Tag Archives: apropos of nothing

Healthcare in the US

It’s broken. I’ve thought so for years, but recent Covid testing really just reminded me.

I have good health insurance through my employer and have generally had access to care through work-related insurance as an adult. And dental, too. But I also know that as a kid, we only went to the doctor when ill. In theory my father was supposed to provide health insurance but I don’t think he ever did. Or if he did, it was through his employer and limited to the employer’s location (out of state and thus useless).

All that to say that I am aware that I am fortunate in my relative health and insurance.

I needed a timely Covid test recently. So I arranged one that my insurance would cover, but the results were not timely, so I paid an obscene amount of money out of pocket for a rapid test.

Then I had to have another test to return to the US. It was easily arranged, cost 30 €, results in an hour.

Today the billing info for the the too late test results arrived – it’s fully covered – showing the charge of $164.

The difference in cost and timing is striking. There’s no good reason or explanation for the divergence. There is no real reason that Portuguese labs are able to promptly, efficiently, and affordably administer tests and get lab results but the US can’t. Or won’t. Because the US healthcare system is broken. Or designed to profit to the detriment of actually providing care.

Healthcare is a human right. My negative covid tests are not a big deal in the scheme of things. But I’m guessing the disparities there are visible in areas of more critical care, too.

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Short tempered

Everything is irritating me lately. Little things. Large things.

Upstairs neighbor had a leak under their tile that showed via my ceiling. Them: it’s not my problem. Me: I had a plumber cut the drywall, it absolutely is your problem. Them: crickets. It’s fixed now, but I’ve gotten no response re my ceiling repair, so I guess I’ll organize it and file a claim with my insurance, who will then pursue theirs.

I’m just done with the upstairs neighbor. Between the dog that cries whenever left alone, the refusal to comply with floor covering rules (either that or there’s an elephant living there), and the leak, I’m just…done.

At work, newish colleague is very defensive of her staff, which I get. But her staff keep breaking The Thing. I asked if they could not do X to avoid breaking The Thing. No, that’s too difficult. Okay. Then I’ll forward every complaint about how frequently The Thing does not work to her to handle.

I’m worried about a friend with family in Ukraine. Which is obviously a bigger deal for them than me, of course.

Trying a meal prep service. It’s fine? It would be cheaper to shop and prep myself but the reality is that I will not. Haven’t decided if I want to keep on with it. I like some of the recipes but the choices are odd sometimes. Ex: recipe called for two tbsp of minced onion. Obviously the can only include whole onions. But maybe include a small one, not one that yields a cup of chopped onion.

Frank Turner’s Fifty States in Fifty Days tickets went on sale this past week. Road trip in the mid Atlantic in June.

Trying to read the new Kearsley book, but I keep bouncing off.

I’m just cranky. Maybe I should take a nap.

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New experiment

When looking at my budget and expenses over the last year, one thing became very clear: I spent entirely too much at a certain coffee chain. I don’t like black coffee, but do like lattes made with non-dairy milk. (And cappuccino in Italy and galão in Portugal and café manchado in Spain. But that’s a different post.) Anyway, I bought a low end espresso/latte maker and have zeroed out the chain coffee.

This morning I realized I was out of alt milk, until I remembered the condensed milk in the pantry. Good enough in a pinch, right?

Turns out this is café bombón. Too sweet for my regular morning caffeine but would be a good dessert substitute. And fine until I make it to the grocery store tomorrow. 😁

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The Cult of We(Work)

I went to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia for a week earlier this month. Rented a cabin in the western part of the state with limited wifi and no cellular service. It was delightful. I sat on the front porch swing and lounged in the hammock, and visited towns that were sort of nearby for antique shops, wineries, etc.

While lounging around, I read a recently published book The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann and the Great Startup Delusion. It was very well done. But it didn’t really answer the questions I had about WeWork, unless I just chalk it all up to literally being a cult. Which may just be answer, I guess.

To back up, when WeWork was in the news in 2019 because it was going to go public, I would occasionally chat with an acquaintance about the financial media attention it was getting. He was skeptical of a bunch of startups, including Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, and WeWork. I sort of got the business model of the first three – they don’t own the product, they own the software that organizes and the reputation – but WeWork made no sense to me, and we both agreed: how was it a tech startup? How was it any different than other office rental companies? We assumed smarter people than we were could answer that. Or not, as it turned out.

I kind of hoped the book would provide a better answer about WeWork as a phenomenon and spectacular (from my perspective) bust; certainly it provides a more in depth answer. But really, it comes down to grifters gonna grift IMO. At least, that’s the impression I get from the book about Neumann (and Mrs. Neumann, who comes across as possibly the biggest Karen I’ve ever encountered on the page).

That WeWork is now going public, two years later and at a much lower valuation via SPAC rather than direct IPO…I don’t know. The deal is public (see the filings for BOWX at sec.gov’s EDGAR) and it hasn’t closed. I don’t get it. But I don’t have to. Good luck to the WeWork true believers…

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The first quarter of 2018

Well…the reading slump has improved, if only by the smallest of increments.  Four books finished!  Three more books from authors whose series I used to love attempted and DNF’d; two of those were library books, and now they are not even on the library list.  I would not characterize any of the four I finished as five star reads, but I am going to look for other work by one author.  Another of the books reiterated that New Adult fiction and a Very Popular Author in that subgenre are REALLY not for me.

Next up on the fiction front:  Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai.  An autographed copy was on display at the Strand when I was in New York a few weeks ago, and it was an impulse buy.

Currently working through on the nonfiction front:  The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein.  I can only read this in small increments because it is so infuriating.  I live in Baltimore; the modern effects of segregation are painfully apparent here, exacerbated by the flight of heavy industry.  I worked briefly in a landlord-tenant clinic years ago, representing low income tenants in rent court.  Even so, I had NO IDEA that the segregation was written into law; I thought it was a function of the racist application of law.  My white privilege there.  *cringes*

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Shoes and pants for travel

To say that I am not particularly fashionable would be an understatement.  My wardrobe isn’t small, but the section that I wear on a regular basis is.  While I joke with colleagues about how bland and uniform-like most suits are for people in our particular line of work, there’s a certain relief in knowing that there’s a uniform of sorts for days with meetings and for business casual.

But I am always keeping an eye out for clothes that travel well, are easy to mix and match, and are wash and wearable.

A few days before leaving for Portugal, I stopped by REI, looking for a pair of shoes.  They didn’t have exactly what I wanted: the particular style had been on clearance and sold out.  But I ended up buying a pair of Merrells and a pair of Mammut pants off the clearance sale rack.

The Merrells are as excellent as Merrells usually are:  the black Dassie shoe worked with pants and casual skirts and wore well for walking miles on cobblestones.  The Mammut pants wound up being better than I anticipated for traveling.  They are made of lightweight material that dries quickly when rained upon, didn’t feel binding even after 12+ hours of wear, were easily cleaned, etc.

Highly recommend both…although it looks like the pants aren’t available any longer.

Still…if you don’t want to wear sneakers as you travel but still need good support and sturdy shoes for walking, Merrell might be a brand to try.  And I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for more Mammut on the sale rack.

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Note to self

Next time, permit more time for wine tasting. Two port caves per day is really my limit, but there are so many, and I won’t have time to try them all. 😍

Also: this fascinated me. Up close, it’s a bunch of mangled car parts stuck on the corner of a building for no apparent reason. A few yards away, it is clearly an Art Installation…maybe one with a message I don’t really get. But still, it’s ingenious.


And then there is this installation across from a hipster-y coffee place. Those are car tires sticking out of or affixed to the building.


(Where I had a pastry and a latte. Yum.)

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Second beach read

I’ve had Our Kind of Traitor to be read since the beginning of summer.  I meant to read it in time to see the movie, but I missed the movie in theaters and have only just finished reading the book.

It was…kind of a drudge.  I mean, it wasn’t badly written, in terms of language and narrative.  It was just dour in the way that Le Carre is.  He’s got a particular world view that is present in all of his work as far as I can tell.  (Or maybe just the few books I’ve tried?)  And I find it to be less than engaging; it seems (to me) replete with casual misogyny, classism/racism, and a sort of Cold War remnant worldview.  All of the characters in this book were cliches or stereotypes.  There was an arc of sorts but little or no resolution.  I need to remember in future that he’s not to my taste.

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Apprentice in Death by JD Robb

Why can’t I quit this series?  The story lines are stale or recycled.  The editing is sloppy.  Meh.

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Today’s beach events have me wondering if social scientists have looked at beach etiquette.  There are square miles of empty beach; why drop your umbrella two feet away from a stranger’s umbrella?  Cell phones mean you can have that conversation anywhere; but should you have a conversation about what sounds like confidential work stuff while screaming over the waves and gulls on a beach full of strangers? What is the psychology or sociology that has people do this kind of stuff?  Or smoke on the beach, or track sand on someone else’s blankets/towels, or play a radio without earbuds, etc?

One of my beachy neighbors failed to secure their umbrella today.  As the wind picked up, the umbrella took off, whacking me in the throat with the pointy end hard enough to knock me down (I was standing and didn’t see it coming until the last moment).  The underside of my chin has a huge welt, along with my cheek and the side of my neck, despite icing.  I’ve got a weird throat/ear ache and it kind of hurts to swallow.  If it still hurts in the morning, I may try to get a doctor’s appointment and head home early 😦

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ETA: I’ve finished listening to the first of five sections of Middle March.  The sections are based on size/time, not by chapter or book section.  But it’s still further than I’ve ever managed to get when attempting to read it in paper or ebook.  I like the reader’s voice, but I don’t really care about any of the characters so far.

 

 

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Random housekeeping

I was poking around in WordPress and wound up on the page that tells me about visitors and which posts are popular.  It’s an odd combination of posts, to be honest:  a cranky post about the difference between bequest (noun!) and bequeath (verb!) and a review of Black Wade, a graphic novel, which I had kind of forgotten about.  Black Wade is by far the most popular post I’ve ever written, which is kind of ironic since it’s not a post I put a huge amount of effort or thought into.

Seeing the stats made me go see if I still had it on my bookshelf.  Yes, there is was, sitting next to my Firefly graphic novels and also one of the early Mercedes Thompson graphic novels.  But, wow, has it *not* aged well for me.  In fact, re-reading it gave me a serious squick.  It’s going in the discard pile, although I’m not sure if it is appropriate for donation to the library or what.

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Reading ennui

My reading ennui continues.  After failed the fifty page test; the writing read as elementary to me and the POV was childish, even for NA.  Next?  That’s the problem, there’s nothing I want to read.

I wandered around B&N today with book money and a coupon for 20% off burning a hole in my pocket, metaphorically speaking.  They had a gigantic teen section with separate subsections for PNR/fantasy, general, and romance.  The mystery and romance sections were maybe half of what they used to be.  None of the authors I was looking for were in stock:  none of CS Harris’s backlist, no Ilona Andrews, the third book in Leckie’s series but neither of the other two, etc.  I could, of course, order them from B&N.  Or I could order them from Amazon for less and have them arrive sooner.  Or I could spend my time doing something other than reading, which is most likely to happen.

This is how a life-long reader stops being a reader and how B&N loses business.

D:

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The Martian was pretty good.

I’m interested in seeing Sufragette, despite the fact that Carey Mulligan is the main character.  (She seems really one note to me in all the roles I’ve seen her in.)  But Meryl Streep.

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