01 April 2006

Truth and Consequences

The label on the jar of Trader Joe's Colossal Olives handstuffed with Blue Cheese says two of the olives have 15 calories.

Huge chunks of blue cheese jammed in the cavity of an inch-long olive. Hm.

But it's in print, right? And they CAN'T lie!

The whole jar, in that case, is merely a 300 calorie meal. Yum.

I'll post photos of my new Lane Bryant outfits when it is over.

Blogging Pays Off, finally

I don't know if I have ever mentioned my other blog, Snackish. It is a vegetarian food blog I have had for a long time, since food is my primary interest (it's obvious from the size of my butt).

You may know that the NY Times has a great food section with some of the best writers around. The inestimable Mimi Sheraton, Frank Bruni, etc.

Well, it looks like I will be joining them. The whole story is too long to go into, but I met someone online who knew someone and they were looking for the vegetarian/vegan/organic angle and so...

I will not be moving, for now - I will be a correspondent, which just sounds so cool, doesn't it? I will get to travel and eat and you know, do the things I have always wanted to do. Of course I will post links to my first thousand articles or so.

I am nervous and excited and I have a lot of stuff to do to prepare....Yikes. Wish me luck.

29 March 2006

Tough Choice

I came across a story in the news today that first made my skin crawl, then made me mad as hell. So of course I have to share it with you.

This MSN article about the first Indian doctor to be jailed for performing sex-selection (meaning "kill all the girls") abortions made me sick.
Female children frequently require large dowries — cash and gifts given to the groom’s relatives by a bride’s family — and often receive medical treatment and education after male children.

Some ultrasound clinics used to advertise with the slogan: “Pay 1,000 rupees now for a test, rather than 100,000 rupees later.”

National imbalance
Nationwide, the number of girls per 1,000 boys declined from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001, according to the 2001 national census. In wealthy Haryana state, the census showed 820 females for every 1,000 males.

The past two decades have seen the birth of nearly 10 million fewer girls than would otherwise have been expected, nearly all presumed by researchers to have been aborted, according to the Lancet, a leading British medical journal.

I have been pro-choice for as long as I have been able to understand the concept of abortion, so I can imagine an anti-abortion person saying "What's the difference between killing all babies and just killing girl babies?"

To me, not allowing abortions and only aborting girls are two ends of the same spectrum. It isn't about abortion, it's about denying women the right to control her own body - or to live in a body at all.

I'm mad, but I'm also sad, imagining what is in the deepest hearts of the women who had the abortions. They have had the experience of being women in a culture that doesn't value women, and they must have hated it bad enough that they can make it okay to say yes when the doctor asks them if they want to abort their girl.

27 March 2006

It only takes one

So about my $983 medical bill, my frightening overwhelming, I-didn't-ask-for-this, medical bill:

To recap: I had a cardiac test that the scheduler told me would cost $250. The bill came and it was $1560, and I owed $983 of that. This circumstance meant that I spent all weekend in a State of Extended Panic with bouts of Trembling and Shouting with a Tendency Toward Tears.

As soon as I got to work this morning I called the 800 number at my medical insurance company and talked to Randy, a claims guy, about my problem. He made really good sympathetic noises, but basically said it was a problem between me and the doc.

I got done with work and off to the medical office I went. I found Debbie, the scheduler who had given me the $250 estimate and told her what happened.

She, of course, denied the whole thing. She started out fairly reasonably, but when it became clear that I was indeed pinning the blame on her and wasn't backing down, she got snotty and could not have been snottier.

She tried to weasel out of it every which way. She never said it, I didn't understand her, she never quoted tests, she "knew how she interacted with patients and I wouldn't have done that," "This kind of thing has never happened before," "You probably just don't have very good insurance," yadayadayada.

She finally would not talk to me any more. She sent me down to the Office Manager. By then I was shaking and so screwed up I had to walk around the building twice to find the office.

The first person I talked to in the business office was a complete wench too. She took my paperwork and looked it over and tapped her acrylic nails on the desk and told me it was billed correctly. I was on the verge of hopelessness.

But then...then came Betty. She emerged from her office, a tiny white-haired woman in a purple sweater and cute glasses. She waved off the wench. She grabbed my hand and looked in my eyes.

"We don't want you to be upset," she said, and I could tell she meant it.

She looked at my bill and nodded and muttered under her breath and figured a bit.

"How about...would it be okay if...you just paid the $250 and we called it even?" she said.

"That is EXACTLY what I was going to propose," I said.

So all it took was one kind person, one Betty, to make me think that maybe the world wasn't such a rotten place after all. That the Universe wasn't conspiring against me. That I might make it after all, like Mary Richards in Minneapolis.

Here's my wish for you dear reader: into your life, may a little Betty fall.

26 March 2006

I have a new hero

I don't have a TV but the kind folks at Crooks and Liars post video of all the relevant news bits, so I feel like I don't miss much.

This interview with correspondent Lara Logan about reporting the Iraq war makes me realize that I am not even one-hundredth the journalist she is. I am not fit to carry her video cables. She lays out exactly why there isn't more "happy news" coming out of Iraq and why all the coverage seems like such a downer. Hint: it's not the journalists' fault.

And for some hard, bitter laughter, here is the week's editorial cartoon round up. A picture and a few words are worth a thousand words, or something like that.

BlogHer Contest Update

I had to re-count all the comments with a new system to make sure I hadn't forgotten people who had commented long after the post was up. Now I am fairly sure everything is in order. It is so much fun to be organizationally handicapped.

So far there are 66 entries in the contest, with Izzy holding at least ten of the little blue raffle tickets herself. Kristen and Christina are good for quite a few, and Giddybug and Madness Rivera are holding their own, too.

Here's my question of the day for ya - if you're a parent, what has surprised you most about parenthood?
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