So Now What?

June 29, 2012 at 11:19 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Unless you’re living under a rock (in which case, how are you using a computer?), you’ve probably heard all about the new health care coverage plan – not so affectionately dubbed Obamacare –  that the Supreme Court voted on yesterday.  It’s a confusing and divisive issue but I really do think that knowledge is power (cue 90’s inspirational message here) so I’m hoping I can help clear up some of that here.  Below is text from a website that I frequent and I believe it breaks down this health care plan so most anyone can understand the basics.  I know it’s long and a lot of it might be dry reading (not everything is 50 Shades of Grey) but this is important stuff and it affects you whether you like it or not.  Besides, if these insanely hot temperatures persist over the next few years, you might start using your health insurance more than you can now imagine.  So go ahead and learn a little more about it.

Okay, explained like you’re a five year-old (well, okay, maybe a bit older), without too much oversimplification, and (hopefully) without sounding too biased:

What people call “Obamacare” is actually the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, people were calling it “Obamacare” before everyone even hammered out what it would be. It’s a term mostly used by people who don’t like the PPACA, and it’s become popularized in part because PPACA is a really long and awkward name, even when you turn it into an acronym like that.

Anyway, the PPACA made a bunch of new rules regarding health care, with the purpose of making health care more affordable for everyone. Opponents of the PPACA, on the other hand, feel that the rules it makes take away too many freedoms and force people (both individuals and businesses) to do things they shouldn’t have to.

So what does it do? Well, here is everything, in the order of when it goes into effect (because some of it happens later than other parts of it):

(Note: Page numbers listed in citations are the page numbers within the actual document, not the page numbers of the PDF file)

Already in effect:

  • It allows the Food and Drug Administration to approve more generic drugs (making for more competition in the market to drive down prices) ( Citation: An entire section of the bill, called Title VII, is devoted to this, starting on page 747 )
  • It increases the rebates on drugs people get through Medicare (so drugs cost less) ( Citation: Page 216, sec. 2501 )
  • It establishes a non-profit group, that the government doesn’t directly control, PCORI, to study different kinds of treatments to see what works better and is the best use of money. ( Citation: Page 665, sec. 1181 )
  • It makes chain restaurants like McDonalds display how many calories are in all of their foods, so people can have an easier time making choices to eat healthy. ( Citation: Page 499, sec. 4205 )
  • It makes a “high-risk pool” for people with pre-existing conditions. Basically, this is a way to slowly ease into getting rid of “pre-existing conditions” altogether. For now, people who already have health issues that would be considered “pre-existing conditions” can still get insurance, but at different rates than people without them. ( Citation: Page 30, sec. 1101, Page 45, sec. 2704, and Page 46, sec. 2702 )
  • It forbids insurance companies from discriminating based on a disability, or because they were the victim of domestic abuse in the past (yes, insurers really did deny coverage for that) ( Citation: Page 47, sec. 2705 )
  • It renews some old policies, and calls for the appointment of various positions.
  • It creates a new 10% tax on indoor tanning booths. ( Citation: Page 923, sec. 5000B )
  • It says that health insurance companies can no longer tell customers that they won’t get any more coverage because they have hit a “lifetime limit”. Basically, if someone has paid for health insurance, that company can’t tell that person that he’s used that insurance too much throughout his life so they won’t cover him any more. They can’t do this for lifetime spending, and they’re limited in how much they can do this for yearly spending. ( Citation: Page 14, sec. 2711 )
  • Kids can continue to be covered by their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26. ( Citation: Page 15, sec. 2714 )
  • No more “pre-existing conditions” for kids under the age of 19. ( Citation: Page 45, sec. 2704 and Page 57, sec. 1255 )
  • Insurers have less ability to change the amount customers have to pay for their plans. ( Citation: Page 47, sec. 2794 )
  • People in a “Medicare Gap” get a rebate to make up for the extra money they would otherwise have to spend. ( Citation: Page 379, sec. 3301 )
  • Insurers can’t just drop customers once they get sick. ( Citation: Page 14, sec. 2712 )
  • Insurers have to tell customers what they’re spending money on. (Instead of just “administrative fee”, they have to be more specific).
  • Insurers need to have an appeals process for when they turn down a claim, so customers have some manner of recourse other than a lawsuit when they’re turned down. ( Citation: Page 42, sec. 2719 )
  • Anti-fraud funding is increased and new ways to stop fraud are created. ( Citation: Page 699, sec. 6402 )
  • Medicare extends to smaller hospitals. ( Citation: Starting on page 344, the entire section “Part II” seems to deal with this )
  • Medicare patients with chronic illnesses must be monitored more thoroughly.
  • Reduces the costs for some companies that handle benefits for the elderly. ( Citation: Page 492, sec. 4202 )
  • A new website is made to give people insurance and health information. (I think this is it: http://www.healthcare.gov/ ). ( Citation: Page 36, sec. 1103 )
  • A credit program is made that will make it easier for business to invest in new ways to treat illness by paying half the cost of the investment. (Note – this program was temporary. It already ended) ( Citation: Page 830, sec. 9023 )
  • A limit is placed on just how much of a percentage of the money an insurer makes can be profit, to make sure they’re not price-gouging customers. ( Citation: Page 22, sec. 1101 )
  • A limit is placed on what type of insurance accounts can be used to pay for over-the-counter drugs without a prescription. Basically, your insurer isn’t paying for the Aspirin you bought for that hangover. ( Citation: Page 800, sec. 9003 )
  • Employers need to list the benefits they provided to employees on their tax forms. ( Citation: Page 800, sec. 9002 )
  • Any new health plans must provide preventative care (mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.) without requiring any sort of co-pay or charge. ( Citation: Page 14, sec. 2713 )

1/1/2013

  • If you make over $200,000 a year, your taxes go up a tiny bit (0.9%). Edit: To address those who take issue with the word “tiny”, a change of 0.9% is relatively tiny. Any look at how taxes have fluctuated over the years will reveal that a change of less than one percent is miniscule, especially when we’re talking about people in the top 5% of earners. ( Citation: Page 818, sec. 9015 )

1/1/2014

This is when a lot of the really big changes happen.

  • No more “pre-existing conditions”. At all. People will be charged the same regardless of their medical history. ( Citation: Page 45, sec. 2704, Page 46, sec. 2701, and Page 57, sec. 1255 )
  • If you can afford insurance but do not get it, you will be charged a fee. This is the “mandate” that people are talking about. Basically, it’s a trade-off for the “pre-existing conditions” bit, saying that since insurers now have to cover you regardless of what you have, you can’t just wait to buy insurance until you get sick. Otherwise no one would buy insurance until they needed it. You can opt not to get insurance, but you’ll have to pay the fee instead, unless of course you’re not buying insurance because you just can’t afford it. (Note: On 6/28/12, the Supreme Court ruled that this is Constitutional, as long as it’s considered a tax on the uninsured and not a penalty for not buying insurance… nitpicking about wording, mostly, but the long and short of it is, it looks like this is accepted by the courts) ( Citation: Page 145, sec. 5000A, and here is the actual court ruling for those who wish to read it. )

Question: What determines whether or not I can afford the mandate? Will I be forced to pay for insurance I can’t afford?

Answer: There are all kinds of checks in place to keep you from getting screwed. Kaiser actually has a webpage with a pretty good rundown on it, if you’re worried about it. You can see it here.

Okay, have we got that settled? Okay, moving on…

  • Small businesses get some tax credits for two years. (It looks like this is specifically for businesses with 25 or fewer employees) ( Citation: Page 138, sec. 1421 )
  • Businesses with over 50 employees must offer health insurance to full-time employees, or pay a penalty.
  • Insurers now can’t do annual spending caps. Their customers can get as much health care in a given year as they need. ( Citation: Page 14, sec. 2711 )
  • Limits how high of an annual deductible insurers can charge customers. ( Citation: Page 62, sec. 1302 )
  • Cut some Medicare spending
  • Place a $2500 limit on tax-free spending on FSAs (accounts for medical spending). Basically, people using these accounts now have to pay taxes on any money over $2500 they put into them. ( Citation: Page 801, sec. 9005 )
  • Establish health insurance exchanges and rebates for the lower and middle-class, basically making it so they have an easier time getting affordable medical coverage. ( Citation: Page 88, sec. 1311 )
  • Congress and Congressional staff will only be offered the same insurance offered to people in the insurance exchanges, rather than Federal Insurance. Basically, we won’t be footing their health care bills any more than any other American citizen. ( Citation: Page 81, sec. 1312 )
  • A new tax on pharmaceutical companies.
  • A new tax on the purchase of medical devices.
  • A new tax on insurance companies based on their market share. Basically, the more of the market they control, the more they’ll get taxed.
  • The amount you can deduct from your taxes for medical expenses increases.

An adorable picture of a baby panda as a reward because you are still reading

1/1/2015

  • Doctors’ pay will be determined by the quality of their care, not how many people they treat. Edit: a_real_MD addresses questions regarding this one in far more detail and with far more expertise than I can offer in this post. If you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation of this one (as many of you are), I highly recommend you give his post a read.

1/1/2017

  • If any state can come up with their own plan, one which gives citizens the same level of care at the same price as the PPACA, they can ask the Secretary of Health and Human Resources for permission to do their plan instead of the PPACA. So if they can get the same results without, say, the mandate, they can be allowed to do so. Vermont, for example, has expressed a desire to just go straight to single-payer (in simple terms, everyone is covered, and medical expenses are paid by taxpayers). ( Citation: Page 98, sec. 1332 )

2018

  • All health care plans must now cover preventive care (not just the new ones).
  • A new tax on “Cadillac” health care plans (more expensive plans for rich people who want fancier coverage).

2020

  • The elimination of the “Medicare gap”

.

Aaaaand that’s it right there.

The biggest thing opponents of the bill have against it is the mandate. They claim that it forces people to buy insurance, and forcing people to buy something is unconstitutional. Personally, I take the opposite view, as it’s not telling people to buy a specific thing, just to have a specific type of thing, just like a part of the money we pay in taxes pays for the police and firemen who protect us, this would have us paying to ensure doctors can treat us for illness and injury.

Plus, as previously mentioned, it’s necessary if you’re doing away with “pre-existing conditions” because otherwise no one would get insurance until they needed to use it, which defeats the purpose of insurance.

Whew! Hope that answers the question!

Edits: Fixing typos.

Edit 2: Wow… people have a lot of questions. I’m afraid I can’t get to them now (got to go to work), but I’ll try to later.

Edit 3: Okay, I’m at work, so I can’t go really in-depth for some of the more complex questions just now, but I’ll try and address the simpler ones. Also, a few I’m seeing repeatedly:

  • For those looking for a source… well, here is the text of the bill, all 974 pages of it (as it sits currently after being amended multiple times). I can’t point out page numbers just now, but they’re there if you want them.
  • The website that was to be established, I think, is http://www.healthcare.gov/.
  • A lot of people are concerned about the 1/1/2015 bit that says that doctors’ pay will be tied to quality, not quantity. Because so many people want to know more about this, I’ve sought out what I believe to be the pertinent sections (From Page 307, section 3007). It looks like this part alters a part of another bill, the Social Security Act, passed a long while ago. That bill already regulates how doctors’ pay is determined. The PPACA just changes the criteria. Judging by how professionals are writing about it, it looks like this is just referring to Medicaid and Medicare. Basically, this is changing how much the government pays to doctors and medical groups, in situations where they are already responsible for pay.

Edit 4: Numerous people are pointing out I said “Medicare” when I meant “Medicaid”. Whoops. Fixed (I think).

Edit 5: Apparently I messed up the acronym (initialism?). Fixed.

Edit 6: Fixed a few more places where I mixed up terms (it was late, I was tired). Also, for everyone asking if they can post this elsewhere, feel free to.

Edit 7: Okay, I need to get to work. Thanks to everyone for the kind comments, and I hope I’ve addressed the questions most of you have (that I can actually answer). I just want to be sure to say, I’m just a guy. I’m no expert, and everything I posted here I attribute mostly to Wikipedia or the actual bill itself, with an occasional Google search to clarify stuff. I am absolutely not a difinitive source or expert. I was just trying to simplify things as best I can without dumbing them down. I’m glad that many of you found this helpful.

Edit 8: Wow, this has spread all over the internet… and I’m kinda’ embarrassed because what spread included all of my 2AM typos and mistakes. Well, it’s too late to undo my mistakes now that the floodgates have opened. I only hope that people aren’t too harsh on me for the stuff I’ve tried to go back and correct.

Edit 9: Added a few citations (easy-to-find stuff). But I gotta’ run, so the rest will have to wait.

Edit 10: Adding a few more citations (it’ll probably take me a while to get to all of them) and a few more additional entries as well.

Edit 11: Tons more citations!

Edit 12: I updated this with a reference to the recent court ruling on the mandate, and address the question everyone seems to be asking about it (“What if I can’t afford to buy insurance?”)

Edit 13: Okay, I’ve started up a “Obamacare” Point-By-Point, where I’m starting to go through the bill point by point and summarize it in the same order that everything is actually in the bill, so that hopefully, when I’m done, you can just use my version as a sort of Cliff’s Notes version of the bill. Whether or not I continue doing this depends on how much interest people have in it, but I figured I’d let you guys know about it here.

Edit 14: Adding in a few more citations and spelling/grammar edits.

Full source for even more information

I think when you get down to it, most everyone will be in favor of at least certain aspects of this bill.  I think it’s sad that certain politicians will do or say anything to get one of their own back in the White House, even if it means distorting pieces of new legislation.  The best thing the general public can do is to keep ourselves informed, so hopefully this post will help you do just that!

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Do It For Chicago

June 27, 2012 at 11:05 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

No, not that.

On Saturday, Scott and I joined a group of other volunteers from the food pantry and participated in the 27th Annual Hunger Walk.  The proceeds from this event benefited the Chicago Food Depository, which is where our pantry receives a large percentage of the foods that we in turn dole out to hungry residents in our own neighborhoods.  This 5k began at 8:30am near Solider Field and luckily it was a beautiful morning for a long walk.  Our route took us through a parking garage in McCormick Place (very random and not so nice) and then along the lake, which was very pretty and worth trudging through the depths of the parking garage.  Sort of.  Also, notice I said walk – I don’t run 5ks or anything else but even if I had wanted to, there were so many people there that running would’ve been just about impossible.  According to the website there were 13,000 participants and I know that our local pantry received a certain amount of funds from every walker that we brought, so that’s awesome.  The walk was packed but everyone was in good spirits as we were all doing it for a good cause.  It was a little annoying that to begin, everyone had to pass under a small arch that wasn’t much bigger than a set of double doors – you can imagine how long it took thousands of men, women and strollers to get through there.  We still managed to be finished with the walk in about an hour, which is about what I expected.  It took twice as long to get there and back on the trains as it actually did to walk, but that’s okay.  We were able to swing by a diner for brunch once we were finished and, after loading up on pancakes, hash browns and omelettes, enjoyed quite the nap later in the afternoon.  Hey, we earned it!

The last time I did any sort of walk like this was probably back in high school, where we had annual 10 mile Walk-A-Thons to raise money for our school.  They were basically an excuse to take the day off from class, walk a few hours then eat a bunch of pizza.  I may or may not have spent a Walk-A-Thon or two a little hung over, so at least this time I was alert and sober.  Relatively speaking.

Anyway, it’s hard to believe I’ve been helping out at the pantry for nearly three years.  I’ve met some really great people and even added a new member to our book club through my network of pantry volunteers.  I’m actually going there tonight so hopefully I’ll hear just how well we did during the 5k but since every little bit helps, I’m sure they’re happy!

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R.I.P Lonesome George

June 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Some sad news from the famed Galapagos Islands (where Darwin solidified his theory of evolution):

Goodbye to the Galapagos tortoise

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — The giant tortoise Lonesome George, whose failed efforts to produce offspring made him a symbol of disappearing species, was found dead on Sunday, officials at the Galapagos National Park announced.

Lonesome George was believed to be the last living member of the Pinta island subspecies and had become an ambassador of sorts for the islands off Ecuador’s coast whose unique flora and fauna helped inspire Charles Darwin’s ideas on evolution.

The tortoise’s age was not known but scientists believed he was about 100, not especially old for giant tortoises, who can live well over a century. Scientists had expected him to live another few decades at least.

Various mates had been provided for Lonesome George after he was found in 1972 in what proved unsuccessful attempts to keep his subspecies alive.

He lived at a tortoise breeding center on the archipelago’s island of Santa Cruz. He was found Sunday morning in his pen by his longtime keeper, Fausto Llerena, the park said in a statement.

Attempts were initially made to mate Lonesome George with two female tortoises from Wolf Volcano. But the eggs they produced were infertile.

Two females from Spanish island’s tortoise population, the species most closely related to Pinta tortoises, were placed with him last year.

The park said the cause of his death would be investigated.

The Galapagos’ giant tortoise population was decimated after the arrival of humans but a recovery program run by the park and the Charles Darwin Foundation has increased the overall population from 3,000 in 1974 to 20,000 today.

Source

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Time Flies

June 22, 2012 at 11:39 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

One year ago yesterday, I had butterflies in my stomach because I had a date planned with some red-headed dude that I met on OKCupid.  I had only been on a few dates through the site before and they were all pretty big duds, but something about this guy felt different.  From the moment we met it was like I had known him forever but after a year I still feel like I was introduced to him yesterday.  We’ve been there for each other through some ups and downs and have managed to have a lot of fun along the way!

Blink and you miss it!

Speaking of time flying by, it’s now been a little over ten years since I graduated from high school.  MAN, that’s weird.  As far as I know, we’re not having any sort of reunion or anything (or perhaps they are and I was left off the list?) but since the advent of Facebook, I know what everyone is up to anyway.  Whether or not that’s a good thing is yet to be determined.  I still can’t believe it’s been so long since I was in high school, though in other ways it seems like I’ve lived an eternity.  And because I love my lists, here’s some stuff I’ve done since graduation:

  • Completed two Bachelor degrees at Indiana University (and keeping up a fairly decent GPA while still somehow managing to fail Ballroom Dance)
  • Lived in three different cities in two different states
  • Had eight different addresses
  • Traveled to eight different countries on five different continents
  • Had five pets (a gerbil, a guinea pig, a bird and two cats – Catsby was the best, RIP)
  • Kept three of said pets hidden while living in the dorms
  • Dated….well, nevermind
  • Held fourteen different jobs, more than a few simultaneously
  • Worn through two pairs of Teva sandals
  • Finished the Museum Studies certificate at Northwestern
  • Volunteered with seven different non-profit organizations
  • Watched the entire series of Gilmore Girls three times.  Don’t you judge me!

Clearly, a lot can happen in a year and even more can happen in ten.  While high school does seem forever ago, I’m thankful that I’ve been able to maintain certain relationships from that time and I’m also thankful for the relationships I’ve formed since then.  Here’s to the next ten years!

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Hunger Pains

June 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

This isn’t a real post.  Rather, it’s a confession.  I got home last night around 8pm and that was nearly 10 hours after I’d eaten anything.  I was not in a mood to be messed with.  I found two pieces of leftover pizza in my fridge and in my excitement to get them into my mouth, I dropped them on the floor.  I then picked them up, gave them an incredibly cursory blow-off and then promptly shoved them into my face.  Yes, they were cold and no, I don’t regret a thing.  I believe my time in college prepared me for just this sort of occasion.

I only tell you this so if something similar ever happens to you, you can rest assured in knowing that you’re not alone.

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Let Them Eat Cake

June 19, 2012 at 11:22 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I have a doctor’s appointment later this evening for a general physical and potential yellow fever vaccination for the trip to Ecuador and I’ve been instructed to not eat or drink anything other than water for the 8 hours leading up to my appointment.  Since I’m meeting the doctor at 6:30pm, I inhaled a ton of food and coffee for breakfast and now I have heartburn.  I’m in no way hungry (yet) but I imagine I will be.  The pizza that was just delivered for our office and set up in the cubicle next to mine isn’t exactly helping.

Neither is the cake that we have for someone’s birthday.  Of all the days…

I mean, I’m used to eating a light breakfast and waiting until 2:30 or so to eat lunch so this should be easy.  Only when someone tells me not to do something it suddenly becomes the one thing I can’t stop thinking about doing.  Tell me I can’t eat?  I begin fantasizing about gnawing on every single thing within eyesight.  Seriously, my stapler has never looked better.  A friend also mentioned that the fasting probably means they’re going to do some blood work and I vaguely remember that from my last physical, which I’m pretty sure took place during the previous century.  I hate needles so I’m a little more nervous about all this now.

A piece of cake would help make me feel better.  Damnit.

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Playing with Pellets

June 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm (Uncategorized)

On Friday, I spent the evening at the last Dozin’ with the Dino’s event for the year at the Field Museum.  This is where kids and families/groups come to stay overnight, after spending hours at various scientific-filled tables interacting with staff and volunteers.  I worked the owl pellet table, which I’ve only done once before – and despite my background there, it’s one of my favorites.

They really are fun to dissect, I promise!

For those that don’t know, owl pellets are basically like owl hairballs.  When an owl eats its prey, the acid in its stomach isn’t strong enough to break down the bones, fur and feathers of said prey, so that all winds up in its gizzard.  Once the gizzard is full (roughly every 10 hours or so), the owl basically hacks up this hard little ball that contains the bones and fur of any animal it recently ingested.  Apparently there’s a company that specializes in procuring, sanitizing and pasteurizing owl pellets and selling them to places like The Field Museum or various schools/camps (talk about an…interesting…job).  Many kids who came to the table had been exposed to them in school but sadly, that was something my childhood lacked.  Good thing I was able to make up for it in adulthood, because despite how gross they may sound, these things are actually way cool.

The purpose of our workshop was to dissect the pellets to see what the owls had been eating.  You can find all sorts of bones in these things (not to mention the mass amounts of fur) and intact skulls are particularly prized finds.  We had a little cheat sheet that had the bones of various animals on a diagram so we could sort of tell what animal our findings came from but mostly it was just cool to dissect.  One little girl said it was gross, to which I replied that science wasn’t always clean, and she ended up thinking it was the coolest station we offered by the end of her session.  One kid even found a skull that was sort of fused with another skull, as though it was a Siamese twin mouse or something like that.  Since we gave all the kids Ziploc baggies to take their findings home in, I can only imagine that skull is now creepily staring at that little boy from somewhere within his room.

Creepy or not, it was a fun way to end another Dozin’ season!

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Turtle Tales

June 15, 2012 at 11:29 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Here’s an interesting animal story for your Friday, as seen on The Huffington Post:

You can’t say they didn’t try.

After an impressive 115 years together, two “giant turtles” at an Austrian zoo are refusing to share their cage anymore, the Austrian Times reported Friday. (The paper provided no further information about the species of turtle or tortoise in question.) 

Hope they had a pre-nup


“We get the feeling they can’t stand the sight of each other anymore,” said Helga Happ, director of the Klagenfurt-based zoo, where the turtles — Bibi, the female and Poldi, the male — have lived for the last 36 years. Before that, they called Basel Zoo in Switzerland home.

According to the paper, zoo staff realized something was amiss when Bibi bit off a chunk of her partner’s shell. When the attacks continued, Poldi was moved to another cage.

Animal experts even attempted couples’ counseling — feeding the turtles aphrodisiacs and encouraging them to play games together. But so far, efforts have failed to bring the shelled lovers back together.

Turtles aren’t the only members of the animal kingdom known to “divorce” their partners. Studies have shown that some birds who mated successfully with a partner one year have “divorced” and moved on with another partner in successive years.

At first this story made me sad because I figured love just never lasts, then I realized that I’d get sick of ANYTHING after 115 years, even cheese.  I guess this just shows that all good things do come to an end.  And sometimes that end means getting your shell chomped on by your former lover.  Or maybe the male turtle just forgot their anniversary?

If you want another weird animal story, check this out.  Unless you’re scared of the bubonic plague, that is.

Happy weekend!

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When Life Hands You Lemons

June 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I walked through my neighborhood on Sunday to go visit a nearby friend and as I did, I encountered something I don’t think I’ve seen since I moved to Chicago.  A lemonade stand.  Did I suddenly get transported to Mayberry?

Awwww

If you look closely, you’ll see a tiny table set up at the end of this sidewalk (which was as close as I could get for a photo without feeling like a creep).  Two little boys sat there and while one was too young to do any talking, the older kid happily told me that I was the first person to walk by their stand since they set it up.  Of course, that meant I had to buy a drink though the fact that it was like 90 outside certainly helped.  I was lucky I actually had some cash on me as I very rarely do and I actually doubled their fee of .50 by letting them keep the change from my dollar.  They had two flavors to choose from and like a true salesman, the little boy told me they were both delicious when I asked which was best.  He then proceeded to pour my drink himself, even though the pitcher was nearly as big as he was.  I offered to help but he insisted and in the end he didn’t spill a drop, though my cup was only filled about a third of the way.  Better than nothing!

While I was being served, a woman driving a car was passing and by the time I left the stand, she had pulled over and was walking over for some lemonade herself.  The couple in lawn chairs in the foreground of the photo were the little boys’ parents and we chatted for a minute before I went on my way.  Their mom thanked me for being a good sport and said again that I was their first customer – I told her that it made my day and I was glad to help.  I never had a lemonade stand of my own because something like 4 cars would drive down my street in any given week but I did once have one at a friend’s house.  I hope these kids made more than we did because times are tough and they could be saving for a car.  Or their first mortgage.  Regardless, I hope they made a bit of cash and had a lot of fun.  And if they set up shop again, I also hope that they remember to add sugar to their lemonade.

 

 

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Bonnarooooooo

June 11, 2012 at 10:39 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

It’s been 6 years since I camped out in a field in the middle of Tennessee, but thousands upon thousands of people did just that this past weekend at the annual Bonnaroo, hosted in Manchester.  I went in 2005 and 2006 with friends and the entire experience was the closest thing to Woodstock that I think I’ll ever encounter.  I had a lot of fun both years I went but waking up sweating in a tent at 6am because it’s already 85 degrees outside is not something I miss.  Am I too old for such shenanigans?  Yeah, I think I am.

Been there, done that

I’m glad I went the years that I did and it seems that this four-day music festival has grown by leaps and bounds since I last attended.  I saw some really great acts (Beck, The Allman Brothers and Radiohead all spring to mind) and the entire atmosphere on these 700 acres of land was one of peace, love and music.  Or sex, drugs and rock and roll, however you want to look at things.  It’s all about the shows and the people, so things like running water and actual beds fall by the wayside.  As someone who is a bit of a neat freak, using baby wipes for impromptu baths after wallowing in the dirt and mud for 10 straight hours grew old after the first couple of years and since I lack the necessary funds to travel down there in a fully equipped Winnebago, I’ve resigned myself to more local festivals instead.  This weekend I found myself at the Andersonville Midsommarfest, the Printers Row Lit Fest and the Chicago Blues Fest, just to name a few.  And while I did have to deal with Porta Potties, I did not have to deal with wrangling a tent and scores of people tripping on just about every substance known to man.  Or listen to the incredibly awkward drunk dial from some kid in the camp next door to the parents of one of his buddies, where he apologized profusely for 10 minutes for getting them into the car wreck on the way there that almost killed them all.  I still shudder when I think of that.  Instead, while I did pause to take a few minutes and remember with fondness some of my happiest times at ‘Roo, I was even happier that at the end of my days I was able to take a shower and sleep in my own bed.  And if that makes me a boring grown up, bring on the reading glasses and the 401(k)s.

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