Friday, July 10, 2009

The Health Care Crisis: Letters from the Real World

Here's a free book you'll want to download:
"Sen. Sanders has put out a booklet of stories from around the country about health-care coverage woes, The Burlington Free Press reported.
"It is my intention to read some of these letters on the floor of the Senate. Every American needs to hear what's going on with health care in this country," Sanders said."
I can speak to the crisis from personal experience. I was part-way through a series of medically necessary orthodontia treatments when my job went away. Continuing health insurance was extremely expensive so I halted the treatments partway done. I had wires glued to my teeth for several years until I got medical coverage again, and the treatment completed. I was lucky; others are not so lucky.

Need more facts? Most bankruptcies in America are due to health bills ... even though most people in bankruptcy have what we laughingly call "health insurance".

It's time for a health care system like Canada's. My Canadian uncles all agree theirs works; ours does not.

If you need more stories, get the booklet. And call your Congresscritters!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Growing a Wig

People think I'm joking when I tell them I'm growing a wig.

But it's true ... and you should consider doing the same.

Until recently, I wore my hair very short. About once a month, my wife would buzz my hair all over with my electric trimmer; it's a very neat look and the trimmings enrich our container garden.

Then someone told me about "Locks of Love". According to its website
"Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. We meet a unique need for children by using donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics.
Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The prostheses we provide help to restore their self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers."
Strip away the jargon: they make free wigs for sick kids. Who can't love that?

I had to try; since about the beginning of this year, I let my hair grow. When my friends notice, my reply is always the same, "I'm growing a wig." So far, no-one outside of my immediate family has asked for further explanation. The first few times this happened, I assumed that people were simply not curious, but since the response has been broadly consistent, I guess most people it's another one of my jokes. Hey, folks, I'm serious ... this time!

Naturally, I wanted my work to go to a bona fide charity, and an effective one too. I looked at its public IRS form 990 (summarized at GuideStar website and viewable detail at National Center for Charitable Statistics) which was encouraging but drearily technical; it was easier to read its entry on Charity Navigator. It seemed to be for real and reasonably effective, not terribly wasteful. Good!

While researching, I learned of Wigs for Kids, a similar organization with slightly different technical requirements (e.g. minimum hair length.) Naturally, I checked its IRS form, and it seems bona fide also. Which org should I go with?

Well, currently, my hair is about 5 inches long and growing about half-a-inch a month. I have until about this time next year to decide to whom to give my hair. Currently I'm leaning toward Locks of Love because it's reported on Charity Navigator and Wigs for Kids is not, but this time next year, who knows?

Either way: Growing a crop of hair is one of the easiest things I've ever done. Think about doing it yourself!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sarah Palin, Mark Sanford and Newt Gingrich go into a bar...

... and the bartender says, "What'll ya have?"

Sanford says, "I'd like something imported."

Gingrich says, "I'll have whatever some other guy was having."

Palin says, "I don't care; I'm quitting early."

The Buddha in the Slug Manual

I enjoyed "The Slug Manual: the Rise and Fall of Criticism" by Jennifer James.

It begins with a great story:
"When a simpleton abused him, Buddha listened in silence, but when the man had finished, Buddha asked him,

"Son, if a man declined to accept a present made to him, to whom would it belong?"

The man replied "To him who offered it."

"My son," said the Buddha, "I decline to accept your abuse, and request you keep it for yourself."
What a great story - and the book is just beginning. The rest of the book is less cosmic, perhaps, but more everyday. It's a 56-page stapleback of examples of the "slugs" (verbal attacks) that people give each other to eat each day, and what to do with them.

Remember - just because someone hands you a slug, doesn't mean you have to keep it!