Archive for the ‘Issues’ Category

Too Much, Not Enough

7 March, 2011

You’d think that with the 24 hours news cycle and blah blah blah, we’d be hearing more about the nice folks in Wisconsin who are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.  My local papers seem to have a lot more about Libya than Madison.

Here’s where to go for info: The Daily Page (dot com).

Here’s a nice encapsulation of the hubbub from Salon:

Union leaders have agreed to pay more for their benefits, which equates to an 8 percent pay cut, as Walker has proposed as long as they can retain their bargaining rights. Walker has refused to compromise, although he said last week that he was negotiating some changes with Democrats.

For those of you like me who never thought the American public would break away from the couch and the remote control to do something like this, well, this is pretty cool stuff.  Here’s a link to Huff Po’s The Best Wisconsin Protest Signs.

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Happy Spring, everyone.

An Advert: SonoCine

30 January, 2011

We now move to the medical arts, where things quite simply aren’t as they should be.

Dr. George Papanicolaou first presented his findings that cancerous cells could be found in a vaginal smear in 1928. Despite the efforts of the American Cancer Society to promote the use of Dr. Pap’s screening tool, it took until the mid 1960’s for the test to become part of a routine check-up.

I recently went for a routine mammogram.  The results came back with phrases like: “questionable central nodularity right cc view and axillary portion left breast MLO view.”  Since my previous mammogram results were not available to this radiologist, he suggested “spot compression views and ultrasound if necessary” for further evaluation.  My nurse practitioner called me to follow up.  I told her that I wasn’t coming back for spot compression, but that I was going for SonoCine screening.  (Here’s their website.)  She hadn’t heard of SonoCine, but agreed that more radiation probably wasn’t a good thing.

SonoCiné is an automated breast ultrasound system that has been cleared by FDA as an adjunctive examination to mammography. It is a complimentary examination and not a replacement for mammography.

Early studies indicate that, when used as an adjunct to mammography, SonoCiné may find smaller cancers than may not be found by mammography alone.

SonoCine isn’t covered by health insurance plans.  As far as I can tell, it hasn’t been embraced by the medical community on the scale that it deserves to be.  So, dear consumer, it is up to you to be informed and make some noise about this.

I don’t have breast cancer.  I do have a couple of fibroadnomas.  You can read about what they are over here.

For those of you who have had breast cancer or have a history of breast cancer in your family, I recommend SonoCine.  For those of you who have ‘dense breasts’ – I recommend SonoCine.

To the medical community: It’s time you embrace a tool that works.  To the insurance companies:  Do the right thing.  Besides, this might save you some money.

SoCal folks, you can get your SonoCine at the Hall Health and Longevity Center in Venice.  (Here’s their site.)

YouTube video here.

Special thanks to Nancy, whose cancer was found by SonoCine early.  Thanks for hoisting and waving the SonoCine flag.

Where Canada Ends

28 July, 2010

On leaving Vancouver(more…)

Choose Your Battles

23 March, 2010

Bush had to fight the war his father didn’t finish (ask Schwarzkopf). Obama took on the war his mother fought from her sick bed.

Just sayin’.

Musical Theater Prevents Life of Crime for Pasadena’s Youth

13 March, 2010

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What Keith Said

25 February, 2010

Not to be missed—Keith Olbermann talks about health care, the end of life (yes, it’s going to happen to me and you too), and his father.

It’s here. If only I could hand deliver the Pulitzer he deserves for this piece.

Wake up, Florida!

20 September, 2009

It’s not uncommon, but it is tragic. A person is wrongfully convicted of a crime and sent to prison for decades. It happened to Bill Dillon, a guy who went to my high school. (more…)

Getting Old(er)

20 August, 2009

“As we get older and more experienced, we overestimate the accuracy of our judgments, especially when the task is difficult and when we’re involved with something of great personal importance.”

Gladwell, Malcolm. “Cocksure: Banks, battles, and the psychology of overconfidence. The New Yorker 27 July 2009: 26.

Gladwell comes to this conclusion based (among other things) on the research of Ellen Langer, a psychologist who says, regarding competition, “…because ability makes a difference in competitions of skill, we make the mistake of thinking that it must also make a difference in competitions of pure chance.”  This results in overconfidence.

“In conflicts involving mutual assessment, an exaggerated assessment of the probability of winning increases the probability of winning,” Richard Wrangham, a biological anthropolgist at Harvard, writes.  “Selection therefore favors this form of overconfidence.”  Winners know how to bluff.  And who bluffs the best?  The person who, instead of pretending to be stronger than he is, actually believes himself to be stronger than he is.”

We’re good so far, right?  Here’s where the analogy to the Pasadena blogosphere breaks down.

“According to Wrangham, self-deception reduces the chances of “behavioral leakage”; that is, of “inadvertently revealing the truth through an inappropriate behavior.”

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It seems like overconfidence is helpful…up to a point.  One needs overconfidence tempered with knowing what one’s limits are.  My dad has been a master of overconfidence his whole life.  In first grade he didn’t want to go back into the classroom after recess, so while marching in the line of children heading back inside, he didn’t make the left turn with the rest of the class but kept marching straight on in the direction of home.  As a 20-something, he convinced the Library of Congress that he had a reasonable knowledge of modern foreign languages and got a job filing foreign-language periodicals.  In truth, even though he had no mastery of any foreign language, it was easy enough to tell the French from the Dutch from the Swedish, etc., so he had no problem doing the job.  It was filing, for gawshsakes.  At least the task of deciphering one language from another added a bit of interest to the job.

Flush with confidence from a string of jobs (journalist-photographer in the Air Force, Evelyn Woods speed reading instructor, teacher at Massanutten Military Academy), he got a naval commission and was sent to Viet-Nam.  He went on to a civil service career in public relations, high school counseling, army recruiting — endeavours that require one to exude confidence.

Pop at Dodger Stadium

My dad and me at Dodger Stadium, 2008.

As a kid in western Pennsylvania, my dad moved a lot (Franklin, Guys Mills, Meadville, Zelienople…Okay, I’m not sure about Zelienople, but I threw it in because it’s such a great place name).  As an adult, my dad has moved a lot.  My dad has lived in Hollywood since 2002, which means he has not lately been moving a lot, and he is ready to move.  He has been applying for civil service jobs overseas, but with his hearing in bad shape and his memory getting worse, it is unlikely he could either be hired or handle a full-time job.

I recently had to talk him out of moving to Las Vegas, an idea prompted by tax problems with the State of California.  (He doesn’t understand, as a government retiree, why the government should take money out of his retirement.)  Able to minimize the wretched Vegas heat from the comfort of his top-floor Hollywood apartment, he was attracted by the lower cost of living.  He probably also wanted to continue his streak: “I’ve never lost in Vegas,” he avers.

Plans for Vegas have now been shelved, but my dad continues to exhibit, between episodes of JAG and Perry Mason, a desire to move.  At the same time, he does tell me about his failing memory.  “I have no secrets,” he’s always said.  He gets mad at me when I don’t respond to his e-mails, he’s crotchety when I call in lieu of e-mailing, and the other day he got mad at me for using the word “palindrome.”  Despite all this, my fingers are crossed that he will continue to have lucid moments of honesty when he tells me about his failing mental state.

Pop's Confidence

Confident in Covent Garden, London, 2008.

I’d love to hear about how it’s going with you and your aging parents.  Feel free to comment, or leave links in the comments.

Fussing and Fighting, My Friend

20 June, 2009

This is the post you’ve been waiting for.

boxinggloveshanging

I have bad news. We are all racists.

I know, I know. You don’t want to be a racist (I don’t either). You think it is despicable to demean the humanity of another person, or to think of an entire group of people as inferior. Or perhaps you are a member of a group that has been victimized by another group, and you carry hate inside you, even though you don’t want to. (more…)

You Do Not Have…

15 June, 2009

…because you do not ask.

Well, I’m here to ask. I’m asking you to make a small any size financial donation to help my friend A.

I will accept a yes or a no.

Here’s why you might want to say yes: You will be directly assisting a strong, hard-working woman with her goal of keeping her children occupied this summer. She’s got them signed up to go to El Centro de Accion Social’s Summer School in the Park program.

It costs $100 per kid, and she’s got 3 kids who are the right age for the program (the youngest is too young, and believe me, that bugs her).  So the goal is to raise $300 by July 4. (more…)