Showing posts with label aca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label aca. Show all posts

Saturday, April 21, 2018

1971 ~ A Year No One Ever Commemorates

(No one dressed like this.)

 Apparently the biggest news of 1971 is that cigarette ads were banned from TV (too late!)

I was fifteen-going-on-sixteen and in the tenth grade, which is a lowly teenage status. Not quite as lowly as a freshman, but at least freshmen had a distinct identity (losers). Sophomores were only semi-losers, but definitely not cool. Zit-afflicted; hair that only looked good on lucky days, we didn't walk the school halls as cowed as we did as freshmen, but we shrunk from making eye contact with anyone in the cool grades, for fear of contemptuous glances. Being overlooked was a much preferable state. 

I carried a fat geometry textbook that I never once cracked open. Perpendicular lines and isosceles triangles only mattered if they were incorporated into something I was doodling in class. Math in general was useless, but I was forced to take a couple of math classes in my quest to graduate with a "college prep" diploma. In English class, we were reading Julius Caesar, which was minimally more interesting than geometry. World History was perpetually boring. We learned about places like Constantinople and other European cities that no longer existed, so who cared? I never quite grasped what started World War I until I saw a documentary on AHC many decades later.

Since the FCC banned cigarette commercials, catch-phrases dwindled.

"It's not nice to fool Mother Nature" was cool because it was spoken in such a malevolent tone.

"My wife; I think I'll keep her" is apparently offensive, because irony is a lost art.

Who can forget the spicy meatball?

In pop music, George Harrison got a bum rap for supposedly plagiarizing "He's So Fine". The truth is, if anyone ever creates a melody that's never been heard before, it will be cacophonous crap that shreds one's ear canals. Everyone borrows from someone, and when it happens, trust me, it's subconscious.

We went to the movies and saw The Exorcist, which was "stupid", rather than "scary". 

George Carlin was subversive and we loved him for it.

If George Carlin was alive today, he could kiss his career goodbye. I bought his albums, AM and FM, and Class Clown, and hid them between Merle and Connie Smith.

We watched Marcus Welby, MD and especially Mannix on TV. 

The hottest inventions of 1971 were the Intel 4004, which was supposedly something called a "microprocessor". I have no idea what possible future that sad conception could hold. Sorry, Intel; better luck next time. Keep trying! Some quirky coffee shop named "Starbucks" opened in Seattle, Washington, but no one cared. Folgers (or in my case, Coca-Cola) was everyone's intravenous caffeine delivery device.

A plug-in cooker dubbed "The Beanery" wasn't exactly a commercial success until Rival changed the name to "Crock Pot". I hope the person who came up with the moniker, "Crock Pot" got a huge bonus, but I bet they didn't. I'm guessing the CEO of Rival thought "The Beanery" would be a fab name, because that's why, after all, he earned the big bucks. Some lowly clerk hunkered in a walled cubicle thought up "Crock Pot" and got to keep her job until the next round of layoffs.

In the newly-found freedom of my brand-spankin'-new bedroom, I read paperbacks like "Love Story", which was a putrid book and a complete waste of my free time; and "Airport", which was at least somewhat captivating; albeit brain candy. But that's how paperbacks were. Reading books written by the likes of Jacqueline Susann left one with a desperate need to scrub their skin raw when they finished them. They were late-night reads. If I was to add up all the time I've spent in my life reading worthless books and watching worthless TV shows, I'd be able to tack on, at a minimum, one year to my life. All these complete wastes of time are important life lessons, though. One has to learn what is valuable and what is crap, and be able to discern the difference.

The hit songs of 1971 may have, at the time, seemed like revelations. Now they sound like hackneyed dead weights.

Like this one:

At least this song had a melody:

And, FYI, I wasn't down and troubled and I didn't need a helping hand. Okay, I was down and troubled, but James Taylor wasn't about to fix that. And I was insulted that he even thought he could.

Sorry, Jimmy. A little ditty was not about to solve all my existential problems. Besides, this song is maudlin.

If you want to make me happy, sing this one:

1971 saw the rise of "cuteness" in music; artists who tried hard to be hip, but their dimples gave them away -- The Osmonds, The Jackson Five, The Partridge Family. These were my little sister's artists. This is what pop music had become. I ignored all of that. I was frankly into country music by then anyway, although I couldn't escape pop culture any more than I could overlook this:

This song is famous for the most repetitions of the phrase, "I know". Weird thing to be remembered for, but there it is.

The reason no one commemorates 1971 is that music basically sucked. 

"What were the top songs of 1971, Dad?"

"Well, son, someone sang a song about his dog that he gave a really stupid name to."

"He sang about his dog?"

"We had very little to sustain ourselves with back then, son. If we wanted to take our music somewhere, we had to find a crate and stuff our LP's in it and load them in the trunk of the car."

"What's an 'LP'?"

"It's not important now. Just listen to Lobo on this here eight-track cartridge I fished out of our neighbor's garbage can."

The primary reason I've never discussed 1971 is that, aside from the fluff posted here, I barely remember it. I can conjure up snippets of memories, but it was a lonely time. I did my best to fill my days and nights; nevertheless, every day was a day to slog through. It was paper I crumpled in my hand. 

I hadn't yet figured out who I was or who I wanted to be. I thought that once '73 arrived, purple butterflies would flutter and alight on my outstretched hand.  And the secret of life would unfold.

I'm still waiting.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rich Farmers Update and Giveaway!

Yes, this is another shameless plug!

People tend to enjoy my music posts more than my book posts, but hey!  A gal's gotta make her $11.98!  Total.  Seriously.  And that's mostly because my friend took pity on me and bought a copy.

Be that as it may, I wanted to announce that Rich Farmers is now available on iTunes and Barnes and Noble (for Nook). 

I was going to say how honored I am to be featured (to use the term loosely) on iTunes, but then I realized that some of Red River's songs can also be found there; not through any effort (or knowledge) of the band.  It seems that one of our music libraries, Audiosparx, put together a few compilation CD's of various artists, and some of our tunes were stuck on five or six of those CD's (No sales to report!  Just like my book!)

So, I guess I'm an old hand at iTunes.....

Now is a good time to put in a plug for my book formatter and cover designer, Elijah Toten.  You can view his services here. He was very nice to work with, and I think he did a great job on the cover design.  Granted, I gave him a picture that I insisted he use, but the graphics, especially with regard to the subtitle, really convey the scariness and, I guess, shakiness, of that time, growing up.

I bet there are tons of self-published authors who only sell one or two copies (I write, sobbing).  I can still say I did my best, and I slaved over writing my book; and I'm GLAD I did it.

And now without further a-dewww, I am giving away three copies of Rich Farmers in whatever digital format you choose.

All you need to do is leave a comment on this post.  Guests on my author site will also be included in the drawing.  I will use the Randomizer to select the three winning entries.

Winners will be chosen on Friday, May 3, 2013.   

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rich Farmers ~ Excerpt Two

Having lugged my behemoth accordion to school on the bus for show and tell, the plan was to have Dad pick me up after school, so I wouldn’t be once again burdened with the hernia machine that was making me tilt sideways as I tried to heft it.

I pulled the heavy case out onto the sidewalk, let it hit the ground, and I stood there and waited.

And I waited.

By the time I saw the last straggling teachers, and then the principal, stroll out to their cars, I realized it was probably time for Plan B.

I should have walked back inside earlier, and asked to use the phone in the school office to call my mom, but I didn’t want to have to carry that hateful thing back with me once again.

And now it was too late. The school was locked up. Everybody had already said their goodbyes.

The closest place I knew that had a pay phone was the Laundromat downtown, about eight long blocks away.

I was thankful, at least, that it was September, and still warm. I had enough problems.

After taking one last long look down the empty street in front of Valley Elementary, and still not spying even a distant glint of my dad’s car, off I went.

Read more here

Rich Farmers Update and a Preview

I have sold three copies of Rich Farmers!  Scoff if you will, but I didn't expect to sell any!

Within the next couple of weeks, Rich Farmers should be available on iTunes and other places that I haven't decided upon yet. 


Maybe it was a good thing we didn’t pack more stuff.

This place was tiny.

Not the motel itself, but the living quarters.

Curious as I was to check out the place, I despised the little kid who showed me around.

While Mom and Dad were huddled with the woman they’d bought the place from, Elsie; pouring over balance sheets, David Lee, Elsie’s son, became my official travel guide.

“Now, this is my room,” he intoned.

Well, no. This is now my room, and will a bed even fit in here?

Stomach churning, as I pranced along the short household tour, I tried to stop thinking about the new school, the new kids, that I would have to face in a couple of days.

Jay and Lisa were lucky. They’d have plenty of time to assimilate. Me, I was about to be thrown into the fire.

“Here, behind this sliding door, is the office. Right off the living room!”


Our privacy stops at this door?

How quaint. And I hate it already.

The little second bedroom was little, all right. A set of bunk beds hugged one wall; Jay and Lisa would be on the bottom bunk, me on the top.

There was room enough for a narrow dresser on the opposite wall, and a wooden door was built into the wall at the foot of the bed, opening up to a closet with three shelves, where I would stow my important possessions; i.e., my record player.

I felt unable to catch my breath.

I’m going to live in here?

It’s about three steps from my parents’ bedroom!

Life truly sucks.

On my farm, I could stretch my arms out wide, and not touch anything. Here, in this room, I couldn’t even stretch out my arms.

What had I gotten myself into? And can I just go back?

“Here’s the bathroom.”

Well, isn’t this nice? I have to get up at seven. If I’m quick, I can jump in the shower and wash my hair before anyone’s the wiser.

My big brother had pulled up behind us in his red Ford Fairlane. He got out; stretched.

“This’ll do”, he said.

“I can remodel a whole bunch of this stuff.”

My brother’s girlfriend, Kathy, was back at home. It was a drive, but he’d gladly run it.

I didn’t know anybody, and there was nobody worth knowing, least of all David Lee.

Jay and Lisa toddled on over, past the pines, and made the acquaintance of our new neighbors, the Merkels.

Friends for life.

I had nobody.

I shook a sheet of loose-leaf out of a folder, and wrote a beseeching letter to Cathy. “Come visit me!”

I was keenly lonely. And alone.

Read more here

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rich Farmers


My little Minnesota town mostly tolerated the river. The Red, eleven months out of the year, was kind of puny and babyish. Sure, it was banked by shady trees, and it was a lazy place for a waterside picnic. But it was no Missouri.

Once a year, though; that one month in the spring, the Red River turned into a hysterical, sobbing woman. When all the ingredients got stirred together just right; the ice jams, the melting snow creeping across the flat plain, the up-up-upping of the thermometer; well, then the Red wreaked vengeance on those who ever dared call it puny.

Sherlock Park, home to the town swimming pool, and the corny bandstand, where oompa-oompa bands serenaded clumps of families sitting in the shade; was but mere blocks away from the Red; but it seemed so much further away to us kids. At least until the flooding began.

The First National and Sacred Heart Church and the American Legion Club were only two blocks down and one block to the right of the Louis Murray Bridge, give or take. My town was a little town, and it took its nourishment from the skinny waters that confusedly wended their way north, instead of south, like a normal river would.

Every spring, my big brother got out of classes to help sandbag. High school kids are inherently altruistic, especially when they have the opportunity to get sprung from school.

It wasn’t just the Red that flooded, though. Every body of water that was man enough to call itself a “body of water” lurched like a drunken sailor and went knocking on doors. That included the coulee across the road from my farm.

What that meant for me was that the school bus dropped me off at the top of the hill, and set me on a journey of red rubber galoshes busting through banks of sloppy snow, as poor little me finally made my way across the field and to the waiting arms of my front door.

It wasn’t bad enough that the country kids (I say derisively, although I was one) made fun of my name, and called me “Bushy Tail”, as I sat, grumpily bumped up against the vibrating school bus window, all the way to town.

But I hated winter, and I hated post-winter; with its stinging slap across my face, taunting me with a squinty-eyed vision of someday-wildflowers bursting through hillsides that were currently drenching my snow pants up to the knees.

Read more here

Friday, June 29, 2012

What Just Happened?

Let's see if I have this right.

The Obama administration argued before the Supreme Court in March that Obamacare was not a tax.

In fact, the solicitor general was vehement that it was not a tax.

I apparently missed this part of the argument:

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS:  "So, you're saying it's a tax?"

SOLICITOR GENERAL:  "No, your honor, it is definitely NOT a tax."

ROBERTS:  "Well, you're wrong!  It is a tax, and YOU WIN!  Tell him what he's won, Ruth!"

Now, I'm no deep thinker.  I am barely a thinker at all.  However, even I can understand that the person with the losing argument is the LOSER.  But not in Roberts' world.

So, what happens now?  Well, first of all, the 30 million people, most of whom by their own choice, do not have health insurance will now be forced to buy it or pay a penalty (for now ~ later they will be forced to buy it).

How can that be enforced?  You know, everybody is supposed to have car insurance, too, so why is it I see so many claims from people in auto accidents who ~ oops!  forgot to buy it?

Well, the Fed Gov has that all worked out.  Obama is creating jobs (!) by hiring more IRS agents.  Need a job?  How about the IRS?  The IRS will hunt you down to make sure that you have purchased health insurance, and woe to you, if you have not.  If they find that you are not in compliance, no problem!  You will be financially penalized!  (I think that's phase one.  Phase two is most likely a bit more draconian).

Can't afford to buy health insurance?  Well, first of all, prove it.  Did you really need that second cup of latte today?  We (the Fed Gov) feel that your money would be better spent saving up to buy a health insurance policy.

If we, the Fed Gov, decide that, yes, you seem to not be able to afford it (this distinction will be made according to the political party in which you are registered), then you can go on Medicaid!  Who pays for Medicaid?  Silly.  You do, of course.  All of you out there.  Except the 1/3 of the country who pays absolutely no taxes whatsoever.

Medicaid is great, we, the Fed Gov, say.  Oh sure, a lot of doctors don't accept Medicaid patients, and yes, we've reduced the compensation we pay doctors for that service, so there'll probably be even fewer doctors available by the time you need to see one, but if you don't mind the wait, somebody will be sure to slot you in for an appointment in, say, a couple of months.  Oh, you have a collapsed lung?  Take two aspirin and call somebody in the morning (not us!)

But the good news, as opposed to your collapsed lung problem, is, everybody gets free birth control!  Oh, you're a guy?  Still.

Another great piece of news for everybody is (as the Prez loves to say over and over), insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

Here's a poorly-kept secret:  Nobody is denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition now.

I never understood why nobody, anywhere, on TV, radio, in print; ever refuted this lie.  Didn't anyone even bother to check if it was true?

If there is anyone out there who has been explicitly denied health insurance coverage because they have a pre-existing condition, what bizzaro insurance world are you trying to buy a policy in?  Come see me.  I'll help you out.

The thing about "insurance" is, it's supposed to "insure you" against an unforeseen event.  Just like auto insurance is there in case you have an accident.  Or your homeowner's insurance policy exists in case your house gets burglarized or spontaneously combusts.  For some odd reason, State Farm doesn't let you ring up an agent and buy an auto policy while you're lying in the roadway, bleeding profusely from that head wound you acquired from the head-on collision you just had.  They're quirky that way.

But unlike auto insurance or homeowner's insurance, if you suddenly discover that you, say, need a hip replacement, just call up Acme (well, maybe not them, specifically) and tell them you're ready to buy in!

Those mean old insurance companies will be forced to enroll you!  Against their will, because they're cruel and heartless.  But we, the Fed Gov, have now told them what's what!  They have to do it!  Because we said so!

Who pays for all this?  You're asking me this question again??  Well, you know the answer!  Everybody pays!  And pays big!

Apparently, a too-common misconception is that Mean Cruel Insurance Companies sit around, counting their huge piles of money over and over, ignoring the ringing telephone, because it's most likely some member calling, wanting them to pay a claim, which means that the Mean Cruel Insurance Company will have to dip into its money pile and slip out a few bucks, and that would ruin the whole ambience of the "big pile".

Well, most businesses are what's called "self-insured".  This means that the companies put up the money; not the insurance company.  The insurance company is tasked with managing the business's money efficiently.  What did you think?  Insurance companies were just doling out their own money to pay claims?  Where the heck would they get that money to begin with?  That's just stupid.

(So, by the way, if you are unhappy that your insurance policy doesn't cover some specific thing, talk to your HR department; don't scream at the insurance company.  Your employer is the one who decides what's covered and what isn't.  Or, at least, that's how it used to be.  No more, with Obamacare.  Now, every company has to cover, say, fertility treatment, and you will pay the premium for that.  Even though you are a sixty-year-old man who really doesn't want to get pregnant.)

Herein lies the problem with someone only choosing to take his employer's insurance coverage when he finds that he has a major medical condition.

Affiliated Nuts and Bolts, Inc. signs on with ABC Health Insurance to administer its insurance program Affiliated says, I will give you, ABC Health Insurance, ten million dollars this year.  Out of that, you will pay my employees' claims.  Now, Johnny Blackstone, who has always gambled and gone without insurance coverage, suddenly finds that he needs a heart transplant.  Well, says Johnny, I guess I'd better sign up for health insurance!  Now, with Obamacare, I still get my transplant paid!

So, Affiliated's ten million dollars quickly dissipates, just for paying for Johnny's heart transplant.  Sorry, rest of you employees!  says Affiliated.  "Don't get sick!  That's all we can say!"

(This self-insured issue, by the way, is at the heart of the Catholic church's current contraception fight.  The Prez said, "Okay, I guess you all have some kind of problem with paying for your employees to have free birth control pills; you rigid old-fashioned religious zealots.  Geez, I just can't please you, can I?  Well, here's what I'll do:  I'll make your insurance company pay for the birth control.  How's that?"   "But we're self-insured!" the Catholic church replied.  "We're the ones who'd have to pay for it!"  "You know, I've got a lot on my plate", responds the Prez.  "Can't we quickly come to some compromise?  Meaning, you compromise and just do what I say." )

Another bright piece of this legislation that we can all embrace is that the Fed Gov will now have access to everybody's medical records!  That's neat!  The Gov needs them, you see, in order to ensure that you can easily switch doctors at any time (which you will need to do when your doctor decides to retire because Obamacare has driven him/her out of business), and your medical records will be "portable".

Do you know what HIPAA is?  HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  You have to sign one of those HIPAA forms about once a year at your regular clinic, or anytime you go to a new clinic or hospital.  You probably just sign it, like I do with every form slapped in front of me when I'm sick and just want to see the doctor to get some meds, and don't really care about their stupid forms, and you might not even listen to the receptionist droning on in her most effusive monotone about what the form is about.  Well, it's a privacy form.  It says that the clinic or hospital can't share your medical records with anyone without your signed authorization.

Well, guess what!  I bet you can guess!  I'm not saying that the Fed Gov would use your records for anything non-kosher.  But again, there's a lot of things the Fed Gov does that we don't know about, isn't there?

So, what else happens now?  I can consult the Magic 8-Ball, or I can consult my own brain.  Here's what my brain is telling me:  Businesses will either drop insurance coverage all together, and make you, the employee, sign up with one of those government exchanges, or your company will tell you that you now have to pay ten zillion dollars a year for their insurance plan; you know, to make up for Johnny's transplant.  So, it's your choice, really.  And isn't that what it's all about?  Choice. 

Oh, and either way, get ready for a huge tax increase.  But that's really a small price to pay to have the Federal Government invade every single aspect of our lives.  Right?