Monday, February 25, 2008

Snow Jobs

2-25-08 SHORT HILLS: We came back to NJ on the 21st ahead of the storm that hit here on the 22nd surpassing expectations by dumping 8-9 inches on us. We have minor damage, broken branches mostly, but another storm may arrive tomorrow. The days are noticeably longer, and it’s less than a month to the vernal equinox. The sun today almost feels warm. There’s still time to get in a bit more skiing.

Enjoying the snow.

Great news from California—a judge ruled in favor of a plaintiff suing Health Net, a medical insurer/HMO, which terminated coverage of a woman with breast cancer in the middle of her chemorx. He issued a nine million dollar judgment for the plaintiff. He said the company acted unconscionably and illegally when they cut her benefits. The company gave bonuses to their staff when they were able to cancel policies with large claims.

I have repeatedly said that for-profit insurers only want your premiums, upfront please, and then want to keep all the money for CEO bonuses and stockholder dividends. Paying claims is always to be avoided if possible, or the payments are delayed, deferred, downgraded or diminished. They lose forms, demand more information about claims, and hunt for any technicality to deny the claim and keep the money. Give me Medicare any day. They always pay their approved amount within a few weeks of receiving the claim. The frustration of dealing with HMO’s was one of the things that drove me out of practice.

Why can’t we all just get Medicare?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Gus Gets Visitors.

2-18-08 VERMONT: We came up yesterday with Lily and two friends, Liz and Cara. Judy drove the three girls and Gus, and I brought the luggage, Nick, Sam and Chloe. Short Hills was busy before we came up. Val, Maggie and Lucy came out to visit Gus, and Alison brought the girls to NJ and visited Gus.

The trip up was quick and dry. It started to sleet yesterday evening, and this morning it was much warmer, would you believe 50’s, with rain. In the afternoon the rain became showers and the sun was in-and-out. The rain softened up all the snow still on the roofs which all slid off those roofs which meant more shoveling to clear doorways. The piles under the eaves have closed out some of the windows. In the driveway we have huge icy puddles. Guess what will happen to those when the temp drops tonight.

The dogs seem to be adjusting to the interloper and are at least tolerant at this point. The weather gods must have been feeling some remorse about all the ghastly stuff we’ve received and, to apologize, gave us a winter rainbow this afternoon.

Maggie, Lucy and Gus.

Snowshoers. [That's a three rail fence in the summer.]

Winter surprise.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Obama and JFK

2-11-08 SHORT HILLS: Judy and I were talking about JFK a couple days ago and calculated that were he still alive, he would be 92 this year. [He was 44 in 1960.] How’s that for scary?

Why did we go there? It started with Obama and his ability to electrify audiences like Kennedy did. He is, BTW, our choice for the Dems and President. Check out this quote from five months before the Iraq war started:

“I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war … I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.”

I got the quote from an article in The Atlantic by Andrew Sullivan. It was sent to me by WGBL. [That’s not a radio station.] Here’s the link to the article:

Is that prescient or what? So we turn to the question of experience, supposedly Obama’s weak point. I used to practice medicine, consulted for other docs and so got a look at how they managed their cases. It became clear that sometimes “experience” is just repeatedly making the same mistakes.

Hanging around the scene for a long time doesn’t necessarily make your judgment better, and repeating the same errors over and over doesn’t make you less incompetent, but highlights your incompetence. Obama, as a new senator, saw the folly of this war and predicted the disastrous consequences--an example of good judgment at the start of a career. Some of us get it right away, and some of us never get it. A lot of “experience” doesn’t compensate for or exclude or erase lousy judgment. Take the case of dubya.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Got Snow?

2-8-08 VERMONT: We came up on the sixth to find the house unshoveled and unplowed. Scott, the shoveler, is away on a family emergency, and Eric, the plower, has truck problems. Country life. The neighbors did some neighborly shoveling in their absence the day before our arrival, but the six inches of snow that fell after they shoveled hid their generous work. The night after our arrival there was another foot of snow. Judy shoveled, I shoveled, two local boys pinch-shoveled and the plower arrived, and now we’re ok until tomorrow’s storm. In the pasture the snow level is almost to the second rail of the three rail fence. The piles around the house have turned the porch into a tunnel. The dogs walk off the deck onto the shovel piles, usually that’s an eight-foot drop.

Yesterday we drove to Goffstown, NH, through the snow storm, to pick up the new puppy, Gus, from the breeder Marsha Seifert. Gus seems very easy-going so far. The other dogs are all adjusting. Sam’s attitude is “whatever.” Chloe has surprised us by starring as the the friendly auntie. Nick has surprised us by being resentful and aloof and growling when Gus tries to initiate play. Hopefully it’ll all work out.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Brady Bunch Gets Stomped.

2-5-08 SHORT HILLS and NAPLES, FL: How ‘bout those Giants? Big Blue stomped, Michael Strahan’s word, the New England Patriots. They were two TD underdogs to the team that was 18/0 for the season. Of course 18/1 is a remarkable season, never done before, but too bad about that last game.

It all reminded me of 1986 when the Mets made an astounding recovery to win the World Series. Now who was it they beat? Oh yes, the Soux, the Boston Red Soux.

My new hat.

The Giants barely won their wild card spot and were underdogs for all their wins in the post-season. Once again, a team having a mediocre season got hot at the right time and won it all. We watched the game as guests of Ken and Carol in Naples, FL.

They have a beautiful house just off the Gulf on a bay that puts their boat next to the swimming pool. We were there for the weekend. They took us boating, we lunched at the Golf Club, toured the town, biked, swam, dined out, ate in and saw lots of birds. The birds included: Great Horned Owl, Eagles, Ospreys, Peregrine Falcon, Great Blue Heron, egrets, curlews, oyster catchers, pelicans and others. We also had dolphins riding the boats wake. On a street near their house is a gigantic banyan tree where we saw the owl. That lot is for sale. I hope whoever buys the lots lets the tree remain undisturbed.

The town is attractive, clean and looks quite prosperous. Like Short Hills, new construction is built on tear-down sites. There seemed to be more out-of-state license plates than Florida plates. There were cars, mostly shiny, new, imported and expensive, from MA, NY, NJ, MI, KY, CN, PA to list some I remember. Walking around in shorts and crocs for a couple of days was great. VT tomorrow.

Bald Eagle is next door neighbor.

Now this is a tree.