Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Waning Energy, Tea Party Stuff, Near Death Experiences

Just finishing reviewing (a first pass) through a 52 page report. I'll have to do it again tomorrow in more detail. I lost hours out of my day dealing with family related stuff. My day starts at about 6:15 AM and ends about at 10:30 PM most days. Rarely is there some totally down period. I don't read many books any more.

Work has been hellish for the last year. I think that is mostly over. A reduced staff, higher utilization, and a realigning of some employees. That has taken a significant emotional toll of its own.

My Mother's death in January and the resulting activities in helping my Dad resettle in NC also takes some energy. I am very happy he is here, however, and I wish both my parents had moved long ago like we wanted.

So - blogging got stopped for a long time - due to waning energy and interest (and a bit of playing EVE online).

Still, I experience outrage and disbelief when I'm allowed to concentrate on politics. The Tea Baggers (nasty term for Tea Party, since they tend to use the Democrat Party) offer up continuing proof of the idiocy of the American public. (To his credit, recently a founder of the movement lambasted the people that coopted it). The Tea Baggers are something the Morlocks from H G Wells The Time Machine. They are some bastardized and warped descendent of Reagan and the 1994 GOP that has been morphed by Limbaugh, Fox News, Hannity, etc. They are angry angry people without a coherent solution to anything. Tax cuts (they like that), smaller government (the only profess to like this, but they really don't want any cuts), and oooo foreigners are bad.

The Tea Baggers are proof that public education as failed and that conservative talk shows have won.

Obama should have been so lucky to have let McCain win. Then we'd be that much closer to closing the door on Palin and all of Bush's left over economic shit would not be getting slowly pinned on him. Laughably, really, most Tea Baggers are really Bush protoges, though Bush did have some kind feelings toward Latinos that is not too apparent in the Tea Party.

I will say that GWB always had a gung-ho attitude. Obama can be too aloof sometimes to be sure.

OK - so that is all the outrage I can generate right now.

Someone in my office nearly choked to death at home this week. Only his wife being there to perform the Heimlich Maneuver saved his life. He came out of a happy dream slumped over the table with his wife saving him. On the way to a NDE. I hope I never have one myself. I'll work him for more details, but apparently he was headed out comfortably, only to be ripped back to the cruel world.

Final notes: NC state fair passed and I managed to avoid it. 5 Points to me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Last Swings?

My kids are growing up and, soon, out.

My middle daughter played field hockey last year and this year as a sophmore. She's leaning against playing next year so we drove across town to see what might be her last or one of her last games.

They won 5-0 and she scored two goals.

A victory that I can't help but feel a little sad about.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Stuff and the Dog's name

Monday is come in about 2 hours and 6 minutes. It has been a long October and there is still one more week.

We still dealing with the new dog who must be about 6 or 7 months old now. He probably weighs in between 50 and 60 pounds and will settle in 65 pounds. Since he came from the pound they said he was part lab. We had the genetic testing done and he is >50% American Straffordshire terrier and about 1/4 collie mix. E.g. he's a pit bull mix. He's really quite a handsome dog and good natured, but he is a destroyer ... meaning we hope we'll survive to the end of his teething. Also, take seriously that these dogs can be difficult to potty train. The fellow has a couple of times stood halfway out the door and peed half in and half out.

The dog's name is Baxter. We wanted to name him Petey after the Little Rascals' dog, but my older daughter made a scene about not wanting to name the dog after something out of a movie (she never having seen the show). My son slyly suggested Baxter and it was accepted. It was a bit of revenge on his part since, Baxter is the name of Ron Burgundy's dog in The Anchorman. About two weeks later when she found out where the name came from, she commented, "That's something boys would find funny."

Our older half-schwanzer half-jack russell is now nearly 15 years old. I think he hears about 5% of the things we say and sees about 50% of what he used to.

We attended a Halloween house party on Friday. They had Valentino and the Piedmont Sheiks playing. I'd seen them play before at a music bar and they are really good.

Otherwise - mostly attended family sporting events - one girl had a lacrosse tournament while the other had two soccer games. Most everything was a loss.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Layoffs and In the Book

I'm reading the Biology of Doom bit by bit. My Father has a short role in the book and I have had it for some years. So, I thought I would peruse it. Stashed at the old house is my Father's pistol from his officer years - I'd like to get it if I can when my sister cleans out the house. He was drafted into the Army and did some interesting things - most of which he has never talked about as it was classified I guess.

We lost three employees at work this week - not died of course - but left or let go. As an employer I can't talk about the details - except to say that it sad and maddening at the same time. This is a time when young people value social connections more than their jobs and employers. I have now stopped thinking people will know how to behave when they come to us, I just tell them what they need to do in a job: serve the company and their bosses by giving their best and being honest. If you look aside when someone steals or badmouths everyone else, you are at best enabling. I say at best, because you are much worse.

So we take a few steps back.

I have learned my lesson over the last few years that loyalty is as crucial as intelligence and a good work ethic.

I know a fair number of successful people who built companies and sold them. They surrounded themselves by good managers and made their companies first at all costs. They took with them and enriched the people that helped them and were there in the crunch. These guys aren't inherently nice or nasty, they just are doing what it takes to succeed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Obamacare comes to town (no tort reform)

For good or bad (on the grand scale) this much seems to be true: Obamacare will finish off individual doctor's practices, reduce innovation in medicine, and ultimately cause a massive centralization in medical care providers and innovators. Ultimately, I suspect, that the providers will begin to purchase up products and producers until small innovators will be more and more pressed out.

The MDs ability to maintain individual practices is going away for a variety of reasons coming out of medical legislation over the last couple of years: breakdown in fees for service, bundling of payments, electronic records requirements, and incentive/penalties around medicare payments. All of these will force MDs to join up or "partner" to hospitals. (This may be good or bad for patients, but it certainly changes who will choose to be MDs).

I attended NASS (North American Spine Society) in Orlando a few weeks ago. I spoke with several surgeons who agreed the best artificial disc in use was available in Europe and the company has NO PLANS TO PURSUE APPROVAL in the US. That is because the path to approval has gotten so onerous and the future re-imbursement iffy. This will continue to happen without reform aimed at easying approval and offering companies some form of legal protection. (Though admittedly some companies have behaved badly).

In a separate discussion, if you practice medicine in NY/NJ, you face a much higher chance of getting sued. Is it because MDs are worse there? Does Obamacare reduce the risk of insurance for the MDs? No ... it just forces them into larger groups who will bear the cost.

Not worried yet? Look into the coming shortage of MDs and specialist MDs going forward. Not a pretty picture at all.

Obamacare isn't totally stupid, but it is based on looking away from some of our current biggest problems and homogenize/reduce care (I'll avoid the use of ration here).

What do we really need:
  • A path for training more MDs that is cheaper and values MDs appropriately (E.g. fund higher education).
  • Reform of medical malpractice and tort law - replaing it with a superfund to pay for legitimate medical cases. This will have set payouts and operate as a general insurance funding by fees across the system.
  • Easing of approval process, but an increased tracking of product safety and value for response (this is something consistent with Obamacare).

So... Obamacare isn't all bad in concept ... but it will end private practice, fail to address MD shortages, and continues to lead toward a stifling of medical innovation. But we still need to big government solutions.... which no Tea Partier will like.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Colors and Incredibly Boring Travel Links

I just completed a blitz of driving. Thursday I flew into Detroit/Ann Arbor to help my Father emtpy his safety deposit box and pick up some stuff. I could see there was a soccer game at Huron High school, my alma mater. We had the distinction of being River Rats, something I found rather pleasing then and still now. I never knew any of the famous people listed on the Wikipedia page for the school.

On Friday, we then drove to just north of Cincinnati on Friday. Saturday, we started from Oxford OH (Home of Miami of OH University) headed south on OH 127 then went on US 71 towards Columbus. It was then a jaunt down highway 35 through Chillocothe (which had a very bady smelling odor) and Gallipolis (we debated the pronunciation) on the way to US 64. US 64 ran into Charlestown, a city which my son holds in some disdain for reasons I can't understand, where we got US 77 and the West Virginia turnpike.

The colors were pretty spectacular and the sky cloudless almost the whole way.

I thought I was going to get a ticket in VA just a bit after the Big Walker Mountain tunnel. If you drive through VA avoid speeding - unless you find yourself on US95 - then everyone seems to zip along. Anyway, I had coasted down a hill and nearly reached 80 mph when a cop pulled out onto the highway just as I passed. He flipped on his lights then drove past me and pulled over another car.

After Fancy Gap you head down a long long hill with this incredible view towards NC. You can see the oddly shaped Pilot Mountain and Mount Airy (it should remind you Mount Pilot of The Andy Griffith Show).

After that, though, and hour and a half on US40 from Winston-Salem to Burlington is not exactly enjoyable.

The whole trip went from SE OH, WV, VA, and NC.

On Sunday, I drove to Greenville NC (home of ECU) for my youngest child's soccer game. They played horrible and lost 3-1. Then it was back in the car for 2 more hours of driving. The purple and yellow was out everywhere on Sunday, since ECU upset NSCU on Saturday. The town was reasonably impressive.

Total time 4.5 + 9 + 4 = 17.5 hours of driving - but beautiful fall colors.

As the links indicate .... not too exciting though.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

20 Years and Counting

Married 20 years today. Looking forward to 30 or 40 more years.

Marriage counts:

3 kids
3 dogs
3 guinea pigs (2 surviving)
2 minature hamsters
perhaps 15 fish

4 Christmas inflatables

2 houses (1 sold)
1 condo (for sale)

4 cars

1 neighbor alienated

Monday, October 11, 2010

Snappy Birthday

365 days and counting to the big five-oh. Say a prayer for me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Massive Past Deletes and Odd Energy

To post again?

It has been over a year or year and a half. In that time, my Mother passed away, we got a new dog, my Father has moved into town, and things have moved on. My business has contracted - though may start growing again - I've had various personal conflicts and mental batterings.

In all, I would say, rather tiring. However, I abandoned playing an on-line game for lack of time, so I may now have enough time to blog a bit.

The Internet has a memory of three to five years

At one time I had about 700 to 800 posts between two sites. I deleted them all. Starting over at some point. They don't seem the readily searchable any more.

I was proud of a few, but not that many were very good.

My real world identify has quite a few links. It takes a while to unravel them. I don't think they could be eliminated. However, as time goes by, if I get out of business, they will go so far down into Google as to functionally disappear.

This should give some hope to people who have posted all sorts of stupid stuff on the web.

Interesting stuff from the past week:

Attended NASS for a couple of days in Orlando.

Jeb Bush was flying on the same plane as me. I didn't pester him.

Saw a kind of good talk by Daniel Ariely.

Learned that physicians will never be in private practice again once the latest set of government laws are fully enacted. I feel very bad they will be regulated so heavily. Just as they are being chased out of their profession - we are faced with a future deficit of general practioners and specialists. You should be very afraid about the future of medical care.