HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Monday, August 31, 2009

MY WEEK OF VARIOUS MEDICAL TESTS

Well, this has been a very interesting, revealing week. Some time ago during my last visit with my regular doctor, he determined that I should go through a sleep clinic and be tested for sleep apnea. This past thursday morning I worked a teachers inservice in Weyerhauser and then Kim drove me into town in the early evening armed with my tooth brush, etc. By the time the tech got me all wired up like Frankenstein's monster, it was nearly 9:30PM. Even while I was going thru all the hook up I found myself drifting off and so the tech suggested I try to get to sleep early enough that before the night was over she would be able to determine whether I have apnea or not and if so we could proceed to the next step of applying a sleep mask.

I (surprisingly) was able to drop right off and didn't awaken until around 2:30 AM for my usual pee call. The tech informed me that I definitely have sleep apnea so after my trip to the bath room she hooked me up to a sleep mask (which basically is an air machine over the nose that blows air down your throat keeping your soft palate open, preventing the air passage from shutting off. I was able to sleep with the mask in place until around 4:30 AM. After lying awake for half an hour I summoned the tech and said i was now wide awake and may as well get up and shower.

The clinic supplied a free cab ride home and I was in my own bed by 6:30 in the morning. My appointment with the sleep specialist isn't until late September which is unfortunate but at least I think my health will improve some when I can start getting decent rest.

Today I had to get an injection of radioactive material and have readings done later in the day on my right leg as I am having really a lot of pain with my lower leg due to (I think) very bad circulation in my lower right leg.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

BRING IT ON DOUCHEBAG

The picture speaks for itself, Brent. I have not spoken with any Packer fan who feels empathy for what you have done. So, old man, get ready, because HERE IT COMES!

I have had to take down my number 4 jersey and Packer super Bowl helmet and put it deep in a vault. Maybe when I am 95 and feeble I will be able to get over it! But as of 2009-10, I am looking forward to Aaron Kampman pinning his ears back and knocking you on your hillbilly ass.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

HORNUNG HELMET COMPLETE - AWAITING WAUKESHA TRIP

A couple of weeks ago I received my Helmet Hut helmet that I had custom made for the upcoming Paul Hornung signing in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on September 5. The next and final step was to locate the proper 1960's style "G" decal. The newer decals are more rounded than the early design which was more oblong and football shaped.
Last week I got an e mail from my supplier telling me that he had finally located the properly shaped decal. I received them last saturday and mounted them the same day. I am somewhat concerned that I may have mounted them a bit high on the sides of the helmet but at least they are pretty much balanced in location on both sides.

I took out my Hornung jersey for one of the helmet shots -- pretty cool!

So now I have to make it through this week before I travel down to Waukesha for the signing. It is nice to have that to look forward to. tomorrow I will be up early and wending my way to Iola, Wisconsin, to perform for a teachers inservice. Then on thursday, I again hit the road to perform for teachers - this time in Weyerhauser. Hard to believe that it is back to school time already!

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

GREEN BAY PACKERS LOOKING LIKE THE TEAM TO BEAT

I didn't get a chance to watch the Green Bay Packers throttle the Cleveland Browns in their first pre-season outing because of work, but last night I got a chance to watch them thoroughly thump the Buffalo Bills. Both the first string offense and defense look to be in mid-season form already.

Mr. Rodgers welcomed the Bills to his neighborhood by completing the first eight of his passes in a row. He looks much more relaxed than he did last season now that the Brent Favor BS is really over. Aaron Rodgers played the first five series and was in fine form, completing eight of nine for 98 yards, two touchdowns and a near-maximum passer rating of 151.6.

As I watched him meticulously carve up the Bills, throwing with accuracy that our former quarterback (the gunslinger) would do well to watch and learn from) I couldn't help but feel better about the North Division and I am really starting to look forward to the two games against the Queens.

I refused to even turn on their game last friday but I heard from a friend who watched that the fans actually booed Tavaris Jackson when he made his first appearance on the field. That is typical Minnesota fan! Brent had better realize that he is under a lot of pressure with that bunch. If he starts throwing interceptions (which he will) watch how fast the faithful will start booing him.

When he was a Packer, the fans always gave him the benefit of the doubt when he threw an interception. We even stood by him after the 4th and 26 game with Philadelphia - and also in his last appearance in a Packer uniform when he threw the interception that led to our elimination.

I may be entirely wrong but I predict that the Vikings will not even win the North Division title this year. I don't think the old man will last the entire season without injury. Not if they don't give him better protection than they did against Kansas City.
I watched the "highlights" on the NFL channel this morning and old Brent really got his bell rung.

I wonder how his body feels today?

So another football season is upon us. So much depends upon how healthy a team can stay for the duration.

Friday, August 21, 2009

HEALTH CARE IS A RIGHT -- NOT A PRIVILEGE

Kim and I are just back from a town hall meeting in Whitehall with Representative Ron Kind. It was quite an experience. The first thing wwe noticed upon arrival in the high school parking lot were the large number of buses - some with Minnesota license plates - which set us to wondering just how many in the packed auditorium were actually Mr. Kind's constituency.

As we waited for the doors to open a young man came around with stickers reading: "Health Care For America Now" and asked if would like to wear one. We both took one. (They have a web site at: healthcareforamericanow.org) Then we noticed a woman near us who had something crumpled up in her hand. She also asked for the "Health Care For America Now" sticker and after the man handed it to her and turned away from her, she crumpled it up. It was then I realized that she now had destroyed two of them.

Kim said to her: "If you don't really want those, you shouldn't take them - there are others here who might want them. The woman said nothing -- just held out her hand with the destroyed stickers as if to say "here, take these".

I was very tempted to say to her that she was obviously a good American who believes in free speech but she was a lot bigger than I. Later I saw her taking a seat (which she filled fully) and on her back was a sticker that said: "Ron Kind is the WRONG KIND".

This same woman joined a bunch of her cohorts and at one point they all began singing "This Land Is Your Land". I laughed and turned to Kim and said: "These people are singing a song by Woody Guthrie! Guthrie was one of the all time greatest socialists in this country ever!"

It was all I could do to restrain myself from going over and telling them to "google" Woody Guthrie when they get home.

Those who wished to address the Representative Kind had to draw numbers which would be drawn randomly throughout the meeting.

Before the meeting was opened to questions a registered nurse made some very good points about how broken and in need of fixing our health care system really is.

For the most part the crowd listened although there was some heckling from way in the back of the auditorium. Once the people who had drawn numbers began to speak, however, the "Just Say NO" folks became very loud and impolite, even though on a hand out that was distributed before the event rules were as follows:

1. No poster or signs inside the town hall facility.
2. Everyone will respect each other. There will be no disruptions.
3. There will be no talking over one another.
4. Everyone will fill out an informatonal sheet before entering the faciity.
Everyone who wants to ask a question or make a statement must draw a number.

Kim and I discussed the event on the way home. We are astounded at the misinformation some people believe. We were very disheartened in the hatred we heard expressed for President Obama. Over and over the right wingers kept blaming his administration for the debt.

How short our memories really are! Where did the tremendous debt come from to start with? That damn illegal war in Iraq that's where. Yet all these "patriots" never once raised their voices against all the chicanery plied upon us in eight years of Bush and henchmen.

I drew number #579 - and was stunned when they drew my number. Here is what I said:

"I have a friend who lives in Ohio and works for a health care network. They hired him as an "independent contractor" so that they wouldn't have to give him health insurance! Last October he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Insurance companies won't sell him coverage or make it so expensive that it is unattainable. Insulin refills? $196.00 for two months! A doctor visit? $110.00! Last October he spent three days in the hospital at a cost of $15,000!

As a self employed American, I am pleading with you to keep the public option in the health care bill. It is fair and there must be such a choice if we are going to have any improvement in our existing health care system. Insurance companies are holding us hostage if there is no checks and balances through genuine competition.

So my question, Representative Kind, is are you going to hold out for the public option?"

- Now here's the sad part. I was by then so nervous I was literally shaking, and by the time I returned to my seat and settled down, I missed his answer.

My overall feeling about the meeting is that there are a lot of people who are frightened right now - and I think we have FOX NEWS to blame for that. I have tuned in to their nightly litany of lies and it makes my stomach turn.

Everyone needs to take a deep breath and READ, READ, READ!

My other gut feeling is a lot of this is based on racism. The rednecks can't stand the fact that we have a black president.

Well, at least there were no guns at this meeting.

I will close this blog with another comment from one of the audience members that touched me deeply: "I believe in the golden rule: "What thou dost to the least of my brethren, thou dost to me! Americans need to reach deep into their souls and recognize what is right and just."

Health care is a right, not a privilege.

I couldn't believe it when the first guy up to the microphone said "I believe health care is a privilege , not a right."

And he probably declares himself a Christian and goes to church every sunday.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

FAIRIES OR FUNGUS AMONGUS?

This morning while I was walking down to get the morning newspaper this toad stool ring caught my eye. I hadn't seen one since I was a kid so I went and got my camera and took this shot.

When I got online, I googled "toad stool rings" and found some interesting takes on what a toad stool ring means. According to one web site:

They are usually found in places where fairies have had a gathering. Toadstool rings tempt people, who are hoping to see fairies, back to the same spot over and over again. However, non-magical people cannot see fairies; and fairies seldom meet in the same place twice, so it is somewhat silly to return to a toadstool ring in the hopes of glimpsing fairies. Toadstool rings are thought to be bad omens by people who mistrust fairies.

As difficult as it is not to do some "fairy" jokes, I shall refrain. After all, some of my best friends are fairies!

I then looked into a more serious explanation:

A Fairy Ring is a lawn disease that is caused by certain types of fungus. The effect and appearance of a fairy ring can vary depending on what type of fungus is causing the problem but they generally form one or more of the following:

A ring of toadstools on the lawn when there is sufficient moisture
One or more rings of deep green, lush looking grass
Areas of dead / yellowed grass or bare soil between the lush rings.
Some may find the appearance of the toadstool only fairy rings attractive, especially in a grassy
woodland environment. They can however cause serious problems on a more formal lawn where the effects of dead grass, bare patches and uneven colouring and grass growth can significantly impact on a lawns appearance.

What causes fairy rings to appear?

Fairy rings are the result of certain types of fungi forming fungal threads in the soil that the
turf is laid on. The most common fungus to cause fairy rings is Marasmius Oreades. The threads that form are very densely packed and normally reach down so soil depths of around 20cm although they have been known to reach up to about 40cm. The effect of these tightly packed threads on the lawn is to effectively starve the grass roots of both water and nutrients by inhibiting root growth and preventing water uptake. The resulting lack of water will effectively kill the grass in badly effected areas of the lawn and so yellow / brown patches can appear. Bare patches of soil may appear on the lawn where the grass has been dead a long time.

How can a Fairy Ring be treated?

Once a fairy ring is established on your lawn they can be very hard to remove. To try and prevent the spreading of the fairy ring you can carefully cut any of the toadstools off at their base and place them in a container. Once you have collected all the toadstools burn them. Do not put them on the compost heap or redistribute them over the lawn or soil as they contain spores that will further the growth of the fungi. Burning the toadstools will destroy the spores.

Another tip for preventing the spread of a fairy ring is to mow the fungal infected area independently of the rest of the lawn. That is make sure to collect the grass clippings seperately and again burn them rather than adding them to the compost heap as they can contain the fungal spores. After mowing the infected section of the lawn you can use a fungicide to clean down the mower to kill any spores on the mower that might be transferred to a healthy section of the lawn.

Getting rid of fairy rings can be tricky. You may be able to use a fungicide containing
dichlorophen that is suited for applying to lawns. Make sure to check with the manufacturers
instructions for application and usage guidelines. You don't want to kill off all flora and fauna!

One labour intensive way to restore your lawn is to literally replace the infected part of the lawn by digging up the turf from the centre to 18 inches outside the infected area. Once the turf is up discard it and then dig up the infected soil that contains the fungal threads to a spades depth. Discard this soil (not on the lawn and preferably at a waste disposal site) and then fill the area with fresh uninfected soil and re-sow or re-turf the now bare area of lawn.

Fortunately, we don't really have an organized lawn as such so let the fungus run wild!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A True Story About Tom Wieseler

Tom, who lives in Wisconsin had owned some farm land for years with a large pond. It was properly shaped for swimming, so he fixed it up nice with picnic tables,horse shoe courts, and some apple, plum and pear trees.

One evening Mr. Wieseler decided to go down to the pond and look it over
as he hadn't been there for a while. He grabbed a 5 gallon bucket to bring back some fruit.

As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting and laughing with glee. As
he came closer, he saw it was a bunch of young women Skinny-dipping in his pond.

He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the deep end.

One of the women shouted to him, 'we're not coming out until you leave!'

Tom just frowned and then he said, 'I didn't come down here to watch you ladies swim
naked or make you get out of the pond naked.'

Holding the bucket up he said 'I'm here to feed the alligator.'

Tom may be getting older, but he can still think fast.

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DON'T BELIEVE THE 'DEATHER' LIES! DO SOME EDUCATED READING ABOUT HEALTH

Next friday, August 21, I will once again be on the road. But this time it won't be to entertain. No, this time I will be at the Whithehall High School auditorium to attend a town hall meeting with Representative Ron Kind. I want to see, first hand, what the fuss over health care is all about.

And yes, I have already formulated my question if given the opportunity to ask it:

"Representative Kind:

As a self-employed American I want to plead with you to keep the public option in the health care system. The public option is fair and there must be such a choice if we are going to have genuine improvement in our existing health care system.

We can't do any genuine health care reform without the public option because the insurance industry is holding us all hostage if there are no checks and balances through genuine competition.

I would remind everyone here that we have a choice in health care plans. Nobody is asking that we give up a plan that we like. Please keep the public option. it is as key cornerstone of change!

Representative Kind, my question then is: will you insist that the public option be a part of our revised health care system? Thank you."

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I find it somewhat sadly amusing that the "screamers" at town hall gatherings yell about how upgrading health care will be putting future generations in terrible debt. To those insanely self righteous I would ask where the hell were you when our government lied to us about weapons of mass destruction and then declared an illegal war in which we spent millions upon millions of dollars that have already put my sons and their sons and daughters in deep debt.??

That was money that could have been used here in America to not only improve our health system but to help rebuild our infrastructure. That is when I raised my editorial voice again and again - but with little success.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

WILD-EYED SCREAMERS DESERVE NO HEALTH CARE WHATSOEVER

TO ALL THE WILD-EYED SCREAMERS SHOWING UP AT TOWN HALL MEETINGS: WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU WHEN OUR GOVERNMENT WENT TO WAR ILLEGALLY IN IRAQ AND RAN US INTO THE TRILLION DOLLAR DEBT THAT'S PUCKERING YOUR BUTT NOW?

you are all imbeciles. And because of you, health care is not going to improve. (see below)

THE BRUTAL TRUTH ABOUT OUR HEALTH CARE

NEWS


The Brutal Truth About America’s Healthcare
Saturday 15 August 2009
by: Guy Adams | Visit article original @ The Independent UK

They came in their thousands, queuing through the night to secure one of the coveted wristbands offering entry into a strange parallel universe where medical care is a free and basic right and not an expensive luxury. Some of these Americans had walked miles simply to have their blood pressure checked, some had slept in their cars in the hope of getting an eye-test or a mammogram, others had brought their children for immunisations that could end up saving their life.

In the week that Britain's National Health Service was held aloft by Republicans as an "evil and Orwellian" example of everything that is wrong with free healthcare, these extraordinary scenes in Inglewood, California yesterday provided a sobering reminder of exactly why President Barack Obama is trying to reform the US system.

The LA Forum, the arena that once hosted sell-out Madonna concerts, has been transformed – for eight days only – into a vast field hospital. In America, the offer of free healthcare is so rare, that news of the magical medical kingdom spread rapidly and long lines of prospective patients snaked around the venue for the chance of getting everyday treatments that many British people take for granted.

In the first two days, more than 1,500 men, women and children received free treatments worth $503,000 (£304,000). Thirty dentists pulled 471 teeth; 320 people were given standard issue spectacles; 80 had mammograms; dozens more had acupuncture, or saw kidney specialists. By the time the makeshift medical centre leaves town on Tuesday, staff expect to have dispensed $2m worth of treatments to 10,000 patients.

The gritty district of Inglewood lies just a few miles from the palm-lined streets of Beverly Hills and the bright lights of Hollywood, but is a world away. And the residents who had flocked for the free medical care, courtesy of mobile charity Remote Area Medical, bore testament to the human cost of the healthcare mess that President Obama is attempting to fix.

Christine Smith arrived at 3am in the hope of seeing a dentist for the first time since she turned 18. That was almost eight years ago. Her need is obvious and pressing: 17 of her teeth are rotten; some have large visible holes in them. She is living in constant pain and has been unable to eat solid food for several years.

"I had a gastric bypass in 2002, but it went wrong, and stomach acid began rotting my teeth. I've had several jobs since, but none with medical insurance, so I've not been able to see a dentist to get it fixed," she told The Independent. "I've not been able to chew food for as long as I can remember. I've been living on soup, and noodles, and blending meals in a food mixer. I'm in constant pain. Normally, it would cost $5,000 to fix it. So if I have to wait a week to get treated for free, I'll do it. This will change my life."

Along the hall, Liz Cruise was one of scores of people waiting for a free eye exam. She works for a major supermarket chain but can't afford the $200 a month that would be deducted from her salary for insurance. "It's a simple choice: pay my rent, or pay my healthcare. What am I supposed to do?" she asked. "I'm one of the working poor: people who do work but can't afford healthcare and are ineligible for any free healthcare or assistance. I can't remember the last time I saw a doctor."

Although the Americans spend more on medicine than any nation on earth, there are an estimated 50 million with no health insurance at all. Many of those who have jobs can't afford coverage, and even those with standard policies often find it doesn't cover commonplace procedures. California's unemployed – who rely on Medicaid – had their dental care axed last month.

Julie Shay was one of the many, waiting to slide into a dentist's chair where teeth were being drilled in full view of passers-by. For years, she has been crossing over the Mexican border to get her teeth done on the cheap in Tijuana. But recently, the US started requiring citizens returning home from Mexico to produce a passport (previously all you needed was a driver's license), and so that route is now closed. Today she has two abscesses and is in so much pain she can barely sleep. "I don't have a passport, and I can't afford one. So my husband and I slept in the car to make sure we got seen by a dentist. It sounds pathetic, but I really am that desperate."

"You'd think, with the money in this country, that we'd be able to look after people's health properly," she said. "But the truth is that the rich, and the insurance firms, just don't realise what we are going through, or simply don't care. Look around this room and tell me that America's healthcare don't need fixing."

President Obama's healthcare plans had been a central plank of his first-term programme, but his reform package has taken a battering at the hands of Republican opponents in recent weeks. As the Democrats have failed to coalesce around a single, straightforward proposal, their rivals have seized on public hesitancy over "socialised medicine" and now the chance of far-reaching reform is in doubt.

Most damaging of all has been the tide of vociferous right-wing opponents whipping up scepticism at town hall meetings that were supposed to soothe doubts. In Pennsylvania this week, Senator Arlen Specter was greeted by a crowd of 1,000 at a venue designed to accommodate only 250, and of the 30 selected speakers at the event, almost all were hostile.

The packed bleachers in the LA Forum tell a different story. The mobile clinic has been organised by the remarkable Remote Area Medical. The charity usually focuses on the rural poor, although they worked in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Now they are moving into more urban venues, this week's event in Los Angeles is believed to be the largest free healthcare operation in the country.

Doctors, dentists and therapists volunteer their time, and resources to the organisation. To many US medical professionals, it offers a rare opportunity to plug into the public service ethos on which their trade was supposedly founded. "People come here who haven't seen a doctor for years. And we're able to say 'Hey, you have this, you have this, you have this'," said Dr Vincent Anthony, a kidney specialist volunteering five days of his team's time. "It's hard work, but incredibly rewarding. Healthcare needs reform, obviously. There are so many people falling through the cracks, who don't get care. That's why so many are here."

Ironically, given this week's transatlantic spat over the NHS, Remote Area Medical was founded by an Englishman: Stan Brock. The 72-year-old former public schoolboy, Taekwondo black belt, and one-time presenter of Wild Kingdom, one of America's most popular animal TV shows, left the celebrity gravy train in 1985 to, as he puts it, "make people better".

Today, Brock has no money, no income, and no bank account. He spends 365 days a year at the charity events, sleeping on a small rolled-up mat on the floor and living on a diet made up entirely of porridge and fresh fruit. In some quarters, he has been described, without too much exaggeration, as a living saint.

Though anxious not to interfere in the potent healthcare debate, Mr Brock said yesterday that he, and many other professionals, believes the NHS should provide a benchmark for the future of US healthcare.

"Back in 1944, the UK government knew there was a serious problem with lack of healthcare for 49.7 million British citizens, of which I was one, so they said 'Hey Mr Nye Bevan, you're the Minister for Health... go fix it'. And so came the NHS. Well, fast forward now 66 years, and we've got about the same number of people, about 49 million people, here in the US, who don't have access to healthcare."

"I've been very conservative in my outlook for the whole of my life. I've been described as being about 90,000 miles to the right of Attila the Hun. But I think one reaches the reality that something doesn't work... In this country something has to be done. And as a proud member of the US community but a loyal British subject to the core, I would say that if Britain could fix it in 1944, surely we could fix it here in America.

MY WORK IS FEAST OR FAMINE- FROM GREENWOOD TO MENOMONIE

Saturday got to be quite a busy one. In my business it's "feast or famine" (with the recession upon us it's mostly famine). Well, yesterday was a feast day. A two gigger in one day, it was. As you can see from the photo to the left, I attended my class of 1959 reunion last night and performed for them after dinner. How can it be fifty years ago??? It was good to see some of my old pals from high school as I have lost track of almost everybody.
Clyde Owens looked great - like he's maybe aged 10 years. I sat at a table with Lynda Lund and Karen Kausrud, two of the beautiful women of the class - and they, too, looked great.

I have to admit and did admit to my classmates, that doing a show before them made me extremely nervous. But once I got rolling, I settled in and I think everyone really enjoyed the show.


Earlier in the day, I was in Greenwood, Wisconsin for it's celebration of - what else? - butter! After all, the Uetrecht dairy plant on the edge of town produces Grassland Butter and Mr. Dallas Uetrecht himself was kind enough to drop by the stage while I was setting up and say hello.
I have always had a good working relationship with Grassland - worked some of their corporate functions in the past, so I was very pleased that the boss would take time to say hello.

Before I could perform, the first order of business was to announce the winners of the Mrs. Butter Crocker awards, which were then auctioned off to the highest bettor.
Lisa Hinker won first place in the contest with her Pecan Bread Pudding with Brandy Sauce. In addition to the trophy, she received the 2009 Mrs Butter Crocker butter-yellow apron.

I performed outdoors on a pretty hot and humid day and by the time the time my show was finished, I had pretty much sweat soaked my dress shirt (which is the one I wore to the class reunion, too --- EEEUUUWWW.)

I asked for and got some volunteer help with packing the gear back into the Scion Xb, and I owe those guys a big thank you because they helped me make it to my next gig on time.

Like I say, in my line of work, it's either feast or famine. Fortunately, I have two teacher inservices coming up before the end of August -- and then the famine really begins -- the gig cupboard is bare, folks!

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

MY FIRST DISAPPOINTMENT WITH PRESIDENT -- WHAT HAPPENED TO "TRANSPARENCY"

A memo obtained by the Huffington Post confirms that the White House and the pharmaceutical lobby secretly agreed to precisely the sort of wide-ranging deal that both parties have been denying over the past week.

The memo, which according to a knowledgeable health care lobbyist was prepared by a person directly involved in the negotiations, lists exactly what the White House gave up, and what it got in return.

It says the White House agreed to oppose any congressional efforts to use the government's leverage to bargain for lower drug prices or import drugs from Canada -- and also agreed not to pursue Medicare rebates or shift some drugs from Medicare Part B to Medicare Part D, which would cost Big Pharma billions in reduced reimbursements.

In exchange, the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) agreed to cut $80 billion in projected costs to taxpayers and senior citizens over ten years. Or, as the memo says: "Commitment of up to $80 billion, but not more than $80 billion."

Representatives from both the White House and PhRMA, shown the outline, adamantly denied that it reflected reality. PhRMA senior vice president Ken Johnson said that the outline "is simply not accurate." "This memo isn't accurate and does not reflect the agreement with the drug companies," said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin.

Stories in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times last week indicated that the administration was confirming that such a deal had been made.

Critics on Capitol Hill and online responded with outrage at the reports that Obama had gone behind their backs and sold the reform movement short. Furthermore, the deal seemed to be a betrayal of several promises made by then-Sen. Obama during the presidential campaign, among them that he would use the power of government to drive down the costs of drugs to Medicare and that negotiations would be conducted in the open.

And over the past several days, both the White House and PhRMA have offered a series of sometimes conflicting accounts of what happened in an attempt to walk back the story.

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I want to make it clear that I still stand behind the president in his quest for better health care. I just don't like "under the table" going on at a time when we need to be upfront with the people. But as my dad's hired man used to say: "Nobody ain't perfect."

Who knows - maybe President Obama will give us his explanation for this move.

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8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage
Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.
Learn more and get details: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/health-insurance-consumer-protections/

8 common myths about health insurance reform
Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.
We can’t afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.
Reform would encourage "euthanasia": It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.
Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.
Learn more and get details:
http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck
http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck/faq

8 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now
Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/denied_coverage/index.html
Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hiddencosts/index.html
Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/women/index.html
Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hardtimes
Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/helpbottomline
The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction
Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people - one in every three Americans under the age of 65 - were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction/diminishing/index.html
The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance - projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Learn more: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/assets/documents/CEA_Health_Care_Report.pdf

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ARE YOU PROUD OF YOURSELVES YET?

I just caught New York Times best selling author Ronald Kessler on MSNBC news. Of course because I watch MSNBC there are those good patriotic Americans who will automatically dismiss anything that I have to say, but here goes any way.
Mr. Kessler's book "In the President's Secret Service" puts forth some pretty frightening points.

Did you know, for instance, that according to Kessler's research, Presidential death threats are up 400 per cent from what they were when George Bush was in office?

Militias are growing every day. And their rhetoric more virulent. Racism more blatant. Consider the recent town hall meeting at which a black woman is carrying a poster of Rosa Parks and a white woman crosses from the aisle and pulls it from her hands and then rips it up and throws it on the floor while the crowd cheers.

If you have watched any of the coverage on the town hall meetings on health care so far, it is more than obvious that the Republican fear machine that was in power for eight years with Bush is alive and well with the help of Republican mouth piece Rush Limbaugh as well as the likes of Chuck Grassley, who has joined Sarah Palin's chorus of lies about death panels.

I guess I had better remove my "Bush is a war criminal" sticker from my car or as the guy from the New Hampshire town hall suggests, start carrying my loaded automatic pistol with me.

I, for one, cannot get my head around this! How can an issue like health care - HEALTH CARE! - an issue which should ring as a positive step to each and every American, get so many people's undies in a bundle.

It all comes down to this -- somebody want to get us "off message" as Congressman Scott of Georgia eloquently put it today.
If you think for a minute that this country is past racism, you had better forget that.

As the great patriot Rush Limbaugh states it: "I want Obama to fail!" And as some other great Republicans have proclaimed: "We want health care to be Obama's Waterloo."

This is all so insane! And it is about damn time that our Congress looks back to the eight years under Bush and how a good man was duly elected by America - and not listen to the wingnuts who are trying to get us off message.

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No sooner had I finished my above blog than I got an e mail from The Southern Poverty Law Center:

August 12, 2009

Dear Friend,
As you may have seen in the news today, we've just released a new report about the resurgence of the right-wing militia movement — a movement steeped in paranoia and infused with a boiling rage against President Obama.

Back in 1994, we detected similar stirrings among those in the radical right, and we warned the federal government that the "mixture of armed groups and those who hate is a recipe for disaster." Six months later, 168 people were murdered in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Today, we're facing a similar situation. One federal agent told us that "all it's lacking is a spark."

Anti-government militias are just one part of an explosion of extremist rage in America — a backlash to Obama's election and to the progress we're making toward social justice and tolerance. These groups and their allies traffic in bizarre conspiracy theories — like the claim that Obama is not really a U.S. citizen and that he wants to euthanize senior citizens.

The Department of Homeland Security has recently warned that right-wing extremists such as these militias currently pose the No. 1 threat of domestic terrorism.

The fact is, we're already seeing acts of terror. Six law enforcement officers have been murdered by extremists in recent months, and Obama has received more threats than any other president.

We're working hard to keep law enforcement agencies at every level up to date with the latest and most accurate intelligence about these extremists and their activities.

Please read our new report and pass it along to your friends and family. We all need to stay informed so that we can fight back against this rising tide of extremism.

Thank you for supporting our work — and remember to speak out against hate and intolerance in your community.


Sincerely,

Morris Dees
Founder

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

PREPARING FOR SEPTEMBER 5 MEETING WITH PAUL HORNUNG

Friday, September 4, I will be heading south and east on Highway 94 with this Helmet Hut helmet in hand. I will be staying overnight with my younger brother Anson to be in position to attend an autograph session on saturday, September 5, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, at Waukesha Sportscards.

My goal? to add the autograph of the Green Bay Packers 1960's great "Golden Boy", Paul Hornung to my vast collection of one autograph - Bart Starr.
I am looking forward to meeting Mr. Hornung as he and I were in the military together for the "Berlin Crisis". Well, I'd better clarify that. He was at Fort Riley, Kansas, and I was at Fort Lewis, Washington, serving with the 128th Infantry of the 32nd Division along with a couple of other Packer starters you might remember if you are over 60 - Ray Nitschke and Boyd Dowler.
So that will be my "ice breaker" when it is my turn in line, helmet in hand.

I just received the helmet pictured in today's blog from my friends at Helmet Hut down in Warsaw, Indiana, where they manufacture exact replicas of the 1960's Riddell suspension helmets of the time.

You may notice that the helmet is not sporting the familiar "G" on the side. Did you know that Paul Hornung's first season with the Packers was a year before the arrival of Saint Vincent? Back then, there was no "G". The "G" was Vince's idea the next season.

Right now I am still in the process of finding the correct "G" to put on the helmet. The original was much more football shaped than the current decal and was put on in layers to achieve the final product.

TOP 5 HEALTH CARE LIES - AND HOW TO FIGHT BACK

The health care fight has turned ugly, fast. Right-wing mobs are crashing congressional town halls, lies are spreading via anonymous email chains, and Sarah Palin bizarrely said that President Obama was going to set up a "death panel," whatever that is.

Many of these claims are just incredible—but if we don't fight back with the truth, the right will continue to poison the health care debate. So as part of our Real Voices for Change campaign this August, we're working to set the record straight.

Check out the list below: "Top Five Health Care Lies—and How to Fight Back." Can you spread the word by passing this email along to 10 of your friends today?

Also, if you're on Facebook, please post the list today by clicking here: http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51746. If you're on Twitter, retweet: @MoveOn Check out the Top 5 Health Care Lies—and How to Fight Back. http://bit.ly/Bncs5

Top Five Health Care Reform Lies—and How to Fight Back

Lie #1: President Obama wants to euthanize your grandma!!!

The truth: These accusations—of "death panels" and forced euthanasia—are, of course, flatly untrue. As an article from the Associated Press puts it: "No 'death panel' in health care bill."4 What's the real deal? Reform legislation includes a provision, supported by the AARP, to offer senior citizens access to a professional medical counselor who will provide them with information on preparing a living will and other issues facing older Americans.5

Lie #2: Democrats are going to outlaw private insurance and force you into a government plan!!!

The truth: With reform, choices will increase, not decrease. Obama's reform plans will create a health insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace for affordable, high-quality insurance options.6 Included in the exchange is the public health insurance option—a nationwide plan with a broad network of providers—that will operate alongside private insurance companies, injecting competition into the market to drive quality up and costs down.7

If you're happy with your coverage and doctors, you can keep them.8 But the new public plan will expand choices to millions of businesses or individuals who choose to opt into it, including many who simply can't afford health care now.

Lie #3: President Obama wants to implement Soviet-style rationing!!!

The truth: Health care reform will expand access to high-quality health insurance, and give individuals, families, and businesses more choices for coverage. Right now, big corporations decide whether to give you coverage, what doctors you get to see, and whether a particular procedure or medicine is covered—that is rationed care. And a big part of reform is to stop that.

Health care reform will do away with some of the most nefarious aspects of this rationing: discrimination for pre-existing conditions, insurers that cancel coverage when you get sick, gender discrimination, and lifetime and yearly limits on coverage.9 And outside of that, as noted above, reform will increase insurance options, not force anyone into a rationed situation.

Lie #4: Obama is secretly plotting to cut senior citizens' Medicare benefits!!!

The truth: Health care reform plans will not reduce Medicare benefits.10 Reform includes savings from Medicare that are unrelated to patient care—in fact, the savings comes from cutting billions of dollars in overpayments to insurance companies and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.11

Lie #5: Obama's health care plan will bankrupt America!!!

The truth: We need health care reform now in order to prevent bankruptcy—to control spiraling costs that affect individuals, families, small businesses, and the American economy.

Right now, we spend more than $2 trillion dollars a year on health care.12 The average family premium is projected to rise to over $22,000 in the next decade13—and each year, nearly a million people face bankruptcy because of medical expenses.14 Reform, with an affordable, high-quality public option that can spur competition, is necessary to bring down skyrocketing costs. Also, President Obama's reform plans would be fully paid for over 10 years and not add a penny to the deficit.15

We're closer to real health care reform than we've ever been—and the next few weeks will decide whether it happens. We need to make sure the truth about health care reform is spread far and wide to combat right wing lies.

Friday, August 7, 2009

LES SAN CULOTTES TAKES PARIS BY STORM ( Guest Blogger, Jonathan (Jean) Heagle, Photos by Stephan Le Carre

Bon Jour, tout mes amis,

Whew! I'm back in NYC and re-adjusting my internal clock...still grinning from the fast-and-frantic first-ever French tour of Les Sans Culottes.

Upon arriving in Paris last Thursday morning, we were met by Bill's friends Olivier and his wife Rosa, at Charles de Gaulle Airport. (Olivier and Rosa are indirectly responsible for the formation of LSC--when Bill visited them in Paris in the mid-1990s, they introduced him to the recordings of Serge Gainsbourg and Jaques Dutronc, which formed much of the band's early repertoire and overall musical gestalt.)

They drove us into Paris, where we met up with Nathalie Petit, whom I had met at an LSC show in NYC the previous month. Nathalie is a big rock fan, and has made it her profession as she works for the French rock magazine, Le Inrockuptibles (or Le Inrock for short). She set us up with places to stay--Audrey, Kathleen and Gina crashed at Nathalie's place, Bill and I stayed at the flat of Stephan Le Carre (a friend of Nathalie's), Gavin stayed with another friend of Nathalie's, and Tom stayed with his brother John, a Paris resident.

We were pretty jet-lagged that first day, but Bill and I decided not to sleep that afternoon--we bought some Ethiopian coffee at a neighborhood supermarket. After a couple of cups of the Ethiopian, we set out for a stroll through Paris. Stephane's place is across the Rue Botzaris from the lovely Buttes Chaumont park, so we started there and then made our way to Notre Dame, then crossed the Seine into the Latin quarter.

While we were in the Latin quarter, Bill got a call on his prepaid cell phone--a journalist from the newspaper in Chalons, anticipating our festival gig there. So Bill gave his first French-language interview, answering the questions as best he could in his jet-lagged state. While we stood outside of a store, a couple of different Parisians walked up to me and asked me questions in French. When I said, "Sorry, I'm American," they said, "Oh, you don't work here?" In some way, I felt encouraged by this...I guess I thought that if Parisians were mistaking me for a local, perhaps the audience that night would be accepting of our band's efforts?

Which, thankfully, is what happened! We played at La Feline, a cool rock dive in the Menilmontant area. Nathalie and Stephane had made some promotional efforts on our behalf--they handed out fliers at various Parisian rock clubs in the weeks leading up to the gig. So, we had a large and enthusiastic audience for the show--the club was so packed that I later found out that some people who wanted to listen to us could not get into the room while we were playing. The crowd responded well to all the songs, and called for an encore at the conclusion of the regular set.

Our new friend Stephane took photos throughout the Feline set--you can see his photos here: http://slekarr.tumblr.com/page/1

In the tumultuous after-gig-party, many people stepped out of the crowded bar and hung out on the street outside. I met lots of cool Parisian rock fans, who had lots of nice things to say about our music, e.g. "We cannot always understand your lyrics, but your songs are very fun." So perhaps the reaction in Paris is not so different from that of America?

Somewhere in the midst of all this, some members of LSC were interviewed by a reporter from BBC Radio, including myself. While my jet-lagged remarks do not appear in the interview, I am musically present...there is an audio clip of our performance of "Sur La Plage," a tune for which I wrote the music. You can hear the story here: http://www.theworld.org/2009/08/04/global-hit-5/

After still more partying back at Nathalie's apartment, Bill and I made our way back to Stephane's apartment, somewhat unsteady on our feet but filled with joy.

After about twelve hours' sleep, Bill and I rose in the late afternoon. Our day commenced in the same way as most of our days there: Ethiopian coffee, followed by a sandwich from a nearby Boulangerie. The jambon blanc et crudites sandwiches I consumed brought me into an entirely new and happy relation with bread. The baguettes of Paris are wonderful. From what I understand, they are baked twice, resulting in a crunchy crust, around a soft middle with lots of air in it. And the French make a point of keeping each loaf on the shelf for only a short time, throwing bread out and replacing it after a few hours, so freshness is guaranteed. Delicious. It has cast some of my NYC diet in an unflattering perspective, but c'est la vie.
After a little more strolling around Paris, it was time to go to our second gig, at L'Opa, in the Bastille area of Paris. L'Opa proved to be a bit more "upscale" in its appearance, much how I would imagine a "cool club in Paris" to look. There were tables in front of the stage, whereas at La Feline there was no stage and no tables. So the audience were not as "in-our-faces" as the previous night, but they were, again, very appreciative of our music, applauding enthusiastically after each number and also once again, calling for an encore. The set list at L'Opa included "Hypermarche," a recent tune of Bill's and mine, which contains some musical homages to Django Reinhardt--I play a guitar introduction based on Django's intro to "When Day Is Done." Olivier mentioned to me afterwards that he enjoyed my interpretation of French musette style--a really nice compliment, esp. considering that Olivier plays bass in a musette band.

Also at L'Opa, we heard a band of three young Parisian fellows called 1900. They were a cool, catchy pop-rock band with garage rock elements--not unlike LSC. Unlike LSC, however, they sang largely in English, which I gather is often the case with French bands of the current generation. So in a way, they were a highly appropriate counterpart for us, perhaps.

To my recollection, we did not party so much after this gig, being pretty tired from the previous one, so after one or two drinks we headed home and got some shut-eye in preparation for Day Three--the BIG ONE: Le 18e F'estival d'ici ed d'ailleurs, Place Foch, Châlons-en-Champagne, France!

Having gained some confidence from our Parisian shows, we set off for Chalons. After a trip on the awesome Train du Grande Vitesse, which made the 200km trip to Chalons in a little over an hour, we arrived in Chalons. We soundchecked on a huge stage in the town square, feeling that this was going to be a really cool show as the onstage sound was excellent. The promoter who brought us over, Jean-Luc, treated us to dinner at a restaurant near the festival stage, where we dined on ostrich(!). It was very good--rather like beef, actually. Tender red meat in a savory brown sauce, a bit like salisbury steak. I enjoyed chatting with Jean-Luc, a very enthusiastic rock fan and promoter, who remarked that LSC "sound[s] like a cross between [Jaques] Dutronc and T-Rex!" (A not-bad couple of artists to be compared to, if I do say so myself.)

We had about 45 minutes after that to hang out in the dressing room, digesting our food and preparing for the show. The dressing room was in a borrowed apartment overlooking the square, so we watched a large crowd gather for our show (Jean-Luc estimated its size at 1,000 people).

We hit shortly after 9pm and played a long set, about an hour and a half. The crowd were, again, very receptive to our songs and stayed for the entire set. And again, we got an encore at the end, which, as at the other shows, was "Shubadubaluba," a classic 1960s Serge Gainsbourg song.
After we walked off, we chatted with many local folks and signed some autographs. Jean-Luc was very pleased with the performance, and suggested the possibility of getting us back over there again sometime (yes, please!!).

Later that night, Gina, Gavin and I bumped into some musicians from another band in town for the festival. We went with them to a little party at a house near our hotel, where I was introduced to some cool folks, and to Pastis, an alcoholic beverage that tasted a bit like licorice.

The next day, we spent some time checking out Chalons--for instance, stopping by the Cathedral of St. Etienne, with lovely stained-glass to rival that of Notre Dame de Paris. We had a bottle of champagne at a local bar, which helped me out a bit--I was a little hung-over from the Pastis the night before.

Then it was back to Paris on the TGV. We had a couple of days to just bum around Paris, so the band usually split up during the day, regrouping at night to party on with our new Parisian friends. Nathalie called a bunch of her friends to come hang out at a bar in the Buttes Chaumont park. We hung out with the Parisians, drinking lots of vin rouge and eating lots of bread with prosciutto. Many Parisians were congratulatory about the election of Barack Obama. Kathleen pulled me onto the dance floor, where a DJ was spinning lots of pop music from the early 1990s. In the setting of a Paris dancefloor, I found myself so caught up in joie de vivre that the music of artists such as George Michael and EMF sounded good to me--a phenomenon I would not have predicted previously!

For the last full day in Paris, Bill and I trekked over to the famous Pere Lechaise cemetary, where we visited the final resting places of such notable personages as Frederic Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Honore de Balzac, Stephane Grapelli, Moliere, Guy de Apollinaire, Marcel Proust...and so on. (As Bill remarked--"Everybody says Paris is dead in August...so the obvious thing to do is go to the cemetary, right?")

The band gathered for a meal at Le Jolie Mome, a favorite cafe and bar in Nathalie's neighborhood, where we dined on couscous with mixed vegetables and various meats...a splendid meal washed down with lots of red wine.

And then, suddenly, it was time to return to the US. We bid warm au revoirs to Nathalie and our other new friends and made our way to Charles de Gaulle for the long trip home. We were exhausted, but very happy and infused with a new confidence in our music.

So it's time to roll up our sleeves and set about the work of making our next album. I feel we have some fresh impetus to do so, having just played in front of audiences in France...I sort of feel as if they were the people we were trying to reach all along, without even realizing it. Whatever else the future may hold for LSC...we'll always have Paris!!

Au Revoir,
Jean

Thursday, August 6, 2009

CATS ARE THE GREATEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD

One of the greatest benefits of owning a computer and having access to the internet is the opportunity to meet some really wonderful people. People that I have not met personally yet I consider friends - names like Harv Harvison, Curtis Worrell, and the subject of this blog, Marty Potrzebowski, come to mind.

I know that several of my blog followers , are lovers of cats. Marty and his wife Stacey,who live in Milwaukee are also friends of the feline.
I have been in business contact with Marty for some time. Toward the end of July an e mail I sent him went unanswered for several days.
When Marty did write, it was with a heavy heart. His friend of 15 years, Sidney (pictured below in the arms of Stacey) had suffered a catastrophic stroke and had to be put down. The Potrzebowskis were understandably devastated as any of us who own pets, cat or dog, know that these animals are much more than just animals. They are true friends that give us unconditional love. They can read our moods as well as or better than our human friends and are sad when we are sad, happy when we are happy.
When I received the news from Marty I wrote back to him, explaining how we had lost two cats last year within a month of one another. At that time Kim vowed that we would have no more pets - going through the loss was just too painful.
I tried to agree but four months or so later I begged and cajoled her into going to the shelter to "just look" and we found two new friends.
I told Marty that I hoped he would some day adopt another.

The following week, August 1, I got a wonderful e mail with these pictures of the TWO new kittens, "Gibson" and "Sophie", and Marty also sent me this poem that I want to share:

And God asked the feline spirit
Are you ready to come home?
Oh, yes, quite so, replied the precious soul
And, as a cat, You know I am most able
To decide anything for myself.

Are you coming then? asked God.
Soon, replied the whiskered angel
But I must come slowly
For my human friends are troubled
For You see, they need me, quite certainly.

But don't they understand? asked God
That you'll never leave them?
That your souls are intertwined. For all eternity?
That nothing is created or destroyed?
It just is... forever and ever and ever.

Eventually they will understand,
Replied the glorious cat
For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am... forever and ever and ever.

Sidney 1995 - 2009

Thank you Marty and Stacey for sharing a small but important part of your lives with me. May Gibson and Sophie live long, long lives in the arms of your love!

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Walter Cronkite's favorite joke:

"Two Irishmen walk out of a bar - - no, REALLY!

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