Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

My thoughts exactly:

Where was the “deficit commission” when President Bush started two wars and gave tax cuts to millionaires?

Since there is no free public option available under the Affordable Care Act, this is probably a good thing: a federal judge in Virginia just ruled that Congress could not force people to buy private health insurance, according to the Washington Post.

Prehistoric humans ate each other 12,000 years ago, according to research cited by Discovery News.

In other freaky news: a North Carolina teenager died after falling out of a plane in the sky, according to the Washington Post. Delvonte Tisdale, 16, managed a breach in airport security to hide in the plane’s wheel well, which is partially left opened during a flight.  

Check out this train wreck of a story: Kate Gosselin apparently stormed off of Sarah Palin’s reality show because she didn’t want to camp overnight in Alaska. Her kids wanted to stay, but she whined about everything from the bugs to the cold and packed them off on a plane.  

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

93 thoughts on “Tuesday Morning Open Thread

  1. SNOW!!!

    Finally, the snow has arrived.  It’s not much- only a couple of inches- but it felt abnormal not to be bundling the kids up in snowpants and boots every morning.  The dog isn’t sure what to make of it- she was a Southern rescue, so we had to go for a nice long fetch before she decided it was okay.  

    Bring on winter!!!

    • Dumb question from a non-Yankee

      Do they wear the snowpants and boots at school all day, or do thru also have to bring something else to change into while they’re there?

      • Ugh

        They, not thru. Stupid autocorrect. (By the way, if you haven’t seen damnyouautocorrect.com have a look, it is hilarious)

      • The snowpants

        pull over their regular clothes, sort of like a full-body coat.  I loved it when Molly was all about the dresses because you could just jam the skirt down into the pants and she’d be plenty warm when we went out- so much better than late fall (before the snow) when she’d just get a draft up her skirt!

        They take sneakers to change into when they come in.  It’s quite a production, watching 20 elementary kids put on their snow stuff, but it’s also one of those basic skills they master really early.  It does add 15 minutes to our morning routine, though.  A lot of “where’s my boot?” and “Who stole my mittens?”

        • LOL

          There are about three conference-size tables lining the front hall at DS’s school, full of lost boots, hats, mittens, scarves, sweatshirts, and whatnot. They leave it out all year in case a kid or parent happens to look and see their missing item. I almost snagged a hat yesterday for DD because it was cute & her size, and I figure if it’s been there a month and no one’s claimed it, I’d give it a good home!

      • Depends

        On how far they walk and what the school’s outdoor policy is. I drive DS to school and they don’t let the little ones out in this weather, so no snowpants. But he does wear boots because it’s cold in the car and the walk into the building. They have lockers to leave their stuff; it would get pretty hot wearing boots & snowpants inside all day.

        The two biggest school districts, Mpls. & St. Paul, have cancelled school for the second day in a row. This is practically unheard of. Snow isn’t falliing, but they still haven’t cleared all the roads, so they feel it’s unsafe for buses. Plus it is below zero, which makes it dangerous for kids to walk or wait at bus stops. But plenty of other schools are still in session. My friend is a teacher, and she walked to work because her garage is in an alley and the city hasn’t plowed those yet. Her husband had to stay home because they can’t get the kids to daycare, and he can’t get the car to drive to work anyway. It’s still a real mess.

      • snowpants!!!!!

        OMG I’d forgotten about these, or perhaps just repressed the memory.  The very word conjures images of lost mittens, and snow melting inside boots, and attempts to defend the boots from snow, and whoops I forgot to use the toilet, and trying to keep warm en route to school by avoiding shade and dashing past the pond (cold winds), and classrooms with much more than a backpack hook outside the door and a puddle under each pile of gear.  How do y’all even parent under such conditions?  I am never ever ever moving back.  

        • meh- I hate winter so we don’t do anything

          Outdoorsy – liza hasn’t even owned snowpants in like 3 years- she has pair of boots she wearst to school a few pairs of gloves adn that’s it. We’d rather go to a rehearsal than sled- I think the last time we went sledding was 3-4 years ago if that.  we dn’t ski or snow shoe or any of that so mostly the only time we deal with the snow is when we have to shovel off the cars…

          so essentially I parent pretty much the same way I do the rest of the year only with the addition of a pair of boots and an occassional scarf.

          • stay inside?

            I’m not the least bit outdoorsy either, but confining myself indoors isn’t really a lifestyle I could imagine.  I didn’t have anyone to drive me around when I was growing up so I had to walk everywhere – friends, library, all my various music activities.  I hated the cold but 4 months cooped up in a small house is a recipe for insanity with a big family.  After I fled to college in the NY snowbelt I lived on or just off campus (no car), and when I moved to Boston afterward the T was my transportation.  By the time I had a car of my own I was living in a part of NJ where winters are mostly an inconvenient slush around the ankles.  So despite being a serious sit-on-my-ass kind of gal I guess the “stay indoors” option never crossed my mind.  It’s still way too cold outside.

        • I hate freaking snowpants

          I’m grateful that we’re finally coming to the end of that era.  Kids don’t go out for recess here after 4th grade, and the youngest just started 5th this year.  I did buy a pair this year for my older SD because she’s going on a school trip to Quebec and her teacher recommended that she have some, but that’s it.  If we ever get enough snow to play outside in and they really want to play, younger SD can wear her pair from last year, or just play outside without, like I did for all my childhood because they were so freaking hot and uncomfortable that I refused to wear them after age four or so.

        • I love it.

          I love the kids all snuggly and warm after they’ve been outside.  I love cold noses and that shivery feeling I first get when I step outside on a cold morning.  I love that my kids are sort of badass snow-wise.  

          • Liza used to think she wanted to go sledding

            but I kind of dissuaded her from that notion–

            we are pretty much never outside in winter. ever.

            • I love sledding

              but only get (or ever got, in NC growing up) to do it once or twice a year at the most, so it’s special. I suppose if there was snow on the ground for ages the thrill would wear off.

              • Kelly describes it as

                4 seconds of fun crammed into an hour of freezing torture.

                I hate snow and winter so much — so we just sort of pretend it isn’t happening.

              • yeah

                Crashing and knocking each other off sleds is a good way for small boys to work off a small portion of their cabin fever, but it gets old fast.  We did spend a lot of time sledding when I was a kid, but I think that was largely for lack of something better to do until the pond was solid enough for skating.  

                  • I can’t really skate either

                    I’m completely inept, and don’t enjoy it.  But see “nothing better to do” and “small house big family” above.  That’s why when my relatives inevitably hit the “oh but I’d miss the seasons” line (mandatory, once per relative each time I visit east) I just smile and nod my head.

                    • I would miss three of them

                      but not this one.

                      but loving new England is about more than the weather to me so here I stay!

        • you know what I don’t miss?

          galoshes. They seem like such a good idea in theory – pull them over the shoes and voila – instant protection. In practice, was I the only one to lose my boot in the snow with my shoe inside, thereby wetting boot, shoe and sock?

          • and the bags in boots

            and … galoshes, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.

            OTOH, we are researching a move out of state where it does snow intermittently and lightly throughout the winter. With lots of sun and high temps (50s, 60s) in between. And I’m telling you, for the same price as our house here, we could get a gorgeous new house that is literally 3 times bigger. 3 times! Not that we want a house that big, but damn.

              • yes it would

                And our taxes on that same amount of house would be about 25% of what we pay now, and we can still use the public schools, of which there are many good ones.

                Or stay here and pay 25K per year for private school. If I weren’t so deeply rooted in Northern California, it would be a no brainer. It’s taken me a year to get to this point as it is.

                Of course, this place has no ocean. But dh and I agree we would visit San Francisco and environs once per (dare I say it?) season. That feels about right.

                  • it’s very good

                    It’s also test score focused, even when they valiantly try not to be. Our district has been number 1 in CA for three years running now, and it creates a vibe. It just feels very uber type A, and dh and I are not sure we can parent the way we want to in this environment. And of course it’s not everybody, but it’s a definite vibe and as it get closer, we are just not sure anymore.

                    It’s also large. About 150 – 180 kids per grade level in K – 3.

                    Surrounding towns are, gee, only in the top 10, but we clearly will not make the cut off to get in our neighborhood school in these towns, which are politically more progressive and the schools as well.

                    That’s the other thing that’s been eye opening about looking outside our area. In this town we are considering out of state, you buy your house and you get the neighborhood school. I had to call to confirm bc I didn’t quite believe it. No lotteries for your neighborhood school, where if you don’t make it, you get assigned somewhere else. Fascinating!

                    • you’d be in the lottery for your nearby school?

                      Is that common?  In our current school district you get priority for your neighborhood school and need to enter the lottery to go elsewhere.  I thought that was the way it was statewide.

                      I think I know where you are now – if I’m right, I used to live 2 or 3 towns north of you.  

                    • get this

                      It’s nuts. All residents get in the lottery when they enter K (or whatever grade when you move there). They do not guarantee your neighborhood school for anyone even if you do make the deadline of early February. So sibs get priority. Then everybody else …. it’s a lottery. So you can buy a house for a huge amount of money and then get sent to a school 30 minutes drive away. They call it overflow. I’ve checked around, it does happen every year. Tough luck.

                      You can come to your neighborhood school if other kids leave. If you are 10 down the list, 10 kids have to leave to get the spot.

                      The admission lady at the school said that she worked with a family who moved over the summer and had to put 3 kids in 3 different schools. She said, corroborating what seems to be the company line in this town, to buy your house where you want to live, not based on the school. Now, my research also tells me that all the schools are widely considered good. But the logistics and lack of certainty can suck it.

                      Seriously, it’s carp. And there’s more than one town in the Bay Area that does it this way.

                    • I should add

                      this is not like the lottery system in the city, which is for equity reasons. Each school does it’s own lottery with it’s neighborhood peeps. The overflow is because they just don’t have space some years. Like I said, it’s carp.

                • wow. that’s a hell of a decision

                  I can see how you’d be torn, of course, but the finances are unavoidably good. My folks are in a similar position – they’re planning on moving from their house in NJ (which my dad bought as a batchelor in 1969!) to DE. Taxes are the main reason. There are other reasons – my sister looks well established in DC, so they’d be at least 90 minutes closer to her. But the taxes, then housing costs and services, are the main reason.

                  • it’s definitely been eye opening

                    The whole tax thing. The whole thing about no lottery as I mentioned to pat of butter above. I knew of course that CA can be tough, but damn I really didn’t know that in other places it’s …. easy.

                    Is DE a place you’d like to visit when you come home? Closer to your sister is a definite plus.

                    • oh, I don’t mind DE in the least

                      I’d miss seeing the hometown, but DE is very pleasant. Plus my folks are looking to move into the same town as our very own mpg, who is a delight. So there’s that going for it.

                • well

                  You can buy a lot of plane tickets for $25K.  And intermittent snow isn’t a bad thing either, especially if it warms up enough that slush isn’t soaking into your socks.  

                  • good point :)

                    Plane tickets and nice places to stay I suppose.  Honestly, it sounds perfectly ridiculous but I only got to the point recently where I don’t get upset by the idea of leaving.

                    And our leaves this year were absolutely amazing too! I thought I was imagining it, but they were definitely more brilliant than other years.

          • Ah yes, the seasons

            I don’t know what autumn was like down your way this year, but up here it was gorgeous. I think the hard frost in mid November must have combined perfectly with the otherwise above average temps to turn the leaves so vividly. It easily rivaled anything I’ve seen in SE New England, only warmer, and there’s still a fair remnant of color clinging to many of the trees. But you’ve gotta miss the seasons out here.

            Right now I’m sitting on a covered bench outside the art center.  The boys are chasing each other around a play structure. It’s pouring; they’re getting drenched. But it beats snow.

  2. Vendor gifts

    It’s driving me crazy — I am stumped on what to get my wedding planners. I get almost all of my business from referrals, and while this year I saw a huge increase of referrals from past clients, most of my business still comes from 3 wedding planners. It’s a beautiful system for me — I know them well, so they’re easy to work with, and they don’t ask for commissions (some planners do ask for 10% from each vendor they work with). They refer clients to me because I am easy to work with, can do just about anything a client wants and generally have reasonable prices since I have low overhead. I’ve had my business for 6 years now and have never once had to advertise.

    Naturally, this time of year is when I can thank them, but it’s always a struggle to come up with nice gifts. I don’t have very much money to spend — about $75 for each. One planner, the one I’ve known the longest (and whose birthday I’m jetting off to St. John to celebrate), is all set — I’m doing a custom hand-drawn map of Chicago for her (her request!) and I gave her majorly pricey business cards this year. But the other two are tough. These are ladies who can buy themselves whatever they want and have impeccable taste. Anything I come across in my budget seems cheap and chintzy.

    Any suggestions?

    • Speaking of booze…

      ….if they like whiskey you could try to get them some Templeton Rye. It is a rye whiskey, made in Iowa, using the same recipe that made Al Capone want to ship it to Chicago and other locales. Templeton’s store is here.

      I kind of hate telling people about it, because that just means less for DH, but on the other hand, it is a unique gift.

      • Wait nevermind…

        ….doesn’t look like they ship the booze from their website. You could still do it, but probably have to work with a retailer.

    • luxury consumables

      My husband got a small box of super ultra premium luxury boutique chocolates one year.  Little squares infused with essence of fig, or filled with a pear and jasmine tea ganache – that kind of thing.  We stretched out the enjoyment by choosing one every evening and splitting it; they were so good that half a small chocolate was an eagerly anticipated indulgence.  This made a huge impression on me – it was a memorable gift.

      But then again I like good chocolate.  If you’re dealing with someone who is equally impressed by M&Ms but does like gardening maybe try a set of rare bulbs, or a live orchid for an indoor plant lover.  (I’m assuming fancy customized stationary is too obvious to be quite right, or if not has already been done?)  I think the trick is to find something small and very overpriced.  :-)

      • chocolate

        We have Vosges Chocolates in Chicago — that just may do the trick for one of them! For the other one I found expensive an expensive Olive Oil set from Williams-Sonoma and personalized cookies for her 3 kids.

        Luxury consumables is the way to go! I got them L’Occitane gift sets last year, but I just never really know how people will take to things — some people are very sensitive to smell, or only use one brand, or just aren’t bath people.

        Custom stationery is definitely appropriate, but would cost me way more than $75 to produce, so I save that for during the year. If they order it I give it to them for cost.

      • Here are two!

        One is for an invitation, and the other went into the guests hotel rooms with restaurants, etc. on the back (the final version has those points plotted on the map).

        Photobucket

        Photobucket

          • Yeah

            My calligraphy is nowhere near something I’d charge for. This is about as far as it goes, but I would love to have the time to develop it more. The calligrapher that I use here charges about $3 an envelope, but her work is just gorgeous.

  3. Where is my brain,

    and why is it connecting the health insurance bit with the cannibalistic cavemen??  Never mind. The insurance industry is trying to bleed everyone dry…

    In other, better news, DD is three today! We went in her bedroom this morning and sang her happy birthday as she was waking up.  Her response at first, “no…no… no”.   Kid likes her sleep! :)  She was really excited to take cupcakes to school today.  

    • Yeah

      I spent the morning on the phone with the insurance company trying to figure out how much it’s going to cost me when my shrink becomes out-of-network after the first of the year.  The cryptic formula:  I pay 150 per year, they pay 80% of the maximum allowable fee for the service.  What’s the maximum allowable fee?  They can’t tell me that unless I have a procedure code.  Apparently, “head shrinking” isn’t a procedure.  So I called the shrink and asked for the code.  She has to get back to me because she’s not quite sure what it would be.  I think she’s trying to figure out what to diagnose in order to have to bill me as little as possible.

      It shouldn’t be this hard.

      • Codes

        If I understand this right, the code is based on both the diagnosis (DSM-IV codes) but also the level of service provided – so a 15 minute med check has a different code than a one hour session or a 2 hour eval.

        I think the important code is the service provided – the diagnosis (dx) code just verifies that you were being seen for an “actual” problem.  It’s kind of hard to explain – but essentially the dx and treatment have to match in some meaningful way.    There are some diagnosis codes that are harder to get treatment for but I can’t think of what they are right now to give an example.

      • clarifying

        There are generally 2 codes – the diagnosis and the service provided.  

        I know about the diagnosis codes from grad school but have not done medical billing so I am less sure about the other.

    • Thanks for the birthday wishes everyone!

      She had a great time today, and the cupcakes were a hit at school–one of her teachers even requested the recipe.

  4. DS’s birthday today

    Ben is 12 today. I’m sort of caught between “where did the time go?” and “it’s about damned time.” He’s not a little boy anymore, that’s for sure.

    So of course this has me in the kitchen, preparing a Chinese feast to celebrate completing a full Chinese zodiac cycle. (Any excuse to make dim sum–but you already know I’m weird that way.) Unfortunately, my DH isn’t here. He had to schedule a trip for work this week, which meant choosing between missing today or missing the celebration at the beach this weekend. I was briefly miffed when I found out he wouldn’t be here, but then realized how dreadful it must be to have to make choices like that.

    The birthday cake is a cheesecake. The creamy, crustless kind. Yummy.

    • Happy birthday Ben!

      Sorry DH can’t be with the family today, and happy he will be there for the weekend. Hope you have a fun day. <Homer Simpson voice> Mmmm, dim sum :-) </Homer Simpson voice&gt

    • That’s very generous of you….

      ….to compassionately think about the impact his work choices makes on your DH.

      And, of course, happy birthday to Ben!! I’m sorry his dad can’t be with him, either, but it sounds like you’re celebrating in real style.

    • amazing cheesecake

      I only had one piece, really, because finishing Sean’s doesn’t count. And neither does licking the knife and plate when I put it away. Right?

      Thanks, everyone, for the birthday wishes. We had a great time, as it turned out, with the evening ending in the kids playing charades. Hilarious.

      Listening to Christmas carols, now, as our season officially begins after Ben’s birthday. Tree tomorrow.

  5. Healthcare reform

    As part of my grad program I recently finished a course on health systems around the world, including our own.  After everything I’ve read I’m very disappointed with the judge’s ruling.

    While a public option is one good way to reform the health care system mandated insurance with checks on the insurers is another way to do it.  Seeing as how the Democrats couldn’t pass a public option with the majorities they had it’s not going to happen now.  I refuse to cheer about a potential strike against the first meaningful health care reform we’ve had in years.  Yes the HCR bill needs work but the idea of starting over just plain doesn’t work.

    By the way, systems like France, Germany & Switzerland mandate insurance for all.  There are subsidies in place for low-income folks and insurers are heavily regulated.  The mandatory insurance isn’t the issue with the HCR bill, it’s that the insurance industry needs more guidance on how to act responsibly.

    • I agree

      I forget where I read it, but regarding credit card company practices someone was suggesting that the companies needed to be regulated in a way that indicated what was allowable practice, not was was disallowed.  I think that’s an idea that should be applied to health insurance also.  These companies will always have brilliant, devious people coming up with more ways to extract fees or jack prices up, unless they are specifically regulated as to what’s allowable.

      Not that I see that happening anytime soon, ya know?

    • I’m with you.

      In a way a mandated purchase is sort of the same thing as a tax anyway. Medicare for all is the ideal in my mind but if there is regulation on the insurers (far more than there is now – and ideally a public option to buy into) then a purchasing mandate is an alternative that I can live with. It is certainly better than having so many people go uninsured, which really doesn’t serve either individuals or the system well.

      • or people just waiting until they are

        old and sick to get insurance.  You know, I’m getting more than a little pissy about this…I can do without a mandate if people are offered reasonable options that are affordable.  If they just refuse to participate, I’m all for allowing them to  ”opt out” of the system so long as they will agree to forgo health care if they get sick or injured.  

    • Ok…if the Supreme Court

      should happen to strike down this “mandate”, is it conceivable that it could effect the programs we already have such as Social Security and Medicare?  Could states and individuals just opt out?  After all, we do “mandate” that seniors pay into medicare, and that all pay into the Social Security “INSURANCE” program.  

      Health care reform can work quite well with “private” insurance so long as we regulate it in the way we do public utilities.  A functioning health care system is every bit as important to our economy and over all way of life as are reliable electricity and water services.

        • so not proud to be a virginian right now.

          That man is a menace to society.

          Seriously, 14 cases, 11 thrown out, 2 upheld and it has to be the Kook’s that wins?  UGH!

      • “should strike down”??

        I think it a virtually certainty, frankly, once Roberts and the boys get their hands on it.

        I also think it has implications for car insurance, especially in no-fault states like NJ.

        • I don’t know

          I think that the loophole for cars has always been that driving is a privilege, not a right.  So you have to voluntarily accept restrictions and regulations to get a license.  Since you don’t need insurance to buy a car, just to get a license, it might work the same way.

      • probably not?

        I only read the one article in the NYT today, but the judge said that the mandate forces people into the stream of commerce. Social Security and Medicare are not commerce.

        At least not yet. Shudder.

  6. DH is struggling again.

    He’s getting sick and feeling alone and scared.  A few well placed prayers/ vibes wouldn’t go amiss, if you wouldn’t mind?

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