Saturday, November 6, 2010

She's gone, gone, gone...

My wife left me yesterday.

Actually, she's just gone for the weekend. The kids and I bought her a scrap-booking weekend with a bunch of other ladies as her birthday gift. I don't think I've ever seen her so excited. She loves scrap-booking and is very, very good at it. Last year a friend of hers got 82 pages done in one weekend. Sheila said she has every intention of blowing that number out of the water. And I imagine she'll probably do it. A creative woman, that one.

So that leaves me at home with the kids for the weekend. And once again, I've discovered how much she actually gets done around here. No, I take that back. I've discovered that she gets more done than I can imagine and I have absolutely no idea how she does it.

It's Saturday, so I set my alarm for 6:30 so I could get up and have some quiet time before Preston and Josh woke up. I got about 15 minutes. Just long enough to get the coffee going and get a shower. I came out of the shower to find Josh awake. So from there it wasn't long before Preston was awake.

It's get Josh on to the commode, (still working on potty training), get Preston his medication, get Josh his medication, feed Josh, feed Preston, empty the trash so it doesn't tumble off the top of the mountain the kids have piled up so that they don't have to take the bag out. And then discover the last time Isaac took the trash out he used the last trash bag and decided not to tell anyone that we had no more bags. So I shove as much of the new trash in the last bag going at as I can get to fit and leave the rest on the counter.

Empty the dishwasher, load it again, set the timer for it to start in about an hour since I've used up all the hot water in my shower and the subsequent cleaning of crusty dishes so that the dishwasher can finish cleaning them, wonder what sense that makes.

Get a cup of coffee, listen to Preston tell me about the cars that are cool and that he thinks I should buy from the Ohio Auto & RV sale magazine. Find Josh asleep on the couch buried under the cushions. Change him again since I missed his pottying time, apparently. And it's not even 8:30 yet.

And my wife does this every morning, even on the weekends. I don't know how she keeps going.

I hope she's having fun and I can't wait for Sunday afternoon to get here... so I can see her again.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Why do I keep getting comments in Japanese? Do I look Japanese to you?

I’m very proud of my kids. All of them. Although they scare me at times, and sometimes they just make me laugh.

I was having a problem with my Blackberry, and not having time to go to the Verizon store and get it worked out, I switched phones with Hana. She has the same model and doesn’t need the alarm function anyway, since she usually wakes up when the setting sun comes through her window.

I finished my book at dinner tonight and looked up the order of the Lucas Davenport series written by John Sandford so I could read them in order (I’m that kind of guy) and I stumbled across some memos that Hana had put on her phone. I thought I’d share them with you.

Under the heading “On Haikus”:
I can’t write haikus
Because I’m not Japanese
Hey, wait a minute.

Haikus are easy
But sometimes the don’t make sense

Under the heading “Memo to self”:
Talking to self is bad.

Oh Crap!

I would love to see her dreams sometimes. She must have some really weird ones. The nice thing is she usually writes them down. But apparently, she sometimes just jots down some notes about her dreams. I found this memo entitles “Dream 18”:
Alley. Bloody Slug. Hobo Women. Ran Off. Door open. Job Opportunity. Application. Tom Cruise. Alien. Chase (could be the verb chase or her cousin Chase). Robot. Escape through sewers. Lake. Modeling Photo shoot. Sean and Gus (from the TV show Psyche.) Join. Pass out. Airport. All my stuff is ruined. Stranded. Good Samaritan. Model boss. Fight. Missed Flight. Christmas. Puppies. Apartment. Moved. Pink. Emily. Kittens. Kate and Mike. Rotweillers. Chase. Hurt Diana. Lock Door.

Yeah, Hana. I’d lock the door too.

Ben called me a couple hours ago and said he had landed in Houston and was on his way back home. A friend of his is moving to San Francisco and asked Ben to go with him out there and he’d buy him a plane ticket home. They left last Monday morning. This is Ben. My 21 year old son who got his third learners permit three days before they left. You see, Ben’s never gotten his lisence to drive and doesn’t really like to drive. But it sounded like they had a good time. They spet the first night in Des Moine, Iowa, then spent the second night in Denver where they had dinner with my brother Phil, who Ben hadn’t seen in probably ten years. Then they were trying to get to Las Vegas to see his friends uncle but didn’t make it that day. They stopped in Cedar City, Utah, about 175 miles from Vegas. Drove on into Vegas the next morning and spent the day running around, and then on to San Francisco on Friday.

I was more scared of him making this trip than I was when he was 16 and went to Peru on a mission trip. But all went well. At least so far anyway.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, do you listen to Radio Lab? If the answer is no to either question, I would recommend you going to the Radio lab website and getting the podcast entitled “Oops”. It’s amazing. Especially the last section about Butte, MT. Actually, I would recommend getting all of their podcasts. I personally think it’s the best one out there.

And for those of you who don’t know it, my wife is a great wife. As I told her on Sunday before I left, she’s the best wife I’ve ever had. That’s probably not as funny now that I read it since a lot of you don’t actually know that she’s the ONLY wife I’ve ever had. So excuse me while I delete this paragraph.

There. That’s better.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Here's a tip for you.

If, by chance, you are in need of that wonderful product known as "Super Glue", there are a couple of things you want to make sure of. If you open a new tube, makeabsolutely sure that the cap which holds the dispensing nozzle is firmly screwed back onto the tube. Secondly, you do not want to carry this tube in your pants pocket. Particularly if you are also carrying a pocket full of screws.

Did this happen to you, John, you may ask.

And I would reply. No comment.

The glue will leak through the fabric which makes up your pocket and, before it dries, will leak onto your boxer briefs. It will then leak through your boxer briefs onto the skin of your upper thigh.

Very powerful stuff, this super glue. In just a moment your pants will be glued to your underwear, which will be glued to your leg. This makes a quick trip to the restroom very difficult, depending of course on the position you need to assume while in the restroom.

Sounds like this happened to you, John.

I'm just saying. And the removal of this mess can be very painful. Nail polish remover is supposed to work well, but it's hard to get it into your pocket, through your pocket onto your unmentionables and then your leg without looking like you've wet yourself. I'm just saying.

And then once you get the whole thing off, you will find that you now have a hole in your pocket, drawers that aren't worth keeping, and a hickey on your thigh.

So think about these things the next time your in the hardware store and you need a tube of this "Super Glue". It may not be worth the trouble.

I'm just saying.

Life has been good for us, just busy. Preston's county of birth wanted to reduce his assistance subsidy again after failing to negotiate according to the law. So we filed for another state hearing and won that one as well. They are not keen on continuing to try to get it reduced anymore.

Ben is home from college for the summer and working at Pizza Hut. Hana is working as an aid on a bus route for developmentally disabled adults. Isaac is enjoying his summer of freedom and Josh is going to a school for Autistic kids as his extended school year program. We are thinking that by the end of the summer, if we can get everything lined up, we're gonna pull him from the public school and put him in there full time. It's just a matter of getting all our ducks in a row.

Speaking of ducks, I was driving through the western suburbs of Chicago today heading north on 59, traffic is moving well. It's a state route so there are lights every now and then, and then next thing I know, the lady who had just passed me, jumps into my lane right in front of me and hitsher brakes. Not like locked them up, you know, just slowed down really fast. I hit mine and started to get over into the lane she had just left. And then I saw them. A mother duck with about 6 chicks all in a row trying to cross this busy street. She realized her poor planning and turned her brood around and headed back to the median. When I got by her, I looked in my mirror and saw her start them bakc across. Looked like they all made it sfely.

My mower bit the dust not right before Father's day and shot my idea of buying a new grill for father's day. There's only so much money going around and I needed a new mower. So that's what I got. It's a nice push mower that starts easily.

Preston was so happy with it that he promptly took off throughout the neighborhood trying to get people to let him mow their lawns. He gets back in about two hours and he's made $30 and has two people who want him to come mow for them every week. Saturday he was out agin and made another $25 in the afternoon. The older kids are a little...peeved? He's making it look a little too easy. I've been telling them for years that they could get out there and mow lawns but they haven't done it yet. Oh well.

Other than that, life is good. Work is picking up, and Sheila is very happy that she now lives in a house with central air conditioning. I am as well. I'm also very glad that, since we rent, I don't have to pay the repairman when the air conditioner breaks down.

Life is good.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

So I'm in Elkhart, IN waiting for the morning. My boss asked me to stop by Markley Enterprise in Elkhart on my way back home and pick up 300 sample cases. I'll get them back home and then we'll load them with small sample pieces of our windows and color samples and such and then we'll ship them out to our customers. But Markley closes at 3pm and there wasn't anyway I was going to get through all my Chicago stops today and then drive 150 miles to Elkhart and be there by 3. So here I sit.

I'm parked in the Den of Thieves, also known as a Turnpike Travel Plaza. Truckstops are bad enough when it comes to high prices, but I cannot for the life of me, figure out how these folks running turnpike travel plazas can justify gouging people like this. I ate at a Burger King in this one and it was over $10 for just me. That was a Whopper w/cheese, a Whopper Jr. w/cheese, fries and a large drink. At home, the whopper jr is on the dollar menu. Here it's $2.69. I think the only thing they had on the dollar menu was napkins.

As you may or may not remember, I have five kids, one of which is a foster son. This little guy is extremely autistic. He just turned 8 last month and we are still working on potty training, holding eating utensils, and not walking across the dining room table. He does not speak. We have no idea how much he will learn as the years go by, but it will only be by way of a miracle that he ever finds himself able to live independently. And he is one sweet little boy.

So his county of residence calls our agencies and asks them to ask us to meet with them to discuss our concerns about adopting Josh. There are many. We have had a few family discussions about this issue in which all the kids were included, and the consensus is that we would like to adopt him.


Josh will need assistance the rest of his life and where will that come from? Sheila and I are not getting any younger. I will be 60 when Josh turns 21, and still, he will need help. If we adopted him we would receive an adoption assistance subsidy, but that would only last until he was 21. What if something happens to me or my wife in the next few years? Will the remaining spouse be able to take care of Josh and still work? As it is now, Sheila would not be able to work outside the house since he has so many appointments. Psychiatrist, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Family doctor. If something were to happen to Sheila I know that I would have to change jobs i order to be home with the kids. But with Josh, I would need to be home much more than if it were just the other 4. And if something were to happen to both me and my wife, then my kids would feel responsible for taking care of Josh from then on. And that doesn't seem fair to foist that onto their shoulders.

We have had difficulty with our local school system. Regardless of the laws that are in place that state that a school must provide an education for the children that live within its district, our school authorities regularly tell parents, and foster parents in particular, that they have no room or facilities or teachers capable of teaching your child. Believe me, it's true. They've told us that regarding three different foster boys, and we had to fight them tooth and nail to take Josh. Now they are saying that we should probably look for another place to educate him since they feel that they are not making enough progress.

There is another school nearby that specializes in autistic children and their education, but the cost is pretty high. Right now, Josh's county of residence is financially responsible for his education. If we adopt him, then that responsibility transfers to our county. And I know good and well they are not going to pay $5000 a month for Josh to go to another school. So there would be another fight. And I imagine that one would need an attorney or two before it got straightened out.

He's a great kid and we love him and it would tear us up to see him leave. But can we provide for him the things that he will need as he gets older? I have my doubts tat he would be adopted by another family and I'm fairly certain that his county of residence would leave him with us for as long as we can keep him. And as it stands, if he has a need then the county has to pay for it. And they've got quite a bit more money than we do.

So that's where we stand right now.

In the meanwhile, I've had a couple follow-up visits with my cardiologist, plus a stress test and an ultrasound of my heart. e gave me fairly good news. He sees no indication that I might drop over dead tomorrow. I guess that's a good thing. He did want to try a different medication for the heart flutter, and he told me that I have a slight enlargement of my upper chamber and a slightly leaky valve. I told him my wife has been telling me that for years. That I have a big head and I'm always blowing wind. He clarified his thoughts. The heart, John, the heart.

But he said that was fairly normal for a guy my age, my size, and with Sleep Apnea. Lance Armstrong I am not. Besides, I'd look ridiculous in those bike shorts. I'd look like a bowling ball walking around on two sausages. So I started the new meds yesterday and we'll see how they do. So far so good. I've actually been feeling better since the episode anyway. Maybe it's cause I see spring around the corner.

Oh, and Hana was finally able to get a job. She's gonna be an aide for special needs kids on the school bus. And the nice thing is that she can ride to work with our neighbor around the corner. YEAH!!

That's it. See ya later.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We wanted a larger computer monitor to watch TV on. So why not just get a new TV and make it a computer monitor? Works for me.

Josh is not your typical couch potato. Not in the least.

Sheila likes to teach her nephew, Markie, how to protect oneself from alien mind control. Isn't she a great Aunt?

Isaac heard Vancouver was having to truck in snow for the Olympics and thought he and I might make a trip of it. Who knows, maybe we could trade snow for tickets to the Men's Figure Skating Finals.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I have, for a few years now, dealt with an issue regarding my heart. I had one heart attack back in '07, but prior to that I started experiencing some episodes of atrial fibrillation. For the most part, the episodes will resolve themselves in just a few minutes and my heart will start beating normal again. They usually aren't that bad. But twice now, I have had episodes that I thought warranted a trip to the ER. Sunday was one of them.

Sheila and I were sitting on the couch, enjoying our new "TV", (really, that's all we were doing) and I started to feel that old familiar fluttering at the base of my throat that tells me my heart's starting to beat out of sync again. As I sat there, it started to beat faster and harder. More so than I have felt in the past. So after a while I thought I might better go lay down for a bit. That didn't help at all. It just beat harder, or so it seemed. It felt like something was going to blow at any minute, so I figured I'd better get it taken care of.

So I had Sheila drive me down the street to the ER, since I didn't want to hear them fussing at me about driving myself. When I got hooked up my heart was racing at 148 beats per minute and my blood pressure was 178/124. Not good. So they hooked up an IV and started dripping stuff into me to slow the rate down, and in short order I was down around 100 bpm. But the heart wouldn't get back into rhythm. So the doc decides he's gonna keep me so they can check and make sure that there isn't any damage. The first blood draw showed no sign of a heart attack, which I was fairly sure that I had not had one, but they said that sometimes there's a lag in the enzyme production and the second draw may show evidence of one.

All this going on and I'm supposed to be leaving for my run, Monday morning at the latest. (I usually leave Sunday evening or afternoon.) On my way to the hospital I texted my boss and told him what was going on, just to give him a heads up. Right before the doc came in to say that they were keeping me, he got back to me again and said not to worry about my run, that he had covered it with another driver, and that I should concentrate on resting. I apologized for causing such a hassle and he said it wasn't any hassle at all, get some rest. I have an EXCELLENT boss.

So they kept me overnight, came in a few times in the night to draw more blood, and in the morning, all signs indicated that there had not been a heart attack. As a matter of fact, my heart was back in rhythm about 10 pm. As I said, it usually only takes a few minutes before it gets back where it should be. I'm glad I went in. That was a long time for it to be out of sync. So now I'm on one more medicine to help keep my heart rate down and I have an appointment to see the cardiologist on Friday. There will probably be some more changes.

All in all, it wasn't a very bad episode, but it was bad enough.

So we've got more snow falling today and the kids are out of school again. Sheila's new washer is supposed to show up today and she's worried that the weather is gonna keep them from showing up. For their sake, I hope they don't keep her waiting. I pity da fool that keeps her waiting on a new washer.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Our washing machine has been slowly giving up the ghost. Notice I didn't say "Sheila's washing machine"? So we've been waiting for the feds to get up off my money so we could go get a new machine. We figured with the number of people in our house, it was important to get a large capacity washer, and since the front loaders are so much more efficient as far as water usage, that's what we went for. A Samsung Front Loader with ActivFresh and Steam cleaning. They also spin faster, which throws out more water, which lets your dryer use less energy. It gets delivered Tuesday. Sheila is excited. Happy Valentines Day dear.

Actually, I'm not that dumb. I was warned 27 years ago to not buy appliances or pots and pans for Christmas, Valentines, Anniversary, or Birthday. I have tried to adhere to that advice. And so far I have never had a black eye.

Anyway, after we paid for the washer, we went looking around the store. Now, here's something you need to understand. In my house, the kids TV stuff is in the basement. Don't worry, it's a finished basement. And Sheila and I watch TV upstairs on the computer. We don't have cable and we don't get any channels over the air since we have no outside antenna so we watch shows on and sites like that. But all this time we've been watching TV from across the living room on a 17 inch computer monitor. It's been OK but it's a little hard for Sheila to see any sub-titles at times. So we've been talking about buying a larger monitor.

So we were looking. The "standard" now seems to be about a 21 inch screen. But I've seen them as big as 26. So we're talking to the guy and I tell him that mainly what we do is watch TV on the monitor. If it weren't for sitting across the room, we wouldn't be needing, or I should say wanting, a new one. His recommendation; buy a flat screen TV and hook that up to the computer and use that for the monitor. "Can you do that?" I ask. "Sure", he says. "It's uses the exact same cord.

So we go looking at the Flat Screens. And lo and behold, they had a 32 inch flat screen TV from Samsung on sale. About $150 off it's regular price.


We now have a 32 inch computer monitor. Wow!

As a computer monitor, it's a little ridiculous. It's like sitting in the front row at the movie theater. But since it's our TV as well, it's great. And Sheila is loving it. She said last night that she was really feeling spoiled. Score more Brownie Points for John!

Work has been good lately. Same old runs. (Quit your snickering.) And we've had quite a bit of snow, not near as much as the Mid-Atlantic states have received. But so far, I've not been caught out in it. It was close last week, but thank the Lord for the Internet. I was able to see the weather coming to Chicago two days early and so I left early in order to beat it home. It's called Racing The Weather. Usually the Weather wins, but not this time. Monday night I was safe asleep in the truck at midnight in the company yard. The snow blew in behind me about 6 hours later. I left for the house about 10 Tuesday morning and stayed home with the family on Wednesday.

On a sadder note, Sheila's uncle, who lived in Maryland, passed away this week. They have received so much snow that the funeral cannot be held until the 25th of February. Sheila is definitely going to make the trip and it's possible that I may go as well. It depends on a number of things.

So that's about it. Ya'll have fun.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who's gonna take responsibility?

I usually don't do this, but I think I am going to take today to climb up on my soap box. Excuse me while I get my ladder. Stand by for large amounts of personal opinion. Hey, it is my blog, right?

So here goes. First, let me tell you, I despise politics. The political system we have now is not the same one we started with over two hundred years ago. We may have the best system that exists in this world, but we do not have the best system possible. Why is that? Some things I know, some things I don't. I will not pretend to have all the answers, as you will shortly see, and I probably don't have very many of them anyway. But I can see what some of the major problems are.

We needed a government to help protect us, from without and from within, and to help organize and bring our country together; a government to support an infrastructure and develop our physical lands as resources and retreats. This is the role of the government. To oversee the needs of the people. All the people. Not just the elitist and the wealthy, and not just those who are so destitute that they cannot provide the basic necessities for themselves, but for all the people. Low, middle, and high income alike.

One common theme I hear from my middle-class friends, and I have a lot of them, is that they are too rich to get the assistance for college and such, but too poor to be able to pay for it without some assistance. There should be some middle ground, right? I mean, we DO have a middle class, right?

Actually, I started this post on Saturday, got mad, quit the writing, and now it's Tuesday night and I can't remind where I was going with all this. I do remember some of it so here goes.

I have grown up conservative all my life. It's what I heard as a kid and what I learned as an adult. Staunch Republican. And I still consider myself a conservative, if I'm gonna wear any label at all, but I don't think I'm a Republican anymore. I know I'm not a Democrat, so let's call me an Independent.


That said, I don't trust President Obama, and for a number of reasons. One is I sincerely feel he's not experienced enough for the position he holds. Another is that his governmental experience was nearly all earned in Illinois which has the reputation of being one of the most corrupt political environments in the country. And thirdly, the actions that he's taken in his first year in office indicate more government involvement in our lives. And I don't like more governmental involvement.

(Deep Breath)
That said, again, I am fairly certain that I would not vote for President George W. Bush again if it were possible for him to run again. I voted for him the first time, in 2000, but I did not vote for him in '04, nor did I vote for McCain and Palin in '08. Now there are some people who feel that if you don't vote you don't have the right to complain. I would disagree. The act of WITHHOLDING my vote is a vote in and of itself. I found neither of the candidates suitable enough for me to support. I feel that had I voted for McCain, I would bear some responsibility for his being in office, and likewise had I voted for Obama. And since I felt neither man was appropriate for the job, I gave neither one my blessing. (That sounds quite haughty, doesn't it? But rest assured, it's not meant to be. This is just my personal opinion, remember?)

But I lost confidence in President Bush by his handling of the war in Iraq and the lack of action I saw regarding those large companies who violated the trust of their shareholders, ran the company into bankruptcy, and then went running to the government with their hands out. Now I firmly believe that this country was built by private businesses and that companies should get some breaks so that they can provide jobs for the people of this nation. But I also believe that there needs to be stiff penalties for those who violate the law for the sake of greed, who cook the books for profit, and leave the employees and the shareholders hanging out to dry.

Had executives known that they would be serving jail-time for their actions, I doubt very seriously we would be where we are today. But instead, Wall street players and big insurance companies (AIG) made deals and engaged in business practices that could be called shady at best, but would be better described as immoral and unethical. And now, right now, in the midst of this economical meltdown, those gentlemen who actually bear the responsibility for us being in the position we are in, are receiving bonuses for their companies profits of 2009, which came from the pockets of the taxpayers, and in some cases, these bonuses are retention bonuses! I do not, in any way shape or form, understand how people would think that this is ok. Take a look at the whole sub-prime mortgage fiasco and one can easily understand that this was a house of cards just waiting for someone to bump the table. But those who were making money from this legalized form of gambling, made their money and are safe and sound. No responsibility to bear.

(Now I remember where I was going).

So who bears responsibility for this situation? Is it the homeowner who knowingly bought a house, just because he wanted a house of his own, knowing he was unable to make the monthly payment? Or is it the lender who also knew the homeowner could not make the payment, and in many cases changed, falsified or ignored financial information on the applications which would have caused the homeowner to be rejected? Or the lender, who after falsifying or ignoring this financial information, then went out and bought and insurance policy on this loan, which was a high risk, from a company who, unlike all other forms of insurance, did not have to have enough money set aside to pay the claims that would one day come rolling in.

Do you see? We are all asking today, right now, who is responsible for this mess. Why didn't people do what they knew to be right? Now I know it's pure stupidity to ask any industry to police itself. Ain't gonna happen. So we need some regulations in place. But, from what I understand, we had some regulations in place that would have prevented this mess and some of them were done away with and some were ignored. And I have heard people cast the blame for that on both sides of the aisle.

So do you see my dilemma? Big Business or Government Regulations?I am in support of business, BIG business even. Businesses make products that we buy, provide services that we use, provide jobs for me and my family, and in some cases, even pay for my health insurance. And so I don't believe businesses should be hindered from doing this and making a profit. But many things are happening that make this difficult to do. Insurance costs are a big problem as everyone knows. I personally pay $231 a month for insurance, which I think is fairly good. That covers my whole family. My company pays, I believe, $752 for my family to have insurance. So one insurance company is receiving $983 every month just for me and my family to have coverage. And my company provides that to around 45 employees. That amounts to nearly $12,000 per year, just for my family. Now, don't get me wrong. I believe in insurance, but it has reached a cost level that makes it out of reach for most Americans. And even WITH insurance, many families can't afford the medical bills that they do get.

John, you're preaching to the choir, you say. I know, I know. Sorry. I guess I'm thinking out loud here as I try to work this out.

See, one reason that insurance costs so much, aside from executives greed, is that medical expenses cost so much. I have sleep apnea. The machine I use costs $1200. Ok, it's a little more complicated than an air compressor, but not that much. But I'll let them have that. The rubber hose that goes from the machine to my face mask costs $75. It's 5 feet long. It's about an inch in diameter. IT'S A RUBBER HOSE!! Plumbers don't even charge $75 for 5 feet of hose. A comparable hose in Home Depot would cost about $5. So that's the hose. The strip of fabric that goes around my head to hold my mouth closed is about a foot and a half long. It has velcro on the ends of it so it doesn't fall off. It cost $65. RIDICULOUS!! See, I got to thinking about this cause Sheila went looking for a larger car seat for Josh. He's getting bigger, and he needs a bigger car seat. He's already in the largest one that you can buy off the shelf. Anything larger has to be purchased from a medical supply company. So she went looking for one. She found one. You wanna guess? You wanna take a stab at what a car seat that is about 1/3 to 1/2 larger than the one you can buy at Costco or Wal-Mart for about a hundred dollars costs? $200? Think again. $300? Uh uh. $500?! Nope. Try $1602. For a car seat. $1602 for a car seat and this does not include the car. And then if you want to be really special, you can buy a stroller frame that you can strap this car seat into and take your little guy for a stroll without having to take him out of the seat. But you'll need another $1600 for the frame. But the frame does come with wheels so that makes the pushing of said frame a little easier. This combination supports a child up to 110 pounds. Three thousand two hundred and two dollars, plus tax, plus shipping and handling, some assembly required, don't forget to tip your waitresses, for a car seat and stroller!

Why so much? And seriously, it's just a big car seat. Nothing special or technical involved. I sincerely believe it costs so much because the manufacturer knows that insurances, be they private insurance or Medicaid, will be the ones that pay for these things. And so the average consumer will let his insurance foot the bill. What to do? I don't know. I told Sheila we should call this company up and order one for Josh, but tell them we would give them $250 for it and they can keep the stroller. Think that would fly? Me neither. But that's also what insurance companies do. They'll call the doctor or the supply house and say, "We'll pay this much and that's it." Then I get stuck paying 20% of the total bill, plus what the doctor or supply house charges that the insurance company would not pay.

It's an ugly mess, and in all reality, I don't see anyway out of it other than to have more regulations. But I hate more regulations cause that means more government involvement in my life. And I don't want more governmental involvement in my life. They haven't been doing all that great as far as being responsible either, as far as I can see. But without regulations we are trusting people to do the right thing. And so far, they are not doing it. So you and I are footing the bill.

Now I said at the beginning that I don't trust President Obama. But if you are one of his supporters, don't let this make you mad. The truth is, I don't trust ANY of them. And I find myself becoming more and more disappointed in their actions. President Obama put forth a budget on Monday that conservatives are calling him a spendthrift for and that liberals are saying doesn't go far enough in reducing the deficit. Now, as I said, I hate politics, and this is why. Right here, my very own senator, George Voinovich, from Ohio, said, "I am disappointed that he himself failed to jumpstart reform by making tough choices on the real budget busters like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid." This coming from a man who is retiring. And I can guarantee you that he is not retiring on Social Security alone. These three programs address the needs of the neediest people in our nation and this man wants to cut them first? Yes, there is immense amounts of fraud in the Medicaid system, but address the fraud, not the budget. Arrest people. Make people responsible for their actions. But don't take the money away from the seniors who are trying to get by on $600 a month, or the kid who, through no fault of his own, finds himself relying on the government for his medical needs. This is ridiculous.

John, shut up already! You're writing a diatribe.

Ok, sorry. If you've stuck with me this long you are truly patient, and I thank you. But you are also very lucky. Because, you see, I actually do have the answer for this mess. It's not quick and it'll take a while but it will work. Here's what you do. Pick yourself up from where you are right now and find the quietest, darkest room in your house. Go their alone. If you're with someone, tell them they can do this after you are done. Go into this room, turn off all the lights, plug your ears with white noise headphones or something, and start thinking.

And here's what you think:
In my house, in my neighborhood, in my school, in my church, in my community, what is the right thing to do? Not for the world, but just for where I am right now? What is the RIGHT thing to do? And I'm not talking right and left politically. What is the proper thing to do? The mannerly thing. The compassionate thing. The honorable thing. In what situation, you ask? In all situations. See, if I were to stop thinking about just what is good for me, but also think about what is good for others, then that will most likely lead me to the right thing to do. And I really believe that if we take away our outside influences, our preconceptions and our prejudices, and allow ourselves to really think about what is true, and honorable, and right, then we'll know what we should do. And we should do that.

Will this fix the mess? Not today. And not tomorrow. And most likely not before any of you have died. But one day...maybe.

That sure is pie in the sky thinking, John. Maybe. Maybe not. All I know is that if I am going to expect executives to do the right thing, or politicians, or insurance companies, or my neighbor, with or without regulations in place, I better be willing to do what is right and honorable.

Change doesn't come from me voting for the one who makes the right choice. Change comes from me BEING the one who makes the right choice.

Thanks for listening. I'm done.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Good, Bad, and Ugly

It's been a long time. I feel disconnected. I miss you guys. Sniff.

We had a good Christmas. I made my wife cry. But it was a good cry. See, she's one of those lady's where it's all about the kids. "Don't get me anything. Money's tight and the kids need it more than I do." And my sister would ask, "You didn't listen to her, did you?"
No, sis, I did not.
Sheila's into scrapbooking. The one and only thing that she has ever asked for was a Cricut Personal Cutter. And no, it's not a lady's razor. It's a computerized letter and shape cutter. Very cool. The only thing she's ever asked for specifically.
They were on sale at less than half price at Joanne Fabrics this year. Sheila was very, very happy. And you know what the old saying is; If Momma ain't for your lives!

Work is good. The weather hasn't been too bad. I've missed most of the bad roads and for that I am grateful.

It's January so I'm back in the sound booth at church announcing for the Upwards basketball games and having fun.

Josh has been progressing. Sheila's still getting him to the commode most mornings before he's already seen the man about the dog. And he's getting the hand, or should I say handle, of a spoon and fork. Soup is not a fun meal, but the dog loves it when Josh eats chicken or beef.

Preston has lost a few teeth. And yes, the normal way, no help from family. He's playing basketball again this year and loving it.

We got word Isaac needs his adenoids taken out. So the surgery was scheduled for this Friday. Sheila tells me last night that the doctor called and said that Isaac has not met his insurance deductible yet and they need $250 by Wednesday or they won't do the surgery on Friday. I don't know how others feel about this but it really irritated me. Sheila was ok with it. Maybe it's just me. My comment to her was that I couldn't think of any other service industry where you are forced to pay BEFORE you receive the service. And then to say that it has to be paid by Wednesday which is two days before the surgery, and only five days away. Most folks would put it on the credit card or something like that but we don't have any credit cards, which has saved our collective butts more than once. So, I don't know. Not sure what we're gonna do. And then that got me to thinking, maybe I should get a second opinion anyway. I mean, it is surgery and it got scheduled pretty fast. One more thing to think about.

It appears my compassion level is dropping. Not sure why, but I seem to have less concern about the plight of others. And it worries me. I'm usually not that way. But it seems like every time I turn around there's a new ad or plea for some charitable organization or other. Someone wants money to support these folks or those kids or that organization. And I'm thinking, why should worry about them? And then I feel guilty, and then I get mad at myself for feeling guilty, and then I get tired and then I take a nap.

Maybe I'm just trying to isolate myself. I know this is a little bit of a ramble, so bear with me. I see folks around me who go to work, and then come home to their families and relax and watch TV together and have their hobbies like model trains or bowling, and I think, when does that happen in my house? Someone has to go here and the other kid has to go there and this person needs this, that or the other thing. Now, granted, my wife does most of the running around, but I miss her. I long for the days when I can sit with her and just revel in her presence. Am I gearing up for retirement? (Which will probably not happen anytime soon, considering the state of my retirement portfolio.)


I don't know. I just wish I weren't so hard-hearted lately.

Maybe next week...

But...I have a good wife, very pretty, very sweet; and a great family.

Ya'll have fun.

Maybe I should lay off the Vicodin.