Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Almost WON!!!

"I could a been a contender".  I got all of the numbers, all six of them!  ...But dispersed over the fourteen tickets that I bought!  That was my "investment" for the chance at half a Billion or so that was up for grabs.
I think someone from Maryland bought the winning ticket.  My daughter lives in Maryland!  I wonder..hmm!
I wonder whether she would even tell me?
   There is something about money that brings friends out of the woodwork and you discover relatives that you never knew existed.
   Half a Billion isn't what it used to be.  It takes Romney a full two years to earn that much!  Of course I dreamt what it would be like to suddenly be kicked into the top 1% where 640 Million becomes a lousy 430 Million after taxes and I wondered whether I would resent that?  Maybe, I thought No one would win and next week it would morph into a full Billion Dollars!  That's real money!  And then I was dreaming like everyone who bought a ticket...    what would I do?
   I could certainly spend some of it.  My house needs a new roof and that would take some and I would like to pay off my daughter's student loans and get rid of those payments they will have for the next thirty years!  I don't want a new car.  I like my little truck and it has brand new tires on it.  My wife's 1989 Mercedes is in perfect running condition and she just had the oil changed.  I realize that I would have a difficult time spending the interest that would accumulate in just one day.
   I am amused when I read that some people would invest this money!  Like they want more!  When would it be enough?  It would be quite a challenge to give it away.  Some people would complain that they didn't get enough!  I remember the old "Millionaire" television program from the 1960's where every week John Baresfortipton (spelling?) would give away a million bucks to some poor deserving person which would just create a whole slew of other problems.  It is not simple.
    I wonder whether I should have prayed for the winning numbers?  Some people did this and even made deals with God, offering half to the Church instead of the measly 10%.  I am sure there was a priest or two who bought a ticket.  I like to think that God is busy and doesn't get involved with a numbers game. and if He wanted something I am sure He could figure out a way to get it.
    I am glad it is over and now I can get back to my garden and the reality of life.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lowering the Cost

of Health Care should be easy.  Diamonds are only valuable because the industry controls their access and creates a lot of hype around their worth.  I have a friend who went back to school simply because she got a free ride, a government grant.  She is taking "art" classes and having the time of her life.  It is all BS and will lead to no job and we are paying for it.  My neighbor has been on unemployment for well over a year and doesn't even try to find work.  Why should she?  She has six more months of vacation!  My point is that we are paying for the wrong people to go to school or at least paying for the wrong subjects to be studied.
   If we need more Doctors or more Engineers, that is what we should be paying for.  Find the weak side to this economic problem and fill it.  We have laws in effect to protect the Capitalism of medicine.  For instance, only so many MRI's per population, so they remain expensive and profitable.  I can get an MRI for my dog for less than $500.  If we had more machines they would simply cost less.
   Maybe if we were to subsidize Doctor's training, and scientists, and chemists and the manufacturing of medical equipment, then these costs could be lowered?
   Some of the costs are just absurd and we pay them out of fear.  A Colonoscpathy  can cost $2,500 and takes 20 minutes!  That might be looked into.
   The real reason Social Progress always moves at a snail's pace is that we can't get over the concept that "some people are not deserving".  Think about that.  This is true all over the world and in almost every culture.
Deep down inside we only like human beings who are successful.  We will create obstacles to separate "them" from "us".  It is the reason for the caste system in India and it is the reason for poverty in our own country.
For thousands of years we believed in the "Divine Right of Kings" and the left over of this is somehow a belief that the wealthy are more deserving, more virtuous, closer to God.  It is stark raving mad that we might choose a multimillionaire who has contempt for the lower/middle classes to be our President!  I would love to know more about the psychology of this!  He can't be all bad though, he began Obama care before Obama did!
   The bottom line is we want what little we may have and it is difficult to believe the government is out to help us.  The situation will never get better without a discussion.  If you have no opinion someone else will impose theirs upon you.  You can count on that.  So I keep reading and studying, examining both sides and I am not afraid to listen.  Curious.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Okay For Me!

I'm all right, Jack, thank you very much!  I have a great Health Insurance Policy.  Costs me ten bucks to fill a prescription, and $20 to see a doctor.  All the testing and whatnot is free!  If I should ever spend a thousand bucks in a year then everything after that is free!  My $130,000 Cancer battle cost me exactly a thousand bucks.  Why should I want to change anything?
   My Doctor tells me that the situation will get a lot worse.  There are not enough Doctors in the pipeline to replace those who will be retiring soon.  Baby Boomers are a growing segment of the population and there won't be people in the medical profession to care for us!  Hospitals are loosing money because people are losing their insurance.  You can't operate a business for very long if you are in the red.  They will raise prices at the same time as insurance companies reduce benefits.  Across America hospitals are going out of business daily.  It is the "Law" we have always had.  Hospitals have to treat patients whether they pay or not, so they raise prices on those who do pay to cover those who don't.  We have the only system in the world where sick people with money pay for sick people without money.
   Here is the deal for me.  I have been to very poor countries, seen beggars on the streets with broken arms and open wounds, seen what it is like to have the bottom tier treated like dirt.  I can see in our own country how the Middle Class is falling over a cliff, stressing and so close to the edge.  50 Million people have no health insurance.  Not only is that an embarrassment, we pay for their health care should they need it, and it seems the poorer one is the more they need it.
    What I have a difficult time understanding is we have National Health care NOW!   If you are 65 or over we have Medicare and it works pretty well.  Nothing is perfect on the planet but as a direction Medicare works pretty well.  I think I read somewhere that it has a 7% administrative fee which is incredible for a government agency!  If we expanded Medicare it would be better and cheaper for everyone.  I don't understand the problem???  Are we afraid of "Death Panels"?  Hey, I was closer to death than most of you have ever been and I will tell you when you get that close you wouldn't be afraid of death panels!  It is the "Life Panels" I would be afraid of.  To spend millions of dollars for four more months of pain and agony is crazy!
Did you know that 50% of medical costs in the U.S. is spent by just 5% of the people?  Most of Medicare's costs are spent on the last year of your life.  You think this is a problem now just wait until the Baby Boomers get a little older!  If one chooses this route, heroic efforts and tied to tubes there is always private supplemental insurance you  could buy.  Personally I wouldn't.  Fast and furious, that's me!
   In reality there are probably several ways to solve this problem.  Taiwan until two years ago had our system, or lack of system I should say.  They actually spent some effort studying health care in several countries before choosing their own, a single payer system that is working well for them.  Why can't we do this?
   I don't wish cancer upon anyone but I guarantee you would want a different system if you got it.  Mine was "cheap" to cure (and it is still gone!!!), over $200,000 is more normal.  Even people with "good insurance", covering 80% will still leave you with a $40,000 bill.  The saddest story I can relate to you is the guy who has a good job with great benefits discovers he has cancer.  In the middle of treatment he becomes too sick to work and loses his job and his benefits, no health insurance. Next he loses his house and if he runs out of money mid treatment he is kicked out of the program.  Yes, this happens all of the time!
   There will be no cures to our system unless we can agree there is a problem.  Can we at least do that?
Maybe one by one we could identify what is wrong and agree with a method of improvement?
   I'm okay and I don't give a crap for me.  I worry about my friends.  I worry about my daughters. And I wonder why we don't have it within us to make this a better world?  Seriously, why can't we figure this out?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

50 Million Have None...

Obama care was first proposed by the Republicans as a method allowing each of us to pay our fair share towards the spiraling cost of medicine.  It has been implemented in Massachusetts by then Governor Romney,
the current front runner of the Republican Party for President.  Both the Democrats and the Republicans know we have a huge problem with our National Health System in the United States.  The problem is we do not have one.  It seems to be a difficult discussion and it shouldn't be, everyone knows there is a problem.
   I suspect a lot of it is political.  Republicans do not want the Democrats to have any credit even though what the Democrats proposed was a Republican idea!   And I suspect there are people who would oppose anything Obama said simply because he is black.
   The Supreme Court is entertaining this discussion now:  would it be legal to force us to have insurance?  I admit I do not understand this argument.  We are forced into paying for Medicare from our very first job. Aren't we glad we have it now?
   The math is very simple.  If everyone paid into the system then health care would be less expensive and everyone would be covered.  I don't understand an argument against this? The ideal thing in life is that everything would be free but that is not likely to happen.  It is nice to be against National Health Care, nice until you need it anyway.  Until you get cancer or need a knee replacement or find yourself in a serious accident.
I have great insurance and my being in favor of National Health will just cost me more money.  I do not need it for me.  I want it because I live in a Society and I enjoy healthy people around me.  I want it because Hospitals will go out of business without it and the best insurance in the world won't be of much value if there are no hospitals to provide the care.  One of the reasons our health care keeps getting more expensive is that they keep raising our rates to cover the uninsured.  Sort of like retail stores raising their prices to cover theft.
   The funny thing is that I am in favor of National Health Care because I am a Conservative!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Help me if you can...

How do I remove the word verification thing from my blog???  Thanks so much!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More and More!

The Canadian Conspiracy

March 20th, 2012

I took this photo at 4:30 am today!

I hear that other parts of the country are warm but not Oregon!  This is about one inch so far but it is still snowing hard!  I really wish Scientists had called it "global weather change" instead of global warming!  I do remember once having snow in March but I was about ten years old, fifty-five years ago!  I think the Canadians have a new weapon and they are experimenting on the Northwest!  Can't plant tomatoes in this weather!

Here is my arbor installed.  I got it up yesterday between rain showers!  Climbing roses are planted on either side of it.

Snow is predicted today and tomorrow and then ten days of rain!
I will hide out in my shop or studio.  Maybe I will paint?

I have just now discovered the X Factor on YouTube.  Yes, I am that slow!  I have never seen it on television either!  That is exactly how I feel with each job I do!  On stage, nervous, in front of an audience, and hoping they will like what I do!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Another Arbor

Grinding in my shop
Here I am yesterday working on a roof for another arbor!  Without gloves!  I almost never wear gloves,
keeps me too far away from my work.  This arbor is about ten feet wide with a five foot entry and side walls.  It is pouring down rain so I will wait for a nicer day for the installation!
   I am wishing now I had done the Home Show! I probably could have sold a dozen of these.  There wasn't a single metal worker there!  I mentioned this to my supplier of steel and he said he understood, no one is buying anything!  That is a defeated philosophy for sure.  They would have bought this one had it been there!
I don't really want to work a booth at a Home Show. I am retired and they are a lot of work.  Next time I am thinking I will make an arbor for someone else's booth.  It will help them gain attention and I won't have to be there!
   I read about the "warming of America".  The Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC are one full month early!
It is not happening in Oregon.  We had a dusting of snow this week and rain every single day! I am thinking it is a Canadian conspiracy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Let it snow!

Is it March which brings up images of Lions when discussing the weather?  I am not sure what is happening.  At first I attributed it to Daylight Savings Time and I don't understand how any idiot, especially in the scientific community, couldn't understand the simple facts.  Of course an Extra Hour of Sunlight will add to Global Warming!   More night time is what we need, am I the only one to realize this?
   It is snowing hard outside my window right now, this very minute!  There was half an inch of snow on my little bridge, covering my flower pots where just yesterday I planted fresh baby lettuce starts, now white in a winter blanket.  Last night we had a windy battle.  Our warm Santa Anna type winds met the cold Canadian breath from up North and it seems Canada won this battle!  Could this be a military experiment?  Canada is our friend, so close and without a border fence.  I wonder?  Keep your enemies close and your friends closer?  I don't even remember how it goes!
   The gusts were over eighty miles per hour and I wonder what type of defense we have against such a system?  Was our military prepared?  I don't see much damage; my house still stands and the trees held fast but I suspect this will be another secret war that we are never told about!  Why isn't Anderson Cooper doing his job?  Where is CNN?  Half an inch of snow shraptnal everywhere and they will blame it on the weather.  Sure.
   I went to the Home Show on Sunday afternoon.  50,000 people visit this show and the over 400 vendors there.  It was crowded and I am told a good show.  Not One metal artist was there!  No cool torchings, not a single steel flower, no plasma cut art, no ornamental iron, not a single steel fence or gated entry and no garden arbors!  I missed my younger days when I did the shows and I wondered why no one took up my space when I left?  I loved the Home Shows and they were good to me.  I liked meeting people, talking about what they needed and their excitement at what I brought to the show.  Mostly it was me and my own excitement but I always brought something to dazzle the senses, something they had never seen before.  I worked hard for these shows and would begin making stuff three months before they started.  I never brought something back to a show once it had been there.  I developed quite a reputation and a following.  People would go to the Home Show just to see what I was up to.  I could get $50,000 dollars worth of work from a single show!
   On Sunday I saw vendors sitting at a table with a bored disinterested look on their faces.  A table between the vendor and his customer.  A dividing line, an obstacle, not a good idea.  One day I will write a short pamphlet on how to do a Home Show.
   I did get a job though!  It is a simple arbor but something to keep me occupied so I don't go out into the streets.  "Occupy my shop," that's my motto!  I like building arbors and they always remind me of when I began this metal art stuff.  Once I could weld I needed work to be able to continue.  I went to all of the nurseries and garden art shops in town and looked at their stuff and talked with them.  I told them I wanted to make arbors and they all said arbors do not sell well in this town!  I looked at their inventory of imported arbors, so flimsy they barely held themselves up let alone a vine and took this as a personal challenge.  Their arbors were inexpensive and looked it.  They were all the same, coming as kits in the brown cardboard boxes.  You could buy one for less than a hundred dollars!
   My first arbor sold for $550.  I took it to a Spring Home Show that went from Thursday through
Sunday and sold it Twelve Times by six o'clock on Friday night!  The next month that is all I did, production work, making the same arbor over and over!  I never did that again.  On future Home Shows I always brought three arbors in various price ranges, always making them bigger and better.
The last show I did my most expensive arbor was $3,500 and even then I had to make it twice!
   Oh, to be young again and know what I know now!

In case you missed it, my Book is HERE!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Wendy Alas: KONY 2012

Wendy Alas: KONY 2012  "more people on facebook than on this earth 200 years ago" and we...have...power!

Wendy Alas: KONY 2012

Wendy Alas: KONY 2012  "more people on facebook than on this earth 200 years ago" and we...have...power!

Monday, March 5, 2012

College Days

When I was in college, wow, almost 47 years ago, that's almost half a century!, I remember writing a paper on the consequences of automation in our industrial world.  What would happen when robots took over the work force?  Wow, was I pretty dumb, way beyond naive, just a dumb college kid.  I was an idealist and a bit of a romantic, not at all the cynical hard nosed guy I have become!  I had imagined a return to the Renaissance, a resurrection of literature and the arts, real live theater in every town and huge libraries everywhere.  We were given the best gift of all:  time, and I had hoped we could have put it to good use.  I had imagined wonderful schools teaching us the languages of the world, poetry, theater and the arts.  All kinds of things because we had the time.  I thought we could return to building great buildings and bridges, structurally sound and full of art.
   I imagined a far shorter work week, an earlier retirement, greater advances in medical care, an end to world wide strife and poverty and a blossoming of the human race.  In fact, no race at all.  Machinery could now bear the brunt of labor and people, finally rising above survival necessities could thrive with the better part of what makes us human.
   Remember this was a long time ago.  My father was a History Professor and made a salary of $900 a month with no benefits, no medical insurance.  Minimum wage was about $1.25 an hour and a boss, the CEO of a corporation made about six times the wages of his hourly workers.  I bought my house when I was making less than two dollars per hour, working at a local factory where the big bosses might have made three of four dollars per hour.  Oh we had supper rich people back then too, maybe the lumber mill owner, especially if he also owned thousands of acres of forest land to feed his mill.  Back in those days we had a graduated income tax and fair or not if you made over a million dollars a year you paid a lot of taxes on money over this amount.
It seemed like this system worked.  The divide between regular working people and well off people with really good jobs was three times the money and this was a hurtle and horizon, an obstacle that was conquerable.  I put myself through college with a part time job, working less than 15 hours per week.
   Initially robotics and this post modern industrial revolution made things much cheaper.  Modern manufacturing and conveyor belt construction with robots on the line could keep a five cent candy bar at a nickle.  What happened?  Why was I so very wrong?
   The government gives us so much more than they did in the old days and modern industry gives us much less.  Some CEO's make six hundred times the money of their average worker, some make six thousand times that much!  The distance between the average worker and the the wealthy with their great paying jobs have become an abyss; reasonable hurdles have become insurmountable obstacles.  The tax structure has changed so that people like Mitt Romney pay less than half what a regular worker would pay.  I was naive to have thought that this new found wealth created in the post modern world would have been shared.
   The problem for Society, as I see it, isn't that some have a great deal of wealth and really, they do not pay their fair share, it is that we have created a divide impossible to get across, a chasm so deep as to be impenetrable.  We lose our values of working hard because that experience is meeting with defeat and our dreams now are tied up with lottery tickets, the government approved way to wealth!
   It was a good essay; I got an "A" on it.  It was just so very wrong.  But, it coulda been! 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Easy to find ideas!

I am continuing with My Book and you will find the latest chapter HERE.  It is pretty easy to get ideas, they come floating over the ocean and arrive as gifts upon our shores!  This turns out to be not much of a story,
but It Could Have Been!  Another blogger, Dave Masco beat me to it and his blog has now gone viral!
Lucky bastard!  Well, he lives right on the beach in Florence and found these before I did!  You can google him or the Register-Guard to find this story, but if you hang on I will make it far more interesting and we will get shot at too!
   Some of you may be disappointed that I enter my own personal philosophy about life into this book but unless it is just gibberish entertainment that is the only reason to write a book, a sneaky way to educate you!
We can all have our own personal opinions but we can not all have our own facts.  Some things in life just ARE and have no relation to a person's belief.  It makes no difference whether you believe the Earth goes around the sun, it does.  Believing otherwise does not change it.
   It is so easy to get stories right out of the newspapers, strange ones like the one above and even stranger ones if you follow Rush Limbo!  He is lucky women are docile and pretty or somebody might shoot him!
Man, if I were like that my wife would hit me over the head with a frying pan in the middle of the night!
Or Rick Santorum who thinks college is for snobs, except for his family, of course!  And Mitt, bless his heart, who thinks that the way to economic growth is to throw more money at the rich people!  I try not to include too much politics in my book because it is not a comedy.
   Really, it will be about protecting the Earth, really, truly, except people will die and there will be a lot of bad guys and I will just try to solve the puzzle as I go along.  Life is not simple.  There are consequences.