Monday, August 31, 2009

Medicare-for-all, part III

Guess what?! Ted Kenndy's Healthcare Plan had been called "Medicare for All".

And that's just what he was trying to get passed for several years:

read about the KENNEDY AND DINGELL Bill here

Universal coverage in 5 years with a 3 stage phase-in. Kennedy's HELP (Health Education Labor & Pensions) Committee PASSED his bill this July and it is ...where?! ... in front of Congress. It's titled "The Affordable Health Choices Act" - click the link to read both the announcement and the text of the Bill.

Amazing. We need it now! Call, Write, Email, PESTER your representatives into sincere consideratin of this bill!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

It wouldn't be August without a visit from Mr. Wan!

Yesterday morning, we said hello and goodbye to nephew, Austin as he stopped on his way through Montana going back to college in Vermont....then we put daughter Stella on the plane back to Portland. then we prepared for an evening with Mr. Wan and his family and friends as they were passing through here on the way back to Vancouver and Hong Kong.

Here are me, Rosita, Mr. Wan & Jon, with Cassie and Norman standing.
Of course, we had tea - pu'er tea was the favorite this evening.
and fruit, and we baked some triple chocolate cookies, and had great time catching up :-)
We got out the Penguin soda maker (you can see it on the counter in the picture) and added a splash of our recently decanted Raspberry Liquor (bottled in 2007, and made with our bumper crop of raspberries that summer).

It is so clear and pretty - you can see the damask pattern through the bottle!
And, added to the sparkling water = a heavenly refreshing drink.

Mr. Wan brought us the Ganoderma Sporo-pollen that is so difficult to find here - I love that everything in China is packaged so beautifully; note the wax seal on the cover that certifies this brand as organic (in accordance with, and packaged under the inspection of Australian and EU certifying eyes). I showed them the beginning of my Multnomah Shawl I started using my Sable yarn that I purchased last year in Guang Zhou. If you look closely, the second picture really shows the halo of sable hair throughout the yarn...

The little hairs almost "tuft" in places! And it is just light and lofty - knitting on size 8 Kollage (square) needles, this very fine fingering yarn really fluffs up -I hope it doesn't end up too "warm" for me, since I am loving the deep-green color.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sweet Potato Salad & a little Envy

Sweet Potato Salad - one of the delights of a summer garden! Start by baking (or microwaving- in the hot kitchen this is far less steamy!) 2-3 sweet potatoes, until they are nice and soft (using the "a poked fork slides in so easily you think its already buttered" method of checking). Cool them down on the counter until you can slip the skins off, toss them in a bowl and mash them up all nice and smooth.

Look in the fridge for anything that looks yummy - this day, I found marinated artichokes, some sweet peppers, an onion and a few stalks of celery that needed a purpose. Dice everything up nice and fine - I added about a cup of each to the sweet potatoes.

Then, spoon in some mayonnaise. It must be mayonnaise, and it can be homemade (yum!) but if not, use a decent brand that contains real ingredients - like eggs and oil, and vinegar and salt!

Sometimes, I toss in a chopped hard boiled egg as well.
When it's all mixed together, salt & pepper & spice (tarragon or dill are awfully nice in here) to taste.

Now, for the "Envy"... here's my green-ish version of the Aestlight Shawl by Gudrun Johnson. Don't these colors go nicely with the Sweet Potato Salad?!

This little love is sooo easy and fast to knit! Here are a couple of closeups so you can see how the colors change and twirl. Believe it or not, it is cheap sock yarn by Red Heart!! And it is treated with aloe so that as you knit, your hands are softened- always a nice refinement :-)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Medicare-for-all, part II

Thom Hartmann blogged, quite clearly!, about Medicare-for-All recently, here. A highlight:

Just pass a simple bill – it could probably be just a few lines, like when Medicare was expanded to include disabled people – that says that any American citizen can buy into the program at a rate to be set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which reflects the actual cost for us to buy into it. So it’s revenue neutral!

It could be made revenue-neutral, simply by making it available to any citizen who wants to purchase it! Now, that's very similar to what I was saying earlier this week...
to be able to purchase Government sponsored, single-payer, basic health coverage would lighten our financial burden significantly... so much so, that we might even consider purchasing additional coverage from some Insurance Company, since we would not have to spend so much for basic coverage!!!

Want to let your representatives know what you think - Here's a link to find our how to contact your State Representatives and here is the link to find out how to contact your State's Senators via email.

Please let them know what you are thinking!!

Today, even Max Baucus (whose hero-stars were slipping significantly in my estimation due to his insistence on bi-partisan efforts from the Senate Finance Committee regarding health care) has come out saying that he personally supports a public option for insurance coverage, even as the committee he heads is poised to produce health care legislation that lacks a government-administered plan.
(click to go to the original news story)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How about a little Compassion?!

Roger Ebert has been blogging about Health Care issues lately - he has been through quite a gamut of treatment for jaw-cancer, reconstructive surgeries, and all sorts of physical complications in the past few years - but has been able to survive because his medical expenses are covered by GOVERNMENT FUNDED HEALTH INSURANCE (Medicare!). Here is a link to his blog responding to comments he received when discussing "Death Panels" and his own thoughts on end-of-life-care (because he actually was given the imperative opportunity to think about these things in the course of this disease process!)

Here are a few, succinct excerpts:
If you lack insurance coverage, are you opposed to the public option? If your premiums have increased so much that you can't afford them, do you oppose it? If you have a "preexisting condition" that disqualifies you from insurance, do you oppose it? If it would provide you with equivalent insurance at a lower cost, do you oppose it? Most Americans, even those angry people at town hall meetings, now approve of MediCare. The public option would essentially make a system like MediCare available to the general population.

I believe universal health care is, quite simply, right.

It is a moral imperative. I cannot enjoy health coverage and turn to my neighbor and tell him he doesn't deserve it. A nation is a mutual undertaking. In a democracy, we set out together to do what we believe is good for the commonwealth. That means voluntarily subjecting ourselves to the rule of law, taxation, military service, the guaranteeing of rights to minorities, and so on. That is a cheap price to pay.

I actually have renewed respect for Roger Ebert- he is not only writing about the movies we watch, and why those stories influence us, he is being a fully realized American - advocating what is morally right and reminding us that "American" can -and should!- imply "compassion".

Friday, August 21, 2009

Glacier Park - awfully close to heaven

Last weekend, we took the Boler, and the doglets, and met up in Glacier National Park with Stella and Marcus, who were there for a week and had invited all their friends and family to see Montana's crown jewel with them.

Stella needed a little help from Marcus with the therma-rest....and the tarp over the tent (since it was pouring rain for the first 2 days!)

Marcus's mom, Becky, and Dad, Paul, took 2 days to get here, and set up camp just in time to sit under the tarp for dinner!
Campfires helped dry us out - Stella is sitting with Marcus's sister, Kelsey and her friend Soleil. None of Marcus's family had ever been to Glacier, so it was fun to drive about the next day on the Going-to-the-Sun Road (which is only open for 2-3 months a year, and always has huge washed-out areas that are under construction every year) to 6640 feet at the top of Logan Pass.

At the top of the world (or at least at the top of the Continental Divide which is at the way top of Going to the Sun) we have the classic shot-from-behind- looking-over-the edge-of-the-world! Becky, Stella, Kelsey, Jon, Paula -a tag-a-long-Mom with friends/daughters Brenna, Erin, & Kimberly, and their dad Bob.

photographs galore were taken....

Grandeur was applauded! Even in the rain, through the clouds, Glacier is a place of such pure and rugged beauty that breathlessness at the awesomeness of nature is common - altitude? scenery? spirit?

And then we added in Grandma Bev (my mom, Stella's Grandma)who drove up for a day and a night - notice Zuzu's black nose? She decided to see how far it was to China under the folding chair....

Do you think the Lund men have a resemblance?! And what would camping be without wild life strolling through - and snorting at the dogslets!!

See? I told you they loved Glacier!

so do we :-)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Medicare for All should be our goal

"Under the greatest adversity there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others." ~Dalai Lama

And one of Montana's Methodist Ministers, Joan Uda, wrote an editorial for the Great Falls Tribune this week, asking essentially, What would God think of this? Here's a small excerpt:

I'm startled by the frenzied opposition to health care reform. Are these good people Christians? Do they recall that Jesus will judge us not by how well we've kept our earnings for ourselves but by how we have cared for "the least of these"? Matthew 25:31-46. This is a matter of salvation.I don't believe God supports any particular solution for health care. But I do believe God wants everyone, even the least, included. And I believe Jesus Christ calls us to display our best Christian virtues in the debate on these issues.

Here's George Lakoff's perspective on how language influences the discussion on Health Care policies this season. Mr. Lakoff is a a cognitive scientist and linguistics professor at Berkeley University, and has written several books about how the choice of words can skew our intentions and our understandings. (My personal favorite is Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate ) First of all, Lakoff reminds policy-makers, and citizens, to KEEP IT SIMPLE, and hold the vision of an overall, unifying principle. I interpret this as something as simple as Medicare-for-All. Everything else will come, as the bureaucrats are fond of administering the minutia. Our Health-care crisis is not "just" about the health insurance companies, or "just" about the un- and under-insured, or "just" about those poor insurance companies who might actually have to compete for sales.
Here is an excerpt from Lakoff's article:


As for language, the term "public option" is boring. Yes, it is public, and yes, it is an option, but it does not get to the moral and inspiring idea. Call it the American Plan, because that's what it really is.

The American Plan. Health care is a patriotic issue. It is what your countrymen are engaged in because Americans care about each other. The right wing understands this well. It's got conservative veterans at town hall meeting shouting things like, "I fought for this country in Vietnam and I'll fight for it here." Progressives should be stressing the patriotic nature of having our nation guaranteeing care for our people.

A Health Care Emergency. Americans are suffering and dying because of the failure of insurance company health care. Fifty million have no insurance at all, and millions of those who do are denied necessary care or lose their insurance. We can't wait any longer. It's an emergency. We have to act now to end the suffering and death.

Doctor-Patient Care. This is what the public plan is really about. Call it that. You have said it, buried in Policy Speak. Use the slogan. Repeat it. Have every spokesperson repeat it.

Coverage Is Not Care. You think you're insured. You very well may not be, because insurance companies make money by denying you care.

Deny You Care ... Use the words. That's what all the paperwork and administrative costs of insurance companies are about - denying you care if they can.

Insurance Company Profit-Based Plans. The bottom line is the bottom line for insurance companies. Say it.

Private Taxation. Insurance companies have the power to tax and they tax the public mightily. When 20 percent to 30 percent of payments do not go to health care, but to denying care and profiting from it, that constitutes a tax on the 96 percent of voters that have health care. But the tax does not go to benefit those who are taxed; it benefits managers and investors. And the people taxed have no representation. Insurance company health care is a huge example of taxation without representation. And you can't vote out the people who have taxed you. The American Plan offers an alternative to private taxation.

Is it time for progressive tea parties at insurance company offices?

Doctors Care; Insurance Companies Don't. A public plan aims to put care back into the hands of doctors.

Insurance Company Bureaucrats. Obama mentions them, but there is no consistent uproar about them. The term needs to come into common parlance.

Insurance Companies Ration Care. Say it and ask the right questions: Have you ever had to wait more than a week for an authorization? Have you ever had an authorization turned down? Have you had to wait months to see a specialist? Does your primary care physician have to rush you through? Have your out-of-pocket costs gone up? Ask these questions. You know the answers. It's because insurance companies have been rationing care. Say it.

Insurance Companies Are Inefficient and Wasteful. A large chunk of your health care dollar is not going for health care when you buy from insurance companies.

Insurance Companies Govern Your Lives. They have more power over you than even governments have. They make life and death decisions. And they are accountable only to profit, not to citizens.

Having worked for 10 years on the administrative side of a small health care clinic (1992-2002) I can state unequivocally that each year, insurance companies required more "documentation" (copies of records and chart notes) and that documentation often required repeated insistence from the doctor's office to get the insurance companies to consider paying a portion of the person's bill. Health Insurance companies, on average, keep 35 cents of every dollar as profit. This is more than casinos (who are notorious for tricking you into giving them all your money) !

Insurers' "case-managers" - sometimes medical professionals, but unfortunately, often entry-level employees trained to deny at every turn, in order to earn their own bonuses- decide whether your claim fits their company guidelines. The Insurance Company tells you which doctors you can see - they creat "networks" of doctors - if you go out side their network... too bad for you! You read your policy and believe that you are covered 80% for a simple procedure. Afterwards, the forms are submitted and you discover that your insurance company believes that your procedure is really only "worth" maybe 40% of what it actually cost you. HA! You're a fool, but you keep paying those premiums because of fear what "what if"....

True Example: after Jon left his job of 23 years, we shopped about for health insurance. . As self-employed -but healthy!- micro-business people, we pay what I think of as exorbitant premiums (no groups are available for us) for a very high deductible policy that covers NOTHING before that deductible. So, we pay our Insurance Company over $6,000/year, AND we pay out-of-pocket for EVERYTHING medical until we reach that $10,000 mark - and at that point, the Insurance Company claims that our costs are "beyond reasonable and customary" in order to deny paying out all but a dribble. And why do we capitulate and buy the insurance? Because we know what happens if, God forbid, an accident causes unmanageable & huge medical bills...bankruptcy.

My rant could could go on and on and on - and I'm guessing, so could yours!

The solution is as clear as this: We already have a system that works, that is government run, that is single payer (even though I think that compensation for docs should be improved!) and it's called MEDICARE. Medicare-for-All!! Expanding basic Medicare coverage to All Americans could be done incrementally (expanding age-groups first, until full coverage is achieved within say, 10 years). This allows Health Insurance companies to prey on us for "expanded coverage" policy options, and I admit, Jon & I would consider something more-than-Medicare-alone. However, it would provide a BASIC LEVEL of health care to everyone. Social Democracy at it's finest.

How simple is that? Mr. President - and all of congress - please pay attention, and do the right thing for ALL citizens of the US. this is our chance to begin becoming a "Great Nation" again.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Oooey Gooooey Marshmallows!!!

We were going camping, with all Stella and Marcus's friends & family, to Glacier Park, to celebrate Marcus's graduation with great honor from Portland State University...
Of course, I had to make marshmallows for the S'Mores :-)

First, oil and heavily powder-sugar coat a 13x8x2 pan! Start the (2 tbs) agar-agar OR (3 pkgs) gelatin softening in a 1/2 cup of cold water, and put 2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. corn syrup, and 1/2 c. water in a pan on the stove to heat. Stir it until the sugar is dissolved, then stop stirring, turn to low, and wait for it to reach 240 degrees (soft ball).

Pour the hot sugar mixture over the agar-agar (or gelatin) and, with the whip, begin mixing on low then increase to high and let it go on and on and on and on. (about 5-6 minutes, or until it increases about 3 x in volume). We use organic, free trade sugar (from Costco!!) which is not truely white - you can see the tan color in the picture - but which turns very close to pure white by the time you've whipped it up!

Here's the secret to light and fluffy (and way less sticky!) which I got from the SmittenKitchen blog: take 2 egg whites, whip them to meringue-like texture, and gently mix them into the whipped sugar-stuff, along with about a tbs. of vanilla.

Pour this all into that sugar-coated pan, use a sieve and heavily sprinkle about another 1/3 c. sugar evenly over the top - pop it, uncovered, in the fridge for about 4-5 hours or more.

Run a sharp knife around the edges, turn the pan over a powder-sugared counter top, and slide a flexible spatula underneath the firmed up mallow to help plop it onto the counter. Set the pan aside, but dump in another cup or so of the powdered sugar.
Cut into 1" pieces, toss and roll the marshmallows to coat them, and reduce the sticky factor :-)

I used essentially the same recipe to make 2 batches. For our egg-allergic friend, we used the gelitin and did not add the 2 egg whites (and we just suffered with the sticky!). For our vegetarian cohorts, I used the agar-agar and the eggs. To tell them batches apart, and just for fun! I left out the vanilla and added about 1/2 tsp. peppermint and a spoonful of strawberry jam (i didn't have any food color) to the make the egg-free batch a lovely shade of pink.

A Family Vacation... to the Sock Summit!!

Rainbow of woolen skeins and The Lantern Moon Umbrella of Socks:

Sock Tree and Huge wool winder spinning overhead at the Market place.

the Quilt of many sock yarn leftovers

The VooDoo DoNuts were a hit!! Famous for innovative combinations, the orange one on the right was Jon's favorite: Mango Tango! a mango puree in the center, topped with marshmallow cream and dipped in Tang-drink powder. The center one with the cereal loop on top was an Apple Jack and the Pentagram decorated donut was just the token pagan-themed nut in the box.

We Love the Purl District :-) somewhere in Portland's Pearl District!

and here she is - My Pagan-Knitting Heroine: Barbara Walker!!!!! She deserves the star-spangled donut for having written 4 Knitting Treasuries and The Women's Book of Myths and Secrets. One of her best quotes was, "Just as the bird’s wing evolved to fly, the human hand evolved to manipulate. An idle hand is not a happy hand."

the Wall-O-Socks : Winners of the Sock Contest! The Leopard print ones were the grand prize winner: sheared, spun, dyed, designed and knit by one woman - and they have an ingenious replaceable sole!

Here's Stella and Louise knitting away during the Luminary Panel:

there was more knitting & crocheting going on at home in between breakfast and dinner and classes...
Marcus helped out with the eating :-)

More Summit Knitting - it's amazing to be in a room with 1500+ other knitters ....all...knitting!!!

and listening to our Luminous Leaders. Sorry, we were in the waaaaay back, but we heard every sentence! Here's great kudos for Stephanie and Tina, the "Moms of the Summit"!!

And at the very end... 1600 slices of birthday cake in honor of Elizabeth Zimmerman's 99th birthday :-) "Knit on, with confidence, through all crisis" -E.Z.

And, just because it made me cry, go here and read about the socks that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee made for Tina Newton - these are the two women who moved heaven and Portland and yarn and knitters, and birthed the first Sock Summit.

One evening, we got dressed up and went to an Evening of Opera and BarBQue... I love it when Louise dresses up :-)

Before heading out of town, we got together with the fam to celebrate Ned's dad, Norm's 83rd BIRTHDAY!!! at Portland's School of Arts and Crafts student-run restaurant...Some student crafts on display included these crocheted telephones! Which seemed to fit into the whole weekend theme quite nicely...

Family: Front: Louise, Norm, Nash, Back: Robbin, Jon, Lee, Stella & Marcus