25 August 2008

BEST of WNC

Please help my band, Sirius.B, win the Annual Mountain Xpress "Best of WNC" award. This year, we're competing for "Best Indie/Noise Band" and "Best Rock Band"-- Last year, we were among the finalists for "Best Band Nobody's Heard Of".

Just go to this page and vote for us among your other choices!

Thanks for your help.

Check us out at www.siriusbmusic.com

20 August 2008

Hospital Bills

For some years now, since my experiences living in England, I have been talking a whole lot of trash on American hospitals and the entire health care system. And, while I continue to think that our health care system is bunk, that hard-working people with bad luck are getting screwed by the charlatans that run the insurance companies (see "Sicko", by Michael Moore), and that Universal Health Care should be a priority in American politics, I take most of what I've said about hospitals over these years back.

Why the sea change? Why this sudden turnaround, this admission of wrongness, this swallowing of pride?

Allow me to tell you my story:

First, if you read this post, you'll remember that I had an accident some months ago at a friend's house. To make a long story short, I leaned against a railing on the porch, the railing broke, and I fell down a few feet, rolled down a hill, and crashed into a car (leaving a butt-shaped imprint in the door).

I visited the local clinic (a cheap option), and while the X-rays they took did not reveal a broken rib, the pain I felt was so intense that they sent me for a scan at Mission Hospitals, fearing that I may have ruptured my spleen. And so, I visited the hospital, got scanned and poked and prodded, all to find out that what I had was an extremely painful, wholly untreatable bruised rib.



The pain continued for some time. It was at least six weeks before I could again sleep on my left side. The first few weeks were filled with groans and sometimes screams whenever I would move or accidentally touch the most painful sections of my rib cage. I ate pain pills by the handful and, though I had expected to at least have the perk of a legal high, hated feeling so dumb and groggy all the time.

The bills were, of course, very high. The emergency room visit alone was something like 4000 dollars. The radiology people wanted to charge somewhere in the ballpark of 600 dollars. The physician's group bill was the lowest -- around 200 or so.

Against all my best intentions and personal philosophies, I began to think of getting litigious. My friend rented her house, and so I reckoned that the fault lay with the landlord, the inconsiderate, lazy, no-good bastard that had only secured the railing with one stinking nail. The piece of junk that claimed that the railing was "decorative", as if railings made of 2 x 4 lumber, horizontal and vertical rails, and separating porch-enjoyers from a three foot drop followed by a hill were normally decorative. I called the man, leaving messages about my plight, telling him that I wished him no harm, did not wish to sue him, did not wish to milk him or rob him. I merely wanted him to pay my hospital bills, which I reckoned his homeowner's insurance might cover anyway.

He, of course, did not call back, but rather ignored my calls. I grew angry and began searching for lawyers. And then I left the country for Europe.

I only returned from Europe a week or so ago, and looked with dread upon the hospital bills piling up on my kitchen table. I opened them, saw the amounts, and failed to sleep that night, tossing and turning and sweating as I thought of the financial burden those bills represented to me. If a lawsuit yielded no gain for me, I was to be royally screwed.

And then, a miracle! Mission Hospitals and the Radiology people have completed liberated me, dropping my bill down to ZERO. Turns out that I provided them without enough proof of my lack of income (which is true) that they awarded me 100% Charity Care.

I am amazed, stunned, and excited beyond belief. I have regained some faith in hospitals and the people that run them. I am once again able to look with some amount of pride and thankfulness upon our health care institutions. Now, as I said above, I certainly don't think that this one example is going to change forever how I think of hospitals. Were, for instance, it the case that I made enough money to not get help from the hospital charities, these hospital bills would still presumably have presented a huge financial burden and a great annoyance to my wallet. Nonetheless, I shall not look a gift-horse in the mouth, and I will be sure to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's.

Or something like that. If that particular biblical quote and the preceding cliche don't quite work for you, pick another that does. Point is -- I owe a great debt (figuratively) to Mission Hospitals, and I will not forget it.

18 August 2008

Lawyers

Quick update to clear up any confusion from the last post:

I have no plans to, nor did I ever have plans to, nor do I hope to ever have plans to sue my friend. Were I to sue someone, I would sue my friend's landlord.

But hopefully it won't come to that.

17 August 2008

Asheville

I was looking the other day at some old posts from this blog, and I felt a bit embarrassed. One year ago (or so), I was still writing multiple-page blogs that required extensive scrolling and long periods of time to read. Today, I'm lucky to get off one half-assed post a week.

Perhaps this will change sometime soon, I'm not sure. I guess these things all depend on how much time I'm sitting around thinking about the one exciting thing that I've done recently. There's probably some sort of mathematical equation that could relate the amount of time that I spend doing cool things to the length and frequency of my blog posts. Perhaps it's just a seasonal thing, and the worse the weather, the longer and more common the posts.

Whatever.

This post will not be the one to change everything, but maybe the next one will be.

I'm back in Asheville, and so very happy to be with my loved ones and my friends and my dog and my garden. I'm enjoying everyone's company and loving the taste of my fresh tomatoes and herbs and peppers and eggplant and watching my watermelons grow. I'm also excited to be starting work -- teaching Spanish (and phys ed.) to little kids at a small local school, translating a website or two, perhaps getting some tutoring work once again.

Less exciting is the prospect of hiring a lawyer and beginning (hopefully not for long) to pay the hospital bills for my fall from a friend's porch in June.

The positives certainly outweigh the negatives though, and it is truly wonderful to be back home.

I'll put up some more pictures soon of the rest of my France trip, as well as some A-ville shots. I hope that all are well. Be good.

10 August 2008

United States

I'm back on my maternal shores, once again sucking at the proverbial teat of good ol' Momma Patria.

My flight was uneventful and as pleasant as a transatlantic flight could be, chock full of movies and French cheese and Perrier and tomato juice.

Unfortunately, Beth and I had to travel on separate flights, and her flights wer somewhat less pleasant than mine (delays and the like). She too is safe and sound, however, so all is well.

I'll be here in the Jersey / New York area for a few days before heading down to Asheville early next week.

I hope that all are well. I'll get some more photos up once I've had a chance to wade through them back at home. (Thanks, Zen, for letting me off the hook).

06 August 2008

Paris Again

Well, I have been terrible, dear reader, in updating my blog whilst here in France. This has not been, however, a sign of any disrespect or lack of desire to keep you all informed on goings on here in France. It is, rather, a sign that I have been enjoying myself so much that I have had no time to sit in an internet cafe and look at a computer in the sweltering heat.

Beth and I have traveled up and down and all around in the little time that we have had here. We have spent time in Paris, in Lyon, in Marseilles, in Aix-en-Provence, and in the surrounding Proven├žal countryside. It has been beautiful. We have eaten our faces off and dropped more money on delicious wines and rich foods than I care to share.

Every single dime has been worth it. Except perhaps for the approximately two hundred dimes we spent on one meal of shrimp that Beth ordered and that turned out to be beautiful-looking and horrid tasting. But every other damn dime has been worth it.

We will be here in Paris for the next few days, and hopefully I will have a chance to post some photos (we have taken a lot) and share some images of this journey with all.

I return to the states on August 9 and will be heading down to NC a few days later.

More soon.