Thursday, September 17, 2009

Panda da!

I am SO pleased at how well this turned out! I couldn't find a pattern I liked so I sort of winged it; although I did find some amazing pictures of similar projects online that helped me figure out how to do the eyes.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What Scares Me Most

You know, as a chronic hypochondriac, fear of illness is a regular companion of mine. It was made more complicated in my youth, when I was so fearful of doctors and needles that I would think I might have appendicitis... but was too scared to go get it checked out. It made for many fearful days. I eventually got over the worst of my fears and have had blood work and various shots in the last decade with minor angst.

4 years ago, I lost my job at William Morris, and went on COBRA for 18 (very expensive) months. Now as a self-employed computer technician, I have been uninsured for 2.5 years, and have only a small healthcare cushion in the form of Christian Healthcare Ministries; it doesn't cover much, but does serve as protection against a Worst Case Scenario of cancer or a car wreck. Most of the big expenses will be covered. Because I am overweight and take prozac, I can't even get insurance companies to respond to my application without requiring ridiculously high premiums, so I am grateful for this small shield.

In the midst of the current wildfire over healthcare reform, I am one of those who is personally concerned with the outcome. It is the difference between being able to go to the doctor when I have a bad fall and twist my knee, and sitting at home with an ice pack and ibuprofin and praying that it's nothing serious. That's fear. And in every news story, every debate on the virtues and failings of both the current American system and socialized medicine, the rage and the unwillingness to concede a single point is just that: fear. We are terrified of being helpless.

I hear an interview on the radio with a young woman who developed cancer and had no insurance and the horrors she endured as a result, and my instinctive response is to get a full-time job at Starbucks so I can have insurance.

I hear stories from Canada and the UK and Europe about people who had to wait months for an appointment and received critical care too late, and my instinctive response is to call my congresspersons and beg them to stop the proposed reform.

I hear nothing but fear and accusation, really. The government is in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry... the government wants to dictate our care... we'll be taxed to pay for lazy slobs who can't be bothered to eat right or exercise... the insurance companies are really just out to make money... the doctors in the US don't care as much for their patients... the doctors in Europe don't care as much for their patients... People in Canada come to the US for critical care because they can't get it there...

Every time I try and make sense of the whirling dervishes of healthcare rhetoric, I become more disillusioned and confused, and feel less confident in ANYTHING that purports to fix the problem. In my worldly self, I would rather just let the American system stay as it is, and hope to get insurance again someday, because I have no faith in our government to effectively reform healthcare. I would rather be in debt for quality care, than pay nothing for essentially weak/poor care.

And then I remember the nature of society... to find a fear, and ride it into the ground. Once it was illegal immigrants, once it was Communism, once it was Indians, once it was smallpox, once it was Catholics, once it was the Plague, once it was the Vikings, once it was the Romans, once it was the Persians. All those fears which had genuine danger underlying them have long since passed, but our makeup as humans seems to require something to be frightened of. So by all means, let's be frightened of Socialism creeping in through the guise of healthcare reform; it helps take our mind off the economy.

I actually think it's sortof good for me to not have health insurance. Good health insurance gives you the illusion of having an armed guard to protect you wherever you go; well, that armed guard is easily recalled at any moment, so it's best not to rely upon it. I will be far better cared for by God than by Blue Cross, even though I cannot tell how or know what form it will take. When I fell down 2 weeks ago and twisted my knee badly, I cried because I was helpless and couldn't afford to go to the doctor. I told some friends, and asked for prayer. Advice rolled in from medical professionals: prop your knee up, ice it frequently, take anti-inflammatories for the first 24-48 hours, the first 2 days are crucial. Many, many people prayed. And my knee slowly and steadily grew better. Now, 2 weeks later, it's about 95% normal (I have hyper-extended knees, and can't fully extend it yet) and I scarcely limp at all. It is discernibly better each day.

Was it really a bad accident? I don't know if I'll ever know. It might have been just a bad wrench of the knee muscles. But it also might have been something worse that was healed through prayer. And I survived it (quite well, actually) without consulting with the healthcare industry. It was not fun being scared... but I much prefer the method and results.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Susan is on the Warpath

I have been "pimping" (for lack of a better word) Carbonite's online backup service for over 2 years now, to clients and friends. I would venture to say I have persuaded dozens of clients to sign up for their service, and it hasn't been all bad. It has saved the files of several people whose computers died spectacularly, and considering most of them would have had no backup at all without it, it has been an admirably cheap solution.


I have just discovered their appalling, pitiful excuse for customer support, and a loophole they've provided for themselves in the Terms of Use that none of us ever read; basically, they can delete your files if your computer doesn't connect to the carbonite service for an undetermined length of time. Your computer dies, and you don't get a replacement quickly and re-establish your carbonite account? Say goodbye to 5 years worth of family photos. Your internet goes out for a week? Too bad. You'd better hope that your computer doesn't die before you can get back online and let carbonite rebuild your entire backup from scratch!

It costs $19.99 to get "priority" phone support; ludicrous, if the product that I am paying for won't work, even after following all of the online support. It took over 20 minutes of painfully slow online support chat to discover that my client's backup had simply been deleted - after several "did you try this?" comments from "Ralph", I finally asked point-blank "DO YOU SEE MY DATA ON YOUR SERVERS?" 5 minutes later, he finally responded that the data had been deleted.

So now I am on a mission - to warn all of my clients and friends that is an unreliable and basically dishonest service, and they would be better served to switch to either or, as I intend to do myself. Both are well reviewed and have good value for cost, while carbonite is only #9 out of 10.