Saturday, July 25, 2009

2523 Health care

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Theodore Sturgeon: "95% of science fiction is crap.
Come to think of it, 95% of *everything* is crap."


I just watched Frontline's "Sick Around the World", an examination of health care systems in other developed nations. It's in five parts of about 11 minutes each, which can be watched individually. I highly recommend it.

I haven't been following what's been going on with health care reform here, but I do hope whoever's looking at recommendations has examined what's done in other countries, as Taiwan did - rather than allowing profit-making entities like insurance companies, hospitals, and drug companies to have the major input.

(The cynic in me says nah. Americans seem to think they know best without bothering to look at what others do. Arrogance is an American "virtue".)

Without having looked at it carefully myself, it seems to me that most Americans seem to think that the major problem is that too many people are under- or uninsured, so they want to fix availability of insurance. And that's about it.

I'm not sure that's the problem. The major problem in my opinion is that too many entities are in the health care field to make a profit. Maybe I'm betraying my hippie tendencies, but health care doesn't strike me as a place where profit should be the major determinator of decisions.

It also strikes me that people yelling "socialism!" haven't examined other systems either, and have no inclination or desire to do so.


[Later - I wrote the above before watching the last segment, on Switzerland, wherein they make the same observation I did - that during the last election, everyone talked about health care reform, but nobody mentioned the lessons to be learned from other democracies.]

2522 Steam shovel? Earthmover?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

“Unquestioned answers are more dangerous than unanswered questions.”
Put another way,
“Unanswered questions may be frustrating,
but unquestioned answers are dangerous.”


I've been on Nutrisystem 4.5 days now, and the scale now shows 10 pounds lost since 6/17. That's 5.5 weeks, so that sounds pretty good.

I read comments and forums before I started the Nutrisystem, and quite a few users mentioned headaches, flatulence, and diarrhea.

Today I've got one of them. There's some kind of very loud machinery working in my belly. I've heard growls before, but not as loud as these, and not as constant. And it doesn't seem to realize that my exhaust system doesn't have a muffler.

Now there's a puzzle - where's all the "air" coming from? We're talking about 25 cubic inches every 40 seconds for the past five hours. We've gotta eventually run out of whatever it's making it from, don't we?

I got up early to go to the recycle center, come home and change, and then go to the antiques fair. I did go to the recycle center, but for the rest of the day I plan to sick close to the bathroom.

Just in case I develop the other side effect.

Friday, July 24, 2009

2521 Not my car, darn it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.


I opened an email about an hour ago from the auction house I frequent, and found this:
It's a Porsche 911 SC. The email didn't say anything about it other than the photo. It will be auctioned off Saturday evening, Aug. 1, along with a few hundred other items. I could tell from the photo that it's out back behind the auction hall.

This place regularly auctions off things like three-year-old BMWs for much less than $20,000. The furniture goes high, but the cars are always a steal, because they come from estates, there's no warranty, and you have to pay for it that evening.

My mind went into overdrive. I was trying to figure out how I could get my favorite mechanic to look at it, wondering if I'd be allowed to take it for an hour or so to get it up on a lift (probably not), if I alerted Piper on Monday would he be able to cut me a check from the money market account in time for the auction, and at the same time I was pulling a shirt on and heading out to look at it. It was parked only two miles from my house.

Sadness. It's at least 20 years old, possibly more. The interior smells of motor oil. They have it covered with a tarp under a stretchy sweater, because it's sitting there with the top down. (Of course I crawled under the tarp.) Top down is a bit suspicious, especially with all the rain we've been having. From the rear it looks sexy, but the front is weird looking - the hood drops straight down and the headlights look like they're in torpedo tubes.
Nah, I'll pass. But it was nice thinking about it.


It's raining as I write this. Just started. The thunder is so loud the house actually, literally, jumps from it. Scary.

2520 Thirty-first question

Friday, July 24, 2009

I tried to be good, but I got bored.


On the 30 questions post, I invited commenters to ask questions. Becs asked, "What's the best decision you ever made in your life?"

I've thought about it for 28 hours, and I'm still thinking. I went over all kinds of decisions I'd made. Places where a big decision made a difference in the course of my life, and others that weren't so big. A few were good decisions, but most of them proved to be VERY bad, with ramifications through the rest of my life. In fact, almost all of the good decisions turned out to be corrections of the very bad ones, many of them forced. It was very depressing thinking about it. Hard to accept that I'd messed my life up so badly at every opportunity. It seems like every choice was wrong. What's worse, I sort of knew it at the time.

There are only two good decisions that weren't half-assed corrections of bad decisions. One, of course, was loving Jay. But that's not the best decision.

The best was starting psychotherapy with Dr. K. in 1977, working hard at it, and sticking with it for four plus years until I found me.

Giving up would have been easier, but without it, I wouldn't be who I am now. I might not even be alive.


I suspect that almost everyone who examines their life will find a lot of bad decisions. I suspect that I'm making bad decisions still. I suspect that The Man is one of them, but I'm determined to play out that hand.

When I look back at all those bad branches, and think about how things might have gone had I taken the other path, I'm not all that sure that things would have been any better. Different, but most likely not better.

The only thing I'm sure of is that without Dr. K., I wouldn't be who I am now. And I might not like who I would be.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

2519 A diagnosis, I hope

Thursday, July 23, 2009

If you don’t know who the “mark” is at the table, it’s you.


After Jay died, I gained a LOT of weight over the next three years. In 2005 I woke up and started losing. By early 2007, when I met The Man, I still had 15 pounds to go, but I was looking pretty ok.

Over the past year and a half, the weight started climbing again, and I wasn't eating all that much. Other things were happening, too. Like, I seemed incapable of starting or finishing anything. I was tired a lot, but not sleepy tired - just inertia tired. My mind wasn't working well. Thinking, formulating opinions, it was all so hard. Memory was going. I'd find a note on the counter in my handwriting, like "RSVP Susan 345-123-4567". It would be written on the back of a grocery receipt from only two days before, but I'd have no memory whatsoever of having written it, or why, or who Susan was and what I was supposed to RSVP for. Stuff like that.

I'd go back through the journal/blog of a few years ago, and I was amazed at the things I thought about. It's just too hard to think about things now.

I hadn't seen a doctor at all since 2000, except for a UTI in 2007. I probably wouldn't have this year if it weren't for the breast scare.

I've been eating carefully for five weeks now. Partly for weight, and partly for blood sugar. I lost some pounds the first two weeks, but nothing since.

Tuesday I had another blood test, and it WAS the thyroid they were rechecking, and yeah, I've got a sluggish thyroid.

If true, it explains everything.

I start the thyroid hormone pills tomorrow, should see some effects within two weeks if that really is it. Blood tests (aaaagh!) every six weeks for a while to adjust the levels.

I hope that is it. I was afraid it was just age, ye olde hardening of the arteries.

2518 Burning calories

Thursday, July 23, 2009

T-shirt: “If I’m mean, it’s because you’re stupid.”


I walked today. I had done some research. It's a common theory that whether you walk or run doesn't matter, that it's the distance that matters, that since you're moving the same weight over the same distance, the same amount of energy, i. e. calories, is expended. Walking just takes longer, and doesn't have the same cardio advantages.

Of course not everyone agrees with this, there are arguments both ways. It's not an easy thing to measure. But I did find something interesting, with good arguments to support it, and I choose to believe it:
Walking quickly burns more calories over a mile than walking slowly.
Walking quickly burns more calories over a mile than running!
A 20-minute walking mile burns more calories than a ten-minute running/jogging mile.

The argument with walking slowly versus quickly is that more muscles are used when walking quickly, the body moves more. And with running versus walking quickly, entirely different sets of muscles are used. In one you are lofting and momentum helps move you, while in the other you are in continual contact with the ground, with little or no momentum. In running there are fewer steps per mile than in walking.

Makes sense to me.

So today I walked the same route as yesterday, but instead of taking an hour, I did it in 40 minutes. The first 3/4 of the loop went quickly, but my thighs were complaining on the last quarter. I plan to keep doing that until I can do the whole distance in 30 minutes with no problem, then I'll increase the distance.

(I stopped at a farm stand halfway through the loop and bought cucumbers, peaches (soft ones!), and blueberries. Carrying them may have been what killed the thighs. I do better when I can swing my arms and hips freely.)

When I got home, I found a message on the home phone from my doctor, which may detour this whole weight loss attack. Next post....

2517 Thirty questions meme

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Arthur Schopenhauer: “Talent hits a target no one else can hit;
Genius hits a target no one else can see."


Today is Daughter and Hercules' third anniversary. Congratulations on finding each other, kids. Have many more.


A meme going around:

30 Things You Wouldn't Think To Ask

1. Have you ever been searched by the cops?
Beyond the general airport thing, and purse peeks at government buildings, no.

2. Do you close your eyes on a roller coaster?

3. When's the last time you've been sledding?
Good Grief! I don't remember, which is sad, because I like it. At least 30 years ago, I guess. I think I got less enthusiastic when I realized that dragging a sled uphill just to go down again makes as much sense as golf - hit the ball into a pasture, walk around searching for it, and when you find it, hit it away again.

4. Would you rather sleep with someone else, or alone?
With a chosen man, of course. Otherwise, alone.

5. Do you believe in ghosts?
Not the usual definition of ghost. I do believe that persistence of cohesive energy, and the influence thereof, is possible.

6. Do you consider yourself creative?
Not in the usual sense (the "arts"). I do find very unusual and efficient ways of doing things.

7. Do you think O.J. killed his wife?
I really do not have enough information to form a belief. Suspicion is not belief.

8. Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie?
Huh? I guess I'd rather talk with Jennifer. She seems more real.

9. Can you honestly say you know ANYTHING about politics?
Enough to form general opinions.

10. Do you know how to play poker?
How, yes. Do I? No.

11. Have you ever been awake for 48 hours straight?
Yes. Often, even occasionally at this age.

12. What's your favorite commercial?
The old Kodak commercials with the "Turn Around" song. Nothing current comes to mind.

13. Who was your first love?
John Wolford, in first grade. Obie Philpot in high school.

14. If you're driving in the middle of the night, and no one is around, do you run a red light?

15. Do you have a secret that no one knows but you?
There are a lot of things I know that no one else knows, but they're not secrets. Just ask, and I'll tell all. (There are a few things I know that are someone else's secrets, that I won't tell, but they don't count.)

16. Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees?
Eck. I don't care.

17. Have you ever been ice skating?
I practically lived on skates until my mid-twenties or so. I still love skating, but I hate rinks, and otherwise it's difficult to find safe available ice. Too many pond owners are afraid of lawsuits.

18. How often do you remember your dreams?
If you mean how often do I have a dream I remember, it's about once or twice a month. I'm sure I dream more than that. I sleep pretty soundly.

19. What's the one thing on your mind?
Snort. I have a thousand things on my mind. But The Man is almost constant. Positive thoughts, negative thoughts, frustration, wondering what the hell I should do about him.

20. Do you always wear your seat belt?

21. What talent do you wish you had?
I wish I had more confidence in the few talents I do have.
Later: Came back to this one. I own about ten different musical instruments. I wish I could play any one of them.

22. Do you like Sushi?
Only with The Man. He likes it a lot.

23. What do you wear to bed?
Summer: sleep bra & panties, or nothing. Winter: sleep bra, panties, and T-shirt, or nothing if there's a male bed warmer.

24. Do you truly hate anyone?
I'd like to say no, but I have to say Dick Cheney.

25. If you could sleep with one famous person, who would it be?
No one springs immediately to mind. I like to look at some ( like Taye Diggs, pant pant), but I'm more into mind than appearance, so I don't have the "want" reaction. Well, ok, maybe Sean Connery.

26. Do you know anyone in jail?
Not currently. I know a few that have been.

27. What food do you find disgusting?
Scrapple. Can't even stand the smell of it. Pennsylvania will reject me as native-born.

28. Have you ever made fun of your friends behind their back?
If I make fun of someone, I can't count them as a friend.

29. Have you ever been punched in the face?
No. Slapped hard and backhanded, but not closed fist punched.

30. Do you believe in angels and demons?
Not by the usual religious definitions. But I do believe in dimensions and influences most people are unaware of.

Anybody have a question they'd like to ask in the comments?
Remember, you can comment anonymously.


From the Nutrisystem dessert wrapper last night, in the list of ingredients: "..., evaporated cane juice,...".

Uh, don't we less sophisticated folk call that "raw sugar"?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

2516 Blah and Bored; Diet Digest

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A relationship is about give and take. Love is all about giving.


I am fully switched over to Gmail now, and I LIKE it! It's so much easier to find and keep things, very nice. Because it's easier to see what needs attention, I've been writing notes to people I've owed correspondence for forever. Playing with mail and writing notes has taken up much of the day.

I drove into the village today and measured off some walking routes. I've got about four routes now, so I can vary them. I also walked for an hour.

Diet synopsis for the past week:
Wed 07/15 - 1228 calories (It was a BLT that blew that day)
Thu 07/16 - 960
Fri 07/17 - 935
Sat 07/18 - 930
Sun 07/19 - 865
Mon 07/20 - 715
Tue 07/21 - 910

Weight lost since 6/17, 8 pounds, from 150 to 142. Goal, somewhere between 130 and 120-ish, depending on how well it goes. I don't dare try smaller than that, or my skin will drag on the floor. My "ideal weight" is supposed to be around 109 (4'10" tall), but that doesn't take the big bust and wide hips into consideration.

I decided to try Nutrisystem. I was going a bit crazy trying to find suitable things to eat, and they lay it all out for you. My order arrived Monday afternoon. You get breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert in microwavable packages. You're supposed to add some dairy, fresh veggies, and fruit with the meals and as an afternoon snack, so you eat five times a day.

The portions are tiny. If you've ever been in the hospital - yeah, like that. And yet I'm satisfied. The meatloaf was pretty good, and the macaroni and cheese with beef, but mostly it's pretty blah. Not a big deal, I'm not a gourmet.

I think it can get a bit boring, though. There's an awful lot of pasta in various yucky tomato sauces. Guess what's my least favorite food (although the cheese tortellini was good). I got to choose what I wanted (28 from the breakfast column, 28 from the lunch...), but the choices were mostly heavy on pasta. A little rice or potatoes here and there, which I would have preferred more of.

Folks on the forums say that, within reason, you can have a free day once a week without messing it up. Just choose wisely and watch portion size.

So, heading into Month Two.

2515 Cold!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.


I'm freezing. I looked at the thermostat. It's 72 degrees F in the house. But I'm freezing! Sweater and everything.

I don't understand.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2514 Gmail - friend or foe?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Some people are like a Slinky, not really good for anything,
but you still can't help but smile
when you shove them down the stairs.


A little while ago I decided to try Gmail. Right now my email addresses are on AOL and Yahoo. I dislike Yahoo, and don't have a lot of confidence that AOL will be around forever, and their programmers seem to be bottom of the barrel. I set up an account, and then used a Gmail facility that allows you to transfer the contents of the AOL inbox to Gmail - leaving a copy of the email in the AOL inbox. Sounded good to me. You can also ask it to transfer AOL email to Gmail as it arrives, again leaving a copy with AOL.

It sorta worked. All the AOL email (I had about 550 items) appeared in the Gmail inbox. However, when I went to AOL, about 20 of the oldest items had disappeared. They weren't in "Deleted" or in "Old Mail". They were simply gone.

The next day when I went to AOL mail, I was shocked to discover I had only four items in the inbox, mail that had arrived overnight. The other 500+ were in the "Old Mail", which is bad, because they are automatically deleted after one day. If I'd been away for the weekend, they'd have disappeared. So I pressed the "Keep as New" button 500+ times to put them back in the inbox.

Once Gmail "grabs" a copy, AOL apparently considers it read, not new, and trashes it 24 hours after it becomes "old". Telling AOL to "Keep as New" should fix it, right?

Next morning, same thing.

I don't understand. Why is AOL ignoring the "Keep as New", on mail Gmail hasn't grabbed again?

So I went to Gmail and changed the option so it would no longer "grab" new mail from AOL. At all. In theory, Gmail doesn't even know about the AOL address any more.

Problem solved, right?

No. AOL is still trashing email that Gmail originally copied, over and over, every day.

Worse, Gmail is still grabbing copies of email from AOL, but not every piece. It seems to be random, and it's NOT leaving a copy with AOL. I wandered over to Gmail this morning, and found several bits of email sent to the AOL address over the past few days that never showed up on AOL.

[Sorry, Sister. I wasn't ignoring your travel confirmation. AOL was. I'm glad you're going, I'm sure you'll both feel a lot better.]

2513 Blood, A fire dream

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mike Meyers: "My theory is that all of Scottish cuisine is based on a dare."


Another blood test this morning. I forget what they're checking this time, either sugar or thyroid. Whichever, there's another scheduled in two months for the other.

Last month it hurt so bad. It took three or four attempts in the doctor's office before they gave up and sent me to the hospital lab. I was left with a huge nasty bruise. But last time I'd had an interesting morning with The Man, and then drove a bit over an hour straight to the doctor's office.

This morning I had slept alone, and I drank three 12-oz glasses of water before going in. The nurse was able to get a flow on the first try (but it still hurt a LOT). I think I'm going to have a huge bruise again, because the vein she used, which is usually a fine blue line, now has a blue lump in it, about 1/2 wide and an inch long. I think it's leaking, even though I did press on it for a long time.


Last night the attic fan was still running at midnight. I walked from the den to the kitchen through the living room, and was struck by a strong odor of wood smoke. I checked outside - many of my neighbors have woodstoves, and often burn brush in their yards - but there was no smoke odor outside. It was definitely in a strip from the living room to the hall.

I checked the basement, but the only place I could smell woodsmoke was that strip. I figured that the attic fan, which was still running, must have pulled air down the chimney and through the fireplace, through the living room into the hall, and up out the attic. But why now? Why haven't I smelled it before? I went to bed nervous.

And then I dreamed all night about a house with fire. Not this house. It was a house with lots of large windows, and lots of Christmas trees. (Christmas trees? Me? I don't do Christmas trees.) A big tree in every room and small tabletop trees scattered all over. The first fire was in the fireplace. It started by itself with no wood, and then spread outside the fireplace, and then died down. Then a large Christmas tree burst into flame, all over, like in a satanic movie. When it died down, another little tree flashed, and so on, one tree after another. The fire department came, and didn't know what to think of it. All these fires, all over, staring with a flash and then "turning off" with no damage. I was rather calm about it all. Annoyed, but not frightened. I remember turning to Daughter and saying, "I always liked this house. Too bad we moved away. I like all the windows." (The house in the dream was not one I'd ever lived in.)

Strange. It might even be reflecting my feelings about The Man right now.


When Daughter was younger, I always corrected her pronunciation. It's my theory that if you can't pronounce it, you can't spell it. Like "ath-el-etics", or "li-berry". The same theory works for phrases.

My latest gripe is people who write "one in the same", or "in this day in age".


Monday, July 20, 2009

2512 I Hate Ticketmaster!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Alan Cohen (Why Your Life Sucks, Page 70): “While you may be very careful about what you pay for with your money, you are probably less careful about what you pay for with your attention. In the long run, how you spend your attention affects your life far more profoundly than how you spend your money. Attention is energy. Whatever you feed it to will grow.”


I signed up for a group activity next month in Bethel (the original Woodstock concert location). Tickets were like $60 for reserved seats, $40 for unreserved seating, and $19.69 for lawn. The organizer said to get lawn tickets.

The only way to get the tickets is through Ticketmaster.

I passionately !HATE! Ticketmaster! They are a complete ripoff. First there's a flat service charge. Then there's a flat convenience charge (in addition to the service charge, mind you - explain the difference, please?). Then there's a delivery charge - I chose "I'll print it off myself" because that was the cheapest. They were nice enough to allow me to use my own time, paper, and ink for only $2.

My $19.69 ticket ended up costing me $31.69. Not including tax.

That's 61% of the base cost of the ticket added on for Ticketmaster charges! And you know they're getting a percentage from the venue, too.

I think they should be charged with scalping. That's pretty much what it is when they're the only source for the tickets. They have them all, and you pay what they ask. Isn't that scalping?

2511 Maybe I'm depressed?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Isaac Asimov: " And above all things, never think that you're not good enough yourself. A [person] should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning."


I don't feel depressed - except for feeling like I want to cry, but I can't think of anything I need to cry about. I just feel like I have no energy. My arms and legs feel heavy. About the best way I can describe it is that I feel "done". There is no more. Done, done, done. All done.

I've lot a long list of things I have to do, and I just don't feel like I have the energy to do any of them.

On the other hand, I've been trying to walk every day that it's not raining, and I have plenty of energy to walk.

I don't know what's wrong.

Today I walked about a mile and a half, bought and mailed an anniversary card for Daughter and Hercules, cleaned a cat litter box, and weeded about half of the front flowerbed weedbed. I also went through all my internet bookmarks, cleared out some, sorted the remainder. I also put away a month's worth of Nutrisystem food that arrived today. I'm getting serious about this dieting stuff. I didn't do anything that really needed to be done, though. All the important is still waiting.

Maybe I just need sex.


Another blogger wrote about trucks hitting overpasses. That reminded me of a cartoon I saw once, a long time ago. A trucker is approaching an overpass bearing a large sign saying "Clearance: 12' 3". The caption says, "Um, let's see --- twelve feet three inches, and I'm twelve foot five inches, so that gives me two inches of clearunnnnnnnchscreeeeeech!"

Which (somehow, don't ask me how) reminds me of another old favorite (which may have been a "Far Side" cartoon by Gary Larsen). A group of cavemen are sitting against the walls in a cave. They have swollen bellies, obviously connected to the huge pile of gnawed bones in the center of the cave. Some of the cavemen are sleeping, some look quite sated, a few are picking their teeth. One caveman is looking speculatively at the bone pile - and the scavenging rat on top. The caption: "The invention of dessert".

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2510 Meeting Costs; ICC

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I was depressed last night so I called Lifeline.
Got a call center in Pakistan, and told them I was suicidal.
They got all excited and asked if I could fly a plane.


I wish I had the following link back in the '90s, when politically ambitious people at work called required meetings for the sole purpose of advertising their own wonderful projects. It's a constantly updated counter, displaying how much this meeting has cost the company so far.


PBS is right now airing a program on the International Criminal Court (ICC), on P.O.V., "The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court.

It's available for viewing at I highly recommend it. To quote the website,

Over 120 countries have united to form the International Criminal Court (ICC) — the first permanent court created to prosecute perpetrators, no matter how powerful, of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. The Reckoning follows dynamic ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and his team for three years across four continents as he issues arrest warrants for Lord's Resistance Army leaders in Uganda, puts Congolese warlords on trial, shakes up the Colombian justice system, and charges Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir with genocide in Darfur. Like a deft thriller, The Reckoning keeps you on the edge of your seat. Will the prosecutor succeed? Will the world ensure that justice prevails? An Official Selection of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

Read the full film description »

A small mention was made of the fact that the Bush-2 administration tried to kill it. Gee, I wonder why? I can understand not joining (in Wikipedia terms, "being a party"), but why threaten sanctions on any other country that signs on?

I don't really wonder why. I know why.

2509 Medical Coverage

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Japanese have a term, muda, which refers to
activity that doesn't add value.


It's about 2 am. I've spent the past several hours reading up on Medicare stuff. I've got to make some decisions in the next week or so. I've got material from The Company, from various medi-gap folks, and guides I printed off from the Medicare website. I have a thousand questions, and I haven't even started comparing options yet.

The material from The Company arrived in Saturday's mail. I glanced through it quickly at the mailbox, and from just a brief look, it appears that between The Company and the government, I'm going to end up paying a LOT more for a LOT less coverage and a LOT more complication.

It figures. Don't know why I'm surprised.