Friday, July 31, 2009

Health Care Dreams

Okay, maybe I'm going a little bit nuts on health care reform. Last night, it took over my dreams. Literally. The whole night, I dreamt that I was in various rooms in Washington, D.C. that were filled with congresspeople - mostly House of Representatives - and I kept going up to the various Republicans and asking how it was that they possibly could be against a public option. "Public option," I'd say, stressing the second word (in contrast to a single payer public plan, which would be like Medicare for everyone).

None of them had an answer. It was unanimous. Each one would stand, flat footed, a little shocked that I had asked. Then each would mumble something unintelligible and walk away from me. I don't remember all their names. I do remember that one of them was Senator Jon Kyl from Arizona. (Where in the heck did that come from?)

I ended up in a room where people - a mix of congresspeople and citizens - were going to discuss their favorite bills. (OMG - I NEED A LIFE.) In my dream, I figured this was my chance to ask the room - "Will anyone explain to me why they oppose a public option?" One dark-haired congresswoman - perhaps that bizarre one? Michele Bachmann - was very interested in having a substantive discussion with me about it. So we got paired up. I was so interested in what she had to say. Someone actually had a reason! Just as the conversation was to begin... I woke up. So I still have no answer to my question.

It's odd that I wanted to have this discussion with Republicans and not Democrats (since if all Dems voted for the public option, the thing would pass) and that I was talking mostly to Representatives and not Senators (since the public option actually is currently in the House bill and likely will stay there, since there are enough non-Blue Dog Dems in the House to pass it that way).

I did find out something interesting about how I feel about the single payer option. I told one congressman that I actually preferred the single payer idea, but that it was just too different from our current system to get enough public support for passage. I didn't know that is how I really felt.

You know, my health care insurance is fine. My concern about this issue is for everyone else. But I must be pretty worried, to be dreaming about it...

I do think our dreams are our subconscious speaking to us. I also think our dreams can often be soul connections, and not just symbolic for our individual, day-to-day lives. So maybe this room was a truth-telling serum kind of room - where people talk as souls, not as physical beings - and maybe that was why none of them had answers for me. Because there is no legitimate reason to oppose a public option.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Great Game

I haven't yet written any postings about the Mariners. This does not mean that I don't watch the games. It just means that they've disappointed too many times in the past to warrant my getting overly excited about them this season. In fact, when they started out so well this year, I almost broke down and wrote about them. Then they slid. I felt nearly responsible. Even just my thought of speaking excitedly about them must have caused a jinx.

Still, I sometimes watch the games. And I always follow the scores. And although I don't know the players now as well as I knew them back, say, in the 1995 and 1996 seasons, I do have a sense of who's playing. And I'm glad that Junior's back.

I flipped on the game last night. I watched them go from 1-0 to 3-1. Then I flipped it off - not because I believed it was a foregone conclusion that they would win, but just because I didn't want to have my now-slightly-happy mood to be dashed upon the rocks of disappointment right then. I was willing to read the final score in the next day's newspaper (and postpone my nearly-inevitable disappointment).

But then, like someone watching a train wreck, or knowing that there's one just down the street, I flipped back to the game - just in time to see that the score was now 3-3. No, no, no! How did it happen? And then came time for the "go ahead run," as they say in the baseball biz. Just - darn. But now I really couldn't look away. If only they can get this last out - if only...

Ball is hit foul. Someone - first base man? not Ichiro - runs to catch it, nearly flips into the stands and voila. He has caught the ball. Inning over. Mariners maintain the tie. Then to the bottom of the ninth - Mariners get the bases loaded, no outs - no outs! - then an out, then another out (at this point, if you're a Mariner fan, you're just grateful that this second out wasn't a double play)... And I'm thinking, the agony will extend to extra innings...

But wait. Who is it at home plate? Can it really be - Ichiro? With his zen-like batting stance (pointing the bat to the sky before bringing it in for the landing)? If it's Ichiro, it's a chance. No, not Junior - though it used to be and maybe one day he'll be the DH that Edgar always was - no, today, the hope lands on the shoulders of the quirky guy from Japan.

A strike and a strike (and a weird swing). Uh oh. Even Ichiro can't succeed. I go to change the channel again - this will be too much to watch - but then something keeps me put. And the pitch comes, and Ichiro makes some sort of golfing-bowling move, and then the ball lands - plop! - into the center of center field, where no one - not the shortstop, not the second base man, not the center fielder - can scoop it up before it lands... And we score and we win, and the Mariners descend upon Ichiro, who is happy and laughing and glad he could help.

Great game.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Et Tu, Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers? (with updates)

It has come to pass that my own congresswoman - Cathy McMorris Rodgers - fans the flames of the "birther" debate. Great. Just great.

This is a very funny video by Huffington Post reporter Mike Stark, who tries to interview various Republican congresspeople about what they personally believe about President Obama's birthplace. Do they think he was born in Hawaii? Do they believe he is a natural born citizen? If he is not "natural born," of course, then he cannot serve as president...

It's a softball question, unless you'd rather sign up with the crazies. Even Ann Coulter says that Obama is fit to be president. But "crazy" is just the new name for Republican these days - at least if you're a Republican serving your community on the Hill, and happened to talk to Mike Stark yesterday. There are a few exceptions, thank goodness. But they are not the rule.

Now, here is what my very own congresswoman, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, said on the video, presumably in response to the question of whether Obama is a natural born citizen: "We're all going to find out," she said. When asked what she personally believes, she responded, "I'd like to see the documents." HUH? Who hasn't been able to see the documents?? And then she ignores the question "so, you're kind of afraid of the lunatic fringe base?" I'm so embarrassed.

The whole video is a fun, especially when they play the "Chariots of Fire" music as one of the congressmen tries to run away. Cute!

UPDATE: And within minutes of this posting, the local paper has posted the video on their "spin control" blog. Hmm, I wonder who might have alerted the newspaper about it? One person leads to another, then another... ;)

SECOND UPDATE: I just spoke with the congresswoman's office, re: health care - and am told that her statements above were taken out of context AND (most importantly) that she does NOT challenge the President's birthplace as being in Hawaii. I gave her a thumps up, and feel a responsibility to make this note. I do make the additional note, however, that when she had the chance in a second video to address the question directly, she stayed mute. (Check out her segment at :55 seconds.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Health Care Scare Tactics

This a.m., a friend of mine forwarded me an email that was sent to her household recently that was entitled "Page 425 Healthcare Bill." In the text of the email, the author wrote, "O.K., folks - I 'think' this will 'shake us up' - read and listen to the Interview - "IF" this does not cause every red-blooded American to contact their Representative, I don't know what will!! It's time for ACTION! Americans!! Both Democrats and Republicans beware."

Wow. Well, let me read on. I certainly am willing to contact my Representative and take ACTION if necessary. (Though, truth be told, I'd already gotten a heads-up from my friend that this was junk - as if the weird punctuation and hyperbole hadn't already alerted me to potential misinformation.)

Seems that (according to this email) page 425 of the health care bill requires euthanasia of grandma. (Actually, requires counseling "to learn and to choose from ways to end your suffering (and your life).") The email goes on to say that seniors will be denied health care and that paying for your own care will not be an option.

How outrageous! How un-American!!

How totally untrue.

Of course. The more outrageous the claim, the more unlikely the veracity of it. But here's the thing: people receive this email and think it may be true. It hurts my heart to imagine that people may think this is true.

Here's the truth. There is a section of the health care bill - beginning on page 425 of the draft - that requires Medicare to pay for a counseling session every five years so that Medicare recipients can receive accurate information with regard to their state's laws and end-of-life care. What are the local resources for the patient? What is a Living Will? That sort of thing. A member of AARP wrote up a fine summary of page 425 in terms of the specifics. Here's a link to the bill itself. And here's a "truth-o-meter" evaluation of the claim that gives a "pants on fire" conclusion.

Page 425 is not about euthansia. It is about making sure that people actually get accurate information and are not kept from that information based solely on an inability to pay for the counseling session(s). So this is bad? Huh. Oh, and the sessions themselves are not mandatory. What is mandatory is that Medicare pay for them at least once every five years and more often if the patient becomes very ill and needs further information.

When poking around on the Internet about this, I found a facebook entry promoting the scare tactic along with comments from an individual who explained that the claim was baloney. (In that case, the claim was that people will be instructed on assisted suicide.) Here's a link to that dialogue. After pointing out that the word "suicide" is nowhere in the bill, the commenter went on to say, "It's fine to debate reform but you really shouldn't misrepresent the plain language of the bill."

I'm with the commenter. How frustrating, when people are trying to have a legitimate debate, to have to fight off lunacy as well. It's a waste of time and energy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot

Very hot here in lovely Spokane... And someone stole my garden hose. And added insult to injury by leaving my sprinkler behind.

It is this week that I chose to start an exercise program. Not too minute-by-minute strenuous, mind you - after all, I just recently got back blood test results showing I've finally got normal blood again. So it's a walking program. Not running, not joining the gym, not even bicycling (yet).

But it's a heckuva lot of walking. Maybe that's the way I'm overdoing it. Heaven knows, the way I do things well is by overdoing them. It's just the way I am.

In the meantime, the sun bears down, burning into the 90s. I have to get started early in the day so the sun isn't beating down on me relentlessly in the afternoon... I'd rather do the walking in the afternoon, and leave the physical exertion for later in the day. But with 90+ degree weather this week and next, that's not an option.

So far, I've walked 4 1/2 hours (Monday), 2 1/2 hours (Tuesday) and 3 hours (Wednesday). On Monday's jaunt, I got to the corner of Jefferson and Third and decided I was never going to make it home. I figured I'd just spend the night on the street corner. It wouldn't be so bad...

The biggest problem I've encountered is my feet. The whiners insist on getting blisters. I figure I'll just keep walking and the blisters will have to look the other way. I just need tougher feet.

What I'm loving is the books on tape. I'm listening to them. I didn't know until yesterday just how unfunny George Carlin got in his last years. Still love his early stuff though.

And I love going by homes and places that bring back memories that I've developed over the past 15 years of living in Spokane. And I don't think I realized the extent of the volcanic rock sprinkled throughout the South Hill. It's a landmark for the area, that we are built on old volcanic rock... At least, that's what I've been told it is. I'm not wrong, am I?

What makes me sad about the past few days is not being "up" on what's going on in the world. Huckleberries - the local newspaper's blog - has been a happening place these last couple of days, and I didn't even know! Sigh. Oh, well.

Well, time to go for a walk...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor

First of all, what a great name. "Soto," grove of trees. "Mayor," large. "Sotomayor" - it's sort of a play on seeing both the forest and the trees, don't you think?

Great hearings. Mostly boring, which made them great. Loved how the judge would weigh questions so that a "yes" or "no" answer was rare. That is how the world functions. Even in these Internet days. Also loved it when Amy Klobuchar (senator from Minnesota) said how she had just met Judge Sotomayor's mother in the bathroom, and how she has a lot to stories she would like to tell about her daughter. Also loved it when Sen. Klobuchar went on to say that her own mother keeps leaving her messages about the hearing. The one from the night before: "I watched Senator Fienstein and she was brilliant. What are you going to do?" No pressure like a parent's pressure. Here's the transcript of this exchange with Sen. Klobuchar.

But here's why I'm posting. This column in the Washington Post by Peter Winn, her former Princeton professor, was so interesting that I wanted to provide a link. It's about Judge Sotomayor before she was a judge, or even in law school. It really gave perspective on who she is, and how she grew. Definitely worth the read.

Walter Cronkite

Friday morning, a friend of mine sent me a list of "do you remember when" thoughts - like, when a television had to warm up; when nobody had a pure bred dog; when no one asked where the car keys were because they were in the car and the doors were unlocked. Some of the "remember whens" were way before my time. Some were smack dab in the middle. All of them had me reminiscing - either for myself or for my parents.

And then Walter Cronkite died five hours later. And there we were, reminiscing again. Some things I knew. Some I didn't. Some clips of him are legends and I knew them already, even if I had only been two when they originally aired. Like his reaction when JFK died. Taking off his glasses.

What a contrast in portraits - Walter Cronkite's life revisited just a week or so after the Washington Post offered to sell access to reporters to the highest bidding health insurance company. But the thought of "there will never be another Cronkite" goes beyond that, doesn't it? It is about a man in an era. They are joined together. So even if another Cronkite shows up, television news will never be in its infancy again, will never be in the middle of the '60s again.

On Friday, someone showed a clip of an interview of Walter Cronkite a few years ago, asking him about his excitement about Americans landing on the moon. He said (great clip, can't find it now) something to the effect that there we were, weighed down by the Vietnam War, and we had the choice, for a moment, to look to the stars instead. That is what he gave - a 360-degree view of the way it was.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Good Blood

The results are in: I am no longer anemic! Hurray, hurray.

Got the tests back a few days ago. Hemoglobin is now 13.5 (within the normal 12-16 range). Two months ago, it was 8.0.

Now I will deal with the fallout. And not just my hair (which is getting better, but is still falling out). It's like I've had a rude guest in the house who took up all my time, made me eat a bunch of fatty foods (aka BEEF), and then zapped me of all my energy so I couldn't go exercise or live my own life in any way.

The good news? The guest has left! And if I'm careful, that guy will not return. Though I do find I get tired, still. That, I think, is because I'm 48.

The past couple months did give me some appreciation for what people with chronic illnesses go through, especially people who have things like lupus or fibromyalgia that are so physically draining. The silver lining on my cloud was that I could fix the anemia. My illness was a guest, not a permanent resident. Hallelujah.

I'm Back!

Hello, hello. Oh my gosh. I'm back!

I finished the most recent draft of my screenplay yesterday and sent it off to Paul (my screenplay writing instructor, and all-around good guy) to see how it went. So fascinating, this different process. When I wrote the novel, "Until the End of the Ninth," I felt satisfied with the outcome, no need to continue editing. Sure, there are things to change, even today, but not a whole heck of a lot. With this screenplay, though, it's a different story, and not just because Paul's got great suggestions.

Well, and maybe that's the key - it truly is a "different story." The baseball novel was based on true events. The true events formed the vignettes of stories. This screenplay, on the other hand, is fictional. It has its core in the truth (and some pieces of it are informational), but its essence is fiction first. Also, it's a bit of a mystery piece - who knows what when? And so the piecing together of that - those layers - takes time.

Well, and movie writing is really different from regular writing. It's great, it's powerful - as is writing a novel - so that part is the same. But otherwise, very different.

So, the next step is in place. And me? I'm off for a relaxing day on Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Music, Newspapers, and Quitting: A Medley

Very briefly.... as I feel a great writing day coming on....

About Music: the other day, I was driving to Coeur d'Alene, when "In a Gadda da Vida" (full version) came on the radio. Drum solo and all. It was heaven.

About WaPo: I couldn't figure out why I was so upset about the Washington Post's snafu last week in offering up its reporters to the highest bidding insurance companies for a night of laughter (and not tough questions). Sure, I lived in DC for awhile, so it was a home town paper in my history. Sure, lots of people were upset so I wasn't alone. But it really bothered me.

So then, on Sunday, I figured out a little more about why I was so bothered. That's when I saw Bob Woodward on the Chris Matthews Show. He was talking about the night he and Bernstein came to WaPo editor Ben Bradlee's house, woke him up, and told him that Watergate involved everyone, even the president. They showed a clip of the "President's Men" movie where Bradlee says nothing is on the line except freedom and the Constitution. After the clip, they showed Woodward, who said he remembered Bradlee saying something else was on the line. (ha ha) He then said that he'd gone back to his notes, and there he'd written Bradlee's first words - "what the hell do we do now?" It brought tears to my eyes, listening to the back story, in awe of that moment in time, when they made their choices, and told a story that so many did not want told. Watching all that yesterday, I realized why the Post's behavior last week had hit me so hard.

About Quitting: When I was in my second year of Girl Scouts, I wanted to quit midway through. I didn't like it anymore. But my mother told me I couldn't quit. She said I didn't have to join the next year if I didn't want to, but that I had made a commitment to be in girl scouts for that year and I had to fulfill my commitment. So I stuck it out. The next year, I didn't join. And for as miserable as I was for that year that I wasn't allowed to quit, I have never forgotten the lesson that you finish what you start. You just do. I'm not saying that there's never a reason to quit. I'm just saying that it can't be considered a viable option except under extraordinary circumstances. And we all know what happens to "the tough" when the going gets tough.

This life lesson from long ago is one reason why Sarah Palin's decision over the weekend to quit her job as governor of Alaska is so mind-boggling to me. Didn't her parents teach her that it's not all right to quit?

And now... back to the regularly scheduled program of editing my screenplay all day... and of finishing what I've started...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It's Happening Again

No posts for awhile, while I finish screenplay edits. This time I mean it.