Taking steps with laughing Buddha

March 07, 2014 By: nooccar Category: health

We live day to day without ever really considering how we live. We fear direct communication. We fear hurting people’s feelings. We fear what people think of us. We fear how people will react. I too have been guilty of all of these things for so long. It’s been an upward battle and most of it I don’t care to admit day to day. But things need to keep changing. For my sake. For my daughter’s sake. For the sake of relationships in my personal life and public life. The battle continues, and the next step is yoga. I had preconceived notions about yoga. I thought pretty people did yoga, fit people did yoga. I thought yoga cost a lot of money, and I thought people farted during yoga. That last bit is definitely a mortifying concern. You’re in a room with lots of pretty people and suddenly you just do it. Immediately you perceive that every single person heard you, and your face is flamed with embarrassment while you’re certain you’ve destroyed everyone’s experience. These are the things that kept me from yoga. These and the fact that I felt for so long that there was nothing I could do to better myself. I could not reach out to people. I could not learn from them. I could not admit my own faults. Change begins with a single step.

The first step was asking if yoga would be good for me and my daughter. We both have tempers. We both have problems regulating our emotions. Her other grand mother had suggested yoga might be good for Claire, but I always thought that was some weird woo woo spiritual thing. I would just smile, shrug, and move on. Then lately, I’ve had lots of discussions about self-improvement. About how to connect body and mind, to be mindful, to slow down and think. It was time to try yoga. We, as parents, naturally want to help our children (I hope) before ourselves. I found Claire a kids yoga class in Gilbert, AZ. It cost $5. Wow. Only $5. I figured it’d be closer to $20-$30. I took her on a Friday night. I was nervous to even go in to the studio. There were all the pretty people, with yoga mats slung over their shoulders, doing pre-yoga rituals that I didn’t understand. Claire was nervous, too, but she’s very assertive. When she went in, she was as tall as instructor and that helped. Miss Jannette is an older lady, short and friendly, with a huge infectious smile. The other students in the class were all at least two years younger than Claire. While there were two yoga classes simultaneously for adults, I didn’t tell Claire that parents who weren’t participating in those classes would not be sticking around. I wasn’t sitting there for 100 minutes for no reason. At the very last minute, I told her I’d be back later and Jannette ushered her into the room. Claire shrugged and allowed herself to be led away.

I went off to keep myself busy (you may not know this, but I can keep myself busy anywhere anytime. Just check the four backpacks I bring everywhere). I returned an hour and half later. I was surprised by how dark it was. I’d not realized a lot (most?) of yoga was practiced in the dark. I sat in a dark room with my shoes outside, staring at my phone (I couldn’t see anything else anywhere), and praying no one would realize an impostor was among them. It reminded me of the time I went to Easter Mass with this woman I fervently wanted to be dating. When it was time for communion, our entire row was ushered to the front of the church. The priest said some words to me, and I think I was supposed to spit back some preconceived soundbite that I didn’t know. He asked if I were Catholic. I wasn’t. I felt like I was called out in front of a thousand people. This felt like that. It wouldn’t be the only time, so far.

When Claire eventually came out of Yoga, I asked her how it went. She answered, “It was Ah-MAZing!” (Yes, that typography was exactly her inflection.) She immediately needed to call her mother and her aunt to tell them all about it.

It’s so important to practice what you preach with children. If I were encouraging Claire to try yoga, I needed to do it, too. Done right, I believe now, as I write this, that it can benefit us both. So now it was my turn. I talked to my girlfriend, a firm believer in yoga herself, and expressed my anxiety about the situation. I asked if she’d go with me my first time. She has her own yoga instructor in Tempe, so Wednesday evening we headed off to yoga. She told me to wear loose fitting shorts and shirt, to bring water, and that the first time would more than likely be free. Upon arriving, I immediately forgot my water in the car, had to fill out papers that say I won’t sue if I die on the mat, and then couldn’t find Sara. There was a curtained room and also what I thought was a bathroom, but no girlfriend. My eyes still hadn’t really adjusted to the dark (I even carry a flashlight with me often), and these gorgeous, thin people were coming and going. I stood there shaking in a corner, not sure where to go or what to do. I felt like I was back at Easter Mass, or that show GRIMM where you look at people and their faces morph into beasts. I felt like that would happen at any second before they were upon me, devouring me to the ground. And then Sara’s fingers slipped back into my mine.

She showed me where to stow my gear, before taking me into the main room. It was dark. There were candlelights around the entire room. Sara and I had signed up for a Restorative yoga with candlelight with Robin. Robin and Sara have known each other for years, and once we entered the main room she took me to meet the instructor. We quietly spoke about my fears, etc… and I felt better. I was still nervous, but no hexenbiests would get me with Robin and Sara around. Sara grabbed me a mat, bolsters, blocks, and a blanket. We were surprised when our friend A appeared for yoga. We said our hellos, and she jokingly said “first time eh? you’re in the front.” Front? OMG I was in the front? People would be doing yoga behind me? I turned to Sara who shrugged. Her ADD requires her to be in front, so there I had it. I swallowed the lump in my throat and took to my mat. Robin moved about the room, speaking quietly, lowering the few lights that were still on, and talking to us about breathing. Class started. Occasionally when I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do, I peeked towards Robin or Sara. Most of the time I was dead on. While stretching, twice Robin whispered in my ear out of nowhere to check on me. It wasn’t awkward. I didn’t feel like everyone heard it or focused on me. I was just one more person enjoying the class. The class we chose was a restorative class where we spent almost the entire hour and a half low to the floor. Things popped and shifted back to center. I felt good. I stretched in ways I didn’t know the body would stretch, and afterward Sara said she was impressed I could do certain poses as well as I did.

Now, I know there’re other types of yoga classes (what’s with that hot stuff?), and the Friday adult classes during my daughter’s session is an “All levels” class. I will be attending with Claire tonight. I don’t know how I will do, if I will know the poses, or if I will be able to follow along with each pose, but I feel better about yoga now. Sure I am still having some anxiety about going, but, as I said, to improve myself there are changes I need to make in my own life. Changes I am trying to make. Breaks I am taking from how I’ve lived my life in the past. Things change, we change. If we do not continue to change as individuals, as parents, as couples, then we remain stagnant. While I like routine, I need to be mindful of ways to improve me, to improve my relationships. I’m trying, world. And with that I take small steps.


January 27, 2014 By: nooccar Category: Uncategorized

Everyone I’ve ever been with has taught me things about my world and also about the world in which we live. Some of those things have been less than spectacular. A was pretty psychotic. I was young, and she was younger. Things were awkward and she had more experience being in relationships, but in some ways was more immature than me. Jo was my first serious girlfriend. It was senior year. We did what you do when you’re a senior. I’ve talked to her a few times on Facebook over the years, but I can’t find her there now. R was my dream girl in lots of ways. She was the girl I pined for when I was in elementary school -my first crush. The PTB flung us together again as teens and we dated for over a year. I seem to regret not knowing her anymore. I loved her parents. They loved me. When her father died, I called the house. She was there. She made the conversation awkward. I hung up. When her mother died a few days ago, I cried. D was so much to me and taught me more than anything about so many things. Not all good, not all bad. C and I crashed into each other. We were tumultuous. It was love, it was hate. It was everything in the world carnate. E was my secret joy until I realized she was never meant to be. Now I’ve moved the alphabet to S. It was our anniversary the other day. It’s crazy how you meet people who you’re meant to meet at certain times of your life. While I regret very little about those things bad and good I have learned, there are those people who if you’ve met at other times, you’d not react the same way. It’s also wild how different things about relationships bother you at different times. S has taught me about myself and my relationship to the world at this moment in time. As I continue in this next chapter of my own life, I see through a new lens. A new light, and things I’ve pushed away, I now embrace. Things I’ve let go, I don’t know. We are meant to have people enter and exit our lives when it’s time. That I cherish.

Paul Walker Dead, so is his glistening chest

December 01, 2013 By: nooccar Category: Leisure, Movies, Uncategorized

Recently there was an internet celebrity hoax that Paul Walker is dead, which was dispelled here. This morning Walker’s agency squashed all rumors that he was deceased and then an hour ago TMZ posted that he in fact was dead. Well, people don’t tend to go to TMZ for their “real” news. Then US Magazine picked it up; guess what? Still not real news. By the time HuffPo, NBC, and FOX confirmed and published the stories, I’d posted on Facebook that “Paul Walker died in fiery car crash. Millions of chicks are crying tears of never seeing his naked chest in a film again.” Believe you me, I had mixed comments posted on my Facebook.

In part, people said “too soon” and “he was a father”. Yes, he was a father. A child with a lost parent is a travesty, as I assume he was a good father. But my issue is more about how media create a world where sex sells and Paul Walker was damn fine (had I said made a crispy comment here, that would’ve been too far), than about the accidental death of a father. In part, the human body has been so sexualized and glamorized in Hollywood that talent’s a second thought. Walker is not necessarily talented as an actor, but go ahead and comment below if you think he seriously is. He is known for his glistening abs. We normal people are who we are. I will never look like Paul Walker, nor will you. If you do, you have some really expensive job that make you do very little for lots of money or someone pays you to train to look like that. Why do Media inform us that we either need to look like him or want to get with him?


Earlier today an online media outlet published photos of Scarlet Johansson with the headline “Scarlett Johansson is in a bikini, looks like hell“. Seriously? She looks hot. While I’d argue that she’s more talented than Walker (evidence one: Matchpoint by Woody Allen), media always focuses on the sexualization of the body. If we wrap our lives around death drama of hot people, we don’t focus on education, health care, and peace. So people on Facebook will explode about Paul Walker’s glistening chest being a lot less glistening, swearing they love his movies when they can’t name any outside of those racing films; they’ll also discuss how damn fine Johannson’s ass still is but will probably skip discussing her talent. Everyone knows the debacle that has become Miley, but who discusses how Arizona’s governor doesn’t even have a college degree, how we’re almost last in education funding in the United States, and how public workers are being defunded across the country?

While it’s a travesty that a child has a lost a parent today, it’s not a travesty that one less sex symbol exists in our world. The problem is the media will just replace him.

Paul Walker

Black Friday deals or no deals. Employees forced to work, do you need that anyway?

November 28, 2013 By: nooccar Category: Leisure

Years ago, Black Friday, for me, was simply a day to eat leftovers, hang out at my aunt’s house, and watch as my uncles and dad played football outside in the mud. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that a friend’s family was pouring over newspaper ads after dinner that I actually paid attention to the craziness that is Black Friday. We shopped a bit the next day with those friends by dividing and conquering; it was like a huge game of awesomeness. We all got “cheap” stuff, and while some of it ended up being Christmas presents much of it wasn’t. We continued to shop on Black Friday for several years. Usually, we woke up around 3am and shopped until late morning before grabbing a meal and unloading the car at home. We then napped before the evening Black Friday sales began. By evening we were exhausted and typically a thousand bucks poorer (unless there were some big ticket items we just HAD to have like two iPods one year).

As the economy continued to crash, consumers became more desperate for deals, and businesses latched onto this rash hopelessness. Businesses started opening at midnight on Black Friday; we responded by going to a late 10pm film at the mall before walking in the stores to begin shopping. We continued to get what seemed to be great deals. But I also noticed a lot of the deals were now on the internet. I could come home from Thanksgiving dinner and find most of the itmes I wanted at places like Best Buy on the web, which alleviated lots of lines the next morning.

Then last year I was on my own for Black Friday. I planned my entire shopping spree, but I seriously needed a single item. I wanted a new shredder for my office. I’d been looking for one that would not burnt out too quickly. I got in line early Friday morning and had the product, but I found myself shopping for several other things in several other places that I realized I didn’t need. I also stood in line half the day and spent hundreds of dollars wastelessly.

It’s a year later. Black Friday’s consumerism is voracious, and now stores continue to open earlier and earlier. Maybe even Thanksgiving morning. This is ridiculous. This week’s KMART advertisement, for example, says some like “Thanksgiving can wait” and has an early Thursday opening time.

People are arguing now that we should not shop Friday, not to mention shopping Thursday. For every store open, that’s several employees who are forced to work shifts rather than being home with family. Work or get fired. This is the message, and no they’re not full time (is anyone full time in retail anymore?) so there is no time and a half or double time. Just one more day of retail stealing their employees’ souls.

This year I doubt I will shop tomorrow. I know I need a few things for work because the discounts are 75%+. I may buy some, but I doubt it’ll be in store. If you think you need to shop tomorrow, thank those employees for being there, double tip, like I did this morning at brunch with own daughter, and consider shopping from local small privately owned markets rather than the big boxes owned by families like the Waltons.

Williams Field Black Hawk semi finals from Claire’s point of view

November 26, 2013 By: nooccar Category: Claire

In the last few years I’ve enjoyed spending several Friday evenings at high school football games. I can hone my photography skills, the kids like the photos, and we all come out on top. This year I’ve not made it to a game until tonight. It was the semi-finals, and Williams Field was playing Queen Creek High School. The game was scheduled for Friday, but AIA moved it due to inclement weather (a nice way to say in rained for 3 days straight in Phoenix). So Claire came with me. She brought a notebook and quietly wrote in it. Maybe halfway through I realized she was reviewing the entire game. I encouraged her to continue to do, and by the time we came home she had 14 cursive written pages to read me. Below is her transcript almost verbatim (I only fixed her “their/there/they’re” errors.) Enjoy.

One day a girl named Claire Adams went to a football game since her dad worked at Williams Field High School. She was sitting by the gate. While she was sitting by the gate she had her dad’s iPad, a book, and a notebook. She chose to use the notebook first. She used the notebook to practice her writing skills. To do that she wrote a book telling what she did at a football game.While she wrote the book she watched the cheerleaders and the football game. That’s because the point of me coming was to watch the football game. The reasons she watched the cheerleaders was because she wanted to be a cheerleader one day. This is the first year she actually understood and watched the game. She didn’t watch the full game, she only watched the other parts. Like when it’s really exciting or if they get a point or several points. I’m here to support my dad’s school. My dad likes to take pictures. That’s why he’s taking photos of the game. He loves taking pictures. Right now the other team is winning. But we just scored 7 points. The other team has 10 points, and they got another 6. Now they just got another point. So it’s 7 to 17. My dad’s school mascot is the black hawk. They need to catch up by 10 points. You can figure that out by subtracting 17 by 7 to get 10. You might kist lmpw that automatically if that’s true then good for you. If you didn’t know right away that’s ok too. Right now our team is making a lot of noise. So I think that’s a good thing. But for some reason we aren’t getting any points. I moved where I’m sitting so I can’t see the game. I hope by the time I move back our team gets some points. That would be great. I don’t usually watch football and just keep track of the points. Right now the score is 14 to 17. Our team got a lot of points since I moved. Just a few more points and our team will be in the lead. Right now people are clapping and cheering. So our team is doing a good job I believe. Now they’re cheering and yelling again.

The drums are playing. I don’t know which side. My dad is taking more photos. Now all the football players are leaving the field. The cheerleaders are doing a little dance in the middle of the field. I believe it’s half time. The people with music are starting to play I think. The people in blue and also coming up to do something. I think it will be a dance or something. Now people with drums and other things are coming out onto the field.

I believe they’re going to perform. Yup, I was correct. Right there’s definitely playing music and people are dancing on the field. One of the dancers said “there’s Claire” when I walked by. The mascot the black hawk just walked over to meet someone and I waved and he waved back.

The bird the black hawk is a boy I believe, but I don’t know if the person in the costume is a boy or girl though.

The people with the instruments just played something different. Everybody is leaving the field and the football players are coming back onto the field. The game just started again.

The score is the same thing as last time I told you. Now all the football players are standing on the sides of the field. Now only a few people from each team are playing. People are also cheering. Now I believe the game is back to normal.

There’s also a police here. Now people are saying “touchdown” when there is no touchdown. The cheerleaders are cheering. The principal is also where. On our team I spotted number 99 and number 1. People are now stomping their feet on the bleachers. Now they’re playing instruments again. The football players are running to the other side of the field now. Now the score is 14 to 23. Our team is the team with 14 points. People are clapping in a rhythm. The people yelling the most are the people called “Big Red Rage”. The field has numbers on it those numbers are: 10, 20, 30, 40 and a lot more. People keep falling and getting pushed. I think that’s because they have the ball. The instruments are playing again and those people are clapping. Now those people are yelling, screaming, and stamping their feet. People are also playing the drums again. Now the score is 21 to 24. 3 away. Yeah. You would know it’s 3 away by using my strategy. I showed you the strategy earlier in the [note]book. The ball just went out of bounds. They got the ball back on the field. The score is now 21 to 31. 10 away. Use my strategy to see if I’m correct if you want. The cheerleaders are doing another cheer.

I had to move back to the other place for a minute. I’m really hoping that we score some points. That would be great since we’re losing.
I moved back to my original spot again. The score is now 28 to 31. That would mean 3 apart. You can use my strategy to figure that out. That is a very good strategy. At this rate we’re probably not winning.

Williams Field lost.

Now the football players are shaking hands with the other team and they’re playing instruments. They are also clapping.

Since Williams Field lost they’re not going to play for the rest of the year. My dad said “congratulations for getting this far. Sorry you’re not playing the rest of the year.”
Now everyone is walking to their cars. They’re doing that since the game is over. Here is a picture of a black hawk.

Hand drawn "black hawk' by Claire.

Hand drawn “black hawk’ by Claire.


November 23, 2013 By: nooccar Category: Leisure

There’s this thing in the world called divorce. When it happens to you, you think it’s the end of the world. One of my best friend’s told me “you know, when you’re living it, it’s the only thing, but in actuality, people divorce daily.” I’ve lived with that remark and it got me through. My divorce became official on 12/12/12. I obviously can’t forget that date. Since, things are fine. Sure, when you’re entire world changes it takes time, and it’s a year later next month, but it still takes more time. Things affect how we live. When it’d been over a decade, there are certain patterns people fall in to. I’ve fallen out of those patterns; no one will tell you I’m not happier than I’ve been in the longest time. Ten months ago I began dating a woman. She’s taught me lots of things and will continue to do so. I think every relationship I’ve been in, every person I’ve been with, has taught me something about myself. I don’t necessarily feel I have anything to hide here, but I also won’t be too specific just yet (even though Liza’s the only person I bet who’s reading anyway). I turned 39 last week; I had a party. You’d think I’d wait for next year but it was just time. I had a 37th birthday, too but I was out of commission by 9pm. Without counting, I’d say 30-40 people showed up on the 15th. My friends love me. I am loved.

Gone baby gone

November 23, 2013 By: nooccar Category: Leisure, Miscelany

Wow three posts in 2012. My bad.

Devon here. Recently, I was thinking how it would be if I could write occasionally somewhere on a “blog”. I write elsewhere. I write for I used to write for another music blog online, but some controversy ended that year long stint. When people keep blogs (does anyone other than me do that anymore?), they tend to focus them. Technology, photography, foodies, whatever. I’ve been bad at that. I have (had?) one at that’s supposed to be about teaching but my interests there are so diverse. I like English education, pedagogical technology, and photography. Did I mention I also teach photojournalism now? That’s pretty rad but increases my interest pool, so I was thinking maybe I could write here again. Maybe my mummy will read it. I doubt anyone else will.

Oh yes, and you will see in the archives that Donna used to write. She was totes good at it (totes in this new thing that all the cool kids say that means “totally”), but she didn’t do it much. Well, she doesn’t do that here anymore (anywhere?). Her bad.

Obamacare explained

June 30, 2012 By: nooccar Category: health, Politics

So Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority in Obamacare supporting the health care reform. This is a big deal because Roberts was nominated by the evil George Bush. This rocked. But many of us lay people still didn’t totally get what Obamacare was until I read the following, which is below.

Okay, explained like you’re a five year-old (well, okay, maybe a bit older), without too much oversimplification, and (hopefully) without sounding too biased:

What people call “Obamacare” is actually the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, people were calling it “Obamacare” before everyone even hammered out what it would be. It’s a term mostly used by people who don’t like the PPACA, and it’s become popularized in part because PPACA is a really long and awkward name, even when you turn it into an acronym like that.
Anyway, the PPACA made a bunch of new rules regarding health care, with the purpose of making health care more affordable for everyone. Opponents of the PPACA, on the other hand, feel that the rules it makes take away too many freedoms and force people (both individuals and businesses) to do things they shouldn’t have to.
So what does it do? Well, here is everything, in the order of when it goes into effect (because some of it happens later than other parts of it):
(Note: Page numbers listed in citations are the page numbers within the actual document, not the page numbers of the PDF file)
Already in effect:
It allows the Food and Drug Administration to approve more generic drugs (making for more competition in the market to drive down prices) ( Citation: An entire section of the bill, called Title VII, is devoted to this, starting on page 747 )
It increases the rebates on drugs people get through Medicare (so drugs cost less) ( Citation: Page 216, sec. 2501 )
It establishes a non-profit group, that the government doesn’t directly control, PCORI, to study different kinds of treatments to see what works better and is the best use of money. ( Citation: Page 665, sec. 1181 )
It makes chain restaurants like McDonalds display how many calories are in all of their foods, so people can have an easier time making choices to eat healthy. ( Citation: Page 499, sec. 4205 )
It makes a “high-risk pool” for people with pre-existing conditions. Basically, this is a way to slowly ease into getting rid of “pre-existing conditions” altogether. For now, people who already have health issues that would be considered “pre-existing conditions” can still get insurance, but at different rates than people without them. ( Citation: Page 30, sec. 1101, Page 45, sec. 2704, and Page 46, sec. 2702 )
It forbids insurance companies from discriminating based on a disability, or because they were the victim of domestic abuse in the past (yes, insurers really did deny coverage for that) ( Citation: Page 47, sec. 2705 )
It renews some old policies, and calls for the appointment of various positions.
It creates a new 10% tax on indoor tanning booths. ( Citation: Page 923, sec. 5000B )
It says that health insurance companies can no longer tell customers that they won’t get any more coverage because they have hit a “lifetime limit”. Basically, if someone has paid for health insurance, that company can’t tell that person that he’s used that insurance too much throughout his life so they won’t cover him any more. They can’t do this for lifetime spending, and they’re limited in how much they can do this for yearly spending. ( Citation: Page 14, sec. 2711 )
Kids can continue to be covered by their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26. ( Citation: Page 15, sec. 2714 )
No more “pre-existing conditions” for kids under the age of 19. ( Citation: Page 45, sec. 2704 and Page 57, sec. 1255 )
Insurers have less ability to change the amount customers have to pay for their plans. ( Citation: Page 47, sec. 2794 )
People in a “Medicare Gap” get a rebate to make up for the extra money they would otherwise have to spend. ( Citation: Page 379, sec. 3301 )
Insurers can’t just drop customers once they get sick. ( Citation: Page 14, sec. 2712 )
Insurers have to tell customers what they’re spending money on. (Instead of just “administrative fee”, they have to be more specific).
Insurers need to have an appeals process for when they turn down a claim, so customers have some manner of recourse other than a lawsuit when they’re turned down. ( Citation: Page 23, sec. 2719 )
Anti-fraud funding is increased and new ways to stop fraud are created. ( Citation: Page 699, sec. 6402 )
Medicare extends to smaller hospitals. ( Citation: Starting on page 344, the entire section “Part II” seems to deal with this )
Medicare patients with chronic illnesses must be monitored more thoroughly.
Reduces the costs for some companies that handle benefits for the elderly. ( Citation: Page 492, sec. 4202 )
A new website is made to give people insurance and health information. (I think this is it: ). ( Citation: Page 36, sec. 1103 )
A credit program is made that will make it easier for business to invest in new ways to treat illness by paying half the cost of the investment. (Note – this program was temporary. It already ended) ( Citation: Page 830, sec. 9023 )
A limit is placed on just how much of a percentage of the money an insurer makes can be profit, to make sure they’re not price-gouging customers. ( Citation: Page 22, sec. 1101 )
A limit is placed on what type of insurance accounts can be used to pay for over-the-counter drugs without a prescription. Basically, your insurer isn’t paying for the Aspirin you bought for that hangover. ( Citation: Page 800, sec. 9003 )
Employers need to list the benefits they provided to employees on their tax forms. ( Citation: Page 800, sec. 9002 )
Any new health plans must provide preventive care (mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.) without requiring any sort of co-pay or charge. ( Citation: Page 14, sec. 2713 )
If you make over $200,000 a year, your taxes go up a tiny bit (0.9%). Edit: To address those who take issue with the word “tiny”, a change of 0.9% is relatively tiny. Any look at how taxes have fluctuated over the years will reveal that a change of less than one percent is miniscule, especially when we’re talking about people in the top 5% of earners. ( Citation: Page 818, sec. 9015 )
This is when a lot of the really big changes happen.
No more “pre-existing conditions”. At all. People will be charged the same regardless of their medical history. ( Citation: Page 45, sec. 2704, Page 46, sec. 2701, and Page 57, sec. 1255 )
If you can afford insurance but do not get it, you will be charged a fee. This is the “mandate” that people are talking about. Basically, it’s a trade-off for the “pre-existing conditions” bit, saying that since insurers now have to cover you regardless of what you have, you can’t just wait to buy insurance until you get sick. Otherwise no one would buy insurance until they needed it. You can opt not to get insurance, but you’ll have to pay the fee instead, unless of course you’re not buying insurance because you just can’t afford it. (Note: On 6/28/12, the Supreme Court ruled that this is Constitutional, as long as it’s considered a tax on the uninsured and not a penalty for not buying insurance… nitpicking about wording, mostly, but the long and short of it is, it looks like this is accepted by the courts) ( Citation: Page 145, sec. 5000A, and here is the actual court ruling for those who wish to read it. )
Question: What determines whether or not I can afford the mandate? Will I be forced to pay for insurance I can’t afford?
Answer: There are all kinds of checks in place to keep you from getting screwed. Kaiser actually has a webpage with a pretty good rundown on it, if you’re worried about it. You can see it here.
Okay, have we got that settled? Okay, moving on…
Medicaid can now be used by everyone up to 133% of the poverty line (basically, a lot more poor people can get insurance) ( Citation: Page 179, sec. 2001 )
Small businesses get some tax credits for two years. (It looks like this is specifically for businesses with 25 or fewer employees) ( Citation: Page 138, sec. 1421 )
Businesses with over 50 employees must offer health insurance to full-time employees, or pay a penalty.
Insurers now can’t do annual spending caps. Their customers can get as much health care in a given year as they need. ( Citation: Page 14, sec. 2711 )
Limits how high of an annual deductible insurers can charge customers. ( Citation: Page 62, sec. 1302 )
Cut some Medicare spending
Place a $2500 limit on tax-free spending on FSAs (accounts for medical spending). Basically, people using these accounts now have to pay taxes on any money over $2500 they put into them. ( Citation: Page 801, sec. 9005 )
Establish health insurance exchanges and rebates for the lower and middle-class, basically making it so they have an easier time getting affordable medical coverage. ( Citation: Page 88, sec. 1311 )
Congress and Congressional staff will only be offered the same insurance offered to people in the insurance exchanges, rather than Federal Insurance. Basically, we won’t be footing their health care bills any more than any other American citizen. ( Citation: Page 81, sec. 1312 )
A new tax on pharmaceutical companies.
A new tax on the purchase of medical devices.
A new tax on insurance companies based on their market share. Basically, the more of the market they control, the more they’ll get taxed.
The amount you can deduct from your taxes for medical expenses increases.
Doctors’ pay will be determined by the quality of their care, not how many people they treat. Edit: a_real_MD addresses questions regarding this one in far more detail and with far more expertise than I can offer in this post. If you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation of this one (as many of you are), I highly recommend you give his post a read.
If any state can come up with their own plan, one which gives citizens the same level of care at the same price as the PPACA, they can ask the Secretary of Health and Human Resources for permission to do their plan instead of the PPACA. So if they can get the same results without, say, the mandate, they can be allowed to do so. Vermont, for example, has expressed a desire to just go straight to single-payer (in simple terms, everyone is covered, and medical expenses are paid by taxpayers). ( Citation: Page 98, sec. 1332 )
All health care plans must now cover preventive care (not just the new ones).
A new tax on “Cadillac” health care plans (more expensive plans for rich people who want fancier coverage).
The elimination of the “Medicare gap”
Aaaaand that’s it right there.
The biggest thing opponents of the bill have against it is the mandate. They claim that it forces people to buy insurance, and forcing people to buy something is unconstitutional. Personally, I take the opposite view, as it’s not telling people to buy a specific thing, just to have a specific type of thing, just like a part of the money we pay in taxes pays for the police and firemen who protect us, this would have us paying to ensure doctors can treat us for illness and injury.
Plus, as previously mentioned, it’s necessary if you’re doing away with “pre-existing conditions” because otherwise no one would get insurance until they needed to use it, which defeats the purpose of insurance.
Of course, because so many people are arguing about it, and some of the people arguing about it don’t really care whether or not what they’re saying is true, there are a lot of things people think the bill does that just aren’t true. Here’s a few of them:
Obamacare has death panels!: That sounds so cartoonishly evil it must be true, right? Well, no. No part of the bill says anything about appointing people to decide whether or not someone dies. The decision over whether or not your claim is approved is still in the hands of your insurer. However, now there’s an appeals process so if your claim gets turned down, you can challenge that. And the government watches that appeals process to make sure it’s not being unfair to customers. So if anything the PPACA is trying to stop the death panels. ( Citation: Page 23, sec. 2719 )
Obamacare gives free insurance to illegal immigrants!: Actually, there are multiple parts of the bill that specifically state that the recipient of tax credits and other good stuff must be a legal resident of the United States. And while the bill doesn’t specifically forbid illegals from buying insurance or getting treated at hospitals, neither did the laws in the US before the PPACA. So even at worst, illegals still have just as much trouble getting medical care as they used to. ( Citations: Page 122, sec. 1402, Page 123, sec. 1411, Page 125, sec. 1411, Page 132, sec. 1412 )
Obamacare uses taxpayer money for abortions!: One part of the bill says, essentially, that the folks who wrote this bill aren’t touching that issue with a ten foot pole. It basically passes the buck on to the states, who can choose to allow insurance plans that cover abortions, or they can choose to not allow them. Obama may be pro-choice, but that is not reflected in the PPACA. ( Citation: Page 64, sec. 1303 )
Obamacare won’t let me keep the insurance I have!: The PPACA actually very specifically says you can keep the insurance you have if you want. ( Citation: Page 55, sec. 1251 )
Obamacare will make the government get between me and my doctor!: The PPACA very specifically says that the Secretary of Health and Human Services (who is in charge of much of the bill), is absolutely not to promote any regulation that hinders a patient’s ability to get health care, to speak with their doctor, or have access to a full range of treatment options. ( Citation: Page 165, sec. 1554 )
Obamacare has a public option! That makes it bad!: The public option (which would give people the option of getting insurance from a government-run insurer, thus the name), whether you like it or not, was taken out of the bill before it was passed. You can still see where it used to be, though. ( Citation: Page 92, sec. 1323 (the first one) )
Obamacare will cost trillions and put us in massive debt!: The PPACA will cost a lot of money… at first. $1.7 Trillion. Yikes, right? But that’s just to get the ball rolling. You see, amongst the things built into the bill are new taxes – on insurers, pharmaceutical companies, tanning salons, and a slight increase in taxes on people who make over $200K (an increase of less than 1%). Additionally, the bill cuts some stuff from Medicare that’s not really working, and generally tries to make everything work more efficiently. Also, the increased focus on preventative care (making sure people don’t get sick in the first place), should help to save money the government already spends on emergency care for these same people. Basically, by catching illnesses early, we’re not spending as much on emergency room visits. According to the Congressional Budget Office, who studies these things, the ultimate result is that this bill will reduce the yearly deficit by $210 billion. By the year 2021, the bill will actually have paid itself and started bringing in more money than it cost.
Obamacare is twice as long as War and Peace!: War and Peace is 587,287 words long. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, depending on which version you’re referring to, is between 300,000-400,000 words long. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very long, but it’s not as long as War and Peace. Also, it bears mention that bills are often long. In 2005, Republicans passed the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, 2005, which was almost as long as the PPACA, and no one raised a stink about it.
The people who passed Obamacare didn’t even read it!: Are you kidding? They had been reading it over and over for a half a year. This thing was being tossed around in debates for ages. And it went through numerous revisions, but every time it was revised, it was just adding, removing, or changing small parts of it, not rewriting the whole thing. And every time it was revised, the new version of the bill was published online for everyone to see. The final time it was edited, there may not have been time to re-read the entire thing before voting on it, but there wasn’t a need to, because everyone had already read it all. The only thing people needed to read was the revision, which there was plenty of time to do.
Pelosi said something like, “we’ll have to pass the bill before reading it”!: The actual quote is “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy”, and she’s talking about all the lies and false rumors that were spreading about it. Things had gotten so absurd that by this point many had given up on trying to have an honest dialogue about it, since people kept worrying about things that had no basis in reality. Pelosi was simply trying to say that once the bill is finalized and passed, then everyone can look at it and see, without question, what is actually in the thing (as opposed to some new amendment you heard on the radio that they were going to put in).


June 13, 2012 By: nooccar Category: holidays, Religion

In the mid 1980s I remember starting to attend a “Christian” church in Brentwood, PA. I went with my siblings and parents. This continued more or less for several years. Sometimes it felt like Sunday morning, this was what it was to do. Other times, I was way more into it. I would go to Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and then youth group other times. From about 12-16years old church youth group was my socialization. I met my first real girlfriend and my first crush there (not the same girl). I met a man, Jon Waters, who will still have a special place in my heart for my life even if we don’t actually talk (except FB stalking now)… he was my youth leader and later pastor. A few summers in a row we took a huge van to a youth camp in Coburg, Ontario, and I learned a lot about god, myself, other people at this camp. I learned scripture. I saw real miracles. The camp and experiences hold special places in my heart. Still.

For me, religion is a spiritual and private journey. My brother recently moved back to Pennsylvania and he’s been attending a great church near my parent’s home. This past Sunday he wanted me to attend, and I wondered if he expected me to make excuses why I couldn’t. Just because I do not attend church in AZ does not mean that I am not religious. So we went. It was very familiar. When I was young, I attended a church called Faith Community and this church also had that same name but the people and place were not the same. The music was similar but not the same songs. The friendliness was familiar. There were people there like me. There were people there that were like him. I enjoyed sharing that with him. I will return with him next Sunday and go while I am here on vacation.

Beast gets a Facebook, why can’t Claire????

June 12, 2012 By: nooccar Category: Claire, Parenthood

SO Mark Zuckerberg got married in late spring and I was reading how his dog, BEAST has his own damn facebook page. I don’t know if Facebooks TOS defines as FB user as human but I do know there’s an age limit. I know this because my now 7 year old had a Facebook at the age 5. The local news did a story on her (that I’m too lazy to look up and link to) and suddenly her account was terminate. Some reader obviously reported her account. Now I know people whose kids who are under 13 with Facebook accounts who still have them (for years), but my own daughter who, I might add, had an awesome Farmville farm— where she learned responsibility, economy, etc… has an account that was terminated twice for TOS issues. So why does my Claire get bounced the Zuckerberg’s dog (who I doubt actually posts!) gets to have one. We know Mark Zuckerberg thinks he’s god (more like the antichrist, I think), and his own TOS doesn’t apply, I suppose, so I am happy to head today that Education Week announces “Facebook Considers Expanding Access to 13 and Younger Crowd“.

The article recognizes that younger children do, in fact, have (illegal) accounts, and schools realize that if upper elementary and middle schoolers have FB, then maybe they can harness them for education. (Yes, I’ve heard all the arguments against this already, so you needn’t remind me below.) The article suggests that perhaps the accounts can be tied to a parent’s (which I’m cool with, since my own kid never even had her FB password.) This has potential … much like Beast, Mark’s dog, has the potential of herding sheep.

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