Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day After Christmas

It was a truly wonderful Christmas! We all missed Keith but hoped he had a good time too with his friend.

We are supposed to go out to church this morning to take down the Christmas decorations but I cannot get our little car out of the driveway. If it warms up enough I will try to get out there and dig the snow out of the drive. I don't think I can get the drive cleared enough to get out though because it rained, froze, sleeted, and then snowed so even if I get the snow off, the drive will still be treacherous.

Slinky got me up twice last night to go out. How he hates this snow! Before last year he didn't even know snow existed. He was born and raised in Hawaii and lived his middle years in Georgia. It was only after he came to Missouri and Kansas that he saw snow. He hates it. He seems happy right now and is taking a nap.

Bob is not up yet. I made a pot of the flavored coffee that my sister and brother-in-law gave us for Christmas. This is cinnamon nut and is really good. I don't know how Bob will feel about it. We will see.

I got the white laundry out of the dryer and hung up and folded this morning and have run the dishwasher. The kitchen is clean right now. I will put away the dishes before breakfast.

More later:

I went out to the church with Bobby and Karan in their 4 wheel drive truck. Leslie was already there and had many of the decorations down. Karan and I arranged them in various plastic boxes and labeled the boxes. Leslie had cleared most of the walk in back before we arrived. Bobby finished clearing the walks and even the one in front which had been iced up tight. Then he dug Leslie's car out where she was stuck in a snowdrift. Afterward, we drove into town and ate at El Publito. I'm not much on Mexican food but I was with Karan and Bobby so there wasn't much I could do about it but go.

Leslie still needs to get three large plastic boxes. We stacked the ones we had in the junior classroom and will put them in the sheds out back after the snow melts. What a mess! It took about two hours with the four of us working on it

I got out this morning and dug out the entrance to the drive for Bobby and Karan where the city cleared the street but they piled up a foot of snow in the entrance to our drive.

John came about 2:00 and brought my Christmas gift..that lovely trellis that he built for me. We put it in the carport until spring.

Later this evening, he went out to church with his tractor and blade and cleared the parking lot. Good for John! Now we can have church tomorrow!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

I am up early, as usual. It snowed all night in a real blizzard. There's eight or ten inches of snow this morning. Slinky got me up at 2:00 to go out but when he saw all that snow, he did not want to go out...but he needed to do it. So I conjolled him and pleaded with him until he finally did. Then this morning after he had his breakfast and REALLY needed to go outside, he really didn't want to go out there but he knew he had he finally did.

I will bake my pies in a little bit. I'll probably get breakfast out of the way first. Cyndi called last night. They are going to pick us up with their four wheel drive truck. Scott has four wheel drive too on his jeep so he and Bob will go out in it. I hope we can get out there safely. I don't know where we will put the pies and the gifts. Cyndi and Jeff have food to take too. I hope we will be able to see the road. I hope they have been out scraping the roads.

I will have to put Slinky in the garage with the car. He will not like that. He hates the garage but I can't leave him in the house.


The pies are out of the oven now and the cranberry salad is finished. Bob put it together. Scott went out and shoveled the snow off the walk and started shoveling the drive until he ran into the ice. He sprinkled some ice melt on the drive. I don't know whether it will work or not. The city has their workers out clearing the streets.

I called Glen over at the Springfield radio station when I had a moment. We chatted awhile about Christmas. I listened to the station on the internet. He was on the air Thanksgiving too but I never got around to calling in.

Further Update:

We had a great Christmas dinner and gift exchange. The food was fantastic. I received some really nice gifts. One was an arbor/trellis that John made for me. He knew I had always wanted one. He will bring it by after work tomorrow and we will store it in the car port until Spring when we can set it in cement. Scott gave me a lovely memory book that I can record my life in. I will enjoy filling that in. Jeromy and Marlene gave me some wonderful tea.

We gave Leslie and John half the pies and still didn't know what we were going to do with half a cherry pie and half a pumpkin pie. Bob settled that for us though. As he was getting out of Jeff's truck after we arrived home, he dropped the pie.

When we got to the garage, Slinky was frantic. He wanted in the house and once in he really needed to go poo but didn't know where on all that snow out back. After three tries to find a suitable place outside, he finally just went for the snow. He must have been miserable.

For any of you who get a moment to check the blogs, I wish you a very Merry Christmas...and a Happy New Year too!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Well, I heard from our granddaughter, Christina, this morning. She will not be able to make it for Christmas. She's sick. Poor girl...she will be all alone at Christmas. I did not encourage her to come on though because I don't want anyone else to get sick. That leaves us 10 for Christmas...Bob and me, John and Leslie, Jeromy and Marlene, Jeff and Cyndi and Scott and Becky.

I will make my salad tomorrow morning after I get the pies in the oven. Our dinner is at 1:00.

I am pretty shot down today. Slinky got me up three times in the night and Missy slept on my legs so they were numb. At 5:15, Slinky barked. He wanted his cinnamon toast. I guess I should have come in and told him to hush but I was ready to get up by then. I had my best night's sleep between 4:15 and 5:00 and before 11:30.

I will make potato soup for supper this evening. We will have cheese and crackers with it.

Keith plans to spend Christmas with a friend. At least he won't be alone. He is certainly in a mess. If he can just hang in there until April, he will be out from under the lease and can get his own place.

I did go to Independence yesterday morning and picked Juanita up. She doesn't see well enough to drive when it's rainy. She was heartsick. She had lost her large diamond ring. She and her family have searched the house over and they could not find it. Surely it will turn up. She is sure she lost it at home sometime after Monday. She had it on in the beauty shop on Monday. I gave her the coffeecake I made. I also gave her some of my peanut clusters. I took some to my beautician, Carol, too.

One more day until Christmas. Then Saturday we will take down the Christmas decorations at church. Later that day, I will put mine away.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rainy Wednesday!

I usually go to Independence on Wednesday to get my hair done but I don't know if I'll go today or not. It's raining outside and I have Juanita's coffeecake here for her Christmas gift. Darn it! I wanted to bake it last night so it would be fresh for her Christmas. Now she will probably call and cancel breakfast. Maybe the rain will stop and I can get it to her.

I don't have a lot going today. I will have to get some coffee as we are about out. We also need eggs. The coffeecake took two. I will need some for my pumpkin pie Friday morning. I will also make a cherry pie. We are about burned out on pumpkin pie but Bob can eat pumpkin pie.

By the way, Bob weighed at the doctor's office Monday and he has gained nine pounds. He sorely needed it. He had been down to 147 and now he weighs 156. He looks much better. That thyroid pill made all the difference in the world.

The doctor is supposed to have read his tests today and will call. We'll see. We are curious as to what is causing the swelling of his arm and hand.

I'm concerned about Christmas. I don't know if Christina will be able to make it. She lives at Fort Riley and their weather is worse then ours. I am also concerned about Scott and Becky. I contacted Scott to tell him he might want to come earlier then Friday and he said they couldn't because Becky had to work today. It is supposed to snow tomorrow. He may have four wheel drive but four wheel drive is worthless on ice. I hope it doesn't ice up.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Soldier's Pregnancy Forbidden

Major General Cucolo III has given an order against soldiers in a combat area getting pregnant. Now if a woman gets pregnant both the man and the woman will be sent home. Hurray, General!

This is a war, folks! If a woman decides she wants to be a soldier and get sent to Iraq or Afghanistan just like a man, she has to act like a soldier and not like a woman. This is just one more reason why I think woman have no business in a war zone.

It's stupid to think a woman would think she has a right to get pregnant when she has chosen to join the service and be sent to war. That's a no brainer!

The policy by Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo III was instituted on Nov. 4, but it has triggered outrage among women's groups since it became publicly known in recent days.

"We can think of no greater deterrent to women contemplating a military career than the image of a pregnant woman being severely punished simply for conceiving a child," the senators wrote to Cucolo today. "This defies comprehension. As such, we urge you to immediately recind this policy."

The letter was signed by Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

It was the latest salvo to hit Cucolo over the controvesial policy. Earlier the National Organization for Women called the policy "ridiculous."

These congresswomen are what is ridiculous. It's just plain stupid!

Hospital For Tests Today

Bob will go to the hospital this afternoon at 2:00 for an ultra sound test and a chest x-ray to try to discover the cause of his swollen left arm and hand. There is a slight chance that it could be a blood clot. Melissa (our doctor) doesn't think it is but needs to rule it out. Otherwise the lymph glands could be leaking fluid under the skin. He did strain his arm doing some simple exercises several weeks ago and that started all the problem.

We cleaned this morning. Slinky had stayed out all night (his choice) because it wasn't lower then 40 degrees. He loves being outside. The only time he wants to come in is for his meals. I like his bowl to stay inside where I can keep it clean.

I still have my bathroom to clean today. I even emptied and washed the kitty's litter box. It had been awhile. It is nice and fresh now.

I went to stay with Phyllis awhile this morning. My brother-in-law had his ham in the oven. They are having their Christmas dinner today when their grandchildren can be with them. Then they will have their daughter, Denise, and husband and their younger daughter back Christmas to help them with the leftovers.

Phyllis is so confused. She still insists on telling me she cut her forehead trying to cut pictures out awhile back. She had a small pre-cancerous growth there and the doctor froze it a couple of weeks ago.

Then she tried to tell me today that sometime back I had borrowed our dad's oil painting from her and taken it out to Wal Mart and somehow lost it. I told her that was not so and that it was just her imagination but she would not accept that. Poor Phyllis...she is really getting worse. She comes up with all kinds of wild tales.

I gave dad's picture to her in 2000 when we moved to Independence, Kansas for three years. I don't know what she did with it.


He had his chest X-ray this afternoon and his ultra sound test too. They won't know anything until tomorrow when the doctor has a chance to read the tests.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Health Insurance Reform Bill

Hard Questions answered:

1) Forces you to pay up to 8% of your income to private insurance corporations -- whether you want to or not.

"You," huh? For the 85 percent of the country already covered by health-care insurance, it doesn't force "you" to do anything at all. People on Medicare are not going to be paying money to private insurance. People with employer-based care will not see their situation change.

For the nearly 50 million Americans caught in the ranks of the uninsured, here's the deal: The bill expands Medicaid, a public program, to cover about 20 million of, uh, "you." Private insurance gets nothing. If you make more than 133 percent of the poverty line, but less than 400 percent, there's a huge system of new subsidies to help you afford private coverage. There are also new regulations on insurers forcing them to spend between 80 percent and 85 percent of every premium dollar on medical care, barring them from rejecting you or charging you higher premiums due to preexisting conditions, ensuring they can't place any annual caps on insurance benefits, and more.

But here's the catch: So long as insurance won't cost more than 8 percent of your monthly income, you have to buy into the system. You can't wait until you get sick or get hurt and and then buy insurance, shifting the costs onto everyone else. The cost of having a universal, or near-universal, system is that people have to participate. The promise is that, for the first time, participation will be possible.

2) If you refuse to buy the insurance, you'll have to pay penalties of up to 2% of your annual income to the IRS.

Again, who's "you?" If you don't have employer-based coverage, Medicare, Medicaid, or anything else, and premiums won't cost more than 8 percent of your monthly income, and you refuse to purchase insurance, at that point, you will be assessed a penalty of up to 2 percent of your annual income. In return for that, you get guaranteed treatment at hospitals and an insurance system that allows you to purchase full coverage the moment you decide you actually need it. In the current system, if you don't buy insurance, and then find you need it, you'll likely never be able to buy insurance again. There's a very good case to be made, in fact, that paying the 2 percent penalty is the best deal in the bill.

3) Many will be forced to buy poor-quality insurance they can't afford to use, with $11,900 in annual out-of-pocket expenses over and above their annual premiums.

How many is "many?" For a look at how various families will fare with reform and without reform, see this table, and this article. But if you don't want to click the links, this graph, which shows the financial risk that medical costs post to families with different incomes with and without reform, tells the story:

The vast, overwhelming majority of families will be better off under this bill. They will have insurance that they can use, and if they need it, subsidies to help them afford it. Compared with the status quo, in which about 50 million people have no insurance and tens of millions more have insurance they can't afford to use, this is a massive improvement. As Jonathan Cohn writes, "This is a hugely progressive program to bolster economic security, the likes of which we haven't enacted in this country for a long, long time."

4) Massive restriction on a woman's right to choose, designed to trigger a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.

The Senate bill is better than the House bill on this score, but it's still a problem. That said, the restriction here is not on the right to choose, but on whether primary insurance covers abortion. In the House bill, the exchanges can't offer primary insurance that covers abortion. In the Senate bill, individual states can choose to bar abortion from their exchanges, but it is not the default.

5) Paid for by taxes on the middle class insurance plan you have right now through your employer, causing them to cut back benefits and increase co-pays.

"You" probably don't have these plans. Your plan almost certainly doesn't cost more than $23,000 a year. And if it does, the only part that gets taxed is the part in excess of $23,000 a year. The average family health-care plan costs about $13,500 -- almost a full $10,000 less than the plans this policy taxes. If we don't manage to slow the growth in health-care costs, this policy will, over time, hit plans that are less generous. But economists consider the excise tax, which functions as a tax on insurers who let premiums grow too quickly, one of the most effective cost-control mechanisms in the bill.

There's an equity aspect here, too: The problem with the excise tax is that it doesn't go far enough. All plans would be fully taxable. This policy begins to chip at the edges of one of the most regressive elements of our system: Health benefits, which are mostly given to better-off workers, are protected from taxes, while income isn't. A worker at Wal-Mart with no health benefits sees his entire paycheck taxed. A worker at Goldman Sachs with a $40,000 health-care plan is getting $40,000 of his paycheck tax-free. It's wildly regressive.

6) Many of the taxes to pay for the bill start now, but most Americans won't see any benefits -- like an end to discrimination against those with preexisting conditions -- until 2014 when the program begins.

It's not even clear what Hamsher is referring to here (the accompanying link is broken). The main tax in the bill is the excise tax, which starts in 2013, not "now." And the bill isn't funded primarily by taxes. It's funded primarily by changes to Medicare. It would be useful if Hamsher explained what tax changes people are going to notice in, say, 2011. My understanding is that the answer to that is, essentially, "none at all." The word "many" is obscuring a lot more than it's illuminating here, making it seem as if the majority of the bill's funding mechanisms trigger immediately. They unequivocally do not.

7) Allows insurance companies to charge people who are older 300% more than others.

The status quo is that insurers can charge people as much as they want, and they can refuse some people altogether. Hamsher doesn't present it this way, but the bill is a huge improvement on this front.

8 ) Grants monopolies to drug companies that will keep generic versions of expensive biotech drugs from ever coming to market.

This is correct. The bill gives pharmaceutical companies a 12-year exclusivity period, and then changes get 12 years atop that. It's one of the worst elements of the bill, and should be changed.

9) No re-importation of prescription drugs, which would save consumers $100 billion over 10 years.

This isn't really part of the bill, so much as it's a failure to pass a change that people have been trying to pass for a decade now. People should keep trying. But saying you'll torpedo trillions in subsidies and protections for the poor if you don't also get drug re-importation is a bit like saying you'll refuse to pay the sale price for this TV if Best Buy doesn't also let you use a coupon.

10) The cost of medical care will continue to rise, and insurance premiums for a family of four will rise an average of $1,000 a year -- meaning in 10 years, your family's insurance premium will be $10,000 more annually than it is right now.

It's not even clear what this is supposed to mean. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill reduces the average cost of premiums by a little bit for most people, and a ton for the people the bill directly affects. According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the bill cuts spending in the long term. According to everybody, it decreases the deficit. The bill has at least five major cost controls that won't exist in its absence, and many smaller efforts to cut spending beneath that. And the bill does all this while covering more than 30 million people, ending the ability of insurers to discriminate based on preexisting conditions, creating a new and more competitive insurance market, taking the first steps away from fee-for-service medicine, and much more.

And that's the problem with Hamsher's list more broadly. The points about the bill's provisions are, in most cases, misleading. But much more deleterious is that Hamsher's list implies that the bill is failing relative to a world in which we don't kill the bill. But in that world, there's still no drug re-importation. Still 50 million uninsured. Still rampant cost growth. In the world where we pass the bill, everything gets somewhat better, if not good enough. In the world in which we kill it, everything just continues to get worse, and politicians are scared away from the issue for decades.

Bobs Swollen Arm and Hand

Bob's left arm and hand are swelling up and we have been trying to get into the doctor's office for a week. First she was gone for a family emergency and they canceled his appointment and then because she was ill they canceled another. She was at church yesterday and didn't appear to be ill. (Doctors must need some time off too.) Anyhow, he has an appointment this afternoon so maybe we will find out why his left arm and hand is retaining fluid.

We had a great time at the cookie exchange last night. About eight or nine couples came and stayed. We were about the third couple to leave and there were plenty of others who stayed after we left. I ate five cookies and that was too much sweets and didn't set too well on my queasy stomach. I took some tums before bedtime.

I watched TV after we came home. PBS had a special on Yellowstone in winter. Bob read. We had rented a video for Saturday night and he couldn't understand a word that was said. I enjoyed it. It was "Angels and Devils" with Tom Hanks. Anyhow, we will return it this morning. It is due back before 10:00 PM today.

I will do some cleaning this morning after breakfast. Slinky has been in most of the week and the kitchen needs a good scrubbing and I also need to dust again.

Slinky was pretty good last night. He woke me up twice to go out and Missy wanted out at 4:30 this morning. Animals!

I have two pieces of leftover coffeecake from breakfast at church and a whole cookie jar full of a variety of cookies. Then I also have the peanut clusters I made this past week. I am going to weigh a ton if I don't stay out of them.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Children's Christmas Service

The children's Christmas service was a big success. It was great fun! I got up early, as usual and baked my coffeecake for the light breakfast. It always goes over well. I will bake another small one for Juanita for Christmas when we go to breakfast on Wednesday. Then my baking is done until Thursday when I bake the two pies for Christmas dinner on Friday.

Tomorrow I will clean, Tuesday, go to my sister's house as usual and then perhaps take Leslie to lunch. Wednesday, I will get my hair done and eat breakfast with Juanita.

Thursday, I will fix our salad and bake my pies. Friday we will go out to Leslie and John's for Christmas. Other then that, it should be a quiet week. We may get some snow on Wednesday.

For now, we go out to Leslie's for her cookie exchange. That will be interesting.