Godwin’s Law

All this Hitler/Nazi stuff about Obama and his attempts to reform our healthcare system is hereby declared null and void.

As many others have pointed out, the oppositions’ statements are often false and so ratcheted up with hyperbole that rational debate is proving impossible.

Moreover, according to Internet protocol based on Godwin’s Law, the mere mention of Hitler and Nazis does two things:

1. The person who drags Hitler and Nazis into the debate has automatically lost the debate.

2. With the debate lost, the conversation must immediately cease.

Since a lot of the healthcare debate is occurring online, I submit that Godwin’s Law is in effect.

However, the debate must continue because:

1. I haven’t had the stomach to wade through the guns/Hitler signs/death panels/socialism lies to fully understand any of the plans under consideration.

2. I am convinced by the fact that my employer pays an amount equivalent to 30% of my salary to provide me with a “good” healthcare plan (high deductible and significant out-of-pocket expenses) is proof that the system is corrupt.

3. I’m waiting for someone, other than me, to shout The Emperor Has No Clothes with respect to the “group rate” nonsense.

As for No. 3, I’m either missing something key or the rest of the country is. Here’s what I think: if I still worked at the university, the premium for my healthcare would be significantly less. Same body, same mind, same prescriptions, same doctors, and same insurance company and yet the small nonprofit I work for is charged far more because we’re a small group. Huh what?

A co-worker, who is following the debate closely and committed to the idea of reform, tried to explain this the other day. I was feeling uncharacteristically polite and didn’t tell him that he’d clearly drunk the Kool-Aid.

His explanation centered on the idea that because Marshall has a far larger number of people, the risk taken by Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield is smaller. When I spluttered and said “But, but. . .” he then used the car insurance industry as an analogy as if those crooks were paragons of virtue and right-thinking.

And furthermore, sitting on my kitchen table is a bill from my doctor. The charge was $295. The insurance company said, “Oh no you don’t” and decreed that the charge should only be $65. With the deductible and out-of-pocket provisions of my policy, I am responsible for that $65. If I had no insurance at all, I would have to pay the $295. I have no right to say, “Oh no you don’t.” Okay. I might have the right, but it’s not going to get me anywhere. If I was still working at the university (who would be paying far lower premiums for my healthcare), I would have long ago met my deductible and my share of the $55 would have been less than a third.  (If I were disabled or elderly, Medicare/Medicaid costs would be less yet.  And, yes, I’ve heard the argument that those two programs pay less than the actual cost of treatment, but I’m not drinking that Kool-Aid either.)

Same body, same mind, same doctor, same illness and same insurance company. 

What part of this makes sense to you?

Ignoring the nonsense of state lines having something to do with all this, why isn’t West Virginia as a whole one large group? If that were the case, theoretically, we’d all have far lower premiums because the group is larger. Right? RIGHT?

Same insurance company, same bodies, same doctors, same illnesses, same drugs . . .

Completely whacked, I tell you. (And I haven’t even got into the balderdash about hospitals losing money over the uninsured and underinsured. Anybody besides me noticed the endless construction going on at St. Mary’s and Cabell-Huntington?  Nor have I gotten into Big Pharma and the rate of new drugtores being built.)

Ch ch ch changes . . .

My life is about to change. Since change is inevitable that statement is always true, but in this case the change will be swift and awing.

I have decided to win the lottery tonight.

Sunday’s projections were that tonight’s Powerball drawing would be worth $245 million with the cash option coming out at $122.6 million.

I’m not sure how these things work, but I would certainly take the $122.6 million cash option. A bird in the hand and all that. Even if that number is reduced by half to satisfy Uncle Sam, I should clear $61.3 million.

I can live on that.

Now there have been a host of social scientists studying lottery winners and the conclusions are grim – Jack Whittaker is a case in point. Most (yes, most) big lottery winners end up in worse shape financially than they begun. Interpersonal relationships suffer. Many wish they’d never won.

Us poor folk wonder how that can be, but I think I have a clue.

The biggest problem is that in order to collect the money you have to agree to be publicly named and paraded around in the lottery horse and pony show. This leads to developing a host of relatives you’ve never known. Couple that with endless solicitations from charities, friends, co-workers, etc. etc. to wit and tut tut and you have a private life that is not private and the significant stress of trying to enjoy the windfall while sifting through the requests.

Most winners go into this state of events with intentions of altruism. Many think their life is not going to fundamentally change outside of quitting their job and ceasing to worry about money.

Foolish people.

I have a plan.

Said plan recognizes that my life will fundamentally change in most respects.

I think that gives me a leg up on the odds of crashing and burning.

Given the low population density of West Virginia and the slow news days of August, it’s a given that I’d be swarmed with media within moments of announcing my win on Thursday. Hence, I have no intention of announcing my win on Thursday.

Now I know that the Lottery Commission knows where a ticket was bought which means the media and local residents will convulse themselves into a frenzy trying to decide who bought the winning ticket at the Little General. I imagine there will be signs and banners all sorts of nonsense. This should be good for giggles.

If memory serves, I will have a year to claim the winnings. I think 3 to 6 months of preparation will be sufficient. If by mid-November I can announce the win, I’m thinking most of the frenzy will be over with by Christmas.

I’m shooting for a grand holiday season when I will finally have time to send out Christmas cards and bake cookies.

My first order of business (after dancing around the living room and drinking the bottle of champagne in the fridge) will be to hire an attorney with a specialty in estate planning as well as an accountant. I’m still dithering about the need for a PR person. Along about mid-October, I’ll get one of them internet phones with a new number. I have this notion that those are the ultimate unlisted number.

It goes without saying that I’m not telling a soul (other than the attorney and the accountant) that I’ve won.

By the time I’m ready to claim my winnings, I will have an “undisclosed” location well in place. And no, I’m not going to disclose said location here. Shortly after doing Good Morning America, I’m going to disappear from everything except my contractual obligations with the Power Ball people.

The next few months are going to be really tough. Going to work every day and suppressing this news is going to take extreme discipline. I’m not good at policing myself, but I’ve made great strides since running across a quote that paraphrases as “Discipline is remembering what it is that you really want.”

I’m hoping my enjoyment of joining in conversations at the gas station and grocery store about who won will act as a pressure relief valve. I expect to chortle a lot.

So, yes, my life will change. I will quit my job. I will buy the biggest remote tract of land in West Virginia that I can find, hire a surveyor to pinpoint the exact middle and build a fortress of privacy. I will donate to charities and I will ease (not eliminate) the financial insecurities of family members and good friends.

I’m pretty sure I won’t hand out money to strippers, develop a drinking problem, or squander it all on Elvis memorabilia. I won’t lose sight of the fact that all of my newfound friends are only in it for the money and their willingness to be grateful is not true friendship.

My shoe collection is likely to grow.

I won’t use the money to punish people I think have mistreated me (okay there’s one I might set out to ruin and, no, it’s not who you think).

I have a pile of change on the dresser and I’m going to use it to buy the ticket on my way to the office. During the 1.1 mile commute between my house and the gas station, I’ll decide whether I’m letting the machine pick the numbers or if I’m using ages and dates.

If my blog postings of the next few months are a little giddy and disjointed (more so than normal), you’ll know why.

And, dammit, I’m buying a camera even before I announce.

Two Kinds of People



I can’t remember who said it, but somebody said, “There are two kinds of people: those who think there are two kinds of people and those who don’t.”

As someone who has studied anthropology, I know full well that there are far more than two kinds of people, but if I were to make sweeping generalizations I might suggest that people react to stress by either developing chronic headache problems or developing chronic intestinal problems.

Like the Great Apes, I fall into the latter category. When life gets crazy, I buy toilet paper by the truck load. When life gets crazy, other folks I know buy Excedrin, Motrin or Advil by the gross.

Two kinds of people.

I’ve had a headache I attributed to tripping over the computer cord and cracking my head on the sewing machine 11 days ago. At the time, I felt fortunate at not having to call 911 or an undertaker or my chiropractor or my orthopedist. I was absolutely fine (and grateful to not have had witnesses to my clutziness) until days later when the scab started pulling. There was a blazing headache behind my left eye. I was sure that if I looked in the mirror there would be flames shooting from my ears.

Removing the scab, drinking 4 oz of vodka, and binging on Advil seemed to do the trick. For three days.

I'm not dying, I'm not dying, I'm not dying

Repeat: I am not dying.

I almost never get headaches.

Since I never get them, I have no tolerance and develop a feeling of certitude that I’m dying of something. Excuse me a moment while I put the CDC on speed-dial.

That certitude is not without foundation.

Eleven years ago, on the way to the pediatrician to get Chef Boy ‘R Mine his sports physical, I developed a headache. By the time the doc started yammering at me about height percentiles, immunizations, and puberty, I could barely see for the headache. How I drove home remains a mystery.

By 2 a.m., I was delirious from the headache and puking up internal organs. My head was an orb of pure pain, my back was screaming, and I couldn’t hold my head up to drink water to wash the vomit out of my mouth which was okay because I couldn’t have kept it down. By 1 p.m., I managed to dial the phone and talk long enough to convince the ex to take me to my doctor. Upon arrival at her office it was mere moments before I was wheel-chaired, in great haste, to the E.R. and folks started yammering about brain scans and spinal taps. The only thing I remember with any clarity was telling the E.R doc that I was afraid of the spinal tap. He assured me that it would only hurt for a moment and then all the pain would go away.

Blessed relief.



I’m not sure what he gave me, but I was unconscious for three days – the length of time it took to grow a culture and determine that I had viral meningitis. I might be making this up, but I’m pretty sure they told me that I most likely contracted the disease from a mosquito bite.

Unlike bacterial meningitis, there’s no treatment for viral meningitis other than pain meds. It just needs to run its course.

It was a miserable three weeks.

August, I’m told, is the signature month for viral meningitis. With all the rain of the past several months, I have a mosquito problem for the first time ever. They’re everywhere. As soon as I get out of the car, I’m enveloped in a swarm of blood-thirsty proboscii (proboscises?).

This headache bears no resemblance to that one of eleven years ago, but still I’m nervous about those mosquitoes. It was with some relief that I started sneezing this morning. About an hour or so ago, I developed a cough.

I have a cold.

A simple cold.

Nonetheless, I’ve still got the CDC on speed dial.



Summer colds suck, but they’re infinitely better than meningitis. So far it’s not affecting my work life (even if I’m using lunch time to blog).

One of my pet peeves is that people won’t stay home when sick – thus infecting everyone else. I don’t have time for a sick day. I’ve put a Quarantined! sign on my office door and warned folks. I’ve sprayed Lysol and I’m mainlining orange juice and aspirin.

As soon as I feel better, I’m buying mosquito netting and swaddling my body. Think see-through burka.

So. There are two kinds of people. Those who over-react to statistically-unlikely possibilities and those who don’t.