Friday, August 28, 2009

Going Viral...ha ha. Get it? VIRAL.

I haven't gone to any healthcare town halls. Because the last few places I've LIVED lived have been liberal enclaves (Cambridge, Berkeley, San Francisco), I have a tendency to ignore all the action alerts that pour into my inbox every day. I mean, I feel pretty confident that 1) Nancy Pelosi's mind is made up, and 2) She's voting my way.

My mom's going to a town hall tonight, though, and we had an e mail conversation the other day about what her sign should say. She was going to go with something like, "Lies are bad, dialogue is good." I don't think anyone would disagree with that, but I'm not sure that points to one side or the other. And the only thing I could think of as a better sign was: "My five-year-old was refused healthcare."

And it's totally ridiculous that Eden had to be denied before I could figure out something pithy to say about health care reform. I've always had relatively good care--or, at least, could afford my co-pay.

But last week's Newsweek, as usual, had some good talking points. Sharon Begley, who is perhaps the most readable science reporter on the planet, and to whom I'm constantly thinking of sending a fan letter, wrote an article called: "Attack! The truth about Obamacare." The article laid out the R's talking points versus the D's. The GOP has catchphrases like "death panels" and "standing between you and your doctor," whereas my team is working with "bending the cost curve" and "the status quo."

My girl Sharon, per usual, writes exactly what I wish I was thoughtful enough to say to naysayers: That the system is broken; that currently who stands between the decisions of you and your doctor is your insurance company; that people are prevented from leaving their jobs because the cost of carrying that insurance on their own is so expensive; that even in the last ten years, small businesses have dropped coverage by another 30%; that half of all personal bankruptcies are due to illness; that Medicare IS government-run healthcare; that the government is proposing that it pays for you to talk to your doctor about your end-of-life directive, not put you in front of a death panel; that the discussion of "cost effectiveness" is a mistranslation of the actual discussion of "medical effectiveness"--that maybe no one should pay for treatments that haven't been proven to work; that nothing in this bill mentions paying for sex-change operations; that abortion isn't covered in the bill, because the government has already banned using federal dollars for it; that people die every year because their insurance companies refuse to pay for treatment that might work--against doctors' wishes.

I think most of my Facebook friends are of a like mind, but I know there are at least a few who aren't. So from today until this debate is resolved, my status update is going to be a health care talking point. I only had one negative response to my status posting about Eden, and his comment was jumped on and he failed to respond to the challenge. Maybe if more of my "friends" were armed with talking points, they might get a little more fired up. Or at least know how to respond to crazy in-laws and the like.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Healthcare Reform

My brother applied for health insurance for his five-year-old through Kaiser, who was already covering Tim.

As a result, Kaiser re-evaluated Tim, and refused him coverage.
Within the last 24 months, kidney stones
Illegal drug use within last 5 years
Tobacco use within last 2 years

Kaiser also refused Eden, my nephew, coverage.
Within the last 12 months, visited a doctor for minor illness/injury

If a five-year-old can be refused for visiting the doctor once in the last year, I wonder if I can be refused for blogging about it?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Things I'm Irrationally Afraid Of

  • Opening a bathroom stall door to find someone inside.
  • Being pushed onto the tracks as the train comes.
  • Sending an e mail to the wrong mailing list.
  • Biting off my own tongue while Novocained.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Most of my enjoyment from going to classes at the gym stems from my need for constant recognition. I take a real pride at being the instructor's pet. There just aren't enough opportunities to prove your excellence in the real world. There's no equivalent of getting an A. If you do well at your job, it feels good for a while, and then usually that's followed by resentment because you feel like you've earned a promotion and a raise.

So the only way to prove my worth in the immediate term is to attend classes at 24 Hour Fitness and outperform everyone. I'm not particularly strong (I joined because I hit a wall--I couldn't open a jar), but I'm persistent. And when adults are told by an instructor that they can stop whenever they want, or reduce their weight, or do fewer reps, MOST OF THEM DO. (What are they paying for?) So I win the contest I'm holding in my own mind simply by good-naturedly finishing with good form. The bar is low.

I've been to only one class at this particular location so far. It's called 24 Lift, which is 24 Hour Fitness' branded way of saying it's a weightlifting class. The instructor's name is Richard, which I know because 24 Hour Fitness has a whiteboard at the front: the equivalent of a big "HI, MY NAME IS..." tag. All of the instructors use a green marker, and it looks like someone accidentally bought a wet-erase instead of a dry-erase board, and no one's done anything about it. It took me two class attendances to read Richard's name.

So, anyway, I know Richard's name, but he doesn't know mine. I know he appreciates my dedication to ensuring that all my squats are the FULL three seconds, because he catches my eye in the mirror and (I wholeheartedly believe) smiles approvingly. Most people in the class get verbal recognition, even though I'm fairly certain none of them are trying quite as hard to please as I am. Furthermore, it's my suspicion that Richard actually knows very few names--and who's to correct him? For all of class, he's calling out, "Great work, Erin!" "Good job, Helen!" But if no one in the class knows the name of anyone else in the class, and if no one ever reacts to their name being called out, who's to know? Richard comes off as personable and encouraging, and maybe everyone works a little bit harder. Imagine how well I'D perform if I had the chance of being verbally rewarded for sticking out the entire "Challenge" exercise!

Yeah, I'm onto him.

There are always a few things that are hard to figure out when you try out a new class. I've belonged to a gym and have been going to classes for most months of the last ten years, so the fact that it's hard to really understand the exact words of the instructor through his headset, layered with the dance mix of a Pink song (no one ever just pops in Jock Jams anymore) isn't usually an issue. It's kind of like watching What Not To Wear on mute. You think you might know how to read lips, but that's just because it's all a bunch of blather and you pick up the important stuff because it's the same every time.

But instructors, like news anchors, have to have a gimmick. Richard's, I thought for about an hour, was, "SUPER TIMES!" What he's really saying is, "Two more times!," which comes up a lot in a class that's basically about exerting yourself for eight counts at a time. This also means that while everyone's dropping off by the time we get to the last two reps, I do my snort laugh and the momentum of that practically lifts the bar for me.

Richard does have his downside. I think he cheats. He has real problems counting to eight. He often skips "one." And that means that I'm torn between completing the set (as I know he, and God, want me to do) and staying with the rhythm of the class. And he adds in all those little lost single seconds on occasions to hold a single (always uncomfortable) position for eight counts, because first he uses about two seconds to explain that we'll count to eight, and then (THEN! The most infuriating thing one could do to one who is straining under weight), at three, stops to interject, "Almost there!"

He's just being mean.

But, since he's the only one in the room with any right to judge me, and I so desperately want him to approve of my performance, I just smile knowingly. He can't crack this one.