Friday, July 31, 2009
isn't it cute?
Monday, July 27, 2009
Here’s to your health, unless you are too old, too young, too disabled or any combination of the above. The health care reform bills wending their way through Congress should be focused on the well being of each citizen. Instead, it seems the bills, designed to contain costs while simultaneously extending health coverage to everyone, target certain vulnerable groups including the elderly, the pre-born, and the disabled. It all comes down to cost. How to pay for this colossus remains a question on the Hill. But the consensus seems to be: raise taxes and ration care. Both ideas have been woven into the current health care bills.
DANGER TO THE ELDERLY
The elderly or people with catastrophic diseases are clearly in the sights of the Administration and the Congressional leadership for the simple reason that they cost too much. A quarter of all Medicare payments occur in the last year of life, costing the government more than 100 billion dollars a year according to Forbes Magazine.
I spoke this week with Betsy McCaughey, a patient advocate and former lieutenant governor of New York. Ms. McCaughey has actually read the various bills coming out of the House and Senate committees (which is more than one can say for most of the members of Congress). What she has found should give us pause. In a recent article, McCaughey wrote:
“One troubling provision of the House bill compels seniors to submit to a counseling session every five years (and more often if they become sick or go into a nursing home) about alternatives for end-of-life care (House bill, p. 425-430). The sessions cover highly sensitive matters such as whether to receive antibiotics and ‘the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration.’ This mandate invites abuse, and seniors could easily be pushed to refuse care.”
This “Advance Care Planning Consultation” would encourage all of us, but especially those with severe illnesses to submit to hospices rather than pursue expensive therapies that might extend life (and cost a bundle). The bill also establishes a tracking system to insure that doctors are advocating “advance care directives” where you predetermine what type of care you would accept or refuse at the end of life. The problem with all of this is it assigns a utilitarian value to human life. If you are too old or disabled, there will be a built in incentive to push you into hospice and palliative care rather than work to beat the disease. Inexplicably, the AARP supports this provision. Talk about thinning your base…
Two House committees have rejected amendments banning the funding of abortion in the Health Care Reform bill. The way abortion funding works is: if it isn’t specifically banned, chances are it is covered.
If there are any doubts about where this Health Care Reform plan is headed, look at what happened in the Senate. On July 9th Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) managed to pass an amendment that compels insurance providers to pay for “preventive care and screenings” for “pregnant women and women of child-bearing age.” This seems innocuous enough. But when Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah) asked if the amendment would include abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood clinics, the answer was basically, yes. When Hatch suggested adding language that read: “not including abortion” he was rebuffed. His formal amendment to prohibit abortion funding in the Health Care Reform plan was also defeated in committee.
Remember: The “essential benefits package” covered by the government plan won’t be determined until AFTER the reform bill is passed. An amorphous “Advisory Committee” run by the pro-choice, Catholic, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will establish benefits and covered treatments. Given the administration’s track record, it is hard to imagine that abortion would be excluded from coverage. For more on this hidden "Supreme Court of Health Care" check out David Broder's very good piece here: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/24/AR2009072402079.html
[the entire article can be read here]
Monday, July 20, 2009
Today is the 40th anniversary of the landing on the moon in 1969. Go here to see this video which Buzz Aldrin is narrating.
I bought the DVD series When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions -- last fall and we actually just got around to watching them. They are incredible! I highly recommend them. The astronauts are being interviewed throughout - which just adds so much to this documentary. It's a great treasure to have. And the kids actually really enjoyed it too, which is good. That's the reason I purchased it!
Friday, July 17, 2009
I'm thinking we'll read some more Narnia books [having only read the 2nd book thus far] - gotta brush-up on all my different British accents for all the characters in this series! - , and probably this one too - by Kate DiCamillo, author of Despereaux - which was suggested to me by Megan.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
We have some friends that went on vacation for 3 wks. and asked us to pick their blueberries while they were gone! They just didn't want them to go to waste.
The first time we went, I took everyone. The bad news, was that when I went to get Joseph, the 4yo, out of the truck... he had no shoes on! This proved to be a blessing though. I just had Dani take him and Charlie to the trampoline while the other 3 kids and I trekked to the bushes [which are approx. 10-12ft. tall]. Therese and Sophia were pretty helpful. John Paul... not so much. He was fine, just not pickin'.
It took us about an hour each visit to fill our 1.6 gal. tupperware container. Both times we filled our container - for a grand total of 3 gallons of blueberries! For those of you who have never been blueberry picking, it is very time consuming - picking every little berry one at a time, proves to be quite a chore ;)
There were SO many. I hated to leave them all just sitting there. But the girls were getting 'ready' to go. And I knew we should probably head back home so I could start dinner.
So far I made some jam, and blueberry muffins. This recipe was suggested to me by a friend and she posted it on facebook. I highly recommend it. And for those of you who use allrecipes.com you'll know by the rating that they are awesome. So if you're interested, surprise your family this week with these muffins. And if you don't have fresh or your grocery store is out, frozen would be fine too - just make sure they're totally thawed.
Oh and if you'd like a blueberry sauce for pancakes or cheesecake and such, this recipe is the bomb!
In other news, Dani took off to Ocean City, MD with Oma and Opa, to meet Paul's brother and his family. They rented a condo for the week. We would've all like to have joined them, but it wasn't in the financial cards for us this year.
She left last Friday morning and surprisingly... we've done really well. I've come to realize that I rely on her much more than I actually need to. But when she's here, it's just easier to say "Dani could you......?" - I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, but something I think I'll try to curb. And I will say that most of what she does is just part of being in a family. Large, or otherwise.
The other good news is that she is having a blast - getting to hang out with her cousin who is a year younger than she is. Sunday and Monday they'll go visit Washington D.C as well, since they're so close. Then Tuesday we leave for our drive up to OH to Karl's house [Paul's brother] to pick up Dani. We'll come back on Saturday.
In the meantime, my sister comes to visit!! She'll be here on July 20th [next Monday night]. We won't be able to see her until we get back from Ohio, because we leave Tues. morning. But the cool thing is that while we're in Ohio, she and my parents will fly to Houston to visit
Then, a few days after she leaves, we are headed for the beach! Yay! My dear brother Chris and his wife Nina got a beach house for the week and my parents and we are coming along to join them! So we'll be gone for a week with them and Chris' 2 daughters [ who I am so excited to see, it's been 2yrs since I've seen them... 2 yrs is a long time in the life of young girls, 14 and 11!]. I can't wait for us all to be together. It's going to be a blast. I'm just sorry that Kayla won't be joining us on our trip - college bound :(
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Dani headed up this experiment - it consists of 6 short videos; camera's video setting.
To make your own Wizard's Brew
a clean glass jar/s
STEP 1: half-fill a glass jar with clear vinegar. Add several drops of food dye, then sprinkle a little fine glitter over the top of the vinegar.
STEP 2: Add a good squeeze of dishwashing liquid to the jar. Then, gently stir the mixture with a metal spoon to mix everything together.
STEP 3: Put the jar in the middle of a large baking tray or a sink. Add a heaped teaspoon of baking soda to the jar and see what happens.
~~~~The foam that pours out of the jar is formed by a simple chemical reaction. When the vinegar and baking soda mix, they make lots of tiny bubbles of gas. The bubbles churn up the dishwashing liquid, making lots of foam!~~~~
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
To refute the assertion that we have a right to wear whatever we want, imagine the following. Doing your best to concentrate on the great spectacle of divine grace that is about to unfold, you are dutifully and fruitfully praying before Mass -- dutifully because you regard attending Mass as a holy obligation wherein you are bound not only to worship God but also to strive for the removal of the impurities that keep you from Him, and fruitfully because you have on this rare occasion penetrated the fog of sloth and distraction that normally envelops your tired soul and are truly feeling the loving presence of Christ.
Into the church I stride, hoofing it proudly down the central aisle right past your pew, sporting a set of antlers from Cervus elaphus, the North American elk. It is an impressive rack, just the kind that sets the does to nudging and whispering -- twelve points, not counting the knobs. Be honest. No matter how deeply in prayer you had mercifully fallen, wouldn't you be jolted completely out of the sweet arms of grace? Wouldn't you, now kneeling amid the shattered pieces of your holy reverie, say to yourself, "Antlers! That idiot is wearing antlers!"
Further, imagine that I shuffle proudly into the pew right in front of you, fully aware that I had attracted everyone's attention. And there you are, stuck for the entire Mass, peering through my great rack at the priest. And there you are a bit later at the most holy part of the Mass, the elevation of the consecrated Host, framed for you by those same ridiculous antlers. And then, walking up to receive our precious Lord, you are not piously thinking, "My Lord and my God," but either impiously cursing or uncontrollably laughing. Your chance to restore your soul is shot for the week.
Go ahead and read the article in its entirety here.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Alan Keyes has a very thought-provoking post here.
In my opinion [and let me say again: my opinion], Sarah Palin is way overrated. I didn't care for her as a running mate and I surely don't care about her resignation and future plans. Tough tooties the Left gave her a bunch of crap - it's their way, plain and simple. I mean, it can't really be that unbelievablely shocking the things they said about her, wrote about her or showed about her - can it?? It's just par for the course with the libs, ya know? I don't have ill feelings toward her or about her... it's just that in my book, she's not the conservative with a moral compass she's touted as being.
When you read his post it'll become clear: we need true soldiers! Leaders who know that our freedom and responsibility to govern comes from Our Creator!
On March 31, 2008 Sons of Maxwell began our week-long-tour of Nebraska by flying United Airlines from Halifax to Omaha, by way of Chicago. On that first leg of the flight were seated at the rear of the aircraft and upon landing and waiting to deplane in order to make our connection a woman sitting behind me, not aware that we were musicians cried out: "My god they're throwing guitars out there". Our bass player Mike looked out the window in time to see his bass being heaved without regard by the United baggage handlers. My $3500 710 Taylor had been thrown before his.
I immediately tried to communicate this to the flight attendant who cut me off saying: "Don't talk to me. Talk to the lead agent outside". I found the person she pointed to and that lady was an "acting" lead agent but refused to talk to me and disappeared into the crowd saying "I'm not the lead agent". I spoke to a third employee at the gate and when I told her the baggage handlers were throwing expensive instruments outside she dismissed me saying "but hun, that's why we make you sign the waiver". I explained that I didn't sign a waiver and that no waiver would excuse what was happening outside. She said to take it up with the ground crew in Omaha.
After being put through the usual customer non-service wringer - maybe he should have called The Fixer! - Carroll embarked into the seedy underworld of corporate irresponsibility and denial of service that major airlines really excel at. Rather than a simple "sorry, our bad," and an offer to fix the issue, he got a series of more maddening conversations and correspondents with various United personnel, culminating in this gem of an exchange:
Another month went by and I received an email from a Ms. Irlweg, in Chicago I believe. Basically said she was sorry this happened and denied my claim. Some of her reasons included :
* I didn't report it to the United employees who weren't present when we landed in Omaha
* I didn't report to the Omaha airport within 24 hours while I was driving to places that weren't Omaha
* It was an Air Canada issue
* Air Canada already denied the claim (as I mentioned, because Air Canada would not pay for United's damages), but I'm still unsure as to why I needed to report it in Omaha within 24 hours if it was clearly Halifax's responsibility
* Someone from United would need to see the damage to a guitar that was repaired
So after nine months it came down to a series of emails with Ms. Irlweg and, despite her refusal to introduce me to her supervisor, our conversations ended with her saying United would not be taking any responsibility for what had happened and that that would be the last email on the matter. My final offer of a settlement of $1200 in flight vouchers, to cover my salvage costs repairing the Taylor, was rejected.
Okay - so that's the run-around-of-the-story. So what did he do after nearly a year of playing their games you may ask? This is what he did. This is his ULTIMATE REVENGE - the link will take you to the complete write-up and video - and not only is it hysterically funny, it worked!
Not only did it grab the attention of United Airlines, Taylor Guitars, news media around the country - it got the attention of everyday folks too. Folks who are flying on their vacations. Folks who are flying on business. Folks who are flying to their gigs.... who have....guitars!