On Healthcare

When it comes to Healthcare, I’ve a little experiment to suggest. You can take the combined brain mass of the intellectuals around the world, and defy them to come up with a mess. I’ll bet the feather on my hat that they could not come up with a solution that matches the large scale bungling that capitalism has produced.

There are certain things that Doctors have to do to survive, and there are certain things that Insurance companies have to do to survive. What’s the wrong with that? Nothing *shrugs shoulders* Everyone could sing and admire sunrises, but for the minor blemish on the horizon: The things that Insurance companies and Doctors have to do to be healthy financially don’t always intersect with the fact that the patient has to healthy.

Let’s consider a chest congestion. If the same ailment were to befall me in my hometown in India a few years ago, I would walk up to the clinic across the street. Not in the mood for a clinic? No problem, I’ll settle for the pharmacy and refer lovingly to the “brother” who runs the store as “Anna”, and say I have a cough. If I could cough for him grossly, with the ringing sound of phlegm, he would prescribe me an anti-biotic in a jiffy. Two days later, I can breeze along the streets of Broadway and perform as the lead singer at the Italian Opera without anybody being any the wiser.

Not so here – uh uh! Nope! I have to get a minimum for 3 appointments before the anti-biotic, charging my insurance company I know not how much, and charging me my “co-pay” each time. Let’s say, the co-pay is $20. $60 and 10 days later, I am still no closer to getting a cure than a baboon coughing up phelgm without any access to health care in the Congo basin.(I don’t know whether baboons cough, but let’s assume they do) Then, it is prudent to have a meltdown in the Doctor office, at which point a nurse would stir in your direction, and touch you with her sympathy. By the time, the anti-biotics come along, the lung that’s been wheezing along fine thus far looks pneumonic, and a chest x-ray is in order, the bronchial tract that was hitherto clear has constricted making you whistle everytime you breathe. In short, you can forget the opera, and the coughing baboon in Congo is better off, because it did not lose $60.

I am not saying that walking to a pharmacy and having an anti-biotic prescribed has merits. But you must accept, it has ease and works for 80% of the minor ailments that befall a middle aged person.

Now, we come to Pricing. You can get the medications from an approved pharmacy for $160, whereas the same thing in Walmart costs something the common man can afford(like $10). It has happened to me, I got something for $4 in Walmart, while the same medication cost $100 in Walgreens after the co-pay of $20!

What is frightening is, where does this rip off stop?

Does it make older people feign health as long as they can possibly help it rather than get entangled in the quagmire of health care?

As if, the medical healthcare industry has not caused enough heart-ache, they are now becoming creative. Case in point: this lady’s depression treatment was denied because she put up photographs of herself in a bar on her birthday on Facebook!

http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20091123/ap_on_hi_te/cn_canada_facebook_insurance

(which incidentally lends credence to my previous post on Facebook)

Where does this long road lead?

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I can’t decide – Sarah Palin or Dan Brown? Help me to.

Every year, publishers are swamped with thousands of what they term “unsolicited” manuscripts. Some of them must be good stories that rot and die for want of any number of reasons. But to think that Dan Brown rode on his past popularity, and hit a million books with ‘The Lost Symbol’ is just plain criminal. This book has been such a disappointment, that I was actually thinking unsavory thoughts of the gall of marketing a work as frivolous as Lost Symbol.

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/103075-the-lost-symbol-exceeds-one-million-sales.html

It looks to me like Dan Brown was lost, and was looking for something to write – his mortgage was up for renewal, and folks had lost interest in Da Vinci Code. He looked skyward for inspiration and said – “Oh please give me something that I can spin a yarn with. I am lost – all I have is a Symbology professor!”

Lost Symbol was born.

I can’t tell you the number of times Robert Langdon “reeled”, and “had no idea what that meant” in the book. A 150 page book would have done better justice to Noetic Science & Free Masons than the 650 pages he doled out.

Then, just when you have to restore your faith in the world by cramming in a few good books, along comes this excuse for an author: Sarah Palin. Here is a link to a speech she once gave: her resignation to be precise, which has been corrected for our benefit.

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2009/07/palin-speech-edit-200907

One has to question the system that displays her books prominently in book shops. Yet, I would not be surprised to see the book on the best selling lists soon. After all, literature, humour and plot don’t sell half as well as controversy and marketing do.

A walk in the clouds

Dear muscles,

I am pleased that you have started doing well. To admonish the muscles that got me up there is cruel. Yet, it must be done. I did not like the way you jabbed when I straightened my legs, and tightened that way when I sat. I know I have been out of shape lately, but the rest after the half marathon demanded that.

It now feels like a good idea to appreciate those muscles that have done their part for me without letting me know of their presence. I now know you are there – “Hi!”.

Now, please go back to being inconspicuous. Thank you!

With regards,
Nutty Hiker in the Clouds

A bunch of friends and I did the Mission Peak hike on Saturday. Talking while walking is the best thing one can think of – slowly, we ascended, past the cows, and the fresh dung, with an enthusiastic dog that reminded me a lot of Snowy in Tintin’s adventures. Closer and closer to the clouds and then into the clouds. A light misty spray as walked in the clouds, and before we knew it, we were on the mountain top, walking in the clouds. How dreamy is that?

As my letter indicates, the old muscles don’t take lightly to being taken on a surprise hike up a mountain anymore. I had to be pretty firm with them.

But I am happily sore – how often does one get to walk on the clouds, while being in them?

School Uniforms

It’s like an eagle flew by and dropped this on my lap.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/08/fashion/08cross.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1

This article helpfully sheds light on the increasingly different ways in which dress codes (or lack of it) cause problems at US schools. Some children have taken to cross dressing just to be “different”. Reminds me of that television ad for sauce

It’s different
What’s different
Nothing…it’s different
It’s sauce!

Why doesn’t the American Public School system just have uniforms and be done with it like the rest of the world? The argument that some families may not be able to afford it sounds thin to me. They have to afford some clothes, why not uniforms? The emotional scarring, the warring among the different factions within a school and frankly the jarring styles non-uniformity produces far outweighs the feeble consideration that people can’t afford uniforms.

Let’s start with a little exercise shall we? When children wear uniforms, let’s list the disciplinary problems pertaining to clothes alone:
1) Clothes are dirty/Shoes are dusty
2) Shirt not tucked in

Indecent exposure will immediately be reprimanded. Aside from cutting holes in your clothes, there is little chance of indecent exposure when uniforms are worn.

A school is an institution of learning – to treat it as anything else is sacrilege. While at School, what matters is the sharpening of the mind and honing of the senses – everything else is perfunctory, and should not occupy the minds of students and administrators longer than that.

So ….

I have been woefully inadept at keeping track of mergers and acquisitions lately. I think AT&T did the trick for me. For the first 62 times when, Cingular bought At&T and At&T merged with Cingular and Comcast became At&T and At&T became Comcast and AT&T provided services using SBC, I struggled but managed. The 63rd time was the charm – I gave up.

Why now I dread people asking me a simple enough question such as “Who is your cable provider?”! I wasn’t like that before. I liked people asking me who my cable provider was. I was the informed one see? Then, this game started. At first, I tried assigning aliases to the companies. At&T is A, and Cingular is B. So A buys B. With me so far? Good. Then, Comcast C came in, and bought B. Still manageable. Then, fricking B has a problem with his name and goes and changes it to A. So, C bought A, but actually B bought C, which makes sense since A bought B – hang on. A bought B, so B became …

By the time I figured it out, A&C formed a partnership of sorts, so A & B could be synonyms, buddies, pals. Then, C felt left out and joined in too, not by becoming their pal, but by buying them. Here is a helpful diagram:

at&t

I wonder whether their employees know who they are working for. I figure when they really want to know, they just look at their latest paycheck.

Ever the stickler for the dramatic, I just wring my hands up in the air and a note of exasperation seeps into my soul and you hear it when I reply “Oh, AT&T or Cingular or Comcast or one of those things!” It was upto people to go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At%26T and figure it out for themselves.

When these poets come and tell you, something like this

You only think Life is tough
When you think you’ve had enough
But it will be better
If you can twitter
Or blogger
If you must

Or similar such rot, I’ve always felt drained and reached for a chocolate. Now, as though all the strain of keeping track of phone and cable providers were not enough for the regular taxpayer, this news comes along. Kraft is buying Cadbury’s

http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssConsumerGoodsAndRetailNews/idUSL044468320091109

I should finish with a silly punch though

What does it take to get a fruit and nut around here?
Ans: Some Kraft!

I’m a Queen

I finally succumbed. I ravaged around the aisles of capitalist America. I looked for deals. The process was made more difficult because procrastination in all things shopping has become my motto of late. Finally, I bought a dress. I should add an expensive dress. I should also add: A dress made of cheap material. The dress is hideous when seen by itself – it was a colour most men abhor in short. It was bright and had sparkles or glitter on it. A shiny dress.

But, on a little girl, it passed off as Princess robes.

disneyoniceprincessclassics1

The Princess strutted with the dress, a crown and wand to match for 3 whole days. I swear, if I went for a walk and saw a flower that colour, I’ll fall ill. I am not going for walks in fear.

That’s what Halloween did to me.

There were Halloween parties and carnivals starting on Friday and lasting well into the Sunday. Vampires with rosy cheeks and cuddly skeletons apart, I had my fair share of princesses. They all looked adorable as they clamoured around with a trick-or-treat. 

You know how Shakespeare said “A rose is a rose by whatever name you call it” ? Folks I know, have bandied this about often enough to make it a philosophy. A book is a book, a tulip is a tulip, a lilac is a lilac and a phone is a phone… I’d go on, but in the interest of the general public, if you’d like more examples, please feel free to email me. I’ll spend considerable time giving you more. Me being the astute observer and all that, I deduced that a Princess is a Princess.

Turns out I was quite wrong. You have to be specific.

Which princess?

The purple princess?

BAM – please go back to your basics lessons and get that straight.

Is it Snow White or Cinderella or Ariel?

I didn’t know it was a Science. Well, my daughter wanted to be Ariel in a mauve dress. Apparently, Ariel dresses only in Green and Blue. So, I bought a mauve dress and stuck an Ariel wand on her.

I thought myself resourceful at the time. I even went so far as to call myself creative. I managed to convince the daughter. She declared that one can’t be Ariel just with her wand. So, I explained to her that she could be ANY princess this way. She agreed and I beamed.  The world was happy, the sun shone…

What a shock I was in for?! I have been decried and shunted out from the parlours of the learned because of this egregious error. Princesses and fairies with and without baby teeth pointed out my mistake without reservations.  I am rattled I tell you. I am going to apply to the Institute of Fairy Tale Sciences this Winter. I need your faith in me to secure admission.

Add to that the previous trip to Disney on Ice – Princess Classics, where all things female and younger than 20 were dressed as Princesses including my young one; and I have been a Queen a long time now. A Queen,  lacking in the knowledge that Ariel only dressed in Green or Blue. Oh well…