Procrastination (But I Digress)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Privilege?

Last night at Toastmasters we had an impassioned speaker who strongly believes in health care reform, but she didn't try to persuade us to agree with her. She argued and tried to persuade us to add our voice to the debate. Our voice, not deafening shouts of nonsense, our voice. She painted a picture of a recent town hall meeting that she attended of our local congressman. The hall would fit 300 and 2,000 plus showed up when the police wouldn't let anyone else in. There was shouting; there were signs; there were supporters of health care reform and there were opponents of the proposed health care reform. Our speaker got to the meat of the issue by relaying what she overheard from the opposition. "Where do people come off thinking that health care is a right? It is a privilege, not a right." Our speaker was floored by such a comment. You are only entitled to the health care that you can personally afford to pay for.

That argument makes sense in a capitalist society. Slavery makes sense too, in a capitalist society. When your health care coverage is tied to your employer and you need health care coverage to stay alive, then you are basically a slave to your employer is an argument I heard recently.

My only problem with the proposed health care reform is that everyone would be required to purchase health care insurance. [That will only work with a public plan that is priced to the recipient's ability to pay.] While this makes perfect sense that this will spread the cost out among the whole of society instead of making some pay for the health care of all, I know plenty of people who cannot afford health care insurance (I'm rapidly becoming one of them). My take is that it is one thing to require automobile insurance as a cost of owning a car. If you can't afford the insurance, then you shouldn't have a car and you should resign yourself to public transportation. [Why aren't the people opposed to the proposed health care reform upset about public transportation--isn't that a socialist program?] But if you require everyone to purchase health insurance, what is the penalty--no health care? You have to expire on the emergency room floor, because no one will treat you? Health care is not the same thing as driving a car.

We have money in this country to invade other countries on trumped up, false charges, but we can't provide health care for all children? Children are our future--it is only trite, because it is so fundamentally true. We have money in this country to fund the space shuttle. I really hope that they are making profound scientific discoveries, but I haven't heard of any. Do you worry about the source of your electricity when you can't afford your medication? We throw money at so many things, but are our priorities straight? Me, when I have no money, I do without. But when I have a health problem, those costs go to the front of the line. Living trumps just about every other concern needing my resources.

Jon Stewart made short shift of the so called "death panels" argument, but I think we should all do our civic duty and embrace advanced health care directives--if I stop breathing, I'm done--no extraordinary measures necessary. My aunt lived about 11 hours after she was resuscitated against her directive not to be resuscitated. They had to take her off of pain medication to test her brain activity. Of course they didn't tell me that it would hurt her, they just said the test was necessary. When I realized that she was in distress (AGAINST HER DIRECT WISHES IN HER ADVANCED HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE), I forced them to stop. I had to get pretty forceful about it. They had three more doctors lined up to perform "necessary" treatment when the truth was that she was already gone. Even her personal doctor, who was her friend for many years and knew her wishes, seemed to hesitate to follow the DNR. Doctors are trained to save lives. They are tenacious, like prosecutors, they won't give up regardless of contrary evidence. Foxes are tenacious too, but you wouldn't allow them to guard the hen house. The minimal requirement that doctors are paid for having the conversation with patients is much less than I would want to require.

The health care system we have is so very broken. We must take action. This is not like borrowing from our children to wage a war that in the balance of things makes us ultimately less safe. This is immediate needs now. What if we have a pandemic? Do you really trust insurance companies and private "for profit" vendors to handle a real crisis? I don't. I can totally see myself in that stadium in New Orleans waiting for help, waiting for food and water thats not coming. All my tax dollars, all my community service, all my efforts to contribute to society mean nothing when it is services for me or services for the highest bidder. I (middle class) won't be the highest bidder.

I am an advocate for the single payer plan. It is the most efficient and the fairest distribution of assets available. I don't know why my young country is so in love with the rich and with war, but my vote is for the common person and for peace. If the proposed health care plan is the best that this administration can do, it is a start.

Rest in peace Senator Kennedy. We are going to miss your voice very much.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Hard Court

The summer series is almost done and we've had some amazing tennis so far. I have to say that I like my tennis much better from the comfort of my living room than the stands in the heat and sun. Poor Roddick towels off and his hat is still dripping in sweat. Even Roger's shirt is glued to him.

My tivo has been more reliable this season, so that is very good, although I must say that I get a little curious about the comercials that I fast forward through and every once in a while, I'll hit play during a comercial just to satisfy my curiosity. Sometimes if I don't like a player or the game is slow, I'll just fast forward throught the game watching the score change in the upper corner. Unfortunately CBS is on to me and they have the score down at the bottem under the fast forward bar.

My Nadal is not playing his best, but he's still pretty exciting to watch. I've never liked Novak, so I have to go for Roger when they play, but anyone else plays Roger (well not anyone, but any one of my guys), then I'm against Roger. I don't want to like Del Potro because he beat Roddick, but he is a pretty great player and it's not like I really believe that Roddick could beat Roger or Nadal. Del Potro is pretty young, so he's got a great shot.

On the women's side, I still like Janovic--to me she's the most dynamic one out there along with Dani Safina, but they are both so unpredicable. Of course, Venus is still my favorite and I love seeing Sarina play too. Although I admire Maria, I was really happy to see Elena Dementiava play so well the last few weeks. I would love to see her advance well at the Open.

Since I have so many favorites, the first week of the U.S. Open should be great--I haven't seen the draw, but I doubt my fav's will meet early. After that I'll have some tough choices for whom to root for. I guess since I'm in my own living room I could root for both of them, but I hate to mess with karma that way.

The hard courts are fast and hot--only one more week to go until the U.S. Open.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Are You Easily Annoyed?

That was our question of the evening for Toastmasters last night. Each week we introduce ourselves and answer a short question in 30 seconds or less. Now I am quite famous, in my own head, for my patience. I will answer the "why" question from small children far longer than anyone else I have ever met. Ok, so that is not the best evidence (or even any evidence), but damn it, I am NOT easily annoyed. Except about potato chips. And poor drivers. And ridiculously poor customer service. AND other people eating or taking my stuff. AND ... Purhaps I need to rethink my earlier opinion--I seem to become annoyed quite easily.

It might be old age. Other people who are old are really quite annoying.

Adam got his driver's license this week. Makes me feel very old--I remember when he got his license at Legoland and that was a big damn deal. Feeling old is very annoying. Forgetting things is also very annoying. It used to be that I could juggle many things at one time--no problem. Now I walk into a room and I can't remember why I got up. I remember that it was very important, but later when I remember what it was, I think--that wasn't so important. Very annoying.

I went to the book store the other day (giving Adam a chance to practice driving). For years it was very dangerous to go into a book store, because I always spent way too much money on books. I still do, but now I buy them at the grocery store or target--not so great a selection so many fewer books purchased. Anyhoo, there I am in a book store and nothing. I couldn't find a single book Iwanted to buy. Not a single book. What is the world coming to. I even went to the children's section--at least I could buy Caitlyn a book. Nothing caught my fancy. I was just about to round up Adam and leave disgusted when I found my romance section. It was very well hidden in the store--a brillent marketing ploy--so annoying. I didn't expect to find a single book I would buy. My escape books are devoured the moment they hit the grocery store shelf. Last year I purchased a suitcase full of paperbacks in Michigan rounding out my complete McNaught collection. Recently I've been restocking my Nora Roberts library and I've really made a lot of progress. This incredibly disappointing bookstore could not possibly offer me that much.

Why don't they have shopping carts in bookstores? Books are heavy. It stands to reason that people would pick up more books to buy if their arms were not already full of the books that they had already picked up and planned to buy. Shall I just say that one of the benefits of getting older and having a poorer memory is that I don't remember the plot or the characters of many of the Nora Roberts books and let me tell you, that wonderful woman is a prolific writer. She has written hundreds of books--same plot, boy meets girl, misunderstanding ensues, boy tries to lose girl, and they all live happily ever after. I am happily devouring her entire collection for the second time.

I recently reread all of the Judith McNaught and one or two I was on my third reading. I enjoyed every minute. I guess it might help if it took more than a day or so to read 500 pages, but even in my old age I am a fast reader. So I picked up far too many books at the book store and I am having a wonderful time reading. I figured out at 7.99 a book plus tax, that I read in about a day--it is almost as expensive as going to the movie.

So work is annoying, because I could be reading. Going to dumb meetings is annoying, because I could be reading. Sleep--I don't remember sleep, I'm reading well into the night until my stupid eyes close on me. So annoying.

I know what you are thinking. Why don't I go to the library instead of spending sooo much money on books. I can't find anything to read at the library. It's very annoying.

Friday, August 07, 2009


I was very industrious yesterday and I unpacked the last boxes in my office AND cleaned out my desk. I have worked at this desk (it followed me from office to office) for 19 years and I only cleaned it out one other time that I can recall. I took everything out of the desk and put it into boxes--probably seven years ago. I'm not sure if that counts as cleaning it out, but I felt much lighter with all that cr.., stuff in boxes. This week I cleared out those boxes and so, I went the one step further and tackled the desk again. In the interest of full disclosure, I did leave one drawer untouched and it is one of my two top organization projects to go. It is the drawer with my Rolodex and phone logs and about 500 slips of paper with phone numbers and other information that I don't want to lose.

Several months ago (maybe it's been a year now), we had a speaker about organization at ABWA. She mentioned organizing information as well as closets and that got me wanting the iphone. Well I have the iphone and someday I'll have my contacts list down to a science. So far, not so much. That's a "one of these days" project.

Last week, Adam and I took all the recycling into the recycling center. We were not sure that we could fit it all in the car, but Adam is pretty good at smushing it down. The recycling center had this big sign announcing that they collect cardboard. We have so much cardboard at our house, so that is my project for Saturday. I do hope it will all fit in my car.

When I was a kid, I was a big fan of divide and conquer approach to cleaning. When we were forced to clean our room, it was usually already a hasmat disaster area. My strategy was to divide the clothes, shoes, hangers and toys into separate piles and address each one in turn. Most of the time, we were done after the clothes and we had the pile of shoes and hangers for a while, but every once in a while we made it down to get rid of the last pile and then it was time to sweep the floor. I hated that job, but the reward was so lovely--a clean room. It never lasted very long, but those first ten minutes were pretty brilliant as Denis the dramatory would say. (Too much 64 Zoo Lane, but I digress).

Only two more projects at my office in my organization quest--I'm looking toward my house and piles are forming in my head. Experience teaches me it will be a lot worse before my ten minutes of brilliant--I think I'd rather plan my next vacation.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Ten Thousand Miles

My car shows 10,000 miles on it. That means that I drove an average of about 1,000 miles per month. I get between 42 and 46 miles to the gallon, so that means I've used 227 gallons or about 23 gallons per month. At an average of $2.85 per gallon (I'm guessing--it is closer to $3 now, but I'm thinking it has been as low as 2.65), that is $65 per month for gas. Darn, it felt like a lot less than that. I thought it was only $10 a week.

Before I got the prius, I was getting very picky about driving anywhere. I thought twice about going to the grocery store, making sure it was either on my way or extremely necessary. But now, I always offer to drive in any car pool situation and when something seems far away, I think to myself, well, at least I get good gas mileage. It is a slippery slope. Hopefully this little math exercise will remind me that good gas mileage doesn't mean free.

10,000 miles. I think that means that I won extra points at millebourne (or was that 700 and 1,000 for extra points?)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Book, What an Odd Cover You Have

Book, why do you choose such an odd cover? People might misjudge you.

Exhibit A:

First let me say that I hate merging onto a freeway and I hate being in the mergee lane for other traffic merging. I have never been hit or in an accident on the freeway, but I still brace for a hit whenever someone gets a little close. So perhaps I'm a bit sensitive--granted.

Getting out of downtown after court is quite complicated and involves two or three freeways in a very short distance. Sometimes I have to get on the 101 to the 110 to the 5. The 110 is the worst and one time I was stuck and I couldn't get over to the 5 in time. The next 10 minutes felt like a lifetime of horror. I was trying to get off and turn around, so I was in the slow lane, but there were no promising exits only incredibly scary and insane merges from ridiculously short entrances with manics driving very fast. I was so frighted by that one experience that I have never traveled on that freeway since. I am tenaciously determined to get over to the 5 freeway at all costs.

Fast forward to the other morning. I leave court (routine hearing--utter waste of my best suit--judge changed a date on me which requires doing all the paperwork over--ridiculous) get on the 101, stay in my lane to get onto the 110 and I love this merge lane because it stays two lanes for a nice long time to allow simple merging. There is a car right at my place, so I slow down to go behind it. It slows down (I hate that). So I speed up. It speeds up. I'm running out of beautiful two lanes. I speed up more and more and barely edge that car out. What a jerk, I'm thinking in my head, expletive, expletive!! That car was also speeding up and is forced into the next lane, which luckily is clear, because that car didn't signal or even appear to look, but just seemed to be pushed over by me. I am fuming--what is that person thinking--they are insane. The car passes me.

It is being driven by a little old lady with white hair staring straight ahead and holding onto the steering wheel for dear life. From the brief glance I had of her, she appears to be completely oblivious of me. She passes me and gets back into the first lane. All my anger is dissipated and now I am almost protective of her, reviewing the other cars around her to make sure she is going to be OK.

I occurred to me that maybe she was like my grandmother who didn't learn to drive until she was 65 and was terrified every minute she was driving. One time we were on the freeway and she was driving. She was getting the hang of it and keeping up with traffic, almost relaxing. She happened to glance down at the speedometer and noticed that she was over the speed limit. SHE SLAMMED ON THE BRAKES. Scared the life out of me. She let me drive from then on whenever we went anywhere.

Then I thought, hey, I'm doing it again--judging a book by its cover. When that menacing blue car wouldn't let me merge, it was a macho guy staking out his territory and he was a mean dumb jerk. Then when it was a little old lady with gray hair, she was a frighted, inexperienced driver. Maybe this little old lady wanted that lane no matter what, the rest of the world had better just figure it out and leave her alone. Who knows--book, odd cover.

Exhibit B:

I lock my doors, always. I lock my car doors every time I get out of the car (unless I forget my keys in the car--but I digress). I am aware of my surroundings. Better safe than sorry.

Last week I was at a 7-11 in a not so great area. As I pulled into the crowded, dirty parking area (it was too small to be called a parking lot), I noticed a dischevelled, slovenly, kind of scary, big guy near the door just hanging around. I must have shown a distasteful cautious reaction. He went into the store and I was somewhat relived that I wasn't going to have to pass him. There was no one behind the counter. I got my water and went to the counter. The big guy was leaning on the magazine rack and said, "he's in the back--he'll be out in a few minutes." So I'm waiting, just standing there. Then the big guy says to me, is that a hybrid? referring to my car. Yes I said, a prius. How do you like it?, he says. Ah what a sweetheart--my favorite subject, my great gas mileage. I wax on for a few minutes and he makes the appropriate encouraging comments. I'm all smiles and graciousness. The clerk comes back and the big guy ducks his head and leaves the store. I feel like I've insulted him, but I don't know how to take back my initial knee jerk reaction. Such a nice guy to like my car.

Exhibit C:

I was in the grocery store a few weeks ago. I'm a little anal about potato chips--OK, a lot anal. Why buy something that the clerk has just crushed?? So I routinely snatch the bag of chips out of the hands of the clerk as soon as it is rung with little ceremony. I am a mean, protective, "choose your expletive noun" when it comes to protecting my chips at the check out counter. That cover of mine is not pretty or nice, to say the least. So I'm all attitude and the clerk becomes all attitude. Not my problem, I'm thinking--Just swipe the card and get out of here--when I hear a familiar voice say, hey, be nice to my favorite clerk. It's Joe from Kiwanis. He is a really nice guy--I just love him. Everybody loves Joe. My cover just comes right off and I immediately apologize to the clerk for being abrupt. I joke, any friend of Joe's is a friend of mine and try to lighten the clerk up. I kid Joe for a few minutes about his sports car and I escape.

How can I be two completely different people, because that b***h protecting her chips--that is all me. And that sweet, funny, friend of Joe's--that's all me too.

As humans we have to react to the cover, the information we take in and react according to our experiences for self preservation. I said something in a comment on another blog that everyone is going to heaven and that we are shuffling off our mortal coils on the way. Can you imagine all the books with no covers? Only human kindess and goodness; no fear; no competition; no crushed potato chips.