Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Insurance Question

With apologies to my readers -- I have been a bit lazy of late, and not much is going on here at the cabin.  I have a lot of time to think, and this question has caught my attention.  If you're not interested in politics, you can skip this one. :-)

[Stepping up on soapbox now]

As of recent GOP Debates, the "Insurance Question" has raised it's ugly head again.  One of my acquaintances on FB posted a video from of a woman whose brother had no job, no insurance and no "governmental assistance" because of his age (mid-late 50s).  He came down with cancer and died in a lot of pain.  The question is asked (and she admits it's a poor question, and it is), "Should people be allowed to die because they have no insurance?"

These kinds of questions, with relation to politics, really irritate me.  Why?  Because not only is it a "yes or no" question that doesn't really lead to discussion, but it is a leading question which plays on our emotions and tends to put a damper on any followup.

Obviously the answer to the original question is "No."  But this has gotten me to thinking, what is the correct question?  I think the question should be this:
"There are people in our nation who are unable to get a job and therefore, without insurance who are unable to get the healthcare they need.  Many of them are dying without treatment.  How would you resolve these issues and save these people?"
 Let me start with an aside that I believe that our world and our lives are made up of series of systems and everything is connected to everything else.  So the answer to this question is complex.

My first "off the cuff" answer to this is that it shouldn't be the problem of government to deal with this, except that it was the government that caused the problem (in my opinion).  Now, they had help of course, but ultimately a lot of the problem stems from laws that have been passed over at least the last 150 years or so.   All of these laws were enacted with the benefit of the people in mind, but some have had a negative effect on the people they were intended to help.

I think that we need to go back and review many of the old (and some not so old) laws that have been passed to see what the consequences of those laws have been and if those laws need to be completely or partially repealed, and/or rewritten.  We need to look at Health Care, and the laws governing legal practices towards doctors and medical practitioners; at the laws governing the insurance industry (especially medical).  We need to look at all sorts of business-related, economics and tax laws that effect businesses' ability to hire and retain workers.  We need to review how we deal with illegal immigrants.  We even need to look at welfare and how we deal with indigent people.

All of these issues are involved in why a person in their mid-fifties who has lost their job and insurance and comes down with a serious disease would end up dying in pain because they can no longer afford treatment.

I want, however, to reiterate one important point that I made above.  Before doing anything, we need to look at the long term consequences of any changes we decide to make.  It's called a "risk assessment."  Most of our laws in the past have been made without any risk assessments (or so I would assume), and some have had consequences that have caused problems in the long term.  But simply repealing a law that "went wrong" will also have consequences.  We need to determine what those consequences are and rework the law such that it solves the original problem without causing additional problems, and transition those effected into the new situation with a minimum of "pain."

Unfortunately, I think the possibility of any of this happening with any politician is slim to none, because no matter what anyone does, someone is going to be unhappy and the politician will feel their ability to be reelected in jeopardy.  So the other thing I think we need is term limits!  But that is another topic all together!

[Steps down from soap box.]

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Trip to the Big City Today

Today, I drove into town to attend a funeral at the church where Marc and I were married.  I saw a lot of people that I hadn't seen in years.  I made it through the funeral pretty well until the last verse of "A Mighty Fortress" -- music always gets to me, and sometimes it's the strangest things... but I survived.

Afterwards, I went to the genealogy library and tried out the new camera I bought to take pictures (instead of photocopies) of the information I found.  I don't think they turned out well.  (I haven't downloaded them yet.)

On the way home, I saw the wildfire in the park -- not close to me, but closer than some of the other fires "nearby."  I looked at the odometer when I got home -- almost 100 miles round trip!

Got home and discovered... yes, the hummingbird feeders were empty!  Well... that's a day in my life.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday in the Woods

So I was particularly lazy today.  I purposely slept in, and awoke to find the humming bird feeder empty AGAIN!  I refilled it, only to have it empty again by 3:00 pm.  So this time, I filled two.  I've had lots of hummers in the last few days -- I think perhaps it is the beginning of migration season.  If so, it seems slightly early.  I wonder if that indicates that we might have a particularly cold winter?

I did get out for my walk this morning, but it was a little late, so I didn't walk a whole mile.  One good thing I noticed is that at 10:00 am, my garden area was wholly in the sun!

Even though I spent most of the day inside listening to the Tri-County EMS scanner, I did notice a few interesting things.  A couple of times, I saw Grackles (large black birds) on my seed feeder.  I also noticed that my thermometer got up to 101 degrees this afternoon (for only a moment).  Then the temp dropped quickly, vacillated a bit, then settled on about 96.  Strange, if you ask me.  I wondered if a bird or something was sitting on the sensor?

Tomorrow, as I'm sure everyone knows, is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attacks.  I have received only one email, but saw several posts on FaceBook of remembrances of the event.  While I too feel that we should "never forget," I found quickly that I am not up to reading through all the stories.  However, my choir sings tomorrow.  I think the song I have chosen is appropriate to the day, both for the lessons of the day, and the remembrance of the tragedy.  It's the song It Is Well.  The person who wrote the song had lost his daughters in a tragedy at sea, and yet, with God's help is able to go on with his life.  Here's a link to a version of this song sung by three young siblings that one of my choir members sent me.

"When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll.  Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, "It is well, it is well, with my soul." 

Friday, September 09, 2011

Wildlife on the Homestead

I have a lot of wildlife in my little woodland sanctuary and that is a concern when I review my plans for developing a garden and livestock (probably chickens at this point).  Since we've cleared the area, the deer have been munching on my bananas, the squirrels have been eating the birdseed and several other animals have remained unseen, but I know they are there.

I will have to protect my garden and livestock from the animals listed above and from raccoons, possums, skunks, armadillos, coyotes, and possibly foxes.  Oh, and wild pigs!  I'm afraid this will be a case of "if you build it they will come!"

I visited a friend for lunch today, then ran some errands on the way home.  Driving through the country, I saw something I don't often see:  a dead coyote on the side of the road.  Sadly, I drove around the corner and saw another one!  I think the combination of the drought causing scarcity of food and water, and the fires to the north of us are likely driving animals this way.

Hummer Wars!

On the positive side, I probably have a dozen humming birds around my feeder.  I filled it up this morning and it's almost empty now (about 5pm).

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The fires in Texas are a big concern right now.  I am particularly worried because I not only have a lot of dead trees, but a lot of dead brush.  Fortunately, the fires are about 30-40 miles away (maybe closer "as the crow flies").  But still everything is so dry.  We're in the path of the smoke, so things are a bit hazy, and you can smell the smoke from time to time.  Weather Underground has the option to select "fire" from their radar maps.  You can also have it show the smoke in the area.

Here's a really Impressive Video from Texas Parks and Wildlife.  It's labeled as "Scary" and it is, but not in a horror movie sort of way.  The whole video is 50 seconds, and shows the fire moving right across an area of ... maybe 50 feet?  I'm not a good judge of distance, especially from a video, but wow!  You can see the trees that are NOT dry are surviving well enough, but those that are go up like matchsticks!  Scary, indeed.

I have a couple of trees that are dead from last year (or before) that are going to be cut down -- hopefully today.  One is where it would fall on the garden/yard area and another is over the driveway.

Dead tree at the front of the driveway
Another tree that is dead is the one where my driveway splits off to the house.  This tree partially blocks the view to the house, so I hate to lose it.  It will be complicated to cut because the power line is in the way (click on pic to see the powerline).  However, this winter, I plan to plant several brushy type trees to create a "hedge."  I'm hoping to get fruits and nuts from the hedge, if the birds and squirrels don't get them first.

Dead tree at the back of the driveway
Here is a picture of the dead tree at the opposite corner of the circle driveway.  I'm not going to cut it anytime soon, but it's sad to see it go.  And below that are other trees that have died or are dying along the pipeline right of way.

Dead trees along the pipeline ROW

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

This morning is starting off cool again like yesterday.  When I checked around 8:30 am, it was 65 degrees.  The hummers are out -- I've seen 5 or 6 the last couple of days.  Tried to get some pictures, but they move so fast.  My biggest problem is squirrels in my bird feeders!  And when I scare them off, they launch off the feeders scattering more seeds than they eat!

Dang Squirrel!  Sitting below the bird feeder.

I wish I could get started in my garden.  I'm waiting to find the buried electrical lines, and the water line as well, but I may just have to guess at that.  Need both of these to determine where to set the fence posts.  I want to have raised beds, but I might just put in amendments and such in the areas I want.  I can't afford to spend much more money until I get a job.  But the cooler mornings are really nice.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

It's been almost a year since my last post.  Several things have happened since then, and my life has changed significantly.  I've decided to get my blog going again, but it will be less about birds and more about my "Cabin in the Woods."  Part of my problem with the previous blog was the time it took to edit the photographs so they would load quickly (and the birds would be visible).  Well, my old computer died, and I bought a Mac.  Surprisingly, it did not come with photo editing software (or if it did, I haven't found it).

I did not mention it in my last post, but Marc was not well on that trip.  His health continued to deteriorate.  In March, we "officially" learned that he had Pancreatic Cancer, and he passed away the day before Easter in April.  Needless to say, things have been ... well, different.  My neighbors, family and friends have been wonderful and very supportive and I'm grateful!

I'm planning to turn my Cabin in the Woods into a homestead.  I'm going to plant a garden (with a fence -- the deer are already eating Marc's bananas!!).  This will be quite a challenge, because besides the animals (not just deer), the area is largely shaded.  I'm also considering getting some chickens, so I'll hopefully be more self-sufficient.

Before of the area where the garden will be
I'll still talk about birds some (not just chickens!), but I'm planning to make this more a journal of the homestead.  This is the area where the garden will be.  The "lump" in the center left is the "old" 4' square of garden with it's fence.  It was "mowed over" by the tractor.

After of the same area.
Here is the "after" version.  If I have chickens, the coop will go by the tractor shed, now clearly visible in the photo.  Of course, I no longer have a tractor, so I may need to call it something else.