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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

BummerMan Rips Medicare Part D!!!

OK... remember everything you know about our asswipe president Mr. Bush, and then try to figure out what's wrong with Medicare Part D. It's not that hard.

Starting November 15th this year Medicare eligible people are being asked to pick a new Medicare plan that will assist with the cost of prescription medication. The research shows that the average senior receiving Medicare benefits spends $2,000 a year on meds alone. These new "insurance" plans (offered by private companies and subsidized by federal dollars) will save the typical senior about half of that (after you figure in his/her monthly premium of $32.50 per month, the $250 deductible and the 25% copay for the rest... up to $2250 limit.) So if the average senior is going to save $1000 bucks a year... How exactly are we supposed to pay for that?

Now I can see why Dems support the idea... help for seniors struggling to pay for escalating drug costs seems like a good idea. So why do the Republicans support it?

Because it's throwing open the federal government coffers and allowing big evil drug companies to help themselves like the disgusting pigs they are. They've already estimated that Medicare D will cost the federal government $750 billion over the next 7 years... and there is no way to stop this from happening. The laws are in effect and starting Nov. 15 Medicare eligible people have to sign up or face late-enrollment penalties.

So smart and loyal readers... if Social Security is already facing a looming crisis as we attempt to pay for the long term health care of an increasingly old and medication-consuming retired class... how the hell are we supposed to pay for this too!!! If social security was heading for a train wreck in 2020, we just accelerated the process by 10 years.

I may be misinterpreting the facts, but it looks to me like this new privatized scheme, in which big health care and drug companies are being asked to sign up every senior to an insurance plan that will be federally subsidized, will result in a feeding frenzy among an already bloated and corrupt segment of our corporate world. Is this really the best way to help seniors deal with the skyrocketing costs of medication? Hell no. First of all, it does nothing to address the actual cost of these meds. They'll still cost the same, only now drug companies will be picking the pockets of our inept government instead of our increasingly impoverished senior citizenry. Now, as the boomers all get old, they've figured out a way to make sure they don't have to pay for all these expensive drugs that will keep them hanging on for another 10 years. The working class will pay for it until the system breaks... which oughtta take about 10 to 15 years. Its hard to believe that big drug companies and health care providers are going to be rewarded with lucrative government contracts after proving to everyone over the last 20 years how pathetic they are at serving the public need. But then, this administration is all about sleeze-ball profiteering. Why am I not surprised? _Rants


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

End of the Softball Season

So today I learned the difference between "loath" and "loathe". How the heck did I miss that for all these years? And why do I keep discovering embarrassing gaps in my knowledge like this? Perhaps I need to start reading books... I hear that's where people learn stuff. One thing new readers should know is that you can click on the underlined text to link to something else... often a photograph.
But that's not what I came here to tell you about...

The real deal is that JCC softball is finally finished for the Summer... and though it ended in more of a whimper than a bang, it was an interesting year for me. This was a year that came with a lot of high expectations... I hit the weightroom in the off-season hoping to hit the ball with more power... And after a 8-0 start, my JFS team was supposed to contend for the title. Meanwhile the HappyHour team was sure to win their league championship. But alas, none of these things happened. I injured my finger in the first game (loyal Stave It Off readers will remember the litany of sports injury reports this summer) and never felt healthy all year long. Two of the last three games I actually played high on painkillers. I suffered a nasty shin injury mid-season, and limped through the final game on a pulled calf muscle. But the more intense part of the year came on a metaphysical level.

This year the JCC suffered league-wide sportsmanship issues. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to be as positive as possible, supporting both my own team as well as the umpire and the opposing players. I attempted to keep my focus on playing hard and congratulating effort wherever it came from, but I also spent a lot of time frustrated at my own sloppy play. I was also increasingly impatient with my teammate's errors and pretty angry about the lack of team skill parity within the divisions. There were fewer close games this year than ever before... most games were a blowout by one team or the other (which isn't much fun for anyone.) I don't know why I had so many frustration issues this year... probably because I wasn't healthy enough to just enjoy myself. Whatever it was, at least I felt proud of the way the season ended.

We lost our final game to a team we had just beat two days before. And even though we coughed it up in a frustrating way (mostly due to one terrible 15-run inning... "somebody please... stop the bleeding!") we never turned on each other, we kept a sense of humor, we kept playing hard, we honestly congratulated the other team on their goodplay and they did likewise. And when it was over, they bought us beer in what was probably the greatest single act of sportsmanship all year long. But why did they want to buy us beer? Because we were the best group of good-losers they played all year long!

So I'm sorry to any teammates who didn't get pictured here... you were great to play with this year. Hope to see everyone next year... Ned, Sam, Mike, Rachel, Lorraine, Lindsey, Joel O., Brave, Arik, Joel N., Eric, Selina, Renee, Kory, Paul and Todd.

And maybe we'll see another miracle... like Joel Neyer hitting a grandslam! As proof of this event, here he is exploding out of the box after his long ball stroke. _Photography


Monday, August 22, 2005

Heightened Awareness

In lieu of answering the question, "Hey, you're pretty tall, just how tall are you?" ever again, I'm just going to post a few thoughts about what it is like to be 6'6". Just in case you were wondering.

Tall People Thought #1: There are a lot of spiderwebs in this world... and an inordinate amount of them happen to get stuck to my face. Man, I wish there were more tall people around clearing these things out so I didn't have to. Short people probably never have to frantically swipe cobwebs and and quite possibly thousands of baby spiders out of their hair.

Tall People Thought #2: Tall people do recognize each other in crowds. And yes, we do nod our heads in silent mutual respect. We have a kind of unspoken club... and no, you can't join... not even if you wear stilts.

Tall People Thought #3: Whenever I spot another person of 6'6" or so my first thought is, "Holy Jebus! That is one tall mutherhumper. Man... that guy is like... freakishly tall." Then I realize he's looking at me the same way. Then we both silently nod in mutual recognition. Respect to alla my freaky brothers.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Trek Across Bainbridge

Deep in the lovely Bloedel Reserve.

Today was all about a day-long trip to Bainbridge Island, where Carole and I ate lunch at Cafe Nola, poked around antique shops, got coffee and pie at Bainbridge Bakers where I once worked about 9 years ago (sadly they don't make gooseberry pie anymore,) walked the Bloedel Reserve, had another coffee at the Blackbird where I ran across some of my old students from Spectrum Community School, and finally supped at Sawadty Thai restaurant. Home now, suffering exhaustion and mild heat stroke, happily sipping iced strawberry juice.

Some additional pics:
An Intricate Mossy Scene with Golden Sunlight
At Least Six or Seven Different Shades of Green Plantlife _Photography

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Monday, August 01, 2005

Weekend in Paradise

Last Friday through Sunday, Carole and I joined up with Chris, Ellen, Conrad and Julie for a trip to La Push. We stayed at a nice comfy cabin right on the ocean and spent the days hiking in the Hoh River Valley, watching sunsets, playing frisbee on ocean shore, roasting bananas on the campfire, cooking great meals and NOT thinking about worklife in Seattle. (Editor's comment: All links in this post are to pictures from the event hosted on Flickr.)

The first great thing we noticed is that our cell phones stopped working somewhere around Sequim. That meant an even higher level of isolation, which was just fine for everyone. It meant that we couldn't easily communicate with the other car (we had to take 2) but it also meant one less source of distraction.

Just past Sequim we stopped to enjoy the great produce at Sunny Farms Market. We stocked up on some organic raspberries and such. Then we made for Crescent Lake where the water is an eerily luminescent turquoise color. I dragged Ellen and Julie along for a 4 mile hike out to the Devil's Punchbowl. Here Julie climbed up the 35 foot cliff to ponder the height, and then dramatically... jumped! Once again, Julie Dillon proves her status as Stave It Off Diving Expert.

As we approached La Push, I spotted excellent rural machinery and forced Ellen to put up with another detour as I rushed off to shoot some photographs for my Rusty Metal series.

Saturday we drove down to the Hoh for a picnic and a couple of short hikes. The remarkable deep lushness of the rainforest enveloped us. Here Conrad ponders what kind of aperature setting would best capture the texture of the canopy. Here's a serene stream scene deep in the middle of the rainforest. Many massive mossy mounds mottle the rainforest floor. Along the way, I caught this shot of Chris hiking. After the deep woods, we came to the shore of the Hoh river where we played around for a while before heading back to the car and our waiting picnic. We attempted to play frisbee despite the strong winds and constant danger of losing our frisbee to the river current. Meanwhile, Ellen "cooled her heels" the old fashioned way.

Then it was back to the ocean beach, where some people appeared to be having even more fun than us. This guy for example was surfing in a kayak. We spent much of the afternoon playing frisbee, drinking beer, walking the waterfront and enjoying another feast (this time Ellen's green curry dish.)

The morning of departure, we all went back down to the beach for a final look-see and a few photos. After figuring out the complicated 10-second timer function of my camera, I caught one of all of us posing like an album cover for Flock of Seagulls. _Photography