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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Repeal and replace or fix?

So after 7 years of grandstanding the Republicans could not get their act together on a replacement for Obama Care.

Now that bit of political theater is over, maybe they can get down to governing? Well, they've got a few choices. They can ignore the whole thing and wait for it to fail. I'm sure everyone from the insured, to the uninsured to the insurance companies won't be very happy with that option. Make no mistake, the Republicans own health care now. With the control of all three branches of government, they have no excuse.

To be fair, the Republicans have some deep divisions among themselves. It does not look like that is going to change anytime soon.

So what's left to do? The adult thing is for everyone to set aside the winner-take-all mentality. Republicans and Democrats should make compromises and work together for the good of the nation. That's what a mature republic would do.

It's not like there are no models out there in the world. Countries like Canada and France are looked to because they provide universal healthcare at about half the cost Americans pay. We could look to Singapore. Their insurance costs a quarter of what Americans pay. Small health problems are paid out of pocket. Major issues are almost fully covered. If you are too poor to cover even small issues, the government puts money in a fund for you.

If the goal is to provide good health care for all Americans at a reasonable price, there are a number of ways to get there. That does not appear to be the Republican goal. Judging from their actions it's all about undoing anything Obama did and giving tax breaks to the wealthy. I would like to think they are better than that.

There are a few who have strong ideological objections to any government role in healthcare. That's not reasonable as government is heavily involved, like it or not. Even those who claim to be totally against government involvement have not come out against huge government payments and tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies. Must be just a coincidence those companies are heavy political donors.

If the Republicans don't get their act together and come up with something the whole country can live with, there will be repercussions. In less than four years the Democrats could be in charge again and they'll ram something in.

Now is a unique opportunity for politicians to grow up and do their job. Set aside ideology and focus on practicality.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Gunfire and Strangers

I wish I knew where I first came across this observation so I could give credit where it's due.

Here's the difference between the country and the city.

In the country nobody gets excited about the sound of gunfire, but if you see a stranger you want to know what's going on.

In the city thousands of strangers pass by every day and no one is concerned. However, the sound of gunfire gets people's attention.

That is so true. I hear gunfire all the time. I'm far enough out in the country that people have rifle ranges in their backyards. It's normal. Most of us in the country even have a fair idea what caliber people are shooting. Yesterday, it was someone shooting a .22 rifle. The shots were fairly evenly spaced so he was doing some target shooting. In the fall it's the sound of shotguns for bird and rabbit hunters or the large caliber rifle fire of deer, moose, and bear hunters.

One November we were visiting my sister-in-law in Manhattan. Back home I'd been waking up to the sound of deer rifles in the morning. At first the sound of gunfire did not concern me too much when it woke me from my sleep. I was puzzled a bit because it sounded like a .45 semiautomatic handgun instead of a deer rifle. Then I fully woke up and realized that no one was deer hunting in Manhattan.

At that point I became more than a little concerned. I understood why city people freak at the sound of gunfire; someone is getting shot. That's a big difference from target shooting or hunting. While everyone around here has guns, we don't go around shooting at each other. That's just nuts.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Have you checked your first aid kit?

You've got a first aid kit, right? Good for you. Have you checked it lately?

You're first surprise may be that it's not where you thought it was. Things get moved. The person moving it may have not told the rest of the household the new location. It's possible that nobody knows where the kit is now located, including the person who moved it.

Is is fully stocked? Over time, even small withdrawals can deplete your kit. The next thing you know you are out of large band aids and the triple antibiotic is gone. When you are cut and bleeding is not the time to make that discovery.

Have your medications expired? Many medications are still good after their expiration date, but why take a chance? Check the dates and change them. I like to cycle out the meds from the van to the house where they'll get used and restock fresh in the van.

Maybe your medication needs have changed? For example, if you find someone in your household has developed a need for an epipen, keep at least one in your kit. I keep a whole separate c-pap kit in case something happens to mine.

Is your med kit up for the job? Those all-in-one kits you can get at the store are better than nothing. You would probably benefit from a kit put together especially for your needs. I use a plastic fishing tackle box. There's plenty of room for all kinds of goodies. They are also easy to arrange so that everything is easy to get to. You don't want to be struggling with an unfamiliar kit in an emergency. Seconds count.

So, just a heads up about something that's easy to forget about.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Successful People

It's a fact that most successful people underestimate the roles luck, opportunity and connections make in their success. They overestimate the role of their skills and talents.

With that in mind I'm not a big fan of biographies as guides to success. If George W. Bush had been born into a family of bricklayers, does anything think he would have risen to be President of the United States?

When I first went to college it took me only one semester to realize that there would not be a good job for me in my chosen field. Most of my classmates had those good jobs locked up already. They had connections. All they had to do was to pass the course. If I'd been top of my class I might have gotten a job. My odds of advancing very far in a business dominated by family members were not good. I did not stay for a second semester.

There are plenty of tales of people who start from humble beginnings and beat the odds. However, there may be hundreds of people who did almost exactly what they did and failed miserably. For example, take two musicians of equal talent. One happens to have “the look” the record company is searching for that year and gets a contract. The second one, just as talented, spends his career playing for tips and drinks.

They say don't be afraid of failure. Those who say it often aren't going to miss any meals. When you are living on the edge, the risk of failure is huge. One false move and the rent doesn't get paid and the kids go hungry. Heck, now people aren't taking risks just because they can't afford to lose health insurance. That hurts upward mobility as much as anything.

There was a book by Marsha Sinetar, Do What you Love, the Money will Follow. What a lot of crap that turned out to be. I've been doing what I love for years. My “love” pays less than burger flipping.

One the plus side, I'm doing what I love, so that's got to be some measure of success.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Are you gonna live forever?

Financial advisers drive me nuts. They know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

I was just reading a post on a sailing forum. The guy is 59 and seriously looking at retirement at 62. He definitely does not want to work longer. He wants to live on a boat. The guy makes that clear from the beginning.

The financial advisers on the forum all want the guy to work longer. Now the advice of maybe getting a smaller, simpler, and easier to maintain boat makes sense. Telling a guy he can't live his dream until he's ancient does not. How often have we heard the tales of people who work hard their entire life and then die right after they retire?

There was one retired man who started a sailing blog. He looked in great shape. His dream was to sail his own boat down to Key West. The guy traveled down the east coast. He and his beautiful wife then crossed the state on the canal. He got as far as Ft. Myers, where he suddenly had a massive heart attack and died. His wife made the last post on the blog. Dang.

It's those tales that push me to follow my dreams. You never know your allotted days. Sure, financial advisers can figure out the average life spans, but they can't predict what an individual life will look like. The guy who wants to go sailing also made it clear that his family is not, in general, particularly long lived.

So what are the options? You could keep working and die with money in the bank. Then again, hospitals and retirement homes would probably get it all anyway. Let's say the guy goes sailing and runs through all his money. At the end of his life, when he can't sail anymore, he's reduced to living in poverty. So what? He kids don't get a nice inheritance. That's their problem. At least the old guy has some great stories to tell.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cool and Wet

We don't always have rain showers. Sometimes we have thunderstorms. It's been a cool and wet spring and summer. The only exception was the first week of July. As it turned out, that's the week my extended group of family and friends went camping. If we had to have just one dry and warm week this summer, that was the one.

I hope it's not the only one. I spent all last winter up here in the frozen north and found it bleak. Summer on the lake is what I live for. Between my leg injury and bad weather, I've hardly been down to the beach. That's just sad.

Before we know it the brief summer will be over. I'm hoping for a nice August, or at least a mild fall. I am cheered up by the thought that my lovely wife and I plan on heading south this winter. It's like giving summer a second chance. The current plan is to stay around for Thanksgiving and then head to Texas to see the in-laws. After that we'll eventually work our way to Florida.

I was talking to a friend who's got a place in Cape Coral Florida. He wants us to visit this winter. That would be great. He also has a good piece of land right near a boat ramp. It would be an excellent place to leave the van and boat trailer. I'm going to float the idea past him and see what he thinks. It's funny, we live in the same town in New Hampshire, but end up spending more time together when we are both in Florida.


Friday, July 14, 2017

New Neighbors?

I see the place across the road from me has been listed with a real estate agent. The same agent placed little American flags with her business card attached all over my property. I didn't appreciate that as I'm not in the market to sell. I happened to be out of town for a few days those flags just sat out there in all kinds of weather. That's wrong on a couple of levels. It disrespected the flag and showed I wasn't home to pick them up.

At any rate, the neighbors stopped trying to sell the place themselves and listed it with a broker. The people who were living there bailed partway through the winter. The house has only a little of the new siding on and the new deck isn't finished. The land was also used as a gravel pit. The owner's father is building a new place down the road. He took at least 80 dump truck loads of gravel out of the property, by his own admission. That's a lot of material for a one acre property.

I'm told the interior improvements to the house were extensive, but I haven't seen it. The outside looks terrible. There is a little strip of land along the road that was left alone -really left alone. They had to hack the weeds back to be able to put a for sale sign where it would be visible.

In spite of the place's obvious downsides, there was someone who came to see it. I know because my dog, not used to people being there, went over and barked at them. Nothing like making a good impression on potential neighbors. My lovely wife was able to call the dog back home.

The real estate market in my area really took a nosedive during the 2008 crash. Apparently, the local market is heating up again. If even sketchy places like my neighbor's is getting traffic, there must be some demand. That's probably why the real estate agent made an effort to give me her real estate card. After all, my property is the one with water frontage.

I can't help but be curious to see how things will sort out with the place next door.