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Criticism is the Sincerest Form of Insecurity

"When you come upon an obstacle, you go around it, you go over it, you go under it, you go through it, you DO NOT sit on your butt and feel sorry for yourself!"

Words to live by. Okay, I'm just going to start calling out various things here. Consider this situation brief #1.

--Somewhere along the way I noticed the Hallmark channel (of all things) was showing Northern Exposure. I tuned in four or five episodes, including two of my favorites: the mayoral vote episode, and the piano-flinging episode! It was a lucky thing that they show the same episode in the morning and at night, because I was able to record the piano-flinging episode. The benchmark episode for what I consider the finest television show ever. I have it on tape. I adore that show. How many people found themselves wishing they could go visit Cicely? The second quote from above is from that episode, by the way.

--Then there's Rachel. I've mentioned several times how she almost died and spent a couple weeks in the hospital. She lost around twenty pounds all told. Looks like more. She's emaciated. Poor girl. She wasn't too meaty to begin with, now she's got the waif look down. And she gets tired easily. But all of these lingering physical problems pale in comparison to her hospital bills. Oh yes, did I mention Rachel wasn't carrying health insurance? There has been some titanic misunderstanding. They treated her at the real hospital, not the county hospital. Now they want their money. $170,000 plus. Good luck. My father and Carla kept paying her for a few weeks, but she's moved out and it doesn't appear she'll be coming back to work any time soon. Point is, she has about as much in savings as I do. Of course, if she had insurance, she'd still owe well over $20 Grand. This will be the defining month of her whole life. This isn't just 'the hospital', this is individual doctors who've sent bills. She'll owe those bills for years, maybe decades. They will impact every financial move she makes.

Clearly avoiding the hospital at all costs is imperative. One day in ICU would suck more money than I've ever made in a single year. A week would accumulate more in bills than I've ever made in my whole life. And a couple more weeks would create a bill larger than the money I'm likely to make in my thirties. A few days for something minor could dramatically change the course of your entire life.

Anyway, I kind of like Rachel. She's got her good points. I thought I *liked* her, in some sort of middle-school-crush way, but I think it was a brief bout of co-dependence. But I hope she gets better and gains some weight and has some luck in dealing with her monster bills.

--In 1988 I bought my father a CD for his birthday, the soundtrack to the movie Cocktail. Apparently it wasn't a big hit with him, as I found it sitting in its longbox, cellophane still on it last week. I now have it in my possession (still unopened). Anyway, my father turns SIXTY YEARS OLD next week. He could, of course, easily pass for forty-five or even younger. I'm often amazed how old other sixty year olds look. Talking wrinkles, skin lesions, bald or thin grey hair, hunched backs, creaking joints, gruff voices, potbellies, these kinds of things. Got to have something to do with staying in shape, eating a balanced diet, staying out of the sun, being active intellectually and physically, thinking young, not smoking nor drinking, being master of one's domain (very few people have any power over my father), driving an exciting car, having a wife fifteen years younger, and not manufacturing undue stress.

--New tires for the Corvette, including on-car balancing (and tax) are going to come to just under $1600. We're ditching the crappy run-flats and getting true performance tires.

--I do so love these television and radio ads for weight-loss drugs. "I'm a lazy, gluttonous fuck who's vastly overweight and I'm going to die early because of it, but I don't want to lift a finger to exercise or stop consuming five thousand calories a day." -- "Hey, we've got a pill for you!"

--Congress recently voted to triple the amount of ethanol required in gasoline! This is a vote-getting measure involving farm subsidies for America's indolent corn farmers. What should you expect? Well, marginally decreased carbon-monoxide emissions and substantially increased hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions for one. Expect five to ten percent worse fuel efficiency and five to ten percent less power. Expect higher prices. Expect rougher idling, harder starts and warmups, slightly decreased engine life and increased wear and temperatures, glitchy carburetion/fuel injection, a bad smell, and an increased risk of vapor lock. 'Gasahol', as it's called, is a poor energy source, is expensive to produce, is wasteful as far as biomass used to produce it, and is not environmentally friendly. They're backing a real winner. If they keep this up, that new Hybrid Honda Civic (0-60 in 12.7, or just barely adequate if you stomp on it mercilessly) will be the fastest thing on the road. Special interest groups are killing this country.

--Meanwhile, imagine an average-sized dinner table, four feet by six feet. Grab a dime and put that dime on the very edge of the table so it just stays. The surface of the table is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The part of the dime covering the table is larger than the piece of the coastal plain which would have been opened for possible drilling for natural gas and oil. It is a miraculous deposit of fossil fuels which just happens to be on the very edge of a wildlife preserve up there in the tundra. It's as if God was testing us. We failed. The Senate voted not to explore. This exploration could produce, for twenty-five years or more, as much oil as America currently imports from Saudi Arabia. Another victory for political correctness.

--I had/have an infected wound on my knee from one of my recent slides. Blood keeps collecting underneath the wound as if it's a blister and it was turning concave for a few days there.

--What's worse than NASCAR? NASCAR trucks. Nevertheless, I'm going to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race at TMS in a week and a half. I'm also going to the Indy Racing League race the next day. I'd rather see CART, but after they aborted that race here last year (they were averaging 260 mph each lap and the drivers were blacking out), CART isn't invited back. Actually, I'd much rather see American Le Mans, IROC, Touring Car, Motorola Cup, or something along those lines. Hell, it's free, and they're feeding us, and maybe it won't rain all day long this time.

This concludes situation brief #1.