Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Don't let the bear get you...

This has been a crazy day. Work is pushing me to the edge. I am stressed out and tired. I am reminded of the stage directions from Shakespeare's 'The Winter's Tale.'

From Act III, Scene III - [Exit, pursued by a bear]

Have you ever had days when you left work knowing there was a "bear" right behind you? Following you out the door?

Today is just like that.

A day when I gave it my best effort and I still left for home knowing that "the beast" was hanging over my head and it was going to occupy my thoughts through the rest of the evening and maybe into the night and be waiting for me the next day.

Haven't you felt that way one time or another? The feeling that the "bear" is breathing down your neck and closing fast...

The worst way to deal with it is to put our head in the sand and deny that it is looming on the horizon.

The best way to deal with a "bear" is to turn and confront it.

Whether it's a late project, a missed deadline, a disgruntled supervisor or whatever.

Act decisively and deal with it.

Break it down and handle it in chunks - but deal with it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act

A little over two weeks ago on Tuesday, July 10, President Bush addressed a crowd here in Cleveland, Ohio at the Intercontinental Hotel.

Here is what the President said, in part, about health care:

“Let me talk about health care, since it's fresh on my mind. The objective has got to be to make sure America is the best place in the world to get health care, that we're the most innovative country, that we encourage doctors to stay in practice, that we are robust in the funding of research, and that patients get good, quality care at a reasonable cost. The immediate goal is to make sure there are more people on private insurance plans. I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.

Here is what Larry James said about his speech:

"In his speech, the President goes on to argue against expanding almost any version of our public health care system that might eventually lead to a comprehensive, national health coverage plan, including coverage for children just above the national poverty line. This is understandable given his political ideology.

Now, we can legitimately debate the particulars of universal coverage and how to achieve that goal. The President's comments in the speech provide several "jumping off" points for such a debate. I respect the fact that the subject is complex and that numerous special interests are involved and have combined to make the entire issue a political quagmire for everyone.

My attention is riveted on the remark the President made that actually reveals his perspective on what health care actually means, what it entails. "I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.”

I expect that any physician, hospital administrator or public health official who heard that statement must have been shocked, stunned, terrified and thoroughly amazed all at once! For the President of the United States to equate health care with a visit to an emergency room demonstrates just how serious our national public health crisis really is.

No wonder we are now spending over 15% of our annual Gross Domestic Product on health care related costs, while achieving so little return on our investment in quality public health outcomes when compared to other industrialized nations.

One of the President's major concerns as expressed later in the Cleveland address is how to best use our funds to achieve the maximum in public health quality and benefit. How such a concern squares with his placing the ERs of America in the default position for the nation's uninsured escapes me.

Everyone knows that the emergency department is one of the most expensive health care venues available and is designed to be a station of last resort, or the first stop in an acute emergency situation.

In the same speech in Cleveland, the President vowed to veto a bipartisan plan to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program to more adequately care for the health of all of America's children.

Members of his own party expressed shock at his threat, given the fact that the President had not had a chance to review the legislation.
There is a lot wrong here. But, in my view, we can trace it all back to the simple-minded misconception that everyone already has health care.

I mean, after all, anyone can go to the emergency room when they need to see a doctor."

The Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act deserves our support and presents a real quandary for Republicans. As Larry pointed out above the president has promised to veto it without even reading it.

The bill is designed to be paid for with a tax increase on tobacco. The House bill would also cut overpayments to managed care companies in the Medicare program in order to stave off cuts in physician reimbursement under Medicare. It would also increase funding for rural health care.

At least 20 Republicans are expected to ignore their president and vote in bipartisan fashion for the bill.

Let your congressman know how you feel.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

camp pictures....

The view from the drive prior to tear down - the well head is right of center above

The view from the drive after the tear down - only a little more to the right. Well head at the center - Malibu is the blonde who is right of center in the picture

Digging the foundation and basement - looking out on the pond

My neighbor Bob keeping a watchful eye on the goings on - thanks Bob!

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Returned from Vermont

Well the old camp is down and hauled away and after a day of excavation we now have a hole in the ground.

By the end of next week the concrete guys should be there and we should have a secure foundation attached to a significant ridge of bedrock that stretches like a humpback whale right through the middle of our property. The ledge is only about 2 or 3 feet below the surface any where on our lot.

I will drop some pictures in this posting later today.

On Saturday, while in New England, I was able to attend a retirement party for my friend Decker Clark who has been preaching and teaching for the Leominster church since the early sixties.

On Sunday I went with friends to the Vermont Mozart Festival and heard the orchestra play four pieces by American composers :

Leonard Bernstein- Overture to Candide
Aaron Copland- Appalachian Spring
Samuel Barber- Adagio for Strings
George Gershwin- Concerto in F Major for Piano and Orchestra

It was a really wonderful night on the lawn on top of the Von Trapp mountain - surrounded by the Green Mountains. Appalachian Spring and Adagio for Strings are two of my favorite pieces and it was just magic.

Yesterday was spent staking out the property and watching a very large backhoe dig it up. The earth smelled rich and as work was beginning, I did not want to leave.

It was a good and productive weekend.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007


People are the most important thing in my life


Having a genuine connection with a friend that you can trust

Knowing that they will always keep your best interests in mind - before their own

Self-sacrifice is not instinctive

It is learned and relearned on the anvil of life

Hammered out, like metal that is heated and reheated, until it is a stronger part of who we are than our own ambitions or desires

Those kinds of friendships... forged in self-sacrifice... truly are priceless

Friendship is a sheltering tree - Samuel Coleridge

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

the economic naturalist

Why do women button their clothes from the left, and men from the right?

With regard to the positioning of buttons on clothes. Why are they on the right for men, and the left for women, especially since, for the 90 percent of the population who are right-handed, it's much easier to do up buttons from the right?

It's because when buttons were introduced in the 17th century, they were affordable only by the wealthy. As rich men then dressed themselves, they did so from the right; whereas wealthy women were dressed by servants, who preferred to button them up from the left. The custom continues today, even though fewer women are dressed by servants, because there has been no incentive for the fashion industry to change it.


executive privilege

"WASHINGTON, July 9 — President Bush invoked a broad interpretation of executive privilege on Monday in his confrontation with Congress over the dismissal of federal prosecutors, refusing to comply with subpoenas for documents and blocking testimony from former White House aides."

I really want to understand the logic...

If Vice President Dick Cheney is, in fact, a member of the Legislative Branch of government as he claims and not the executive branch - can Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont rightfully subpoena him to testify because he does not fall under executive privilege?

All this President needs is a bulbous red nose and some big red shoes.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Precious Time...

It seems to me that we don't take enough time for rest and reflection.
What happens with us is that our weekend ends up being as packed as our week and what should be a couple of days of much deserved rest get jam packed with activity. And all of it good activity. But activity nevertheless.

This weekend there are no plans. Its the first weekend of the summer where there is NOTHING planned. It is the last weekend like that for a while.

It's my intent to enjoy it to it's fullest. I have not cracked a book since it was cold. Time to read.

Time to just sit in the backyard and contemplate the back of my eyelids if I want to.

Time to garden.

Time to eat slowly.

Time to laugh with friends.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The same but not...

I used to love to memorize the words to songs when I was a kid. My father had a collection of country music albums and I would stand beside the console record player for hours playing and replaying each song until I had memorized them all. Dad was a Marty Robbins, Jimmy Dean, Tom T. Hall fan - so there were lots of storytelling songs.

I think that is why good lyrics are so important to me - because I can relate to words that have meaning.

I have a friend and he likes the tunes, and if a tune is catchy, he will enjoy the song – but lyrics are not all that important to him.

We both love music. But we appreciate different parts of it.

Now, I could argue that the lyrics are the heart of the song and if the words are lousy then the song has no meaning.

And he could argue, just as forcefully, that if the music isn’t well written and does not have a beautiful melody or a hummable tune then no one will bother listening to the words – no matter how meaningful they are.

He’d be wrong of course. But he could argue it.

And yet we both love music. We both enjoy different aspects of the same art.