Thursday, August 26, 2010

Affordability is in the framing...

You remember the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Yeah, I'm sure you do....we're going to be a healthy and cheap utopia, remember? If you don't you're forgiven. You're probably blocking....

Well it's here...In the runup to the 2014 implementation, health insurance companies are making sure that they can fulfill the outlandish mandates, and stay afloat...all the while without having to compete. Here's what it has gotten me for 2011:

Heath care payroll deduction: up 10% (whew, could have been more)
Deductible: up 250% (yes that is correct-it is a newly instituted deductible, you do the math)
Coinsurance for ALL procedures & tests: up 100% (see above, this can also be called a co-pay)
Co-pay for specialist office visits: up 33% (I should explain here that because we are in a rural area, many specialists also practice as internists, so you pay the higher rate even if it is a routine non-specialty visit.)
ED (ER) treatment: up 100%

This delightful package was announced with great fanfare in a cheery envelope telling me that preventive programs will stay the same.

A more austere letter about a month ago explained that the "users" of health services would shoulder the costs for those services (my words). I think it can be translated as a "gouge the sick" policy. That idiot Grayson may have been prescient. And please don't get me started on the upward spiral of fees that medical institutions will begin to charge to improve the "reasonable and customary" fee table for both insurance companies and Medicare (if they're still accepting MC, that is).

So here we the worst economy in 30 years, with salaries stagnating, I can't even begin to figure out how far behind this will put us.

Thank you, Mr. President, Congress, and all you know-it-alls who wouldn't listen to the will of the people. I will not forget this November.

ETA: HA! Our electronic newsletter just arrived describing our "plan" and it included this statement:

Legislation, such as health care reform, will cost employers and employees more as required changes are implemented now and through the next several years.

Tell me again how it isn't going to cost the middle class more.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Re-entry is a b&*ch!

It took all of about 40 minutes to feel like I hadn't left. And daily it is getting worse because classes are starting next week, the traffic is horrific, and the invaders are gravitating back. We have a love-hate relationship with the students. If they mostly behaved like the adults they are supposed to be, well, it would be fine. However, when the bad driving, urination in parking lots start again, well, you quickly forget the positives.

Each year when we take some time off, we make an accidental trip to somewhere. By accidental, I mean we are actually going somewhere else, and the plan falls through. This year we were headed to Steeler Camp, but a late start, and road construction season here in PA conspired to make the trip not worth while (that day). So about 15 minutes west of Altoona, we decided to turn around, and spend the day in Altoona, and maybe go to the Curve game in the evening. Must. Be. Flexible.

Well, we got off an exit on I99 to turn around and there was a sign, "Horseshoe Curve 7 miles". For the uninitiated, the Horseshoe Curve is mecca for train enthusiasts. (And the Altoona Curve is named for this engineering wonder.) During WWII it was on a Nazi sabotage list.

I am making it my business to go to places, in my own backyard, that I've never been to, and that visitors come to all the time. Visitors actually stay at a nearby inn just yards from the train tracks so they can sit on the porch and watch trains. They set up serious looking cameras to take pictures. It's amazing.

So when we saw the sign, we said "let's go". The best times turn out to be those that are unexpected and unscripted. I'm sure of it.

It was a hoot!! We were there nearly 3 hours, and I would never have believed that watching freight trains would be so entertaining. Seriously. (I grew up with a dad who had about six complete sets of the original Lionel trains, that he set up in a room sized display. As a kid my brother had the "train bug". I forgot that it was probably in my genetics.) So we walked up the nearly 200 stairs to the observation park, brought our lunch, and watched the trains wrap around us, going both east and west. It was So. Much. Fun. (Keep in mind that I'm easily entertained.)

This is the view from the park looking east. We had to walk up the steps because the funicular wasn't running. There was a sign in the window of the gift shop to
alert customers to that fact.

A view of the funicular from the top.

Didn't think you were going to get away without seeing a train or two did you? This shot shows a locomotive coming up hill from the east and shows the curve. You are actually standing in the center of the horseshoe, and the trains run around you- up and down the mountain.

The engineers usually wave to folks standing by the tracks....which led us to the discussion of what do modern day train engineers actually do? Neither of us have any idea. (If you click to full size you can see the engineer waving.)

This is the train running past the curve, and heading west.

It was a grand time, and I am still kinda stunned by how much fun this actually was. And to leave you with my favorite train car....

Seriously...this is not an animal carrier, so who knows what this is supposed to mean......

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

And just when you thought it was safe...

I've finally finished my long sleeve CeCe, and here's a photo. Don't mind the hair...I've since had a haircut ... and I'm not scaring small children anymore. At least not with my hair. Also don't mind the fact that a burgundy sweater DOES NOT match a tobacco brown skirt and a bright orange t-shirt. I took the photo, with my timer before work one morning.

CeCe by Bonne Marie Burns
Her sizing is spot on...just make sure you swatch. She uses cotton a lot, so also make sure you wash. This is Classic Elite Four Seasons. I don't know if they make it anymore. It is 70/30 cotton wool. You will notice that it is longer in the body...and the sleeves are long, rather than 3/4. I like 3/4 sleeves, but I felt I would use this more if I made the sleeves long. You will also notice, that the V isn't as deep...that was not by design, but by a pleasant coincidence.

Also, on Bonne's suggestion I didn't put in a button hole. Instead I used hooks and eyes and then decided it needed "something". I bought this hook at JoAnn Fabrics. I think I like it.

So.... CeCe by Bonne Marie Burns
About 11 skeins of Classic Elite Four Seasons.
I needed to go down one needle size, which I always seem to have to do with cotton. If you swatch and get gauge, Bonne's dimensions are spot on.

Mods: I lengthened the body by 1.5 inches, and it grew a bit more with blocking. I reworked the sleeves, with help from Bonne. She asked that I not share her sleeve stitch counts etc. But if you contact her, I'm sure she'll be happy to assist. I modified them further than her suggestions, however, because I felt the sleeves were too sloppy for my long, skinny monkey arms.

Here's a hint I can share. When you need to sew accoutrement on your knitwear, use embroidery floss. (I also use this to repair sweaters.) you can always get a color to match, and I think it holds up better.

I am going to do something I rarely do, and post a WIP. This is what I will be working on next week when I'm out of the office gearing up for the invasion two weeks from today. (It can't be!! Summer just started!)

On the left is my just started Cozy. I have lots more fascinating shawl patterns to knit, but I've had the yarn for this for, shucks, probably, at least, five years. It was one of the first wraps that interested me. I felt it had marinated enough, and though I could have used the Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool for something else, I felt this was fated and should be completed. I'm also trying to knit up some of my stash yarn. I don't have tons, but I'd like to use it up in some way.

The sock, the sock....I've been hauling this sock around all summer. No idea when I started it. This is a "bed sock" for Mr. KnB. (Yes, those cold winter nights are right around the corner.) You might notice it is also a Steeler sock. I finally finished the toe yesterday, and now have to start the second. I certainly hope it doesn't take me as much time. I kinda didn't follow the pattern on this sock, but did make notes, so I hope I can replicate the second one (at least so no one will notice). This is a pattern I've used numerous times in the past I got it here. This knitter was regularly posting when I first got back into knitting 6 years ago, but as you can see, doesn't so much any more. However, she was a very talented sock designer. I'm using Lorna's Laces for these socks, and though I like the yarn, I don't understand the hoopla about it. I like Dream in Color, Bugga, and others just as well, if not better. I had to up the pattern count by a repeat for these socks, and I didn't think it would make that much of a difference, but now the sock looks huge to me. Other mods as well, but I'll figure out how to account for those later.

So that's where I am. I'm also itching to start Miss BB. (There's a story here too, that involves stash yarn and purchasing more with a different dye lot, and how that will work, but it will have to wait.) If I make some Cozy progress, I may in fact start her, before I hit the ground running again.