Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Great Kids!

As the year draws to a close I want to write a little about my children. I was talking to a friend recently and out popped this thought: My kids are my favorite people to hang out with. Its true! The older they get the more fun they are. Of course there's the old family jokes and the shtick that we do with each other; that's a given. But then there's the stuff that is just purely each one of them as individuals - that is the best! So here's a little public kvelling about each of them, NOT in birth order (because I know that would bug Hannah).

I know I'll be in trouble no matter what order I choose so I'll randomly pick.... Hannah! She's the one on the far right in the picture.

Hannah is like one of those fantastic pretzels you can buy on the streets of Manhattan: crusty and salty on the outside but soft and sweet in the middle. She has the most deliciously wicked sense of humor and can cut to the heart of an argument like a hot knife through buttah. Everyone says this about their kids (and I'll probably write it about all three...) but Hannah is SO smart. She is school smart and street smart. I know she does not get her meticulous attention to detail from my side of the family.

One of my favorite stories about her comes from several years ago when they were all still in grade school. I was wondering out loud whether or not we should watch a certain R-rated movie that warned of "adult language." Hannah quipped something along the lines of: "Uh, dad, we DO go to public school."

Next I will give you some idea of my son Sam, as I'm confident that Addie won't mind going last. Sam is in his first year of independence at Knox College. I could not be prouder of the kind of young man he is turning out to be. He has always been a keen observer, he has a surprising soft spot for babies, and is a study in contradictions. For example, I believe him to be anti-war and pretty much a pacifist, but he loves shoot-em-up video games, is a big Civil War buff and was hoping to land a part time job as a security guard (and was disappointed to learn that it would have been an unarmed position). Sam loves to debate and is quite good at staking out a position and hanging onto it tenaciously.

Sam is very selective with friends and has a few long-standing good pals. I think this is a positive characteristic: choosing quality over quantity. Memorable Sam story from his grade school graduation: A good friend of his was the class valedictorian (no surprise there). When she gave her speech she thanked a number of her friends, including Sam, adding that he proved to her that "not all men are jerks."

Last but certainly not least is my wonderful youngest daughter Adeline. Adzie constantly surprises me, even more than the other two maniacs. Just when I think I've got her pegged, she comes up with a line or an opinion out of the blue that just floors me. Addie is a gifted visual artist and has a great memory for things seen. She is a most salubrious combination of sweetness and strength. She's the first to volunteer to do something out of kindness (dishes, cleaning up her room) and social responsibility (many hours spent at the Night Ministry, an agency that provides food for the homeless). You don't want to cross Addie, however, because she WILL get even (just kidding, sweetie!).

I have two favorite bits that well describe this girl: The first is an observation by one of the next door neighbor boys, who, imitating Addie, went on a jag about how she "likes puppies and ponies and flowers...and zombies and monsters..." Then there was the famous line, the surrounding story of which escapes me. Addie was talking about someone who the whole gang was not too fond of. Her take was "Let's go hug them....with KNIVES."

My life is made infinitely richer by having these three characters in it. Thanks, kids!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Good News from PNHP

From a Physicians for a National Health Program press release:

Yesterday the prestigious American College of Physicians (ACP), the nation's second largest medical association (124,000 members), endorsed single payer national health insurance as "one pathway" to universal coverage. This is the first time the group has endorsed single payer and represents a huge step forward in the movement for fundamental health care reform.

The ACP's decision followed a careful evaluation of lessons from other nations' health systems. The central lesson, they said in an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is the need for the United States to provide universal health insurance coverage. While the ACP's own proposal is based on a "pluralistic" model, they urged lawmakers to seriously consider a single payer system as one way to provide universal access to health care. They noted that single payer systems have the advantage of being "more equitable, have lower administrative costs, have lower per capita health care expenditures, have higher levels of patient satisfaction, and have higher performance on measures of quality and access than systems using private health insurance."

This is me writing now:

This is a national emergency which none of the presidential candidates are addressing in any kind of meaningful way. The sole exception is Dennis Kucinich, co-author of H.R. 676, a bill that would create a UK/Canadian style single payer system for the U.S. Obama, Clinton and Edwards are squabbling over details regarding some type of insurance-based band aid approach to the wretched state of our health care system. It is all so much hot air, IMHO. It is getting increasingly difficult for me to support any of these front runner candidates; I just wish Kucinich was a more visible, viable candidate.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


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The grass is half covered with snow.
It was the sort of snowfall that starts late in the afternoon,
And now the little houses of the grass are growing dark.


If I reached my hands down, near the earth,
I could take handfuls of darkness!
A darkness was always there, which we never noticed.


As the snow grows heavier, the cornstalks fade farther away,
And the barn moves nearer to the house.
The barn moves all alone in the growing storm.


The barn full of corn, and moving towards us now,
Like a hulk blown toward us in a storm at sea;
All the sailors on deck have been blind for many years.

-Robert Bly (from Silence in the Snowy Fields, 1962)

Kucinich on Health Care

Dennis Kucinich tore it up at a debate by asking himself a question (and answering it, of course!)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Quote du Jour

Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.

-Katherine Mansfield