Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One of My favorite Moments in New York

Marcy asked the concierge for a suggestion on where to eat breakfast on our way up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She was stumped and said that she didn't usually send people in that direction for breakfast. She asked another concierge. Pause.

Marcy said, "We don't need fabulous we just need adequate."

Words, I'm sure, they don't hear often at the Ritz Carlton at Central Park!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lindzing

I thought I’d share an email from one of Will’s old therapists “Lindzing” as he fondly called her. She sent this after she stopped working with him.

“Also, thank you again for the time I have spent at your house. I never felt like I was working when I was with you guys. I am so appreciative to have had the opportunity to spend so much time with all of you—especially my William. I have learned infinitely more from his simple words and actions then I could from my higher education experience. It is amazing to me that Will can find more happiness in the simplest things like singing songs and getting tickles then some people will find in a lifetime.


I am thankful to Will for teaching myself and others unconditional love, sharing, acceptance, humor and friendship. He has such a big heart and an infectious smile! He certainly leaves an invaluable impression on everyone who meets him. Will is so lucky to have such an amazing family who is so great with him. All the credit goes to you guys for your hard work and of course his. Hopefully I'll see you soon!”


That is an example of the kind of people that he’s been lucky enough to have work with him.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

SNL

We are going to try to get standby SNL tickets today if we get up early enough.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Yeah, This Weekend Will Be Very Different Than My Usual Life!

Reasons:

1. No kids. I can be one looking down my nose at other people’s children. Sniffing that really can’t they control their children?

2. No cooking. I'm looking so forward to that I might kiss the waiter. Won’t that be thrilling? “Umm, help! Some fat, middle aged woman is kissing me and won’t let go!” “Excuse me ma am, you really need to leave now!

3. Art! I will not try to steal anything I promise. Besides I think they’d notice if I tried to walk out with a Monet under my arm!

4. No family. While I’m use to my husband traveling for work, I am not use to disconnecting the umbilical cord that connects the rest of my family to me. I’m unsure about this but I suspect I’ll survive.

5. A concierge. Actually, I may bring one back with me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

If I was Ricky Ricardo and William was Lucille Ball, I’d be yelling “Lucy!” just about now!

I noticed that the light was on in the garage. As I walked towards the back door I saw an open and empty box of gluten-free brown rice crispies. I hurried outside to see if I could salvage any of the very expensive cereal. First, I noticed the empty water bottle lying on its side abandoned in the dirt. Then I saw a shirt on the concrete and a mostly empty bottle of exfoliating soft scrub on the grill. As I walked towards the swings I saw an empty bag of marshmallows and clementine peels in the grass. I stepped onto the grass into a squishy pile of something. I was quite relieved to see it was blue and decided my foot needed to be exfoliated anyway. And then I found the gluten free rice crispies. They were spread out in the grass and under the swings … William didn’t even eat them!

“LUCY!”

The only problem with this scenario you ask? Oh … that’s the part that William doesn’t care.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ghost in Your Genes

I went downstairs yesterday only to find Bri and my husband watching Nova. It was a fascinating show on epigenetics on how environmental factors affected our ancestors’ genes and how it affects us generations later. I missed part of the show but it was really interesting and I would like to see the whole thing!

Ghost in Your Genes

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekend in New York

This weekend my friend Marcy and I are going to New York. I’m very excited. I’m going to art museums and to see Wicked on Broadway. Marcy’s friend’s brother is connected with the traveling show; so, he hooked us up with producer houses seats. I, being a rube, had to look up what that meant. Basically, there’re the best seats in the theater. Pretty much my whole friendship with Marcy has been building up to this. She keeps joking that she feels like a hick going to the city. I joke that it’s the best date I’ve ever been on – too bad, it’s not with my husband.

And although, I’m a little worried that when we walk into the hotel they’ll take one look at me and say, “Ma am, could you and your seven dollar target shirt please leave.” I’m willing to take that chance in exchange for a weekend spent looking at art, eating at restaurants and seeing a show sans children!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday

Will's school had a fall festival today. I donated GFCF cupcakes for the bake sale -- then bought one for Will. Is that poor planning?

I spent a ridiculous amount of money on food. Will spent his time either on rides or swinging. Bri spent an hour designing a sign for the parents group's table. Jake ate cotton candy then went home early to play with Dav and Lizzy brought home a bag of toys. Needless to say, fun for everyone.

Then my husband's cousin and her husband came over for dinner. They just moved here. Matt is going to BC. I asked what he's studying. Epidemiology. Really!

I was so excited. I told him about a study that was just published in the Annals of Epidemiology that said that U.S. male babies vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccine had a 3-fold greater risk of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder); and that the risk was greatest for non-white boys. Then I got to talk about vaccines and autism for a couple of hours. Fun for everyone! Well ... at least for me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yes, I really had this conversation with Jake

Yelling: "Jacob where are you?"

I wander around the house yelling his name. Finally, I stick my head out the door. "Jake are you out here?"

"Yes."

"Have you done your homework?"

"No, not yet."

"What are you doing?"

"I'm talking to myself."

"Come in and do your homework. You can talk to yourself later."

At which point, I thought about what I had just said and giggled.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Daddy Daughter Date

My husband took Bri to New York this weekend to spend time together. They walked around Time Square, and went to two Broadway shows, The Lion King and Phantom of the Opera. Although, he was compelled to tease me by saying they saw Chicago and were about to see Hair. “Umm, I think that has a lot of nudity in it. I don’t think Bri will like it.” It took a couple of minutes for me to realize he was teasing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Is Requiring Insurance Companies to Cover Pre-Existing Conditions Immoral? No, it's Not.

My dad sent me an editorial from the Christian Science Monitor, Forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions is immoral.

I read it and responded as follows.

I am happily surprised to read of a libertarian supporting a new welfare program if even in jest. However, we have some indisputable facts.

1. The US is experiencing a health crisis and cannot continue on the current path.

2. Private insurance companies and the free market system bear responsibility for the current system.

Facts on the Cost of Health Insurance and Health Care (I chose this link in part because it was based on research from McKinsey & Co. and because the Coalition's Honorary Co-Chairmen are former Presidents George Bush and Jimmy Carter.)

“Health care spending continues to rise at a rapid rate forcing businesses to cut back on health insurance coverage and forcing many families to cut back on basic necessities such as food and electricity and, in some cases, shelters and homes.

Experts agree that our health care system is riddled with inefficiencies, excessive administrative expenses, inflated prices, poor management and inappropriate care, waste and fraud. These problems increase the cost of medical care associated with government health programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and health insurance for employers and workers and affect the security of families. . . ” (Bold added)

“According to one study, of the $2.1 trillion the U.S. spent on health care in 2006, nearly $650 billion was above what we would expect to spend based on the level of U.S. wealth versus other nations. These additional costs are attributable to $436 billion outpatient care and another $186 billion of spending related to high administrative costs.”

http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml

Mr. Richman asserts that companies can’t make money if they are forced to cover people who haven’t paid premiums; in many cases because they cannot afford coverage or because they were denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

How much profit is enough? A “McKinsey survey found that 78 percent of low wage workers don’t receive health benefits from their employers. Those not offered employee sponsored health coverage must find insurance on the individual market. . . [which] generally provides more expensive plans with less comprehensive benefits . . and they deny applications at a higher rate. . .

. . . Insurers have rigged the system to manufacture oversized profits while the country pays the price in the form of high premiums and poorer health.”

http://hcfan.3cdn.net/dadd15782e627e5b75_g9m6isltl.pdf

“Profits at 10 of the country’s largest publicly-traded health insurance companies in 2007 rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007, from $2.4 billion to $12.9 billion according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission fillings. In 2007 along the chief executive officers at these companies collected combined total compensation of $118.6 million – an average of $11.9 million each. That is 468 times than the $25,434 the average American worker made that year.”

“1 out of 7 Americans under 65 are uninsured.” Does Mr. Richman believe that is because none of them want it? That’s silly.

Is there truly nothing wrong with insurance companies and shareholders profiting from the sick? Not in theory; not any more than a doctor or hospital shouldn’t profit from their education or the care he or it provides. However, in practice -- at least where the US health care system has ended up— the insurance companies are in the wrong. Health insurance, unlike an Elmo toy, is important. No one will die because they lack a toy. People die everyday because they lack insurance.

Health Insurance Companies profits are good but not breaking records.

http://www.factcheck.org/2009/08/insurance-co-profits-good-but-not-breaking-records/

But it’s still listed as the 35nd most profitable industry on the Forbes 500 list for 2009.

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2009/performers/industries/profits/

Ezra Kline at the Washington Post writes, “The industry, Potter says, is driven by "two key figures: earnings per share and the medical-loss ratio, or medical-benefit ratio, as the industry now terms it. That is the ratio between what the company actually pays out in claims and what it has left over to cover sales, marketing, underwriting and other administrative expenses and, of course, profits."

Think about that term for a moment: The industry literally has a term for how much money it "loses" paying for health care.”

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2009/06/the_truth_about_the_insurance.html

No insurance program, private or public, can pay for everything for everyone nor should it. Eventually, difficult choices must be made, but not because someone lacked the insurance to pay for preventative care!

Massachusetts requires that everyone have insurance. Here is a brief overview of the program.

http://www.ehow.com/about_5217562_health-insurance-law-massachusetts.html

Mr. Richman’s imagined proposal seems designed to cost the government the most possible money by not requiring the sick to pay in (as the poor are already covered through Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP etc.) and by not letting healthy people buy in to offset costs.

The actions of for-profit insurance companies are the cause of our current health care crisis and costs. Insurance companies and medical groups are colluding together to raise profits for one group or another. A classic example is Partners and Blue Cross of MA. Because my Blue Cross is based out of California I had to pay $300 extra, out of pocket, when Lizzy had a chest x-ray at a Partners Hospital.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/01/23/partners_insurer_under_scrutiny/

A genuine alternative to the status quo is a public insurance alternative. It’s competition that will benefit Americans.

“…[P]ublic insurance [i]s about 10 percent less expensive for children and about 30 percent less expensive for adults. In addition to having higher medical costs, private insurance has administrative costs that, on average, are about twice those of public insurance.”

http://www.cbpp.org/files/5-11-07health.pdf

Since, Richman is a libertarian and I am a democrat we have some significant political differences. I don’t believe that unimpeded free markets are good for everyone. He asserts that “competition lowers prices, raises quality and universalizes access.” I think of the industrialized age in Europe, Upton Sinclair’s Jungle, and the general misery the poor, the working class and even some of the middle class experienced before regulation, unions and laws changed the lot for the majority of Americans and people throughout the first world.

And as for his assertion that competition lowers prices; yes, generally it does. Unfortunately, insurance companies in the US have consolidated their markets, and merged with other companies to stifle competition. Shall we wipe the slate clean and let them “fix” insurance. Insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Insurance companies have refined their process and product delivery systems to be huge revenue producers. What incentive do they have to change?

Richman and I have a basic philosophical difference. He trusts business more than I do. Business exists to make money, I think it’s na├»ve to assume it cares about people; and because I care about people more than business, I don’t want business to thrive at the expense of people.

Private insurance is a good thing but when making money is set against life and death decisions it’s dangerous, especially because any person is just a number for insurance companies – one out of the hundreds of thousands they insure. Public insurance should be an option as well; if only to keep the private insurance companies honest.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I can’t afford to wait: son with autism

Autism is a pre-existing condition – yes, autism! I heard a mother say that because she had three girls with autism they couldn’t get insurance. So, I was compelled to research it. And horrifyingly enough, I found out that it’s true. That slapped me in the face. If we lost our insurance, the insurance industry would deny my children coverage.

I really think that most people who oppose a public option don’t really understand what it is and how it can work. And I don’t think they’ve done any research into why and how it would improve health care for the rest of us. The Republicans have certainly been very effective in scaring everyone – even if they don’t really understand why they’re scared.

It reminds me of college. I wrote my senior paper on the Effects of Existentialism on the New Left. When I told a guy about my paper he told me that he was an existentialist. Shocked, I questioned him. “You don’t believe in God?” He told me he believed in some higher power, floating thing. “Then you’re not an existentialist.” I replied. Most people who don’t support a public option remind me of this guy. They’re not sure what it is but they know it’s bad.

Al Frankin makes more sense then most of these people.


Consider me holding a sign in solidarity, “I can’t afford to wait: son with autism.”


Monday, September 7, 2009

I'm Amazing!

Last week I was amazing. I had a bunch of corn left over from our CSA share and my husband bought 100 ears at Stop and Shop (ok, maybe 6). So, I decided to freeze them for later. I boiled the corn for four minutes, put them in cold water, cut off the corn and then froze it.

I also cooked black beans. We’d gotten a pressure cooker from FreeCycle. The only problem was that it was from Germany and didn’t come with an instruction manual and I don’t know how to use a pressure cooker. Thus it sat on my counter for a month staring at me. I finally decided I either had to put flowers in it or try to cook something. I decided that my worse case scenario involved steam burns and my kitchen exploding but I threw caution to the wind and cooked black beans. After I put them in the pan and turned on the heat I wondered how long I should cook them for. So, I called my sister Jane and asked her. She said an hour but since I never hear my timer they ended up cooking longer. So, I’m not sure how long they actually cooked.

Then I made red pepper hummus, edamame salad, black bean salsa, made gfcf blueberry cobbler for Will and supervised Bri making blueberry cobber for the rest of us. I told you I was amazing!

I told my mom all of this on Saturday. I said that what I did was the equivalent of my sister Kathleen canning 500 jars in one day, while taking care of her newborn and 2 year old. I said, “I’m amazing.”

“Yes, she is.” My mom agreed.

“No, I meant me.”

“Oh.”

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lizzy

"Mom, you need to stop telling me to do stuff. You say do this and do that."

I'd just told her if she wanted french toast she would need to get the bread and that she needed to get dressed. The things she has to put up with!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Public Insurance Option Discussion on Facebook

My cousin posted a link on her Facebook page to Free Our Health Care Now’s online petition.

I, of course and maybe stupidly, made a comment.

I posted. “I'd love a public option I could buy into that wasn't tied to a job. Most people change jobs frequently it doesn't make sense to have to change insurance every time.

But more importantly I'm not comfortable with the status quo -- health care rationing based on income.”

My cousin responded, “I'm personally not comfortable paying more money to the government. There is an entitlement attitude in our country that says we all deserve to be secure and safe, to have this and to have that. However, going around the free market isn't, in my opinion, the way to insure everyone's well-being or to solve the health care crisis. Why are we marching on Washington to solve our health care crisis? Why don't we march on our insurance companies?

As citizens of this country, we need to get back to basic principles of responsibility, hard work, honesty and sacrifice, and to quit expecting the government to solve our problems. Show me when the government has been successful in taking good care of the masses. Welfare? Social Security? Medicare? Yikes!

I say we need to not take away incentive for people to be productive, successful members of society. The more money we give to the government through taxes, the less choice we have regarding what to do with our own hard-earned money.”

One of her friends added, “Very well put.”

I responded, “You have a great point about marching on insurance companies. That’s what we’re doing! We’re doing it through government because that is where much of our power lies.

But considering that the free market is responsible for the current economic crisis, the disappearance of the middle class in the US and for the insurance problems we have now I’m not inclined to let it try to “fix” health care. It’s already “fixed” it.

Medicare and VA recipients report higher satisfaction than people with private insurance. And evidence shows that public insurance is less expensive and provides comparable if not better insurance. (I'll put links on my page.)

The advantage of a public option is that the working poor who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, the people with pre-existing conditions, and people with crappy plans have affordable options.

I feel a moral obligation to help the needy. Private charity has failed. I’m happy to pay more in taxes to help.”

Here are the links I referenced.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/njonline/mp_20090629_2600.php

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=14560

http://www.cbpp.org/files/5-11-07health.pdf

My cousin friend added, “I have one question for you. How are we going to pay for it? I'm so happy that you are more that willing to pay more taxes. If you feel that it is a moral obligation and that private charity has failed then why not try to help private charities by giving your money to them instead. All the current government health programs are broke. If you think it is going to stop with taxing those who make over$ 250,000 a year you are wrong. In 1918 they started taking the top 1% of americans wealthy. By 1938 in was the top 5% by the time world war II was over it was the top 75%. Did you also know that if you choose to have your own insurance that you will be face countless penalties. . That doesn't sound like freedom to me. This is an absolute infringement on Freedom

P.S The power lies in the People, not the government.”

My cousin said, “I guess we see things a bit differently. I have to wonder where the funding comes from for these government-sponsored programs since we all know that money doesn't grow on trees. It comes out of the pockets of those who pay taxes, the wealthier segment of society. In other words, tax payers are being forced to pay charity in the form of welfare, medicare, etc. Like Eliza, I would rather have the option of what charities or organizations we give our hard-earned money to, rather than being forced by the government to fund causes we don't believe in. I believe in supporting good and charitable causes, in fact I do. However, I also believe that a person ought to have the right to choose not to as well. It's called free agency. If we are forced to do "good", it's no longer our choice and free agency is vanquished.

P.S. I don't believe it's the free market that has failed, it's the people who are greedy, irresponsible, and dishonest that has failed the system. Those same people are in government positions as well . . . in abundance.”

I posted, “This is an interesting discussion. I found a couple of links that explain what a public option is and some of its benefits. They should also clear up some of the misconceptions, such as the idea that it promotes euthanasia, or that there would be penalties for keeping private insurance.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/22/opinion/22dow.html

http://www.law.berkeley.edu/files/Hacker_final_to_post.pdf

http://brown.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Sen.%20Brown%20Health%20Insurance%20Reform%20Frequently%20Asked%20Questions.pdf

http://www.cbpp.org/files/5-11-07health.pdf

I, as an insured person, already pay costs associated with the under or uninsured, those costs are passed on to me in the form of higher prices for services.

As for your taxes supporting programs you disagree with, well, that’s true for everyone.

Your P.S. would be equally true if you replaced free market with government. But I'll stop commenting now. Feel free to send me an email with any links you think I should read.”

I’m not going to add anything right now. We were limited because Facebook limits how long your comment can be and I had to cut off part of my comment.

And because I’m nice I took out ludicrous from my original sentence “such as the ludicrous idea that it promotes euthanasia . . .”

I shouldn't have brought up the whole private charity tangent. That's my issue. I'm sick of the right trying to wrap themselves up in religion and morality. I will never understand why abortion and gay rights are the only two moral issues that exist for them. I believe there are other equally important moral issues: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping the sick, combating racism .....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

To Distract me from Politics AKA People who Disagree with Me

Marcy sent me a cool link to a name “anagramer.” I’m torn between:

HER INSANE MAJOR

MEAN MAJOR ON HEROINS

JAM HERO'S INANE MORON

MAJOR IN ROMEO

What is my husband's new nickname, you ask? Why …

HE'S A JEER AND NERD

JEERS AND DEAR HEN

Will’s anagram contained a swear word, thus cannot be posted on my generally G website.

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