Wednesday, March 26, 2008

67 Million Simple Rules

Awhile back I watched Micheal Moore's latest documentary, "Sicko". I've always enjoyed his documentaries, knowing full well he does somewhat "skew" things. Regardless, watching this film will piss you off. But, I think Micheal Moore's appeal is his ability to talk about very controversial subjects, in a way that makes you laugh. Here's a trailer for "Sicko". One of my favorite parts is when President Bush tells a woman that she's a "great American" because she works three jobs:

There is one thing, however, that Michael Moore doesn't really address in the movie. I'm pretty sure that one of the major contributors to outrageously priced healthcare is frivolous malpractice lawsuits. Case in point? Amy Yasbeck, wife of late actor John Ritter.

Most people know that John Ritter (one of the founding fathers for Menage a Trois), died awhile back from aortic disease. His family decided he died unnecessarily, and sued a Burbank hospital. As a result, they received around $14 million in settlements. Now, you'd think that would be more than enough for most people to retire on. Not for Miss Yasbeck.

She REALLY wanted to teach that pesky cardiologist who treated Mr. Ritter a lesson. So, someone (duh, her lawyer) figured how much "earnings" the family lost out on because of his death. In the neighborhood of... oh.... $67 million. Although, she did pledge to use some of the proceeds to further the publics knowledge of "aortic diseases". I've been checking my mail, and wondered why I haven't seen anything yet.

Turns out, the doctors did end up getting cleared of any wrongdoing. Unfortunate for Miss Yasbeck, incredibly fortunate for the general hospital-going public. You see, if she had won, the doctor wouldn't be footing the bill. His malpractice insurance would. Which is why malpractice insurance is so expensive. Which is why the doctor who delivered my son, couldn't deliver my daughter. His malpractice insurance became prohibitively expensive. Largely, I'm sure, due to stupid lawsuits. And who ends up paying more for all of this?

We do.

Are there crappy doctors out there? Yeah. Should they be held accountable? Yeah. Should people screw the public out of their own personal grief and/or greed? HELL no.

So, next time you're deathly ill and debating whether or not to spend the money on a doctor, think of Miss Yasbeck. How should anyone be expected to "go on" with a few paltry millions?

But, my biggest beef in all of this - Michael Moore is filthy rich. I think it's time he looked into a personal trainer. :)

Monday, March 17, 2008


Over the weekend, I watched the entire first season of the Showtime series "Weeds". It's the only other TV show I've watched besides "The Office" that actually makes me laugh out loud. The series follows a soccer mom in a California suburb who decides to sell pot after her husband dies of a heart attack.

It's crude. It's obnoxious. It's extremely non-P.C. But above all, it's brilliantly written. I even love the intro song:

What really weirds me out is how one of the kids on the show was the voice of "Nemo". Strange, because he says very non-Nemo things.

Are you out there, Brent? Have you seen this show? If not, you need to. You'll love it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lightning Crashes

I stumbled across this video on YouTube the other day, and I couldn't believe that I'd somewhat forgotten about this particular song. I thing it's one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

For the Love of Guns

Most of my friends growing up had guns. I lived in North Idaho, after all. I remember going to see buddies at Post Falls High School, and several of the trucks in the parking lot had hunting rifles in the back window. I even remember a teacher wanting to check one of the guns out, so he had the student bring it into the school. And the time someone brought their gun to class as part of a project they were working on.

It was all so innocent.

My Dad wasn't a hunter. He was a microbiologist. We didn't go tromping around in the woods, except to get firewood. And we didn't have guns.

When I went to Marine Corps boot camp, people were amazed by the fact that I was from North Idaho -and had never shot a gun. It seemed like most of the guys there grew up hunting, and playing football. I played trombone in the pep band. Trust me, I often wondered how I ended up joining the Marines myself.

A couple years ago, I had a neighbor ask me if I wanted to buy a gun. I actually had thought about buying a pistol, just for taking camping to shoot at cans. He had a semi-automatic Smith & Wesson .22 pistol, that had a 12 round clip. The price seemed right (like I would know!), so I decided to buy it.

At first, it made me really nervous. I kept it in a high cupboard out in the garage, and stored the ammo somewhere else. Some people thought it was strange that I wouldn't keep it loaded next to the bed. I didn't see any reason to, other than to make it easily accessible for the kids.

I occasionally took it in the woods, and did just what I bought it for - shot at beer cans. It was fun, but I didn't have any urge to go buy 10 more guns. It's still the only gun I've ever owned.

A few weeks ago, I had someone offer to make me a holster for my pistol as a birthday present. I'm always cool with handmade gifts, and I needed a holster anyway. I sent the gun his way. What I got back is nothing short of amazing. (Click on the pictures for a closer view).

This thing is totally custom made for my gun. The leather was wetted, stretched, and clamped around the gun itself. The stitches were done by hand, and the belt slits were given much consideration so it wouldn't "bottom out" if I sat down with it on. It's given me a whole new appreciation for guns in general.

I love the way it fits so tightly, but the pistol slides right out. The retainer snap is easily undone with a flick of my thumb. I can't help but strap this sucker on, and see how fast I can draw, like I'm in the Wild West.

Someday, when my kids are older, I'll probably take them out shooting. In the world we live in, I want them to understand, appreciate, and fear what guns are capable of. If they're interested, I might even learn to hunt - with them. I don't really have anything against hunting, I just wasn't raised to understand it. Maybe there will be a time with my kids.

I'll probably need something bigger than my .22 pistol, though. I better get more guns.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Clock-Setting Woes

It happens every year at this time.

We've all got a plethora of clocks to change, due to the "spring-forward" time change. Shouldn't be that big of a deal. THEN WHY IS IT?!?

I have a nice Kenwood stereo in my truck. I bought it because it has a USB port, where I can plug in a 4 gigabyte flash drive. I've got like 80 of my favorite albums on there, that I can quickly pick and choose from. And, I don't hafta worry about it skipping, I don't hafta change CD's while driving, etc. It's awesome.

Setting the clock? Not so awesome.

EVERY time I go to adjust the time, I need the manual to do it. I think that's crap. What's so hard about putting a "clock" button on there, alongside a "hour" and "minute" button? I think most people could figure that out. But no. Press the MENU button. Click the control knob up 3 times, then hold for 1 second. Now that I've typed it, it seems simple. It's just not something I feel necessary to commit to memory, considering I do it twice a year.

I'm sure you've all had similar frustrations with other electronics, like clock radios. I bought a super-cool one, that had a CD player so I could wake up to my own music. Problem was, I never really did take the time to figure out how to use it. The buttons on it made no sense at all. Everytime I tried to set the alarm, the "NAP" function would come on, with the radio blaring. And I had no idea how to turn it off. It wasn't something I cared to take the time to figure out.

People always wonder why it is that kids seem to understand electronics. I've finally realized why that's true. They have the time to screw around with it. I just want the stupid thing to work, without spending an hour researching it. :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I recently got a "Healthier at Home: The Proven Guide to Self-Care & Being a Wise Health Consumer" book in the mail. It's basically a home health guide, provided free-of-charge from my health insurance company, Group Health. At first, I was excited to have such a thing. I've never had one before. I did realize after thumbing through it, however, that the key phrase in the title is "self-care". It's fairly obvious to me that the books intent is to make people more informed about minor health issues, so you don't run to the doctor for every stupid thing. After all, it's provided by a health insurance company. My favorite section? Flatulence. For those who are uninformed:

6 to 20 times a day? Whoa! I started thinking, do I fart that much everyday? I hope not. It must be while I'm sleeping. Yeah. And I've always wondered what that "foul odor" was a symptom of. Now I know!

So, what does the book prescribe for self-care/prevention of flatulence? It says try not to swallow air, add fiber gradually, use Gas-X, blah blah blah... but the best option by far:

Bingo. You just saved a trip to the doctor! And forget the embarrassment... going to another room benefits us all!

Thank you, Group Health. Armed with my little self-care book, I'll never go to the doctor again. :)

Sunday, March 2, 2008


I bought this poster for my basement bar a few years ago. I've always been a fan of 40 ounce malt liquor (hence my band's name - 40 ounce J), and found the caption to be kinda funny:


Interesting, how something bought out of whimsy can suddenly become the anthem of your life.

I'll drink a 40 to that. And pour out a little for all my homies along the way.