and very convenient, dog pedicurist has moved away, presumably to more lucrative employment which raised the problem of where to get Max’s nails clipped. I mentioned this to a fellow Dachshund walker as we, and more to the point, our dogs greeted each other. She said she was taking Dino to Petsmart and we were welcome to go along. So this afternoon we went and presented our little treasures at Petsmart’s dog salon where our interrogation began as to Max’s vaccination record.

Fortunately he is up to date with all the essentials in that regard but obviously my word was not enough to satisfy Petsmart protocol. Since I didn’t have the foresight to bring his vaccination certificates with me they would have to confirm with my vet whose name and exact location I could not recall. Luckily I had his phone number to hand (though rather illogically listed) and a brief phone call sufficed to satisfy the young woman working on the registration desk who was more than ready to accept the word of an anonymous voice at a phone number she had not actually confirmed as that of a veterinarian. Perhaps I just exude honesty!

Once the all-clear was given Max could proceed and get the simple task of a nail clipping performed in less than five minutes. But I was left wondering whether such thoroughness was really necessary. If the goal of such requirements as current vaccinations is so vital to prevent possible contagion between dogs why was the whole interrogation performed in the very same room with other dogs already being groomed. Indeed during the process Max was sociably sniffing noses with a black labrador awaiting collection by its owner.

As one who has serious misgivings about the whole vaccination orthodoxy and who complies with it only under duress and the necessity of occasionally having Max placed in a kennel it seems to me this procedure is yet another odious example of bureaucracy controlling our lives.