Thursday, November 29, 2012

Charlie and Linus at Play and Rest

Here are a few pictures of Charlie and Linus at play and rest. Someone gave me this great new scratching post and they are just loving it. But after awhile it is nap time. And nap time is an important part of any cats life.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fun With a Hospital Bill

Here’s an interesting story that happened to me. See if it makes any sense to you.

In late summer to early fall of 2011 I had a perpetual headache. I got sick one night and the next morning. I called my doctor up and he said get thee to a CAT scan. So I had a CAT scan of my head. The joke of course is they didn’t find anything. That happened October 5. 2011.

Sometime over THIS summer most likely in August of 2012 I got a bill from the hospital. It was statement with an amount that I owed. But there was no sort of explanation a to what I was being charged for. I called up the hospital and said I’m not paying this unless I know what this is for. I also asked why it had taken so long (about 10 months) for me to get the bill. I was told that I would be sent an itemized copy of the bill and that would show what my current bill was for. As to the reason for the bill being so late, the guy laughed a little and said well they’d gotten a little behind. I thought to myself gosh I wonder if I could pull that on the hospital. Ha ha ha I got a little behind in sending in payments.

I get the itemized bill. I figure out what the bill is for. I look for an address on the statement on where to send in a payment but I can’t find one. I decide I’m going to wait until they send my another bill. Another bill shows up and I pay part of it. I could have paid the whole thing but decided I wasn’t going to do that. I figure it took them 10 months to bill me they can wait a little longer for their money.

Over the weekend I get another bill. On it it says final notice. And this following note: after several attempts to contact you, we regret that the balance listed above remains outstanding. Failure to pay the balance today may result in a referral to a collection agency. I’m a little annoyed at this. The balance reflects what I’m owed but doesn’t show the payment I made.

This morning I called the hospital. Here’s what I found out. The bill only shows what is owed. It doesn’t show payments. If I want to have a statement that shows payments I have to ask for an itemized statement. I’d explained I’d gotten one of those but there was no address on it on where to send payment. I was told well that’s only an itemized statement not a bill so there wouldn’t be a payment address on it. Also they never show payments on the actual bill.

I could not believe what I was hearing. Where to start on this. Personally I know of no other bill that just shows the amount owed. I looked through other medical bills that I’ve received. They ALL show the charged being incurred. Then any payments. The amount of the payments and where the payments came from say like the insurance company or the individual. Then I looked at some other bills the exact same thing. A previous balance any payments, the date of the payment and then the new balance.

I then said that as far as I was concerned this was not the final notice. Since the first one was completely out of the blue and had no information, it was not the first notice. The guy said he would note that and then asked if I wanted to set up a payment plan. I said no.

I realized I wasn’t going to get anywhere and the conversation ended and I hung up.

I asked for yet another itemized bill. I have to say I’m rather pissed about this whole thing. And the reasoning behind the itemized statement (not bill) and the bill is just incredibly stupid. I’ve decided I will pay the bill. But I’m going to write the check for 10 cents less than what I owe. I’m really interested to see what happens with that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Blast From the Past

Someone at work gave me these two buttons a couple of days ago. He grew up around Chicago just like I did. He thinks in all likelihood they are from the 60s.

Channel 11 is the local public TV station in Chicago. Weiboldt's was a local department store. If you do a Google search on Weiboldt's one of the results is for Lakehurst Mall. It was the first big mall around where I lived. It actually wasn't all that close but it was a big deal when it opened in 1971. There's actually a Lakehurst Mall page you can go to.

Lakehurst lasted until around 2001. At that time only a few stores remained. Finally only Carson Pirie Scott was left. It closed in early 2004 and the Mall was demolished a little while after. I can remember many a trip there as a teenager.

Truly a blast from the past.

Lincoln the Movie

This is about the movie about the man. I have to say I think it was a masterpiece.

Daniel Day-Lewis seemed to be channeling Lincoln. Day-Lewis was completely believable as Lincoln. He just was amazing. The nuances he brought to the role are just amazing. The mannerisms and the way he walked and talked. How he wore a shawl. He was just amazing.

But he wasn’t the only one of the actors that seemed to channeling their characters. David Strathairn is William Seward. Strathairn is made up to be a dead ringer for the Secretary. I could name the other actors who seemed to live their characters: Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Hal Holbrook the list could go on and on.

But one of the best performances which rang incredibly true to me was Bruce McGill who plays Edwin Stanton. The relationship between Stanton and Lincoln was very complicated and somewhat contentious. I think the scene of them in the War Office really shows what type of relationship it was. While waiting for news on the bombing of Wilmington, Lincoln starts to tell a story. Stanton yells out not another of you’re stories, you’re not going to tell another story. Stanton storms out. Lincoln tells his story. Suddenly the telegraph comes to life. Both Lincoln and Stanton head over to the telegraph operator. Lincoln holds up his hand and Stanton grabs hold of it. I was just blown away by the scene.

Many Lincoln scholars thought the movie was incredible too. They gathered at the Lincoln Forum. Here's what one said:

Forum Vice Chairman Harold Holzer, who has written or edited more than 40 books on Lincoln, was delighted with the movie. “I loved it,” he said. “Day-Lewis captured Lincoln as the brilliant politician he was, who knew how to draw to the table everyone he needed and he showed his great physicality. Lincoln did lose his temper; he was tightly wrapped and explosive.”

Go and see this movie; it is truly great. I think I'm going to have to go back and see it again.

On Saturday I thought it only appropriate to go down to the Lincoln Memorial.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Annual Holiday Musicathon

I've started my annual holiday musicathon. This year it started even very early because Thanksgiving was as early as it could possibly be. So I'm listening only to holiday music until the beginning of next year.

I have to look at iTunes to see if there is any new albums out. Well I guess I should add good albums. One year Bob Dylan put out a Christmas album and it was anything but good.

I always start out each day as I leave the house listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas. I know big surprise there.

Happy holiday tunes to everyone.

Preparations Underway for the Inauguration

Construction has already started on the platform and reviewing stand for the inauguration. In fact construction started before the election. It takes a little time to get everything built and ready for January.

Here are a few pictures of what's being built.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Kalb Report — Ted Koppel

A very interesting conversation with Ted Koppel last Monday at the Kalb report.

Koppel made some really interesting points:

News has become a business. It makes money now where in the past it really didn't. It was supported by the networks. 60 Minutes changed all that. News has become a profit center. And what drives those centers is what the public wants to hear not what they necessarily need to hear.

Today networks are too concerned about being first with something. What lost in that rush to be first is the context of what is taking place. He pointed to the conflict in Gaza. Lots of reports on what was being bombed but not enough on what's the context/background of what is going on.

What sells, especially on cable, yelling at each other or about each other. He pointed out that you can't expect people to reach across the aisle if they are going to be attacked. I'd add that this seems to mainly happen on the right. Or at least the right screams louder about it.

The internet gives us instant access to news and information but you don't know where that information is coming from, what the agenda of the person or persons putting out the information or how accurate the information is. You still need someone to help put it into context.

He also told an interesting story about a search two people did. One was a conservative and one was liberal. They Googled Egypt. They came up with different lists of information on Egypt. The reason was the search engine took into consideration the sites the two guys visited. It gave the results on Egypt based on earlier searches.

A really great evening of conversation.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Olivia Newton John at Strathmore

On Friday I saw Olivia Newton John at Strathmore.

I went early so I could eat there. I had a very nice piece of salmon along with rice and potatoes. A little high on the starch but I have to say I didn't care for the vegetable.

Strathmore is an incredible venue in Bethesda Maryland. A little more about it:

Located one-half mile outside the Capital Beltway in North Bethesda, Maryland, Strathmore provides affordable, accessible, multi-disciplinary arts programming in the Mansion at Strathmore, the Music Center at Strathmore, and on its scenic 11-acre site.

Founded and operated since 1981 by the Strathmore Hall Foundation, Inc., an independent, 501(c)(3) organization, the arts center presents a lively and diverse program of art exhibitions, concerts and performing arts programs, and literary lectures and events.

High quality arts programming, designed for audiences of many tastes, served with the hospitality and warmth of a family enterprise, are the hallmarks of Strathmore. Seasonal outdoor events seek to be inclusive in their programming appeal, reaching out to people of all ages, interests and cultural heritage.

But back to the concert. Turns out one of the guys I volunteer with at Food and Friends was going too. I ran into him when he was coming into the hall. Later I waved up to him at his seat.

My seat was great. Just about dead center about 2/3 of the way back on the orchestra level. There really isn't a bad seat in the entire place. The concert was just great and I had just a wonderful time. I had my phone and was planning on taking a couple of pictures and maybe recording a song or two but the I decided to just sit back and enjoy. And enjoy I certainly did.

Here's a list of the songs she did:

Have You Ever Been Mellow?
A Little More Love
If Not For You/Let Me Be There/Please, Mister, Please/Take Me Home, Country Roads/Jolene/If You Love Me Let Me Know
Let’s Get Physical
Suspended In Time/Shaking You
Not Gonna Give Into It
You’re the One That I Want
Hopelessly Devoted to You
Summer Nights
We Go Together

Grace and Gratitude
I Honestly Love You

Here's one of my favorite songs that she did. I found this clip on YouTube. In fact I found the entire concert there so it turns out I didn't need to record any of it after all. I watched a large part of it on Saturday night. Again just fantastic. Below is one of my favorite songs that she does.

One more quick note. The last time I saw Olivia Newton John was when she was in the middle of her Physical tour and that was 30 years ago.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

More from My Days Off — Freer Gallery of Art

One of the lesser know museums at the Smithsonian is the Freer Gallery of Art:

The Freer houses over 25,000 objects spanning 6,000 years of history, including but not limited to ancient Egyptian stone sculpture and wooden objects, ancient Near Eastern ceramics and metalware, Chinese paintings and ceramics, Korean pottery and porcelain, Japanese folding screens, Persian manuscripts, and Buddhist sculpture. Collections span from the Neolithic to modern eras. Over 11,000 objects from the Freer|Sackler collections are now fully searchable and available online.

It is a great museum. Has a really great collection and is just a fun museum to go to in part because there are not a huge number of people in it. It also gives you access to the Sackler Gallery as well.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Romney Shows His True Colors Again

Here's what Romney said about why he lost the election:

“In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said.

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift,” he said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

“With regards to African American voters, Obamacare was a huge plus,” Mr. Romney said. “You can imagine for somebody making $25- or $30- or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care — particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 a family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge. Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus.”

Well good to see the 47% remark was not a fluke but actually how Romney sees America. Once again we get incredibly condescending remarks from Romney while talking to a bunch of rich people. The rich are the people who make all things happen and everyone else they’re moochers.

How out of touch is this guy?

How out of touch to what every day ordinary people go through in their lives?

Maybe, just maybe Mittens people voted against you for the attitude you just expressed.

Maybe the way the Obama campaign painted you on Bain Capital is exactly the way you are. People are cogs in a wheel and of little or no importance especially if they are the moochers. The only way Obama could get people to vote for him was to give them gifts.

Or here’s another idea maybe you didn’t make the case on why people should vote for you. Maybe you needed to come out of your cocoon surround by Fox News and the far right prattlers and take a look around at the real world. That’s the only reason I can think of that you were completely shocked when you lost.

You lost not because of "gifts" Obama gave voters. You lost because people rejected your idea of if every millionaire becomes a billionaire that's a good thing. You lost because of you and your party's attach on women and Hispanics and just about every other group that wasn't white and conservative. Most of all they you lost because Obama presented a better idea of what the future of this country should and will be.

Finally one more thing Mr. Romney just go away. We've heard enough!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More from My Days Off — Natural History Museum

Last Tuesday after I voted I set out again to the Mall to play tourist. Here are a few pictures from my visit to the Natural History Museum.

I always like to go and see the gems especially the Hope Diamond but also on display at the National Gem collection:
  • the Marie Antoinette diamond earrings
  • a 263-carat diamond necklace and a diadem (tiara) given by Napoleon to Empress Marie-Louise
  • the Janet Annenberg Hooker fancy yellow diamonds
  • 2 topaz crystals from Brazil, weighing 111 and 70 pounds respectively, and a 23,000-carat cut-and-polished topaz
  • a 423-carat sapphire set in diamonds
  • the DeYoung red and pink diamonds
  • the 127-carat Portuguese diamond, the largest cut diamond in the collection
  • the Rosser Reeves ruby
  • the Carmen Lucia Ruby, weighing 23.1-carats, is one of the largest faceted Burmese rubies known to exist. The stone is set in platinum and flanked by 2 triangular colorless diamonds measuring 1.1 and 1.27 carats.

One of the really impressive places to visit.

More from My Days Off — National Museum of the American Indian

Here are some more pictures from me playing tourist last week.

More from National Museum of the American Indian and their great exhibit A Song for the Horse Nation:

Through an array of 122 historic objects, artwork, photographs, songs, and personal accounts, A Song for the Horse Nation presents the epic story of the horse's influence on American Indian tribes, beginning with the return of horses to the Western Hemisphere by Christopher Columbus to the present day. The exhibition traces how horses changed the lives of Native people: from the way they traveled, hunted, and waged war to how they celebrated generosity, exhibited bravery and conducted ceremonies. It shows how horse trading among tribes was the conduit for the extensive spread of mustangs in the Plains and Plateau regions of the United States, as well as how horses became the inspiration for new artistic expressions and rich traditions that continue to this day.

Thoughts on the Election — the Polls

I was going to put together a big post on the results of the election. But could never get it exactly right. So I've decided to break it up into smaller posts. I'll have several of these over the next few days.

The Polls. They were all wrong. At least that’s what the Republicans said and all the conservative pundits and Fox News said. All the polls were wrong. The polls were over sampling Democrats. Democrats, according to these conservative voices, would in no way turn out in the numbers they did four years ago for Obama. The Romney campaign believed this too. But it turns out the polls were right. Most showed Obama winning, narrowly, but still winning.

How did they not see this? Well conservative group think is part of it. The fact that in general they just don't disagree with Obama they despise him. They see him as not being legitimate. Thus the birther and all the other conspiracy theories as to how and why he is president. It could not possibly be that people actually support him.

Being off on the polls was embarrassing to the conservative punditry but it was fatal to the Romney campaign. It makes you wonder why just one of the people in the campaign didn't say you know maybe our model isn't right because no else seems to be agreeing with us.

Then there was the conservative reaction to those organizations and people who said Obama was going to win. I can understand challenging the sampling make up of the polls. Stating that your over sampling Democrats and that's skewing the results. But they didn't stop there. They then attacked the people specifically Nate Silver as biased towards Democrats. Some went even further, this from conservative blogger and poller Dean Chambers:

Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the "Mr. New Castrati" voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program. In fact, Silver could easily be the poster child for the New Castrati in both image and sound. Nate Silver, like most liberal and leftist celebrities and favorites, might be of average intelligence but is surely not the genius he's made out to be. His political analyses are average at best and his projections, at least this year, are extremely biased in favor of the Democrats.

What has this to do at all with the accuracy of how the polls are set up and who's going to win. Once again people taking positions not in line with conservatives are personally attacked.

And Republians wonder why they lost the election.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Headlines from the Election

I went down to the Newseum to see what the front pages from around the country were after the election. Here are some.

More Headlines

Even More Headlines

Heading Off to Bed — Very Happy

I've very happy. They'll be more time to post about what happened but Obama winning was so very important. Also having the far right nut cases loose was fantastic. Good to see voters have some common sense left in them.

One quick note the media coverage was terrible. More on that later.

One more thing:

Obama Wins Second Term

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

MSNBC Calls for Obama

That says it all. The other networks still haven't called it but it is only a matter of time. Here in DC the local stations are on. The networks will come back on at 11:30. Romney is toast.

The Knuckle Walkers Loose

The two knuckle walker stupid rape commenters running for Senate as Republicans have lost in Indiana and Missouri.

Good to know there is still some common sense in the heartland!

Going As Expected?

Well I guess so far so good.

Michigan goes to Obama. He's ahead in Ohio. It's very close in Florida (it would be great if he could take that). Pennsylvania is moving his way (the Democrat won the Senate seat which is a good sign for Obama). Very close in Virginia with a small amount of the vote in.

Nervous. Nervous.

In other news both CNN and ABC (the two stations I'm watching) made big deal about projecting that the House would remain in Republican hands. This is a surprise how exactly.

Taking a little break from watching. I can only take so much. Will probably tune back in around 9:45 or so.

2Political Episode 79


This is just a little chat we recorded on Election Day Eve. We talk about where things are at, some of what we’re looking for and we share final thoughts about the Republicans in particular.
Please leave a comment (anyone’s welcome—agree or disagree!), or you can ring the 2Political Comment line on 206-350-3982.
Links for this episode:
A view of America from far away by Nik Dirga – NZ Herald
Brother Cinaedus did an Audioboo about us!
Jason’s Blog
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes