Thursday, July 26, 2007

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Our Complete Vacation Photo Album link Euroland

Tour the 20th Century With Billy Joel and Ye Li

This is visually stimulating.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Radio Killed the Newsprint Star

I happened to be in my car during Talk of the Nation on NPR on Thursday. Stephanie Roberts was guest hosting and interviewing an editorial board member from the Wall Street Journal about the Libby commutation. She mentioned that they had a hard time finding any newspaper’s editorials supportive of the move. I remember thinking to myself, “well I know one” as Doug’s quick hit that morning said just that.
At dinner that evening I mentioned this experience to my husband. Just then his eyes got really big and his face lost all color. “Oh, I get it now!” he said. Apparently an NPR producer had called him looking for the writer of the editorial to appear on TOTN. Well, Kathleen Ingley had written the editorial (which was not supportive) and Doug-- not appreciating the background --just referred the call to her; and of course they did not opt to put her on the air.
Only when I told of my cyber-experience in the car did he realize that yes, the producer was looking for him. But for the nuance of the Quick Hit vs. the Editorial, I could have been listening to my husband instead of that inarticulate WSJ dude.
Who knew?

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

Doug MacEachern, The Arizona Republic


It was not a highbrow tour of the old countries.

In Salzburg, Austria, we visited a castle where sprays of water gushed from the antlers of mounted heads of deer in a garden. Not -- how do you say? -- the stuff of resplendent Old World culture.

In Munich and Amsterdam, we sought out Mike's Bike Tours, as perfect an antidote to pretentious refinement as you can find in Europe.

If you wish to balance your parade of cathedrals and art museums with an American slacker's view of the continent, I highly recommend Mike's guided tours. Our leader, a young Hawaiian named Frankie, was amazingly versed regarding the Chinese Tower outdoor beer hall in the English Gardens of Munich. They serve lots and lots of beer there, you know.

And so it was throughout our group's little "sampler" tour of Europe. We did some theater in London. But, well, it was Monty Python's Spamalot. Not exactly A Midsummer Night's Dream in Regent's Park but a genuine laff-riot, nonetheless.

Which is not to say that our 16 days in seven European and British cities acked cultural or educational purpose. We toured the Louvre. Some of us did the "Da Vinci Code" tour of the Louvre (what is "kitsch" in Latin, I wonder?). But it's not like we wasted time in Paris hanging around the cafes of Montparnasse eating bad cheese.

Oh ... wait. We did that, too.

Left to my own devices, I might have sought out a bit more Shakespeare, a few more cathedrals and a lot fewer cities.

But this trip was not of my own device. It was a tour structured,organized and arranged by a troop of Girl Scouts, each of whom paid her own way for this tour de force across the world's most expensive continent.

Most of us know about what good things the Boy Scouts do for boys. Self-reliance. Character-building. Knot-tying. A lot of wonderful things. Few boys leave the Scouts lacking memories of camp-outs, canoe trips and adventurous forced marches through the woods.

For girls, though, Scouting is a different experience. Most girls who get into Scouting tend to drift away right about the age that their male counterparts are reaching their Scouting stride. There are girls who stick with it. There are girls who stay in Scouting through high school, often earning their Gold Award. But the very fact that you have to explain to most people what a Gold Award is -- it's the Girl Scout equivalent of Eagle Scout -- tells you all you need to know about the prevalence of older teens in the Girl Scouts. There just aren't many.

In our group of 16, there were four of them, as well as several parents of Scouts (including me), a few friends and neighbors. But it was the girls for whom the trip was organized, the last remaining members of a "travel troop" of Girl Scouts whose primary focus (besides, of course, doing good deeds) is organizing trips to Europe.

Under the aegis of troop leaders Stevi Shearer and Suzanne Gallas, my daughter's troop has traveled to Europe three times. In three-year sequences, they would conduct all manner of fundraising events and, of
course, sell countless boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Then, they used the proceeds for the big trip.

With all due respect to the boys, the diligence, determination and long-range true grit that it takes to accomplish such a feat puts even the best-ever Boy Scout jamboree into some perspective.

In a perfect world, such an enormous, years-long undertaking would seem amazing. In a world besotted of the values of instant gratification and thick with Paris Hilton role models, it is practically beyond

What kept the girls going was a goal -- a tantalizing, reachable goal that they knew would end with bike trips through Amsterdam and tours of the Louvre if only they stuck with it and worked hard.

And, except for the odd nudge from parents and the indomitable Stevi Shearer, they did it on their own.

As our Euro-slacker tour-guide Frankie might say, "How cool is that?"

It's All Sicko

Michael Moore is catching it for his latest opinumentary. Well, if his point is to make us all aware of the mess our medical system is in he is preaching to the choir. From the fallout it doesn't sound like he does a very good job of proposing a solution. But that seems to be the raison d'etre these days.
In this blog I have previously whined about the hassle with getting Melanie's dental/medical problems addressed. The medical system is bad enough--couple it with the dental and you have a Rube Goldberg machine.
After a month I have finally, and with the intervention of HR gotten the written denial to go out of network to my surgeon of choice. Aetna initially told me they mailed it to me once and could not print out another. That proved to be false.
The problem I now have is that we went ahead and took her to the only other jaw person on Aetna's list. Luckily he also took our dental plan. Dr. Shah is 25 miles away in Chandler (so much for global warming)and he decided we should try a splint first and scheduled her for the dental surgery.
This is nuts. I could get the dental surgery over here on the corner-I sure don't need to drive to Chandler. Further even I know a splint is not going to move the cartilidge back in place and even if it did it would not happen before Mel leaves for school. (We have been trying to schedule this for 8 months now and time is running out.) And when it does not work that necessitates another surgery with the concomitant anasthesia, cost and time out of pocket. Plus the guy said several things that were not quite right according to the recent student of anatomy.
So now we have to appeal.
Meanwhile, my mother was given a number of prescriptions she didn't even need and it seems like the surgeon forgot to put on a stoma when she had her perforation surgery. The surgeon's office refuses non-surgery related calls so she had to go back to her regular doctor to get him to call all these boobs.
It is all sicko, no?
We need to figure something out!!!!