Friday, February 28, 2014


Walking down the main street of this charming town of ours I peer at the various signs along the way and in the windows of the various businesses. Many of them proclaim that certain items are "on sale" or cost a certain amount of money. This is especially true of the gasoline station which lets consumers know exactly how much they will pay for their product. The local tavern has a happy hour featuring $1.75 drafts from 4-6 p.m. each day. The bank advertises specials on its "no fees" checking accounts. The muffler store sells mufflers installed for $69.99. Six dollars will get you a ticket to the movies on Tuesdays at the local theater. The Chinese restaurant offers a 40% off "recession special" at lunch. I called the local pool and asked how much a weekend pass to the pool is. They told me accurately and without hesitation.

This is the way things work in our consumer-oriented society. The openness of information about products, services and their respective pricings creates an environment of competition among businesses. This spurs new and better products priced competitively. Everybody wins in this business scenario especially businesses who create and promote new and better products and aggressively promote them.

Now let's try to imagine if this situation were different. My walk down main street would no longer have the inticements which I referred to earlier. I stop in to the theater and ask how much a ticket costs. The clerk tells me that she doesn't know and that I will have to buy a ticket to find out. I ask for the manager who, I am told is unavailable. In utter frustration, I leave. Since it's past lunch time, I walk past the local restaurant. There is no menu in the window for me to peruse and decide whether the food looks good and the price is within my budget. I leave and go to the restaurant next door - same thing. I walk inside and ask for the menu. I am handed a menu but there are no prices listed. I ask for a price list. I am told that I will get the prices after I have finished my meal when they hand me the check. Again, I leave.

It is very hard to imagine living in a society such as the one previously described. But, should you ever have the desire to experience this, call your local medical facility and arrange to have a surgery. Get the date, time and preparatory instructions. Then ask how much the procedure will cost you. If your experience is anything like mine you will get the scripted response: "it depends". If that happens and you have the chutzpah to continue, by all means press on. You will likely be switched to the billing department to an equally indifferent representative who will give you an equally vague response.

I will not belabor this point any further as I am sure that, for most people, this is old news.

In our great country we have been presented with the Affordable Care Act. This is a misnomer and should be renamed the "Available" Care Act in that it makes health care available to all. Despite its name, however, health care in the U.S. is anything but affordable.

How can it be made more affordable? By simply making the system transparent to consumers by making pricing readily available (posting on the Internet, maybe?). Competition in the health care arena will create greater efficiency and lower pricing. Not surprisingly, health care professionals have lobbied vigorously against anything which upsets the status quo. So, while opposing "Socialized Medicine" (based upon a national tax, free health care for all), our health care industry also balks at the notion of a true capitalist, free enterprise system of competition. Their rationale for this opposition ("health care quality will suffer") is not a convincing argument. The same was said about the deregulation of the airline industry: "safety will suffer". In fact, since deregulation, flying has never been safer.

What does the future look like?

For better or worse, due to the extreme and spiraling costs of healthcare and the lack of willingness of the medical community to deal with these costs, socialized medicine, such as those in Canada and the U.K., is inevitable in our country.

From my recent experiences, socialized medicine is looking pretty good. It's a lot like going to the animal shelter to adopt a dog. All the dogs there except one are absolutely beautiful - well-groomed, purebred and dogs that you feel good walking down the street with. At the same time, they are all growling and you and appear to be ready to take your arm off if you venture closer. Then there's the other dog: ugly as hell, matted hair, one ear up, one ear down and scrawny. But he's smiling and wagging his tail.

You take him home, give him the name Socialized Medicine, and love him for the rest of your life despite his faults.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


There's a name for my foot surgery. On the micro level it's called "putting a podiatrist's kids through college". In a broader sense, however, I call it "hoof and mouth disease". Yes, I'm aware that bovine creatures have a like-named condition but the name seems to fit my present state so I will press on.

To wit:

Yesterday our friend Sally brought over a big pan of brownies - the thick, rich, gooey, tasty ones that podiatrists say you shouldn't eat. Today she brought over some fabulous soda bread. Another friend, Mary, brought over chicken and dumplings and an equally fabulous chocolate cake.

Such is the reason that I have hoof and mouth disease. I sit around nursing my hoof and shoving food in my mouth.

Beyond enjoying culinary delights I sit around the house all day doing nothing and following the directions of the warden* to do nothing besides sit on my ass, drink water, pop medications and use the bathroom as needed.

* wife

Jeez, I haven't had a beer in two days. The last time that I went without beer for two days was in the 70's when I found religion. That was on a Friday and I stayed sober only until noon the next day.

Since my operation I've found ways to occupy my time, especially catching up on the many recorded TV shows that I've been rat-holing away on the DVR for the past few months. I just finished watching a documentary about the seedier side of the Catholic church, the church in which I was raised. I feel guilty having watched it. Is there a connection?

Other recorded shows include many nature show classics - "Rats of Madagascar", "Undersea Adventures starring Pamela Anderson" and "The Wonders of New Jersey" to name a few. There are lots of shows about jails on the tube for some reason and I've recorded a few of them, none particularly memorable, except for the one entitled "Welcome to San Quentin".

Two more weeks before my foot is back to normal. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and visit; I would love some company.

Just look for the house with the sign on the front door that says "Welcome to San Quentin".

Readers, enjoy your day.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Alfred Hitchcock's classic movie "Rear Window" is one of the greatest films ever made, in my opinion. Why am I bringing this up? Because, for the next few days I'm going to be Jimmy Stewart.

In the movie, Jimmy Stewart plays a photographer who has broken his leg and is confined to his New York City apartment. While recuperating, he sits by the window (the REAR window) and observes the goings-on of the various characters who are his neighbors. He observes what he thinks is a murder. His girlfriend, played by Grace Kelly, thinks he has an overactive imagination or is just plain nuts.

That's the setup.

So, after having my foot surgery yesterday, here I sit, observing the goings-on in my own rear window. Right now there's not much drama.

Bear with me, folks; a murder will happen any minute now.


There's still not much to report....wait a comes a squirrel....and he just stole a walnut from my neighbor's yard. Yep, just as I suspected, things are heating up. Looking closer at the squirrel it appears as if he is turning different colors - red, orange, indigo. In fact, he is quite beautiful and his motions are so fluid.

NOTE: I will continue writing about today's rear window experience once the pain medications have worn off a bit.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Once one magically is transformed into an old fart, things start to change. I'm not talking about bodily stuff that ceases to function, it's how wives abuse their husbands. This abuse, for some reason, happens on a husband's birthday when the wife is reminded that her "old man" is truly an "old man". So, while having my birthday dinner at a local establishment it was time for the wife to remind me (scold, actually) that I need a physical and a colonoscopy this year because I weaseled out of them last year. The latter of these is something that I will not bore both of my readers with, but I must address getting a physical.

First of all, however, despite the medical community's many attempts to kill me over the years, I have survived and am the picture of good health. I have cut my beer consumption in half....where I used to drink four cans of beer a day, I now drink only two. Truthfully, it's because of the fact that I now drink two Keystone Light 24 ounce cans rather than four of the the 12 ounce cans.

Before I resume ragging about getting a physical, a heads-up to my readers. I'm having foot surgery on February 24th and will post pictures of the ugly mess on this blog once the bandages are removed. (Images may be disturbing to some viewers - viewer discretion is advised). The great news is that I can do nothing for three days. Come to think about it, that's really nothing out of the ordinary. During that time I intend to write the usual drivel that my readers have come to loathe while enjoying a pain pill chased with a 24 ounce Keystone Light. Should be interesting though highly incoherent.

Lastly, let me rag a bit about getting a physical. Guys will know what I am talking about here. During the physical the doctor does something that is so utterly revolting, disgusting and inhuman. I'm already dreading this absolutely terrible act of intrusion. Going through this is the very definition of humiliation yet the medical community seems to revel in subjecting its patients to this immoral act.

I should stop beating this to death and name the act in question:

They weigh us.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Winters in the Rockies are graded by how many times I fall on my ass walking on the icy sidewalks. This year is a particularly icy and, thereby, painful year, having succumbed to gravity four times thus far.

And it's only February 3rd.

The fall this morning was a particularly spectacular one, occurring while walking the dog at an icy patch several blocks away from home. My feet went out from beneath me and I landed firmly on my right elbow. True to form, the dog came to my defense, barking loudly at the unknown force which brought his master to the icy concrete. In utter frustration at having fallen so many times this winter, I shouted rather loudly "**** this winter!" In the distance I heard the raucous applause of those who seemingly agreed with my assessment. Surprisingly, the applause was coming from the congregation at the nearby Methodist church.

Yes, it has been a long winter.

Here, we tend to rationalize our winter misery. When the snow is falling at the rate of 2" an hour the locals are quick to exclaim "isn't it beautiful." When it hasn't snowed in a week and we suddenly become inundated with armpit-high snowdrifts, the mantra becomes "we really need the moisture." When cars become bumper cars on the icy streeets the positive rationale becomes "the guys at the tire store need the business." In short, there is no end to how we try to turn a miserable snowstorm into a quasi-day at the beach.

Me, I'm much less "Pollyanna" about the whole thing:

 **** this winter.

Readers, enjoy your day.