No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Submerged in Projects

Hi yall! Thought I'd take a breather long enough to check in and let you know I haven't fallen off the edges of the universe, yet...
I know I haven't been around to all of your blogs leaving comments as frequently as I used to, but I have been lurking around a bit.
Sometimes I just have to withdraw myself a bit and this has been one of those times. I've had so many projects going on since I've been without a job. I swear I think I work harder now than I did then. In the midst of rearranging closets, pulling up carpet and stripping down baseboards, I was struck with the need to paint.
It's my escape. It's my therapy. My release.
It's good for my soul. It's good for my stability. I just wish it was good for my bank account!
With all the wars going on these days, and religious ideology behind them, with the situation with my own parents and their decent into zealotry and fundamentalism, the topic of organized religion is never far from my thoughts. Now before you go getting your self all up in a tissy, let me say I don't have a problem with religion. If that's your thing, good for you. People need something to believe in. I get it. But this pumped up, charismatic, narrow minded view of my god is better than your god just kills me. And to be honest, I believe it's going to kill all of us.
Anyways, a while back, I wrote a poem called Religion on Steroids. Since then, this painting has been trying to work its way out of me. I've started it, scrapped it and abandoned it, only to come back again and again with new approaches each time. This version is still in it's tiny little zygote stage, not quite developed and not nearly finished, but so far, I think I'm feeling it.

Religion on Steroids

The phone ring, ring, rings,

and I ignore the incessant tone

of Patriarchy submerged in Zealotry:

Religion on steroids, I muse

Closing my eyes, I imagine ignorance

Feeling its warm embrace

for too brief a moment...

In a flash, its gone with the ring, ring, ring

of technology's death to privacy

Bringing me back again

To the persistant realization

that you are no longer the parents

I once knew.

Angela J. Schleicher © 2008

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pimping Lisa's Mad Baking Skills

Hey everyone in the Middle Tennessee area, and surrounding friend from way, way, way back in the day (like we played softball together before either of us needed bras) has a new blog to showcase her mad cake making skills and I just wanted to pimp her and her way cool talents! Go check her out, and next time you need a cake, keep her in mind, she's good people and she's super talented and every bit as sweet as her cakes!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Learning to Swim

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Taking Care of Me

I've been through withdrawals. Trust me, I know what it's like for every cell of your body to ache for that chemical that you've been pumping into it for years on end, day after day, hour after hour.
I know the hunger of addiction.
I know the loneliness, the desperation, the hopelesness, and worst of all, the apathy.
It sucks you in, leaves room for no one and nothing else. Not even love, family, art...

I suppose that's why I get so frightened sometimes when I think about how I used to be...where I used to be...why I used to be there.
I never want to live that way again. I never want to be that person again and I sometimes wish I never had been her in the first place.

On the other hand, without those experiences, how could I be who I am today? How could I hold the empathy and passion for life that I now know? Could anyone who hasn't seen what I've seen possibly know what I know?
I've yet so much to learn in this life, and I hope that I remain open to learning each lesson as it comes.
It's been seven years now since I went to rehab for the third time in my life.
Yet for the past week, I've had almost every symptom of withdrawal I ever had in the first month of being clean, all those years ago.
I know it's completely psycho-somatic at this stage...but it's bothersome.
Such deep thoughts for a sun-shiny Sunday morning, I know...
See...this is what happens to me when it's been too long since I've had an outlet. I've not had the opportunity to paint or really write since I lost my job. I've kept myself busy cleaning house and baking cookies and doing school papers. Distractions.
Yesterday, I found myself in a bit of a funk. In talking it over with Wifester, I announced, " I think I'm just depressed..."
Eventually, I confessed " I just need to paint. I haven't painted in so long." To which she responded, " What's stopping you? Go paint! You'll feel so much better..."
Why haven't I painted? For one thing, I've blocked off access to my little painting area with piles of boxes of stuff to be yard saled, stuff to be taken to Goodwill, and other things that still need to be sorted through. Secondly, I seem to do that to myself when I feel not worthy doing what I enjoy the most. I take it away from myself.
I decided that it was worth my sanity to clear a pathway to my easel, and make use of it.
I started on this, I'm a bit undecided where this will end up going, but I like the way it has started...and I feel sooooo much better.
Funny how that works.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cops and Robbers

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In which I cultivate my culinary prowess

"Cookies! I want COOKIES!"
That's how I was greeted when the Wifester arrived from work on Monday...
apparently she's having sympathetic cravings for her sister-in-law.

You may remember my last post about my attempts at baking...
Since then, I've found some variations of oatmeal cookies that I am quite comfortable with and have found to be particularly satisfying.

I had some apples that I wanted to use up, so this time I made Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies! I've never had them before, but you can bet your sweet cookie I'll be having them again!
Here's how I made them:

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup diced and peeled apples (your choice, I used red delicious)

(you may want to add nutmeg, and walnuts or pecans I don't, for The Wifester's safety)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs until well blended. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; stir into the sugar mixture until well blended. Fold in the oats and apples. (if adding nuts, do so when folding in the oats and apples) Drop dough by spoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. * I've found that using an ice cream scoop is perfect! * Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven.

While the oven was still hot, and it was time to begin dinner...I thought hmmmm...I really am tired of the "dog food" we've eaten so often lately. What to make for dinner that does not resemble the Sunny-dog's meal, does not contain meat, and is sure to please the finicky Wifester? As I've told you before, I could really do without meat all together, but the Wifester, she loves her meat and potatoes.
I came up with an ultra satisfying compromise. Oh she questioned it when I told her what I was making. But upon first bite, she was sold. Never question my culinary genius, I told her. Never. She even asked for more tonight!
This experiment was a tofu-veggie loaf. Or as I named it for her sake, meatless meatloaf.
The Wifester luvs some meatloaf. We usually make it with ground turkey, but even that is just too much meat for me to sink my teeth into at one time. If I make meatloaf for her, I usually have something else for myself. And I was just not up to making two meals last night. After all, I had played Cindarella all day long, scrubbing baseboards, washing walls, cleaning carpets, and organizing the house. Plus I did accomplish some heavy duty studying and baked cookies...A one dish dinner it would be, no doubt.
Meatless meatloaf was surprisingly delish and relatively easy. It smelled wonderful and baked up beautifully.
I know a few of you who will be wanting this recipe...

Meatless Meatloaf

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 pound firm tofu (for a small loaf, feeds two to four people)
  • 1 -2 cup dried bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat
  • 1/1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten (optional)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • green beans
  • peas
Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium low heat. Add onions, carrots, garlic and parsley and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Meanwhile firmly press tofu between layers of paper towels to remove as much liquid as possible. While tofu is pressing, cook brown rice until tender, but still somewhat firm. Add peas, carrots, green beans, and onins. Crumble tofu into the bowl of a food processor, then add bread crumbs, flour, egg, ketchup, tamari and Worcestershire sauce and blend until completely smooth. Transfer tofu mixture to a bowl, then stir in the rice mixture. Add bread crumbs or flour to make loaf more firm if necessary. Add any additional seasonings that you desire. *optional add mushrooms or any veggie of your choice to the mixture. Spray a 9-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, then spoon the tofu mixture into the loaf pan, patting it down evenly over the top.

Sprinkle top with Rosemary and Oregano. (Optional topping 1/4 cup ketsup, 2 tbsp Rosemary, 2 tbsp orgeano, 2 tbsp garlic, 1tsp soy sauce, mix well, brush over top of loaf with pastry brush) Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour, or until deep golden brown and firm to the touch. Cool the loaf for easier slicing before serving.

Got Kleenex?

get your tissues ready, then go here and read this

You Like Me...You Really Like Me!

I was given this beautiful blog award! I'm so honored!!

Gina, over at The Pagan Sphinx, bestowed upon my humble little blog this lovely award

Isn't it wonderful? And in the spirit of the sisterhood award, I would like to share with you some other noteworthy blogs...and pass the award on to them:

So what are you still doing here? Go... scamper away now and check out these fabulous women and their wonderful blogs. Each talented in their own individual and unique ways. But don't forget to come back and see me ;)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

One of these things is not like the others

I never quite felt like I fit in.
I was the light skinned, light haired, gringo in a family of dark skinned, dark haired, obviously Hispanic people. Me? You never really could tell quite what I was. I remember once in high school, in art class, a kid named Jarrod asked me "What's your momma look like?"
I showed him a photo and he exclaimed with disgust and dismay " I didn't know your momma was a (insert the "N" word here)!"
I was appalled. Not that he thought my mom was black, I could care less about color. I was appalled that had my mom been black, he felt it was OK to say something like that to me. And I was appalled that someone thought that it was less than normal for my mom to be anything other than white. Because I was a part of her. I was also a little bit of something other than white and that meant that what he felt in that initial reaction, he also felt toward me. It was strange and awkward for me to realize that there really was such a thing as prejudice toward me and my heritage. Even if it was misplaced racism, due to a miscalculated ethnicity.

My other gripe with racism and my mixed ethnicity is that being so white washed as I am, so often most people don't even realize that I come from such a background. They see me and just think that I'm another white, country girl, from Nashville. They hear my accent, and think it's perfectly safe to go right ahead and start saying things to me like how they just can't stand living in that apartment complex with all those Mexicans, or how the Mexicans are taking over, or the best one...someone said to me how he'd come across a Mexican while traveling," and you know, they all carry knives in their socks, and they'll cut you quick!" That was just last year...and he was the brother of an acquaintance. I can't hold against her what her brother said to me, but it does make it an uncomfortable situation now.

When I worked at the nursing home, my patient's family members would talk to me because their moms and dads and spouses could no longer speak. They often didn't realize my heritage either. I would get comments like " Those damned Mexicans at the McDonald's always screw up my order. I guess it's because they don't talk American."
Or once, I heard "I'm so glad momma has you taking care of her. She would just die if they sent one of those foreigners in here."

I never really knew how to react to those things. My mom never prepared me for it. She was always telling me to mark my ethnicity as white on forms because it would be easier. I never understood that. I always felt like marking white and not also marking hispanic was somehow lying about who I was.
I felt like it was a disservice.
I think my mother was a little bit ashamed of her heritage, and I think that's such a shame.
I remember once, just after high school, my friend said to me, Fortune Cookies, you should be PROUD of your ethnicity! Look at your skin and look at mine. Yours is so dark and pretty. You have family that lives in another country and speaks another language. That's SOOOO cool. All my family is right here. They're all white, and they all speak English. How dull is that?"
And that's when it occurred to me. I had this whole other part of me that I had been practically ignoring up until that point. It was right there in my face, yet I didn't see it.
How does that happen?

Later, I thought I felt out of place because I was a young budding lesbian growing up in an uber Christian, anti-gay, southern home.
Then I thought it was because I was an artist, being raised amid a family of athletes.
Still more introversion led me to believe that perhaps I felt out of place because I was always a pacifist, a hippie, and a liberal, in a family of ultra conservative, Rush Limbaugh worshiping Republicans.
Now I think it was a combination of all of those things that made me feel so out of place.

I'll be happy for the day when race doesn't matter to anyone anymore. When gender doesn't matter, and sexual orientation doesn't matter. All those prejudices stem from hate, and hate begets hate.

John Lennon was so right on. Can you imagine...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Pi Day!

Did you know there's such a thing? Well there IS! And its TOMORROW! In case you're a bit behind on your math and have forgotten about the wonderful little symbol know as Pi, or 3.14159265, let me share some fun Pi and Pi Day facts with you. As noted in the internet bible, Wikipedia and from the official Pi Day web site:

Pi represents the relationship between a circle’s diameter and its circumference.

With the use of computers, Pi has been calculated to over 1 trillion digits past the decimal. Pi is an irrational number meaning it will continue infinitely without repeating. I wish pundits would take a cue from Pi. The symbol for pi was first used in 1706 by William Jones, but was popular after it was adopted by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1737.

Pi Day is also sometimes celebrated on March 14 at 1:59 p.m. If π is truncated to seven decimal places, it becomes 3.1415926, making March 14 at 1:59:26 p.m., Pi Second (or

sometimes March 14, 1592 at 6:53:58 a.m.).

The first Pi Day celebration was held at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988, with staff and public marching around one of its circular spaces, and then consuming fruit pies; the museum has since added pizza pies to its Pi Day menu. The founder of Pi Day, the "Prince of Pi", is Larry Shaw, now retired from the Exploratorium, but still helping out with the celebrations. They have also recently added the first Pi Day celebrations in Second Life.

MIT, (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology) , think Good Will Hunting, often mails out its acceptance letters to be delivered to prospective students on Pi Day.

Pi Day also happens to be Albert Einstein's birthday. (March 14, 1879)

Some also celebrate Pi Approximation Day in addition to Pi Day, which can fall on any of several dates:

  • April 26: The Earth has traveled two radians of its orbit by this day (April 25th in leap years); thus the entire orbit divided by the distance traveled equals pi
  • July 22: 22/7 in the more common day/month date format, an ancient approximation of pi
  • November 10: The 314th day of the year (November 9 in leap years)
  • December 21, 1:13 p.m.: The 355th day of the year (December 20 in leap years), celebrated at 1:13 for the Chinese approximation 355/113
  • On March 14, 2004, Daniel Tammet calculated and recited 22514 decimal digits of pi.
  • On March 14, 2009, Fortune Cookies will bake Pi shaped whole wheat, spinach, bacon and Parmesan doggie biscuits for the Sunny-dog.

And that's just a little 411 on our friend, Pi, or as I like to call it, the number formerly known as 3.1415926...

How will you celebrate?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Teach Your Children Well

Here's a typical home in Brentwood, TN

I show you this because recently, in a conversation with a police officer from Brentwood, a suburb of Nashville, that is as you can see, a little better off than most of the rest of us, I was informed that they receive 12-16 calls per day from parents asking for help with their children. Not runaways, it's for things as trivial as "My kid won't clean his room" to "My kid won't do her homework."
Seriously? My next question was is the assulting the parent when asked to perform these tasks, and that's why they called 911? Nope. They simply called the police to intervene in what appears to be a profound display of a pathetic lack of parenting skills concentrated in one of our most well-to-do neighborhoods.

Why, I ask myself, do these stay at home moms with more resources at their disposal than most moms, have such a hard time controlling their children and enforcing their rules? Why is it that no one seems to be afraid of a group of teens hanging out on a corner in Brentwood, thinking "Oh, they're probably on their way to the mall..." but a group the same size in say, South Nashville, or North Nashville....and you're locking your doors and rolling up your windows. The irony is the majority of those South and North Nashville moms won't hesitate to lay down the law with an unruly child. And go ahead and try to defy'll only do it once.

What does it say about our society that we have kids that are so unruly that parents call 911 to enforce chores?

What does it say about our society's parenting skills? When did the discipline of our own children become such a burdon or nusance that we'd rather push it off onto a stranger to handle? And what does that teach the children?

Does it not tell little Johnny that his mom could care less? And does that not add to little Johnny's angst?

Many studies have been conducted on the issue of unruly children and punitive and retributive responses (calling the police, punishment ) vs. restorative and reintegrative practices. The general consensus is that the punitive approach tends to fuel hostility and aggression while a reflective, rehabilitative process (get your kid some therapy!) will more likely provide the opportunity for the unruly child to learn new coping skills and offer them new options than the acting out that has previously led to mom and dad calling 911. And isn't that all we want for today's children, anyways? To be well adjusted and have all the necessary tools to adapt to an ever changing world. Because really, the alternatives are kind of frightening...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What Had Happened Was...

Sorry I've been absent for a while. I needed to gather my thoughts and regroup.

I lost my job last week and I haven't felt up to blogging about it, talking about it, thinking about it...I just haven't felt up to IT in general.

Since then, I've cleaned the house like it hasn't been cleaned since the last time I was out of work, began the insurmountable task of organizing the spare bedroom closet, and dove into studying and catching up on some of my classes.

I was totaly and completely frustrated at my job, but I loved it too.
It was mostly a personality conflict, well, that and an ethics conflict. And the fact that I probably should have just shrugged off that pesky little issue in which the boss was giving my coworker credit for my work...
Then I think about the conference call with our CEO last week in which he said "don't pay attention to what all the news media are saying about the banks and the bailout. It's not a bad thing for the banks, and it's not a bad thing for us." and further, when he had the audacity to say "I refuse to participate in this recession! And I simply won't do it. I say, what recession?"
Well, I say that's just great for you, Mr. CEO! But what about the rest of America who is forced to participate in this recession?
What about those of us who aren't seeing multimillion dollars from bailout money into our own bank accounts? Those of us who are clipping coupons, skipping on dinner-out nights, canceling haircut appointments, and not traveling across town to visit friends just to save gas... we have no choice but to participate in this recession. And we certainly don't appreciate fat cats like you, Mr. CEO, rubbing it in our faces that you have the option not to.
Especially when we all know that it was people exactly like you, the ones at the top, milking the system for all you could get away with, that caused this problem in the first place.

So go ahead and hop in your little Mercedes, Mr. CEO, and hit the golf course or whatever it is you do all day.
I'll be here, fretting over what Wifester and I are going to do about our Check Engine light on our nine year old car now that we're down to one income.

Monday, March 9, 2009

On Health Care

I read this over at, and thought I'd share it with you...

Goverment-Funded Health Care? We're Already Two-Thirds There

By Sara Robinson

My fictitious conservative uncle—let's call him Uncle Con—is at it again.

"Americans don't need socialized medicine!" he bellows, doing his very best Rush Limbaugh impression—which pretty much lets you know where this particular set of talking points came from. (When he whines, you know he's been listening to Bill O'Reilly. If he comes across willfully ignorant and pugnacious, he's been hitting the Hannity hard again. Try it at home: Field ID on right-wing talking points = hours of fun for the whole family!)

You really want to stop Uncle Con in mid-breath? Simple. Just ask him who pays for his health care. If he's over 65, his doctors are being paid by exactly the same kind of God-forsaken Commie single-payer health care that Canadians have. (If he's got a supplemental policy—well, Canadians get those, too.) If he's a veteran, he's even farther gone—the VA, that well-known cadre of fellow travelers, is pretty much the mirror image of the UK's 100 percent socialized medical service. It's fair to ask: If these systems are good enough for him, why aren't they good enough for his kids and his grandkids?

When I started paying attention to this, I was stunned at how many of these anti-"socialized medicine" blowhards are, themselves, fully-vested beneficiaries of government-subsidized health care. In fact, I was so intrigued by this phenomenon that I started keeping count. And then I did some research. And then I ran some numbers. And the conclusions were absolutely staggering.

The inescapable fact of the matter is this:

Only about a third of the country is still dependent on the "dominant" paradigm—private plans paid for by non-government employers. Everybody else in the country—over 200 million of us—gets most or all of their health care via some form of government-subsidized system.

The whole other two-thirds of us. Right now. Today.

When you realize this staggering truth, the entire conversation changes. It's not even a question of whether or not the U.S. government is going to get into the insurance business. We're there. That already happened. The old private-insurer paradigm isn't just failing; the vast majority of Americans left it (or it left them) long ago since, and the government has already taken over where they left off.

This is the kind of fact that most of us know in our bones has to be true somehow. But it turns out there's no "maybe" about it. Let's look at the numbers.

The Fortunate 43 Percent: The Ones We Cover Directly

About 43 percent of all Americans are already getting health care that's directly paid for, one way or another, by some level of government. Here's the breakdown:

32 million government employees and contractors—This group includes 2.7 million federal employees; and 19.3 million state, county, and municipal workers. That's a grand total of 22 million workers who are getting health insurance—usually from privately-contracted insurers—that's been paid for by taxpayers.

In addition, there are an estimated 10 million+ full-time federal contract workers. They're getting their insurance from their own employers; but since these are government contracts, we're still paying their bills in the end.

(Note, however, that this 32 million figure doesn't include these workers' dependents. I made the conservative assumption that most government employees pay an extra out-of-pocket premium for dependent coverage. To the extent that that assumption is wrong, we may also be covering at least some of these workers' spouses and kids.)

58 million recipients of Medicare, Medicaid, and state health care plans -- This includes 47 million Medicare/Medicaid recipients and 11 million mothers and children covered by SCHIP programs.

27.4 million active duty military, reservists, and veterans, plus dependents—This breaks down into 1.4 million active duty troops being served by the military system; and .8 million reservists and 23.6 million veterans who are qualfied to receive care through the VA.

Active duty service members also get free coverage for their dependents. Assuming a ratio of one dependent per active duty service member, that adds another 700,000 Americans getting their care from military doctors.

3 million miscellaneous—This includes 2.3 million Americans in county, state, and federal prisons; 200,000 whose insurance is subsidized by state high-risk pools; and 400,000 Native Americans whose care is provided through tribal health services subsidized by some combination of their own tribal governments and the federal government.

TOTAL: This adds up to about 120,200,000 Americans whose health care coverage is directly paid for by the government. I'm sure there were pockets that were missed by this accounting, and I encourage readers to write and tell me about thtme.

The 25 percent Left Behind: Not Covered, But We're Paying Anyway

The ones above are the lucky ducks: they've got coverage that's backed by the government—the only institution left whose promises are worth a damn. But among our taxpayer liabilities—both tangible and intangible—we need to count another 25 percent of the population who are going without health care, either partially or altogether. This group includes:

50 million uninsured —The last hard numbers that were published put this figure at 45.5 million. But that was last July—just before the financial collapse began stripping jobs out of the economy at the rate of half a million or more per month. As people lose their jobs, they also lose their health insurance. If this number's not at 50 million yet, it will be in another few months.

25 million underinsured—Beyond the vast and growing pool of uninsured, there are another 25 million Americans who are underinsured. That is: they have bare-bones policies that cover catastrophic care, but not routine doctor's visits; or that have deductibles so high that even routine care will drive them into debt; or that exclude so many conditions that they end up paying out-of-pocket much of the time anyway.

TOTAL: 75 million at-risk Americans who can't depend on either the government or an employer for care. But even though we're not paying their bills (or, more accurately: because we're not paying their bills) the tremendous risks they live with do eventually end up on the public balance sheets, one way or another. According to CAF health care reform expert Mike Elk, "A recent study by Families USA showed that 1 out of 3 Americans under 65 (people over 65 automatically qualify for Medicare) lacked health care for some or all of 2007-2008. The biggest irony is that that of that group, 4 out of 5 were in a household with a full time worker and still could not afford health care."

The first-level effects of this malign neglect are obvious. Because they often delay routine care that catches things while they're small and easy to treat, these are the people may not get seen until they end up in front of an ER doctor in a public hospital. Not only do taxpayers end up paying far more for this high-end service; the patients themselves get less effective care for our money, because the ER system was never designed to provide preventative or follow-up care. This is a colossal waste of time, money, and resources for everyone concerned. (And God help us all of there's ever a major pandemic: this group could spread the bug far and wide before they're finally sick enough to get to a doctor.) In fact, if you were going to design a system to deliver the minimum amount of effective care for the maximum cost, it's hard to imagine how you could possibly do it better than this.

But it's the second-order effects that really come around to bite us on the backside. A recent Harvard study found that over half of all home foreclosures in the US are due to the financial stress of medical bills. Other studies have found that medical debt drives the majority of personal bankruptcies, too. Therefore, the people most at risk for bankruptcy and foreclosure are the ones who fall into this 25 percent.

Too many of these people are just one bad health event—a car accident, a case of pneumonia, a heart condition—away from a complete family breakdown. If the worker gets fired because recovery took too long to suit her employer, she's now sitting at home with a pile of hospital bills, no income, and no insurance. Bankruptcy and foreclosure follow quickly. So do domestic violence, delinquency, and drug abuse—all of which eventually end up costing the whole community, both in tax dollars and lost social capital. And "family values" conservatives are perfectly content to stand by and let it all happen.

Then there's the fact that nobody reaches the age of 50 without developing some kind of "pre-existing condition." A large subset of these uninsured folks are well-educated middle-aged professionals—many of whom are self-employed, or own their own companies—who are simply uninsurable at a price they can afford. Medicare is starting to pay attention to these people, because they've done the math. It turns out that the little problems that these people can't afford to treat properly while they're in their 50s—the creeping blood sugar and the angina and the joint problems—grow into big hairy monster problems by the time these people turn 65. These very expensive deferred-care messes are now devouring a disproportionate amount of its Medicare's entire budget.

Nobody's counting the costs of all this—but anyone who argues that we can afford to have a quarter of the country living on the edge of disaster isn't thinking clearly about how much it costs us all when they finally fall through the cracks.

The Last 32%: Still Getting Employer-Paid Insurance—But For How Long?

Add together the 43 percent who already have access to government-funded coverage, and the 25 percent whose lack of access to reliable care eventually ends up on our bill one way or another, and you get a stunning figure: 68 percent of Americans are, effectively, already depending on taxpayers to pick up the tab for their health care—or for the aftereffects of their lack of it.

Which leaves just 32 percent—under a third of the country—still dependent on traditional employer-based private insurance plans. With everybody else decamped into government-funded plans or the vast limbo of the non-insured, this little slice of the market is all that's left—the prize that insurance companies are fighting so hard right now to hold onto.

The percentage of Americans who already receive some form of

publicly supported health care; 43 percent directly; 25 percent indurectly because they are uninsured and thus the cost of their care is subsidized.

The percentage of Americans who receive employer-based insurance.

And anybody who's seen Michael Moore's "Sicko" knows how it is for those folks, too. They may have insurance right now; but if they lose their jobs or sustain a permanent injury or the insurance company decides to jerk them around, that guarantee (which costs them and their employers dearly to maintain) could evaporate overnight. With the economy on pace to lose over six million jobs this year—and perhaps many more—this group is shrinking fast.

The numbers make it clear.

Thirty-two percent. If private employer-based insurance plans aren't even serving a third of the country any more, why on earth should Congress put the least bit of time or money into preserving them? And as long as so many of us now depend on this broad patchwork of federal, state, local, single-payer, socialized, private-insurer based plans—all paid for, one way or another, with our tax dollars—how much money could we save by simply putting everyone on Medicare, and calling it good?

Sixty-eight percent. Government-funded care is already working well for 43 percent of us, and could be working far better (on much less money) for the other 25 percent.

When Uncle Con starts yelling about "socialized medicine," you can tell him, in all seriousness, that we're already two-thirds there. From here, the only question remaining is how we're going to make sure we're getting the most for the money we're already spending.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Purple Pups

Haven't had a lot of spare time to paint lately. That makes me all knotted up inside. However, one of my coworkers has a pooch that is just her pride and joy and asked for this portrait. I think it turned out sweet. Of course they never look quite right in photos, so you can't see that the background is a very Prince-like royal purple. Yum.
That's about all I've got going on these days. I started a new one that was inspired by my poem Religion on Steroids, which if I ever finish will probably be just about the most provocative and controversial piece I've ever done. Including all those nekked merladies frollicking together...
But for now, I'm just not happy with how it's going. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 2, 2009

We're Eating Dog Food!

I want to not care. Really, I do. But try as I might, I just can't get past the fact that we're eating dog food.
No, no. It's not Kibbles -N- Bits or Purina or even Alpo. Nothing quite as sinister as it sounds, its just that well, since the Wifester and I have been trying to diet again, we've found ourselves eating things like brown rice mixed with veggies and ground turkey...amazingly, that's basically the exact same recipe for the Sunny-dog's new organic home made food that I've been fixing for her. Of course, she doesn't get any onion or know certain things that have to be omitted for proper puppy health and all, but for all intents and purposes, we're eating the same thing. In fact, it's so similar that when I cooked for us, she stood right beside me tail wagging, hoping and prancing, nose wafting around in the air. She just KNEW I was cooking up a special treat for her. It was heartbreaking to see the look on her face when we ate it...
Honestly, it's pretty good grub. I could do without the meat, and just have it be the rice and veggies, but my Wifester, she's a meat and potatoes gal...she's gotta have some kind of protien that was once living, breathing, and walking. Swimming just won't cut it for her.
Occasionally, I can trick her with tofu, like say, with my Tofu Chicken Patties. That's her favorite. Or with the Tofu Tacos, ole! But she will only go for the tofu substitute every so often, then its back to carcasses on her plate.
Last night, I tried to scoot one past her that had neither tofu nor a once living breathing creature of any kind.
It didn't go over so well. I believe her exact words were "This is AWFUL"
I suppose tonight we're back to "dog food." I won't complain too much, like I said, that grub is pretty good, but if I start to grow a tail...