Tuesday, February 28, 2006

even the coast guard is worried

from the burlington freepress:
Coast Guard warned of intelligence gaps in ports deal

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2006
By Liz Sidoti
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Citing broad gaps in U.S. intelligence, the Coast Guard raised concerns weeks ago that it could not determine whether a United Arab Emirates-based company seeking a stake in some U.S. port operations might support terrorist operations.

i knew i wasn't over-reacting! i think there is also a down play of the socialist nature of the uae (i dont mind socialism, by the way, but it is a very different set-up then the capatalistic nature of our agreement with the PRIVATELY owned british company that currently is still in control of the ports... and i dont really like that reality either, but it doesnt frighten me, just makes me feel a little indignant, and i dont think it addresses what having another government own the port actually means. does that kind of make the ports an extention of uae? are they free to do what ever they will with the ports (keep in mind, the deal made by the bush administration allowed them to keep all their records off american shores where we would not be able to monitor what actually occurs...a rather unusual concession i think)

Monday, February 27, 2006

results to fill in the down time

at work with very little to do so i thought i would write.

this post is informational to anyone who wants to know more about ms, and for the people in my life, who might want to know how i am doing. if it seems like this is too personal, i apologize, but i want to educate and end stigma around many different things, and this is part of how i do that. my mri turned out pretty decently. there are three things that are being looked for to understand how the illness is progressing.

first, there are lesions, which show up on the mri as bright white spots or streaks in the brain. this shows where the myelin coating the nerves has been attacked by the immune system and shows either an acute, active attack where it is exceptionally bright and large, or shows where things have basicly scarred over, and the spots are smaller and less bright.

i took the mri home with me and compared with the mri from sept. 1999. there are not that many newer lesions, mostly a largening of existing lesions, and the neurologist stated that the damage was located where connections are made, which explains why alot of my episodes are bi-lateral (like both hands going numb). she also said it may have something to do with mixing my words up (i say things like upload instead of download, etc..

second, there is the concern of atrophy, or shrinkage, of the brain. ms has this problem in common with other brain illnesses such as schizophrenia, and is not a good sign

i have no atrophy...YEAH!!!!!!!!!

third, there is the problem with holes (my swiss cheese comment of the last post) which show up as black spots on the mri. i think this is the most important aspect to go over with a medical provider, because some parts of the brain, such as the ventricles, show up as black as well. these are areas where the myelin is not even attempting to repair itself anymore, i believe

my mri showed only two teeny-weeny little black dots that i would have entirely missed if the neurologist had not pointed them out, thats how small they were (but i imagine i would have panicked if i had gome home and looked for them on my own, because i easily could have thought a ventricle was damage)

all in all, a good report, but i dont think i had ever understood why my first neurologist had been so concerned by existing damage at the time of diagnosis. there are quite a few lesions, but atleast i can feel relaxed by the very minute changes over the past six years, as compared to the amount of damage that already existed in 1999.

Friday, February 24, 2006

brain scan

i am about to have the first mri i have had in six years. this is rather abnormal for someone with ms. the woman i work with who has my same illness ends up getting an mri every six months (a little silly if you ask me, since all an mri can do is tell you how scarred your head is, not lead to any cures, but i suppose her doc wants to make sure her meds are working) but due to a combination of my doctor saying that maybe we dont really want to know what is going in this cabesa, and the fact that braces and electronic imaging dont go so well together, no new photos have been taken since september of 1999.

now the braces are gone (but i need to remember to take out the retainer), and so we will finally see how swissed my cheese really is after nine years of illness awareness (actually, my nine year anniversary is march 7).

medical stuff is unpleasant and a little frightening. i really wish i had an atavan for this, mri's are loud and cramped and take quite awhile, but i will just have to make it through without being on valium (bummer)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

the shady deal

from yahoo news:
Documents Reveal White House Deal on Ports By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 14 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Under a secretive agreement with the Bush administration, a company in the United Arab Emirates promised to cooperate with U.S. investigations as a condition of its takeover of operations at six major American ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The U.S. government chose not to impose other, routine restrictions. In approving the $6.8 billion purchase, the administration chose not to require state-owned Dubai Ports World to keep copies of its business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to orders by American courts.

----see what i mean about some shady deals? why don't they have to keep records here? did the british? and by the way, i had missed that fact previosly, the whole british thing, and i am not sure how i feel sbout it yet.

i also read that these six ports get 26% of all port business. thats an awful big chunk of change, right?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

i will not change my mind

suddenly, there are a number of news articles on the web trying to say discomfort with this port issue is phobic, and that this attitude may keep out investors from the middle east. want to know what i have to say to that?


this is not about arabs or money for me, it's about war and polotics and shady governments and proven facts (which i dont feel like writing about but are available at havecoffeewillwrite i believe) and i resent being called phobic of arabs because i dont want another country, especially a country known for supporting my enemy financially, to have contol of u.s. ports. nope. and i'm not sorry at all for it either.

hanging tough...or just plain idiotic, shady and unreasonable

from yahoo: Bush Says Ports Deal Will Stand
By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 19 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Lawmakers determined to capsize the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates said President Bush's surprise veto threat won't deter them.

---ok, isnt this the president who did not even seem aware that he had something called veto power? now he chooses to veto? now?

this man is too stubborn for his own good. i have yet to talk to a single person who is comfortable with this situation, and i wonder what kind of shady deals our government must be in on with uae in order to stick to this plan so strongly. this is not about commerce, the business is "state-owned" and its about flooding more money into arab government. are there no americans capable of doing this job?

i truly believe at this point in time, if the bin laden threat is really a threat and not just a convenient ploy on behalf of the bush administration (which more and more i am beginnning to feel, as bin laden is m.i.a. except when it is helpful to bush for some reason...) then our national guard should be guarding the ports...oh, wait, are they all in iraq right now too?

Monday, February 20, 2006

bill mahr: better than chocolate?

i cried when politically incorrect was taken off the air. seeing bill each evening was like chocolate after a bad day at work and i would force myself to stay up every night, no matter how early the wake up (this was afterall, prehistorically pre-tivo)

thankfully, cable forgave bill his move to network, and took his laid off ass back from tv to the world of hbo.

real time with bill mahr was like coming home again. there are so many favorites for me. new rules; the continued use of a (smaller) panel but adding other things into the format; the way they divide up the season so you dont go almost two years sans bill (ahem, the sopranos could learn from this...i dont even remember why i ever watched, now that i lost touch with all charicters)

but my absolute favorite thing about bill is that his opinion does not tow anyone's line but his own. utterly liberal in so many ways, bill always voices his differing views without unsurity. just this week, he seemed to not be very outraged by the whole spying issue, and though he did bring up how easy it is to get a warrent, he sees merit in the spying.

ok, that's it.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

an objection

i am not okay with outsourcing port duty to an arab nation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


hummer birds

from http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060218/ap_on_bi_ge/suvs_tax_breaks

"Federal tax rules that took effect last month allow a credit of up to $3,150 for anyone buying a hybrid car. The credit is the same regardless of tax bracket.

However, owners of small businesses who buy a Hummer, Ford Excursion or other SUV weighing more than 3 tons get a deduction of up to $25,000 — depending on tax bracket — if they use the vehicle exclusively for work.

The benefits don't stop there. Once they subtract the $25,000 from the cost of their 3-ton SUV, small business owners can deduct the depreciation on the remaining amount. Someone who bought a $60,000 SUV, for example, can claim the remaining $35,000 over six years."

ok, does this strike anyone else as insane? they are getting free a car that will use more pertroleum then any other car- no wonder bush felt so confident in talking about alternative energy sources. afterall, what corporation would want to buy a hybrid for seven eighths of full cost when you can get a big bad meanie for nothing? (and yes, some say its worth what you save in gas, but come on...a $60,000...for FREE)

Song of the day:

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

told you

see, i told you i could smell spring coming!
unfortunately she is toooooo early, and this weekends freeze is going to make me so sad after this tease!

by the way, spring kind of turns me into a pistachio.

Song of the day: one good reason- wendy bucklew


i am wearing birkenstocks!
i am wearing birkenstocks without socks
i am wearing birkenstocks without socks and i keep hoping some mud will find its way onto my foot.
i love it when my feet are earthy.

Song of the day: rural faggot- amy ray

Monday, February 13, 2006

social work and creativity

truly, social work and creativity are not enemies. as a profession, social work often employs ingenuity and creativity in order to meet increasing needs in a society with dwindling resources (cause all those rich guys need to have bigger bank accounts). it's a very left brained creativity though. atleast, i cant really think of a better way to describe it. i have heard writing called a left brain act as well, and all i can think is that the more cerebral, the more left brained, the more artsy, the more right brained. i don't adhere to this opinion, but it is something i have definitly heard, and i think it can provide a vocabulary for my post.

i bring this up because at work today, for all my ingenuity and creativity (and there sure is plenty), i found myself becoming slightly frustrated in response to my inability to meet a clients need. ..ok, a little frustrated is an underwhelming description of my little series of cloud bursts. my right brained creativity is highly tuned into the world right now though, and if pretty words could provide me a case manager, psychiatrist, medicaid number and clozaril, i could have won the nobel prize for creativity...is there one, by the way? but alas, that is the wrong kind of creativity for this profession, atleast in my role as inpatient psychiatric social worker.

i wonder if there is something about working with people, and in some instances their lives, that leads to my inability to think at work. i mentioned perfectionism in my muse post, and i know this is playing a part in experiences such as what happened today, and it is not helping. but think about it, sometimes, a person's actual and literal life is in my care. there is nothing between us in those moments. i have to be present, and aware, and real... not the easiest things for me to be.

working with poems, there is paper between me and a person, flowery verbosity, tricks of a trade.

song of the day: yes i will-michael frenti

Sunday, February 12, 2006

working blues

my friend tonya, who just graduated with me, and i were talking about how lost and detatched we both feel since grad.

both of us are currently working good jobs and making decent money, she's salary, im hourly, and yet i know that i am very disatisfied, and i get the feeling she is too.

almost everyone who has been here before me, my mom, my shrink, my gaggle of middle aged men (no offense meant), say that this is what everyone feels like at this stage of their lives, but that does not make it any better.

i am thinking about going back to school, get a doctorate, but the deadline to apply for fall is march 15, and i am doing horribly on those practice gre's, i dont know how i could pull that all together...

Song of the day: five oclock world-the vogues

more about my muse

not that i have called her muse before this, first she was that majickal professor, then jackie, but now i realize that a creative spark has been lit up again. i don't even know that i was entirely aware it was gone

this spark died out somewhere along the line. it used to gush and gurgle, poetry and music mixes, plans and parties, connection and seperation, but it's been gone for moons, maybe a few dozen moons even, and now it is nagging me to let it out. but perfectionism is in the way, and a doubtful respect shushes me.

we had to keep a journal in that class. an outlet for me, nourishment, and i suckled and nipped at it. i changed. i began this blog. but the journal ended, and i can't seem to figure out where to get fulfillment now. my muse, her energies supported me.

today, the sun was awake before i was, a first for this side of the solstace. even though the noreaster hit, and there was some lake effect after a winter above freezing, i finally could smell the spring coming and all i can think of is a continuing ed. class i have next month, to fulfill my ethics need and to find the muse. i had hoped she would have time for me before i was once again apart from an adoring crowd, but that is not to be.

i had fear i would lose what was found under her weekly attention. the class was eight, but i got more then an eighth of her mind, her time, and i flourished, creating the perfect blush on this golden apple cheek. it was fine.

i miss her.

Song of the day:falling- alison moyet

Saturday, February 11, 2006

economic huh?

last night, macs backs and and policy now presented tamara draut, author of "strapped: why america's 20-30 somethings can't get ahead" and bakari kitwana, author of "why white kids love hip hop".

while the entire evening was interesting and full of interesting ideas on economic difficulties my age bracket is facing, the evening was somewhat dominated by the older members in the audience, turning the conversation away from the four main econmic challenges identified by tamara to a more "my generation had it just as rough but we still turned out better..." based spin. i can only identify one question an audience member posed to the author that was truly relevant to the topic at hand, and not a distraction.

this was truly disappointing. i will read both the above mentioned books, but i think an opportunity to have an indepth interactive understanding on how i can approach our own economic futures was lost. but one thing ms. draut mentioned which was not lost to me was an aside comment on investor's fear of decreased unemployment levels and increased wages. from:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060211/ap_on_bi_ge/wall___main

"NEW YORK - In the good-news-can-be-bad-news world of Wall Street, recent data showing growth in employment and wages have worried some investors. Their fear: More jobs and higher wages could spark inflation and prompt the Federal Reserve to continue its march of short-term interest rate hikes.

But the strong employment and pay numbers have become a source of contention on the Street. Some economists and strategists believe the employment and pay picture is less inflationary than the data would suggest...

Among the data at issue is January's unemployment figure, which sank to 4.7 percent, its lowest level since July 2001. The four-week average of jobless claims on Thursday fell to its lowest level in six years, according to the Labor Department. Then, there are employees' average hourly earnings, which trailed inflation for most workers last year, but rose to $16.41 in January, up 3.3 percent from a year ago.

The January employment report "began to rattle the cozy consensus that has been expecting just one or two more rate hikes from the Federal Reserve in 2006," Bank of America strategist Thomas McManus wrote, saying the drop in the unemployment rate and indications of wage pressure were "particularly troubling."

--Tamara pointedly stated that one reason job security is so low in this market is the importance on putting money into the stockholders portfolio, not having a reliable workforce. i unfortunatly do not really understand how interest rates work, or, therefor, what this article says beyond the rich would rather have people out of work and working for slave wages then a healthy society for all.

Song of the day:

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Oh, Coretta...

i have been unready to talk about my experience of coretta scott king until now. i am pretty sure that this was due to my jewish soul which is uncomforttable dealing with death until a body is in the ground (i believe in the three day until burial limit we jews work with, and you cant imagine how hard it was for me when the pope died and it took over a month to get him in the ground), but she was put in earth yesterday and i feel i can now respectfully talk about her.

i had the priviledge to see coretta speak at PRIDE in atlanta in 1996. she was a even tempered speaker, somewhat soft in tone, but powerful in content. for those unfamiliar, PRIDE is the yearly glbt festival, and atlanta's is pretty much the big one in the south, with over 350,000 attendees that year, and her words of civil rights were greeted by deafening cheers.

i know for me, coretta's ability to see past her own religious beliefs, her acceptance of this wacky rainbowed crowd of dykes and drag queens, her insistance that each individual in peidmont park that day was as human as herself, and deserved rights as much as herself, and her willingness to put herself on the line for MY rights, changed my being in so many ways.

i wish everyone had an opportunity such as i did to experience a woman of history in the present. to have one of the primary civil rights leaders of the fifties and sixties (and yes i know, it was technically her husband, but imagine coretta's sacrifice during this time) say to them that there is still a struggle, and that she will not stop fighting for equal rights just because her segment of the population is doing better then before, nor will she leave anyone behind because of personal disagreement with the lifestyle (and no, she did not verbalize any feelings of disagreeing, but she was, after all, a preacher's wife).

thank you, coretta, for your energy, your commitment, your caring, your belief in justice....
i promise, i will never leave anyone behind either

song of the day: Kadish-jewish prayer for the dead yet
the Kadish is not a mourning of the dead, but a praising of life in honor of their years.

Monday, February 06, 2006


i am beginning to think that jcar is conducted on a state to state basis. i have included an example of how jcar works by adding michigan's version in this post, but also found one for illinois and florida. i did not find ohio's, but i know we have one. i dont know, it just seems to me we should be aware of this committee. they do, afterall, get to set the rules...literally

from: www.paaonline.com/1999/111299a.html


On Wednesday, the Senate adopted a package of bills (Senate Bills 877-879) that change the manner in which the Legislature oversees the drafting of Administrative Rules.

Under the compromise reached with the Engler Administration, once notified that rules were about to be promulgated, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) would have 21 days to consider the rules. If JCAR does not favor the rules, it could issue a notice of objection. Once filed, a bill would have to be introduced and passed by both the House and Senate within 21 days to stop implementation of the rules.

The Governor, however, could veto the rejection bill, leaving the two chambers seven days to muster the votes for a gubernatorial override.

Democrats accused the Republicans of rolling over and giving up its legislative authority.

Governor Engler has challenged JCAR's authority in the rule process. The challenge is currently pending before the Michigan Supreme Court.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

the cost of mental illness II

from: www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/burden.cfm

The Impact of Mental Illness on Society

"...the burden of psychiatric conditions has been heavily underestimated..."

The burden of mental illness on health and productivity in the United States and throughout the world has long been underestimated. Data developed by the massive Global Burden of Disease study conducted by the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and Harvard University, reveal that mental illness, including suicide, accounts for over 15 percent of the burden of disease in established market economies, such as the United States. This is more than the disease burden caused by all cancers.

This Global Burden of Disease study developed a single measure to allow comparison of the burden of disease across many different disease conditions by including both death and disability. This measure was called Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). DALYs measure lost years of healthy life regardless of whether the years were lost to premature death or disability. The disability component of this measure is weighted for severity of the disability. For example, disability caused by major depression was found to be equivalent to blindness or paraplegia whereas active psychosis seen in schizophrenia produces disability equal to quadriplegia.

Using the DALYs measure, major depression ranked second only to ischemic heart disease in magnitude of disease burden in established market economies. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder also contributed significantly to the total burden of illness attributable to mental disorders.

The projections show that with the aging of the world population and the conquest of infectious diseases, psychiatric and neurological conditions could increase their share of the total global disease burden by almost half, from 10.5 percent of the total burden to almost 15 percent in 2020.

the cost of mental illness

from: www.mhlg.org/business_3-03.pdf -
Coalition for Fairness in Mental Illness


Mental health and physical health are inextricably linked. Mental illnesses can affect a person’s
productivity and health as much, if not more than, a physical illness. An employee with an untreated or undertreated
mental illness may add to employer costs via: absenteeism, turnover and retraining expenses, poor morale and lower
productivity, injury and compensation costs, conflict among employees and increased medical costs. Investing in
mental health parity provides a return of productivity and economic gain.


• The 1999 Surgeon General’s report on mental illness estimates the direct business costs of lack of parity
coverage of mental illness treatment of at least $70 billion per year, mostly in the form of lost productivity
(absenteeism and “presenteeism”) and increased use of sick leave. Other studies have show that employees
with inadequate mental health coverage resort to increased use of general health care services.

ß An MIT Sloan School of Management report showed in 1995 that clinical depression costs American
businesses $28.8 billion a year in lost productivity and worker absenteeism.

ß Depressed workers have between 1.5 and 3.2 more short-term work disability days in a given thirty-day
period than other workers. The average salary equivalent disability costs of these days range between $182
and $395 per depressed worker (Health Affairs; Volume 18, Number 5; 1999).

ß Of the 11 million individuals who suffer from depression in any given year, approximately 7.8 million are
found in the workplace (American Journal of Psychiatry; 1996; 145:1351-1357). The annual cost per
employee is $4,200 (Journal of the American Medical Association; 1997; 277:333-340).

Saturday, February 04, 2006

when society falls behind: future changes in payment for nursing homes

we had a minor scare at work this week, but it truly could become a large crisis in the future.

on wednesday, a nursing home representative came in to talk to my co-social worker, terry, about some new rules in medicaid/medicare payments for convalescent stays. a convalescent stay, for us, means finding an available bed in a suitable nursing facility (NF) for a patient ready for discharge (which often means they are no longer suicidal so insurance is giving a payment limit), but are not stabalized enough on medications to be returned home.

the new rules would insist on a medical diagnosis, and state that a psychiatric diagnosis will not meet criteria for a short term convalescent stay (30 days or less), which is truly all that alot of psych patients need

luckily, it turns out that while it is true that this is what jcar (ithink it was jcar at least, i could be wrong though, so if you are truly interested, you may want to do research, and i will post it if i find anything to the contrary) wanted to do, they were not able to get it in place this year. jcar, by the way, is the "joint commision on (get this) administrative rules".

this makes me furious. mental illness is mostly a BRAIN illness. schizophrenia can be seen on mri's. we know that atrophy (shrinkage) occurs in the brain's of people who suffer from schizophrenia. we know it is a chronic illness. unfortunately for my patients, the symptoms are psychiatric, and we as a society still have a huge stigma around mental illness. it is no different then having cancer or anemia, down syndrome, MS..... filling out the transfer forms at work (which need to be done to allow for payment during a convalescent stay), i have no problem saying that my clients need assists in some of their daily stuff. i can think of one man who is perfectly able to get himself dressed...so long as someone says "you need to get dressed" he is also able to do his own laundry, as long as someone tells him what to do (and he definitly needs someone to remind him to use soap).

and except for PTSD (which is entirely externally based), all mental illness has an organic MEDICAL aspect, an imbalance of chemicals of some sort. and to better define my terms, mental illness is not going to therapy, it is not about the "walking wounded" at all (though they do give drugs to anyone who wants to go in that direction pretty much, and even encourage it sometimes even though there are very obvious psychosocial issues). it is about continual struggle to learn how to incorporate this aspect of yourself into your life, as any chronic illness is.

and then, this morning, bush wants to put another 440 billion in the pentagon and then make more cuts to medicare. we are not only losing the war, we are loosing our security despite going to war, which was meant to make us feel more secure....right?

i would blog about it, but....

so my miserable day, the one where my hands went numb (they only stayed numb for about ten days by the way), and found out my grandmother had breast cancer (it hasnt spread anywhere, which is great news), the day on which i wrecked my car (i picked up the scion yesterday, and i do like it), i also blogged on that day that my boss was making me miserable, and that i hadn't heard from jackie.

i actually heard from her that day, and became unsure if it was synchronicity in action (more on that some other time), or if she read my blog. even now, i am nervous about typing her name, but it is censoring me to think that way. a big part of who i am, how i write is to use my life to lead to political or professional points. a strange egomaniacal type of imagery maybe, but all my favorite writers lay themselves out to be flayed, and i want to be as powerful as them.

i do think, however, i maybe should have used an alias for her.

Song of the day:

without thinking

drinking my morning coffee, it was so hot the first sip burnt off the tip of my tongue.

i thought, just blow on it, as most would think about hot things they are about to put in their mouth.

i had asked for a styrafoam cup this morning (naughty, i know), and now i closed my lips around the raised mouth hole before i blew, thinking that it would work better that way

and i succeeded at shooting myself in the forehead with a stream of hot coffee that erupted from a tiny little pressure hole on the opposite end of the lid.....

i need to think things out more before i act. my life would be a lot less painful if i did.
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