Dave's Journal, July 2012
Today is our 22nd annivesary. We are up the White Mountains, in a hotel on the Kankamagus, waiting for the day to start.
time . . . time . . . . time . . . . today is already over . . . a lot of walking kind of day. I really like the town of Woodstock. Next trip, we stay in a B&B here. But I really need a Harley and some tattoos, or a Vespa and those lick-on tattoos ? While the touristas crowded into the lunch patio at the something-or-other-inn, we had a wicked nice lunch at Peg's.
We stumbled upon this beautiful little town park, behind the shops. It sits on the Pemigawasset river, strewn with boulders and rapids, very much like the Lower Falls region of the Swift River. It is beautiful; the townies and visitors sit on the boulders, bar-b-que in the sand and watch the kids tube through the rapids. Wicked nice place.
We did The Flume (I forgot how uphil the trail is !), the town of Woodstock and the Swift River (Lower Falls) today, and I promised Deb to someday show her exactly the spot that I want my ashes sprinkled into the river.
Person goes to the doctor to check out a pain or a kink or whatever. Doctor finds nothing bad, but decides "we need some tests" and schedules some blood work, which also finds nothing wrong, so the doctor says "we need another test" and schedules a different kind of blood test which also finds nothing wrong, so the doctor says "You need to see a specialist about this".
The specialist does a physical exam and finds nothing wrong and says "We need to do an MRI", which they do and it finds nothing wrong, so the specialist says, we need to go in and do an exploratory, non-surgical procedure. In the course of this procedure, the specialist can't do what was planned, so (patient under anesthetic) she calls in a team of other specialists who do something. No one finds anything that remotely resembles a medical problem with this patient.
The bills roll up to $10,000. The insurance is obligated to pay 80% ($8000) and the patient pays 20% ($2000).
Not so fast, Kimo Sabe'.
The insurance company (a huge corporation, with millions of paying customers) tells the doctors, "We don't recognize $10,000 as a fair cost of these tests, we say that it's worth only $5000 so we are only going to pay you $4000, not $8000 like you wanted. Doctors say "Okay" to $4000 from the insurance company.
Patient says . . . "Hey . . . you just cut the insurance payment by $4000 ! . . . That means that you will accept only $1000 from me instead of the $2000 you billed me, right?"
[The scene opens at the water cooler in the doctor's office] . . . . Doctor: "So she says, 'You're only gonna bill me for half, like the insurance company got billed, right?' " . . . . [Doctors and staff laugh until they choke and cough water all over the floor.]
Dave's comment: This story is more or less what Deb just went through. The doctors and tests would find nothing wrong and then they'd say "But, in some cases, it could be a sign of _______, and we should investigate further". Once you ask a doctor "What's wrong with me?", and they find nothing wrong, in today's legal world, the doctor can't afford to miss anything; thus "We need to do more tests".
Dave's comment #2: The absurd and unfair medical costs in this country exist because the law protects health care businesses , not patients. When insurance companies say that they "negotiate health costs downward", they do not mean your share of health costs, they mean that they use their negotiating leverage to reduce their own costs, not yours ! They have made deals with their list of "network doctors" to take a certain amount. The doctor (knowing that the insurance company is only going to pay, say, $4000 for a procedure) simply jacks the bill from $5000 up to $10,000 so your share goes up from $1000 to $2000 and helps make up for what the insurance company negotiated not to pay !
The Affordable Care Act that is now the law of the land does not address this problem. The cost of health care in the US is still controlled by secretive, backroom deals between insurance businesses and hospitals, doctors, labs. Congress is not digging into that problem because it cares to protect US businesses more than it cares to protect US citizens.
Two good articles: NYT1 and NYT2. Also read the comments that readers left !
With the campaign year heating up, we have been waiting for word from the "Dave in 2012" campaign, and I think we have a leak: VP Leak
Deb works until 5:00 today and is then having dinner with Jane, so Dave (the noted art critic) opted to drive to the Concord Museum to see a new exibit of Annie Leibovitz's newest project, called "Pilgrimage". We had an moment to interview Dave and here is commentary on Annie's work . . .
NYTimes Reporter: Dave, we really appreciate your valuable time (what with your presidential election campaign getting up to speed) to tell us what you thought of Annie's project.
You know, Annie is legendary for her studio portraits of famous people, mostly celebrities. Her portraits are extraordinary. They rank among the best portrait photographs ever made; that is not only the general opinion, it is (more importantly) my personal opinion. [ NYTimes reporter gasps and frantically scribbles notes.]
There were some images in this new exhibit that almost make your knees buckle. They are the intimate, closed-in photos of small rooms, a hat, gloves, a dress, a desktop, a window. This stuff humbles the sad lot of guys like me who try to make pictures like this.
But . . . she also ventures into scenics and outdoor pictures, and these did not resonate with me. They . . . well . . . they weren't "Annie" if you can capture that thought.[ Reporter's hand shakes as more notes are scribbled . . . ."they weren't Annie . . . . they weren't Annie"]
(I'm still trying to understand how this happened. I think they cut a new trail ?)
As it was only 900F today, I decided to hike up Mt. Watatic. Back in my day, I could scrambled to the top of this (long dead) ski mountain; in fact, I once climbed up the "trail" under the power lines and made the top in 20 minutes. Today, it took me 10 minutes to go from the parking lot to the foot of the (easy) trail.
Don't bother with insect repellent, they love the smell and taste of the stuff, laced with your blood and sweat. Back to my story . . .
I hiked, upward, for about 45 minutes. Have to say it was steeper than I remembered and there were no flat spots. Hot and sweaty, I come to the top, I think, this is the top, right? It looks different. Not so big as I remember. And look over there, across that valley below us . . . that's a mountain there. I turn, pace, look all around. Hey you know what that mountain across that valley looks like? It looks like Mount Watatic.
I look at the trail that heads down into the valley between where I was and where I wanted to be. I weigh the fantasy of my goal against the struggle needed to achieve it.
30 minutes later I'm back down at the parking lot looking at the trail map up on the board. Cannot figure out how I missed a trail marker. I think they re-routed the trail. It didn't used to go up that other mountain, did it ?
I read up on doing a time-lapse movie with my new camera. It's clunky and very time consuming, but it's cute. These 67 frames took 67 minutes to record; they play back at 6fps (my option). Next time: must tie the tripod down well (wind moves it too, not just curious birds and squirrels!), shade the camera, use manual focus and find something worth recording.
The original pictures are huge (16Mp each!). I scaled them way down for the web.
Two scripts were needed to convert the original images and then string them into a movie . . . .
for filename in *.JPG; do; let "ijk=ijk+1"; convert $filename -resize 300X200! -quality 90 movie$ijk.jpg; done;
mencoder "mf://*.jpg" -mf w=300:h=200:fps=6:type=jpg -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:mbd=2:trell -oac copy -o output.MOV
Thanks to all the kind geniuses on the internet who share their wisdom.
One very beautiful motorcyle: The Royal Enfield
Truth be told . . . my Harley years have slipped passed with not so much as a whimper . . . I have no delusions about that.
Truth be told . . . I am not f#^%ing ready (just yet) for that little medicare scooter we see on TV . . . although I understand that is the fate that awaits us on the horizon (some horizons being closer than others).
The dilemma is this . . what do I scoot around in between today and (let's call it) my passage to a higher world?
My next dilemma is this . . . when we are in Italy, at the local Vespa shop, and Debbie says "No way. You're going home with either me or this little scooter, but not both of us." . . . how do I tell her?
It's hot (92F in the shade) and humid, but I had to get outside and NOT work among the weeds, so I drove to the local state forest and went on a very short and slow hike. The panasonic was with me, and that little devil is wicked nice for hikes.
I've decided that I need to get out and sweat more going uphill, and push a little harder. Back when, I could jog up these damn hills.
Here are some pictures.
If "lament" is a noun, then . . . this is a lament. If it's a verb, then . . . . I am about to lament.
(Being well thought out, a "lament" is different, I think, from a "rant".)
Here it goes:
I wish that my life (all 67 years, to date) had more dimensions to it than I let it have.
Not totally unrelated to my previous journal entry, I visited the Fitchburg Art Museum today, to see their exhibit of local artists. The stuff was wonderful.
There was not a single "piece of fluff" in the exhibit. Some of the stuff was as good as anything I have ever looked at. All of the pieces were from artists and crafters within 50 miles of here.
I came away thinking that God should have designed everyone to live exactly 200 years to the day. No more, no less. That way, we can all make better plans for what we do with the time we are given, and it also gives us time enough to do most everything you can think of doing in this life.
Perfect day for a trip to Boston. Deb is working until 6, weather is cool and cloudy. I skipped my usual Hawaiin (sp?) shirt, sandals and shorts tourist outfit and put on ratty jeans and the shirt I slept in last night. Definitely had the "working photographer" look.
Got off at MGH and walked and walked. Today's discovery was to walk back across the bridge the red line train runs on. Gives some great views of Boston across the Charles River toward the Prudential building.
That guy there in the wheel chair is JR, my new buddy. This was the very first time in my life that I ever struck up a conversation with a stranger. I mean that I personally actually initiated the conversation. He told me about the railroad bridge that was just going up to let the boats through, and the ducks (or geese ?) that were scrambling up the embankment for their daily breadcrumbs. JR was missing his legs, and a few minutes before, I saw him chatting with another old guy strapped into a wheelchair and totally immobilized with straps and restraints so he wouldn't fall out. (Here I am bitching about the weeds on my lawn . . . Sh#t !)
Debbie has this nik-nak on the mantle that's been on my mind for a while. So I took it outside this morning and made it the subject of a new picture: Faith
From Reuters, regarding the latest US mass murder event:
The gunman was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a Glock .40-caliber handgun, Oates said. Police found an additional Glock .40-caliber handgun in his car, parked just outside the theater's rear emergency exit, he said.
Holmes had purchased the weapons legally at three area gun stores in the last 60 days and bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition, including a 100-round drum magazine for an assault rifle, Oates said.
He said police had not yet determined whether the rifle was fully or semi-automatic. Still, with the 100-round drum in place, the shooter could easily have squeezed off 50 to 60 shots in a minute, Oates said.
What's wrong here? Some kid buys 6000 rounds of ammunition and an automatic weapon with a 100 round drum and nobody . . . NOBODY . . . NO-F#CKING-BODY calls the police or the FBI to raise a flag ? ?
Now there are lots of dead people and dying people and injured people and suffering families to support this guys "right" to own guns.
F#ck it kids, I'm off the team. Repeal the 2nd Amendment. You want to hunt? . . . go to Canada or Mexico for a week. (Better still, sign up as a commando in some 3rd world revolution - at least the things you're trying to kill are prepared and equipped to defend themselves.) You want to own classic guns? . . . you can buy and own them but the museum keeps them under lock with key with your name proudly displayed "Donated by . . . . "
We have sickened America now to the level that the freedom for someone to own a room filled with automatic weapons and uncountable rounds of ammunition is legally more important than your freedom to safely take your family to the movies. What have we done to this country?
Prelude: It is ironic that the people who hate federal "intervention" in our lives are the same people who preach about and hide behind the federal law that allows them to buy explosives, machine guns, and carloads of ammunition, flak jackets, gas cannisters etc etc. You gotta give that thought a few minutes to cook in your head, you know.
Now, to my new thoughts . . . . You'll have to do your homework regarding the original intent of the 2nd Amendment, because I am too lazy at the moment to type it up (then again, see my last paragraph below). But I think I have a reasonable compromise to put on the table about gun ownership in the USA.
The 2nd Amendment should be amended as follows. The (new) Constitution will no longer categorically allow people to own guns, but it will also not prohibit them from owning guns. The responsibility of regulating and enforcing gun ownership, registration, etc will be the responsibility of the States. Each state may pass laws regarding guns, control, type of allowable weapons, etc etc within its borders; meaning that a state can outlaw gun ownership, sale and transport, and federal law (The Constitution) will not get involved in that. It is now a state issue, not a federal issue. The important concept now is that it will not be un-Constitutional for a state to limit, control and enforce the use and ownership of weapons however it sees fit.
This idea is 100% in support of the original Constitutional purpose for allowing private citizens to own guns and also allowing states to form their own armed militias. The original intent of the 2nd amendment was to allow individual states to protect themselves from invasion by federal troops (state governments were very reluctant to form, and mistrusting of a "federal" government), and to also transfer the expense of buying the guns onto individual citizens (not state government). My proposal still allows the governments of individual states to regulate gun ownership, use and transport within their borders.
Gun guy: Dave you are so whimpy. Guns are part of our American heritage. Part of our lifestyle.
Dave: Hey, that's cool . . . BTW . . . some psycho-kid just blew your little girl's face off with his grandpa's shotgun.
and my favorite . . .
Quote from The Sarcasm Society . . . . .
The problem with "common sense" is that most people are morons.
Another jewel . . . . "When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it" [Clarence Darrow]
"The Fitchburg Animal Shelter is caring for Frankie, a dog found abandoned and injured on April 17 next to a Water Street variety store's Dumpster. Frankie's left hind leg was smashed in two places and required extensive surgery to correct. Frankie now needs more surgery to fix a dislocated kneecap."
". . . . . a father and son had stopped at the variety store and left him in the car. When they exited the store, they'd found Frankie had urinated in the back seat of the vehicle, and proceeded to beat him, then attempted to dispose of him in the store's Dumpster . . . . "
Inspired by that local news story . . . . What if . . .
You'll recognize her immediately as the globally famous Icelandic rocker "R", on a break from her 2012 tour called "Take Me Shopping or Get Lost". The guy in the red Texas Strangers shirt is less recognizable, because he is not anyone important but came up to beg for an autograph from Ms "R".
T-ranger stranger: I can't believe that it's really you, Ms R. Can I get your autograph. Please. My friends (I actually don't have any real friends, I'm refering to my "Facebook" pretend friends) would be so impressed if I had your autograph. Extra pretty please please please.
Ms R: Get lost kid or I'll call the cops . . . . OFFICER ! OFFICER !
Started a separate picture page for their visit: Picture Page
One of my loyal readers (I have loyal readers ?) is my cousin Pete, who also, every now and then, fills me in on family news from the Fazio side of the fence. Pete and Carol live out on L.I. and he commutes to work in Manhattan (!). Pete's a Batman fan and says I need to see the last chapter in the recent Christian Bale trilogy, and I will this week.
I asked for a snapshot to post here on my journal page, and that's P&C over there on the left.
The Dark Knight Rises was okay. I skip a detailed critique; I liked the ending quite a lot, and dug out my copy of Knightfall to re-read (which the movie is based on).
Have been neglecting my Campaign2012 webpage and also my journal page here, as I am busy with my visitors, and feeding that webpage with pictures.
Q: Would a federalized health care system suck more than the present capitalized (privatized) system?
A: I actually don't know, but I cannot imagine any system sucking more than the one that exists in the US today.
Note #1: I am not talking about Obamacare (a flawed law that needs 10-20 years of debugging before it works right), I am talking in general about the choice between a federally regulated health care payment system and a capitalistic payment system (as we have today).
Note #2: I am not talking about free health care for people who have spent their lives sponging off the system. I am talking about how health care expenses and payments are handled for the folks who spent their lives in the middle-class, pulled more than their weight in the workplace, paid all their taxes.
Why, you wisely ask, do I feel like this? Well . . .
Page written by Dave Leo, July2012