Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Do you make resolutions? If so, do you follow them?

Well, I think most of my resolutions could be summed up pretty well:
To kiss a boy
To stop kissing the wrong boys
To find a boy to kiss forever

And thankfully, after this year, I can finally check that last one off the list. So what the heck am I going to resolve now?!

Actually, for the last 4 years, I have tried to make resolutions that are more goals to accomplish. I have come to realize it doesn’t make sense to me to take make a major life changing resolution like losing weight because that is an issue I have been dealing with my whole life and will deal with my whole life. The dedication and focus required to accomplish that goal on a daily basis are so much more than just a number on a list.

So instead, I focus on things I can review on a monthly basis and try to check a few off. To give some perspective, here are my 2008 resolutions:
1. One trip or social event per month – To add some context, I had just moved to Tampa and had adopted a somewhat workaholic, hobbit lifestyle so the point of this was to get out, enjoy and learn more about the area.
2. Visit 3 new baseball stadiums
3. Travel to one new city
4. Travel overseas
5. Read at least one new book/month
6. Volunteer one Saturday per month
7. One event with the girls each month
8. Walk regularly
9. See all the Tampa Bay Sports Teams play
10. One new restaurant or bar per month

I did pretty well on accomplishing these goals. I definitely accomplished the goals related to dining and travelling. See it's easy to accomplish your resolutions when you make them about things you already like to do! Genius!

My list for 2009 was much shorter:
1. Get married
2. Paint and organize house
3. Train for and complete the Minneapolis 3 Day
4. Visit 2 new ballparks
5. Take 3 day trips (not accomplished)6. Learn to make cheese (likely moving to the 2010 list)
I am still working on my list for 2010 – though I think it will definitely be more focused on frugality, volunteering and developing new skills. I’ll post that later this week, but for now, what are some of your goals or hopes for 2010?

Monday, December 28, 2009

What's your advice for a first time Disney visitor?

The short version:
- Bring refillable water bottles and a couple snacks
- Pick out two or three must see rides in the Parks you are visiting and then play the rest by ear.
- Take advantage of the excellent alcohol options at Epcot.
- Wear good shoes and comfortable clothes
- Have a plan on how to deal with long waits (IE. 20 questions, bring Trivial Pursuit cards, take funny photos, etc.)

The Long Version
On Christmas Eve, my sister, her husband, my husband and I headed to Orlando for some Disney magic. This was my sister's first trip in many years and we wanted to cover as much territory as possible. Before the trip, we had sent my sister a map of all the attractions at each of the parks. You can also request one from Disney after you book your vacation. She and her husband selected two to three attractions that were MUST See's from three of the parks. And away we went. This is important because if you try to do everything, you will fail. Pick one or two Must See's and then go with the flow of the day.

We arrived at Disney World around 10:00 am. This was later than I would normally arrive because the Magic Kingdom was open until midnight so I knew we were in for a long day. We decided to start at Epcot - assuming correctly that Magic Kingdom would be a mob scene of munchkins. Epcot wasn't too busy. The boys went to get buttons from Guest Services (we had a First Time Visitor and a Happy Birthday). Then, we immediately went right to Soarin' - a virtual reality hang gliding ride at The Land. It is the best ride at Epcot and one of the best in the Park. The wait was 80 minutes so we hunkered down. The great thing about Soarin' is that there are interactive games to play while you wait. Everyone needed a snack so we opened up the backpack and got out our refillable water bottles and bags of chips. We always bring a refillable water bottle and one or two snacks. There are water fountains throughout all the Parks where you can refill and save $2 a bottle. The ride was fantastic.

Then off we headed to #2 on the list: Test Track. Test Track is a high speed car ride. This ride has a single rider line. Because the ride is two rows of three people per car and they want the cars to be full, this line moves very quickly. In our case, the wait was 120 minutes in the regular line and less than 5 minutes in the Test Track line. You will not be able to ride with anyone from your party so this is not a good option for parents and kids, but a great option if you've successfully avoided procreation or pawned off your children on someone else.

After Test Track, we headed to the World Showcase for lunch. We chose Mexico and had some great nachos and margaritas at the quick service Cantina. We walked around the world. My sister and her husband rode the Norway ride because the line was short. My husband and I got beers in Germany. (There's a whole pub crawl you could do at the World Showcase - maybe I'll post about that in the future). After France, we crossed over the bridge and headed to the left to take the boat to Hollywood Studios. This is a good insider tip. At this point, we had seen more than half of the World Showcase and we avoided having to walk all the way back through the park to get on the bus. The boat takes the same amount of time as a bus, but we've found it's less of a wait on the boat plus you get to see the Boardwalk and several of the resorts.

I have also discovered good "nap" options - rides that are long, dark, air conditioned, allow for a quick power nap and have very few lines. The nap option at Epcot is Ellen's Energy Adventure.

Hollywood Studios
Toy Story Mania is the must see ride at Hollywood Studios. It is fabulous and worth the wait. When we got there the wait was 120 minutes so we decided to go to the American Idol Experience and hope the wait decreased as it got closer to dinnertime. The American Idol Experience is a good time. It's also air conditioned and lasts 45 minutes when you need a break on a hot day. Our strategy worked. When we got back over to the ride, the wait was down to 80 minutes. This is an amazing 3D ride. The Wii game is a good facsimile, but this is just awesome. After Toy Story Mania, we walked over to the Aerosmith Rockin' Roller Coaster, but the single rider line was closed and no one wanted to wait 80 minutes. We had dinner at the food court by Rockin' Roller Coaster, across from Beauty and the Beast. This is a great spot because it has barbecue, pizza, burgers, and a healthy food stand with smoothies and fruit. Bellies full - we went to see the Osburne Holiday Light Spectacular. And folks, it is spectacular. It's like the neighborhood house that everyone drives slowly by finally grew up. It even "snows". It took my breath away and brought a little tear to my eye. The best thing about this holiday light display is that it starts at dusk and goes until the park closes - you don't have to be there at a certain time.

Nap Options: The Muffets 3D movie. The movie is actually a lot of fun so I would recommend watching it then using it as a nap option. Also, the Great Movie Ride rarely has a line so it's a good rest option as well.

Magic Kingdom
Having hit the high points at Hollywood Studios we headed out to catch the bus to the Monorail to Magic Kingdom. We got there around 8 pm - about an hour before the 9 pm evening parade. This is a GREAT time to visit because everyone is securing "good" spots to view the parade so the lines are very short. We headed to Splash Mountain - my husband's favorite ride. We got a FastPass* for 90 minutes away but the line was only 20 minutes long so they headed onto the ride. Then just to the right as you exit Splash Mountain is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Unfortunately, the ride malfunctioned while in line so the roller coaster riders didn't get a chance to ride it. We headed across the park to Space Mountain. On the way, we passed It's a Small World. It had a 5 minute wait so we all scrunched ourselves into a row to enjoy the show. Space Mountain was closed because it also was malfunctioning so we went to the 3D movie "Philharmagic". Each of the parks has a 3D movie and this is the best - hands down. As we exited the 940 pm show - the fireworks were in full effect - right above our heads. This is a great place to view them because they are right over your head and it's not as crowded as the main walkways. We headed back to Splash Mountain for one last ride. We decided not to stay for the 11 pm parade, but this is a good plan if you are thinking about watching the parade. Go on Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad around the time for the parade because when you are done with the ride - the parade will just be going by that side of the park. It was a mob scene getting out of the park, but we decided to take the Ferry instead of the Monorail because the Ferry can take over 300 people per trip. I think this was the best decision. We headed back to the car and drove home.

Nap Option - Hall of Presidents. It is a cool animatronic show of the Presidents, but I fall asleep every time.

*FastPass is a system where you can get a ticket to come back to a ride later in the day. It's a good idea to head to your must see rides to see if a Fast Pass is available. You can only have one FastPass at a time for the most part. For some of the more popular rides, you may get a Fast Pass that is over 6 hours away. In that case, the Fast Pass will list a time when you can get your next Fast Pass for a different ride. For instance, one time we got to Toy Story Mania at 10:30 am and the Fast Pass that were available were for 4:40 pm so our Pass said we could get another pass at 12:40 pm.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What were your favorite books of 2009?

Thanks to my trusty library card I have read a lot of books this year, but these are the books that really stand out in my mind as I sit here today. Enjoy and get a library card!

Three cups of tea by Greg Mortenson
Greg Mortenson was a high altitude climber who ended up in a small Pakistan village after a climb went wrong. After spending time there, he came to realize his call in life was to build schools in Pakistan. This book is an absolute page turner. It really shines a light into life in Pakistan. I found this particularly interesting given our ongoing war in Afghanistan. A must read!

I’ll scream later
by Marlee Matlin
Marlee Matlin’s autobiography is fantastic. I really didn’t know much about her or her life when I started reading this book. Her story is fascinating, scandalous and a joy to read.

Joanne Fluke Murder Mysteries
Joanne Fluke has a series of murder mysteries that take place in a small town in Minnesota. The heroine is a bakery owner who always stumbles into murders and then somehow outsmarts the police into finding the killer. I love these books for a few reasons: 1. They have recipes for delicious baked goods. 2. The heroine is a pudgy, wild-haired, over 30 bakery owner who is juggling a minimum of two boyfriends. 3. It nails Minnesota. It’s a super easy read. You’ll figure out who did it pretty quickly, but still enjoy the ride.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
This book fundamentally changed the way I look at food. Kingsolver, a popular author, decided to take a year and live off the land. Her family took a pledge to eat locally and that included growing a lot of their own food. It’s a great format that includes her diary of the challenges she faced, interesting essays by her husband filled with research, and delightful recipes she and her daughter developed.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
I am a big fan of Malcom Gladwell. This book explores the idea of what makes people the best of the best. He breaks down the differences between the exceptional and the good through research and analysis. I could not put it down. A couple of findings stuck with me: The 10,000 hour rule. He found that what separated the exceptional from the good was 10,000 hours of practice. If someone practices a skill/talent for 10,000 hours over the course of their life, they will become exceptional. He also had a very interesting finding about elite athletes and their birthdays, but I’ll let you discover that one in the book.

A Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs
In this book, AJ Jacobs takes on the challenge of living by the rules of the Bible – every single rule. It’s entertaining and enlightening as he grows a beard, follows the fabric rules, and learns he cannot touch women or men because he can never know if they are clean. I found this incredibly useful for all those discussions about “what the Bible says”.

Official Book Club Selection by Kathy Griffin
I have really come to like Kathy Griffin over the years of watching her on the D List. I was pleasantly surprised by her autobiography. I thought it would be a joke book – basically her act on paper. While it does include some laugh out loud moments, the book is an insightful retelling of her ongoing struggle to break into the industry, the hard work it took to get her where she is and the challenges she faced in her family and her failed marriage. Don’t miss the book group discussion guide at the end – HILARIOUS!

What were your favorite books of 2009? (Mommies - it's okay if it's a children's book!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Great Experiment - I have a corneal ulcer

Welcome to the Girl Who readers! The following post is entered into “The Great Experiment” (logo at the left) – a contest on www.thegirlwho.net. If this blog post is your favorite, you go back to www.thegirlwho.net and post a comment with the name of this blog (Ask Angie) and that’s your vote. Welcome and I hope you like it!

That’s right ladies and gents - I have a corneal ulcer. Yesterday, my eyes were super itchy and sensitive to light. They stung so much I would tear up randomly without a Hallmark commercial or 90s power ballad in sight. I just figured I had had my contacts in too long and it would go away when I took them out. The pain was worse this morning so I called through a few ophthalmologists in my insurance directory and found one that would take me at 10:30 am. Score!

I walk in and it is a cataract clinic - everyone in the waiting room is over 80 and with another person who is their primary caregiver. The waiting had a full supply of magazines – probably because none were in large print! So everyone just sat there starring at each other. Wait - I mean staring at me. I was young and one eye was bloodshot and one eye was not.

When I finally got into the back, the tech took advantage of my vulnerable state to begin a lengthy lecture on basic eye hygiene. I could see the glee filling her eyes as she expertly told me everything I had done wrong and then warned me about the “lecture” that was to come. Guess she didn’t realize she was already winning lecture bingo. Then the doctor came in.

Because of its pure comedic value I am going to go through the conversation with the doctor - who by the way looks like Santa Claus – white beard, mustache, spectacles and all. He walks in and we discuss my inappropriate contact use. I get a little lecture and then he rolls up the machine. He takes a look inside my eye and starts to chuckle - yes - bowl full of jello chuckle.
Me: That doesn’t sound good.
Dr. Santa (DS): chuckle chuckle
Me: Ummm..
DS: You have a corneal ulcer. Yep there it is. I can’t believe you don’t also have ulriticitis. Oh - maybe herpes.
ME: WHAT!!!! How the hell did I get herpes in my eye?? I haven’t even had enough action to get it the proper way!
DS: Nope - don’t think it’s herpes. Let me take a look at your right eye too.
Moves machine
DS Gasps
ME: What?
DS: You have a dirty contact in your right eye. Shakes head
Me: I thought I took that out
DS: Did……
DS: Can I ask you a personal question?
ME: We’ve already discussed herpes, why not?
DS: Did you go to bed drunk last night?
Me: No - just tired.
DS: I’ve never seen this before
more head shaking - At this point I was concerned he was going to injure his neck with all this shaking.
Me: Well, I was really tired and I couldn’t see out of my left eye remember because it was hurt and swollen so I thought I had taken it out.
Lil’ tech: That explains why your vision was blurry
DS: You were wearing your glasses on top of this?!?
Me: Yes, I thought I took it out. (evil death stare to Lil' tech)
Head is still shaking. He's really beginning to look more like a bobble head Santa than a regular, run-of-the-mill mall Santa.
Me: I was really tired and my eye was swollen. I am usually the perfect patient I swear! I take all ten days of medicine even if I feel better sooner. Grr! I can’t believe this. I promise I’ve always been the good patient. Dentists love me! I can get you letters – lots of letters about how I am the perfect patient.
DS: I have never seen this - I saw a guy once that had two contacts in, but he was an idiot. (yes, he said idiot.. out loud) How long have you been wearing contacts?
Me: 13 years
Look of disbelief - probably because at this point I am pouting a little
DS: Alright well, I am going to give you some antibiotic drops and some artificial tears. Keep the eye lubricated. You can put your glasses on.
I put my glasses on
DS: You have nice glasses - why in the world do you wear contacts?
Me: So I can wear even cooler sunglasses
DS head begins to shake again. I thought we had ended this part of the program.
Me: and go swimming, kayaking.
DS: Well, if you had lasik you could do all that.
Me: I am scared of the side effects of lasik
DS: You sleep in you contacts so much that you have an ulcer which carries a much higher risk of going blind. You might want to think about that.
Me: Ouch
DS: well
Me: I’ll never sleep in my contacts again.
DS: Alright I need to see you back here Monday
Me: How’s Tuesday? I am busy Monday.
He starts to leave still shaking his head.
Me: Hey! When you retell this story later - will you tell people I was drunk like it was my birthday or something and I got hammered?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Home Again

It’s Thanksgiving time again and here I am — back at my parents’ place in Indianapolis. It’s never quite felt like home — not in the way the house in South Bend did. The home I lived in from the time I was 2 until I nearly graduated from grad school. That home had marks on the wall from my impersonations of Mary Lou Retton. The basement carpet had grooves from hours on roller skates pretending I was Dorothy Hamill or the later years - Tonya Harding. (Nancy looked too much like a horse.) The basketball hoop over the garage where every summer I would play outside late in the evening because I was lucky enough to have a street lamp at the end of my driveway. The cold bathroom tile where I broke up a chin when I was 2 and 1/2– my earliest memory - pain then bright lights and then a McDonald’s milkshake — that experience has repeated itself time and time again. The backyard where I played with all my imaginary friends and later mowed a bullseye as a protest to having to mow the yard at all. The spot on the front porch where I stood when my dad told me my great grandmother had passed away. The spot on the edge of my bed where I first saw my dad cry. The top of the stairs where - when following my mom down my sophomore year of high school - i realized she was wasting away to a disease at that time we couldn’t name. The kitchen where once we named the disease - allergy to gluten - she began to eat again without fear. The garage where we ate taco bell dinners for weeks as our kitchen was re-done. My bedroom where I forced my sister to pay to get entry – a sin that I paid for over and over again at South Beach clubs where even a handful of cash wouldn’t get me behind those velvet ropes. The bedroom where I cried the exactly same amount of tears as every teenage girl everywhere, but thought I was all alone. It’s amazing how a place can mean so much. It’s really the family that is most important, but at the same time, physical remainders of where we’ve been, how we’ve loved and been loved, and how much we’ve grown share such an incredible attachment that when you lose them — it’s like you’ve lost a good friend.

Tips for Spin Class

For the students:
1. Don’t drink 3 large glasses of pinot grigio the night before a 7:00 am spin class. It’s not pretty.
2. Don’t spin in the front row as if you can make your own spin porn video in the mirror. I don’t want to see your fake boobs, pouty lips, and your perfect ass moving up and down – when the rest of us are seated.
3. Don’t do your own routine because this class is too easy. If you are so tough – come on your own and leave the rest of us heaving, sweating, thinking we are going to die lard asses alone. We are not impressed. In fact, we hate you.
4. Don’t talk! This isn’t tea time.
5. Don’t come in late and take the bike next or in front of me. You are late – you can stare at my ass for the next hour. I chose this bike because I wanted some “space” from my classmates.
For the instructor:
1. Do not use songs that have fake endings. You know the ones that seem to be nearing the finish but end up going on and on and on. It makes me want to shoot you.
2. Don’t only pay attention to the fake boobies. Real boobs need love too.
3. Don’t ever play Celine Dion again.
4. Always start on time – except when I am running late.

Too Many White Russians - The Drink

Going on vacation with my parents is a blast. Going to Vegas with parents can lead to some pretty interesting situations. Here are some facts that are key to the following story:
If you sit at a bar in Vegas and play video poker, the bartender will keep bringing you drinks – even if you don’t order them. This causes you to lose track of exactly how many you have consumed.
Drinking while sitting for extended periods of time masks the level of intoxication – until you stand up.
White Russians taste like a yummy chocolate treat – however they do have booze in them and this booze will make you drunk.
So I was sitting at the bar playing video poker with my friend Tom. Actually it was video blackjack, but video poker makes me sound much cooler. We’d been playing for a few hours when my sister called and told me the family was meeting at 6:45 pm for dinner. It was about 5:30 pm. So at about 6:30 pm, Tom had to leave so we got up and I walked him out. When I saw “walked him out” – I mean stumbled erratically giggling because I downed too many white Russians – the drink.

I ran upstairs changed clothes and then headed back down to meet my parents and my sister. I walked right by my sister. I mean right by – no more than 2 feet away. She said, “ANGIE!” And I turned and said, “hi!” and then kept walking toward the restaurant. My sister moaned, oh no! behind me. Sitting at dinner it was quickly apparent I had had too many white Russians because I answered to everything single thing the waiter said:
Waiter: “good evening folks”
Me: good evening
W: how are you tonight?
M: Great
W: Wanna hear the specials?
M: Yes!
W: Blah blah blah chicken
M: That sounds good.
W: Blah blah blah pasta
M: Yummy! (As I look around the table grinning)
W: Can I get you started with something to drink?
Me: Yes please!
Dad: This wine and a water for her.
Dinner continued on swimmingly. And then a cellphone began to ring. My dad reached for his and I said “Sir, no cell phones please” in my normal speaking voice. However, my normal speaking voice has only one volume: loud and booming. Turns out it wasn’t my dad’s cell phone ringing - but rather the guy seated by himself at a table directly behind my father. So it appeared I was talking to him. I was mortified! I turned bright red. I tried to hide under the table. I apologized profusely in my circus-freaky loud voice. My sister sat in shock shaking her head. My brother-in-law took advantage of the opportunity to make fun of me over and over again. And my dad reiterated the common refrain “We can’t take you anywhere.” On the upside – I haven’t seen my mom laugh that hard in a really long time.
Follow up: Two nights later we were at the roulette table and a cocktail waitress came by. “One white Russian, please” My entire family yelled NO!!!!! They startled the poor cocktail waitress and dealer. We all laughed. Then my dad said, “Seriously, only bring her one.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Innocent or Inapproriate?

Another Dear Abby got me thinking:

DEAR ABBY: I need an unbiased opinion. I am the father of a 12-year-old daughter, "Lia." She catches an early morning bus for school, and I leave for work at the same time her bus picks her up, so I'm in charge of getting her ready in the morning. Although we have two bathrooms -- one upstairs and one down -- neither of us wants to use the downstairs bathroom to get ready. All our stuff is upstairs. When I wake Lia up each morning, she heads into the shower and I go feed the dog. I then go into the bathroom and shave while she's in the shower. While I'm shaving we discuss sports and life in general. When I'm finished, I leave until she's done showering and goes back into her room. I then take my shower. Is this wrong? Lia's mother thinks it's inappropriate for me to be in the bathroom at all while she's taking a shower. I think it is efficient because neither of us is willing to use the other bathroom, and I find it's a good time to find out what's going on in her life. Who's right? -- RIGHT OR WRONG IN WISCONSIN
Stop – Think about your answer. Now, here’s what Abby responded:

DEAR RIGHT OR WRONG: Your wife is correct. It's not a matter of "right or wrong." It's a matter of what is appropriate. At 12, your daughter is becoming a young woman. Either you or Lia needs to start using the downstairs bathroom. If you can't agree on who that will be, then draw straws. You can bond with her over breakfast.

This really got me upset. I feel like Abby was shaming the father when really he was doing nothing wrong. I assumed that there was an opaque shower curtain and the daughter didn’t mind. What’s the big deal? It’s an innocent time for the father and daughter to hang out. Her privacy is protected and it’s a good, efficient use of space and time. Studies show that men communicated better side by side versus face to face so it’s a win for father/daughter communication and for timely getting ready in the morning.

What’s your thought – Daddy trying to hang on to his little girl inappropriately or good, efficient use of time and space? Also what do you think is motivating the mother to intervene?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dear Abby may have got it wrong

Recently, a Dear Abby column had me steaming. A reader wrote in that her best friend “Heather” wanted another child, but her husband did not. The two of them had been arguing about this. Heather had said she was going to stop using birth control without telling her husband. The friend wanted to know what her responsibilities were now that she has this information.

PAUSE – Think of how you would answer this question while humming Jeopardy music.

Okay – we’re back. Got your answer? Well, here’s Dear Abby’s answer: Tell Heather what she is doing is a bad, bad, bad idea, but if that doesn’t work – tell the husband.

Tell the husband? Wha-Wha-What? Really? Interfering in someone else’s marriage is the way to go here? Creating a triangle of distrust? Yep, that sounds like a great idea!

1. Who knows if Heather was serious? We all say things in the confidence of best friends that we may mean at the time, but don’t actually follow through on. “If that happens one more time, I am quitting my job.” “I am sending my children to a work camp in Siberia.” You know things like that.

2. It’s none-yer-business! The friend’s job is to BE A FRIEND! We have all done things our friends have disapproved of. Some friends has been successful at talking us out of it, some have not. Either way, disrupting a marriage is not the way to go.

I have tried to see this from the husband’s perspective. Would I want to know? Would I be angry if I later found out the friend knew and didn’t tell me? I really don’t think I would want to know. The only thing I can see happening out of this is that the friend tells the husband. Heather denies it. The friendship is over and the fighting in the marriage just gets worse.

Now, the friend should consider if she wants to be friends with someone who would engage in this type of behavior, but that’s a different post.

What do you think? Should the friend tell the husband? If you were the husband, would you want to know? Have you ever been in a situation where a friend confided uncomfortable news? What did you do?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why does the doctor always make me wait before my appointments?

1. Because he/she can – Seriously, think back to the last time you waited at the office. Did you cause a stir? Did you complain? And I mean complain to the doctor, not the poor receptionist so frazzled she can’t even remember her own name. Did you say anything? Now, think, if the cable guy was that far outside the “window” – would you have called the cable company in a huff? I bet you would have.

Doctors keep us waiting because we let them. We don’t make “timeliness” a condition of our devotion. In fact, many of us don’t have any conditions for which doctor we see other than 1. Does he/she take my insurance? and sometimes 2. Do I “like” him/her? We don’t take advantage of online tools that compare doctors of hospitals based on performance or numbers of procedures. We go to people our insurance covers and we “like”. We are more picky about choosing a car than a doctor. Yet, we complain when doctors don’t meet our expectations. Before choosing your last doctor, did you ask how often do you run on schedule? How do you communicate with the patients? E-mails? Phones? Do you call with test results even if there is nothing wrong? What are the chances I can get a same-day appointment if I am really sick? Well, if you didn’t ask, you may think twice about complaining about your doctor running two hours late after you waited 3 weeks for the appointment just to find out your test results.

But it’s not all the doctor’s fault. There is a systemic problem to blame as well:

2. Because she/he has to – The cost of a medical education in this country is insane. Yes, clinically insane. In order to clear themselves out of debt, doctors have to see patients. Reimbursement rates are by patient, not per hour, so the incentive is for doctors to see as many patients as they can in the shortest amount of time that they can. That standard has moved from 2 patients/ hour to 4 patients/ hour to one doctor that I had to break up with that scheduled people every 10 minutes. Now, it’s no wonder they are always running late. Imagine what happens if a patient has an actual condition that requires explanations of treatments and side effects and a weighing of options. Now, the doctor has spent 2 time slots on one patient and pushed off the whole day. Some doctors manage this better than others. They work with their staff and rely on their nurses for the bulk of the exam so the 15 minutes with the doctor are efficiently used.

Here’s a good example: A few months ago, I went to the doctor with several issues I wanted to discuss. None of them were serious, but I still had some concerns and questions. The doctor informed me that we could only discuss one or two issues and that I would have to schedule another appointment to go over the rest – in one to two issue increments. So it would take me at least 3 appointments over probably 5-6 weeks to figure out if the 5 issues were related. In the meantime, I would have started treatment on each issue as if it was an isolated problem. This does not make sense. I quickly switched to the University Faculty Group of the local Medical School where the Medical Student was more than happy to hear all my issues and try to piece them all together and present a diagnosis to the doctor. Then the doctor was more than happy to explain why the Med Student was not quite right and come up with a plan that addressed all the 5 issues. Time with Medical Student: 45 minutes. Time with the physician: 12 minutes. Time in the Waiting Room: Zero. Now we are talking! This was partially possible because the physician’s salary was supplemented by being part of the faculty and she had access to medical students.

In my opinion, solutions to the doctor waiting problem go from:
Schedule the first appointment of the morning and bring a list of issues you want to discuss TO
Nationalize physician education so that doctors don’t leave school with so much debt and reform the reimbursement system to value diagnosis/treatment/outcome over volume.

Just depends how much effort you want to put in.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What should be done with health care reform? Does there need to be a public option?

Yes, there needs to be a national health plan that every man, woman, and child can receive, regardless of previous condition, that pays for 100% of their care as long as the care complies with best industry practice. Now, put turn down the Glenn Beck show and hear me out people. Our country is suffering because we do not have an adequate health care system. I took developing country economics in grad school. The experts agreed that in order to have a productive society, the workforce must be healthy and educated and there must be an infrastructure to support the means of production and export. THAT IS FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES! We are going backward.

You know that massive credit crisis we face? Could that at all be related to the fact that 41% of Americans under the age of 65 have medical debt? Imagine if that all just went away. Imagine if small businesses could retain employees. Imagine if people didn’t have to stay at jobs they hated because their kid has diabetes. Imagine if people could get adequate preventative care and therefore eliminate costly medical interventions down the road and be healthy. I don’t want to imagine that. I want to live it. I want to have a backup plan. A place where I can go – no matter what – and get health care and not have to mortgaged my house to pay for it.

Let me break down that first sentence so people know exactly what I am talking about:
There needs to be:

A national health plan – Note I said health plan – not government administered hospitals and clinics. My Congressman can’t figure out that cutting Veterans’ benefits and voting for the war are contradictory. We can’t leave it up to him. We need a smart person that knows something about medicine, and people and curing people with medicine and running hospitals and clinics and nursing homes. That’s what we need.

that every man, woman, and child can receive, regardless of previous condition – Now I am talking crazy. I can just hear your thoughts now: “We should give health care to people who we know are sick. WHAT???? That’s insane. We could actually make them better, then there would be more people in line at the Wal-mart. That would be bad. Patients with previous conditions should be forced to move to Montana and die alone.” However, I like people with previous conditions and I think they need medicine and I hate Wal-mart so the line can be filled with people with previous conditions 24/7.

that pays for 100% of their care as long as the care complies with best practice –What the heck does best practice have to do with this? Well, there are people out there – bad people. They like to give patients, especially elderly patients, lots and lots of tests and procedures they really don’t need because it makes more money for them. They appear to all live in Florida – South Florida to be exact. Using best practice will be a good check on the medical delivery system that ensures patients are getting what is best for them while the taxpayers are getting a good value on their tax dollars.

Aren’t I concerned about “government” making health care decisions for me? Well, they kinda already do. What Medicare decides to reimburse and not reimburse basically sets what the care plan is going to be for a particular disease or treatment – even for private insurers. And this is because we have a health care system where doctors and other health care professionals have to adapt their care plan to what will be covered – not what is best for the patient.

Am I concerned about socialism? Not really. A public option can be funded through tax money and still be run by the private sector. I would prefer it be run as a non-profit because I don’t think health care is the place to be skimming profits. Plus I kinda like some aspects of socialism like roads, the post office, public education, parks, sewers, police, fire protection, and all those other pesky things that taxes pay for that EVERYONE gets to access.

What I am concerned about is that this generation will likely have a worse future than their parents. What I am concerned about is that our 2004 infant mortality rate places us 29th in the world. There are 28 other countries where babies have a better chance to live. What I am concerned about is that we pay more money for health care than any other country and still 41% carry medical debt. What I am concerned about is the conversations I have with nurses and doctors about the state of our country’s hospitals.

We need health care reform and we need it now. I am disappointed and disgusted by the cowardice of the Democrats in the House and Senate and White House that refuse to step up and use the Super Majority to save this country. I am disheartened by the Medicare beneficiaries that are out raising their voices against “government health care” – even though their very lives depend on it - because talk show host told them to yell louder. I ache for the small business owners who every day have to close the doors on their dreams because they just can’t afford not to have health insurance anymore. What will it take to get what we need?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what we need to do to fix this health care crisis.

Friday, October 2, 2009

What do you think of the flu vaccine?

This is actually the question I posed to two of my dearest friends the other night over dinner. After all the hype over the swine flu and the vaccine development in China, I wanted to get others’ opinions. My overall reaction to the flu vaccine has always been the opinion that it is a scam by the pharmaceutical industry to make more money off of people’s fears. Viruses mutate a lot. The idea that a vaccine can be developed and ready by October and have the right strain to fight off a virus that will hit its peak in February befuddles me. I just don’t see how it is possible. Plus we can’t trust China to make safe children’s toys, but now they are the leading experts on vaccines? I find that interesting.

The question of vaccines has become very controversial in recent years. To me, the question boils down to personal risk versus social responsibility. Yes, we each take a personal risk every time we get vaccinated. That risk is somewhat ameliorated by the personal benefit of protection from that disease, but all vaccines have side effects. I can’t imagine living in a country where the mumps, small pox, and polio still ravaged cities and villages so I am more than willing to roll up my sleeve and take the shot. I think vaccinations should be required for attendance in public schools. I think that is a good use of government regulation for overall public health.

But the flu just doesn’t seem that serious to me. I have a healthy immune system, good insurance and sick time at work. I can afford to be sick and allow my own immune system fight off the invaders. I understand others don’t. Plus, we won’t wipe out the flu if everyone gets vaccinated. The virus will still be around. However, if I interacted every day with people with depressed immune systems due age or disease, I would likely get the flu vaccine to protect them. What is a little sniffle to me is likely catastrophic for them. Did you get the flu vaccine? Why or Why not?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I am always surprised by the sheer volume of articles and TV shows that focus on how to lose weight. How do you lose weight? You eat less and move more. These are very simple solutions, yet there is an entire industry devoted to this question. The real question everyone is asking is how do I lose weight without changing a single thing I am already doing? Or can you somehow inspire me through your witty one liners or soulful insights to eat less/move more?

Now, I speak from experience here. I am overweight. I don’t have a thyroid problem. My genes are just fine. In fact, my only problem is how many times that fork comes to my mouth and my wine glass gets “magically” refilled. And by “magically” I mean pressing the button the box of wine that takes up the whole shelf in the refrigerator. I know how to lose weight. I’ve done it before. I just don’t want to make the sacrifice it takes to make it happen. But I am not pretending that I could lose weight by only eating green foods on Tuesday and red foods on Thursday.

Eat More! Lose Weight! The Grapefruit Diet! Martha’s Vineyard! Those public service announcements that try to convince people to just park farther from the store and they will be fit as a fiddle are a public disservice. How about park a little further from your Big Mac? I think that if people started talking openly and honestly about the challenge and sacrifice losing weight presents, then people won’t feel weak when they find it hard to lose weight. 30 Days to a New You! Only if the new you looks exactly the same as the old you but is tired, crabby and hungry.

Losing weight is not easy. Not matter which “diet” you pick. It’s not a gimmick or a promotional offer. It’s a challenge and a sacrifice that takes a daily commitment to making good choices for your health and your body. Don’t get me wrong, it’s worth it once you get there. More energy, cuter clothes, longer life with your loved ones, more time to get revenge on your not-so-loved ones. But, the more we act like obesity can be cured simply by filling most of your plate with vegetables, doing a few squats during commercial breaks and walking to the end of the block and back, the worse shot we have at curing it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What to do about germs?

“Last week I saw on Dr. Oz's new show a pitch (from Dr. Oz) himself for a product called "HygeniClean UV-C Anti-Bacterial Light Wand" which supposedly kills bacteria and is practical to use on cell phones, purses, keyboards, and other hard-to-anti-bac places. My questions are : Would you buy it? Do you think your mother would buy it? Do you think this is the real deal? I am into the notion of being exposed to some germs for overall health-immunity purposes, but would like to avoid the nasty ones (think bottom of your shoes after a night out at a bar - ick!). It is $20 - worth it? How do I know if it works? Is it a truly a gimmick?.”

Ummm, sure, buy it. Seriously, what do I know? I wouldn’t buy it because I am really not that worried about germs, but then again I don’t have any germ factories ( I think some of you people call them children) living with me.

In general, I think, as a society, we are way too worried about “germs”. This overreaction has led to the Darwinian manipulation of casual fun-loving, slight congestion causing germs to morph into Super Darth Vader germs of death and destruction. And that sucks.

Me – I tend to walk on the wide side. I observe the 5 second rule even though Ted Allen said it doesn’t work that way. I’ve been know to eat out of a bowl that I know has been double dipped in even though it makes a petri dish light up like the Fourth of July. I consider it a dry run for my immune system. Give those little white blood cells something to play with.

But back to the product – I do know that UV light does have bacteria killing properties so the idea behind the gadget is sound. Since these little buggers are invisible, you never will really know if it works, but if it makes you feel better go for it. It seems like this flu season is going to be pretty serious. I’m going to stick with frequent hand washing that lasts through at least two renditions of happy birthday and NOT touching my eyes, nose or mouth with my grubby hands.

Friday, September 25, 2009

To advise or not to advice - that's today's question

If you have done something before and someone is preparing for the same experience and you know from your experience they are not preparing in the proper way, what is the best way to intervene?
Now, I must admit I have gone back and forth about how to answer this question. My first instinct was “intervene”, make sure they know that they are in for and how to properly prepare. But then, I got to thinking and those crazy firing neurons led me down me a different road. Let’s go down that road, shall we?

Who’s to say your way is the only way? Now, it may be the best way, but that’s doesn’t mean it is the only competent way.

Let’s say what we are talking about here, hypothetically, is hiking the Appalachian Trail. You’ve hiked the Trail and your friend Suzy is getting ready to take the trek herself. Now, assuming Suzy knows that you have hiked the trail, there is probably a reason that she isn’t asking you for advice. Here are the reasons I can think of that she would not be interested in your advice:

1. She is already on information overload. You weren’t the first person to hike the Appalachian Trail. The magical interweb is brimming with fact sheets, blogs, newsletters and tips on to hike the Appalachian. And there are even real books on the subject. Plus, every person she has likely told that she is embarking on this journey has had some piece of advice. Wear wool socks! Wear wicking socks! Don’t wear underwear! On and on and on until now she has decided to just pick one source and stick with that as her guide for the Trail. I’m sorry that source wasn’t you.
2. She doesn’t want YOUR advice. She remembers all the whining and complaining you did when you hiked it. She’s seen the pictures of that rash you got because you forgot to bring foot powder. She’s decided to stick with the experts on this one.

3. She’s afraid you’ll get mad if she doesn’t take your advice and she really doesn’t want to deal with an “I told you so” if something does go awry. If the words, “Why’d you even ask me if you weren’t going to take my advice?” have every crossed your pouty lips, then you can see why she left you out of her how-to tour.

No matter what the reason, it’s really not something to stress over. As a person that has an opinion about everything, I can understand the frustration of not sharing that opinion, but when it comes to issues where there is a lot of information available, sometimes we just have to let people figure things out for themselves.

If it is just driving you too crazy to live, then you could try one of these covert “I am going to give you advice – like it or not” efforts.
Invite her over to look at pictures and relive your experience. Note I said invite –not ambush by pulling a bait and switch. You can’t invite her over to watch Bones and drink wine and then “get inspired” to spend the next 2 hours talking Trail talk while Bones wastes away on the Tivo. I would stop being your friend if you did that. So don’t do that.
Do some online research to find a source that just so happens to match exactly what you would have said. I call this the “Trojan horse”. You are really giving your advice through the guise of an innocent computer print out. Mission accomplished.

Ultimately, I would recommend check your “I know the answer ” hat at the door and enjoy the ride. Your friend is preparing for an amazing life experience. The lessons learned are part of the journey. Be there to support her/him through the bruises those lessons sometimes cause. And you never know, he/she may find a way that is even better than yours. Nahh, you’re right, that’s impossible.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What if their booger is in their nose?

“I am pretty good when it comes to lettuce in the teeth or something on their face, but how do you tell them if they have a booger hanging out or even worse, it’s just inside their nose so that when you talk to them you can see it?”

Yes, this is a real question I got. So now I am going to talk about boogers. And I am going to use the term booger since this is the term my dear reader used. My answer varies based on a very important consideration – do you have a tissue or a napkin?

1. If you have a tissue/napkin – When there is a lull in the conversation or when you are getting up to leave, I would casually get out the tissue and hand it to them. When they look at you quizzically, say “I think some inmates are trying to escape” and point to your nose. This will only work if the person is not elderly, hard of hearing, or dense as a box of very dense rocks. If the person meets any of the three previous conditions, the conversation will go down a long winding, sometimes painful, path that will end with “Why were we talking about prison again?” and the person will still have snot hanging out of their nose. In this case, hand over the tissue and say “Blow your nose Grandma!” or “You might want to blow your nose” if the person is not your Grandma.

2. If you do not have a tissue – Looks like you are not really going to be able to solve this problem – are you? I would just say something like, “Next time you are in the bathroom, you may want to blow your nose – unless you are going to go do a line a Coke – then you’ll just suck all that crap hanging out of your nose right up with those little powdery pieces of euphoria that ruin your life.” You could probably stop before the “unless” if you were pressed for time. ‘

And that ladies and gentlemen is my opinion on how to tell someone they have a booger hanging out of their nose.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Little Less Talk and A Lot More Action

This is for all the single ladies (yes, I know the Beyonce song just ran through your head).

“I have been hanging out with this guy a lot, I really like him –When is a a good time to have “the talk”?

My answer was a resounding NEVER! If you and this guy have something special, then you don’t need to have “the talk.” Your relationship will evolve through a bat of the eyelashes, an arm around the shoulder, and hopefully, soon and very soon, a first kiss. Now if you have already done the hokey pokey and you don’t know where your man stands, you need to have a talk with yourself with the difference between a repeat one night stand and a relationship. (And check back for a future blog on "How do I transition from "booty call" to girlfriend"?)
The talk is awkward, strange and rarely ends in a long term relationship. This is where you rush down to the comments section and tell me all about how you had the talk 6 months ago and it changed your relationship and you are soooooo happy. Check back with me in a year. My point is that if you have to talk about it, then already that dude is not showing you the affection and dedication you crave. If you have to talk him into it at the very beginning of the relationship, then what is the point?

“But what if he doesn’t want to ruin the friendship?” On this point, I totally agree with the book He’s Just Not that Into You. Friendship be damned. If a guy is attracted to you and sees partner potential, he’s not worried who he is going to the movies with or who he can talk to about “his feelings”. If you give him the slightest encouragement, he’s making a move. Either he likes you or he doesn’t. But either way, you aren’t going to “talk” your way into a great relationship. So if you are curious about whether or not he likes you, give him a little encouragement: a hand hold, a kiss on the cheek next time you see him and see what happens.

Now people are going to say this is playing games or it’s immature. People should talk about their feelings. I agree people should talk about their feelings and their needs, but most “talks” end up being one person saying, “I like you. Do you like me? What does that mean? Are we going to have babies?” It ends up placing a set of demands and expectations on a relationship that is just starting to develop. That’s like dumping a truck of cow dung on a little seedling and wondering why a tree didn’t grow. Be patient. Let things develop naturally. If it’s right, it’ll work. If it’s wrong, there’s something better. But for goodness sake, keep the talking to a minimum!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Oh no! It's a religious one!

Recently, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) decided to allow gay clergy to have monogamous partners. Previously, all unmarried clergy were expected to be celibate. Oh, the uproar heard across Indiana! (And other states I am sure, I just happen to be more tapped into the Indiana Lutheran scene).

Men and women were seen wringing their hands over their ears of fresh Indiana corn wondering what in the world to do. The discussion at church potlucks quickly turned from “Glenda made some lovely chili” to “How do we leave the ELCA?” because the thought of a Christian, a Lutheran no less, having a monogamous relationship was too much to bear.

Well, torch and pitchfork Lutherans, I have some advice for you. Get over it. Unless you are willing to hate everyone that sins according to the Old Testament, and that could potentially include your husband who was ogling the neighbor lady mowing the lawn in shorts a little too short, you may want to rethink your position. I am not going to get into a discussion of what the Bible says or doesn’t say. All I am going to say that is if you are using the Old Testament to rationalize your hate, then you have to embrace the entire Old Testament and hate all divorced people, anyone who covets anything, people who shave their beards, anyone who had sex before marriage and anyone who has dishonored their mother and father. Oh! And no more false idols so say goodbye to that autographed picture of Peyton Manning hanging over the fireplace. Since that would keep you pretty busy and potentially cause you to hate your entire family including yourself, you may want to embrace the New Testament. You know, where the greatest commandment was LOVE. L-O-V-E. LOVE.

Now I don’t claim to know who is right and who is wrong, who is going to heaven and who is going to be left here with Rock of Love and For the Love of Money reruns. But I do know this; love is and will always be a more powerful source for good than hate. And if you are willing to dedicate your life to inspire people to love Jesus and endure all the sacrifices that requires, well, that’s pretty darn good in my book no matter who you monogamously boink in your free time.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Update on How far ..?

Nellie chose not to take my advice. Her other friends advised her "it wouldn't be worth it." She went to the wedding and felt a lot less close to her friend as if not speaking her mind created a distance.

How far does truthfulness extend?

We want our friends to tell us the truth when we are standing in the dressing room and asking “Does this make me look fat?” But, how far does that desire for truthfulness extend? What if our friends think we are about to marry the wrong man?

Recently, my friend Nellie was facing that very dilemma. Her friend Samantha was about to marry the “wrong” guy. Samantha’s fiancĂ© has two kids, a crack addicted ex-girlfriend, does not pay child support and will not fight for custody of the kids. All Samantha’s friends and family agree that she is dating this man as a way to save him since she could not save her father.

Nellie related the story to me and asked, “What should I do?” I answered tell her. Tell her in a loving, supportive way, but tell her. Maybe there are qualities in him that you can’t see from the outside. Maybe Samantha needs a wake up call and a way out. Truthfulness should extend past the dressing room.

I advised her to say something like this, “Samantha I love you. I will love you and support you no matter what you decide, but there’s something I need to say. I will only say it once and never bring it up again. We have been friends for my whole life and I would want you to do the same for you. I have concerns about your upcoming wedding. You are an amazing woman and deserve an amazing partner in life and from the outside looking in – it seems that your fiancĂ© doesn’t treat you that way you deserve.”

Then leave it at that and really never bring it up again. Go to the wedding. Hold your friend’s hand and love her.

Now, I know this is controversial advice. Most people would say, “keep your mouth shut and support your friend.” But why is it that we wouldn’t let our friends go out in that shirt that lets their boobs hang out, but we would let them marry a man who could potentially treat them poorly for the rest of their life without a peep? I believe there is a difference between support and placating. Support means telling the truth and then stepping up to deal with the aftermath. Placating means agreeing with your friends’ decisions no matter what you believe serves their best interests.

Here’s comes the big question: “Who I am to judge?” We judge everything every day. You judged your friend when decided to share your heart and your life with her. Sometimes we all need a new set of eyes on a situation to get to the truth and the heart of the matter. So I say tell her. If you would tell her that her dress is hoochie short or that the new hair color makes her look like Pippi Longstocking, tell her that she deserves better. But if you do tell her and she still does what she wants, then you have to accept that and love her anyway. Maybe she really likes dressing like a hoochie Pippi, but at least now she knows she’s doing it.