27 February 2010

My thoughts on healthcare

I've been thinking a lot about healthcare lately. (Who hasn't?) (Okay, maybe the non-Americans haven't been. You guys sure are missing out!) I have mentioned before that I am pro-government healthcare. With that said, I also feel like there are a lot of things within the healthcare debate that I can be very moderate on. I recognize that a lot of Americans do not like the idea of nationalized healthcare and are really repulsed by it. I get that. I can see where they are coming from, even though I don't necessarily agree with them. I get the back and forth wrangling about whether healthcare reform should be done in a comprehensive bill or several small bills. I understand people being wary about a health insurance mandate and the insurance companies disliking a mandate that would force them to cover pre-existing conditions. There are lots of issues at play, and lots of parties with very different interests. I get that.

But there are some things I don't get:

Why is America the ONLY country in the developed world that doesn't guarantee healthcare to all of its citizens?

Why aren't costs more transparent?

If the major reason that costs are so high is malpractice insurance, why hasn't congress passed tort reform in the healthcare field?

But my major beef with healthcare is that insurance companies are able to negotiate the prices much lower than the actual costs. For example, I had a test that was billed at about $800, but because I had insurance they negotiated the price down and I only had to pay about $250. I was glad that I had insurance - obviously it saved me a ton of money. But, if I hadn't had insurance, I would have paid the full amount. AND because insurance companies negotiate the prices so low, the uninsureds' rates are inflated to make up for the low costs the insurance companies pay.

What are your thoughts? (And be civil, or else.)

23 February 2010

Review: Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

I finally got around to reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss, and it may be the second best thing that has happened to me in February. (The Olympics being the best, of course). You may be shocked and appalled that I've finished a book that wasn't in the big stack I blogged about last month, or maybe you don't care at all. I have completed five of the books from that original stack, decided not to read one (The Lovely Bones), and have inserted two more, including Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

I loved this book so much. It may seem odd that anybody can possibly love and adore a book about punctuation, but this book is just so good. Hilarious, really. And short. The motto of the book is "Sticklers Unite!" and that's something I can get behind. I am a stickler for grammar, spelling and punctuation. Poor grammar and punctuation can change the meaning of your writing, and it is incredibly distracting to sticklers like me. When you write, "Your so awesome," it makes me think, "My so awesome what? You didn't finish your sentence!" Fortunately, I am not the only one who feels this way. This book has been a big hit in the U.S. and in the U.K., and rightfully so. It is a delightful read, and it is something that you really should read - not listen to. If you are a stickler, you will love it. If you are not a stickler, you should read it anyway; maybe you will learn something.

18 February 2010

A few thoughts on the Olympics

Did you honestly expect something else?
  • I hate Apolo Ohno's facial hair. It's called a "soul patch." Is it meant to be holding his soul in? Also, his hair is too long.
  • I feel no pity for Lindsey Jacobellis for not medaling in the snowboard cross.
  • Four years ago my Olympic nemesis was Bode Miller. He seems much changed and improved, and I find it impossible to despise him.
  • I'm happy for Lindsey Vonn. If I were injured, though, I might have taken a gold and bagged the other events. But I'm a big baby.
  • Shawn White is pretty awesome. And it's a good thing, too, because he looks like a horse. A horse with a beautiful, flowing mane. I kind of wish I had his hair.
  • I love figure skating almost as much as I love that Eric enjoys watching it with me.
  • I hate to be a sexist, but men's halfpipe is much cooler than women's. Step it up, ladies.

14 February 2010

Texas Caviar

I am not posting about Valentine's Day. Because I do not believe in it. I mean, I believe that it exists, but I do not believe in the over commercialized annual celebration of love. So I'm sharing a recipe today.

In Texas it is tradition to eat black eyed peas on New Year's Day. I don't know where this originated, but it's something my family always did. I am not a huge fan of black eyed peas, but I do love Texas caviar, which is a spicy black eyed pea salad. After realizing in early January that I hadn't had Texas caviar in years, I called my mom and asked her what it entailed. I then sought frozen black eyed peas, but I didn't find any, so I had to settle for a bag of dried black eyed peas. Anyway, here is the recipe:

Texas Caviar
1 bag of black eyed peas, cooked and chilled (frozen are best)
1 green bell pepper
1 red onion
1 jalapeno
1 jar of pimientos
1 package of zesty Italian salad dressing mix

Chop the onion, bell pepper and jalapeno very finely. Mix all ingredients together.

That's it. It's really simple and really flavorful. After making it today, I've decided that making the black eyed peas from scratch is maybe not worth my time nor worth the earthy smell the legumes produce in kitchen. I think in future I will just use canned black beans. It won't be exactly the same, but the nutritional value will be comparable, and the ease will be even better.

12 February 2010

This is why even years are best

I know everyone's blogging about it. I care not.

I love the Olympics. Lovelovelovelovelove.

During the last winter Olympics, we lived in this same house. Only, I was still in school at the time, and my grades plummeted because of the amount of time I spent in front of the television.

This year, there is nothing to plummet, except maybe the number of books that I'll finish in the month of February.

Let the three-day weekend of Olympic-watching begin.

11 February 2010

Cult Classic - Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

One of my favorite movies is the 1971 version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. No, I'm not being facetious, and yes, I know it's kind of weird.

A few weeks ago Eric and I were in line at T.J. Maxx after Eric had selected a new pair of jeans. The line was kind of long, and the T.J. Maxx folks had done a great job of setting out all sorts of treats and trinkets along the queue. I saw the DVD, and I said to Eric, "If that movie is less than $8, I am going to get it." He crossed his fingers that it would cost more. It was only $5, and I was thrilled.

Whenever Steven and I used to catch it on T.V., we'd watch it. I love everything about this movie, sans "Cheer Up, Charlie," the song Charlie's mom sings at the beginning of the movie. I love all the great songs that the Oompa Loompas sing. I even have the soundtrack.

There are so many great things about this movie. Foremost, the humor. Gene Wilder is perfect as the eccentric and brilliant Willy Wonka. In fact, the book on which the movie is based is titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It's my belief that the film version's title was changed because Willy Wonka's part was written so well and performed so superbly by Gene Wilder. There are so many great lines that are difficult to catch unless you are kind of smart, and I always like humor like that because, let's be honest, it plays to my ego.

Second, the sheer whimsy of it. Most of that was written in by Roald Dahl, who has an incredible genius for truly imaginative children's literature. I haven't read the book since I was in about fifth grade, but I do remember that I was purely amused by the characters, the dialogue and the plot.

And the wisdom of the Oompa Loompas. It thrills me to no end, and is best exemplified in these lyrics:
Gum chewing's fine when it's once in a while.
It stops you from smoking and brightens your smile.
But it's revolting, repulsive and wrong,
Chewing and chewing all day long!
The way that a cow does.
Couldn't have said it better myself.

10 February 2010

Faces of America starts tonight!

I'm so excited for this show to air tonight. The show will discuss the ancestry of several well-known people. Some are more famous than others, and Stephen Colbert is one of the most famous. It will be airing on your local PBS station. (Unless you live in New Zealand. Sorry, I don't think you'll be able to see it.)

09 February 2010

Local Loony

The weirdest thing ever happened to me last night. I had just dropped off my carpool buddy who lives in the center of studentville in Provo. I was about half-way through getting out of the neighborhood, when I came upon a man standing in the road wearing only a pair of shorts. I slowed down so that I wouldn't hit him. I wasn't sure if he needed some help or what, but when I approached, he looked kind of scary, so I began to go around him. He jumped out in front of me. I stopped my car, again thinking maybe he needed help, but he didn't approach my window or anything. So I began to back up, but due to where I was in the road and the sheer quantity of cars parked on the street (hello, Central Provo!), I couldn't really turn around. Plus, I was kind of scared, and I wanted to keep this guy in my sight. So, I called the police. As I did so, he began doing jumping jacks.

Some young people came out of their dwellings with video cameras, but it was clear they weren't making a movie or anything. They just wanted to catch the spectacle. I stayed on the phone with the operator and told her what was going on. Apparently, she had dispatched two police officers, but both of them were on the opposite side of town. The students, meanwhile, tried to engage the man in conversation, but I'm not sure how successful they were because I was on the phone. A few cars came up behind me, and seeing that there was a situation, tried to go around. He jumped in front of them, so they backed up and went the opposite way. One car came up, and when he jumped in front of it, the drivers kept going (albeit very slowly)! They literally drove into him, and once the bumper hit him, he jumped out of the way and waved them on.

By the time the police arrived (about eight minutes from when I called), he had gone somewhere else, and the police were following him.

It was totally weird. And I'm really grateful that my first ever all to 911 was for something as benign as a crazy, balding, scantily clad man blocking traffic in central Provo.

08 February 2010


I got a new haircut. The last time I got a haircut was in September. I am probably one of the laziest people in the world when it comes to my hair. In fact, the only reason I made the appointment for this haircut was because Eric kept bugging me. (Not that I blame him, my hair hasn't been looking really stellar lately.) Every time I get a haircut (which really is about every six months), I tell myself that I am going to be more diligent about maintaining it. And I never am. When I think about people who dye their hair and maintain it, it blows my mind. I just can't bear the thought of redying my hair or re-doing highlights every six weeks. The cost alone keeps me from any sort of permanent coloring of my hair. And so, I do my usual short cut that gradually becomes shoulder-length before I go get it hacked off again.

Am I completely bizarre in only getting my hair cut a couple of times each year? Are you as low-maintenance with your hair as I am?

06 February 2010

"Flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep"

As Valentine's Day draws nearer, I feel the need to advise you in regards to my husband: Do not let him near your box of chocolates unless you want him to eat them all.

Case 1:
Eric's mom gave us a box of chocolates to give to somebody else. They sat at our apartment for a while, and at one point I finally realized that Eric had seen those people a number of times and had not delivered the gift. It was at that point that he informed me he had eaten nearly the entire box.

Case 2:
When we went to the Great Barrier Island, we bought a box of chocolates to give to Makereta's mom. Sometime in the middle of our stay, I noticed that Eric's breath smelled like chocolate, and I asked him what he'd been eating since the only chocolate substance we had was in that box. Of course, he had begun to eat the chocolates in the box. Fortunately, I caught him early enough this time that I was able to also enjoy the spoils.

Case 3:
I got two boxes of Godiva chocolates from my work for Christmas. A few weeks ago I mentioned that I'd hardly gotten into the second box and that I needed to remedy that. Eric then told me that he'd been working on it. When I opened the box there were only about six chocolates left. Boo.

Moral: Eric is not to be trusted in board games nor with boxes of chocolates.

04 February 2010

Pepper Specificity

Something I've encountered many times (and still not able to get over) since living in Utah is the incorrect term people use for bell peppers. Folks, they are bell peppers. They are not green peppers. Many, many, many peppers are green. The specific pepper that is very commonly used in American cuisine because of its mild flavor is the green bell pepper. Other green peppers include the poblano (used to make chile rellenos) and the anaheim.

Furthermore, red bell peppers are not simply "red peppers." There are a gazillion different types of red peppers. (In fact, most green peppers also come in a red variety). Below are featured a red serrano and a red bell.

Consider yourself educated. If you ever refer to green peppers or red peppers around me, I will ask that you specify what kind of pepper you mean.

P.S. All Kiwis may kindly disregard this post since you call bell peppers by an entirely different name. (Capsicum in case you non-Kiwis were curious).

03 February 2010

Review: The Fantastic Mr. Fox

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is 100% worth seeing. It's at the dollar theater these days. It's done with stop-motion animation, and it is probably the only stop-motion animation film I've ever enjoyed. Unlike most movies that claim to be "fun for the whole family" which really means, "loads of slapstick and potty humor for the kids, while the parents are bored as all get-out," this one really is. Only, this "fun for the whole family" actually leans toward being more fun for the adults than the kids. The dialogue is just hilarious and would go straight over the heads of most children.

The script is by Wes Anderson, who also did The Royal Tenenbaums (which I suggest watching edited). If you liked that movie, you will like this one.

I adore Roald Dahl, and now I really need to read The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Has anyone read it before?