Saturday, March 19, 2005

This new bankruptcy law sounded good to me at first. I knew people who started businesses, failed, declared bankruptcy, started a new business, failed, declared bankruptcy again and started another business that would fail. But some stats reported on the Bring it On blog are astounding.

Almost 55% of bankruptcies were filed by folks who had huge medical bills.

Back when Clinton proposed his Health Care plan, I was against it. I had a nice job with a Fortune 500 company with great medical benefits. I opposed it because I was afraid that if it passed, my benefits would be cut to the minimums set forth in the plan. I thought the alternative Medical savings plan proposed by the Republicans would be a better idea.

Then I began to hate my job. I quit, moved back home, and took a job with a small business.

When I was hired, the owner told me that as soon as they computerized the business, they would start looking at getting health insurance. Well, they computerized the business. Three or four years later, after my boss' spouse retired, they got a retirement plan for the full time employees. Here it is, five years later, and still no health plan.

Back in 2001, I got sick. Really sick. I was taken to the hospital by ambulance. It cost $700 to get the three guys into the ambulance for the one block drive to the office. They each wore gloves that cost $5 a pair. They ran several tests for heart disease, understandable under the circumstances. The ride to the hospital cost me $1500.

I spent 19 days in the hospital, including two days in ICU, and ten in isolation because they were afraid I had TB. My hospital bill was $50,000.

When the State of Texas Health Department was informed that I might, just might, have TB, they wanted everyone I had been in contact with for the previous two weeks to take a TB test. My cousins had been down for golf, so my Midland cousin went to his Health Department and got his. My cousin in Virginia had to pay for his. My boss, when informed that all the employees would have to take the test, asked, "Who's paying for it?" When he was told the state was picking up the tab, he agreed to have test himself.

I wound up applying for Indigent Care, which forgave my hospital bill, but not my ambulance ride. I had to get a loan to pay that off. (My mom does medical transcription, and one of her surgeon clients apparently did the surgery for free. Thanks, Doc!)

My argument against National Health Care now seems foolish. Since my employer won't consider adding health insurance to my benefits, I now know that this country needs a health plan.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The last week at work was pretty rough. It's Spring Break and Bicycle Hell Week, where cyclists from all over come down to lord it over all of us non-cyclists. In keeping with my "Control My Finances" pledge, I tried to spend as little as possible. But it's really hard to deal with all the people who come to town and want a place for 14 people with a full breakfast for $100 total. I have laid off the beer this week, and, since I don't have to work tomorrow, and making up for lost time. My first purchase since Tuesday was an 18 pack of beer.

My parents want me to go with them on vacation. I'll probably go, and I will probably continue my tradition of watching people in tourist towns try not to strangle the tourists. I'm trying to see how well I cover it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I want to preface everything I'm about to say with this statement: I like beer. Almost any beer.

Today is St. Patrick's Day, the United States first beer binge day. (I'm not counting Mardi Gras because that has yet to spread across the country, but it's starting!) Today everyone puts on their green, and drinks green beer till they're sick. (As another aside, why ruin a perfectly good beer by coloring it green? you want to show your Irishness? Drink a Guinness!) Tommorrow, we'll be a nation of people walking around with our head in our hands saying, "I wish that cat would quit stomping around!"

Next up is Cinco de Mayo, where everyone grabs a Corona, eats nachos, and dances to mariachi music. Then there's Memorial Day, where everyone with a boat fills it with beer and heads to an open body of water. After that, we celebrate the founding of our country with a beer soaked fireworks festival. Then there's October, when every German community celebrates Oktoberfest. Finally, it's Super Bowl time, when the beer companies encourage us to watch the big game with a lot of their product.

When did celebrating one's ethnic heritage become an excuse to snot slinging, commode hugging drunk? (I don't need one. Making it to 5 pm is good enough for me.)

A cold front has blown through the Texas Hill Country, dropping the spring-like temps into the low 40s this morning. And now, rain has started falling. I guess I'll have to put the shorts back into the drawer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

I'm 40 years old. I got my first car in 1978. It was a '67 Plymouth Duster. like most used cars, it broke down a lot. I had the car repaired in the High School auto shop. I always said that the car spent more time at school than I did. At the time, gas was seventy cents a gallon, and $5 would get the tank half full. I remember being able to buy $1 worth of gas and driving for a couple of days.

I just put $10 of gas in my van. If I'm lucky, I can go until the weekend. The last time I filled the van up, I spent almost $40. I once swore I would never own a car that cost that much to fill up. Thanks to 9/11, and the almost immediate spike in gas prices, I now own that car. And while the gas companies are telling us how much gas costs to produthey are posting record profits.

One of the reasons I want to get my bills paid is to be able to buy a new car. I have my eye on a Toyota Prius. All I gotta do is last another year in the van.

Monday, March 14, 2005

In an effort to go a week without spending any money, I have been spending a lot of time online, browsing blogs. I found a neat site that lets you create a map of the states you've visited.

create your own visited states map

Then I found this little quiz:

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Check it out!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

In the aftermath of Avengers Disassembled, Marvel has launched Young Avengers and New Avengers. They have also published an 8 issue Mini-series retelling the origin of the superteam, redoing the first sixteen issues, and setting them a bit closer to the 21st century.

I'm not too upset by all of this, since the mini series really just updates the setting for the first few issues, and explores the behind the scenes politics. But I am curious how Marvel will spin the small reboot, since they say they don't reboot.

A few years, John Byrne, my favorite artist/writer, by the way, rebooted Spider-man, moving his origin from the sixties to the eighties. Fans hated it!

I wrote earlier about the current reboot of Nightwing going on over at DC Comics, and wasn't too happy about that, but they were changing the origin.

I guess that's the nature of comic book time, though. Dick Grayson first appeared in 1940, and Peter Parker in the 60s. Since they have to stay an eternal 29 years old, the writers have to keep moving their backstories up in time.