To Finish A Few Thoughts

There is a terrific crisis of health care, or the lack of health care, in America. There is lots of talk about it and I wrote about it after my hospital experience. There are millions of stories, virtually all of them bad. In business we look for the “root causes” of process issues, inefficiencies, failures of productivity, etc. One of the primary “root causes” of the crisis in American health care is right before our eyes most days. Remember those obese children I wrote about. Well they turn into the young adults who never had type II diabetes but now they do in record numbers. They turn into young adults with kidney failure, heart disease and other diseases of, at least, middle age. They don’t exercise, they don’t know how to eat and they are sicker than we have ever been. Diabetes is an epidemic. Unfortunately I have it. Some people think that it is never genetic, some people think it is. My grandfather and my father both developed mild type II in their late middle age. Mine came earlier and more severely but I have been overweight and they never were. My doctors at the time knew I was “pre-diabetic” but they did not counsel me, medicate me or otherwise suggest changes I could make to help avoid the development of the disease. I know that now. And now, unlike many, I can’t “fix” it with diet. I can control it but not eliminate it. Some people can eliminate it, as they can mostly eliminate their obstructive sleep apnea with diet, exercise and sometimes medication. One problem is that doctors are very free with medication and don’t really do much in the diet and exercise/education area. And most of us don’t take the education all that seriously when it does come. So all this childhood obesity is leading us into a much worse crisis in healthcare than we already have. And the solution is in our own hands, and in our shopping carts.

Obese Children

Walk through any ordinary grocery store in America and you will witness, if you are observant, a wide variety of forms of child abuse. In the super Walmart possibly more than in your higher end store, but not necessarily. For the purposes of this discussion I am not including your large health food groceries where a more peaceful ambiance seems to hold sway and healthier children seem to be more prevalent. We’ve all seen the snap, the slap, the yell. We may have been tempted to the same. We think we have refrained for the most part. And mostly we walk away thinking “how awful” but what can I do. Generally not much. The most common form of obvious child abuse is the obese child. I think we have gotten so accustomed to seeing fat people that we have become situationally blind to it. But I find myself keenly aware of the fat children. Frankly I want to beat the parents to death. I participate in my own forms of self-abuse, as do we all. Children, however, don’t have the information or ability to make certain choices for themselves, we the adults do it for them. We make the choices that fill our shopping carts with sugar soda, fatty chips and pre-fab dinners full of carbs, fat and sodium; not to mention the empty calories. We make the choices that puts junk food in our children’s hands and dinners on the table that include no green vegetables; bread and butter at every meal – its the American way. My stepmom says a green veg and a red/yellow veg at every meal (meaning a tomato or carrots). While I have not been able to keep up with it as much as I should since she stopped cooking for us and went home, we try. Just as everything we feed ourselves is a choice, so is everything we feed our kids; and those are choices with long-ranging effects. Childhood obesity and diabetes is epidemic in this country. Our choices create life long patterns of eating in our children. Just as we try not to pass on our other bad habits, we shouldn’t let our busyness, our laziness, our apathy or our ignorance be our excuse for passing on our bad eating habits. We think, oh, I’m in a hurry, it won’t hurtp just this time. But “this time” multiplies and before you know it, you have an obese child. I don’t much care what people do themselves (at least in this context), but it is child abuse to do it to your children

Wearing Purple

So.. for those of you who are new to my blog (all 1.5 of you) you may not know that my very first blog post ever was about the wearing of the red hats and my resolve not to do that. Go back to the first blog entry on this site to see what I had to say about that. So… I have been saving the purple rant and here it is. There is this thing, I don’t know the genesis of it, that you see in catalogs; a book, a plaque, etc. and it says “when I am old I will wear purple”. I take it that this is intended as a declaration of independence; that perhaps you would not wear purple before because you cared what others thought and they would have negative thoughts if you wore purple. First, this seems specious as a basic assumption. Wearing purple, which I have always done, isn’t a bad thing in social perception terms unless it is the color of Barney. Second, whether I care what other people think about my clothing or my appearance isn’t all that likely change from age 40 to age 80; I could be wrong, or different about this but that’s me. What I am sure of is that I will not ever wish to wear a banner that says “look at me I’m old”. We do treat the elderly in this country as fairly well invisible and I may find many ways to shout, or demand, “look at me” because I exist, I have important or interesting ideas, I’m funny (to some) or just am; but not because I am old. That’s a crappy reason for people to look at you. So we are back to the red hat thing. Do something to identify yourself as part of a group, in this case the elderly, rather than doing something to identify yourself as you. Does this mean that as I get older I have to stop wearing purple? I think not. I’ll just wear purple when I feel like it and when I am old I will will wear whatever the hell I want.

Appliances Redux

So….. Off to work I go to begin the new work year. At lunch I race to a doctor’s appointment and then to the scratch and dent. I identify a very good deal (not what I’d really like but not bad) and I write up a check. They put the check in the telecheck machine and it says no, you can’t write a check here. It spits out a code that nobody has ever seen. This takes a long time with three guys standing over the little machine scratching their [heads]. Finally I say “I have to go back to work” I will come back later with cash. This, of course, because I am waiting for a new debit card from the bank (sheesh). Race back to work. As I am figuratively racing, I see behind me the flashing lights of the local constabulary. I am in the far left lane, don’t know what you are supposed to do. I manage to cross 3 lanes of traffic and pull off the road, mystified; I wasn’t speeding, I wasn’t talking on my cell phone (legal here but causes drunk type driving). The nice officer informs me that my tags are expired. Silly me, I am supposed to remember that they expire even though the DMV always sends a renewal and they didn’t. I am also supposed to remember that they expire on my birthday even though I never look at the back of my car. Oh well, I always think it renews on the month that you registered your car, like other states. The nice policeman writes me a ticket but says, no worries, just renew your tags and take the renewal to the clerk’s office and they’ll drop the ticket for $10. Great, another lunch hour excursion to look forward to. He also says carry the ticket because it is basically a 30 day free pass, they can’t write you a second ticket. Good news, I can drive illegally til I have time to go to the DMV to renew. (Of course the p.s. to this part of the story is that I did get stopped again, second officer nowhere near as nice as the first, dumb as a rock and pissed that he can’t write me a ticket. He really wants to know why I didn’t go to the DMV over the weekend to renew my tags – of course DMV is not open over the weekend, everybody knows that). Now I am quite late getting back to work. As I drive back to work, I call the telecheck folks and some guy in Pakistan says no, there is nothing negative on file, but no I can’t write a check, no that’s all he knows and no he can’t explain any further. (Sheesh). Later, I sneak out to the bank for cash. Finally, I leave work and race back to the store, provide the cash and they say well now it is too late to get it on the truck for delivery tomorrow. Tomorrow, of course, is Saturday, the only day there is someone home and available to take delivery. I beg, whine, plead and cajole and finally they agree to put it on the truck. Saturday they bring my new washer and now I have the pleasure of facing the mountains of laundry still remaining to do! But I love my new washer. If only it could fold. Now if I just had a working stove my enslavement would be complete.

In Threes?

All my life people have said that bad news comes in threes. Well we have had a bagful of bad “luck” this year so I don’t count any more. But in the last couple of weeks, just prior to having the only real party we have each year, my large stove burner went blooey and the part, of course, remains back ordered. So we made do, cooking brisket on an induction burner on the counter and latkes on the gas burner on our barbecue grill. Ah Jewish cuisine in the balmy south; at least it wasn’t snowing. Then, while full of wet sheets and towels and, of course, my things, the washer quit. So we called the applicance doc who came out, told us nothing, fixed nothing and took our check for $69. He was to call us back to let us know the price of fixing it. four days later, still waiting, we called the applicance store. They informed us that the parts would be $400 without labor to fix. So a good friend says, I have an investment house that has been sitting empty for four years, there is a washer there, take that one. Of course we have no idea if this one works but its worth a try. So my husband borrows a truck and schleps this unknown washer to the house. We hook it up and it washes but no rinse, no spin! Meanwhile now my old washer full of wet clothes is out in the garage. Now we are about two weeks behind in the laundry and not only is it piling up but we are running out of socks and underwear. Another friend has an empty house they have been moving out of for some time; but it has a washer dryer. So I spend about 5 hours today running laundry. I figure I will just dry things til the next load is ready to come out of the washer and take them home damp and dry them there. So I return home with two enormous vats of damp laundry. I put a load in the dryer: no heat. It worked fine until the washer died, now it has apparently had an empathetic breakdown. So off to the scratch and dent or the used appliance dealer I shall go, to find another unreliable set. Anyway, that is three for this week; just starting off the year with a bang. Maybe now we can have a nice long three somethings of peace before the next bad three happens.

Resolutions For Living

New Year’s Eve always leaves me with a sense of renewed hope. Weird. It probably should leave me with a sense of time passing too quickly; there is some of that too. This year everyone I know is facing tragedy and devastation of one kind or another. People our age (not yet 60) are starting to die suddenly and everyone has lost their life savings. People are losing their jobs and their homes and nobody seems to quite know what to do. I think for some it is harder to adjust because they have never really had to struggle. I know how to do without and how to buy less, spend less, eat cheaper, etc. So it doesn’t seem quite so unfamiliar to me as it may to some. That doesn’t, of course, mean I like it; and there is always the point at which you don’t think you can do less. For some reason, this year, I think something good is about to happen to us, and I don’t think it is just wishful thinking, I really believe it. I believe there is opportunity in bad times and I believe that it forces us to think outside the box, look for something new to do, some new way to look at our world and our situation. Maybe I just think because it all started sooner for us that somehow I feel like it ought to end; I don’t really think that’s the case though. Because I feel this way, more than ever before I am resolved to have no resolutions. I am resolved that whatever it is I resolve to do I will resolve to do it all through the year. When opportunities to be better, act better, improve myself or do more present themselves, I will try to take advantage of them and not because I made a new year’s resoution but because they present themselves at that moment. I am resolved not to become mired in bad news and depression but to find a way through this time to a better one. I am resolved to keep an open mind to all the possibilities. I am resolved to continue to take care of myself, whatever the month or time of year. I am resolved to keep in contact with those I care about. I am resolved to continue living to the best of my ability and to continue hoping and working for a better life, come what may. I am resolved to do all these things in June as I do them in January. I am resolved to see the blessings in my life as often as possible, on every day, and I wish you all the same vision in the new year.