July 1, 2012

  • To Socialize or Not to Socialize

    Old truths still evident.  I posted this about 6 years ago (December 7, 2006).  It’s still relevant.


    To Socialize or Not to Socialize — Gee, I’m Glad I’m a Doctor!

    I have been reading through some of the news articles about health care and all the trends towards socialization.  It’s very interesting to me, now that I’ve been working in health care and learning about Medicaid and private insurance.  My viewpoints are biased by the fact that so many physicians I work with have come here from other countries because they couldn’t stand how socialization limited their treatment options — for both their patients and their families.

    Socialism (everyone pays taxes, the government decides how the tax money is spent for your health):

    PROS:  Everyone gets healthcare.

    CONS:  The government doles out health care, which means that it will decide what it will spend money on and what it won’t.  If it saves money to ban junk food, the government will ban junk food.  If it saves money to euthanize retarded people, it will (see the Netherlands).  If the government saves money to ban trans fats, it will (see New York City).

    Capitalism  (people pay for what they want, if they have the money to afford it):

    PROS:  If you want to save your 499.5g baby, and you have $4 million dollars to pay for the nitric oxide and high-frequency oscillator ventilation, go for it!  (In France, any neonate less than 500g is dead.)  If you have polycystic kidneys, and want to stay alive on dialysis for months, nay years, and can afford it, go for it!  If your child has spina bifida, and you want a Mitrofanoff procedure for her, go for it!

    CONS:  If you can’t afford it, it doesn’t happen.

    The best place is always that fine middle ground between having choices in your health care and having public policy in place to help those who are less fortunate, without bleeding the government (and thus the taxpayers) dry.

    An example is trying to save one 22-week NICU baby, versus using the $4 million Medicaid dollars to protect hundreds of thousands of other children from meningitis.  Personal choice (“It’s *my* baby!”) versus public policy (“Your baby is legally dead.”).  If thousands of taxpayers are paying to keep *your* baby alive, versus getting *their* babies immunized, you will lose.

    A lot of people operate under the assumption that the government is always the answer when it comes to obtaining money to help the poor and the less fortunate.  That money, though, comes from some place.  And that place is me.  If I’m paying taxes to treat an overweight kid for his type 2 diabetes (Does anyone remember how much it costs for daily Glucophage for a 9 year old boy?) — I’m going to want a say in what kind of food he puts in his mouth.  Socialization breeds public policy.  (See upcoming ban on TV junk food advertising.)

    I smell a ban on junk food entirely in the near future.

    Medicaid is a socialized medicine of sorts.  The only requirement for Medicaid is that you fit below a certain income bracket, and that you have the wherewithal to make sure you renew it.  (Which sure beats my deal of actually having to work > 8 hours a day and get my income subtracted to pay for medical insurance for myself and my family, in addition to the taxes that go towards paying for others’ Medicaid bills.  So it beats me all to heck, why mothers can’t remember to renew their children’s Medicaid.  Perhaps it has something to do with why they’re on Medicaid in the first place.)  Plus, with Medicaid, I am fortunate in that I don’t always have to choose between treating one child, or letting 4 others die.  Medicaid lets me treat a child for pneumonia, and still have money to treat 4 others.

    In other countries, doctors must decide if it’s worth it to treat a child for pneumonia, or to use that money to buy vaccines for the others who aren’t sick.

    I know this matters little to people who are involved in the day to day details of working and making a living.  But, public policy is encroaching more and more on individual freedoms in health care.  And it’s just a matter of time before more and more laws are passed for our common good.

    I feel public policy has its place.  I admire the advocacy that went into the ban on lead paint.  I also love the recommendations for universal vaccinations.  (I have never seen HiB meningitis as a result of the HiB vaccination.  I have seen one non-typable Hi, but not HiB.)  But the debate on junk food adverstisements is a tad disturbing to me.  I see less and less accountability by parents, and more of a “doctors know best” attitude.  And I’ll be the first to admit, doctors don’t know everything.  And having a doctor decide what is junk food and what is not seems awfully totalitarian to me.

    It’s enough to make me adopt a pro-Pringle attitude, envisioning posters with toddlers gripping a Pringle with the captions:  from my cold, dead heads.

    Doctors don’t always know best.  I mean, for years, people advocated taking antioxidants — vitamin A and vitamin E.  You didn’t hear about the study that showed that mega-doses of vitamin A actually increased lung cancer?  (Could it be because the body’s immune system actually *uses* free-radicals to kill foreign cells? — Immunology 101, people.)

    Or the big egg debate. . . . “Don’t eat too much eggs.”  And now eggs are okay.

    “Medical knowledge has a half-life of about 4 years,” one of my attendings said.  And it’s true.  What is common knowledge now, will be disproved in 4 years.  And statistics can always be skewed, because with humans, n-values can’t always be significant.  You can only do so much blood work on a 2.5 kilogram kid before you exsanguinate him — so repeated blood tests are not ethically practical.

    The good thing about public health, though, is that it promotes research to back treatment modalities.  The bad thing is that public policy doesn’t do anything about the money needed to implement treatments.

June 28, 2012

  • Four Years Ago

    Four years ago, I did some kind of mission statement. My goal was that I would be operating a sailing clinic in two years. Then, of course, life intervened. Mainly I got pregnant. And delivered a baby. And then most recently, I re-established some goals, one of which was to sail in the 2013 Transpac. And then I got pregnant again.

    I’m getting pretty good at getting pregnant. Not so much at obtaining a cruising sailboat worthy of setting up a clinic. I console myself that I am making excellent new crew members.

    I adore my kids. I am looking more and more into setting sail again. Land is offering less and less for us in terms of opportunities for growth. And I struggle with the idea that my kids are going to grow up in an educational system that I can visibly see is failing.

    So, as usual, I’m making yet another mission statement.

    In the coming year, I plan to do the following:

    1. Deliver yet another healthy kiddo.
    2. Find and re-fit a sailboat.
    3. Get rid of land-based investments.
    4. Leave.

September 26, 2011

  • Provide ships or sails adapted to the heavenly breezes, and there will be some who will not fear even that void…
    - Johannes Kepler (in a letter to Galileo), 1593

September 6, 2011

  • Somali Pirates Researched Sailors’ Web Log to Determine Ransom Amount

    Scott and Jean Adams

    I do hope all my fellow sailors stay safe out there!  Unfortunately or maybe fortunately for me, I don’t have enough money to go cruising at the moment.  And with estimated taxes due this month, I’m pretty sure I will *never* have the money to go cruising anyway.  But I really feel sorry for those who have scrapped and saved to live their dreams, only to find that those who would rather steal to make a living, rather than put forth something that brings goodness to the world, would take that from them.  But, in the end, happiness is within oneself, and although I crave the sea, I find a lot of happiness in just spending time with my loved ones at home.  I’m guessing that the Danish man who took his family to sea may be pondering that as well, from their prison in Africa.  I truly hope that situation resolves happily.

    Pirate researched cruising sailors blog to establish ransom ‘Quest owners Jean and Scott Adams, killed by pirates who researched their blog to establish a ransom demand’ . The fact that a pirate in a leadership role used the Internet to research the four Americans on board the yacht Quest, who were later killed by the boarding team of 14 pirates, sends an alarming message to cruising sailors who divulge a lot of information about themselves in cruising blogs.

    The FBI says that the fourteen pirates were aided by the fifteenth pirate to research how much might be asked in ransom for the four. Tragically, the four were killed by some of the pirates on board in February this year.

    Mohammad Saaili Shibin, also known as ‘Khalif Ahmed Shibin,’ was indicted by a United States federal grand jury in Norfolk, Va., back on March 8, but the indictment remained under seal until he was captured and made an appearance in federal court Wednesday.

    The unsealed indictment alleges that the 50-year-old Shibin researched the identity of the hostages on the Internet to learn more about them and determine the amount of money to demand. He also allegedly tried to ascertain the identity of family members of the hostages who could be contacted about the ransom.

    1. http://www.sail-world.com/cruising/canada/Pirate-researched-cruising-sailors-blog-to-establish-ransom/82499

    ‘My advice is pretty consistent: Don’t come if you don’t have to,’ said Capt Michael Lodge of the US Maritime Liaison Office in Bahrain, which advises ships travelling in the region.

    ‘If you decide to come anyway you need to carefully consider the risks associated with the trip. Plan accordingly, be aware of the dangers.’

    Mr Jakobsson, a former special forces soldier from Sweden, was more blunt.

    ‘Go bicycle camping in Afghanistan,’ he said. ‘I’m sure it’s the same experience.’

    from “So You Still Want to Travel Through the Gulf of Aden?” at http://www.sail-world.com/cruising/canada/So-you-still-want-to-sail-through-the-Gulf-of-Aden?/86036

  • Four Sailors Killed by Somali Pirates — February 2011

    I just now saw this on Blackfive’s website

    I do wonder when the international community will crack down on these pirates.  This sailboat was just a cruising vessel, but these Somali pirates have been hijacking and ransoming shipping vessels as well. 

    Recently, I stopped by the post office to mail something to my relatives overseas, and the postmaster informed me that shipping by sea is no longer an option.  “Too much piracy,” he said.  So I had to pay the more expensive fee for airmail.  Thanks a lot, pirates. If I remember rightly from my civics class in middle school, national security is the department of the Commander-in-Chief.  Hrm. . . .

    Scott and Jean Adam, Phyllis Macay, Bob Riggle

    The yacht Quest was hijacked on Friday off the coast of Oman and U.S. forces had been closely monitoring the vessel.

    Unlike most pirate incidents, these pirates boarded the Quest directly from their mother ship, rather than using faster skiffs. The mother ship remains free.

    Vice Admiral Mark Fox, Commander of Centcom’s Naval Forces, explained the timeline of events during a press briefing with Pentagon reporters. According to Fox, there was “absolutely no warning” before the hostage situation turned deadly.

    On Monday two pirates boarded the USS Sterett (one of four U.S. Naval ships monitoring the situation) to conduct negotiations for the release of the American hostages. They stayed on board overnight and it’s unclear if any ransom was offered before the killing took place.

    At 8:00 am local time Tuesday morning a rocket propelled grenade was fired at the Sterett from pirates on board the Quest. The shot missed, but immediately after gunfire erupted inside the cabin of the Quest.

    “Several pirates appeared on deck and moved up to the bow with their hands in the air in surrender,” Fox said. That’s when SOF approached on small boats and boarded the yacht.

    When U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) soldiers — from a classified Navy SEALS unit — reached the yacht, they found two pirates had already been killed by small arms fire. As they went below deck there was an exchange of fire that killed one pirate. The other pirate was killed by an SOF member who used a knife in close combat, Vice Adm. Fox said.

    The SOF found some of the Americans still alive, but all four soon died of their wounds. Vice Adm. Fox called it the deadliest pirate incident to date.

    “We did everything we could,” said a senior military official. “But I don’t think our guys would see this as a good outcome.”

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the killings “deplorable.” She said in a statement that the killings underscored the need for international cooperation on fighting the scourge of piracy in waters off the Horn of Africa.

    She urged international partners to provide material, financial and logistical support to an African peacekeeping mission in Somalia, the country the pirates use as the launching point of their attacks.

    The organizers of an international yacht race called the Blue Water Rally said the Quest had been taking part in the race but left it Feb. 15 to chart an independent course from India to Oman.

    The Quest is owned by Scott and Jean Adam, a couple from California. The two other Americans on board were Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, of Seattle, Washington.

    Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle


    1. Original article at http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/02/22/americans-aboard-yacht-captured-pirates-reportedly-killed/


    Why in the world is Ms. Clinton advocating “material, financial and logistical support to an African peacekeeping mission in Somalia”? These people don’t want peace. They want to rob others. Since when does one help thieves by sending them more goods? When I stole someone’s lollipop in daycare, I got a spanking. These pirates *killed* people. They don’t deserve more goods. And they deserve a hell of a lot more than a spanking.

    But logic seems to have flown out the window these days.

    If anything, it would do just as well to put out a bounty for them. This incentive would provide jobs for the world economy, and rid the international waters of pirates too! Many would benefit! Italy and Greece are both suffering economically right now. They would really benefit from piracy bounties — they both used to rule the Mediterranean waters. And they could again!


August 30, 2011

  • Abandoning the Space Station

    I saw the news that there is a possibility that the International Space Station will be left unmanned, as the rockets that the Russians use to make their launches currently have a problem that needs fixing.  I shared the news with my husband, who said, “I saw that yesterday.”  Okay.

    We talked about it for a while, because I know he used to follow the building of the ISS back before we were married.  He is of the opinion, and I am too, that humans really don’t have a need to go into space yet.  “If they find a way to mine [the moon], then they will find a way to go back there,” he says.  It’s true.  The only reason Spain and England sent so many men to the New World, paying them well to go, is to find better trade routes.  And then when they didn’t find the trade routes, they found new resources.  So, they benefited from the expeditions.

    The same goes for space travel.  If someone finds a way to make more money from going, than they spend on going, then space travel will grow.

    Until then, weary pilgrims, who want a different way of life, will wait until the Columbuses and Polos come back from their excursions to tell them that they way is safe enough.  And I can totally see hoards of people leaving.

    Humans don’t like to be penned in.  I think most of us have an innate desire to go somewhere, see things, and learn new things.  That curiosity is eventually what will lead us to go beyond our planet.

    by Charles Lucey, a British painter
    (picture from http://www.hawaiilibertychronicles.com/?p=1506)

    1. More about Charles Lucey the painter here: http://nationalheritagemuseum.typepad.com/library_and_archives/charles-lucy/

August 29, 2011

August 28, 2011

  • Calming Seas

    I posted this a long time ago. It’s still a lovely poem.

    Calming Seas

    When Christ was in need of solitude
    When He needed peace of mind,
    He went out to the water,
    Where comfort He could find.

    When He saw the ship in trouble
    He was standing on the land
    Jesus walked on the waters
    To give His loving hand!

    When He fell asleep exhausted
    And a rain filled their boat with
    harm, Jesus reached out His
    mighty hand, and calmed the
    raging storm.

    When showing faith in our Father
    John baptized Him at the river
    So that all that saw and followed him
    From sin could be delivered.

    He told Simon and Andrew
    To go unto all the land
    Cast out your nets upon the sea
    Be fishermen of men.

    He will be my anchor
    My ship won’t drift away
    He will calm my stormy seas
    Cause gentle winds to stay!

    He will not leave me
    To perish in the sea
    For I know throughout my
    storms, My Savior stands
    with me!

    No wonder I seek out the ocean
    I turn to the calming sea
    Whenever I need healing
    Whenever my spirit needs
    to be free!

    ~Lynn King~

August 17, 2011

  • New Eyes

    “The greenhorn is the ultimate victor in everything; it is he that gets the most out of life.”

    – G.K. Chesterton

    Someone posted this quote on another website that I frequent, and it definitely applies to sailing as well as my other hobbies.  I realized that most of the time I learn a lot very early on, when starting something.  There’s always a steep learning curve, after which, things are mostly refined rather than learned.

    I wish I could say I went sailing this weekend.  I got called in to work just before I was about to leave for the lake.  I had to admit a patient, and s/he really did need to be in the hospital.  I’m happy to say s/he is better.  However, that put me behind.  And then, when I got back home, things deteriorated.  All the wonderful planning I did in the weeks prior, plus the prep work I did the night before — all for nada.

    This kind of upset happens quite frequently.  As a result, I have not really been sailing in any of my boats since before I was pregnant.

    Ah well.

    I look forward to sometime sailing with the kiddo.  So far, he has helped me clean the boat.  I love setting him in the cockpit while I do repairs and maintenance.  He likes being in there, and when it comes time to go back inside, he screams bloody murder now.  He’d rather stay outside and play.  I’m glad!  He loves to wander around the yard, and I try to teach him the names of plants and bugs.  I don’t want him to be ignorant of the difference between grass and flowers — as his daddy is.  I’m hoping that this knowledge will help him, when I set him to work with the weedwhacker!!!

    Anyway, we have a pool in our local community college.  I am hoping that we’ll have a little free time this weekend, to bring him to the pool and I can start doing some swimming lessons with him.  He’s too young to enroll in the community classes, which require that one be 5 years old or older.  I personally think that’s too late!  I learned to swim when I was about 7.  I wish I’d learned earlier.  It is a useful thing to know.  Even if it only means knowing how to stay afloat without panicking, that’s all I’m hoping for at the moment.  ‘Still, I’d never leave him unattended until I know he can stand up in the pool himself.  (It’s 5′ deep at its shallowest as it’s an Olympic size pool, mostly for training purposes, not recreational.)

    I am a member of another website for mothers.  Some of the women there have taught their children to not panic, when in the water, and wearing a PFD.  I think that is a very important skill.  When my cousins were little, I suggested once to my aunt that she enroll her children in swimming lessons.  She actually got upset, and she told me she nearly drowned when she was little.  So she didn’t want her daughters anywhere near water.  I understand her fear of something dangerous happening to her daughters, but sometimes ignorance is not bliss.  Ignorance can kill.  Although one should never let a child swim alone, (even if one knows how to swim, one can get a cramp and drown even being an Olympic swimmer) knowledge of swimming is not a bad thing.

    I think the American Academy of Pediatrics is silly for their previous recommendations that one not teach children to swim.  They have since changed that, thank goodness.  I really do not like sending my dues to an organization that promotes things I disagree with (which is a reason I’m a member of the AAP, but not the AMA).  Their new recommendations are more reasonable, which are

    1)  Teach your kids to swim.

    2)  Don’t rely on their knowledge of swimming.  Maintain supervision when in the water.

    Anyway, I don’t see why my aunt wanted to deny my cousins the opportunity to learn an important skill.  It was her fear that was keeping her back.  Fear is a big obstacle for so many people.  It keeps them from learning new things, trying new things, and even from helping others.  Sometimes, fear is necessary to keep us out of trouble.  We learn from past experiences, and the fear of something that has been tried and hasn’t worked will keep us from repeating those actions.  But, fear of the unknown is often simply an obstacle to progress.

    I hope that I can teach my child to know the difference.

    Here’s another cool quote.  I dunno where I found it.

    “A person needs new experiences… they jar something deep inside, allowing him to grow.
    Without change, something sleeps inside us… and seldom awakens… The sleeper must awaken.”

    – Frank Herbert


August 12, 2011

  • Countdown


    1.  Assemble the tiller

    2.  Get new non-crispy lines for the halyard and sheets.

    3.  Oil the trailer tire bearings.

    4.  Attach the new trailer plates.

    5.  Cut lines to fit, and cauterize the ends.

    6.  Find the boat plugs.

    7.  Make sure the new trailer lock fits.

    8.  Find the sail, lifejackets, bailer, and oar.

    9.  Make sure to bring the rudder and centerboard!

    10.  Make new battens.

    11.  Pack a lunch.