Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday night

Got some blood pressure pills today, but not from Medco. First, I called them in the afternoon to see what was up. They said they needed an address to send the pills to, and now I'll get them on August 5. I told the person that the pills have always been delivered to my work address, that they were supposed to be delivered today, and hung up the phone. These people could have killed me. Would I never have gotten the pills had I not called? I called my doctor's office afterwards and told them about the situation. They immediately called in a 30-day prescription to a nearby CVS and I picked it up a while later.

I don't have a serious problem with high blood pressure, but still...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday night

Was back at the gym tonight.

Fox News' Glenn Beck calls Obama a "racist" and says he has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." That's odd, considering Obama is half white and was raised by his white grandparents after his white mother died. Sounds like Glenn Beck may be projecting his own racism onto Obama. He doesn't seem to be very bright. Fox then came back and said Beck was expressing his own opinion, not Fox's.

My electric bill wasn't as bad as I'd feared, considering how hot it's been lately. It was $165+ (2 BR/2 bath apt.). But in the winter it was under $100, if I recall.

Blood pressure pills didn't come today. If I don't get them by mid-afternoon tomorrow, I'm calling the doctor's office to get an emergency prescription. I feel fine, however. I never had dangerously high blood pressure.

(Pictured: Lucky and Bootsy out on the terrace yesterday, behind the sliding glass door and screen.)

Sen. Sherrod Brown on 'Countdown' (Howard Dean hosting)

Good stuff.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday night

This wrangling over the public option is giving me high blood pressure. Actually that's not true. I ran out of high blood pressure pills. (Last night and the night before last, I took half the last pill.) My doctor's office said they were calling the prescription in to Medco over a week ago and (according to them) I should have received the prescription by now. I'd even asked about getting a small emergency prescription to tide me over, but the pharmacy person assured me that Medco would get them to me right away and that an emergency prescription wouldn't be necessary.

Medco is usually very fast. I guess someone dropped the ball. I should have acted sooner myself in making sure I got the new pills before the old ones ran out. The prescription had to be re-approved by the doctor, however--I had no more automatic refills--which bogged the process down.

I hope to get the pills tomorrow or the next day at the very latest.

My doctor, by the way, hates the insurance companies, but that's neither here nor there.

Tuesday night - Public Option edition

From this article: "We're going to get agreement here," Baucus said Monday. "The group of six really wants to get to 'yes.'"

The senators involved in the negotiations are all members of the Senate Finance Committee, and include Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chairman, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the senior Republican. Others participating are Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, and Republicans Snowe and Mike Enzi of Wyoming.

With 60 Democrats and 40 Republicans in the Senate, one might wonder why 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans have to be in agreement in this committee to push out a bill, especially if it might happen to be unacceptable to 76% of the American public.

As one commenter wrote to this post:

Stupid question, but why is the 50-50 when the D/R balance is 60/40? How was this committee formed? Is everyone in Congress math-challenged?

See here and here too.

"Because we want three Republicans to come along on this, we betray what the American people want?" said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio [pictured]. "I don't think so." . . .

"I think we have the votes to pass a strong bill," [Sen. Bernard Sanders, a Vermont Independent] said, which would include a public option for health insurance that is comparable to Medicare in its reach and cost controls. If Republicans don't agree, Sanders said, then Senate Democrats can use a strong-arm tactic called "reconciliation" to pass major elements of Obama's plan without any GOP votes.

Asked if he would like Obama to speak out more forcefully for his campaign proposals, Sanders answered: "Yeah." . . .

But in a political system dominated by Democrats, some liberals say a down-the-middle approach will give conservatives and Republicans more influence than they have earned. . . .

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday night

So the Senate Finance Committee isn't coming out with a public option, which is what 70%+ of the public wants? I guess it's good they're at least trying to come out with something before the recess. Bipartisanship is great, but the public isn't exactly "bipartisan" these days, judging by a whopping majority of Democrats in the House (I don't know the exact percentage) and a 60% majority in the Senate.

In other words, there's no reason why the legislation that people are demanding can't be passed. Contact your elected representatives and tell them what you expect of them.

There seems to be a huge disconnect in Washington between what the public expects and lobbyist-based policy as usual.

More later. (See Hendrik Hertzberg here.)

Gov't plan can coexist with private insurance

Full story here.

Jul 27th, 2009 | WASHINGTON -- A new government health insurance plan sought by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats could coexist with private insurers without driving them out of business, an analysis by nonpartisan budget experts suggests.

The estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office -- seen as good news by Democrats -- comes as leaders pushed Monday to make progress on health care overhaul before lawmakers go home for their August recess. . . .

Democrats are using the budget office's suggestion that a government-run insurance plan would not destroy private insurers to rebut one of the main charges against their proposal -- that it would lead to a federal takeover of the private health insurance marketplace. . . .

Polls have shown that Americans support the idea of a public coverage option as part of health care overhaul. . . .

More than 160 million workers and family members now get health insurance through an employer. A widely cited study by the Lewin Group, a private health research firm [owned by a health insurance company], estimated that more than 100 million people would sign up for the public plan proposed by House Democrats, making it the dominant insurer in the land.

But the budget office, in a letter Sunday to a senior Republican lawmaker, said its own estimate for the same legislation is "substantially smaller."

CBO estimates that only 11 million to 12 million people would sign up for the public plan -- making it a much smaller player in the market. The government coverage would be available alongside private plans through a new kind of insurance purchasing pool called an exchange. CBO estimated about 6 million of those enrolled in the public plan would be workers and family members of employers that joined the exchange. . . .

From Wikipedia:

During 2009, [the Lewin Group's] research was widely cited by opponents of U.S. healthcare reform as being independent.[11]

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday night

Got some things done, got some rest today. Bathed Bootsy. Dried him off with a towel and blow-dryer and let him finish the job with his tongue, since he was complaining throughout the whole process and couldn't wait to get out of the bathroom. (But he doesn't hold it against me.) Will treat his ears tomorrow--they're doing very well. Also ordered some more ointment online (cheaper than at the vet's even with $4+ shipping for the $10 tube). Watching "Design Star" now.

I guess they canned the right person on "Design Star" tonight. (I think I would have canned the other one.) "Real Estate Intervention" is very good.

Tonight I thoroughly cleaned out the cat box closet. I hadn't cleaned it out since the flooding a while back from the hot water heater leak (caused by the water pressure fluctuations in the building when they were installing a new pump). At that time I covered the floor with a beach towel since the floor was damp. Tonight I replaced the beach towel with a piece of plastic drop cloth which I taped to the walls. There was about $8 worth of cat litter on the floor, which I saved in a plastic garbage bag. (Lucky shovels it out of the boxes--so lately I've been keeping the kitty litter level lower.) (Say that ten times fast.)

Bootsy is really fat. (I could really tell when I was bathing him.) It's best that I cut down on the canned food. And Lucky is grown now.

I didn't leave my apartment all day long, except to throw garbage down the chute in the hall and go out on the terrace to water the plants. Actually, this is probably a good sign that I'm comfortable being alone here (with the cats). Normally I would get cleaned up and high-tail it over to Starbucks. Today I made my own coffee.

This weekend I decided to write a non-fiction story about my own experience with prescription drug addiction (i.e., for the most part, about B.). I think the topic is timely and my story would be a "good read" and even helpful to people. I have loads of notes. Of course I would change all the names (including mine). This seems to be a pretty big social problem these days (look at what happened to Michael Jackson). This problem has consumed a good chunk of my life (and Lord knows I love to write). I don't see a lot of stories about it -- and I read pretty widely -- but it must be affecting other people's lives and relationships.

More on the new healthcare plan

(From the same source as previous post.)

WILL MY CARE SUFFER? Critics have raised the specter that health care will be “rationed” to save money. The truth is that health care is already rationed. No insurance, public or private, covers everything at any cost. That will not change any time soon.

It is true that the long-term goal of health reform is to get rid of the fee-for-service system in which patients often get very expensive care but not necessarily the best care. Virtually all experts blame the system for runaway health care costs because it pays doctors and hospitals for each service they perform, thus providing a financial incentive to order excessive tests or treatments, some of which harm the patients.

(Emphasis added.) Harming patients, by the way, is against the Hippocratic Oath that trained physicians swear before they're allowed to practice medicine. I guess the Hippocratic Oath doesn't count for much these days, at least in the U.S.

Saturday night

Had long talk with friend in Canada tonight.

Good editorial in The New York Times explaining the whole healthcare plan. See here. Right now I'm covered by a group plan at work but see may co-pays rising (as insurance companies' profits are rising) and am now having to pay a percentage of procedures (20% of the colonoscopy/ gastroscopy) -- didn't have to pay that last time. (Somebody at work just recently had the same procedure in a hospital -- I had mine at an ambulatory center -- and had to pay $1,000 out of pocket.) I also have very high monthly drugs costs. If I were to become unemployed, I'd be in a real fix. That's a constant source of worry (people in Canada and Europe, e.g., don't have to worry about this, and they have better healthcare than we do*). So what's in the new plan for me?

WHAT IF I HAVE GOOD GROUP COVERAGE? The main gain for these people is greater security. If they got laid off or chose to leave their jobs, they would no longer be faced with the exorbitant costs of individually bought insurance but could buy new policies through the insurance exchanges at affordable rates.

President Obama has also pledged that if you like your current insurance you can keep it.

Right now employers are free to change or even drop your coverage at any time. Under likely reforms, they would remain free to do so, provided they paid a penalty to help offset the cost for their workers who would then buy coverage through an exchange. Under the House reform bill, all employers would eventually be allowed to enroll their workers in insurance exchanges that would offer an array of policies to choose from, including a public plan whose premiums would almost certainly be lower than those of competing private plans.

Some employers might well conclude that it is a better deal — for them or for you — to subsidize your coverage on the exchange rather than in your current plan. If so, you might end up with better or cheaper coverage. You would probably also have a wider choice of plans, since most employers offer only one or two options.

There's also this:

The House bill, for example, would require that all new policies sold on or off the exchanges must offer yet-to-be-determined “essential benefits.” It would prohibit those policies from excluding or charging higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions and would bar the companies from rescinding policies after people come down with a serious illness. [Emphasis added.]

Also, see Paul Krugman here ("Why markets can’t cure healthcare").

_______________
*"In fact, a study last year by an influential health policy research group, the Commonwealth Fund, found that the United States had the most expensive health care in the world, yet was in last place among industrialized countries in preventing deaths through timely and effective medical care." [New York Times]

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday night anecdote

Yesterday I noticed that the cloth stapled to the bottom of one of the two foundations for the king mattress was hanging down on one side -- it had become unstapled. I was thinking, that shouldn't be happening -- I'd bought the mattress not even two years ago.

Now I know what happened -- Lucky pawed or chewed his way inside and then the whole thing gave way. Just now as I was trying to staple it back, I felt downward pressure on the cloth and looked underneath. Lucky was sitting on it, watching what I was doing. (He had "entered" from the other side.) I yelled at him and then had to laugh. He's made himself a little hideaway under there. I'm going to have to take the mattress off and pull the whole box up and staple the cloth back.

'Partisan or Not, a Tough Course on Health Care'

Good story here. (Read the whole thing.)

Even if he goes the bipartisan route and succeeds, the end result could be comparatively modest: Perhaps fewer than 10 Senate Republicans, and perhaps not even that many in the House, party officials said. Social Security, by contrast, passed in 1935 with the support of 16 of the 25 Republican senators and 81 of the 102 Republican representatives. . . .

“Bipartisanship is a good thing in major welfare-state enterprises if they are to stick,” said David Mayhew, a professor of political science at Yale. “Otherwise, they may suffer legitimacy problems and come apart.”

That said, it is hardly clear that a bipartisan agreement on health care is even possible. A string of Congressional defeats has recast the Republican Party, leaving it smaller, more conservative and more combative.

“I wouldn’t even have hesitated two, four years ago when the numbers were so close: It would have been absolutely yes on bipartisanship,” said Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana.

He said he still believed it was important, but added, “The Republicans are reduced to a core, so there aren’t that many pragmatists left to work things out.”

James A. Thurber, the director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, said that 30 years ago, about one-third of Republicans in the House and Senate were moderate.

“In the last 30 years, we continually lost the middle, ideologically,” he said. “And the loss of the moderates makes it very difficult to get bipartisanship for major policy changes.”

The Senate Finance Committee right now offers the lone hope for the White House in its search for Republican support. That is also where the trade-off is particularly stark. It would mean giving up on some big principles, like a public plan to compete with private insurers, in return for what could be just a few Republican votes, a veneer of bipartisanship.

It is the prospect of that trade that has some Democrats worried and is another source of pressure for the White House.

“If they overstep the line in the negotiations to bring three or four Republicans along, there will be a reaction among Democrats unlike anything you’ll hear among Republicans,” Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, said Saturday. “There is a false assumption that anything you can work out with a handful of Republicans will be embraced by Democrats in the House, the Senate and across the country. That is totally wrong.”

David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, said that while he thought it was important to make a strong effort to get bipartisan support, that would not trump passing legislation Mr. Obama wanted.

“Ultimately we are going to be measured by what we do, and not by the process,” Mr. Axelrod said. “Process can’t be more important than the outcome of the legislation.” . . .

Laundry's done

As are dishes. Time to make the chili.

Saturday afternoon

Kept myself in bed past noon (I was up last night till after 3:00). I usually always go to the gym on Friday nights--it's almost a pleasure, since there are so few people there--and figure my body needs a good long sleep to repair. (And Bootsy was outside the bedroom so he couldn't wake me up.)

Had two cups of coffee over at Starbucks. It was raining lightly when I walked over there, at around 3:30. The sky remains overcast, so no hot sun beating down. There was quite a lively crowd over there, taking advantage of this weather. We had a thunderstorm while I was still in bed.

Was reading an article about the new director at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas Campbell, whose specialty is tapestries. (The one above hangs in the Met.) His favorite piece at the Met is "The Harvesters" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (below). "It's a timeless image, an affectionate but critical eye on humanity," Campbell said.

Washing a load of dishes and two loads of clothes, rugs, etc. now. When the dishes are clean, I'll make chili. Haven't made that in a while, and lean ground beef was on sale yesterday. I'll be glad to get the laundry out of the way. I usually do in on Sunday nights and tomorrow night I don't want to be in a crunch, since I'm watching "Design Star" at 9:00.

(Interesting that "Pieter" and "Bruegel" are in the spellchecker but not "Obama". Shouldn't they update that?)

Friday night

Was back at Starbucks after nap, gym, store, fried chicken and cherries. No one was sitting outside. I guess it's too hot and muggy for most (including me). I had a quick tea and read a bit. When I was crossing the side street back to my place, after 11:00, I saw B. sitting in the intersection in the black Hummer, heading home after work.

Definitely need to do laundry this weekend. Maybe I'll do the living room floor, too.

[Later] I've just spent hours trying to track down my first ex. Sent a couple of emails to some possible candidates. He used to own a house in Miami-Dade County but his name is no longer on the property rolls. He could have retired somewhere or something. (He was much older!) Two people who have found me on Facebook know me from when he and I were together way back when, and both have mentioned him. One of them was his student in Montana and the other his employer in Miami.

I met him in Tallahassee when we were both students--he was studying for his Ph.D. in humanities and I was studying for my B.A. At the time, he was a Catholic priest but we were both raised as Methodists. He ended up quitting the priesthood after they threatened to re-program him on account of his suspected homosexuality. A very long story. But he ended up embracing his God-given (if you will) tendencies. Everybody deserves love. He'd become pretty much an atheist, anyway. The last thing I knew, he was working for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools (we had split up by then, alas). Life is weird.

Bootsy has been waking me up early in the morning ever since I rearranged the furniture in the bedroom (and he has learned how to jump up on the bed). If he does it again tomorrow, I'm going to swat him with a magazine. I'm over it. He derives no benefit from this behavior, since I don't get up and feed him, for example. I chase him out of the room and close the door and go back to bed. He's got to stop it. He's an old cat and getting cantankerous, I guess. But he's met his match. Cats don't take to persuasion the way dogs do, so if this perists, both cats will be excluded from the bedroom at my bedtime (and Lucky will suffer, since he's not a problem in this regard).

(Tonight, since I need some uninterrupted rest, I'll close the cats out of the bedroom.)

Meanwhile, I'll pamper Bootsy tomorrow--give him a bath. He doesn't like the bath but feels good afterwards.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday night - Food mostly

Bought another big bag of those plump sweet cherries at Publix tonight. They're on sale for $1.99/lb., for a saving of $5/lb. Tonight, on a 2.91-lb. bag of cherries I saved $14.65!

Had no time to go to the gym last night, but will be back tomorrow. The Swiss Steak was delicious, by the way. I would have cooked the night before and gone to the gym last night, but I didn't want to make any mess in the kitchen before the inspector came yesterday morning. (Passed final inspection!) It's going to take some time getting used to the fact that I'm back in control of the kitchen (and my life, generally) and won't have people coming in and me having to wait for them and hope they show up, etc., etc. This simple kitchen remodeling project has been dragging on for well over a year.

That Swiss Steak actually turned out more Italian (but there is an Italian area of Switzerland). I added some Locatelli Romano cheese and sprinkled dried basil on top. I'll make that again. I did it on top of the stove in a large frying pan. It was very simple and turned out great. Had it for lunch today with a can of peas and carrots (OK). I'll have it again tomorrow with a can of Southwestern-style corn or collard greens.

Work is going well this week. Tomorrow's Friday--yea!

I've got the cats down to two cans of cat food a day (plus dried). That's what they're going to be getting when my neighbor comes in to feed them while I'm on vacation. This will be more healthy for Bootsy, who's pretty heavy and lumbers around. (The vet said that if he lost some weight, he'd have less stress on his kidneys.) As I've mentioned, I only amped up the canned food when Lucy got sick and was losing interest in food. And then when Lucy died and Lucky came along, I kept that up since I wanted Lucky to grow up "big and strong." He's grown now. He'll be two years old this fall (he's been here a year). He's not big but he's strong and very fast and has a long tail. Meanwhile, Bootsy has become big and fat.

'The cost of doing nothing'

From Charles Lemos at MyDD here.

I managed to catch part of the President's Town Hall in Cleveland. I have couple of observations to share. I was struck by the caliber of the questions that were more detailed, nuanced and sophisticated than those asked by some professional journalists at last night's press conference. I was also pleased to hear the President make the connection between rising health costs and flatlining real wages.

Christina D. Romer, the Chair of Council of Economic Advisers, in a prepared statement (pdf) to Committee on the Budget of the U.S. House of Representatives this past June noted that "if we can genuinely restrain the growth rate of health care costs significantly, while assuring quality, affordable health care for all Americans, living standards would rise, the budget deficit would be much smaller, unemployment could fall, and labor markets would likely function more efficiently." The reality of the matter is that we can not afford to do nothing.

Later

Having visited with B. this past weekend, I have to say the "alienation of affection" by the BF appears to be a success. I no longer mean anything to B. Actually, that's good to know.

I'd been worried about him, but maybe he's in the right hands. I couldn't deal with the drugs and the craziness. I'd already been through similar stuff over 20 years ago with my bipolar mother. The guy B.'s with now told me he'd been a doctor in Cuba. Maybe that's what B. needs--like Michael Jackson--a live-in doctor. I'm just looking after myself now, and the cats (including B.'s).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday night

Watched President Obama's press conference tonight. I hope everyone did. I think he did an excellent job explaining things. If the blue pill costs twice as much as the red pill and both pills work the same, the red pill will be prescribed. No duplicative or otherwise unnecessary medical tests or treatments. I wish he'd touched on the fact that some treatments not only are not necessary but also may be harmful--which totally goes against what good medical practice is all about (do no harm!). (Actually, he kind of did when he talked about doctors making more money off a tonsillectomy for a child's sore throat than off other, non-invasive and less expensive treatments, but he wasn't out to dump on doctors.) I'm glad he made the point about MedPAC, the Republican invention designed to keep Medicare costs down. Obama wants to beef up its role. Meanwhile I've been listening to some of the talking heads and their hyped-up crapola.

Even when I was growing up, doctors performed tonsillectomies like they were going out of style. I did have tonsillitis as a kid but didn't get my tonsils out. It turned out not to be necessary. (My mother kept a record of my childhood medical treatments in a "baby book.") A tonsillectomy is an operation, with all the risks (including death) operations involve. (The treatment can be a lot worse than the disease.)

I was up early this morning and the inspector came just before 8:30 and spent a couple of minutes looking stuff over and then signed off on the permit. This was the final inspection. This was the same guy who last week inspected the plumbing. Again, he opened the dishwasher and looked under the counter and then looked under the sink. I was glad the piece of trim between the dishwasher and stove had been fixed, since it was preventing the dishwasher door from closing properly.

Making some quickie Swiss Steak with cubed steak that was on sale. I think I'll do this more often, since these go on sale a lot and they need help. They're cooking in crushed tomatoes and Publix frozen Seasoning Blend (plus garlic powder, salt, and some pearl onions I had in the freezer). Tasty sauce. This will be packed up and taken to work for lunch.

[Later] Tired. Watched Obama instead of taking a nap, and I was up an hour early to meet the inspector (did snooze on the bus). Didn't want to rely on the talking heads or bloggers for info.

Get health reform passed before the House takes a vacation

Sign a petition here.

'Health Insurance Industry Spins Data in Fight Against Public Plan'

Via Firedoglake, see WaPo story here:

The industry that helped scuttle health reform 15 years ago with its "Harry and Louise" ads is back, voicing support for a central element of the Obama administration's plans: making sure everyone is covered.

That does not mean the industry is backing the administration. Indeed, the leader of the insurance lobby has sent lawmakers a message: Be careful what you change, because "77 percent of Americans are satisfied with their existing health insurance coverage." . . .

The poll Ignagni was citing actually undercuts her position: By 72 to 20 percent, Americans favor the creation of a public plan, the June survey by the New York Times and CBS News found. People also said that they thought government would do a better job than private insurers of holding down health-care costs and providing coverage.

In addition, data from a Kaiser Family Foundation poll last year, compiled at the request of The Washington Post, suggest that the people who like their health plans the most are the people who use them the least. . . .

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday night

Today I received the new 128 MB memory card for the digital camera. Guess what: It worked! No formatting problems or "card error." I got this through Amazon -- it came from an outfit in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The card I previously bought -- an Olympus/Samsung -- didn't work. And MemorySuppliers.com wouldn't give me a refund. They're supposed to be sending me a new one. What do you bet, that one doesn't work either. We'll see. I think my camera needs the Olympus card, not some generic card.

Tomorrow the final kitchen inspection is scheduled. I'll be up early waiting for the inspector. If the inspector doesn't come before it's time for me to leave for work, the management office will take care of it. I've spoken to both the secretary and the manager about it. I'm going to make sure the office is open before I leave. Last time I depended on them, the inspector came and they were AWOL and I had to pay a $72 re-inspection fee early in the morning at City Hall.

Email Max Baucus

Here, but read this article first.

Industry Cash Flowed To Drafters of Reform

Key Senator Baucus Is a Leading Recipient

As his committee has taken center stage in the battle over health-care reform, Chairman Baucus (D-Mont.) has emerged as a leading recipient of Senate campaign contributions from the hospitals, insurers and other medical interest groups hoping to shape the legislation to their advantage. Health-related companies and their employees gave Baucus's political committees nearly $1.5 million in 2007 and 2008, when he began holding hearings and making preparations for this year's reform debate.

Top health executives and lobbyists have continued to flock to the senator's often extravagant fundraising events in recent months. During a Senate break in late June, for example, Baucus held his 10th annual fly-fishing and golfing weekend in Big Sky, Mont., for a minimum donation of $2,500. Later this month comes "Camp Baucus," a "trip for the whole family" that adds horseback riding and hiking to the list of activities. . . .

But Baucus, a senator from a sparsely populated and conservative Western state who is serving his sixth term, stands out for the rising tide of health-care contributions to his campaign committee, Friends of Max Baucus, and his political-action committee, Glacier PAC. Baucus collected $3 million from the health and insurance sectors from 2003 to 2008, about 20 percent of the total, data show. Less than 10 percent of the money came from Montana.

Top out-of-state corporate contributors included Schering-Plough, New York Life Insurance, Amgen, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield; individual executives such as Richard T. Clark, chief executive and president of drugmaker Merck, have also made regular donations. Most of these companies, particularly major insurers, strongly oppose a public insurance option, which is favored by President Obama and top House Democrats but has not received support from Baucus's committee. . . .

But new Federal Election Commission documents filed last week show that individual lobbyists and others with health-care connections continued to make contributions to Baucus committees throughout June. Examples from Baucus's Glacier PAC include $5,000 from the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America and $2,500 from lobbyists with U.S. Strategies, which represents numerous health-care firms. Overall, half of the $110,000 in donations to the PAC from April to June came from health-care firms and lobbyists, including Schering-Plough, Medtronic and New York Life.

Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for the Public Citizen advocacy group, said the continued fundraising by Baucus during the health-care debate is "very troubling."

"He's doing all this fundraising right in the middle of this effort to mark up a bill," Holman said. "When you put these events close to matters concerning these lobbyists, clearly it's a signal. You are expected to show up with a check." . . .

(You can donate for ads to target Max Baucus here.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday night

I'm concerned that Bootsy may be upset about the new furniture arrangement in the bedroom. He's not retreating back there later at night as he normally would. I hate to upset him. Next weekend will be devoted to him. A nice bath, etc. He'll hate it at the time but then appreciate it afterward. He seems to be not so happy.

Have a nursing appointment at the doctor's tomorrow to have blood drawn. Hope I'm OK.

President Obama Responds to DeMint's Threats To Kill Health Reform And Break Him

See this post by DDay at Hullabaloo.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday night

Heavy HGTV viewing tonite, including the first episode of this season's "Design Star." Nathan and the other guy were way ahead of the pack.

On "Bang for your Buck" ($40,000 kitchens in Dallas), I saw my new faucet. (Good or bad?) (I like it.)

Fried some ground sirloin to take to work for lunch. It had been sitting in the fridge for a while and I probably would have thrown it out tomorrow, but it was fine. (The meat drawer really works.)

Was at Publix earlier, mainly to buy cat food, and they had wild Florida shrimp on sale. Bought a pound of that. I rarely buy shrimp these days since most of it is farm-raised and can taste like mud. Also bought some cubed steaks on sale. This weekend was devoted to cleaning my bedroom, so I didn't think much about cooking. Today I ordered a pizza and walked over to pick it up. Not bad and it's close.

Quote of the Day

From the tail end of this article.

In fact, a study last year by an influential health policy research group, the Commonwealth Fund, found that the United States had the most expensive health care in the world, yet was in last place among industrialized countries in preventing deaths through timely and effective medical care.

Sunday morning II

OK. Bootsy got up onto the bed, from the footstool to the nightstand.

Sunday morning

Bootsy woke me up. Going back to bed. Meanwhile I fed the cats and cleaned out the cat boxes.

Bootsy was able to get off the bed, but I still don't know whether he's able to get back up onto the bed. Last night I put him on the bed.

He used to jump from a chair to the night stand to the bed. Now the furniture's all rearranged. The chair he used to jump up on (B.'s chair) is no longer an option. Bootsy has to jump up on a different chair now. Hope he figures it out. And he can always use the plush pet stairs, which are a little flimsy. Maybe I'll have to spring for something more substantial.

Later

Glad I got that major chore done. Now I just have to fine-tune everything.

It did cool down, right as I was going to Starbucks--a storm front was coming through. The rain was just starting, so I ran back upstairs to get an umbrella (took the elevator, actually). I sat in a dry spot outside reading magazines as the bottom dropped out of the sky. By the time I'd finished two cups of coffee, it was all over but still overcast and relatively cool. So today it went from the mid-90s to the upper 70s (?) in a matter of minutes. Loved it.

Kind of a drab room, but comfortable. Except for the blue "accent wall," the walls haven't been painted since I moved here. That's B.'s scavenged chair (one of two) by the window, which is fitted with a floor-to-ceiling light-blocking shade, plus I keep the hurricane shutters closed on that window. I like it dark as a cave. I had to buy all-new window treatments when I moved here. For months I had old shower curtains covering this window.

Now, if I have the bedroom door open, the morning light from the edge of the slider in the living room will hit the blue wall and be absorbed, rather than hit me in the face and wake me up. Also I won't have to deal with the evening light if I'm taking a nap in the summertime. For a caveman, this was a smart move. I should have done it a while back.

I trust Bootsy will see that I've got the furniture arranged so he can gradually jump from piece to piece (as he learned on his own before) to get on and off the bed. (The old bed sat lower, and Bootsy was younger and lighter. He would spring right up on it.)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday night

Dirty work in the bedroom is done. That took about 1 1/2 hours. Hope I cleaned all the floor area that was beneath the bed where it sat before. It's a king-size bed and I can't just push it aside and clean beneath it. Actually I could have but then I'd have had to move other furniture out of the bedroom, and I didn't think that was necessary. The living room is next.

Now Bootsy's going to have to re-learn how to get up onto the bed. I've arranged furniture so he can get up there (he doesn't jump up directly onto it). He's going to have to go to the back of the room, unless he wants to use the plush pet stairs, which I've never seen him use.

Now I guess I should move the sunburst back over the bed. (It's heavy.)

Saturday evening

Got cleaned up and went over to B.'s place of business with my new computer. He served me fresh coffee. Demonstrated the computer (including new cat pictures) and told him about my plans to go to Savannah. He asked who I was going with. He then joked around with the others that I was taking him. Still wearing the silver wedding band. I stayed a while and left as the dinner crowd was starting to trickle in. He told me someone had stolen the safe from the office last night (an inside job, he said, since a key was used to get in.) (There was $8 in the safe.) I could have sat there and had a deal on dinner but I went to the Jumbo Chinese Buffet instead (OK). Really hot and humid outside today.

B. said his mother retired and moved with her BF to a >65 retirement apartment building in N. Miami-Dade. He helped move her.

I think I'll head over to Starbucks for more coffee. Let's see how motivated I get to start my chores in the bedroom.

Obama's Weekly Address: Health Care Reform Cannot Wait

Saturday afternoon

Glad Bootsy came in from the terrace since the heat and humidity were pouring into the living room and the A/C was going full tilt (I left the sliding door cracked so he could come back in). I can only wonder what my next electricity bill's going to be.

Had warmed-up Publix fried chicken breast and cherries for lunch. The chicken heated up nicely in the microwave, 3 minutes at 50% power. Almost like fresh. (Last night it was excellent.)

Uploaded photos to the new computer from the camera. I now know that works. Didn't try to use the new Paint.Net to edit them since it's hard to view the screen in the sunlight-flooded room. Maybe later.

Later

Watching "Property Virgins" on HGTV. This is one of my favorite shows on that channel. Sandra Rinomato goes everywhere helping first-time property buyers, from Toronto to Miami and places in between. (It's one of the many excellent Canadian shows on HGTV, including "The Stagers" and "Divine Design.")

I'm really glad I found the Paint.Net software for the netbook. That'll do just fine. I'll have to check it out further too see what other Photoshop-type features it has.

Getting used to typing on the smaller netbook. Actually, my fingers fit normally above the letters on the keyboard, but all the other keys are crammed in all around. (It's 10.1" wide.) (The keyboard for my desktop is 18.5" across.)

Today I returned the 128 MB memory card for the digital camera (barely had time to do that at work today, but I was using the packaging it came in, as instructed). Monday I'm expecting the Olympus memory card from Amazon to arrive at work. Hope it works.

Switched to "What Not To Wear." Always good.

Blogger acts almost the same with Firefox as it did with the previous version of Internet Explorer I'd been using. Just as well, if not better. I just have to change some formatting when I create indented paragraphs, which I didn't have to do before. But Firefox doesn't strip out formatting (italics and bold, e.g.), as the old Explorer did. I would then have to go back and reformat the text. So, on balance, I'm probably doing less work with Firefox.

CBO Chief Trashes Reform Bills' Cost Control Efforts

From GoozNews here.

Is this bad news for health care reformers, or a good thing?

Congressional Budget Office chief Doug Elmendorf told the Senate Budget Committee today that the cost savings in the various bills under CBO review will not affect the overall trajectory of health care costs. "On the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health-care costs," Elmendorf said, according to the Washington Post.

This testimony, viewed as disastrous by universal insurance advocates, suggests CBO perceives most of the savings put in the House and Senate versions of the legislation as "one-time" events. For instance, eliminating extra payments for Medicare Advantage will raise an estimated $150 billion over the next ten years by eliminating those extra payments, but it does nothing to reduce underlying health care inflation.

And, as I noted in this space at the time, the "savings" promised by the drug and hospital industries in those ballyhooed Rose Garden ceremonies a few weeks ago are voluntary and cannot be scored (nor should they be) by the green eyeshade crowd at CBO.

The Post quotes Arkansas Blue Dog Democrat Mike Ross saying the testimony will galvanize conservatives to push for more cost cutting in the bill. That, to me, is a good thing, as long as it doesn't sink the overall legislation when the provider special interests go ballistic.

As I've also said in this space before, we have to get past the insurance question (get everyone insured so we're all in the same boat) before we can have a meaningful society-wide discussion about getting health care cost growth down to the same rate as the rest of the economy. That, in my view, will require having a national discussion about rationing (which is addressed in this major article by Princeton University bioethicist Peter Singer in the Sunday New York Times magazine).

I also read the New York Times magazine article the other day. Unnecessary (and often harmful) tests, for example, have to be curtailed. My friend in FTL/STL (the one with the schizophrenic boyfriend), for example, told me he had to undergo over 30 tests for a prostate condition when his prostate is basically normal. This kind of over-testing pushes up the price of health care, while potentially harming the patient. The people who own the laboratories, often doctors, are basically profiteering off our healthcare system (including Medicare and Medicaid--not just the health insurance companies). We need some oversight of this now seemingly limitless (and to the patient potentially harmful) spending.

Friday, July 17, 2009

TGIF

Glad the week is over at last. I stayed late tonight doing a Photoshop project and still made it home in time for a short nap and a trip to the gym and the store, where I bought fried chicken.

Over at Starbucks now. I'm sitting right outside the front window and not having much trouble with the WiFi. I lost it once.

I've been researching free photo editing software I can use on this computer (the netbook). Didn't want to buy Photoshop for it and figured there had to be something free out there, and sure enough there was. I downloaded Paint.Net. It got about the best reviews and the interface is just like Photoshop (Gimp's sounded difficult). I can use this for editing photos I take on my trip so I can post them to the Internet.

Let's see how it works. I'll edit a Paint.Net image. There [above]. Edited image from 185K PNG to 31K JPG. Acts just like Photoshop. That's all I need.

Leaving Starbucks now. It's 11:32. I really shouldn't be drinking coffee but I felt like it and don't have to wake up early.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday night

I went over to Starbucks and couldn't get on the WiFi. Maybe I wasn't sitting close enough to the building, or maybe the breeze was too brisk. Who knows?

Just saw one of those healthcare scare ads about how bad healthcare in Canada is and how "world-class" ours is. Don't believe it. This just in from Obama's "Organizing for America":

I'm Patricia, from Hallandale Beach, Florida . . . .

Two years ago, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I'm luckier than many -- I have insurance. But when I had to stop working because of the chemo, I could no longer afford my rapidly increasing health care insurance premiums. I went through my entire retirement savings, then had to start taking out loans from my bank to keep up. Now, with my credit drying up, I'm scared that I'll lose my home and my insurance.

This shouldn't happen in America. A bad diagnosis shouldn't have to mean that everything you've worked so hard to save, and all the plans you've made, are suddenly gone.

So that's why I'm working for real health care reform. Because no one should have to feel the anguish and fear I've felt constantly these last two years. Because this crisis needs to end -- and because I know that will only happen if each of us does our part. . . .

This doesn't happen in Canada, or England, or France, or Germany, or Cuba...

Had somewhat of a rough week but it's almost over. This weekend I'm tackling the bedroom. I have to gather up a lot of stuff to take to Goodwill.

So what to watch tonight... Watching Rachel Maddow now. Now Anderson Cooper. Back to HGTV--"Real Estate Intervention." I've seen this one before but it's good.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday night

Walked down to Flanigan's to get dolphin fingers and mozzarella sticks for dinner and it was temporarily closed. The city had busted a water line and was repairing it. An employee said it would be an hour or so to fix and offered to get me something to drink. I was hungry and drove up to Fridays. Had mozzarella sticks and a "Flat Iron" steak with mashed potatoes ($12+). Didn't eat all the mashed potatoes but they were good. Steak was delicious.

Later I went to the gym.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday night

Was up early this a.m., then worked late, then no nap. Tired.

Playing fetch with Lucky.

OK, I'm Michael Jacksoned and Sonia Sotomayored out. Back to HGTV.

Had a light dinner of cherries ($2.49/lb.) and liverwurst on sea salt melba rounds. The cherries are outrageously cheap and this last bag is delicious--plump and sweet. The previous bag was not so plump and a bit sour. I know, liverwurst is full of fat and cholesterol, but I only buy it a few times a year. (The Jones Braunschweiger was on sale.)

I'm so glad Home Depot is almost done in here. Just two more incursions into my home.

Watching one of the shows where people get "subprime loans" to buy their houses (this one from 2007). No down payment. These loan terms used to surprise me, since I scraped to put 20% down.

Tuesday evening

The Home Depot guy got here at around 9:30 and did the fixes, including caulking at the tops of the cabinets where there was some separation (which is normal). He pulled out the stove and shimmed the piece of wood trim that was leaning into my dishwasher door. Perfect.

I got an email back from MemorySuppliers.com. They will exchange the camera memory card but not refund my money. OK. I'll ship it back. Hopefully I'll end up with two memory cards that work. The one from Amazon is due to arrive on the 20th, next Monday.

Tuesday morning

Isn't that the name of a store that's advertised by Lauren Bacall? I've been there.

The remote control for the gate is fixed. Now waiting for Home Depot.

Eating sea salt melba toast rounds with Underwood chicken spread.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday night

Enough about food. The stew was great, by the way.

I recently ordered a 128 MB SmartMedia card for my Olympus digital camera. It arrived today at work. When I got home and inserted it into the camera, I kept getting "Card Error." The thing wouldn't format. (I even cleaned it with Glass Plus.) I'm requesting to return it to MemorySuppliers.com (where I bought it). Meanwhile I bought a card at Amazon that's expressly for the Olympus. (The other one was for Olympus/Samsung.) The Olympus card is more expensive and didn't include free shipping, as did the other one. Amazon really got me on shipping this tiny thing (>$8). All I have to say is, it better work or it's going right back. I wanted to use the digital camera on my vacation, since it takes great pictures.

Tonight I got gas and ran by the store. When I got back, my gate-opener wouldn't work for the up ramp (it worked for the down ramp, however). The security guard said to park in the guest parking and tomorrow talk to the maintenance guy, who gets here at 8:00. That'll work, since I've got Home Depot coming here and will be up early for them (they're supposed to be here between 8:00 and 10:00). They're coming to fix some trim that's preventing the dishwasher door from closing properly.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Later

Beef stew turned out excellent (and it's even better the second day.) The best ever. Up until I started making this recipe, the best I ever had was when I was a Boy Scout (Troop 222) and we made a huge pot of it for a fair (a meet?) at the Tropicaire Drive-In at Bird Rd. and the Palmetto. (Maybe it was Gaston Beef Stew.) (It's an old recipe.)

Regarding the Bill Moyers show and what the insurance executive said. The health insurance companies have no incentive to do anything about rising medical costs. That's not their job. As costs rise, they'll pass more and more of them on to the policyholder. All they care about is keeping their outlay for medical payments at 80% (or even lower) of what they take in in premiums (with 20% for dividends and overhead, including private jets, etc.). It was noted that the percentage was 95% back in the early '90s, when Clinton was trying to pass health care. If a public option passes, the companies will have more pressure to pay out more of what they take in. The overhead for Medicare is 3%. But the important thing is that costs have to be contained. See "The Cost Conundrum" here.

Watching "Renovation Realities" now.

Today I decided to rearrange the furniture in the bedroom and clean as I go. Where the bed is now, sunlight comes through the door in the morning and streams directly into my face, waking me up too early (even though I wear a blindfold). (The blinds on the slider in the living room are closed, but the light seeps in at the edges.) (I keep the bedroom door open to allow the cats to come and go.) I'll move the bed to the opposite wall and rearrange everything else accordingly. I should have done this years ago. I already have a light-blocking shade at the bedroom window and keep the hurricane shutter closed. (The windows are floor-to-ceiling, one in each bedroom.)

Tomorrow I go to the dentist at the end of the day. Tuesday morning the Home Depot contractor comes to fix something in the kitchen.

Tired!

Back at Starbucks...

for an egg salad sandwich and a tea. Had no trouble connecting tonight.

Sunday evening

Stew is cooking now.

"60 Minutes" is not new, even though the program info says so. It always says it's new, even though it may not be.

Along with baby carrots in a bag, I used some tiny potatoes for this stew: Green Giant Klondike Gourmet Red-Yellow Fleshed Potatoes and Melissa's Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes ("No Butter Required"). Along with a stalk of chopped celery, they cook separately from the meat and are added to it during its last 15 minutes of cooking. I think what gives this recipe its great flavor is a few cloves and sherry wine. Also, the meat cooks in beef broth and tomato sauce, etc. My mother made great beef stew, but it wasn't this recipe (even though "Joy of Cooking" was her main cookbook). I was never really good at beef stew until I discovered this recipe. (I'd add a lot of Heinz 57 sauce to it, which was good but not cheap.) I've also adapted this recipe to the crockpot.

Sunday afternoon

Going to make Gaston Beef Stew from "Joy of Cooking" later. Have to go to store first.

Bill Moyers interviews former insurance executive

Must watch. A 35-minute education on American health care here.

'She Broke the G.O.P. and Now She Owns It'

See Frank Rich here.

SARAH PALIN and Al Sharpton don’t ordinarily have much in common, but they achieved a rare harmonic convergence at Michael Jackson’s memorial service. When Sharpton told the singer’s children it was their daddy’s adversaries, not their daddy, who were “strange,” he was channeling the pugnacious argument the Alaska governor had made the week before. There was nothing strange about her decision to quit in midterm, Palin told America. What’s strange — or “insane,” in her lingo — are the critics who dare question her erratic behavior on the national stage. . . .

Later

Lucky's favorite playthings are the feathered plush balls that he's chewed the feathers off of. Lately I've noticed these have gone missing (so he plays with some other balls). I've looked around for them but haven't seen them. Tonight I looked behind a dresser in the bedroom and found five of them. (Obviously he can't get at them when they go behind this dresser.) He was standing right there where I retrieved them, one by one, and threw them in his direction. He acted amazed. Just now, a while later, he brought one to me to play fetch with (he only plays fetch with these). So that's what we've been doing, playing fetch.

About time to go to bed. Cat boxes are cleaned.

When I go on vacation, the cats will be roughing it somewhat. My neighbor will not be coming here three times a day to open cans of cat food. The cats waste canned food like crazy. They'll have to deal with it. I had amped up the canned food when Lucy got sick, and then after she died and Lucky came along, I kept it up since Lucky was still growing (and Bootsy was used to it). I think Lucky's grown now and Bootsy meanwhile has gotten fat and should lose weight on account of his kidney problems (the vet said).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday night later

[Back at home.] Tonight before my session at Starbucks, I went to Chicken Kitchen again and ordered a Caesar Wrap. (The last time, I ordered a Mexican pita pocket and the thing fell apart.) I figured the wrap would hold the ingredients better. So what do they put my "wrap" in? A pita pocket! I was going to say something but just decided to see if I'd have better luck this time. It was much worse. The whole thing fell apart almost immediately. So I sat there eating chopped chicken and romaine lettuce off the paper wrapper with a soup spoon, Caesar dressing on the side. I ate the rest of the pita bread afterwards. Wasn't going to waste it.

Will call my friend in Canada. He got a new computer this week. No answer.

I was going to do some stuff around here today (I did water plants) but I had to go to Home Depot and talk to the designer about the toe plates, which have absorbed liquid and become discolored from my cleaning the floor. (They're made out of flimsy fiberboard.) I took her a sample of the material the contractor used. She said that was standard. I just wanted to know. I can repair it myself. She suggested putting some real wood down, and we checked out moldings. They have them there--wood, pre-primed, not expensive. Meanwhile I'll paint the toe kicks with white kitchen ceiling paint when I get around to finishing everything off.

While I was out, I stopped by Office Max for some printer ink and and then by Radio Shack (in the same mall, next to Home Depot) to get the mouse for the netbook computer. I love the mouse. The touch pad was horrible. As one reviewer wrote in Consumer Reports: "Make sure to get a mouse. The touchpad is almost unusable." I concur.

Saturday night at Starbucks

On the WiFi with the Acer and a new Logitech cordless optical mouse I got today. What an improvement over the stupid touch pad!

I got it at Radio Shack, where I bought the netbook, and it was the last one. When I got it home, I noticed the packaging had already been opened and carefully sealed back up with tape. I also noticed a battery was already installed. To make a long story short, the mouse wouldn't work. I did everything the troubleshooting program said, including putting in a fresh battery. The instructions said that when all else failed, send them a detailed email, including model number, part number, serial number, etc. Meanwhile I'm doing all this with the damned touch pad. Finally, when I was ready to send the email, it wouldn't send. I was about ready to pack it all back up and return it to Radio Shack when I tried putting the battery in "backwards." It immediately lit up and briskly went about its business.

The mouse transmits to a receiver that plugs into a USB port. When you've finished using the mouse, you remove the receiver from the port and attach it to the bottom of the mouse (which also turns the mouse off). Found this review here. It's a good one.

Anthony Lane reviews “Brüno”

One movie I won't be seeing. See "Mein Camp" here.

I’m afraid that “Brüno” feels hopelessly complicit in the prejudices that it presumes to deride. You can’t honestly defend your principled lampooning of homophobia when nine out of every ten images that you project onscreen comply with the most threadbare cartoons of gay behavior. A schoolboy who watches a pirated DVD of this film will look at the prancing Austrian and find more, not fewer, reasons to beat up the kid on the playground who doesn’t like girls. There is, on the evidence of this movie, no such thing as gay love; there is only gay sex, a superheated substitute for love, with its own code of vulcanized calisthenics whose aim is not so much to sate the participants as to embarrass onlookers from the straight—and therefore straitlaced—society beyond. . . .

I realized, watching “Borat” again, that what it exposed was not a vacuity in American manners but, more often than not, a tolerance unimaginable elsewhere. Borat’s Southern hostess didn’t shriek when he appeared with a bag of feces; she sympathized, and gently showed him what to do, and the same thing happens in “Brüno,” when a martial-arts instructor, confronted by a foreigner with two dildos, doesn’t flinch. He teaches Brüno some defensive moves, then adds, “This is totally different from anything I’ve ever done.” Ditto the Hollywood psychic—another risky target, eh?—who watches Brüno mime an act of air-fellatio and says, after completion, “Well, good luck with your life.” In both cases, I feel that the patsy, though gulled, comes off better than the gag man; the joke is on Baron Cohen, for foisting indecency on the decent. The joker is trumped by the square. . . .

A comment from Firedoglake here.

something about straight guys playing gay guys to the stereotype reminds me of white guys doing blackface.

My sentiments exactly.

Friday night

After I went to the store, I went over to Starbucks with the netbook and went on the WiFi. I need to get comfortable with the new computer. There was a problem with the WiFi and one of the baristas (female) helped me out. Had a tea there, then I was hungry. Ate roast beef and a beef and bean burrito back at home. That's why I'm up so late, but that's OK.

TGIF

I'm so looking forward to my vacation.

Tonight I had a nice nap with the cats and then went to the gym and the store to buy them a load of cat food, etc. Since I locked Lucky out of the bedroom on Wednesday evening due to his jumping around while I'm trying to nap, he's been on his best behavior.

Ate like a pig today, at breakfast time at least. I love it that we have free breakfast on Fridays. I O.D. on the all carbs. (We used to have eggs and bacon and sausage, but they cut that out.) Then today, to top it off, my supervisor was going to be late so she stopped at the grocery store to get us our favorite ice creams. Glad I did my walk this morning and went to the gym. I want to be in good shape for my trip. Fortunately my supervisor slipped up and bought me reduced-fat Edy's butter pecan ice cream instead of the full-fat version. (I don't eat a lot of ice cream, but if you give it to me, I'll eat it.)

Roy Blunt: “Best” if Medicare, Medicaid were Never Created

See post here.

As Christy points out, Republican and insurance-lobby whinings about "rationing" and "more choices" sound particularly silly when you realize that health care already is being rationed by a system that makes it impossible for anyone but the rich to take full advantage of the choices it provides.

GLAAD: 'Bruno' reinforces negative gay stereotypes

See complete story here.

Jul 10th, 2009 | LOS ANGELES -- The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said Friday that "Bruno," the new film starring Sacha Baron Cohen, reinforces negative stereotypes and "decreases the public's comfort with gay people." . . .

Universal Pictures, which released "Bruno," sought GLAAD's input on the film and invited staff members to advance screenings, Barrios said.

The organization "shared a number of concerns, and unfortunately, the scenes that we had the biggest concerns about remained in the film," Barrios said. . . .

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Thursday night

Watching Anderson Cooper. All this stuff coming out about Michael Jackson's drug use. Reminds me a lot about B. I really didn't know about B.'s drug use until after he'd moved here. (They try to keep it a secret because they still want to be loved.) A few months after he'd moved in, we went on a cruise together. He was acting very strange, e.g., passing out for hours and difficult to wake up, which couldn't be explained by some beers and Grand Marnier.

At one point while he was passed out in the cabin (we had a nice cabin with a terrace, although behind some lifeboats), I went through his suitcase and found a Zip-Lock bag of various pills and flushed them down the toilet. Big mistake. I think it was the next morning, when we were getting breakfast before arriving back in Miami, he collapsed at the breakfast buffet and went into a seizure on the floor. He dropped his tray and everything, with all these people looking on. (A long story.) Then when we got back home to the apartment, he had another seizure. I had no idea what was going on. Then we went over to his "best friend's" (who I didn't know at the time was a drug dealer) and (unbeknownst to me) he got more drugs.

The drug dealer died eventually from an overdose (at age 50 or 51) and then B. had another seizure, at his place of business. (Another long story.) That's when he ended up in rehab. And then this new guy comes along supplying him drugs again... (Where he's living now.)

As much as I still care about B. (for no good reason, it seems), I'm just glad that this is no longer happening under my nose. It was very difficult to deal with. And I'd already dealt with my mother's bipolar disease back in my 20s and very early 30s, until she died. (I have lots of long stories.) (Including AIDS stories that were happening back then.) I was whooped already.

Thursday night - Roast beef edition

Came home and put a bottom round roast in the oven (on sale at Publix for $2-something/lb.). Took a nap and then got a Mexican pita pocket at Chicken Kitchen by the Starbucks. Ate that outside at Starbucks after getting a tea. Good sandwich -- lots of chopped chicken breast, plus shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream--worth the $8, I guess. (I only got it since Starbucks had run out of turkey and Swiss.) But the pita busted open half-way through and I ended up eating a lot of it with a fork, which was OK.

Bottom round roasts are really a great deal (esp. when on sale). Here's a comparison between an 85 g. hamburger (ground sirloin -- 10% fat) and an 85 g. serving of bottom round roast beef.

Calories: 196 for the hamburger, 144 for the roast beef

Fat calories: 92 for the hamburger, 41 for the roast beef

Cholesterol: 25% for the hamburger, 20% for the roast beef

Protein: 25 g. for both

(Source)

(Ground sirloin usually costs a lot more, even when it's on sale vs. the cost of the roast on sale.)

And nothing could be easier to prepare than a roast beef. I preheat the oven to 325 F. Then coat the roast with salt, pepper and garlic power. Then throw it in the oven for however long it takes to get it to the doneness you prefer (approx. 1/2 hr. per pound). I use a digital thermometer to test for doneness. You can go out and run errands while the roast is in the oven. (It probably uses more electricity than frying a hamburger, but there are multiple servings in a roast.)

I also made a great gravy tonight just from what was stuck to the bottom of the roasting pan (the "fond"). First I put water in the pan to soften it up for a while, then heat it up and scrape the bottom of the pan with a fork or whisk to dissolve it, then thicken with gravy flour (Wondra). (I always coat the roasting pan with non-stick spray before roasting.)

Sometimes I also embed fresh garlic inside the roast [see photo]--just make a channel with a sharp steak knife and push the garlic down inside the roast with your finger. I use half cloves.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wednesday night

Back at the gym tonight after a brief nap. I've been noticing a guy in there who looks like Ben Affleck, only better looking.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Email the President about preserving the public health care option

Here.

It's telling that health insurance company stock prices rose when Rahm Emanuel talked about embracing "triggers," which let business go on as usual, i.e, trying to deny health care for people in need. Meanwhile the health insurance industry is spending $1.4 million a day lobbying against a public option.

Reid to Baucus: Stop Chasing GOP Votes on Health Care

From Firedoglake here.

Roll call is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday ordered Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to drop a proposal to tax health benefits and stop chasing Republican votes on a massive health care reform bill:

Reid, whose leadership is considered crucial if President Barack Obama is to deliver on his promise of enacting health care reform this year, offered the directive to Baucus through an intermediary after consulting with Senate Democratic leaders during Tuesday morning’s regularly scheduled leadership meeting. Baucus was meeting with Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) Tuesday afternoon to relay the information.

According to Democratic sources, Reid told Baucus that taxing health benefits and failing to include a strong government-run insurance option of some sort in his bill would cost 10 to 15 Democratic votes; Reid told Baucus it wasn’t worth securing the support of Grassley and at best a few additional Republicans.

Whip it!

See here and here and here too. Digby has a lot on this too.

And see Josh Orton here.

Tuesday night

After work, I drove down to Home Depot to return an unopened box of cabinet trim left over from the kitchen remodel. That'll be credited to my account. I wanted to return it when the kitchen designer was there so she could process it. (It's been sitting on my living room floor for months.) I also showed her a couple of pictures I'd taken of the irregular sealing job around the sink and a crooked piece of filler wood that the dishwasher door has been catching on. One more thing I forgot to tell her about--the kickplates are made of some kind of cardboard and have become stained from soaking up liquid when I've washed the floor. I would think these should be rubber or plastic. (I guess they can be painted, but why should I have to do that?) I'll tell her about that tomorrow. There aren't a lot of these and I think they could be easily replaced or just have rubber ones glued over them. We'll see what she says.

Tonight I sauteed 1 3/4 lbs. of chicken livers in butter and olive oil with chopped onions and a little white wine (vermouth, actually, which is what I usually use for cooking--learned that from Julia Child). Came out great. Had some for dinner and will take the rest to work tomorrow. These only cost $1.59/lb. (vs. $4 for hamburger) and have to be better for you. Well, I looked them up here. They're very high in cholesterol (but it doesn't say which kinds). But my doctor says I don't have a cholesterol problem since I have a high level of good cholesterol.

Watching a little of Michael Jackson's memorial service. Very nicely done. But enough for me. Watching "The Stagers" now.