Wednesday, September 16, 2009


"Being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There's nothing to do but stand there and take it." Lyndon Johnson

So President Obama thinks that Kanye West is a jackass? Big deal. I think so too. Why the uproar? All he said is exactly what so many of us are thinking. When you become president are you no longer allowed to have honest, spontaneous opinions and express them? Ever?

He said it off the record, but it shouldn't be such a big deal that he said it. This country is messed up in more ways than the economy. The most interesting thing about the incident is that it happened via Twitter. Twitter is like the slambook of the new millenium. It gets people in trouble and everybody is doing it.

I wonder if there's some freak twittering about his weird stalking obsessions and when he finally goes and acts out we can go back and read his twitter feed.

But back to the president who said what we were all thinking. I like Obama when he openly speaks his mind. It reminds me of why I voted for him. Even when I disagree with him he's still an intelligent human being and he's real. He doesn't strike me as a guy with entitlement issues, or someone who talks out of both sides of his mouth - when he's just saying what he really thinks.

Being president has got to be no fun at all, as Lyndon Johnson so aptly describes it - standing in a hail storm and taking it will leave you cold and bruised. Good thing Obama seems to have a pretty thick skin - but I wonder where his "when" is, that moment where he'll just get fed up and tell us all off. How long can one deal with the level of sanctimonious bullshit that's flying around before one snaps?

The behavior in this country has devolved to a point where Kanye West feels like it's okay to climb up on stage, in the middle of someone else's moment and spew his opinion. We live in a world where people twitter their every thought and our news anchors are no longer reporting hard, fact based news - much of it just opinion. The opinion of Rupert Murdoch, or Sumner Redstone, or whomever else owns the company.

At this point I think even Kanye West would acknowledge that what he did to Taylor Swift makes him a jackass.

But maybe he's also the poster child for America's collective conscious.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Last night when I heard that Patrick Swayze had died I was overcome with so much sadness. Although his pancreatic cancer diagnosis is one of the scariest, and seems to be death sentence, I kind of thought that he could and would beat it. Today my thoughts are with his wife Lisa, his best friend and companion for over 30 years.

One thing about being a celebrity is that your entire life is on display for consumption by the public. So once Patrick's star took off we all new everything about his life - that he grew up dancing in his mom's dance studio, that he loved his family, that his wife Lisa was his best friend and his favorite person.

Many celebrities give us this picture. It's like their personal lives are movies that they are starring in and everyone is going for the hollywood ending. It rarely happens though. I think for Patrick and his wife it was the real deal though.

The one time I met them no one was acting.

In 1992 I started working out at Winsor Fitness, Mari Winsor's first pilates studio. There were six reformers, a tread mill and an apparatus called the Cadillac in a not so large room on the second floor of a Calfornia Ranch style building surrounded by eucalyptus trees that we could see through the large windows on both sides of the room.

It was pretty free flowing in that you could call and reserve a reformer show up and an instructor would move between the six clients that were working out. Mari allowed me to bring in my own music and we all chatted and joked while we worked out on the torturers, I mean reformers. There were lots of celebrities that came in, but I rarely recognized them because it wasn't a see and be seen scene. No one except for Donna Dixon was wearing make up or had their hair done. It was a tough work out that made you sweat and grunt (and sometimes I'd cry), but it really works.

One of the things that I loved best about it is that I could go at 8pm and there wouldn't really be anyone there so I could get personalized attention. It was on an evening like this that I got to sweat and grunt with Patrick Swayze and his wife Lisa. We all arrived about the same time - they were there for a private session with Mari - so for the next hour and a half I was treated to his sense of humor and his awesome body going through all the moves. Lisa's not too bad herself and since they are both dancers they made the pilates routine look elegant and effortless albeit with a little grunting and panting because Mari really works you out.

He was wearing a spandex dance suit which sounds very gay, but on him it was distracting and it was hard not to ogle him in front of his wife. I just wanted to sit and watch. He was much shorter than I thought he would be, but then that just seems to be the story when you meet famous men - most of them seem to be 5'10" or even shorter.

In any case it was just us working out that night and although I tried to be cool and not to talk to them - they were having a private session after all and those aren't cheap, he was so funny and personable it was hard not to laugh. He flirted non-stop with his wife and although at that point they'd been married for a while it was like they were still dating. Even more than that you could tell that they were great friends. They had the kind of connection that is palpable to anyone who saw them. That's a rare thing - two people who are like twinned souls that find each other.

Sharing pain with people can create moments of connection and bonding and the routine we did on the Pilates reformer just kind of creates an instant intimacy as you gaze at the person across from you through legs split wide, and while they could have been weird and stand offish they were not. They were fun people to be around and you could tell that they were deeply and completely in love.

The thing about loving like that - something I think we all want - is that when one of you dies, and it is inevitable that this will happen, it feels like part of you dies too and yet you have to go on. If your someone is young then this mean you have many years to miss and remember them and the intensity of your love equates the intensity of your pain and loss.

Today my thoughts and prayers are with Lisa and Patrick's family who have to go on without him and I hope that that deep and complete love will sustain her in the years to come.

Friday, September 11, 2009

TGIF (thank God it's football)

Every year I go into a sort of depression when football season ends, which is okay because every year I also get extremely excited and happy when football season starts!!!!

Last night was the first game of the regular 2009/10 season and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans did not disappoint. It was a big defense game = low score, but they stayed tied through much of the game, 0-0, 7-7 and 10-10 and then Hines Ward couldn't suppress his inner super hero and got stripped of the ball at the 10 yard line as he tried to run for a touchdown with 1:54 in the 4th quarter and then we get OT! Very good for the first game.

I still don't love sudden death in OT, I would like to see them play the whole 15 minutes, but unlike baseball games which seem to go on and on forever, I can never get enough football.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I didn't watch the speech last night. I've kind of checked out on the whole health care issue. It feels like a lot of talking, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. There's been a lot of uproar about a "public option" and how bad that would be. There's a lot of fear about a single payer system because that will cost the tax payers too much money. My friends with money really don't like that idea and I don't blame them - if I had a lot of money I probably wouldn't want to spend it on a government run program that most likely would kill people just as surely as the current system does.

What we need is change, but I don't think we're headed for a good one.

I've not heard any discussion about how the current system is broken. How can you fix something if you don't explore how it's broken?

We definitely need to get better health care options for people in this country, but I haven't really heard any clear ideas about what that would be. Just to say that everyone needs to have it doesn't reassure me. No one has ever raised a conversation about regulating the current system. Private insurers are gouging employers and individuals and their policies have raised the cost of medical care to a point that it's no longer really affordable even if you do have insurance.

I have individual insurance which I got for an initial premium of $120 a month. Within four months that was jacked up to $204 a month - no explanation, no reason. Just because they can. so now I pay $2400 a year and when I go to the doctor I pay out of pocket up to $3500 before I gain any benefit from having insurance. If I don't use my insurance and I negotiate a cash rate with a doctor it ends up costing me less than the negotiated rate the insurance company has with the doctor, but then nothing goes toward my deductible.

There are lots of nightmare stories in the news about people in the same boat who become ill, catastrophically ill, and then the insurance company rescinds their coverage. This is a common policy and it has nothing to do with real issues of fraud. A woman diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer was dropped because she didn't report seeing her dermatologist for acne.

Insurance companies are in business to make money. That's it. They don't care about consumers and because there's really no competitive market they don't need to provide excellent service. They have incredibly strong lobbies so they are part of policymaking when it comes to regulation and laws with regard to insurance. They are huge corporations and no one individual is responsibile or culpable for the immorality that they perpetrate on their customers every single day. There is no regulation and today when I read that the response from insurance companies to the president's speech was "he didn't address high medical expenses" I had to laugh, derisively of course, but I still laughed.

Medical expenses are high because doctors and hospitals are playing the game by the rules the insurance companies set up. A doctor will bill at about 200% of his cost because he knows the insurance companies will only pay maybe 50% of the bill. If he was billing his cost he would lose money and go out of business. I worked for several doctors and that's what I saw - it seems crazy to me, but that's how they do it.

Have you ever been hospitalized? Have you ever looked at your bills? Every single item is listed and the pricing is crazy. I remember being amazed that the PAPER pillow cover was billed at $5. What? But that's how the hospital makes it's profit.

We live in a country where sick people = bottom line profit and everyone thinks that's a good thing and the way it should be. I feel that it creates some real moral issues, but that's just me.

Joe Wilson's outburst over Obama's statement that no illegal aliens would receive benefit from the new health care plan - whatever that is - made me sick (not sick enough to even get close to meeting my deductible). Not only because he acted like a punk ass bitch in front of everyone, but because of the hatefulness that motivated the outburst in the first place. Why is it okay for Americans to receive health care in Canada because they can't afford to get it here? Why is it okay for at least 2 people I know to go live in Europe because they can afford to get transplants there and they can't afford it here?

We are illegal aliens heading into other countries for their health care benefits - we don't even want to clean their houses and mow their yards, or bus their tables - we just want to use their single payer system and come back over the border without having to pay the taxes to the get the benefit.

We do need to do something because some of the uninsured are committing suicide when they get sick or as a result of depression - but then that's kind of what our private insurance companies are doing by rescinding insurance when their customers become ill - we can call that "assisted suicide".

I can't really participate in the debate because no one is talking about what's broken and it all sounds to me like they're looking for another way to stimulate the economy, not to make sure that there's a good option for all people. I don't know about a public option - isn't Medicare a public option? And speaking of that option, it pretty much sucks because you have to be really poor, too poor to have any real quality of life in order to access it. What I think we really need is an assessment of the private option and why it's failing so grandly and then we need to fix it. One more crappy product in the arena of medical care isn't really going to change things. And why we're at it how about making people who rescind medical policies that people have been paying good money for a criminal matter? Say the person who makes that decision to drop a customer because she didn't report that she saw a doctor for a pimple and then got breast cancer, and the person who approves that decision could be tried in a criminal court for negligent homicide?

I guess I should be glad I've got good genes and do everything I can to stay healthy because it terrifies me to think about what will happen if I ever get really sick....and I've got insurance...for now.... as long as I stay healthy.