If I could change one thing about health care (NHBPM 18)

…it would be to bring the communication methods into the modern day.

Harness the power of email, the internet, and smartphones to make communication between patients and providers possible, easier, and more efficient. It sounds revolutionary, because it would be.

I assume there is antiquated quasi-legal precedent for privileging telephone and facsimile communications as private and secure. But that is laughable, and you don’t have to slide very far on the the paranoid spectrum to see the potential problems.

Maybe when you call the doctor’s office, the receptionist doesn’t put you on speakerphone. But how often does she have to repeat back your name, symptoms, and phone number, just to make sure the message is received? How often is the receptionist seated at or near the waiting room and/or the checkout desk? How often are there other people in the room — within earshot — who have absolutely no legitimate role in your care?

Q. How is this better and more secure than sending an email to your nurse or doctor?

A. It’s not.

I hate talking on the phone. I do it as little as possible. It’s awkward, inaccurate, and temporally inconvenient.

I also do not send faxes except under extreme duress. Faxes are inconvenient to send and receive, and even once you’ve managed that, how many legible faxes have you ever received? That could be anybody’s signature on that records release — or is it a birthdate or their pizza order?

When will I be able to request a doctor’s appointment online, the way I do with my hairdresser?

When will the insurance company be able to email me all my “not medically necessary” denials, instead of sending them through the mail?

Health Activist Soapbox (NHBPM 5)

The tl;dr version: Get informed. Vote your conscience. Help your neighbor.

I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison, January 1787)

An idealist. A romantic. A radical.

Somebody who doesn’t understand how the real world works.

I’ve been called a lot of things since I started refining and sharing my political opinions circa age 10.

But on the contrary, sir: I’m painfully aware of how the real world works, and that’s exactly why I want to change it.

As I see it, the whole point of living in society is to pool our resources – food, money, time, talents, strength, and know-how – and to mitigate our weaknesses (broadly defined as a lack of resources). It’s like a giant family where everybody contributes and everybody benefits. We don’t all need to contribute equally nor to benefit equally.

By working together, we are capable of feats of greatness that not even the greatest of us could pull off individually. Specialization and interdependence are what keep our world going round. Independence is a dangerous myth that can rob of us our greatest wealth – our cooperation.

I thought this was supposed to be a HEALTH activist’s soapbox.

It is. I hope I’m not the first person to tell you that your health, like the rest of your resources, is mutable and subject to revocation. The healthy among us are but temporarily able-bodied. Maybe they’ll never come down with MS or rheumatoid arthritis or cancer or Alzheimer’s or Ebola. Good.


But accidents can happen to anybody (any body), and a bad hangnail or a “simple” broken leg that heals beautifully can be utterly disabling in the meantime.

That stomach bug that knocks you out for a few days? A uncomfortable glimpse into your corporeal mortality…and your toilet bowl.

That chunk of frozen blue airplane poop that randomly falls out of the sky and kills you? Could happen even if you’ve never lived near an airport.

An infinite number of accidents could happen to anyone, at any time, through absolutely no fault of their own. That’s why they’re called accidents.

But the American political fetish for “personal accountability” is distinctly uncomfortable with things that just happen. It’s much more flattering to think you pulled yourself up by your bootstraps than that you just happened to be born into a well-to-do family in a well-to-do nation during a prosperous economic swing. On the fate/hardwork spectrum, they prefer to stake their claim firmly on the hardwork side.

Fate, on the other hand, is regarded only as something that happens to the less fortunate.

You were born brown? Sorry, no refunds, no exchanges.

God didn’t give you a penis? That’s a shame. Now make me a sandwich. And smile while you do it.

But provided you are not a candidate for major office, you and I know the truth.

At some point, we’re all less fortunate.

That’s what it means to be human, and it’s humbling and heavy and sad.

But this is also the truth: There are things we-the-people can do to mitigate the inevitable less fortunate times and keep temporary disruptions from turning into life sentences. Or death sentences!

When something happens to you and you can’t provide for yourself, the people in your family-society should step in to provide for you. We help the helpless and unwell; we don’t stand on their necks. We apply the best knowledge and resources we have to to getting better, so that as a whole, we can keep going, keep growing.

All of us. Together.

Depending on who you ask, healthcare is sometimes called a safety net or an entitlement. I prefer to call it a basic human right. It’s unethical to forbid someone access to care because they can’t pay for it, or because their state isn’t as resource-full as a neighboring state. There is enough healthcare to go around, so spread it around.

If someone took it upon himself to guard the door of a ritzy health clinic to stop poor people from coming inside to seek care, that guard would probably be arrested and charged with assault. Why, then, is it okay to write and uphold laws that allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions? It’s no less threatening and disruptive and dangerous. It’s no less un-American.

We don’t tell a hurricane-ravaged coast that we’re rooting for them, but could they please hurry up and turn the lights back on? We send our extra resources – fuel and food and water and manpower and money – so they can get unravaged, get back to work, build a better coastline, embody the spirit that makes us all proud to be Americans. It’s what they’d do for us.

We don’t tell a kid with an ear infection that he’ll start to feel better as soon as he discovers penicillin, so he better get cracking. We give him the antibiotics we already have so he can get better, get back to school, invent the next big thing, save the world. It’s what he’d do for us.

But then, everybody knows kids are idealist romantic radicals who don’t know how the real world works.

I just hope a few of them grow up to be president one day.

I just hope one of them has grown up to be president tomorrow.

Image of a suffrage flyer from the Missouri Historical Society’s collections.

Pumpkin Carving? More like getting stabbed in the heart.


I haven’t slowed down long enough to post about it, but we enjoyed the annual SuperPals pumpkin carving party on the 20th! Along with delicious barbecue and great company, we all carved pumpkins on the front porch as the sun went down. I forgot to take a picture of the deviled eggs I brought, but they were a version of these.

Source: foodista.com via EJ on Pinterest


The real pumpkins didn’t turn out too badly, either:

Despite a dry and mild weather week, these pumpkins didn’t even last a week. Here they are Thursday after, what, 6 days?

I’m giving up on the intricate details. Next year I’ll just carve the outline of an icecap, so at least when it sinks in, it’ll look like it’s SUPPOSED to be melting.

I am a domestic terrorist on laundry day

The Itinerary

Wake up and determine if the weather will be good for hanging out laundry between 10am and 4pm.

I am a meteorologist.

You know 10am is when the backyard starts getting good sun, and by 4pm things will have warmed up as much as they’re going to and you’ll be getting busy putting dinner together and might forget if they have to stay up much longer.

I am a sunflower.

Pull the dirty clothes out of the hampers and pile them on the bedroom floor.

I am a crane.

Sort the stinkies into piles by type: mine, hers, sheets, towels, delicates (bras usually, and fancy panties unusually).

I am an assayer.

Evaluate the size of the piles. If there are two that are too small, they should be combined, but only if they are of similar enough colors and materials. If any too large, they should they be split into two smaller (but not too small) loads.

I am a lawyer.

Find a laundry basket.

I am a skip tracer.

Decide that clothing should be washed and dried first, because if for some reason you were to wash only one load this week, clothing would be the first you’d need, and the first you’d miss if it weren’t done.

I am an actuary.

Pile it the dirty clothes into the laundry basket.

I am a front end loader.

Don’t forget to balance the delicates on top, because they’ll be the true first load, since they wash quickly and get put on the drying rack indoors, not on the airer in the backyard.

I am a juggler.

Hoist the laundry basket and carry it down a flight of stairs.

I am a forklift.

Locate the special detergent used for the delicates and put the right amount into the washer.

I am a chemist.

Make sure the Load Size Selector is set to “extra small” and the Water Temperature knob is turned to “warm.”

I am a conservationist.

Close the hooks on each of the bras so they won’t catch on themselves or each other while being agitated and spun.

I am a quality control supervisor

Turn the Wash Cycle knob to “hand washables” so these delicates will get the gentlest wash possible.

I am a nanny.

Pull out the knob to start the cycle.

I am a NASA engineer.

Close the lid.

I am a mortician.

Go feed the dog and make yourself a cup of coffee.

I am a waitress.

Check back in about 20 minutes so you don’t hold up getting the next load started.

I am an assembly line foreman.

Find the indoor drying rack.

I am an excavator.

Transform the folded drying rack by flipping the top around so that it will stand independently.

I am an origamist.

Pull out each wet piece from the washer, laying it out on the drying rack so that no two pieces overlap.

I am a bricklayer.

Find the regular detergent for the next load, and dump a cupful into the washer.

I am a perfumer.

Lift all the dirty clothes into the washer, making sure to distribute them evenly to prevent an unbalanced, knocking load.

I am a grader.

Change the Load Size Selector to “large” and the Water Temperature back to “cold.”

I am an environmental engineer.

Pull out the knob to start the cycle, sloshing water into the tub, and close the lid.

I am a flood control officer.

Close the door to KK’s office, so the laundry sounds won’t interfere with her concentration or conference calls.

I am acoustical engineer.

Check back in about 20 minutes to see if the load has finished.

I am a clock.

Transfer the damp clothes from the washing machine to the laundry basket.

I am a crane again.

Tie on your clothespin apron and find some shoes to slip on.

I am a  stylist.

Hoist the basket of damp clothes, now heavier because of the dampness, and haul it out halfway across the backyard.

I am a semi-truck.

Open out the airer, making sure not to catch any of the cords over the arms.

I am a rigger.

Start pulling clothes out the basket, one at a time.

I am a claw crane game.

Check that each piece of clothing is turned right side out, and if it isn’t, turn it right side out before hanging it up, because it will be harder to turn it after it dries and stiffens.

 I am a tanner.

But before you hang it up, give each piece a shake to knock out any of the wrinkles that may have developed from sitting in the washer or the basket.

I am a wetworker.

As you’re choosing pieces, prioritize the panties, shirts, and shorts over the pants and dresses, as the smallest pieces need to go on the innermost/lowest cords and the longer pieces need to go farther out on the higher cords, so they won’t drag the ground and get dirty.

I am a triage nurse.

Pin each (right-side-out, shaken, appropriately-sized) piece to the line, making sure to catch it along a shoulder seam or waistband to minimize sagging and bagging.

I am a tailor.

Decide that tank top straps are too likely to stretch, so pin them at the bottoms of the armholes or, turned upside down, with the hem at the top.

I am a problem solver.

Get feasted on by mosquitos, no matter how much repellent you apply.

I am a filling station.

Continue choosing, turning, shaking, and pinning until the basket is empty.

I am a bonobo.

Rotate the airer so that the sides with the largest and darkest clothes get as much as possible of the sun that’s starting to hit the backyard.

I am a solar power expert.

Set the empty laundry basket back inside, and leave your clothespin apron in it, since you’ll need to use them in concert in a few hours to take down the dry clothes.

I am a storage expert.

In a few hours, touch a few of the clothes to see if they are dry, both in the thinnest/flattest parts  (like shirt sleeves and pants legs) and in the thicker parts (like waistbands and crotches).

I am a biomonitor.

Decide that they need another hour or two to get dry enough to take down.

I am a hydrologist.

In an hour or so, put your apron and shoes back on.

I am a psychiatric nurse.

Take the empty laundry basket outside to the airer.

I am a carrier pigeon.

Unpin each pair of your pants, and give them another shake before folding and placing them in a stack on one side the basket.

I am a packer.

Rotate the airer to reach the clothes on the next section of line.

I am a turnstile operator.

Unpin each pair of her pants, giving it the same shake and fold treatment before placing it in the other side of the basket. Ditto her dresses.

Rotate the airer to reach the clothes on the next section of line.

Unpin each of your shirts, shaking and folding before adding it to your stack in the basket.

Rotate the airer to reach the clothes on the next section of line.

Unpin each of her shirts; shake, fold, basket.

Rotate the airer to reach the clothes on the next section of line.

Unpin any shorts or skirts you come across and shake, fold, basket.

Rotate the airer to reach the clothes on the next section of line.

Swat a few mosquitoes as a futile gesture of supremacy.

I am an executioner.

Unpin any panties or socks. They don’t have to be folded, just shaken and basketed.

Rotate the airer to reach the clothes on the next section of line.

When everything has been removed from the airer, collapse it and replace the cover.

I am a set striker.

Pick up the basket of clean, dry, folded, sorted laundry and haul it inside.

I am a hurrier.

On your way by, pop into the laundry room to pick up the now-dry delicates and put them on top of the basket. This will save you a separate trip downstairs later when you go to get dressed and realize you have no clean bras.

I am a psychic.

Take the entire basket upstairs to the bedroom.

I am a hydraulic lift.

While you consider the now blindingly obvious benefits of a life of nudism, take the rest of the day off by walking the dog, picking up a prescription at the pharmacy, returning some books to the library, making dinner, and unloading and reloading the dishwasher. When you can stand to look at the basket of clean clothes without rising bile, put each type of item into the right person’s right drawers.

I am a handywife.

Now about those dirty sheets and towels…

I am going to pretend that I didn’t hear that.

Cocktails for “celebrating” the end of your TWW

To my dear friends who are facing another month of buying tampons instead of diapers, I offer this list of 21 pertinent potables:

Menstrual cramp Martini
Lay on the couch and sob Daiquiri
Maybe we should just adopt a White Russian baby

The Old Fashioned way isn’t working
Please, no more Sex on the Beach
Only one Pinkie line

Blood Slide
Rum and More Rum
PMS (Pre-Menstrual Shots)

Longfaced Iced Tea
Hormonal Hurricane
Instead Cup

Empty Belly Bellini
Ugly Cry Caipirinha
Why Me Mimosa

Gin and Bear It
Haven’t Showered Sazerac

Tequila Sunrise to Sunset
Mai Tai’m of the Month
Tom Collins and his wife are having a baby – why cant we?

Honorable mentions:
Dark and Stormy
Bloody Mary
and anything with bitters

RNC shenanigans of shame

Delegates from Nevada tried to nominate Mr. Paul from the floor, submitting petitions from their own state as well as Minnesota, Maine, Iowa, Oregon, Alaska and the Virgin Islands. That should have done the trick: Rules require signatures from just five states. But the party changed the rules on the spot. Henceforth, delegates must gather petitions from eight states.

Does anybody know of any other coverage of this shitstack? Though I’m not enamored of Paul, I am a longtime party pluralist and a lifelong nonconservative unrepublican – and this still managed to shock and appall me.

Laughably bad website search fail at Sears

I got the news today that my trusty middling barely-functional sewing machine is not worth repairing.

The lovely lady at the store that sells $12,000 machines said, as kindly as possible, “How much did you pay for this machine? Because it will be $90 for the technician to go over it, and that doesn’t include parts. You can get a new one for $150.”

And she’s right. The internet told me I can get a new one for $150 that comes with a lot more features than my twelve-year-old $250 Singer POS model.

Challenge accepted.

I started shopping around today for something in the $150 range. They exist, and for my occasional forays into stitchery, will probably do just fine.

Searching far and wide, I decided to swing by Sears and see what’s on offer from their traditionally trusty yet budget conscious Kenmore brand.

So I get to here:


And I’m intrigued by what the difference might be between “computerized” and “electronic” sewing machines. So I click on “Computerized” and get this:


Now, I didn’t know exactly what to expect.

A sewing machine…with a USB port and some sort of command-line interface?

A sewing machine…with a touch screen instead of knobs?

A sewing machine…with an operating system and social networking capabilities?

A sewing machine…that embroiders ASCII porn on aprons and totebags?

At the very least, you’ll notice, I expected…a sewing machine.

What’s wrong with just saying, “Sorry, potential customer. We just don’t have what you’re looking for?” Or faking a 404 error injury so they could sit out the rest of shopping gym?

Instead I practically got a link to Amazon and a virtual door that hit me in the virtual ass on the way out.

Today we went looking for sheets and bought a rug instead

It’s not wool, but it looks and feels like it.

It looks gray in these pictures, but in person, it’s much greener, multiple lovely shades of green.

It’s the right size, finally. I’ve been praying to the thrift gods for a clean 8×10 for years. YEARS.

No pee spots.

No cigarette burns.

No chalk outlines.

No pulls or stains or holes.


We did end up finding sheets about 5 hours after we set out. Why is it so fucking hard to find (cotton) king-sized sheets for less than $30? Or $60?

I was deeply disturbed by the sheer volume of “microfiber” sheets we had to paw through. 100% polyester. A lady does not sleep on polyester sheets. (Before you cry foul, I do admint to having one set of aubergene-colored satin ones, but! They’re not for sleeping. Ahem. Point stands.)

We might not be able to afford real linen, and bamboo is generally out of reach, too. I’ve mostly made my peace with the unpleasant economic realities of my champagne tastes/beer budget.

But cotton? The fabric of our lives? I see it growing on both sides of the interstate every time I go to Cordele. It’s not exotic. When did it get so expensive? It’s like when they started calling prunes “dried plums” and doubled the price.

My final verdict was that they should call these microfiber abominations “notton.”

Absurd subscription pricing schemes filter down to the general public

Looks like some people are just now finding out for themselves what librarians have struggled with for years.

Ridiculous subscription pricing policies at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Be prepared to headdesk so many times that you dent your furniture and/or give yourself a concussion … especially when you get to the spreadsheets. (Via Nieman Lab)