Saturday, December 18, 2010

Health Care

I think everyone agrees that medical care in this country is out of control. If you have money, you get the best care. If you have little money, you get the bare minimum. The Clintons tried to pass a health care bill. That did not work. Now Presdident Obama was successful in passing a bill. Unfortunately it seems as if "everyone" is trying to do away with the bill. "Too costly". "Unconstitutional", "You can't force me to pay for it even though I will benefit", and so on.

Well, this is just one example of what is wrong with our current system: Earlier this year I developed some type of itchy skin on my head. Nothing seemed to work. So, I finally went to see a dermatologist (why wait so long? Co - pay in my plan is out of sight plus doctors no longer accept what the health plan pays them. I always get a "you owe us more money" bill). Anyway she prescribed a shampoo. Before filling it, my pharmacy called to say it woul cost $159 for a one month supply. I told them not to fill it. So, I then checked the web site of my provider to verify the cost: $159. But without insurance the cost would be $400. For a shampoo. I told the pharmacy not to fill it but then, they called the drug company and lo! The cost was reduced to $30!! Just like that. And you better believe they made a profit on the $30.

So, what is right about that?

Monday, April 06, 2009


I retired in 1964 after about 34 years of service with Uncle Sam. I thought that was about the only job I really had. But, the other day while playing cards, we got to talking about jobs. Who started working the earliest, who worked longer, etc. You know, the kind of stuff old people talk about. So, as best I remember, here it is: My very first job was not really a job in the real sense. But one day, while living in rural Minnesota, north of Mpls, Dad came rushing home, told us (four kids and Mom) to jump in the car and off we went. To dig potatoes! I don't actually remember if we were paid for that in other than potatoes but it was quite an experience. I must have been about 8 years old. After that it was delivering papers for the Mpls Star/Tribune (two deliveries a day then). That was kind of a disaster. For one the hours were not good: Early AM and then mid PM afternoon. Plus I had to collect money for the papers delivered. As I lived in a pretty poor neighborhood, most people did not have the full amount so paid half, a quarter or none at all. Plus, being poor, I was not used to collecting money so usually spent what money I collected. That meant that the Star/Tribune received very little or none. I guess I was about 10 at that time. After that I picked strawberries in Hopkins for a farmer named Glenn. That was also hard work but did provide me with enough money to buy clothes for school. I guess I was about 12 or so. Skip ahead several years. First real job was as an orderly at the Highland Park Nursing Home where my Mom and ex-brother in law worked. I was probably 15 or 16. Next up: After graduation from high school in 1959 I enlisted in the US Army. I served 3 years as a clerk typist in Karlshrue, Germany. After my discharge - I was just 20 - I went to work at a nursing home in Edina. Stayed there about a year. Then, at the advice of an old family friend I applied for a job at the Mpls Water Dept in Fridley. It was a long drive from 38th and Hiawatha in Mpls to Fridley, The money was ok - $2.79 an hour but the work was boring. Again, at the advice from a friend, I applied for a clerks position at the U.S. Dept of Agriculture. I started there in January 1964 at $3.18 an hour. I retired from there in 1994. In between I did a short stint at the Holiday store in Bloomington, MN. Worked in the camera department. Also worked as a janitor for a cleaning business for a month or so. After retirement from USDA, I worked at City Hall in my current city. Worked there for 2.5 years in the Planning Dept. Next up: Work for the Census Bureau as a recruiter. That job lasted just 60 days. Next up: Wal-Mart! Why? I was one quarter short of the 40 needed for Social Security Benefits. I have also painted homes. 6 to be exact but two were repeats. Painting is kind of refreshing. Dirty but when you are done and look at the finished project it is a nice feeling. Only problem is that I have a frear of heights so can only paint a single story home. At this point I am unemployed but have applied to work at the Census Bureau again.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Great day

Sunday, March 22, 2009 was a really good day. No, I did not win the lottery. Nor has the disease that has plauged my body almost all of my life suddenly gone into remission: I am still bald. Instead I finally found what I have been looking for. I have been on the trail of this item for more years than I care to think about. Antique stores. Garage sales. Flea Markets. Ebay. Craigs list. Only twice have I seen this priceless item and each time it was way overpriced for the condition. If I was going to spend the money, I wanted it to be worthwhile. On Sunday, with nothing else to do, I had driven to Platte City, MO - about 30 miles north of where I live to go to an antique sale in the local high school. Nothing there even remotely tempted me. A few miles further North was an antique Mall that my wife and get to about once every three years or so. The only things I really look for are items relating to the Peanuts comic strip and old record alblums. But I am fussy about what I buy. It has be unique and, more importantly, cheap. really cheap. I did see something there that tempted me. It was a box of Peanuts stationary, complete with envelopes. Only problem was the price: $19.50. That may not seem like a lot of money but to me it was. So, I just sucked it up and walked on.
When I look at record alblums, I normally only look at the first 3 - 5. That pretty much tells me what type of music the rest of the records are. I know, I could be wrong and over the years may have overlooked some real gems. But I don't know that. I also don't look at alblums that are piled one on top of another as that causes ring wear. Anyway, I stopped at the first booth that had records. It looked a bit promising with some records on the wall. As I thumbed through the first row, my heart starting to thump a little faster. There were alblums there by the artist I had been searching for but I already had those. But just to find any by him was a rarity. And then, as I flipped through alblum number 5, there it was: The Crown Jewel. The Hope Diamond. The Holy Grail.
At first I could not believe it. I thought: "There must be something wrong with it". It was encased in a plastic sleeve for protection and the jacket itself was still bright and shiny. I pulled the record out. It was just as beautiful as the day it was produced. No scratches, mars, fingerprints, etc. Just Pristine. I had purposely avoided looking at the price because I just knew it was going to be way more than I could afford. But, I had to find out. By now my heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to fly out of my chest. I took a quick peak: $75!! Whoa. Way too much. But then my eyes focused and the $75 turned into $15! That was doable. I grasped the alblum tighter in my hand, tried to walk calmly to the front desk where the cashier was located and asked her to hold that for me while I continued shopping. But in my heart I just knew that when I checked out the cashier was going to tell me my alblum had been mismarked and the real price was a gazillion dollars. But that did not happen. $15!!! Unbelievable!! And by the way: The record is titled "PERSPECTIVE" by Rick Nelson. It completes my collection. Like I said, it was a really good day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Don't Fence Me In

I don't know when it started but I really hate crowds and really hate having people (strangers) sit next to me. Every time I see a news clip of massive crowds of people gathered to hear the Pope, at a football/basball game, at a rally, etc, I thank the inventor of the TV! Yes, I know that TV does not have the same atmosphere as being there in person but it is sure more comfortable and convenient.
It is not that I am a recluse. I have attended concerts for Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Ricky Nelson and ELVIS. No denying, the experience was great - even if the view was not. Greater than that though is the enjoyment of close-ups, stereo sound, bathroom breaks (where do people "go" when surrounded by 200,00 other people?), snack breaks etc. when watching TV.
What brought this to mind was a recent dinner at our favorite pizza place. It is an informal place - the type where you place your order at the counter and when your pizza is ready, the cook yells out your name and then you pick it up. Well tonight, my wife and I were the only ones in the place (which has about 20 booths. We sat in the only one that had enough light to read by. Shortly after we sat down, another couple sat down right behind my wife. That was just a bit annoying as they had 19 other booths to sit in. Bad as that was, it soon got worse. Another couple came in and sat down - you guessed it - behind me! Next a third couple came in and sat behind the couple who was behind me! So now we have four couples sitting in a row. All talking at once while the rest of the restaurant was empty. Sort of like all of the passengers in a rowboat sitting on one side.
At the movies most poeple normally try to sit in the middle somwhere past the first 10 rows or so. As we like to be alone, we often pick seats toward the aisle and in the last row. Why the last row? Well, if not people will either sit a seat or two away in our row our just behind us. And talk throughout the whole show. In the last row though, no one can sit behind us. We have also learned to throw our coats over the seats in front of us so no one will sit there. If the the theatre fills up however, we do have the social smarts to remove our coats.
The same goes for parking. I normally try to park my car far enough away so that no one will pull along side me, open their doors and bang into my doors. On really busy shopping days that is sometimes impossible to do. But on most days, I can park a gazillion rows away from the store, hoping that no one will park with me. Wrong. Invariably someone will park right next to me even though there are 40,000 other parking spaces.
Where am I going with this. I don't know, I just hate crowds. So if you see me in a restaurant, movie theatre, parking lot, please stay away.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Santa Claus

In todays world I wonder how many children stop believing in Santa Clause at too early of an age?

As an adult I know that the typical image of a stout old man in a red suit flying through the sky in a sleigh powered by reindeer is just a childhood tale. That does not mean that the spirt of that man does not exist. What follows is a true story that illustrates that Santa is real.

A month or so before Christmas 2008, my hometown newspaper asked adults to write letters to Santa. No restriction on content, just what would you - as an adult - ask Santa to bring? The best of those letters would be published in the paper just prior to Christmas. This is what I wrote:

"Dear Santa:

Ever since I was 12 I wanted only one thing for Christmas: a rifle. But not just any rifle (and not a BB gun). Mine had to be like the one my best friend Roy Maleka had: lever action, .22 caliber, octagon barrell with brass stock and butt plate.
Every year I peeked under the tree, but well, you know - no rifle. After awhile I begin to wonder if you existed or cared. So I stopped writing you you and instead dropped hints to Mom and Dad, then to my wife and eventually to my daughter.
Still no rifle. I am now 67 and maybe, just maybe, this will be the year?


Over 400 letters were received and mine was one of those published. Several days after the publication my wife and I returned home from playing cards with friends. The answering machine was blinking alerting us to a message. This is what the caller said: "If you are the David whose letter to Santa was published in the newspaper, please give me a call".

Well, my first reaction was that it was someone offering to sell me a rifle or maybe, it was my friend Roy Maleka that I have not seen for over 30 years! It was neither. The caller said he had a rifle for me. Not quite like the one I was looking for but a rifle nevertheless. And the best part? He was offering it to me absolutely free! That's right, FREE! The next day I drove to his home and picked up my "new" rifle. Yeah, it was not quite what I wanted but it will do. And the man who gave it to me? Believe it or not, he resembled Santa (without the beard of course)!

So you see, the spirt of Santa does exist.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Words Of Love

When asked what the most powereful words in the English language are,most people will say the are "I love You".Well, recently I was the recipient of two sets of words that meant much more than those.

1. I am one of four children. With the exception of my youngest brother, the rest of us are pretty much klutzes when it comes to repairs. Yes, we can all change a lightbulb (with help)or tape a torn piece of paper but that is about it. My Grandson, however, thinks differently. Recently he and my Daughter spent three weeks with us. We played a lot, went sledding, watched Goidzilla movies and played with his trucks. For him, when batteries go dead in his toys, he brings it to me to "fix". Or when the wheels fall off one of his trucks, Grampa gets to fix it.Or when his diaper needs to be thrown in the trash, guess who he brings it to? Me of course!. So, in his eyes I am the greatest fixer in the world. And I am not just assuming this 'cause one day he told his Momma: "Grampa can fix anything". You know what? After that I felt like I could.
2. After their visit my Daughter and Grandson were heading home. As we were standing in the security line at the airport, I was taking as many pictures as I could. Just before they went into the secure area, I knelt down (to be at my Grandson's level) to take one final picture. Apparently he saw nomething that I did not know was happening to me. He moved close to me, put his arm around my neck to give me a hug and said: "Don't cry Grampa". Even at the age of 3 he understood that by leaving we would not see each other for quite awhile.
Words of Love? Yes!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Who Speaks For God

I was visiting my Daughter in Florida a few weeks ago. Now, Florida is OK but just not for me. (I live in the midwest). Too many bugs, too many weeds and the weather is really the pits. Anyway, a few blocks from my Daughter's home is a church. It's name: Brown's Church. I assume it is named after the pastor. My first thought was how arrogant can a person be to name a church for celebration of God after himself? I'll admit I am far from a religious person but the whole idea sort of freaked me out.
After that I started paying more attention to churches. Do you have any idea how many different branches of the Christian faith there are? Baptist, United Church of Christ, Episcopal Churches, Bible Churches, American Baptist Churches, Rainbow Memmonite, Disciples of Christ, Assemblies of God, Christian Science, Salvation Army, Unity, United Methodist, Quaker, 7th Day Adventist, Morman and no telling how many more. The only thing they appear to have in common is that they are based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. But some are more ornate than others (check out the Catholics with their fancy robes, vestments, chalices, etc.). Or the snake biting Baptists. What is that all about? Or the Baptists that picket soldiers funerals believing that God killed the soldiers. How sick and twisted is that! How in the heck did organized religion grow from the simple teachings of a carpenter to what we have today?
Have you noticed that more and more often, the number one person mentioned in newspaper and TV ads is the name of the pastor? No mention of God. Just "come and join Pastor Bob and his wife Cindy Lou. And the churches! Nothing simple there. Now many have huge auditoriums with sound and lighting systems to rival any concert hall. Nurseries, schools, even coffee shops! What happened?
The next time you go to church - if you have the nerve - stand up and ask your pastor/reverend/priest, etc, this simple question: Do you speak for God? The answer should be: No, because no one can speak for God. And you could also ask him/her if God speaks to them. try it.