Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Dream

Man has been mystified by his dreams since he was a hunter-gatherer. Primitives believed they were a connection to the 'other world'.

Fortunes have been made by authors of books purporting to analyze the meaning of dreams. Such books go back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who authored their own dream interpretations. Macrobius and Artemidor published such books.

There are those who believe that our dreams are like an Ouija Board; they are foretelling a future event. This is not scientific, has no basis in fact and is simply superstition. In Biblical times people believed that dreams were sent by God to announce future events.

Freud introduced the concept of dreams being a path to the knowledge of the unconscious. His entire psychoanalytic theory was based on dream interpretation as a means of exploring the depth of the psyche.

Jung went further and had the view that dream interpretation became central. I took a course in College and we studied Jung's theory. If I can recall it correctly, his premise was that we are the authors of our dreams. They are a method our brain has of working out problems.

Our assignment was to keep a dream journal. We were to write down as much as we could remember of our dream before getting out of bed. If we couldn't remember the dream, we were to write how we first felt when we opened our eyes. I thought of it as a mist left from the dream that hadn't left me yet.

After weeks of keeping the Journal, we were to read over what we had written. Did a theme appear? Did we see a correlation to something going on in our lives at that time? Perhaps the dream was of a repressed memory that stayed in our subconscious mind. One woman kept dreaming that she was at the bottom of a lake and all sorts of trash was being thrown down on her. Her revelation was that she was resenting the demands placed on her by her family. I guess, being a good little girl meant that she shouldn't mind, so she repressed the anger she felt. The dream helped her release the anger and deal with it.

All of the above is an introduction to the most vivid dream I have ever had. I must take you back to a time before the dream in order to explain it.

My pregnancy with my son was nine months of hell. I endured morning sickness the entire time. The good news was that I didn't have to lose weight after Mark was born; I had to gain back the 20 pounds I lost.

As a result, I knew I couldn't take care of a toddler if I had another pregnancy like that. Five years later I thought I could manage to take care of my son if I was sick, so all birth control stopped. I wanted a sweet girl to go with my little boy. Five years went by and I was not able to conceive.

Being disappointed, I replaced my desire of having another baby and with one of the trips my husband and I would take when our son was out of the nest.

Then I had to rearrange my plans once more. I was pregnant! This time I was not happy. I would be 35 years old when the baby was born. I had my life planned for the freedom to travel. In that unhappy state I sent my family to bed and cried.

That night I had THE DREAM. I dreamed that I was a tour guide showing some people an old hotel. The dream was in color and the wallpaper was red and the woodwork was white. The stairway was so narrow only one person at a time could ascend. I started up the stairs, but a group of people were coming down. The first to descend was an adorable girl baby toddler about two years old wearing a white dress. As she came down I reached up and grabbed her, held her close, nuzzled her neck and smelled that uniquely lovely talcum powder baby smell. As I did so I said, "Oh you beautiful child, who wouldn't want you?"

Now when you have a dream in living color with scent you know it means something. From that moment on I did not mind being pregnant.

As it turned out, the dream was prophetic, but I'm sure that was a coincidence. The real meaning of my dream, as I analyzed it, was that my disappointment at not being able to have a baby girl was so deep that I totally repressed it. Only when it was a possibility did I allow myself to admit it and I did so by dreaming of it.

It would be romantic to believe that it was, in fact, an omen and if you want to think that, it's okay with me. Whatever the reason for my dream, I will never forget a single detail. When Gail was born I was so happy to have that baby girl I kept saying loudly, "I've got my girl. I've got my girl."

Gail - 5 days old

Some dreams do come true.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Puns For Smarties

My e-mail provided me with another bit of humor. This is the second time I have received this list, so it's been around awhile. I laughed the second time and maybe you will too.


1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian .

3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: 'You stay here; I'll go on a head.'

14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the Grass.'

16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said 'No change yet.'

17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

19. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

20. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

21 A backward poet writes inverse.

22. In a democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes.

23. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

24. Don't join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!

Thoughts On the News

Am I suffering from selective thinking when I believe that the news used to be about real issues that affected our lives? Years ago did the news industry dwell endlessly about a governor of one state who sinned? Perhaps it did and I was not paying attention.

I admit that Mark
Sanford's dereliction of duty should be covered thoroughly in South Carolina where their governor was found wanting. However, in any other area of the U. S. that news is only of interest because it exposes they hypocrisy of the conservative right who lay claim to having a lock on morality.

Mark Sanford was one of those Congressmen who piously ranted against the terrible crime by President Clinton and voted for his impeachment. Both men, in their way, lied about sex. I always felt that it was entrapment when Clinton was subpoenaed and asked about Monica Lewinsky. The 'moral posse' knew about the incriminating dress and assumed, correctly, that Clinton would protect himself by lying about his affair. Aha! They had the goods on him:
they believed that lying under oath was an impeachable offense. They knew that having sex in the Oval Office would be shocking, but not enough to get him out of office, which was their goal. Without the semen smeared dress, it would simply have been a "he said, she said" story.

Now it is full circle and they have had three Republicans in a row outed for scandals. This is what happens when you throw mud; some of it sticks to you.

Sanford may be relieved that the news about his affair in Argentina has been overshadowed by three prominent deaths. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

In the case of Michael Jackson the news media are excessively covering his untimely death. While I know he was an icon and an extremely talented man I was not a fan. I am one generation ahead of him and "Thriller" was not my kind of music.

It is sad that Michael's talent and popularity contributed to his downfall. I believe that his obsessive weirdness was the result of a tortured soul. I am sorry, but when I think of him at all I see him holding his baby over that balcony and I am appalled by the adulation showered on him.

Hours have been spent covering the Sanford and Jackson stories while real news is not heard of. You really have to dig to find out what is important to our lives. The situations in Iran and North Korea are dire and could plunge our country into another war if not handled carefully. Below are two links to a couple of stories you may have missed about the North Korean and Russian ships. The first link is found on the BBC news site.


The second story is about that North Korean ship on the high seas. Do we have the legal authority to board her?


I may be an old curmudgeon, but I think that these stories are more important than a sex scandal in another state. I don't intend to demean the importance of covering the scandal or the prominent deaths; I just don't think they should dominate the news for days on end.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

One last gasp

Mark Shields had a great quote in his weekend op-ed piece. He asked the Representatives who have been ranting against Health Care Reform " If you don't like 'government-run' health care plans, why are you letting the taxpayers provide you and your family with one that's gold-plated?" An excellent question for anyone who uses those words 'Socialized Medicine'.

Robert Reich has an article that should answer the questions of those who are still doubting the wisdom of Obama's health plan. If you want more answers before endorsing Obama's health reform plan and his Public Insurance Option I urge you to follow the link and read it. It won't take long and it addresses some of the arguments I am hearing. The biggest argument against it is, of course, how it will be paid for. I believe Reich sheds some light on that.

The alternative of doing nothing is to have health care, which is now unsustainable, continue to escalate in cost at triple the cost of living. The naysayers have no answer to that.


After years of climbing on my soap box I really thought the timing was perfect to get a universal health care plan through Congress.

  • The economy is in dire straights and the escalating cost of health care is helping to sink it.
  • We have a popular president who has put his prestige on the line to get meaningful health care reform passed.
  • A whopping 72 - 76% of the voters want it. In addition, over half of them are willing to pay higher taxes to get it.

Then I
read the following article in the Huffington Post and I was ready to throw in the towel.


Reality sank in. No matter how wonderful universal health care looks to the majority of the people (Remember a government of the people, by the people and for the people?) our representatives are tied to the deep pockets of the AMA, Insurance lobby and Big Pharma. With a few exceptions, our Reps have forgotten why they were elected in the first place and only see the dollars needed to get re-elected. It has become a government "of big business, by the lobbyists, and for the greedy".

There are as many reform plans floating around Congress and the Senate as there are representatives. Most of the plans are wolves in sheep's clothing; disguised to look like reform, but actually designed to sink it. Senator Ted Kennedy, bless him, soldiers on with the help of his friend, Chris Dodd. But I am afraid they are voices crying in the wilderness.

I watched the President last night as he answered questions on health care. I was dismayed that no questions came up about the single-payer system. I assume they were not to be allowed. It is off the table. Okay, I have given up on that, but the next best option is a Public Insurance program and it is rumored that Obama is even ready to throw in the towel on that. If that goes, all that's left are a few band aids like preventative medicine and following the cost saving methods used by the Mayo Clinic and others. While those are worthwhile goals, they won't begin to save the money needed to cover everyone and are only delaying tactics. Beside, how will we force those reforms through without a government insurance program?

I am growing cynical and think we will never have meaningful reform in my lifetime.
Like the auto industry, the Insurance agencies will have to go bankrupt before there will be another shot at reform. Good luck with that - I won't be around to see it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Customer Service

Recently there was a post on another blog about a rude salesperson at 'Victoria's Secret'. The sales girl had been extremely insulting and when the victim of her behavior protested to the company she got a form letter with a lame apology offering her a 30% discount on her next purchase as compensation.

That did not solve the issue of the sales girl who should have been fired, and, additionally, it forced the victim to buy something else to get any kind of satisfaction. Not only was this adding insult to injury, but it was extremely poor customer relations.

Today I had the opposite treatment from 'Coldwater Creek' and I thought you should know about the difference in how they handled a complaint.

Several weeks ago I put some clothing items in my 'on line' shopping bag. Before placing the order I received a 30% off coupon in the mail. It wasn't good for several days so I waited to place my order for a few days when the coupon would be valid. Three items that I really wanted had been removed from my shopping bag and I assumed that was because they had sold out in the interim. Therefore, I did not place an order.

Today there was another Coldwater Creek sale in my In- Box and when I scanned the items I discovered that two of the items that had been removed from my shopping bag were still for sale. I really wanted them so I placed the order. However, I used their on line chat to complain about the situation. They gave me a one time 30% off on my entire order even though the coupon had expired.

I will never shop at Sear's again because of the way they handled a complaint. I had been a good customer for sixty years, (Back when they were Sears Roebuck). In the past five years I purchased a new refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and an over-the-stove microwave from them.

The installers of the microwave needed to buy a special part costing $120. Being sub-contractors they could not accept Visa and I had to put it on my Sear's account. I got a statement from Sears and remitted a check in the next mail. In that same mail I sent a check to a local company for a repair. Both checks got lost in the mail. I was unaware of that until the following month when I got a second statement from Sears and a $45 late fee plus interest was added to the amount I owed. That is usury by my definition. I complained and didn't even get a reply. They got my cut up Sears charge card in the next mail.

By the way, the local company removed their late charge fee when I explained the situation.

In this terrible economy stores should take notice. Locally owned stores are much better at resolving problems, but the big chain outlets are usually tone deaf to any complaint because they assume they have so many customers nationally that the loss of one isn't worth resolving the issue in a fair manner.
Perhaps if every one on the Internet publishes their bad experience with the company they might begin to pay attention.

I just did my part. Do you have any stories to tell - good and bad - about your experiences?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Funnies

Have you sen these? They came in my In- Box today and I thought I would share the laughs. You may have to click on them to enlarge them.

I also want to share an update on my medical report. Yesterday I was able to walk without taking baby steps and I was able to hear music that really sounded like music.

I have far to go before I will fully regain those functions, but I was excited at the progress.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Health Care Front and Center

It is nearing "put up or shut up" time for reforming health care. The right-wing lobbyists at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will spend $100 million to defeat Obama's plans for health care and a clean energy economy. They call it their "most important project" in nearly 100 years. Apparently the only way to stop them is by a loud and vocal citizenry using the only tools they have - the telephone and e-mail - to demand real reform. If the Senators and Congressmen get massive calls from voters wanting Obama's public option to compete with the insurance companies they just might get the message. The only two things they listen to are 1) deep pocket lobbyists and 2) messages from the folks back home who have the ability to vote them out of office.

Medical bills are behind more than 60 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies, U.S. researchers reported.

More than 75 percent of these bankrupt families had health insurance but still were overwhelmed by their medical debts, the team at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University reported in the American Journal of Medicine.

Below is a link to an excellent article entitled "Why Can't the United States Learn From Other Countries?" In it you will find reference to that excellent PBS documentary on how the single payer insurance succeeds in other countries and spend half per capita than we do.

Max Baucus stubbornly refused to listen to anything that would elminate the 'for profit' insurance industry out of the equation. Do you think there might be a correlation to the $45,250 donation from just one insurance provider, AETNA ? Baucus proudly proclaimed that we would end up with a plan that is "uniquely American". Sounds like he is too prejudiced to admit that other countries can do better than we can or to learn from them

I am sick of hearing that we have the best health care system in the world. Yes, we have the tools and hospitals, but we are among the lowest for results. The World Health Organization ranks us 37th.

You can read this excellent article by clicking on the link.

The Isolationism of Health Reform Why won't Congress consider how other countries do it?


(I have copied a few excerpts from the following article. It has been heavily edited and redacted by me, but if you have time and are interested in the current fight over health care reform it contains some valuable information. Warnng: it is a long article).

The Cost Conundrum

What a Texas town can teach us about health care.

by Atul Gawande

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/01/090601fa_fact_gawande?yra June 1, 2009

McAllen, Texas is one of the most expensive health-care markets in the country. Only Miami—which has much higher labor and living costs—spends more per person on health care. In 2006, Medicare spent fifteen thousand dollars per enrollee here, almost twice the national average. The income per capita is twelve thousand dollars. In other words, Medicare spends three thousand dollars more per person here than the average person earns.

Our country’s health care is by far the most expensive in the world. Spending on doctors, hospitals, drugs, and the like now consumes more than one of every six dollars we earn. The financial burden has damaged the global competitiveness of American businesses and bankrupted millions of families, even those with insurance. It’s also devouring our government. “The greatest threat to America’s fiscal health is not Social Security,” President Barack Obama said in a March speech at the White House. “It’s not the investments that we’ve made to rescue our economy during this crisis. By a wide margin, the biggest threat to our nation’s balance sheet is the skyrocketing cost of health care. It’s not even close.”

McAllen, Texas, the most expensive town in the most expensive country for health care in the world, seemed a good place to look for some answers.

“People are not healthy here.” McAllen, with its high poverty rate, has an incidence of heavy drinking sixty per cent higher than the national average. And the Tex-Mex diet has contributed to a thirty-eight-per-cent obesity rate.

I went on rounds with Lester Dyke, a cardiac surgeon. In the past twenty years, he has done some eight thousand heart operations. I walked around with him as he checked in on his patients recuperating at the three hospitals where he operates. It was easy to see what had landed them under his knife. They were nearly all obese or diabetic or both. Few were taking preventive measures.

Was the explanation, then, that McAllen was providing unusually good health care? I took a walk through Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, in Edinburg. The place had virtually all the technology that you’d find at Harvard and Stanford and the Mayo Clinic. Rich towns get the new school buildings, fire trucks, and roads, not to mention the better teachers and police officers and civil engineers. Poor towns don’t. But that rule doesn’t hold for health care.

There’s no evidence that the treatments and technologies available at McAllen are better than those found elsewhere in the country. Nor does the care given in McAllen stand out for its quality.

Several years ago, Texas passed a tough malpractice law that capped pain-and-suffering awards at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Didn’t lawsuits go down? “Practically to zero,” a cardiologist admitted. There is overutilization here, pure and simple.” Doctors, he (General Surgeon) said, were racking up charges with extra tests, services, and procedures.

The Mayo Clinic has fantastically high levels of technological capability and quality, but its Medicare spending is in the lowest fifteen per cent of the country—$6,688 per enrollee in 2006, which is eight thousand dollars less than the figure for McAllen. The four states with the highest levels of spending—Louisiana, Texas, California, and Florida—were near the bottom of the national rankings on the quality of patient care.

Health-care costs ultimately arise from the accumulation of individual decisions doctors make about which services and treatments to write an order for. The most expensive piece of medical equipment, as the saying goes, is a doctor’s pen.

He knew of doctors who owned strip malls, orange groves, apartment complexes—or imaging centers, surgery centers, or another part of the hospital they directed patients to. They had “entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. They were innovative and aggressive in finding ways to increase revenues from patient care.

Then there are the physicians who see their practice primarily as a revenue stream. They instruct their secretary to have patients who call with follow-up appointment when a phone call would do.


If you read the article you will discover that there are several places that are the opposite of McAllen. The Mayo Clinic is one and Grand Junction, Colorado is another.

My impression of the point of this article is that by computerizing the system, eliminating unnecessary tests and requiring group medical practice, as done at the Mayo Clinic, the cost of medical care could be drastically reduced. Doctors would no longer be allowed to order unnecessary tests to increase their incomes. The way they are paid could manage this. In addition, more emphases must be placed on preventative medicine.

To sum it up, a single-payer system would eliminate the high cost of administration, copying the Mayo Clinic's way that doctors are paid, and practicing preventative medicine would drastically bring down the cost of health care. All will have to be put in place to achieve the goal of getting our health care system under control.

If it isn't done now no elder will see it happen in his lifetime. The confluence of a sinking economy, a president willing to push for it, and the public's demand for it will not happen again in many years. The time is NOW.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Life Lessons

This list was e-mailed to me by a friend. I have changed the age of the writer because it originally said she was 90 years old. I checked for authenticity of the article on Snopes and discovered that it is true with the exception of her age. She turned fifty in 2006. Some of these quotes are often falsely attributed to others like Andy Rooney, Maya Angelou, etc.

Written By Regina Brett, 53 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written."

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Envy, greed, lust, jealousy and hatred. Of all human emotions these are the ugliest. Hatred is the most despicable one of all. It must be taught; a baby is not born hating.

How can we break the cycle? If dedicated teachers would stress the opposite of hate and teach tolerance and critical thinking it might help mitigate the malevolent example set by ignorant parents. Only by counter education can children learn to think for themselves and stop parroting the garbage being spewed into their young lives
by adults.

It isn't just the parents who teach hatred of those different than themselves. Some pockets of society are riddled with ignorance and intolerance. Some radical religious sects contribute in a large way to intolerance and, therefore, hatred. And it grows worse during economic hard times. If things are wrong at home, then it must be someone else's fault and the uneducated have to find a scapegoat. Sometimes they find many scapegoats; it must be the Jews, the welfare blacks, the immigrants,
the government and on and on.

I believe that low self esteem is a contributing factor to the resentment of others who are different than themselves
. Other contributing factors are poverty and lack of education. (That is not always the case, of course. I believe the latest hateful shooter in the Holocaust Museum had a degree and had held good jobs.)

There is an excellent article in yesterday's Huffington Post by Michael Rowe titled "Death at the Holocaust Museum and the Degradation of the American Dialogue." It is well worth reading. The link is:

Those who defend the enablers of the dernaged shooters, such as Bill O'Reilley, Ann Coulter, Michelle Bachman, and others say they have a right to say whatever they want. Free speech, don't you know? Well we don't have the right to yell 'fire' in a theater so why do they have the right to call a doctor a 'baby killer'? Isn't that inciting to violence? Someone - perhaps many someone's - need to utilize our free speech and call them what they are; accessories to murder. There ought to be a law.

Those of you who couldn't see my cartoons yesterday can now see them by scrolling down.

Seasoned Citizens

Here's something to brighten your day. I hope you get a laugh or two.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hearings in the Hallowed Halls

Hearings on Health Care are about to start in the hallowed halls of Foggy Bottom. Let the pompous speeches begin.

At long last the Chairman of Health Care reform hearings, Senator Max Baucus (D-Mt) , was pushed into a meeting with 19 single-payer plan advocates. Even so, he said that t
he single-payer system is off the table. That's too bad.

The big guns, aka: insurance and pharmaceutical industries, are ramping up their opposition.
This time we don't have Harry and Louise that doomed reform last time; now they are taking a different tack. On the industries first ad they have a giant bulldozer representing big government. Just think of what this ad is costing them and think where the money came from to put it on TV. It came from the taxpayers in an indirect route. That same big government the insurance industry tries to frighten you about paid the insurance and big pharma billions for overseeing Medicare and Medicaid. And their coffers swelled. And people wonder why medical care costs so much.

Enter President Obama's plan with an option to buy into a government insurance plan while leaving the insurance industries plans available. To fight this, the insurance industry have introduced a "trigger". The explanation of this trigger can be found in the Krugman piece below.

The lobbyists are frothing at the mouth about the dangers of a sensible system and will undoubtedly get their way and weaken any meaningful reform. Our spineless Senators will look at the dollars that will come into their campaigns and forget any pragmatic solutions to reform. Am I cynical? You betcha. The only weapon we have is a massive
phone and write-in campaign. I will do my part; will you?

For those of you that still believe the propaganda about Canada's single payer plan being bad please read the post on
the great blog 20th Century Woman. The following link will take you to the real story on the Canadian health plan. I am so jealous of them. Please read it and weep, we who live south of their border.

Please scroll down to her post, "I'm Worth It".

Paul Krugman, writing for the NYT, had a great op-ed piece, Keeping Them Honest. Following are some excerpts from that article"


The devil is in the details. Health reform will fail unless we get serious cost control — and we won’t get that kind of control unless we fundamentally change the way the insurance industry, in particular, behaves. So let me offer Congress two pieces of advice:

1) Don’t trust the insurance industry.

2) Don’t trust the insurance industry.


- how can we have fundamental reform of what Mr. Obama calls a “broken system” if the current players stay in place? The answer is supposed to lie in a combination of regulation and competition.


What’s still not settled, however, is whether regulation will be supplemented by competition, in the form of a public plan that Americans can buy into as an alternative to private insurance.

Now nobody is proposing that Americans be forced to get their insurance from the government. The “public option,” if it materializes, will be just that — an option Americans can choose. And the reason for providing this option was clearly laid out in Mr. Obama’s letter: It will give Americans “a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep the insurance companies honest.”

Those last five words are crucial because history shows that the insurance companies will do nothing to reform themselves unless forced to do so.


Back in 1993, the political strategist, William Kristol, in a now-famous memo, urged Republican members of Congress to oppose any significant health care reform. But even he acknowledged that some things needed fixing, calling for, among other things, “a simplified, uniform insurance form.”

Fast forward to the present. Topping the list of AHIP’s proposals was “administrative simplification.” Providers, the lobby conceded, face “administrative challenges” because of the fact that each insurer has its own distinct telephone numbers, fax numbers, codes, claim forms and administrative procedures. “Standardizing administrative transactions,” AHIP asserted, “will be a watershed event.”


How could the industry spend 15 years failing to make even the most obvious reforms? The answer is simple: Americans seeking health coverage had nowhere else to go. And the purpose of the public option is to make sure that the industry doesn’t waste another 15 years — by giving Americans an alternative if private insurers fall down on the job.


At this point, however, they’re trying to kill the public option in more subtle ways. The most recent ruse is the proposal for a “trigger” — the public option will only become available if private insurers fail to meet certain performance criteria. The idea, of course, is to choose those criteria to ensure that the trigger is never pulled.

And here’s the thing. Without an effective public option, the Obama health care reform will be simply a national version of the health care reform in Massachusetts: a system that is a lot better than nothing but has done little to address the fundamental problem of a fragmented system, and as a result has done little to control rising health care costs.


We need a serious, real public option to keep the insurance companies honest. “I appreciate your efforts, and look forward to working with you so that the Congress can complete health care reform by October.” So declared President Obama in a letter this week to Senators Max Baucus and Edward Kennedy. The big health care push is officially on.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Young Authors

I first wrote this story for "The Story Telling Place" on Time Goes By. I was encouraged to re-publish this on my blog. If you have read this before please move on to another blog.

The Young Authors

By Darlene Costner

My family owned what was then called a Cottage Court and Trailer Park. One summer, when I was a young woman, I helped out by cleaning the cabins during tourist season. I would often run into two young budding authors, Howard and James, who shared a small travel trailer on our place. They usually left early in the morning to go to scenic outdoor areas to work on their manuscripts.

I had not been married very long then and didn't own a washing machine so I used the camp laundry room. As luck would have it I chose the same day that Howard and James did their laundry. They used to stand around urging me to hurry and finish so they could get their laundry out of the way and rush off to the Garden of the Gods, or wherever they were going that day.

Being a woman, I sorted my laundry into the usual piles; white, colored, delicate and jeans. Automatic washers were soon to be a necessity, but then we had to use a wringer washer with the accompanying three rinse tubs. Howard and James shortened the time spent by putting their entire laundry into one load and rinsing it in only one tub. When they hung their laundry out the entire wash was pale blue from the dye in their jeans. Curtains, underwear, everything - pale blue.

While they were staying at our place Howard Lindsey had a story published in the Ladies Home Journal about a little boy who almost hung himself. This was quite a big deal and the local radio station interviewed him and newspapers ran big stories about it. The guys were being sponsored by a doctor's wife and she came from her home town for the occasion. She told me that she always encouraged her young men to write about what they knew and that Howard was the young boy who had almost hung himself when he was a child. She also said James was writing a best seller. I thought, yeah right!

When the weather became cold the young men loaded up their tiny travel trailer to move on to warmer climates so they could continue their writing in the great outdoors. If you haven't guessed by now, James was the James Jones who wrote From Here To Eternity, an enormous best seller followed by the movie.

After the book was published, Mrs. Handy, the doctor's wife, wrote my parents telling them to be sure to get the latest edition of Holiday in which they were mentioned. James had written an article about the places he stayed while writing his best seller.

My step-father rushed to the book store to load up on the magazine. We never saw the magazine again after my step-father read the article. James had written that my step-father was the laziest man he ever knew; all he did was sit around all day drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette. Since it was true, I admit I got a perverse pleasure from that article.

James’ last book was, Go To the Widow Maker in which he related an episode when young artists stayed in the home owned by their sponsor. Recalling the words of Mrs. Handy, I felt like I was peeking through a keyhole. I won't relate the episode but those of you who may have read the book will probably know what I am referring to. The rest of you can use your imagination.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I am Darlene's piano. I left my store when Wayne bought me as a wedding present for his bride. I was thrilled when Darlene chose me and I happily headed for my first home. There really wasn't a lot of room for me because I had to share space with reconditioned cast off furniture in a very small room. But it was better than sharing a big room with all those other pianos. (How I gloated when I was the chosen one).

A month later I was elated to hear that we would be moving to a new modern home. My happiness was spoiled when I discovered that I was vulnerable to dents and scratches. When Wayne and Bob (the owner of the domicile) moved me into the house, Bob swung me around and smashed me into the corner of the room causing me to suffer a big dent below the keyboard. I felt really hurt to think they didn't take better care of me and felt sorry for Darlene when she cried. I felt sorrier for her when Wayne got mad at her for crying. I didn't realize that he would always show anger when he felt guilty. It was part of his nature and his way of coping.

Little did I know that the second move was to be the first of twenty three more to follow. Some moves were in the same town and some were to different states. I have lived in Wisconsin, Colorado, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and am now in Arizona again. I am a veritable gypsy.

My first dent was not the end of the casualties I endured. Two years later a baby boy joined our household. He loved to sit on my bench and pretend he was playing. Unfortunately for me, he got so carried away he wet his diaper and spoiled the lovely blond finish on my bench.

I was really hurt when Wayne, who smoked those smelly white sticks, let one of them fall off of the ashtray onto my top and burned me. That hurt worse than the dent. I have a spot now where the burn occurred. Because I was no longer new I didn't have to listen to Darlene cry this time. She had learned that 'stuff happens'.

My last disaster happened when Darlene's granddaughter, Rachel, visited. She and her cousin thought it was great fun to hit the edge of my keys and chip them. Well, we all get older and have our share of accidents I guess.

At least life was never dull for me, what with all the things I saw and places I lived. I am happy that my long life provided much happiness for Darlene. I was her therapist because whenever things went wrong, Darlene would head for me, sit down and play melancholy music. I made her feel better. And when something wonderful happened, as it often did, Darlene would again head for me and play lilting music. That gave me so much joy that I tried my best to use a lovely tone. I didn't mind when Darlene was angry and pounded out loud smashing chords; as a therapist I knew she needed the release.

I have only had one owner and not many pianos can say that. I am so proud that Darlene kept me, a lowly upright, and didn't trade me in on a baby grand. I know she thought about it sometimes as I aged, but, happily, Darlene knew that sometimes old things are better than new ones. We share memories that a snooty baby grand could never have.

Now I am old, battered and my lovely tone is no more. Darlene and I have aged together and we both have our share of infirmities, but my hammers still work and Darlene can still enjoy me once in awhile. What more can a piano ask?

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Monday, June 1, 2009

May Flowers Arizona Style

Yesterday my neighbor called me to tell me her Cerius cactus was blossoming for the second time this year. I quickly grabbed my camera, got on my scooter and rushed over to take pictures. Cacti blossoms only last a few days so you don't have time to procrastinate. The only way to enjoy the lovely blooms is to capture them with your camera. Here are some of the photos I took.

I do not know the names of the other cactus, but they must be in the barrel cactus family. I tried researching on line, but the botanical names were daunting and lengthy. I was still unable to identify them so you will have to guess along with me.
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