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Not a hell of a lot to report at present... not enough time to flesh out the earlier day log, and not much has happened since Banff. I will make a few observations about Canadian highways, Calgary, and Edmonton, though.

Who in their right mind runs a superhighway through the middle of a city, with stoplights and all? Nobody, you might say; however, you'd be wrong. Trans-Canada Highway 1 runs smack through downtown Calgary, and while Calgary looks by all accounts to be a fine city, nobody wants to be stuck in massive traffic when they should be making 110 km/h towards Edmonton.

Edmonton is much cooler than I might have expected. There's a fair bit of nightlife here, including a scary, scary dive with 25 cent drafts. The hostel is clean and sociable; I highly recommend it. Whereas Banff was almost too luxurious to qualify as a hostel, and Buffalo too ghetto, Edmonton is just right.

That's it for today; only 30 seconds left. More from Fairbanks or thereabouts!

Hi Bryan, and Aaron.

Wow, thanks for your well thought, thorough and eloquent reply. I can't ask for more. Sorry if my reply to your brother's one-liner was a bit harsh, but frankly, he kind of flabbergasted me with his negativity.

I'm going to CC this to Orence, 'cause I know he'll love to see it, and I'm going to do a general reply first, and then break it down with replies to direct excerpts from your reply. Heck, I'm going to BCC it to a few other people while I'm at it. I hope this isn't offensive, but i think the discussion needs to be heard, because it's honest and true and rare. (Side note to the probably confused people I BCC'ed this to: This is part two or three to one comment Orence got in his inbox that amounted to, more or less, "fuck you, you fucking posers!" or something in regards to his Syncopated bi-weekly. It's all good. Positive can come out of total random whateverness. Resuming...)

Yeah, Syncopated isn't a 'rave'. It's a club, with age limits and rules and all that bullshit. I wouldn't dare call it a rave. I can't actually speak for Orence's logic for posting it to ravelinks, nor can I speak with any experience for the protocols and standards for ravelinks. (To be frightfully honest, looking at the ravelinks page scares me stupid. Perhaps I don't understand, but it looks awfully commercial. I haven't been out to anything *huge* and/or costing more than 15 bucks in probably about 4 years or so? The best parties I've been to have been free...) On socal-raves however, we used to accept pretty much everything electronic-dance related, and more. There wasn't that much stuff going on back then to be that exclusive.

However, I'd like to reiterate it *can* be a meeting place for hooking up for better stuff. (and there is better stuff.) It's really just something he does, I assume, to do something, to make a meeting place. He doesn't make money on it, he loses money. The bar gets all the money they make (and we certainly don't drink much), and they probably still charge him for the space. Whatever.

Where have the 'real' raves gone? I don't know, really.

Part of it is the commercialization, the rock-star attitudes. From the artists, promoters, and participants themselves. To me, the 'rock star' attitude is a 'taker' attitude, a 'look at me, I'm doper and more rave than you' attitude that is the antithesis of 'giving' over 'taking'. I've noticed it's even possible to be 'giving' out treats like water, or candy, or what have you, but to have impure motives in the act and _still_ be taking. (I'm not making any accusations at all, just an observation. I've actually done this myself, and then wondered what went wrong...)

Part of it is the dogma about 'raving' that has evolved - or devolved. That there has to be 'whatever' there for it to be a 'real' rave. That there has to be glowsticks, that there has to be candy, that there has to be lasers, 32 bassbins, whatever... take your pick. It can be any symbol. This is dogma, and the accretion of an ideology that "n makes a rave" or "x makes a rave", pun intended. This isn't to say that such things inherently detract from the raving experience, but that anything codified, rationalized, and, most importantly, no longer "new" or "novel" does indeed detract from the root "philosophy" of raving. If it's all the same, why bother? It's no longer bewildering, or stimulating, or novel. It's all too familiar, and no longer otherworldly. Burning Man is suffering the same thing as we speak.

Part of it is the legality issue. We've burned our own bridges, as a community, by allowing members of our family to misbehave, to take, to break the unspoken (and spoken) rules of self preservation, to attract too much attention to ourselves, to rise above the radar, to taunt the authorities with our joy and exhuberation. How dare we taunt them with our happiness? Well, we did, and now we pay for it and struggle, and try desperately to either swoop back under the radar, or overcome them with our joy, or both at once.

At one point in recent history, it was an easy thing to bust into an unused warehouse, tap into the power grid, and just do it ourselves and have a free-for-all party for 5,000 of our closest friends for cheap or even free and then vanish into the night (or morning(or next day!)) like nothing ever happened but magic, with nothing but safe, totally nonviolent good times for all. This is, indeed, the true application of Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zone. (He didn't invent it, of course, he just named it.)

Part of *this* legality and "above the radar-ness" is due to the dogma and codified symbology I spoke of earlier. The 'symbols' of raving are known by the authorities now, and if you want something to remain truly underground, you don't wear a uniform to allow them to easily identify you. (this depends if you _want_ to remain underground or not, of course.) Even with a map point, the authorities know that model now. Hell, "Beverly Hills 90210" did a show that involved map points and all that more than half a decade ago. Map points, kids with funny pants and funny colors strapped to every nook and cranny, weird, space-alien music, it's all there on their checklists and cheat-sheets. (It's time to mutate. It's been time for half a decade.) It's a dead give-away when you see twenty people waving blinky toys around in the parking lot of some 7-11 right off a freeway offramp 1 mile from the warehouse district south-east of LA's train yards.

Part of it is some of us are getting old, and somewhere along the way the main message got so lost, I barely remember what it was. But every so often I dimly remember, and sometimes it takes being slapped in the face to jog my memory.

That message:

"...We can dance our way to a brighter tomorrow. We can build real families and reconstruct that which the solely nuclear family destroyed; We can rebuild and build anew *the* global community. We can all get along, and work together, and build fantastic, amazing things. We can rediscover love, life, happiness, and map out emerging and re-emerging pyschogeographies of the spirit, of the heart, of the mind, and of the soul. WE CAN TURN LOVE (AND JOY) INTO A PURE, DELIGHTFUL SCIENCE! A science of the mind as valid as any other..."

To get to the point, and it's one I'm fairly sure you know, the real rave is you. It's inside you, it's what you bring to wherever you're at. It's not so easy to lift yourself up with only your own energy and get off on yourself like that, but that's exactly how a real rave starts. Someone *has* to get out there on the dancefloor first at some point, and just throw down, and totally *give* everything they've got to get the ball rolling, to start building that vibe. I've done this maybe a half a dozen times, and I can honestly say it's the highest I've ever been. Stone cold sober, just pushing out the love, dancing myself into a stupor and letting it all flow through me, like so much pure, pure water. Even more rare is that breakeven balance-point where not only am I pushing out that love, universally, but accepting it from everyone else, universally. That's even harder to do, at least for me. To give and receive that magical vibe simultaneously, with no blockages anywhere. It's just not so easy for me to do any more. I'm getting older, and don't quite have the energy I used to, and frankly, I've been in a funk for far too long.

We could make Syncopated rock. We could make that ceiling sweat for a solid 4 hours. But we would have to accept the parameters in which we can work to do so. Arrive early, get there at opening, if not a little bit before and start vibing before the sound even goes on. And just work it hardcore all four hours until 2am. I'm not saying this is the only option, but if we, as a community, wanted to make Syncopated rock the block for at least a quarter of the clock - err, 1/6th of the clock - the opportunity is there. It's there for nearly any event, club, party, massive, whatever.

Anyways, on to your comments. I'll probably write more at the end as well. Most of my comments are probably going to be irreverent, but hopefully not disrespectful. :)

--- omitted wrote:
> 
> 
> Dear Jason/Slide
> 
> My name is Bryan. My brother Aaron had emailed you on my computer. I asked 
> him what this was about and he explained. I apoligize for his crude language,

Don't fucking cuss. Only sailors and thugs fucking cuss. What's wrong with you godforsaken whippersnappers these days?

> 
> however I share his frustration. He had gone to 'Ravelinks.com' to find a
> party 
> (since there are no REAL rave flyers any more). Your event sounded promising;
> 
> saying something about "old school ravers". But then upon reading the rest of

We are, indeed, "old school ravers", but you're not likely to usually find us with mickey-mouse cartoon gloves on and whistles at this point. See above comments about symbology, and getting old and crotchety.

> 
> the info, my brother was dismayed to discover that this was yet another FAKE 
> rave posing as a REAL rave (eg: it ends at 2am, it has an 21 year old age
> limit 
> and presumably serves alcohal, and I believe the location was divulged. (map 
> point anyone?). Raves should not be held in clubs, nor have any age limit,
> not 
> even 18 and over. You must agree that this is not a rave, but in fact a CLUB.

Agreed. See above. A "rave" is a meta-gathering of the tribes, and should be held in reserve for special celebrations, not every weekend, and should be all-inclusive. We used to be super lucky to have any sort of large gathering once a month, remember? Personally, I think about every three months for anything truly big is about right, with smaller satellite gatherings for all the intermixed tribes more often.

> 
> Why are you advertising on RAVELINKS?? 

I dunno, ask Orence. At his wits end, perhaps? Wanting to build something and do some community outreach? Perhaps even instigate something like this? His methods, to me, are sometimes inscrutable, even foolhardy. Somehow, he makes it work though. And frequently instigates me into doing dumb stuff like this.

> 
> I'm sure the music was great, but I don't want to be around sloppy drunk 
> people who can't dance,

Hey, I resemble that remark! Well, I can dance, sorta. People say I can dance, but I always feel goofy. Ten years later and I still feel goofy, in that sort of goofy-good sort of way. I *like* alcohol. Yeah it's toxic, but has health benefits in moderation. Alcohol is a drug like any other, anyways, and has it's uses here and there.

> or fellas who came just to pick up on "the chicks"
> while 
> they drink their Bud Lights, posing while wearing button shirts and slacks - 
> I've wittnessed this!

You won't see this at our events, I promise. We generally try to protect anyone, male or female, not capable of making clear judgements, and discourage the whole meat-market thing, for sure. _Meet_ market is more like it.

> Why are ravers the minority at raves these days?

See above comments about commercialization, symbology, dogma, and ideologies.

> I need
> to 
> dance til 8 or 9 in the morning like in the old days of 1996. I am a real 
> raver.

Agreed about dancing as long as you can. Heck, I need 8 solid hours, just so I can dance for an hour or two, catch my breath, and then dance some more. I used to be able to do that all weekend, but not any more. I need a freaking nap for that.

> I need a real party. I need hours and hours of beats to get into that 
> "zone". To get to that euphoric place. To become liquid and magical and a
> better 
> dancer by the end of the night. I don't need a CLUB posing as a rave. And I 
> don't need train wrecks. It's happening more and more (not to stay that you 
> wreck). I don't need  non-continuously mixed music, and I don't need HIP-HOP
> (one 
> can't go into a trance on hip-hop. And it attracts the gangsta crowd - there 
> were knifings at Sports Arena recently) 

Totally agreed. Though 'rave' certainly has it's roots in the same roots hip-hop does, in the old break in block parties of back east, something happened to hip hop. Something dark, and violent, and negative, for all I can tell. If you do end up hearing hip hop at anything you would find me at, it would most likely be positive, intelligent stuff, if anything. I like *all* music, as long as it is pure of heart, and I love hearing non-techno stuff at gatherings sometimes. Granted, I love techno. It makes the majority of my collection, for sure.

I used to hear 'trainwrecks' all the time, back 91-93ish... Very few people really knew how to properly beatmix reliably back then. There was a *lot* of window mixing. (I'm talking to you, oscure, fester, ron d core, heck, even jason blakemore, aka, DJ Trance. And others!) People's ears and expectations have evolved. This is a good thing.

> 
> Even at the real (ish) massives over the last two years ( Monster Massive, 
> Electric Daisy Carnival, Nocturnal Wonderland, Popsicle, New Years at the LA 
> Sports Arena, etc.), they have been shutting down at 2am. I've been going to 
> these for the last 6 years and they had always closed at 8am. When one shows
> up at 
> midnight and drops $45.00, he wants to dance for more than 2 hours. Half the 
> djs on the line-ups did not even get to spin. Big djs from Europe! The 
> speakers were unplugged and the lights were turned on. Security immediately
> told us 
> to get out. By the way, I love the small intimate raves as well. I'm not some
> 
> corperate massive junkie. I assume that raves have been closing at 2am
> because 
> they can't legally serve alcohal after that hour. But they should not be 
> serving alcohal in the first place. The absence of alcohal is one of the
> things 
> that distinguishes raves form clubs. And furthermore, if you must serve
> alcohal, 
> keep the rave going for 7 more hours after you stop serving it! Isn't it 
> supposed about the love of the music and not about dollar well drink profits?

Absolutely, but see the above comments about legality and authority. I don't wanna go to jail, do you? What do we do? I'm only so brave, and I'm not really, truly involved with actually producing anything. You *can* make your own world, you know? That's what we did way back when, why aren't people that are the age I was then doing that now? Or are they? There's probably many, many 'undergrounds' at this point. If there aren't, there should be.

> 
> What's next, "ladies nIght"?

Hell no. Well, maybe. You know the ladies? I need a girlfriend. I get sooo loooonely. Arrrrooooooooo....!

> 
> San Francisco has had a thriving, killer rave scene for at least 15 years. 
> But it's done now also. I am from there and visit frequently. There are 
> virtually no real parties in the City anymore. Even the big clubs (yes,
> clubs) have 
> shut down. Everything sucks.

SF has, and does, still have a thriving scene, just like LA does. Things just go back underground. (See: SPAZ collective, 5lowershop, Autonomous Mutant Festival. (AMF is more northwest america, but lots of SF'ers are part of that.)) At least, that's the way things have been going. Maybe they disappear. Maybe they morph into something unrecognizable. Things just get harder to find (Think moontribe, and even more underground.) These things are hard to find for a reason; To protect themselves from external forces of destruction and over-crowding. Sucks, but it's the way to go to stay alive and keep moving. Learn to do your own stuff, do it well, manage the details, but fail at _all of our_ peril. See above.

> 
> Even the amazing, fabulous 'Coachella', a two day event, ended it's first day
> 
> at midnight forcing everyone to go to their hotels and come back the next day
> 
> at noon and leave at midnight again. It should have been an around the clock,
> 
> 48 hour experience, giving people the option of camping out on the grass, ala
> 
> 'Woodstock'.

Totally agreed, but what do you expect from a permitted, gigantic, 'legal' event? Look at Burning Man. You're talking 250-500 dollar tickets for a week. You're talking planning all year long, environmental impact statements *and* audits. You're talking a crew of hundreds and even thousands volunteering to merely pick up trash afterwards (trash that should have been picked up in the first place). You're talking intense negotiations with the BLM. You're talking thousands of porta-pottys, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water. Most of it volunteer. And Burning Man is totally commodified, practically corporate dogma at this point. (Granted, BM is not, and should not be a 'rave', but a similar temporary autonomous zone.)

I'm suprised things like Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival happen at all these days the way we, as a community, have treated our opportunity.

We collectively threw it away every time we didn't pick up a stray flier, or god forbid, threw a flyer away. We threw it away every time someone played music too loudly on the stereo through some poor, quiet, working class community, or any community. We threw it away every time someone did something they shouldn't and overdosed, someone whose 'friends' should have been watching out for them, and vice versa. We threw it away every time someone tagged private property. We threw it away every time someone drove in a less than sober state. We threw it away every single time we rejected any chance to endear ourselves with our local communities and the world at large. (Thereby closing any window of dialog or communication.) We threw it away every time someone bought what may or may not have been "E" from an organized crime cartel that couldn't give a flying fuck about the vibe, much less what was in the tablets they sold.

We threw it away every time we chose ignorance over education, anger over enlightenment, antagonization over understanding and true empathy.

We, each and every one of us, threw it away the instant we allowed money to soil our hearts and souls and get between each other and the music. (And the music is *us*, and we *are* the music.)

Also, "Woodstock" wasn't a bed of roses. There were casualities, but the largest casuality of all would have to be the death of the hippy/yippy/youth movement of love, so long ago. It culminated at Altamont with the Hell's Angels provided security getting out of hand and turning a peaceful festival into a mob-riot scene. Choose your metaphors carefully, and take off the rose colored glasses when you do. (Sorry, facts are facts. Woodstock was probably the worst thing to happen to that movement at that time. Too much everything, too much chaos, too much publicity, much too much.)

> 
> In short, everything has changed for the worse. The vibe is gone. Will it 
> ever come back? We didn't mean to offend you.

I'm not so easily offended. I'm merely glad I didn't unduly offend you by trying to drop a bunch of street cred on you and your brother with all that wack-ass namedropping and shit. This isn't about that, and I'm glad you replied.

The vibe is in you. You make the vibe. Again, see above. (I've let my fire die too. It sucks. Re-light it.)

> We are just fed up with the 
> degradation and commercialization of the whole scene (permits, security, the
> banning 
> of GLOWSTICKS and ELMO DOLLS for crying out loud!). What happened to the 
> abandoned warehouses? Where have the candy kids gone? Where are the butterfly
> wings?
>  The glitter and the 'Cat In the Hat' hats? The hugs? Where's the LOVE??????

See above. My only question to you is, what are *you* going to do about it? I don't mean to be selfish and greedy sounding, but I was there 'back then', we built it, we came. (And oh, how we came and came!) But I'm burnt the fuck out. I'm tired. I can't build that again, we can't, people my age and older, not by ourselves. I tried, I really tried to make sure the message didn't get lost. It makes me so incredibly fucking sad it did seemingly get lost, somewhere, in the translation. I told everyone I knew, everything I knew, even though I knew and they knew I was _certainly_ no more perfect then anyone, and oftentimes, less perfect than most. I'm guilty of all of the above crimes myself. I will try harder. I *will* try harder.

> 
> We can't be alone with these thoughts. Can we?

Absofuckinglutely not. Peas in a pod. Hope is not lost, and a dialog is just the beginning. After that comes action, but first, dialog, so we know where to act.

> 
> 
> Peace,
> 
> Bryan and Aaron
> 
>

Let there be peace. Dance like there's a million-billion tomorrows. Dance for tomorrow. Don't dance like there's no tomorrow, because tomorrow is coming, like it or not. To think in judeo-christian terms that 'eschaton is coming' and 'the end is near' only serves to support a failure in truly long term thinking, and that's most of humanity's issues right there in peanut shell. Not 10 years, not 1000 years. We need to be thinking in terms of 10,000-100,000 years, if not millions. We, as humanity, just might be all that there is. Take the PLUR/R mantra and keep it away from dogma, and apply it to everyday life. Let it spread like wildfire across the globe. If we only practice this 'newfangled' "let's all love each other" thing at gatherings, we're all sadly missing the point.

Anyways, I'm tapped out. This makes 5 (!(!!!)) emotionally taxing conversations in about 5 hours via three forms of telecommunication, just about running the entire gamut of human emotion for me. Someone I know is considering setting up a private discussion list to further discuss these discussable things. Drop me a msg if you're interested. (This includes you folks I BCC'ed this to.)

Much peace, and goodnight. Until next time.

-Jason/slide

Someday after mastering winds, waves, tides and gravity, we shall harness the energies of love, and then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will discover fire.

- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The world we have created is a product of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.

-Albert Einstein

unaltered from sent form, save for formatting and linkage.


Stay in Love


and people here wonder why I don't have time to node... i keep trying to save the world or some shit...

Boredom. Sheer, unadulterated boredom.

We've all been through it, I'm sure. I seem to have spent a goodly portion of my life wading through its treacly gel.

So very few things in life are not a complete disappointment or anti-climax.

Sometimes I wish I was the happyjollyoooohlooklook type, but I just can't do it. I prefer to keep my joy to myself, mostly. Unless you're quite special, you'll spoil it. You'll steal it for your own.

I haven't even written A SINGLE THING for E2 in a long, long while. Nothing I've finished, anyways. I've got a couple of uncompleteds, and a deleted daylog somewhere. It was a bit rubbish, though.

Yes, even worse than this one, thankyouverymuch.

So what's been happening, I hear absolutely no-one ask. Well, I thought I was going to get an interview for a job, but I seem to have been placed in the 'don't call us' bracket in the end. Shame, really, as it would have involved a pay-rise, more responsibility, more editing and less writing, and even though it was in Leatherhead I was still reasonably keen.

In the meantime I'm growing increasingly domestically frustrated. How is it possible that I've never returned after a weekend away to find the house tidier than when I left? I think perhaps it is because these things do not matter much.

So, new house new job new house new job, which comes first? I don't want to be signing 6-month tenancy agreements, because in an ideal world I won't be here in six months. However, if I don't do something, I suspect I will be sitting here come christmas moaning again.

As a school chum of mine once pointed out:

Life is but vicissitude upon vicissitude
We were all pretty impressed, I can tell you, with his erudition and knowledge of quotes. Less so when he confessed to making it up, though.

I sense this daylog fraying at the middle, let alone the edges. Not to worry, I have some meetings to attend. And if I don't go to those meetings...

Insert amusing Chandler Bing quote here.

So, how are you all enjoying the new Harry Potter book? no, no, don't tell me. Because then I'll know that you are still keen enough to be reading HP books as soon as they are released.

And I'll have to add you to my list of disappointments. And I don't want to do that, because it will mean getting a new pad of A4. And frankly, I have neither the energy, nor the inclination.

I never guessed that giving up smoking would be this easy! 76 days in and I'm still cranky, only now I have more energy for it. Munificent.

If it wasn't for just one small piece of wonder, I'd most likely stay in bed all day.

Ah another month has started, this means another month less until I am married. The amount of planning and work that is involved has blown my mind. My recommendation is to just elope, there is less work to be done and the money you don't spend can be used on the honeymoon.

As part of the month starting, a quarter ends and here at the bank along with quarter end, month-end occurs; which means statement time. There is a neat thing we do for our business customers is we provide a check image of all the checks they wrote for the month. Our imaging system prints the monthly bank statement and then prints the corresponding checks linked to that account. Then for our customers that have a large amount of checks, over 500, we provide a CD-ROM of thier images. The cool thing about the cd's is the entire deposit set is shown versus when you receive the check images you receive just the checks not the corresponding debits and credits


Back to the busy start of a month

"Unless you're Bill Gates you're just one serious illness away from bankruptcy."

--Dr. David Himmelstein, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard and lead author of a 2005 study on the relationship between medical bills and banruptcy

 

You've probably heard it before: medical costs here in the U.S. are way out of control.

I mean, way, way out of control. If you don't have health insurance in this country, you are at risk of financial and physical ruin. And, based on census reports, over 40 million people in the U.S. don't have it.

Much of this is because insurance prices along with health care have been rising double-digit percentages each year. For instance, according to an ABC News report, in 2002 Kaiser Permanente (a major insurer) increased premiums for consumers in East Coast states by as much as 75%. My own health insurance company hiked their rates 36% in 2003, right in the middle of a deflated economy.

Furthermore, a 2004 survey revealed that U.S. hospitals routinely charge uninsured patients four times what they ultimately bill insurance companies for the same procedures. How they expect people who can't afford coverage in the first place to be able to pay a 400% markup is beyond me.

Even those with health insurance, particularly those in HMOs, are sometimes denied beneficial care because an insurance agent rather than their physician ultimately decides what care they should receive.

For instance, a 2003 study conducted by the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association asked 700 doctors how often they had withheld information about a "useful service to a patient because of health plan rules." 23% of the U.S. doctors surveyed said they sometimes did this, and 8% said they frequently failed to tell their patients about all treatment options because of the rules imposed by the patients' health plans. Those who served Medicaid patients were especially likely to not share information with patients.

The situation is slightly better than a few years ago when HMOs could regularly enforce "gag clauses" that barred doctors from even mentioning treatments that the HMOs weren't willing to pay for. Bad publicity convinced most health companies to drop such clauses, and most (but not all) U.S. states have subsequently banned such clauses.

According to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Hawaii, people in the U.S. spent $1.3 trillion on medical expenses in 2000; this was more than they spent on housing and food ... it's even more than the government spent on national defense. Many organizations expect U.S. health care costs to soar to $2.6 trillion by 2010. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that American medical expenditures will equal almost 16% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product.

But broad statistics are a little abstract, aren't they? They get quite a bit more compelling when your friends and loved ones can't pay for insurance or health care.

Take Braunbeck, for instance. Like many professional writers, he doesn't make Rowling/King level paychecks. He's often lucky to make what he'd get at a minimum-wage job. The frustrating part is, that even though he's sold close to 200 stories and 10 books and is an excellent teacher, he has no college degree and thus he can't get a gig as a writing instructor at a college. The only other types of jobs he's had are as janitors and orderlies and such, and he really can't do manual labor any more due to back and joint problems.

I, with two college degrees, have only been able to find a very low-paying part-time job after a year and a half of searching. Braunbeck, with his ten years as a full-time fiction writer and high school diploma and bad back, has had of course no luck whatsoever in finding anything else.

So, health insurance for Braunbeck -- which would cost over $250 a month due to his age and history of health issues -- has been way out of reach.

Also like many writers, he has carpal tunnel. Last year, he had a bad flare-up that caused him excruciating pain ... couldn't move his hand, couldn't sleep. This happened around 9 p.m. after all the walk-in clinics closed. The only option you have for after-hours care in this city is to go to the emergency room.

So we went to the ER of a hospital with an inexpensive, charitable reputation, where we waited around for a couple of hours. A doctor came by, looked at his hand for about thirty seconds, wrote him a script for anti-inflammatories and painkillers, told him he needed surgery, and had a nurse bring him a wrist splint of the sort that can be purchased at a drug store for $15-$20

The bill? $500 for the 30-second ER doctor consultation, and $120 for the $20 wrist splint. I'm guessing the nurse didn't make $100 for the three minutes it took her to walk it down the hall. She'd handed it to him like it was a freebie; if he'd known the exorbitant charge, he'd have declined the brace, you can be sure.

Braunbeck's subsequent surgery took place at an outpatient center and took about half an hour from prep time to the nurses' assistant escorting him to the curb behind the clinic. It was classic drive-through surgery, the kind that's supposed to be ultra-economical. It would have cost him $5000, but the surgeon took pity on Braunbeck's lack of insurance and knocked his fee down to $2500. The anaesthesiologist didn't care and charged his full $800.

Flash forward to two weeks ago. Braunbeck broke his lower left canine tooth on a granola bar, and discovered it had gone bad. He didn't feel the rot setting in because a few weeks before that he'd had a severe back spasm and had to see his regular doctor ($70) to get a script for anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and Vicodin.

So. Off to the dentist ($46) who referred him to an endodontist for a root canal for the rotted canine. The endo charged him $650 for the root canal (based on my research at dentistry sites, the going rate nationwide ranges from $400 to $750, depending on if a dentist or an oral surgeon does it) and temporary filling on the tooth, then told him he'd need to get his regular dentist to put a crown on it.

He called his dentist today to make an appointment, and found out they want $750 to put a crown on the tooth. Ack. He's calling around to see if any of the other dentists friends have referred us to can give him a better price, but I fear he's stuck, unless he can sign up to be a guinea pig at the OSU dental school.

That's going to make $1450 to fix One. Single. Tooth. That's more than what it cost me to get all four impacted wisdom teeth cut out of my jaw back in 1992.

How are we, with my $8/hour McJob and his 5-cents-a-word checks from publishers who regularly pay months after they've promised to, supposed to afford this?

And all this has been fairly minor stuff from a treatment standpoint. Heaven forbid one of us should really get hurt, or have something major go wrong.*

What good are all these amazing medical advances if regular people can't afford them?

I can completely see how the U.S. has turned into such a lawsuit-happy society. Imagine you have an accident or get sicker when treatment doesn't go as expected, and as a consequence you face enormous medical bills you have no way of paying. You can either go bankrupt ... or you can sue somebody (the guy who couldn't brake in time to keep from hitting you, the doctor who misjudged your infection) and at least have a hope of getting the money to pay your bills. You wouldn't have sued, otherwise, because you know people make mistakes ... but you need the money to pay for your treatment and keep the collection agencies from hounding you all day.

So you sue, and win, and after the lawyer's fees have enough to stay out of bankruptcy court. In the meantime, all the lawsuits from people like you drive malpractice insurance up and up, which drives medical costs up, up, up, thus spurring on more lawsuits and bankruptcies and on and on.

The winners? The law firms and the insurance companies, which get to play both sides of the field. The losers? Doctors and patients and everybody else.

Congress, of course, is composed of millionaires. Our President has lived a pampered, privileged existence from Day One. These folks have no concept of what it's like to have to watch a loved one suffer through pain because you can't afford a doctor; they're high on conservative ideology and flush with campaign donations from the insurance companies. They've apparently got no motivation whatsoever to try to improve the situation.


morven says Totally and utterly agreed. I especially agree with the point you make that I've made a bunch of times: the lack of affordable health care and any kind of social safety net in the U.S. is what makes the place such a sue-happy society. Why? Because the costs of any kind of medical problem can be immense. Even if you have health insurance. It constantly amazes me that people in the U.S. do not get just how much the lack of universal heathcare in the US actually costs, both in cold hard cash, and in terms of human suffering. Universal healthcare would be too expensive? Then explain why the current U.S. system costs more, as a percentage of GDP or anything else one cares to name, than the health care systems of any other nation on Earth.

TheBooBooKitty says I am 25 years old. I haven't seen a doctor or dentist in over 15 years. I probably won't ever get to see one. A nice side effect is that I also have to go to work when I am sick, since I can't afford to call off (haven't missed a day since 1998).

cbustapeck says I just graduated from college, so I am no longer covered by my parents' health insurance, and now I have to figure out what the heck I am going to do. I pay $90 a month for Adderall (or a few dollars less for the generic, which no pharmacies ever seem to have), and I have $120 visits to a shrink (who doesn't seem to do much) every four months. Most health insurance doesn't seem interested in covering anything else, either. And as an artist, with the work I do, I know I'm going to end up in the emergency room sooner or later. Either that, or I'll end up performing stitches on myself again. (not fun). Sigh.

If you liked this, please check out Installing Linux on a Dead Badger. Thanks!

We went back to court today. Social Services told the judge how good I was doing, how nice my house looks; Dave's lawyer told the judge that Dave is going to a line unit and will likely be deployed; my lawyer told the judge that the children have been living with me for the last two months; and then the judge told me how pleased he was with how I was doing, and that he was going to leave the custody arrangement as is (Dave has full custody) and review it in two months - September 2, 2003.

Positive reinforcement? I think not.

This is a story I wrote when I was about 5 or so. I hope you like it...

The Slinkyworms

Once upon a time there were two worms, Mr. and Mrs. Slinkyworm. They were attached together, and they were always fighting about which way to go. They had two heads, and the heads fought. They fought all night and all morning.

Mrs. Slinkyworm cut Mr. Slinkyworm's head off with a knife and he was dead. She tried to go forward and drag him but she couldn't. She had to roll. She found some curls and wanted to give them to him. He was just pretending to be dead. They jumped and played together. They were playing and playing until he came alive again and they were friends together and they were happy and sang a love song together.

The End

Gee, I just had a good idea on how to get my E2 fix faster; use the Google cache. Unfortunately, searching for "Some observations on getting a girlfriend" didn't get me a link to the cache of the node, the mighty search engine was fooled, many times, by the title of that node appearing in the list of "Random Nodes". Trying to tackle E2 has also got the Googlebot into ist own tiny maze, full of sentence fragments that would make an insightful node title but no one has noded anything under it yet. Ha, EDB has eaten Google!

On other news, it's the 1st of July and the year is half gone. But "Its other half is still there." if you're a half-full-glass-of-water drinker. At the beginning of this year I made what's probably my first New Year's Resolution, sitting there alone in my room, Sex, Lies And Videotape paused on my computer screen, just before the firecrackers brought imagery of the war to the sky.

And now, the year is half gone, and I'm still a dumbass. Exams are coming up and I don't feel in any way prepared for them and I can't bring myself to study. I still owe my previous employers hours which they've paid for but I've never done. And the small project in my new job has taken 5 months already, much of it spent surfing because... because... I'm a lazy bum.

Here's another "From tomorrow I will work my ass off and achieve something!" commitment that I'll be breaking in record time.. Half a year to go!

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