One of my favorite series of novels calls the winter "the dark months." This year, so far, that has been an accurate description: dismal, gray and with half the number of sunny days as normal. We don't even have any snow to provide a bit of white to brighten up the landscape. That pattern isn't going away any time soon.
The Atlantic has a nice article just in time form cold and flu season. We recently (as of a few years ago) switched from name brands to generic over the counter drugs. A couple of things drove the move. First, the massive recall of Excedrin two years ago left us scrambling to replace it and we certainly weren't going to get on Ebay and pay $300 or so for a bottle as some desperate people did. We checked out the ingredients and found a generic that had all the same ingredients in the same proportions and switched. We didn't switch back after new stocks arrived some months later. Second, we started looking more closely at all our over the counter meds when warnings started coming faster and more insistently about the dangers of overdose with those drugs. When we started looking at the ingredients we suddenly saw how easily it would be to take more (often much more) than the recommended doses. Think about it for a moment. You have a headache so you take your usual headache drug. But you also are running a bit of a temp so you take a dose of Tylenol. Well, you headache med might just have Tylenol's active ingredient in it also. Oh, I forgot--you also have a cough so you take some cough medicine also. Guess what? You may just have taken another dose of Tylenol because you cough medicine may also contain it under its generic name. The article is a good read.