Saturday, 17 May 2014

09:18 – Dentist yesterday. I was home by noon, and decided that I had time to get postage labels printed for the 30 kits stacked up waiting to ship. I’d been using the USPS Click-and-Ship website successfully to print postage labels for a week or more, but of course this time it decided not to cooperate. So I fired up the software and used it to generate and print postage labels.

We’ve had a month’s worth of rain this week, with more to come tomorrow. While I do laundry this morning, Barbara’s heading out to do yardwork before the rain shows up.

24 thoughts on “Saturday, 17 May 2014”

  1. on 10th May dkreck wrote:

    “Miles, I still don’t get the ward type rooms. Say what you want about US healthcare but I haven’t seen any one in more than a two person room in the last 30 years. Recently, including myself on my last and only hospital stay, they’ve all been in private rooms. Of course the roughly 40 hours I was there came to a mere $73K. (final actual pay $11K by the ins and $1800 from me).”

    Okay, I’ll try and explain what happens.

    Firstly, I had a night or two in a single bed room. That was nice. What wasn’t nice was being woken every few hours to have my blood presure, blood glucose, blood oxygen saturation, etc measured.

    I got the single room, as far as I can tell, because that was all they had available. After a night or two they moved me to a four bed room “to be nearer the nurse’s station.” (Yeah, right.) This was okay as there was me, two quiet elderly women and an empty bed. A few days later they moved me from Ward 5B to Ward 5C because 5C was operated by “Plastics”, the surgical team that owned me. (I’ve had a couple of plates put in my face as the bone around my left eye was fractured and pushed out of shape.) I was now in a room with three guys. One had poor hearing and had his TV going at high volume 12 hours a day. I could have killed him. Another guy farted like you wouldn’t believe: We don’t need no damned fracking, just connect a hose to this guy’s arse and harvest all the methane you want. The other guy went elsewhere or was discharged on my first day there. They then brought in an old guy who didn’t know where he was or why, he’d broken his hip. He was so noisy and confused that they shifted him somewhere for the night.

    I eventually got a nurse to get the deaf guy to turn down the volume of his TV – why the hell don’t they provide headphones or buds? To cut a long story short I got out on Tuesday, and slept nine hours straight through that night in my own bed (with an electric blanket and doona). The loudest sound came from the quiet hum of this computer.

    I’m going back to the hospital to see the “Plastics” people on Monday morning, and the Ophthalmologist a few weeks later.

    Now, as to the way health care is provided in Australia…

    I pay a levy of about 1.5-2% of my income to fund “Medicare”, whether I use it or not. Of course, that comes nowhere near the real cost, which is paid from consolidated revenue. As I was taken to a public hospital as an emergency patient my treatment is (largely) free. I don’t have the right to demand a private room or my own choice of specialists, but I was happy with the medical people I saw. I don’t see how a public health service can afford *all* single rooms, so I’m not complaining. (I also have private health insurance which covers dental, glasses, and private hospital.)

    A family member needed elective surgery a few months ago, and she knew a year in advance, so she arranged a private room in a private hospital, and her own surgeon/s. Her private health insurance paid most of it, although I think she’s about $1000 out of pocket. Not sure what her total bill was, but it would have been vastly, vastly more in the US. As I didn’t lose consciousness I could have elected to be taken to a private hospital, but that would have cost me much more. My sister thinks that’s what I should have done. I don’t agree, especially since I’m not very familiar with which public and private hospitals in Adelaide are good and which aren’t.

  2. Well, it is just a matter of how space is arranged. Whether you take a space and make it accommodate 1, 2, or 4 beds, what is the additional cost? A couple of doors? You have the same cost for beds, all the electrical/mechanical hookups — no matter how many doors you put on the same space.

    I think the standard in the US is pretty much 2-bed rooms in new hospitals, and these days, almost ALL hospitals have been built or rebuilt from the ground up during the last decade. Visiting friends and relatives since I have been back, all the rooms are the same size, whether they have 1 bed or 2. I never paid attention to whether they have the electrical/mechanical capacity to accommodate 2 beds, but I’ll bet they all do.

    Glad to hear you are back home. Hope the pain is gone or minimal.

  3. Firefox beta is really not working well. I don’t recommend it. Crashes frequently. I suppose I should drop back to 29.x, but all the setup time to return me to where I am now, may not be worth the time I lose. The beta restarts quickly and I have not lost a single tab yet, so at the moment it is an annoyance, but not a showstopper, like the upgrade in 29 that took me to the ridiculous new graphical layout. If I had known that the Classic Theme Restorer actually works on 29.x and the statement that it doesn’t was a lie, I never would have gone to the beta.

    The other thing that does not work in the beta is turning off update notices. I still get them in spades, even though I have it set never to inform me of updates.

  4. Well, Flinders Medical Centre (, the public hospital I went to, is around 40 years old. I guess there are economies of scale in having more beds per room. My private room and the four bed room had single bathroom of about the same size. The old Royal Adelaide Hospital is being totally or partially decommissioned and a new RAH is being built nearby, to much higher standards I assume.

    I’m not in any real pain. The left upper side of my face is a bit numb, like after you’ve had a dental anesthetic. My back, at about kidney height, can be a bit sore, but is better now than it was this morning. I’m still a bit dizzy (vertigo?) when I get up from a reclined position, but that passes after a few seconds. When I go out (exclusively with my sister at the moment) or when Someone Important is watching I use a walking frame, otherwise I just walk carefully.

    I sometimes see double. The tiles in my kitchen and bathroom are square, but sometimes the look to be half sized rectangles, or other shapes, which goes away if I cover one eye or the other.

  5. When I go out (exclusively with my sister at the moment

    Did anyone else just hear banjos playing?

  6. That’s Appalachia. Close, but wrong “A”. We’re talking about Australia.

    “Hey, McLeod! Get offa my ewe!”

  7. Just the one banjo and an acoustic guitar, boyz.

    But the Tube cretins still keep calling it “dueling banjos,” evidently.

    Check out the docudrama or whatever of “The Wild Wonderful Whites of West Virginia” and you’ll see that sorta dancing jig thing going on; it goes back a real long ways to the British Isles.

  8. I think the standard in the US is pretty much 2-bed rooms in new hospitals,

    It’s a mix. Medicare and Medicaid won’t pay for private rooms for most diagnoses, many private insurers will.

    The idea behind private rooms was to minimize the disturbances from the other patients, so that you could rest. Private rooms are more expensive to build and operate since you have to have one bathroom/shower per patient, and you have more runs for cabling, oxygen and suction. All that increases capital cost and maintenance costs.

  9. “But the Tube cretins still keep calling it “dueling banjos,” evidently. ”

    Blame that on the movie “Deliverance”. The song was originally called “Feuding Banjos” as written and arranged by Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith and was recorded in 1955 with Arthur playing a four string plectrum banjo and accompanied by Don Reno playing a five string bluegrass banjo. No guitars were used.

    Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell played the version on the movie, which was used without permission and they were sued by the composer for using it without permission.

  10. Well I’ll be goldarned, Bill; thanks for that info. I had zero idea. I wondered why it was called that when quite obviously the city boy was strumming a guitar.

    Poor Ned Beatty; I can’t, and I bet lotsa people can’t, see him or hear his name without immediately thinking of that scene in the movie.

    And I gotta say, we have some folks around here that could easily work as extras or characters in a remake.

  11. Interesting intel on the banjos, bgrigg. I’ve not seen the movie, so I hadn’t heard the banjo-and-guitar version, so I’ve only heard the two-banjos version, so I’ve been perpetuating the dueling banjos “error” in popular culture. My ear isn’t sophisticated to recognize that the two banjos were of different types, though.

    (And the 5-string bluegrass banjo is the only real banjo. Up ’round here, anyway.)

  12. And I gotta say, we have some folks around here that could easily work as extras or characters in a remake.

    Your’s would be considered rank amateurs compared to some of the families around here that have 12 people living in the same house and there is less than 20 teeth combined. The choice of vehicle to take to the local food store to spend their food stamps is based on which vehicle has the fewest mini-spares contacting the ground.

  13. “Well I’ll be goldarned, Bill; thanks for that info.”
    “Interesting intel on the banjos, bgrigg.”

    Yeah, I know far too much about bluegrass and banjos. I have a sister-in-law who plays in a bluegrass band out of New Brunswick, and she schooled me on the real version.

    I use “turn right at the sound of the banjo and take the next left after the squealing pig” as joke directions to a friend’s place who lives just out of town.

  14. “The choice of vehicle to take to the local food store to spend their food stamps is based on which vehicle has the fewest mini-spares contacting the ground.”

    I gotta set up a web site/blog thing where I can post pictures from around here. Right now across the street, in the gravel parking lot of the Section 8 building where these young huckleberries live, there have been three of them just working the hell out of an old shitbox, with the front end up on cinder blocks, the front tires off, and the hood up. They’ve been there for two full days so far, with ciggies constantly dangling from their gobs. One gomer is a big fat tub of lard with kinky hair in a mop all over his head; another is a relative, much older, dead ringer for the Crypt-Keeper, except he’s got wire-rim specs, and shorts with toothpick legs and white socks. Near as I can figure, they must be working on the tranny, as brakes or even the engine wouldn’t take this long. No visible means of support among any of them, but they always have ciggies and beer.

    Mrs. OFD and I fantasize about winning the lottery and just buying everyone out around us and leveling everything except the original brick buildings here. We’d also bribe the town to close the damn street.

    And I see somebody just posted a string of Wall-Mutt vids on FaceCrack; we have a Wall-Mutt Superstore up this way on the town line with Swanton, about six miles north of the house, and right near an interstate exit. No one in there comes close to what gets posted in the vids and slideshows online; about half the customers are local yokels and the other half are mes amis les Quebecois, weirdly dressed as usual and hogging the aisles and chattering away in their bastardized French. I’m gonna start taking pics and building a little library for a site, TBA.

    Ray may be right about the rank amateurs up this way; we’ll see.

  15. So what if they’re working on the tranny? According to the notmyPresident, trannies have just as many rights as brakes and engines.

    Back near my old hometown, at the southern edge of the Adirondack State Park, there are million dollar mansions a couple hundred yards from literal tarpaper shacks. Occupied tarpaper shacks, occupied year round. This is snow country, people. And they have the requisite rusted heaps up on blocks in the front yard, dilapidated sheds, and all the usual trappings of, ah, a certain subculture that I’m not far removed from. Which is to say, one of my uncles is a genuine snaggle-toothed hillbilly. He lives in a house with real walls, but otherwise nails the stereotype: hardly ever quite sober, parochial, hunts deer and coons whenever he damn well wants to, more guns than bars of soap in the house, formerly more dogs than bars of soap (though most of the mongel bastards have died and not been replaced), and so on. And, no two ways about it, I’d rather spend time with my drunken hillbilly uncle than with my wife’s college educated yuppy-scum friends.

  16. I’d rather spend time with my drunken hillbilly uncle than with my wife’s college educated yuppy-scum friends.

    How true. Your uncle would never stab you in the back, his word is his honor, a handshake is as binding as a contract, and would probably give you his last red plaid shirt if he thought you needed it more than him.

    I have a plumber that I use who is what most would call a hillbilly. I can trust him. I give him the code to the garage, tell him I won’t be home and to let himself in and send me the bill. He does his work, puts things back keeping nothing that is not his, and in a week or two sends the bill.

    What I really don’t like are the welfare queens and their significant other along with their lazy assed teenaged kids, all on drugs. These people have tried to break into my mower shed twice, broken the window which is too small to crawl through (thus are now boarded up from the inside and security lights on the building), and try to steal gas from my boat. The entire family is missing most of their teeth from meth rot. The families genetic tree has lots of trunks but few branches as the female of the brood stays horizontal most of the time.

    Oh, and in another very disturbing, though not surprising statistic, my wife, who substitutes at the local high school, tells me that 50% of the senior students in high school are not graduating. Out of a class of 154 students only 76 will receive diplomas. I suspect that the other 78 are well schooled in welfare fraud and abuse of social programs and will consider that their career.

  17. @SteveF; dunno if I mentioned this before but Mrs. OFD grew up in Glens Falls. Every once in a while when she gets going with her mom or other relatives from down there she has this real nasal accent thing going; it’s a riot. Then she makes fun of my MA accent when we are rolling into the Commonwealth once in a blue moon.

    The rural VT accent is a conglomeration of western New England and Quebecois colloquial; they often sound like they have a mouthful of marbles.

    I hear you loud and clear on the hillbilly uncle; ditto, if I had one. What Ray said generally holds with country folk like that; you can count on them. Got to. And they count on us. My family came from seafarers, mainly fishermen and whalers, and those who went ashore and stayed there were in the trades, like blacksmith, millwright, etc. It was only over the last century that they went into gummint jobs and engineering, usually after serving in one or another of Uncle’s endless wars. Prior to that they’d been Quakers, since the 17th-C and stayed out of them.

    That’s a pretty bad stat at that high school, Ray; no one from the state or the Fed busybodies is concerned? That half the seniors don’t graduate this year? WTF? Not that I care much about the publik skool system in this country, as I have ranted about here before a few times. Hell, even the actual diplomas are probably worthless nowadays; I used to wonder about that chit twenty years ago as a grad student TA and college English instructor; the Murkan kids were all remedial, or “developmental,” and the rest were ESL furriners.

    I actually felt kinda bad for the black kids down in New Jersey; they didn’t have a goddamn chance at all. What they were doing in college boggles the mind. I did my best and I think they knew that but jeezum, it was sad. I guess a science curriculum analogy might be if you had an MS degree in physics and were trying to teach basic earth science to kids who’d never cracked a book or taken any interest whatsoever in the subject. And not only that, but both you and they know it’s utterly futile.

  18. I have plenty of plaid flannel shirts. Many are pretty raggedy around the elbows, but that’s fine because I kinda prefer to dress like a bum. Er, “person of alternative living arrangements and non-traditional income stream”.

    In the late 1980s I worked in NJ, near the shore. Yuppie-scumville. In particular, one of my coworkers was pretty much the embodiment of yuppie scum. Not a bad guy, but citified, essentially no practical skills (he was proud that he learned to change the oil in his car), and constantly planning his roadmap to bigger and better things. Yuppie scum. Anyway, having grown up in NYC and moved to the Jersey Shore to get more living space, and never having even traveled to rural parts of the country, he was flabbergasted to learn that plaid flannel shirts were still made, let alone that people wore them. “Up yours, Eric,” I said. “I have like six in my closet right now.” I also had a pair of blue coveralls, “which no one but mechanics wear”.

    I gave my uncle my drill press some years ago. It was a big one, professional grade, weighed a friggin ton (well, a hundred pounds or so, including bits and belts and the vice thingie that could attach to the work surface), and had been sitting in my cellar for ages, used maybe twice in six years. He was delighted. His income was (and is) pretty low. His expenses are pretty low, too, so he doesn’t have trouble making ends meet, but drill presses cost the same whether you’re earning $20k or $200k. This apparently started an arms race, as my uncle’s shop (in his shed, of course) became the envy of the local hillbillies and they started saving their pennies to buy whatever it is that makes the perfect hillbilly shed shop. -shrug- People gotta compete, I guess… which makes me wonder how different my hillbilly kin are from the yuppie scum. Damn. I think I just undercut my own argument.

  19. I served a short sentence in north-central NJ from 1991-94 with my first wife and preferred the company of the mailman and groundskeepers at our first apartment building, along with the EMTs in the floor below us at a duplex later, to the lawyers my wife worked with and her family of north NJ yuppie ass-hats (except for her mom, who I liked, and her aunt and uncle from Hungary, who were real people).

    I’d heard all the jokes about NY exits and so forth, and our first place was hard by the GSP, Route 1, the Amtrak Metroliner tracks and right under the Newark flight path. It basically sucked; that year was the period when I raced between English instructor gigs in Bloomfield and Jersey City three or four days a week, with not much leeway in between and horrific traffic. Also shitty pay and no bennies. (I did manage to lift a copy of Arthur Golding’s translation of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” however.)

    We got away from all that crap and toured the western half of the state, visiting War of Independence forts and battlefields, the Delaware River watershed, and further south toward the ghost towns of NJ and Cape May. I haven’t been back since, of course, and rarely venture even now beyond thirty miles from the house here.

  20. I have plenty of plaid flannel shirts

    As do I. Although none of my elbows are exposed.

    no one from the state or the Fed busybodies is concerned?

    Yes, the are. They have no solutions and just keep throwing more money at the school. They should be firing bad teachers instead and quit sissyfying the young males. Of course they don’t like school with all the political correct crap that is being enforced.

    I was shocked at the number when my wife told me. My exchange student confirms as was demonstrated at graduation rehearsal.

    My younger brother dropped out of high school and joined the USAF in 1971 when LBJ’s personal experiment in foreign relations was all over SE Asia. He later got his GED when he figured out he could not get a job with the airlines when he got out of the service. He now flies for American Airlines which proves you don’t have to be smart to be a pilot. He has no clue how a jet engine works as all engine starts are controlled by a computer. You just push a couple of buttons.

  21. “…and just keep throwing more money at the school. They should be firing bad teachers instead and quit sissyfying the young males. Of course they don’t like school with all the political correct crap that is being enforced.”

    This crap has been going on since the Glorious Sixties, when some of my own mandated reading was in Eldridge Cleaver’s “Soul on Ice,” “Claude Brown’s “Manchild in the Promised Land,” and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” In a high school of several hundred white kids with maybe six or seven black kids, twenty miles from Boston. They hadn’t yet declared war on boys and although there were obvious gay kids no one bothered them, including the toughest greasers and thugs.

    So when the whole system begins to implode, and the theories and educationist baloney that they hand out with BS/Ed degrees ain’t workin’ no mo, they throw more money at it, despite declining enrollments up here, for example, and intensify the PC hoss shit. If something isn’t working, why, throw more of the same at it, I guess.

    I enlisted in the AF in my senior year at 17 but was not a pilot; they stuck me in Air/Security Police right after basic and that’s what I did in CONUS and then air base defense for Uncle in ‘Nam and my last year was with the 56th Special Operations Wing outta Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai AFB, northeast corner of Thailand near the Laotian border with the Mekong. I came back to work at Jordan Marsh Department Store at Shopper’s World in Framingham, MA, just a 15-minute walk from my house, rolling up Oriental rugs for middle-aged Jewish women and hauling them out to their cars while they crabbed and kvetched at me. All for $2.50/hour, no bennies. While unemployment (official) in the Commonwealth was 15%. Got a $300 bonus from the state a couple of years later for the ‘Nam servitude. Probably blew it on booze and dope. My first year back I drank a case of beer a night just so I could get to sleep.

    “He now flies for American Airlines which proves you don’t have to be smart to be a pilot.”

    As our hadji buddies discovered prior to and during 9/11; and it evidently dawned on no one at these flight schools that their students only wanted to get the lessons for takeoffs and not landings.

  22. He now flies for American Airlines which proves you don’t have to be smart to be a pilot

    I knew I was waisting my time getting BS/MS in maths. Shit! Oh well, at least I can fucking add.

  23. My uncle was USAF in Korea, and flew a variety of jets. I remember him telling us that flame-outs were common in those days. Sometimes you could get it restarted; sometimes you bailed. He had to bail more than once. Met his end in a B-47 on a day in 1957 when 2 of them crashed/exploded just minutes apart in separate parts of the country. That was the last day anybody flew that bomber. No part bigger than 1 foot square was ever found of his plane. To her own grave, his mother — my grandmother — did not know that there was only a uniform in his casket. Left my cousin, who was only 6 weeks old at the time of the crash. He has been in hospital management and will be retiring in a few years. Time flies.

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