Thursday, October 31, 2013

Eddie and I Testing our costumes

Eddie and I are hosting the Orion Kid's Halloween party.
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I thought of it, because kids int he city don't really get to go trick or treating - and we have a bunch of small kids in the building....
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Luke Skywalker...



Ostrich Cowboy..

Smell-o-vision

Nice.

This Too Shall Pass

Before we (me) get all atwitter about the latest bruhaha over ObamaCare, let us take a trip down memory lane of the news' maelstroms.
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Remember the "Ground Zero Mosque"?
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How about the "white Trayvon Martin" shooting in Oklahoma?
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The world famous, "Obama didn't call it terrorism for 2 weeks"?  (Actually that one is back with a new Benghazi book by an "insider" who apparently couldn't be bothered to watch the film of the next morning.)
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The missing birth certificate (ah... good times.)?
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Anything Donald Trump said?
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Death Panels?
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So, ObamaCare will be fixed and all will be forgotten as soon as the next Fox outrage flares up.
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My money is on the always popular War On Christmas.

And Again

Fool Me Once......
LINK
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(Previous Story with 3 examples...)
LINK

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

For Whovians

You know, because of the odd BBC America schedule, I missed David Tennant's final Dr. Who special (the End of Time).
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It was on the other day and I TIVO'ed it and watched it today.  I know, busy life.
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Well, the end was sweet, sad and amazing.  Cried my eyes out.

From the files of meaningless statistics....

I love this WSJ / NBC "News" poll question.  Let's ask a bunch of people, some large percentage of which have never worked in tech, nor logged onto the web site in question and ask them for an opinion.  And, no surprise, they found a large number that don't think it can ever be fixed.
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This would surprise me -  maybe even worry me, except that Americans (at least in these types of polls) are notoriously stupid.
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For example:
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31% of Republicans think obama is a Muslim. (LINK)
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37% of Americans believe climate change is a hoax (LINK)
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13% of Americans believe Obama is the AntiChrist (LINK)
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28% of Americans think Sadam Hussein was behind the 9/11 Terror Attacks (22% more "don't know" (LINK)
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66% of Americans can't name a single Supreme Court Member (LINK)
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37% of Americans can't find America on a map of only America (LINK)
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64% of Americans couldn't find Iraq on a map of the Middle East (LINK)
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90% of Americans can't find Afghanistan on a map of Asia (LINK)
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29% of Americans don't know who the Vice President is (LINK)
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Given this level of participatory knowledge of politics and civil discourse, the fact that 31% of Americans think a web site that they have never visited, can't be fixed - ever -  doesn't get my panties in a bunch.

My Fascination with sea birds....

If you don't know, I love penguins.  I assume you do know if you have read this blog at all because, well, I am not subtle.  So two things.  First, while visiting Aldona and Joe in florida we saw some great birds, including this one right outside of their house.
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Now the second is a little odd.  Last night I was having this bizarre annoying dream where my father was being difficult.  If you had known him when he was alive, you would understand.  He was just being, you know, the annoying center of attention, liar that he could be at times.  And I wanted to strangle him, but for some reason I couldn't in front of Ed and my mother (both of which would have been okay with it) and my grandmother, who wouldn't have approved.  So my pet Giant Auk came over to calm me down.
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I was petting his neck and he talked me off the ledge (apparently my pet giant auk could speak).  Once he had me calm, he and Trevor tussled on the floor a little and things calmed down.
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I blame my love of seabirds, and Trevor's new haircut.  He is cold after a new cut and he was curled into a little ball that tries to both snuggle against you and push you off the bed at the same time.
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And no, no drinking and no sleeping pills last night.  Just an annoying little pup with a Napoleon complex and a chill.

What a Product Manager can teach President Obama (and Bush 2)

One of the worst problems President Obama is facing now is lack of accountability.  The Republicans are portraying him as detached from problems (and the Presidency itself).  I think the problem here is that Obama isn't a Product Manager type.
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One of my best qualities (in my professional sphere) is the ability to only zoom in on problems, until I get an idea of where to look for them over all in a project.  THEN pull back and look at where these types of problems might appear elsewhere in the project.  My job isn't to fix them (there are people for that) - I'm hired because I can see the overall scope and areas of risk.
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Let's look at an example, in relation to the Health.gov web site problems, President Obama was (according to his own aids) looking closely at legal implementation details and the problems.
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If you see implementation problems in the details there, this should alert a good Prj Mgr to let someone else handle those details (that is what you pay them for); then pull back your focus and see if implementation details were hampering other aspects of the same project.  You would find them in the state reimbursement and a massive problem in your own online presence (i.e. the .gov website).
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Example two, the President's aids say that the President was extremely focussed on the NSA, but as it relates to terrorism and so wasn't informed that we spied on allied heads of state.  ... Well, you can't focus on what works (we haven't had an international terrorist attack since blah de blah).. focus on what might become a problem.
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A Prj Mgr shouldn't worry about what is working (again, that is what you pay those guys for), you focus on potential problem areas. We are collecting a ton of data from Americans, right.  Is it needed, is it necessary?  What else are we collecting and will it bite us in the ass?
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As for Snowden's dribs and drabs of details - that is just sloppy sloppy management.  Go through the details that might be released in the future, and do some pro-active risk mitigation!  Get ahead of this and see what is going to cause massive problems but provide no profit.  YOU, President Obama, should have called foreign heads of state before this was leaked and told them.  Let them tell the papers, craft an answer before the Prime Minister of Germany and Spain get their panties in a bunch!  Let them tell their press they are on top of it.  Right now, you need to find out who didn't give you the heads up on this, and put him a serious time out.  If you can't fire his butt, then have hime sort paperclips for a few weeks in a cubby off the mailroom where the workers play horrible rap music 24/7.  Maybe he can be in charge of opening mail and looking for anthrax - he'll quit.
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President Bush Two had a different project manager problem.  He only focussed on the big picture.  He ignored details that might bite the project in the behind for two long.  When Chenney or Rumsfeld made huge mistakes repeatedly (Weapons of Mass destruction in Iraq?  Greeted with Flowers? Yellowcake in Niger?) stop listening to them!
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And neither man can give an honest, "I'm sorry!" because neither knows what they are doing wrong.  Both are working by the same rules that got them there.  Well the rules change when you become the USA's Project Manager.  Man Up!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Now That's a Dog that Likes His New Chew Stick

Eddie gave Trevor a big new chew stick as a treat.  He loved it.  He held it while he ate it the other night.  Then went to sleep, but with a paw on it so no one would steal it.
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When he finally excused himself to the sungle ball - he made sure it was close by.



Diane Feinstein is a Hypocritical Nasty Name

You know, I used to love Diane Feinstein.  I voted for her for Governor (she lost to Pete Wilson - which was the start of a domino disaster for Republicans in California), I voted for her for Senator every time she ran - including the primaries (now I wish Jane harmon had won).
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It doesn't even bug me that her husband made gazillions from China and she has used her sSenate seat to defend the Commies thousands of times over the years.
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I used to like her.
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But earlier this year, she came out in favor of continued spying on Americans.  She called Edward Snowdon a traitor.  I didn't like it, but I chalked it up to misguided patriotism.
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But now, NOW!!!. she wants us to stop spying on our allies.  Why allies?  What about the people you represent, the Americans who haven't done anything wrong.  Why do you not give two wirs for us, but want the big bad government to stop spying on foreigners?
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Seriously!
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Why stop spying on foreigners but keep spying on Americans.  I would love to know the convoluted reasoning behind that.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Gloss Releases a New Single

from Forged Artifacts

The formation of the Minneapolis quintet Gloss began with childhood friendships and was solidified through musical kinship and the necessity of creative collaboration. Jeff Cornell (lead vocals, guitar), Sean Neppl (guitar) and Jack Woolsey (bass) had been like-minded friends who grew up together in the Twin Cities suburbs. Years later, a shared love of music and influences would bring them together with Iowa transplant Jordan Bleau (drums), after crossing paths at few consecutive local shows. Shortly thereafter, the line-up was completed with Emmy Carter (synthesizers), who brought an essential layer to their dream pop soundscapes.
On their self-recorded EP, Between Themselves, Gloss, with co-producer Peter Leisz, tastefully echo their dream pop, shoegaze and post punk influences, molding them into six cathartic tracks whose subject matter deals heavily with the shared experiences between two individuals. The album captures a concentration of anecdotes, which lead singer Jeff Cornell describes as, “A year of changes and struggling to come to terms with them." Whether it's the fear of establishing new connections ("Whose Name"), self-sabotaging a failing relationship ("Before") or the inner struggle of being tired of one's own surroundings ("Something Else"), Between Themselves is unafraid of divulging serious inner conversations while juxtaposing them against soaring, lucid arrangements. Forged Artifacts is excited to present this collection of songs on digital and vinyl formats.
The album will be available on Nov 26. Pre order and release show info forthcoming. (on soundcloud)
Sean Neppl is on the left - and my nephew!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Watched the Great Comet of 1812

There is a fascinating show right now in its 3rd location.  It is called the Great Comet of 1812, and is a musical based on a small part of War and Peace.
These were our seats.
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It is set in a 1800s Russian Bar, and takes place throughout the place.  There are two pictures below.  The one I took was before it got busy.  They other one shows where we were sitting.
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It was a fun show.  For our British Friends, the lead was Josh Canfield who came in second on "Any Dream Will Do".
This wasn't from our show, but our seats were in the upper left of this shot.

Josh Canfield

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Apparently a little TOO Happy..

This is funny when you compare it with the whole "Happy Cheese from Happy Cows - California Dairy Board"...
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This is misleading: she tested NEGATIVE for drugs

Actually, this is misleading.  I get putting addicts in a treatment facility.  However read the story (full story here), and you will see this young lady did not test positive for drugs.
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During a routine screening, she was honest at the doctor's and said she had, in the year before she was pregnant, done drugs and got off them.  She tested clean - AND she had offered the information without and coercion.  Just a good prenatal visit.
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The doctor didn't believe her - despite the drug test - and the Wisconsin Police forcibly took her and locked her in a treatment facility.
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If this happened in say, Russia or Pakistan, we would be on our high horse about women's rights.  But here we assume the Police State was right.  I must say, America's Dairyland has gone way over the edge on women's rights (they also refused Medicare expansion for poor people, and have imposed some serious abortion restrictions).

Answer is = 20 - 40 seconds

Question: How long does it take a mammal to pee?
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Let science explain:
It has to do with the design of the bladder," Hu tells Popular Science. In other words, it's all in the urethra, the bodily pipe that moves urine from the bladder out of the body. (In dudes, it also ferries sperm.) "It's really important for making the bigger animals eject fluid faster," he says. "It’s the length of the pipe that matters." Because larger animals seem to use gravity, rather than the muscles of the bladder, to keep their flow going, the longer the tube, the faster a single molecule moves through it. The diameter of the urethra matters, too, by increasing the volume of liquid that comes out every second—in the elephant's case, that 1.5 gallons.

The ratio between the length and diameter of the urethra was nearly constant for the animals Hu and his team studied: 20 times longer than it was wide. The elephant's drainage pipe of a urethra (1 meter long, 10 centimeters in diameter) has exactly the same aspect ratio as the mouse's, which is about the size of a thick staple (1 centimeter long, 1 millimeter in diameter). 

Note - there is a video on the web site, I see no reason to copy it here - you can check it out if you want to...  I was all good until the elephant did a wizzer AND a boom boom at the same time.  In slow motion that was not pleasant.

As the Mamas and Papas said.. You Gotta Make Your Own Kind of Music...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Perspective is a Harsh Mistress

For all those saying "Obamacare is the worst federal disaster ever!", a little perspective....
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Condor Cam !

Way out in the middle of no where California (yes, there are lots of "no where" California - it's a big state), FedEx and the Oakland Zoo have set up a Condor Cam.
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Eating

It is in an area where captive Condors are released and learn to fend for themselves.  Right  now, these are eating / fighting over food.  There are a lot of warnings that there might be graphic feeding (Condors are vultures).  But this is way cool - if you are like me and remember the last of the Californian Condors caught int he wild.
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Wider shot
We have recovered their numbers to hundreds from less than 20 birds.  Much of the problem was lead poisoning.  Condors would eat animals that were shot, and then would eat the lead bullets.  California has outlawed lead bullets now.
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They are still endangered (heck there are only a few hundred), but they now fly free in Central California, Southern California and Arizona near the Grand Canyon.
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CondorCamSite.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ironic

This is Angela Christiano, she is a hair geneticist who is working on baldness and apparently getting some very very promising results. And so I give huge props to her.  She is a smart, successful scientist that men and women around the world should admire.
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And, as a feminist, I would make the same comments that follow about a man or woman in this case.  I don't hold her to a different standard because she is a woman.
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And so, I say with upmost respect - what's with the hair?  Dr. Christiano is a professor at Colombia and and was on TV and in the New York Times.  And so someone clearly dolled her up for her TV appearance.  Someone without an eye for "editing".  She looks a little like Snooki's mom (at least what I imagine Snooki's mom to look like, I haven't ever actually seen Snooki Senior).
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It's not just the hair, it is the "serious scientist" look with the bright red lipstick, too much blush and the french tips.  I kind of LOVE IT.  This is a woman who you first say, honey get some help here.  Then, the more you look, the more you think she is saying a big screw you to everyone who calls her out.  This look says, I got a banging interview with NBC at 6:30 and then I am at the Red Onion's Happy Hour at 7:30 - ladies, lock up your sons.
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Her amazing research here.  She actually suffers from alopecia areata - which leaves her with occasional bald spots on the back of her scalp.  Methinks she overcompensates a bit.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Rat Freak Out

Well, you know that in our lovely new high-rise, there are no rats yet.  At least not that I knew of.
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But the other night, Eddie was snoring so I went into the second bedroom.  I am just about to fall asleep in there, and I here the scritch of a mouse.  At least I hope it is a mouse, not a rat.
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I can see a lot (the window shade is open and the light of the city is coming in) but I don't see it.  So I lean to get a better look.  My bed creaks, and the mouse scritches faster and then stops.
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Oh my, a Mexican standoff.
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So I look some more, I don't see anything, but I hear the mouse rattling around near the far wall.
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And then I remember, I have a terrier.  Terrier are raters for goodness sake.  I saw Hastings kill a rat the size of a football in zero seconds flat, I know Trevor can take this mouse.
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So I creep out of bed and walk slowly to the door.  I can hear the mouse somewhere, trying to skootch away.  I am going to open the door and get Trevor...
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I open the door and tip toe out towards the other room, when Tervor and I run into each other.  I made an interjection that didn't all seem like a girly scream, and Trevor barked in a way that did not at all resemble a freaked out pup.  And we realized that we had been stalking each other on opposite sides of the wall.
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We adjourned to our separate beds and felt both silly and relieved.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Central Park

It was a great day today, so the pup and I took a walk in Central park.

On our journeys, we wandered down the Poets Walk.  The trees are still pretty green on this walk, one of the oldest avenues in the Park.  But it was gorgeous.  I took a couple of pictures of the poet statues as well.
Poets Walk in the afternoon sun


These two (Robert Burns and Walter Scott) sit opposite of each other, tucked off the lane.

And This (another Wes Anderson) Is a Scooter Movie

Admit it, This is Weird

Look, I am not anti-gun nut.  I totally get guns in some cases.  Not semi-automatics, but for hunting, target shooting for self-defense.  I get it.
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But still... This is a weird freaking magazine.  I came across it when signing up for my niece's Girl Scout magazine subscription.

Gardens & Gun (A Magazine Celebrating the Southern Lifestyle).  Because where better to tote your gun, than the garden?

Honestly - it is the lies and the fact that FOX News is actually hurting the people that it should help that is drving me crazy

(from SALON - full article copied here, because it is short and important.)
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I don't really blame these people, so much - you don't expect a news station to just lie to you.  I wish there was a way I could get my Fox News friends to just read this....
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I re-reported a Fox News segment on Obamacare -- and it was appallingly easy to catch him misleading his audience

Eric Stern lives in Helena, Montana. He was senior counsel to Brian Schweitzer, former Governor.)
I happened to turn on the Hannity show on Fox News last Friday evening. “Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck,” Hannity announced, “and six of them are here tonight to tell us their stories.”  Three married couples were neatly arranged in his studio, the wives seated and the men standing behind them, like game show contestants.
As Hannity called on each of them, the guests recounted their “Obamacare” horror stories: canceled policies, premium hikes, restrictions on the freedom to see a doctor of their choice, financial burdens upon their small businesses and so on.
“These are the stories that the media refuses to cover,” Hannity interjected.
But none of it smelled right to me. Nothing these folks were saying jibed with the basic facts of the Affordable Care Act as I understand them. I understand them fairly well; I have worked as a senior adviser to a governor and helped him deal with the new federal rules.
I decided to hit the pavement. I tracked down Hannity’s guests, one by one, and did my own telephone interviews with them.
First I spoke with Paul Cox of Leicester, N.C.  He and his wife Michelle had lamented to Hannity that because of Obamacare, they can’t grow their construction business and they have kept their employees below a certain number of hours, so that they are part-timers.
Obamacare has no effect on businesses with 49 employees or less. But in our brief conversation on the phone, Paul revealed that he has only four employees. Why the cutback on his workforce? “Well,” he said, “I haven’t been forced to do so, it’s just that I’ve chosen to do so. I have to deal with increased costs.” What costs? And how, I asked him, is any of it due to Obamacare? There was a long pause, after which he said he’d call me back. He never did.
There is only one Obamacare requirement that applies to a company of this size: workers must be notified of the existence of the “healthcare.gov” website, the insurance exchange. That’s all.
Next I called Allison Denijs.  She’d told Hannity that she pays over $13,000 a year in premiums. Like the other guests, she said she had recently gotten a letter from Blue Cross saying that her policy was being terminated and a new, ACA-compliant policy would take its place. She says this shows that Obama lied when he promised Americans that we could keep our existing policies.
Allison’s husband left his job a few years ago, one with benefits at a big company, to start his own business. Since then they’ve been buying insurance on the open market, and are now paying around $1,100 a month for a policy with a $2,500 deductible per family member, with hefty annual premium hikes.  One of their two children is not covered under the policy. She has a preexisting condition that would require purchasing additional coverage for $800 a month, which would bring the family’s grand total to $19,000 a year.
I asked Allison if she’d shopped on the exchange, to see what a plan might cost under the new law. She said she hadn’t done so because she’d heard the website was not working. Would she try it out when it’s up and running? Perhaps, she said. She told me she has long opposed Obamacare, and that the president should have focused on tort reform as a solution to bringing down the price of healthcare.
I tried an experiment and shopped on the exchange for Allison and Kurt. Assuming they don’t smoke and have a household income too high to be eligible for subsidies, I found that they would be able to get a plan for around $7,600, which would include coverage for their uninsured daughter. This would be about a 60 percent reduction from what they would have to pay on the pre-Obamacare market.
Allison also told me that the letter she received from Blue Cross said that in addition to the policy change for ACA compliance, in the new policy her physician network size might be reduced.  That’s something insurance companies do to save money, with or without Obamacare on the horizon, just as they raise premiums with or without Obamacare coming.
If Allison’s choice of doctor was denied her through Obamacare then, yes, she could have a claim that Obamacare has hurt her. But she’d also have thousands of dollars in her pocket that she didn’t have before.
Finally, I called Robbie and Tina Robison from Franklin, Tenn.  Robbie is self-employed as a Christian youth motivational speaker. (You can see his work here.) On Hannity, the couple said that they, too, were recently notified that their Blue Cross policy would be expiring for lack of ACA compliance. They told Hannity that the replacement plans Blue Cross was offering would come with a rate increase of 50 percent or even 75 percent, and that the new offerings would contain all sorts of benefits they don’t need, like maternity care, pediatric care, prenatal care and so forth.  Their kids are grown and moved out, so why should they be forced to pay extra for a health plan with superfluous features?
When I spoke to Robbie, he said he and Tina have been paying a little over $800 a month for their plan, about $10,000 a year. And the ACA-compliant policy will cost 50-75 percent more? They said this information was related to them by their insurance agent.
Had they shopped on the exchange yet, I asked? No, Tina said, nor would they. They oppose Obamacare and want nothing to do with it. Fair enough, but they should know that I found a plan for them for, at most, $3,700 a year, a 63 percent less than their current bill.  It might cover things that they don’t need, but so does every insurance policy.
It’s true that we don’t know for sure whether certain ills conservatives have warned about will occur once Obamacare is fully enacted. For example, will we truly have the same freedom to choose a physician that we have now? Will a surplus of insured patients require a scaling back (or “rationing,” as some call it) of provided healthcare services?  Will doctors be able to spend as much time with patients? These are all valid, unanswered questions. The problem is that people like Sean Hannity have decided to answer them now, without evidence. Or worse, with fake evidence.
I don’t doubt that these six individuals believe that Obamacare is a disaster; but none of them had even visited the insurance exchange. And some of them appear to have taken actions (Paul Cox, for example) based on a general pessimistic belief about Obamacare. He’s certainly entitled to do so, but Hannity is not entitled to point to Paul’s behavior as an “Obamacare train wreck story” and maintain any credibility that he might have as a journalist.
Strangely, the recent shutdown was based almost entirely on a small percentage of Congress’s belief that Obamacare, as Ted Cruz puts it, “is destroying America.”  Cruz has rarely given us an example of what he’s talking about.  That’s because the best he can do is what Hannity did—exploit people’s ignorance and falsely point to imaginary boogeymen.
Eric Stern lives in Helena, Montana. He was senior counsel to Brian Schweitzer, former Governor.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I know it's wrong, but I love it when..

I know it is wrong, but I love it when I am quoted...  And not taken out of context.
My review (from Reviews Off-Broadway)...

Oddly Obsessed with Bosnia Herzogovinia

Jane and I near the bridge  (more later on the bridge)

Every since our trip to Croatia and our 1 day visit to Mostar, I find myself oddly obsessed with Bosnia Herzegovina. There are so many parallels and lessons for the US (and the world)  - yet so few people know about it.
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I found the country beautiful, the people warm and the recent history unimaginable.  Yet it all happened.
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Consider this... For years Bosnia Herzegovina was the most Yugoslavian of places.  The other states in Yugoslavia had either been independent, or had a national identity outside of Yugoslavia.  But Bosnia (we'll drop the Herzegovina for a while) did not.  The Bosniacks were enthusiastic members of the state and tried to stay neutral during the Croatian / Serbian wars.
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But ultimately the nationals from both sides appealed to their (religious) countrymen inside Bosnia and brought their external war into an internal civil war.  Croatia Bosnians, following the Catholic Church, and Serbian Bosnians, following the Orthodox Eastern Church, turned viciously on each other and even more viciously on the Muslim Bosniacks.  FYI , this WAS NOT the fault of the churches but of a crazed and nationalistic media who exploited religious differences.  The religions defined the populations but did not instigate or condon the events.
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Seriously, I feel in love with the place
These Bosnian people who had lived in peace under the Magyar Empire (Hungary), the Ottoman Empire, the Austrian / Hungary Empire and Yugoslavia, suddenly turned on each other and particularly the Bosniaks, with a ruthlessness that is unbelievable.
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Over 100,000 people died in the war and 83% of the civilian causalities were Bosniaks (45% of the military causalities were Bosniak).
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Almost 5% of all Bosniaks living in the country were killed.  The numbers are all guesses because there was no census, and there hasn't been on since the war (they are all afraid of upsetting the balance).  But 5% of Americans (a comparable number) would be about 15 million people.
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How does that happen?  How does centuries of trust and marriage and friendship go so terribly wrong overnight?  There are a lot of reasons, but a key one is propaganda.  Both the leading Croat and Serb television "news" stations made accusations and then trumped these wildly false stories.  Both sides were convinced that ethnic slaughter was happening; and so they were incensed at their neighbors, who were suddenly "the other".
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And although I worry about the crap Fox News puts out, they are not even in the same league as the two leading Croat and Serbian stations were.  Fox News pushes minor incidents as major items, but they don't actually say liberals are murdering innocents in the street and raping your wives.
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And visiting Bosnia, you would never think it of these kind, wonderful people.
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I have to go back someday.  I just don't understand.  I find myself curiously drawn there.

So look at the map.  Those green places in the east (left side), the Bosniaks didn't move, they were massacred.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

From the saying, "That's the pot calling the kettle black."

Trying to drum up interest in her new book, Ann Coulter took to Fox News to slam Liz Cheney, Todd Akin and other “hucksters” and “shysters” who, she says, are ruining the Republican Party.
Complaining that the GOP is insufficiently devoted to actually winning elections, Coulter said, “the problem is we have hucksters, shysters, people ripping off the Republican party for their own self-aggrandizement, for their own egos, to make money.”

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This isn't - by the by - political - as I have sworn off this.  It is merely a comment that the last person who should be allowed to called Republican political pundits "shysters" is Barbarella, the Republican She-Devil.  She has done more to tarnish the good name of Republicans than almost anyone.

Monday, October 14, 2013

and we exit politics for a while... it's a Moo Point

I am done blogging about any political for a while, for the sake of my sanity and Ed's reading pleasure.  It's a moo point.
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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

In Miami

We're in Miami this week-end with Joe and Aldona. Their place has gorgeous view, this view is from the east towards Miami Beach.   41st floor. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pic of the Day: Oct 11

So far, all of the Pics of the Day have been from my pictures.  But I found these from Birdlife South Africa from their annual photography competition on birds and sea life.  And if you know me, you know I love sea birds.
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Craig Nash/Oceans of Life 2013

OCEANS OF LIFE 2013

A Salvin's albatross swims off Kaikoura, New Zealand.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Jericho is Fantastic

Jericho is a smart, funny and moving new play by Jack Canfora; go see it immediately.  The show deploys a number of well worn tricks – one character breaking the fourth wall, a stage littered with detritus that used to create scenes and then placed back in the pile – and combines these with completely new tricks and an intelligent script to deliver a fully satisfying evening.

L-R: Jill Eikenberry, Carol Todd, Andrew Rein, Kevin Isola, Eleanor Handley, and Noel Joseph Allain in JERICHO by Jack Canfora, directed by Evan Bergman and produced by The Directors Company, at 59E59 Theaters
It is the story of Jessica, an emotionally scarred survivor who's husband died in the 9/11 attacks.  She has become accustomed to using her wit as her defense mechanism; Jessica is literate, funny and well aware of her own problems.  She has begun dating a man, Ethan, who is ready to become more involved with her.  Eventually after a scene that plays with touching hesitancy, she agrees to accompany Ethan to his family’s Thanksgiving in Jericho, Long Island.

Kevin Isola and Eleanor Handley in JERICHO
But Ethan’s family is well saddled with their own complications.  His brother Josh and sister-in-law Beth are in the middle of   Josh is becoming more religious after 9/11 and doesn’t really know how to share his newfound commitment with his more secular family.  Their mother Rachel (in a beautiful turn by Jill Eikenberry) is a widow with an empty house and a plan.  Everything comes together during the Thanksgiving visit and then shoots apart with the strength of an explosion.
a marriage breakdown.

Family, especially family at holidays, can be an easy joke.  Jericho pulls the payoff part off, but never goes for the easy out.  These characters confront the same demons, but perceive them in different ways.  Even the expected twists and turns don’t show up quite as expected.

The cast is perfect.  Eleanor Handley brings Jessica to life as funny, charming, self-confident and one step away from a mental breakdown.  It’s been four years, but she still talks with her dead husband.  And he talks back.  In this case, the “he” is played by Kevin Isola, who is a charming phantom - idealized into hunkiness.  Aware he is a manifestation of Jessica’s mind, Mr. Isola still manages to be exceptionally real as Jessica's conscience.  In the hands of lesser actors, this balance could turn to melodrama or farce.  In Jericho is does neither, the relationship helps us to define Jessica and we understand how it gives her a safety valve.
Noel Joseph Allain and Carol Todd in JERICHO

Noel Joseph Allain plays Josh, a character that is both opaque and annoying.  He can’t hide his contempt from the two people that know him best, his wife and brother.  But he still loves them and wants them to understand.  Mr. Allain’s Josh is simultaneously frustrating and frustrated, but never ventures into caricature.  Jopsh is well balanced by Carol Todd as Beth, his wife.  Beth doesn’t get to be funny or glib (although she is), she is trying to understand why her marriage is dying and what happened to the man she loved.

Andrew Rein does a neat trick playing Ethan, the man that pulls all this together, but is surprised when it blows up.  Ethan is just a guy trying to make it through dinner with his new girlfriend and maybe take the relationship a littler further.  He is unprepared for the fireworks, but in true oldest son fashion tries to smooth everything over.

Beautifully directed by Evan Bergman, Jericho moves at a nice pace - never too fast, never slow.  The decade plus that has passed, it has removed the immediacy of 9/11.  And Jericho doesn’t use the tragedy as a cheap plot device.  Yet neither is does it shy away from what happened.  It even addresses the sad looks and quiet awkwardness that the subject brings up.  This isn’t a show about 9/11, or survivor guilt, or Jewish mother jokes – although all are addressed.  It is a show about people, trying to connect, trying to move on and trying to make sense of life, with all its craziness.

Jericho
Playwright: Jack Canfora
Director: Evan Bergman
Cast: Noel Joseph Allain, Jill Eikenberry, Eleanor Handley, Kevin Isola, Andrew Rein, Carol Todd

And now for something completely different: Top 20 stupid complaints to Thomas Cook

(from Huffington Post)  A vacation is supposed to be your time away from the crazy. Remind me never to travel to any of the same vacation spots these people have booked. I'll take that upgrade and trade you a bus tour of "OH MY GOD THESE PEOPLE ARE NUTS!"

These are actual complaints received from dissatisfied customers by Thomas Cook Vacations (based on a Thomas Cook/ABTA survey):
1. "I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts."
2. "It's lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during 'siesta' time -- this should be banned."
3. "On my holiday to Goa in India , I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don't like spicy food."
4. "We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price."
5. "The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room."
6. "We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow."
7. "They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax."
8. "No one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared."
9. "Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers."
10. "We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish."
11. "The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun."
12. "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."
13. "I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends' three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller."
14. "The brochure stated: 'No hairdressers at the resort'. We're trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service."
15. "There were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners."
16. "We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning."
17. "It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel."
18. "I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes."
19. "My fiance and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked."