Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: 3/16/08 - 3/23/08

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Now I have an excuse to boycott Starbucks

Per Seattle PI:
A judge has ordered Starbucks Corp. to pay $86.7 million plus interest to thousands of California baristas after the court found the company had illegally forced those workers to share tips with shift supervisors.

"This is sending a message that you may be a big corporation and you may want to do it your way, but you still have to comply with the law and you can't subsidize your labor force," David Lowe, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said Thursday.

It seems that Starbucks has been paying their shift supervisors by snagging cash out of the tip jar instead of leaving that all for their barristas...you know, the people we actually intend to recieve the tips?
At Starbucks, and in many restaurants, customers leave tips in a large container that are shared. But the Starbucks workers alleged that the company's tip pool policy violated California's labor code because "agents" of the company, in this case shift supervisors, were sharing in the tips with baristas.

The California case originated in San Diego, and it covers roughly 120,000 baristas who worked for Starbucks in that state from October 2000 to February 2008.

Of course, proving what a class act they really are, Starbucks posted this letter on their website and gave a statement to the Seattle PI news:
Starbucks said Cowett's ruling was "not only contrary to law, it is fundamentally unfair and beyond all common sense and reason."

"The decision today, in our view, represents an extreme example of an abuse of the class action procedures in California's courts," the company said. "Starbucks therefore plans to appeal and to seek a stay of the court's ruling prohibiting shift supervisors from receiving tips in the future while the appeal is pending."

Lowe, the plaintiffs' attorney, said the law is clear and Starbucks doesn't want to comply.

"They were taking the position they were above the law," Lowe said.

I saw some good responses to Starbucks in comments on the San Diego Union-Tribune website. Folks were asking if their alleged "fair sharing policy" meant that the supervisory employees would be sharing their bonuses with the baristas since they would be based off the sales on their shift?

I've seen some angry responses from present and former Starbucks shift-supervisors on the newspaper comments and a beautifully snarky website called "Starbucks Gossip - Monitoring America's favorite drug dealer." The reality is that those employees are not looking at the bigger picture AND their angry and the wrong folks. They should be angry at Starbucks.

I worked retail for years during high school and college. The duties of these "shift supervisors" include opening and closing, training and handling money deposits. These folks are assistant managers in everything but their job title. This is a sneaky way of keeping them out of the "management" designation to avoid paying managerial wages and benefits. Starbucks is basically counting the tip jar as part of the earnings of these employees rather than paying them what they earn.

They also have no intention of stopping the practice.

Of course, this isn't their only legal trouble:
The decision was the second legal action this month that was unfavorable to Starbucks, which is attempting a turnaround as its stock has tumbled 44 percent in the past 12 months. Earlier in March, the company agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to about 350 assistant managers who claimed in a federal case in Houston that they were forced to work off the clock. Starbucks also faces at least two other major workplace lawsuits -- one in California and one in Florida.

Dang, if you call them "Assistant Managers," now you can't even work them to death! How much do you want to bet the number of "Shift Supervisors" soared after that suit was brought?

I already avoid Starbucks. I don't like their coffee and it's too expensive. Plus they are just like Walmart by trying to drive local roasters and coffee shops out of business...and in Alaska, we have some great roasters and coffee shops.

Recent events give me even more justification to boycott anything from Starbucks. They portray themselves as something special but in the end, they are just another greedy corporation.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My daughter's first protest

When I saw someone had organized a Move-On protest in Anchorage for the fifth anniversary of the Iraq Occupation, I was determined to get behind it and help promote it. I posted about it on my little blog and any other local blog and board I had access too. I even emailed a number of local media outlets and asked them to support it. Luckily, lots of other folks had the same idea so I was excited to attend. I was especially excited because my 10-year-old daughter was coming with me.

Morrigan wasn't sure what to expect. She kept asking me what it was going to be like, if anything scary would happen, etc...Part of her fear was because early that morning, some unknown character decided to pour red paint on the Veteran's Monument. Of course, the local right-wingers (urged on by one of the television stations, rumor has it) threw together a small, impromptu gathering of Vets (all of whom hated Moveon.org) at the memorial and they spent their time blaming us.

They didn't mention that a bunch of MoveOn folks and other Progressives made a beeline for the Memorial when they heard about it to help with the clean-up.

(It was pointed out more than once that had someone seriously meant to do that as an anti-war protest, it was strange that they would do it secretly rather than publicly. Of course everyone knew ahead of time when and where MoveOn was doing the vigil. Hmmmmmmmm...)

When we got there, the sky was bright blue and the weather was mild for March in Anchorage (upper 30s). We saw that the organizers did a great job since there were tons of signs and candles waiting for us. We grabbed a couple of signs and walked to the corner. Morrigan carried a chair for me as well since I had to be careful on the ice with my cane. We found a nice spot and it was so wonderful to see all four corners of the largest intersection in Anchorage full of people with signs, candles, an effigy of Bush, costumes, etc... There were at least 100 people - in Anchorage that's a great turnout when there's no music or food involved!

It had been a long time (2004) since I'd participated in an Iraq protest and the difference was staggering - the horns honked constantly in support and there were very few signs of disrespect. All of the local news networks were covering it - talk about a change.

One thing that hadn't changed, there was one rather disheveled (possibly drunk) man who came along to harrass everyone there. It was the typical rhetoric - we were traitors, we hate the troops, we were aiding the enemy...yadda, yadda, yadda... Up to that point, Morrigan was doing pretty well but his yelling and unpredictable behavior scared her and she started crying. When I pointed out to the man that he was making my daughter cry as he continued his tirade in front of us, he turned to us both and said that she "should cry," that I should be ashamed and had no business bringing her there. I then asked him if he had an s association with the military and mentioned I'd worked for the Army for 13 years.

He walked away. That's usually all it takes.

Heck, I was just a Federal civilian employee. The real kicker is that of the three MoveOn organizers, one is a Vietnam-era Vet, one is a military wife whose husband has done several tours in Iraq and the third is someone who lost a friend and former student in Iraq. Yeah, we hate the troops alright.

After about an hour, Morrigan and I realized that we hadn't dressed warm enough to last longer and we headed to Cafe Felix to watch a video from some past vigils involving Cindy Sheehan and others. I was ready to go home if she was bored or depressed, but Morrigan actually wanted to stay until the videos were over.

That night, we monitored all three networks and were very upset at the coverage. Two of the stations tied the paint incident in with our vigil. One of them - at least during their 10:00 pm coverage - focused more on that one angry guy saying he was speaking out "for the troops" (insinuating that we were against). They also focused on the dozen or so angry Vets that showed up in response to the paint incident and we got to hear what they would do to the "protester" who did it if they ever found him.

That's when I saw my daughter get angry about injustice for the first time.

Later, on her way to bed, she said "I'm going to tell everyone at school tomorrow." Then she paused for a second. "I'm not going to tell my cousins, though, they wouldn't understand." Her uncle is a right-wing radio talk-show host in town.

That is when I almost sadly realized that my daughter's not my baby anymore...she gets it.

When Morrigan got home from school today, she mentioned that she told everyone at school about it.

I asked, "What did they say?"

"They didn't care," she said. "Accept for Lane, he said that the people at the protest for peace dumped the red paint. I got so mad that I sounded like you when you talk on the radio!"

That made me smile.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What John Adams can teach us for the 2008 election

David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning book "John Adams" has been on my long list of "books to read" for quite awhile now. Luckily for all of us, award-winning Executive Producer Tom Hanks has turned the book into a mini-series for HBO.

McCullough's book was written from the reams of correspondence between Abigail and John during the many years of separation while John was with the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. (As McCullough says in an interview, if you lined up all the microfilm containing all of their correspondence, it would stretch for 5 miles.) As a result, we have a very detailed look at how this country was built from two of the builders as well as a future President. (It is pretty well-accepted that John Adams would never have been successful without Abigail's influence.)

What has struck me the most so far are the use of the same words we are hearing in this year's presidential race. Some of these words have been sarcastically scoffed-at by politicians and media alike. "Inspiration," "duty," "vision," "sacrifice," "humility" are all words this country was founded on by a group of delegates and statesmen from 13 colonies. These words were all these men had to guide them because, as Adams pointed out, how many times in history does the opportunity to create a new form of government occur? As Benjamin Franklin declares, "It is no small thing to build a new world, gentlemen."

We see the importance of inspiration when John Adams and Benjamin Franklin discuss the natural leadership abilities of George Washington...his ability to inspire the men if he were to be General of the Continental Army in spite of the fact he'd never done such a thing before. In another scene, John Adams - himself a gifted orator and writer - humbly describes his shortcomings to Thomas Jefferson in deference to Jeffersons visionary prose.

These themes resonate as Adams leads these men from their attempts to placate the Crown out of a realistic and paralyzing fear of the unknown to an idealistic vision of what this country could become by moving forward to independence.

Today all signs, whether economic, social, spiritual or political are pointing this country towards serious transformation if we are to survive as Americans. In "John Adams," when one of the delegates suggests that the people must tell them that indenpendence is what they want before the Congress move in that direction, Adams disagrees by saying that the people "are waiting for us to lead them." No matter how trite and "naive" some people have tried to paint it, the reality is that our current problems-turned-crises require a leader with vision to guide us in the direction we need to go. It will require inspiration to convince this country to take the steps necessary to achieve long-term solutions to problems like the economy, health-care, out-of-control debt and debt ownership by foreign nations, Iraq and repairing the U.S.'s severely damaged credibility overseas, etc... It will require sacrifice by many for the greater good of all and a leader who is unafraid stand by that. It will require a leader who doesn't confuse "duty" with "entitlement" or "humility" with "humiliation."

I hope people support the candidate they believe can fill these shoes. I know I am.

Wednesday, March 19th - Vigil for the five years we can't get back

***Bumped up from Monday***

Per an email from MoveOn.org:

The war in Iraq has gone on for nearly five years. The unbearable costs at home and abroad keep mounting. It's clear that Americans are ready for a real change in direction.

On March 19th, tens of thousands of people across the country will gather to observe the fifth anniversary of the war with candlelight vigils. We'll commemorate the sacrifices too many families have made, and the billions of dollars wasted in Iraq that could have been better invested at home.

Join us at a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, March 19th. Honor the sacrifice. Change our priorities. Bring the troops home.

Click here to sign up for the Anchorage Vigil.

Anchorage Candle-light Vigil
Cafe Felix, Metro Mall,Benson Blvd.
530 E. Benson Blvd.
Anchorage, AK 99503
Wednesday, 19 Mar 2008, 5:00 PM

My daughter and I have RSVPed so we'll be there with bells on. It sounds like they'll have signs for folks to carry (weather permitting) over to the corner of Northern Lts. and Seward Hwy.

I'm the first to admit that I've been a little down on sign-waving protests. My reasons are because people seem to throw them together in such a way that 1) they lose their meaning and impact and 2) hardly anyone shows up.

This one is to commemorate a serious and solemn anniversary - five years of death and destruction at the hands of the Bush regime that even the Pentagon admits was based on lies.

I hope everyone can be there.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

March 18th Assembly Meeting - ask for resignations!


A big THANKS to
If you look at my previous posts you'll see that one of the Corrupt Bastards, Junior Division is going back on his word - Bill Starr is "rethinking" accepting donations again, which he said he would not.

Here is the original story on the tape and then the analysis refuting their claims of illegal wiretapping.

And then there was his Assembly email.

APOC only fined him $315.00 and dropped the other complaints (gee...surprise...they did almost nothing) but at least the FBI is still investigating.


As a constituent of Coffey and Traini, I know I had enough a few years ago.

KUDO's Shannyn Moore is requesting that folks like us show up at the next Assembly Meeting on the 18th and let them know how we feel!

Had Coffey and Starr been the slightest bit accountable for their dispicable behavior taped on Tesche's phone, I'd have backed off...a little. But they haven't. It is time for our community to remind them they are public servants, not the other way around.


Wear blue jeans, white shirts, and red bandannas. It will be a sign of solidarity from the community, that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. This is not a private site, they will know this is coming. Bring your kids, friends, and neighbors. This is not about being left or right, it is about being right and wrong. This will be to call for the resignations of Coffey and Starr for conduct unbecoming a public official.

I will be there and I hope I can get my husband and daughter to come.

Wow, I haven't worn a bandanna around my neck since college!

"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union"

Barack Obama's speech today discussing racism in America. It's a speech that we've never heard before from a presidential candidate. It was well done.

From the transcript:
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

He's now thrown it into the court of anyone who has ever heard a close relative or friend make bigoted comments and yet we have not disowned them. That's everyone, whether folks are in denial about it or not.
Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork.

We can dismiss Rev. Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

Yup...let's remind people that Hillary has not disowned Gerry.
But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Rev. Wright made in his offending sermons about America -- to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through -- a part of our union that we have yet to perfect.

And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

I don't believe for a minute that the Obama camp was surprised this speech had to happen. I think most folks knew it was going to be necessary eventually. However, I think that most didn't expect it's necessity until after he was a nominee. I think the intensity of the Rev. Wright issue did catch folks off guard and the decision to do this speech now was a good one.

I love that karateexplosions diary lists quotes from a whole bunch of different pastors (many of whom are welcome in the White House) that will set your hair on fire. Of special note is the nutjob that's John McCain's new best friend, John Hagee:
"All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are -- were recipients of the judgment of God for that. The newspaper carried the story in our local area that was not carried nationally that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades. So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing."

And how about this hilarious little joke?
Do you know the difference between a woman with PMS and a snarling Doberman pinscher? The answer is lipstick.

Yup - no bias at all.

Related to all of this, Miss Laura discusses why we need a nominee NOW:
Until we have a nominee, it's difficult for independent expenditure campaigns to gear up in support of the nominee. And since Clinton's clearest path to the nomination would be to destroy Obama, and given the recent race-baiting coming from people associated with the Clinton campaign, a continuing nomination battle could become poisonous very quickly.

Not only could the race-baiting and the dissing of states that voted for Obama create a civil war in the party, a superdelegate-driven Clinton nomination could kill her chances in the general.

If the Dems lose this election, we need to make sure the blame falls right into Clinton's lap where it belongs.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What is St. Patrick's Day without music?

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!!!!

For your listening/viewing pleasure - one of my all-time favorite Celtic songs "Dulaman" as performed by "Celtic Woman." Morrigan is especially fond of them -exquisite voices with New Age leanings.

Then we get down and dirty with a couple of songs from one of my all-time favorite Irish "outdoor festival" Bands, "Solas." Nothing says "Irish" like a fiddle and a squeeze box!

The first tune is tranditional Irish. The second tune has a serious Pat Metheny/jazz influence. They are just incredible!

Thank GOD - some GOOD news today...Dick Traini can't run for Assembly!!!!!!

Hellooooooo Elvi Gray-Jackson!!!!!!

From the Daily News:
A state Superior Court judged ruled today that Dick Traini cannot run for another term on the Anchorage Assembly because of term limits.

Traini's his name is already on the April 1 ballot for the Midtown Assembly race, along side challenger Elvi Gray-Jackson. City attorneys said they hope to decide today whether to appeal the decision.

Traini was appointed to the Assembly in 2001, then won election to finish a one-year term before being elected to full terms in 2002 and 2005.

The dizzying crash of Bear Stearns and why Americans need to read the International Press.

As is true every weekend, my husband and I woke this morning and immediately took up our perches at our respective computers.

I'm usually the one who can be heard gasping, sighing and cursing as I scan the news. However, today it was Josh who was aghast at what he was reading. It was this article from CNN Money:

JPMorgan acquires troubled Bear

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. said Sunday that it would acquire troubled Wall Street firm Bear Stearns for a mere fraction of what it was once worth amid deepening fears about further erosion of the world's financial markets.

The rock-bottom price left investors feeling queasy. Asian markets tumbled, with Japan's benchmark Nikkei index finishing Monday's session nearly 4% lower. U.S. stock futures plunged, indicating a miserable start for Wall Street.

The all-stock deal values Bear Stearns at $236 million, or just $2 a share. The company's stock had closed at $30 on Friday, down a staggering 47% for the day.

Regulators support the deal and the Federal Reserve provided $30 billion in funding: With the global credit crisis worsening, the Fed has been taking dramatic action to help banks and prevent widespread panic.

Neither of us are particularly educated in the world of high finance. However, I did get the part that JP Morgan's purchase price of $2.00/share probably wasn't good news on many levels and that it demonstrated that things were not "getting better" as Bush would like us all to believe.

But, gee, that's not really a shock anymore. Plus the fourth paragraph sounded like they were "managing" the problem.

I started cruising around my favorite international news sources to gauge their reaction.

The Guardian had it as the first four stories, front page - not tucked back in the "Money" section.

The most frightening were the editorials like the "Comment Is Free" section:
So now we know. At the start of last year a single share in the investment bank Bear Stearns cost $170. Yesterday evening, JP Morgan Chase won control of the venerable Wall Street institution for a price 85 times lower - at just $2 per share.

The self-destruction of Bear Stearns was obvious on Friday, after it announced that its financial position had dramatically deteriorated, and clients and shareholders began to flee. The result is that as of Sunday night the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, is nationalising the debts of a Wall Street investment bank. (They won't call it that, being America, but that's the reality.) I can't think of a parallel in modern US business history. By taking direct control of the Bear Stearns investment portfolio, the Fed will effectively be running the bank (presumably until shareholders finally agree the JP Morgan takeover) as well as intubating it with cash. The word "unprecedented" springs to mind - "highly unusual," said the New York Times.

There's a lot more to be said, and yet to be learned, about the decline and fall of Bear Stearns. But the bigger question is this: what will policy-makers and regulators, both in the US and elsewhere, take from it? Are modern financial markets now so complex and intertwined that no significant investment bank can be allowed to fail because of the devastating consequences that would ensue? If so - and the Fed seems to think so - then surely governments must take a stronger hand in dealing with financial operations and regulation. For a free market this turns out to have a pretty hefty price tag.

Wow...that's sure a different point of view on it. Interestingly enough, it's also a more thorough explanation than the CNN version. That wouldn't be on purpose, would it?

The next paragraph grabbed my attention, as I hadn't seen this information in the U.S. press:
That wasn't the only bombshell the Fed dropped at the weekend. In fact, it may be that the Bear Stearns takeover wasn't the biggest news. The Fed unveiled another of its "money for nothing" schemes - in which the largest investment banks can swap their junk mortgage bonds for the Fed's cash. It started that scheme last Tuesday, when it injected $200bn into the market. But this time the Fed has said the amount it is willing to lend is open-ended - an invitation for the remaining big banks to clean out their books. It's anyone's guess what this will cost in the end, or if it will work. Is piecemeal action like this really the best way to solve an endemic crisis? At this rate the Fed is going to end up holding every useless piece of mortgage security paper going.

I went back and searched CNN Money again and found this article:
The Federal Reserve, in an extraordinarily rare weekend move, took bold action Sunday evening to provide cash to financially squeezed Wall Street investment houses, a fresh effort to prevent a spreading credit crisis from sinking the U.S. economy.

The central bank approved a cut in its lending rate to financial institutions to 3.25% from 3.50%, effective immediately, and created another lending facility for big investment banks to secure short-term loans. The new lending facility will be available to big Wall Street firms on Monday.

"These steps will provide financial institutions with greater assurance of access to funds," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told reporters in a brief conference call Sunday evening.

And U.S. reaction:
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said he was pleased by Sunday's developments.

"Last Friday, I said that market participants are addressing challenges and I am pleased with recent developments. I appreciate the additional actions taken this evening by the Federal Reserve to enhance the stability, liquidity and orderliness of our markets," he said.

"We appreciate the actions taken by the Federal Reserve this evening," said White House press secretary Dana Perino. "Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke are actively engaged in addressing issues affecting our financial markets. Secretary Paulson has kept the president briefed on recent developments."

Ummmm...are they even talking about the same thing?

So I went to the more conservative paper in GB, The Independent, and read this in an article describing the Brit and Asian markets' horrible reactions:
Terry Smith, chief executive of specialist inter-bank broker Tullett Prebon, said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It does scare me. I have been working in finance in the City and worldwide for 34 years and I have never seen anything like this.

"I don't think anybody alive has seen events of this seriousness and magnitude affecting the financial markets."

Mr Smith said that, with banks increasingly reluctant to lend to one another, it was becoming more difficult for individuals and businesses on either side of the Atlantic to obtain loans and mortgages.

"The cuts in interest rates are unlikely to have any effect," he warned.

"High interest rates didn't cause this problem, so lowering interest rates isn't going to solve it. It is hard to see exactly what tools the authorities do have."

OK...that makes sense to me, but then we go back to another article at CNN:
Two widely accepted beliefs about the upcoming Federal Reserve meeting Tuesday are that the central bank is worried about the country falling into a recession and that it will again slash interest rates sharply.

But should the Fed stop worrying and love a recession?

Several economists, including one member of the Fed's policy-making committee, have argued that more rate cuts are the wrong solution to spur economic growth. Some even believe a recession might be the best answer for the economy in the long term. That's still a minority view though.

Federal funds futures on the Chicago Board of Trade show investors betting that there is a 100% chance of at least a three-quarter percentage point cut at Tuesday's meeting, and a 52% chance of a full percentage point cut.

Like I said, I'm not educated in the ways of high finance, but it sure sounds like the International press is pissed off at us and that they are boggled as to why the U.S. public hasn't raised a ruckus.

From another Guardian article, "America was conned...who will pay?"
Ultimately, though, action will be taken because there will be political pressure for it. Indeed, it is somewhat surprising that there is not already rioting in the streets, given the gigantic fraud perpetrated by the financial elite at the expense of ordinary Americans.

The US has just had its weakest period of expansion since the 1950s. Consumption growth has been poor. Investment growth has been modest. Exports have been sluggish. But if you are at the top of the tree, the years since the last recession in 2001 has been a veritable golden age. Salaries for executives have rocketed and profits have soared, because the productivity gains from a growing economy have been disproportionately skewed towards capital.


For ordinary Americans, though, it has been a different story. Real wages have been growing slowly; at just 1.6% a year on average over the latest upswing, well down on the experience of earlier decades. Business, of course, needs consumers to carry on spending in order to make money, so a way had to be found to persuade households to do their patriotic duty. The method chosen was simple. Whip up a colossal housing bubble, convince consumers that it makes sense to borrow money against the rising value of their homes to supplement their meagre real wage growth and watch the profits roll in.

As they did - for a while. Now it's payback time and the mood could get very ugly. Americans, to put it bluntly, have been conned. They have been duped by a bunch of serpent-tongued hucksters who packed up the wagon and made it across the county line before a lynch mob could be formed.

And we told them "Ya'll come back now, ya hear?" as they were leaving.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

If I could give every lawmaker a chronic illness for one day...(aka. random, bitchy thoughts)

I just got done having "the discussion" with my husband - the one we've had so many times before - Emergency room tonight or wait-and-see until tomorrow?

Diabetes and heart conditions are a bitch. They also do wonders for chronic depression. I hate this and I especially hate what it does to my family...what I do to my family.

I have a low grade fever, my blood sugar is "down" to 235 and my legs feel like they have 3rd degree burns. The leg issue, while incredibly painful, is not dangerous in itself but a symptom of the high blood sugar. That plus the fever is a symptom of something else and I'm praying it's not that word that terrifies every diabetic...infection. It goes without saying that I'm feeling sorry for myself right now - if you've ever been hospitalized for a week and administered four different kinds of I.V. antibiotics twice a day and have none of them work, you'll know why I'm afraid of facing that again.

I could rant on-and-on about how I feel right now but my primary thoughts keep turning to the truly terrifying health care issues surrounding it all. My husband has a good job with full benefits so I have decent insurance.


My primary caregiver has had to shut down all of the offices except for their main one and because they are one of the few that actually have a sliding fee scale, they've become rigid when it comes to insured folks who have high co-pays (and make too much money for the sliding scale) because of chronic illnesses. They decided that my bi-weekly payments weren't going to work for them anymore, which I discovered when they sent a check back marked "void" and immediately sent the balance of the account into collections. (Gee, thanks.) What this now means is that I must have all monies up front. That's a tall order as I'm trying to get ready to have several operations (the neck surgery has now been put off long enough that I may be toying with permanent nerve damage) that requires me to have frequent tests my insurance doesn't want to pay for.

And let's talk about that deductible that keeps growing every year? How about the cost of the insurance that has increased far beyond inflation for the last 5 years in a row?

Let's also talk about the "neurosurgeon cabal" in Alaska. We have three in the entire state...all in the same office. Since they are "the only gig in town" none of them allow themselves to either be a preferred provider or EVEN a "provider" for most insurance companies. This means that a) They can charge whatever they want and b) I have NO guarantees that I'll have ANY of my $30,000.00 (low estimate) operation paid for. The insurance company will only approve each seperate bill one at a time once the work has already been done.

Of course, that requires that I have a chunk-o-change up front, now doesn't it?

So, everytime I hear about how Hillary's "mandatory insurance" will solve our health care problems, I want to use a voodoo doll to give her regular pains and symptoms that baffle the doctors and require constant tests and hospital visits. Is that insurance making you feel secure now, bitch?

I've been trying to follow State Sen. Hollis French's proposed bill (SB 160) for health care reform in Alaska. At this point, I'll support almost anything that's an improvement over what we have now...nothing. However, I want to know what they are going to do to force the physicians in this state to accept the insurance? I know of one woman who has a slow-growing version of Leukemia. She is literally rolling in the bucks but because she is a senior and there are Medicare laws and requirements, she can't get a primary care physician because so many now no longer accept Medicare.

Well, we decided to monitor things and wait until tomorrow. I'm going to trot off to bed and see if I can sleep. I'm planning still to go to Henry's for the country jam because, dammit, I've looked forward to it all week. Maybe I'll stay there for awhile on my way to Providence.


Things were a little better yesterday - got my blood sugar down lower. The burning leg pain is still there but not quite as intense. Everything that touches them still feels like sandpaper but at least I can sleep.

And thanks to my friends who listened while I bitched. :)