Wednesday morning of this week I found that after weeks of clean air the winds had changed and Grede's pollution was back. Just a little while ago this Thursday evening at 11:00 pm I had taken my dogs out to do they're business. I had to rush them because the pollution had gotten so bad. I wasn't out much during the day but tonight is the worse of the day. I wanted to check something so I returned to my backyard with my 1,000,000 candle power Target spot light. I pointed it up into the sky in the direction of the wind and Grede Foundry.
What I saw shocked me, and I swore. When I did that I saw a current of dust flow in front of the light as if it were winter and my breath was frozen. The dust was so thick my breath must have been like cigarette smoke passing in front of the light. The particulates were thick as smoke.
Ooooh baby. Start your weekend with this flash from the past and another rock 'n roll prodigy...
In mid March I joined the 162,000 Americans who landed new jobs in the labor market. I seem to be always at the edges of economic trends. When I lost my job 18 months earlier, we were just beginning to understand that the economy was about to tank, misweighted as it was by fictions and other deceits in some parts of the financial sector. And now, things are looking up a bit, and many of us are cautiously optimistic.
Getting back to work has not been a problem. The job is interesting, varied, and useful. And goodness knows I’m well rested. Though job hunting is one of the most stressful jobs there is; I don’t want to underplay that.
And the job has benefits--among them, affordable health insurance. Priceless.
During the past year prayer and worry have been a large part of my “insurance.” Before the twins turned 19, we were covered by BadgerCare, Wisconsin’s very good program to see that children get the healthcare they need. But 19 is the cutoff point for kids and their mothers.
Ironically, healthcare may have been one of the reasons I got the job. I’ve been suffering from a chronic stuffy nose (rhinitis) and sinus infections for a long time. That doesn’t sound like much, but it keeps you a little below par all the time. And some people can’t stand being around the stuffy-nosed. It became so bad I had to seek medical care. I got the job following an interview during my first free-breathing week. Coincidence? Maybe. But it also illustrates why getting appropriate care is a worthwhile investment. Now I’m paying more taxes, with gratitude.
No story about health insurance in the US is so simple, though.
I spent hours this week trying to figure out which of the four available HMOs I should choose. If I lived in Madision, I’d have many more choices, including a number of nonprofits with 4-star customer satisfaction ratings. In Milwaukee, all the options are for-profit, and at best they get 2 stars. That may reflect a crankier, more critical population in Milwaukee and not worse care. Who knows?
The easiest way to choose, since all the plans seemed pretty comparable, was to find out which ones my current physician is in. Seems simple. So I called the clinic and asked to talk to the person who knows about insurance.
“Well, we don’t really know. We bill all the plans.”
“Okay, but do they all PAY?”
“You’ll have to call the (larger entity) billing office.”
I do, and ask the same question: “I’m trying to choose an insurance company. My doctor is Dr. X. Is she covered by HMO A, HMO B, HMO C, or HMO D?”
“We can’t really say. You’ll have to call the HMOs. But I’ll give you our (status) number.
I go to the website for HMO A to check the database. Is Dr. X one of their providers? Her name doesn’t show up on the search. But the site has a disclaimer: just because a name shows up doesn’t mean they are actually in the plan, and just because a name doesn’t show up doesn’t mean they aren’t.
Okay. I move on to the next HMO website. Ditto. So I call their customer service line.
“Hi. Can you tell me if Dr. X. is one of your providers, please?”
“You have to go to our website to see.”
“ I did. She didn’t show up but her clinic is listed. Can you double check to make sure she’s included?”
“You’ll have to call her office.”
Been there, done that, dead end. My blood pressure is climbing, I’m sure. Since it’s low to start, it may have gotten all the way up to 120/80.
One last stab. I call HMO C. “Hi. Can you help me? I need to know if my doctor is one of your providers and I haven’t had much luck with the website.”
“Just a minute, let me see.” Ten seconds pass, and she returns. “Oh yes, she’s a provider. But she’s not taking new patients.”
“That’s ok. I’m already a patient. Thanks so much—you’re the first person who’s actually helped me.”
Is there any question that the systems under which healthcare operates have some serious flaws? If the physician (who I emailed), her office, the billing office, and the customer service departments of insurance companies can't answer such a simple question, what on earth happens with complicated ones?
As you probably surmised, I went with HMO C. Not much better than a coin toss, but at least I know they have some positive attitudes about customer service. Of course, as long as the "customers" the insurance companies are interested in are their shareholders, not the insured, we can't have high expectations.
I have had venison on my mind lately.
I had some inspiration from one of the deer camp guys who told me where I could find the elusive juniper berries. And I'm hauling a cooler-full of frozen steaks, chops, whole loin, kabobs and burger home for the deer camp crew tomorrow. They're running low on their supplies and I need space in my chest freezers for wild turkeys. Oooooh baby. Only two weeks until turkey camp.
No no will ever argue with me when I say I don't understand something. When I worked as a welder I always made sure I knew what I was doing so I didn't have to cut the weld out and do it over. When I worked in the carpenter shop at the factory I measured twice to make sure I cut the right length board. Even though things in the work place can become second nature you still have to check up on yourself to do it right. And having others check your work might be a good idea.
Tomorrow Tuesday the 6th, the Tosa common council may decide to approve, or not a proposed Senior Apartment development just next to our homes West. The property is owned by a developer from IL. a David Israel. He has already had a condo project already approved at this location. It was a long drawn out process for him and local residents. But the common council saw the condo project as a big property tax revenue source and approved it over the neighborhoods objection. During that drawn out process several council members as well as residents commented they did not want this condo project to some how turn into a low income housing project. I don't know if in their minds that included senior housing or not?
It's just about time to begin prepping the garden for spring planting. Remarkably - a bunch of vegetables have survived the winter and as the frost has left the ground they have emerged and made their presence known.
Onions, red cabbage and spinach. I think I've scored some bonus veggies before I plow all this under.
I've ridden a pile of buses in my life.
Plenty of yellow, bone-shattering school buses. Freezing in the winter and broiling in the summer. Life was rough.
It is the start of the weekend people and another step back to the past.
To my ELP and King Crimson fans I bring you Greg Lake. Nice accoustic guitar. Very good vocals. Maybe a message...?
Some time ago I vented a bit over the failure of the State Legislature to override Governor Doyle’s veto of a measure to return the appointment power of the DNR Secretary to the Natural Resources Board.
Awhile later, one of my readers - a fellow that goes by the handle StubbornOldMan - suggested that I was possibly dismissive of the hunting or fishing prowess of a candidate for governor. That exchange occurred when I vented some more.
Theft from vehicles is making a comeback in the City of Wauwatosa. In almost all of the cases the cars were left unlocked with some desriable items inside including satellite radio receivers, laptops and GPS units. In a few instances, just a GPS mount was left visible and the cars locked; unfortunately this was enough temptation to lead to a window being broken in hopes the GPS was inside.
Do you remember your school science when they taught us about the fire triangle and how if you took away part of the triangle a fire could not happen? Well we have a crime triangle as well; the three sides are DESIRE, ABILITY and OPPORTUNITY. The one thing we as citizens can and should be taking away from the crime triangle is opportunity.
OK somebody call the National Security Agency I think our corner is under attack....again. We just had to button down the hatches when the captain announced "set zebra" close all hatches and vents we are under a chemical gas attack.
But that's OK ,folks, we are going to be alright . I'm sure of it. After calling the Wauwatosa health department, I think I made some head way. I just don't know why the gentleman in charge of Environmental Health hasn't called me back. But I'm sure he will. He will won't he?
It's the start of the weekend people.
The weather forecast is looking good.
WauwatosaNOW blogger Randy Anderson passed away last month at age 50. The following is a tribute from his friend Dianne Crowley.
They say that everything happens for a reason. In this particular case, we are still searching for the reason, but have already seen the amazing after effects of the unexpected and untimely passing of friend Randy Anderson.
St. Bernard Parish welcomes one and all to the 30th Annual Parish Auction! Click the link for more!
Last month I was at a birthday celebration that happened to include a generous cross section of my vast extended family.
During the course of the evening's festivities we got to talking about times-past and growing up in the old neighborhood.
I have a thing for smoked meats.
By the time any of you are reading this post I'll be out in the woods hunting my Thanksgiving dinner.
The elusive wild turkey.
One of the fun things about being a tour guide in your own town is that it offers a shift in perspective that doesn't come any other way.
Last week, I played host to two foreigeners visiting Milwaukee through the International Institute of Wisconsin. The women, one from Israel and the other from Bulgaria, were here as part of program for volunteer managers to learn more about programs in the U.S. It was my job as a volunteer myself to orient them to the city in 2 hours - give or take an hour.
My day job is a staid, old-fashioned, office environment kind of job.
There is decorum, routine and even a dress code. Although once in awhile I manage to escape the keen eye of the Director of Operations and sneak in through the secret escape passage and actually do day job stuff in blue jeans, moccasins (sans socks) and a polo shirt. I have to keep my office door closed - but it is so deliciously illicit that the thrill effect of getting away with it makes it all worthwhile.