Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hometown Boy Does Good!

Farewell Apolo, we will miss not seeing you skate at the next Olympics. We who have followed your speed skating career are glad to see you exit with such a glorious bang! Oh, and besides speed skating, I loved watching you on Dancing with the Stars! Good luck and good night.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Olympics, Here Again

I have been staying up late, too late. When the Olympics are on, my latent inner sports fan seems to kick in and I can't get enough. The skiing this year has been particularly interesting for me to watch as I recognize much of the landscape in and around Whistler and even recognize some of the runs that I have skied on, not going over 100 miles per hour, however. I am loving the ice dancing. Another skating event that I enjoy is speed skating and the fact the two of the competitors hail from a small town just south of where I live. I have always been partial to ice skating. When I was young I took ice skating lessons for a number of years, I was never in any competitions, but I still enjoy watching and doing ice skating. I also like to support local talent, it makes the whole event more personal. We seriously thought about getting tickets to an event or two and heading north, but despite the close proximity of the events this year, the price of accomodations remains out of reach. I was offered tickets to one of the women's snowboarding events, but the logistics of travelling to and from were exhausting to calculate, so here I sit at home enjoying the games from the comfort of my own couch.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Healthcare, A Broken System

I have been reluctant to post any issues pertaining to the health care system on this little blog of mine because it seems like this is such a loaded issue these days. First I need to state that I work in the healthcare system. I work in rehabilitation and have done this work for many years so my view will be very different from say an insurance administrator or someone familiar with the healthcare system from only the point of view of being a patient in it. The healthcare system in the United States is broken. The current system does not work. What most people don't realize though is that it is not those who have nothing that are in need of decent healthcare, the most neglected citizens in our current system are those who work but are either kept just under the minimum hours to qualify for coverage or work more than one job, but not enough hours at each to qualify for benefits. If those who had absolutely nothing would stop using the emergency room for basic health services this would generate a huge savings overall.

This is of course only one side of this multi-sided issue. The side that I am going to focus on today is the one in which insurance companies are allowed to dictate and make healthcare decisions for patients. As a professional, my first instance with this was when I was on the phone trying to get approval for more therapy sessions for a child. The insurance administrator told me that she could not approve more sessions as the child had not made progress. This was after I had sent her a detailed summary showing how much progress had been made. On the phone this insurance representative actually admitted that she didn't understand the information in my report and that she would need to get more clarification. The child was able to get more services, but I wonder how often there is a positive outcome to these interactions. Not only is this demeaning for a person who put themselves in debt going to school to specialize in an area that they just might know more about than the pencil pusher on the other end of the line, but it compromises care for all patients when business representatives and not medical personal begin making life altering decisions regarding medical care.

Nothing could better illustrate this point than the healthcare debacle faced by some close friends of mine this week. The husband/father fell at a ski area and broke his leg in several places. This necessitated ambulance transport to a nearby hospital which was not at all near to where the family lives. He had to have surgery. During his five day stay in the hospital various hospital representatives, never the medical personnel, told his wife that he would be transferred to a hospital closer to their home or discharged to an in-patient rehabilitation facility. This sounded good, but guess what?? Their insurance company would not approve the transfer or in-patient rehabilitation. The insurance company told the hospital that this man should be discharged and sent home. This edict was given when he still had a catheter, could only get in and out of bed via two-person assist, was still on IV medication, and had began to develop skin breakdown because he had not been moved in the last five days. On day five he did get a shower. To top it all off he would need to go down a flight of stairs to reach a bedroom in their current home and their mattress at home is on the floor. Yes, shocking as it may seem this is the state of healthcare for insured patients in our country. Yet I still remember a number of years back when my brother was high on drugs and went to an emergency room to have a splinter removed. The bill for that visit was over $300.00 but he was homeless and unemployed so he didn't have to pay a dime. Later, when he was rehabilitated and no longer on drugs I asked him why he did things like that he told me it was because he didn't think that he should have to make an appointment and wait. Hmmm...I wonder how many people in our country think that they shouldn't have to wait for healthcare services.

So back to my story. Yesterday my friend was catheter free, but had not yet been able to get out of bed and make it to the restroom without a two-person assist. His wife was becoming hysterical regarding how she would possibly be able to work full-time, take care of their two-children, and nurse him back to health without any assistance. Finally the insurance company agreed to some in-patient rehabilitation in a nursing home. He can stay there for a week and try and learn to get around without two extra people helping him. For their sakes I hope that he can make a speedy recovery, it just sucks that the care that they have paid for offers so very little in return.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hey! Seattle Tourists, Give Us A Second Chance

A couple of weeks ago a video of a fifteen-year-old girl being beaten in a metro transit tunnel while security "guards" looked on was released. When I first saw this I was, of course, horrified that the "guards" did nothing to protect this young girl. Their job description is to "observe and report events to the police, but not to get involved." Following the release of this video, we here in the Emerald City were inundated with claims from possible tourists throughout the country claiming that they would not visit Seattle because of the random violence and lack of protection. This story goes on and on. There were police at the downtown store where this girl had been prior to her stroll through the metro transit tunnel. The girl and the young people who beat her had been engaged in verbal argument in the store and had been asked to leave by the police. The girl said that she told the police she was scared and they apparently told her to "take the bus and go home." Now, what a fifteen-year-old girl was doing alone in a city shopping area rather late on a week night is beyond the scope of this current post, but I have my own suspicions as I am sure that most people do. I would also like to clarify for those who are fearful in our fair city, this was not a random assault. This girl had engaged in argument with the perpetrators before. She had in fact engaged with them minutes prior to her assault and this made her fearful of them, yet she chose to walk alone in a metro bus tunnel late at night.

I also want to clarify that I don't condone the behavior of the security guards. Job description be damned, it is morally wrong to simply "watch" someone being beaten. I am willing to bet that if those guards had become even remotely helpful, other bystanders would have jumped in to assist also thereby activating the Good Samaritan Law.

Fast forward to this morning. My husband and I were reading the paper and what is on the front page but the beating victim. Guess what? She is wanted for robbing and assaulting another young woman in the Edmonds area. Not that she deserves to be beaten, but it seems like Seattle's little anti-tourism poster child is indeed running with the wrong crowd. It seems in fact that she may even be leading it. So before you decide not to take a visit to the Emerald City because of safety concerns, look a bit deeper and keep in mind that this is an extra low precipitation year, it has even been sunny the last several days.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

For the Love of Winter

The kids and I checked out Mt. Baker ski area yesterday. It was quite a drive, but well worth the effort. I can honestly say that I think this ski area is the best kept secret in Western Washibington and I can't believe that I haven't been there before, oh yeah, the drive.... One ski magazine described this area as the best value for a lift ticket in the country. I haven't skied very many places outside of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Canada, but based on my limited experience, I would have to concur. This has been a poor snow year for the west coast as anyone even remotely following the winter Olympic games already knows. The snow at Mt. Baker was pretty damn good, espeically near the top. The runs were nicely groomed and, for a small area, there were a ton of them. Did I also mention that the food prices were fair, if not downright cheap. I hope that we can make time to visit again before the season is through. If not, we will come back next year.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

What do several French 75's and various other mixed drink concoctions thrown in between rounds equal? A horrid hangover the next day! I just want the headache to go away, I thought that downing an large burger and fries for brunch would help, I thought that the multitude of Advils that I have swallowed would help, but no, here it is mid-afternoon and the headache is still there. I am approaching middle age, I ought to know better, I guess there are some lessons that I will just never learn. I am meeting with my writing group tonight, I will be drinking tea and water. My husband and I are going to avoid the rush and crush of the big commercial holiday and go out next weekend. Happy Valentines Day and Happy Chinese New Year!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tattoo Me

This is something that I think about every so often. Usually when I have a milestone birthday coming up, I think about taking the plunge and getting inked. Some tattoos are absolutely beautiful. Sleeves or the full body thing or anything on the face or head doesn't really set well with me. But then I would never consider doing that to my body, some people feel compelled to do this for whatever reason. I do not honestly know what I would tattoo on myself and I also don't know where I would tattoo it if I did. If I go to the time, expense, and effort then I think that I would want my tattoo to show. I would need to hide it at work, so it couldn't be in too showy of a place. The ankle comes to mind, but I have heard that can be painful. I guess getting a tattoo anywhere would probably be painful, but maybe less so on a fatty vs. bony area. Then I have to think about what I would indelibly put on myself and this is where is gets hard. I frankly just have too many diverse interests and I don't have an overriding interest or love that sails above everything else in such a way that I would want it to be permanently marked on me. I guess, for now, I will have to continue thinking. Of course, there is no reason that I have to get tattooed, I just keep thinking that maybe it would be something cool to do...sometime.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Makings of a Perfect Gin Martini

I am not a huge fan of gin. When ordering martinis I usually prefer vodka. Several months ago a friend of mine introduced me to this delightful brand of gin and it is the only brand that I willprobably ever drink. I had a couple of martinis made with Hendricks tonight with some co-workers, a great experience and no headache in the morning-Hendricks is too smooth for that.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thankful for the school we are in

The subject of Valentine's Day came up at work today. One of my childless co-workers has a teacher husband. His class is not having a Valentine's party because one of the children in the class does not celebrate Valentine's day. Instead they are having a "day before winter break party." Huh? Like that is somehow better than getting a bunch of fancy cards and candy and treats! I don't think so! Just have the damn party and maybe this child could share with the class exactly why his family doesn't celebrate Valentine's Day. It might be interesting, the kids might actually learn something.

Long ago, when my first child was a baby, and my husband and I were house hunting, we thought distantly into the future about schooling. A looming thought was that we would probably have more than one child and, if we did, we probably wouldn't be able to send them to private school, at least not the private schools that we might like to send them to and still be able to afford college. Homeschooling has never really been an option because I don't really like to stay home, I also enjoy working and since homeschooling usually falls to the mother during the day, this didn't seem like it would be a viable option for us either. We decided to bet on staying in whatever neighborhood we bought our house in at least until our oldest was school age and chose instead to buy not a super great house in a super great neighborhood.

While I would love to have a new and possibly bigger home, I realize that we won't be able to do that anytime in the near future and stay in the neighborhood that we are currently in. Now, for the school. It is pretty much like being in a private school without paying tuition and the parties are fantastic. Why have parties at school? Maybe because they are fun and only happen about once a season. At our school we always have fantastic Halloween parties, which is great for me as Halloween is my favorite holiday. Sometime we get in a Thanksgiving feast, in the younger grades we have a festival of light and cultures around the world in December. In February there is Valentine's day, then St. Patrick's Day, and May Day, and the end-of-the-year parties. It helps to have parent involvement, another thing that I look for in an elementary school and we have that in spades. The PTA, though often a target of humor, is really important and so is the school auction that we hold every year. Those private funds can really enhance any public school program.

So when I hear that some schools don't have any holiday parties or have to alter their parties so that they don't represent the holiday on the calendar, I realize that I am kind of out of it when it comes to what is going on in schools in the country at large. When I hear about this kind of thing it makes me think of that episode of South Park where the kids in lieu of holiday celebrations (because they couldn't have any) chose instead to hold as mascot a piece of poop and celebrate it in honor of political correctness. Yes, that was funny, maybe based more on reality than I realized at the time.

Now I could say that I would send my kids to a poorer school, I can't say a more diverse school, because our school is very diverse. I heard recently that our school is known by name in Korea and people actually move here for a year or more to enroll their children in it. But my kids are not a social science experiment. While I do care for children at large, I can do that on my own time. Personally I would rather sacrifice daily for the good of my own children rather than have them sacrifice daily for the good of other children at their own expense.

So there you have it, my calendar is blocked out this Friday afternoon, I have three Valentine's Day parties to attend and I am going to enjoy every minute of it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Just in Time for Valentine's Day

Matthew Goode joins Amy Adams in "Leap Year." Cute, romantic, comedic movie-great for Valentine's Day viewing. Am I the only one who thinks that Amy Adams is the Donna Reed of the 21st Century????

Random Thoughts on a February Morning

So here it is, almost halfway through the month of February and I have only one post for the month. A fairly good one, if I do say so myself, but only one nonetheless. It has been a busy month so far. My good friends and neighbors for the last several years moved out of their house last week. I miss them and our little lane does not quite seem the same. There are projects here and there, like scrapbooking, that I am trying to get caught up on. I am trying to fit in my writing, but have also had house guests and this has made that a challenge. In addition to the house guests and sudden neighbor/friend move and catching up on projects, I have been trying to catch up with old friends, read some books, and get over a nasty cold. Next week my kids are off from school. I have taken some time off of work and am hoping that we can have some fun together. The book I am currently reading is called "Home" by Marilynne Robinson. If you have never read her, don't be deceived by the slim size of most of her works. This woman makes every word count when she writes. She also teaches at the Iowa Writer's Workshop, perhaps that is why. I love her work, I just have to think in order to read it, probably a good exercise for me.

Thursday, February 4, 2010