Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tell me Thursday – Brenda spends a day at the office


Yesterday, I posted the photo over to the left as my “Wordless Wednesday” entry.

My nine-year-old daughter, Brenda SueCarol, wrote that last week when she spent the day at my office. Why? She wanted to spend the day at work with me (for some reason) and I didn’t object. I’m glad of that – she rather livened up the place.

I learned a few things from my daughter last week. For one thing, the kid can have fun anywhere. I’ve never thought of the office as much fun, frankly, but she found some ways to pass the time. She played on the Internet for awhile (of course), but got bored with that in a hurry.

What did she do to pass the time? Made snowflakes, drew a heck of a lot of pictures, spun around in a chair, ran in circles, ran around visiting with everyone who had some time to spare and sang to us over the intercom system.BrendaAtWork

She also told us one of the rooms in the building was haunted and wrote a two-page story about it. She took her place at the podium in the allegedly haunted room and read her story to a couple of us.

“How long has that ghost been here?” I asked her.

“For 250 years!”

“Brenda, the building is only a year old.”

“Y’all built around the ghost.”

Yeah, that’s my girl. She’s got an answer for everything.

HeadSideburn And so it went. She had a great time going to lunch with my friend Dave and me, telling everyone that I was growing a head sideburn (which, evidently, is that strip of hair that circles a large bald spot) and generally having more fun than anyone’s had in that office (or probably ever will).

Another thing I learned about my daughter is that she has a weird energy reserve. She chattered and ran all over the place from the minute she woke up until we stepped in my car to make that 25 minute commute back home. Before we were even 10 minutes into that drive, she fell asleep in the car.

To be able to run all over the place like a wild child for about 10 hours and then fall straight to sleep when the fun is over must be a great thing. I’m looking forward to my daughter’s next visit and I hope everyone else in the office feels the same way.

This entry is part of the soon-to-be-famous “Tell Me Thursday” event.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Shanahan heads to Washington


Well, coaching mastermind Mike Shanahan went and found himself a new job.

Shanahan, of course, was tossed out of his job as the head coach of the Broncos before the season began. The ungrateful bastards in Denver who threw him out on his ear added insult to injury by replacing him with Josh McDaniels – a snot-nosed little punk who didn’t do a thing to earn the job but know the right people.

It didn’t take Shanahan long to find a job – he’s heading to the Washington Redskins. In other words, Denver is stuck with a head coach that’s barely old enough to shave, a no-name quarterback who would probably be panhandling for a living if he wasn't playing football and an angry fan base (you can count me among those irate fans) while Washington stands to benefit from the Broncos’ stupidity. There’s some justice there.

The news of Shanahan’s job was just the icing on the cake during a couple of months that had to be terrible for McDaniels. His team started out 6-0 (based largely on freakish, circus-like plays at the end of games -- who knew that wouldn't last?) then promptly lost 8 of its last 10 games. Two of those losses were to Kansas City (a terrible team this year) and Oakland (even worse) and Denver is out of the playoffs.

After that disastrous end, McDaniels was certainly sent off to his room without dinner. Fortunately, he quit sulking long enough to pull out his “business crayon” and write a statement congratulating Shanahan (you can see his fine penmanship (crayonmanship?) above). Good for him. The young whippersnapper showed a bit of maturity there. McDaniels might yet become a man.

The frustrating thing about all of this is that I pointed out months ago that the Broncos couldn’t have done much worse than McDaniels. He was obviously a terrible hire, so why on earth am I reading articles like this one in which people claim that the Broncos are worse off than they were a year ago? It was obvious that bringing in McDaniels and replacing quarterback Jay Cutler with an anonymous bum like Kyle Orton would result in disaster, so why is anyone surprised? Why in the hell was McDaniels hired in the first place? It makes absolutely no sense.

What is truly hysterical about this article is that the author points out that McDaniels lacks maturity and is too emotional. What did anyone expect? Denver hired a kid to coach its team, so it’s no shock that he’s prone to throwing tantrums and making terrible decisions. Good grief.

Good luck to Shanahan in Washington. It’s absolutely preposterous that he was run out of Denver, so I can’t help but wish him well somewhere else.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday -- my daughter writes a note...

This post is part of the famed Wordless Wednesday event.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The wise optometrist tackles the issue of health care


My little brother is an optometrist, so you’d better believe he’s got an interest in the healthcare debate that’s raging across the country right now.

Now, my brother is the bright one in the family. Want proof? He’s an optometrist who makes a good living by contributing something to society (good eyesight) while I’m a public relations guy who doesn’t contribute one damned thing. When he comes up with a good idea it’s worth hearing.

In a nutshell, my brother has noticed that we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about health insurance reform rather than true health care reform. The whole issue boils down to dollars and cents – the goal appears to be to both make health care more affordable and get insurance to people who need it.

Those two expenses – the costs of health care and insurance – are rather intertwined. There’s a school of thought out there that suggests that dropping health care costs will make insurance more affordable.

With that in mind, here’s my brother’s idea – simply pass legislation that will allow medical providers the option of offering a discount to people who pay for services up front. That’s a simple suggestion, to be sure, but it could well achieve quite a bit.

Could doctors already do that? Well, not really. Just ask a medical provider who’s tried to get away with charging two separate prices for identical procedures when Medicare is involved. If a doctor wants to collect, say, $100 for an office visit, he might charge $300 in hopes of collecting that much from Medicare or Medicaid. And you’d better believe there will be hell to pay if that Medicare patient or someone carrying private insurance is charged $300 while someone who is paying at the time of service is charged $100.

What happens? Everyone gets charged $300 and health care costs have magically risen. My brother’s suggestion, then, is to break that cycle by allowing doctors the freedom to discount their fees if they so choose.

What follows from that? You’d better believe that health insurance providers – both public and private – start figuring out how to pay up front in order to avoid paying higher costs after services are rendered and insurance forms are filed. In theory, then, health care costs have just dropped and insurance rates ought to drop, too (if, of course, competition among them is allowed and encouraged – that’s another discussion for another time, however).

The question, of course, is would doctors choose to offer a discount. My brother seems to think so – he’d rather accept, say, $50 for an office visit rather than charge $200 and deal with the headaches of filing a bunch of insurance forms. Other doctors would, hopefully, feel the same way.

There’s a good reason to think they might. If doctors like my brother charged $50 up front for a visit, you’d better believe they’d see their businesses boom while others charging $200 for the same thing would watch their patients vanish. That’s called competition – something we used to value here in the United States.

While such market-based solutions may seem quaint in this day and age where the government is invited to poke around in our private affairs, such an idea may gain some traction with the public. Who do you trust more to do something about increasing medical costs? Insurance companies, the federal government or physicians?

Seeing how I detest both Congress and the medical insurance industry, I’d be inclined to listen to what physicians have to say about health care costs. Oddly, it appears that group is rarely consulted in the current debate.

Music Monday -- Sly Fox

Yeah -- missing the 1980s a lot these days...
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Sunday, January 3, 2010

An achievable New Year’s resolution


Yes, it’s another year and we’ve got a slew of people running around making resolutions they’ll never keep.

Ah, but not me. No, The Hawg has made a New Year’s resolution that I am almost certain to keep. Am I going to exercise more, lose weight, give it my all at work or anything like that?

No. I’m going to take it easy on myself this year. I, then, hereby resolve to watch even more television that I did in 2009.

Now, there’s a resolution that will take some focus and dedication. I’m sure, however, that I will be able to watch more TV if I just put my mind to it. That won’t be overly easy, of course, as the television is generally own and I’m in front of it unless I’m at work or sleeping.

There are a couple of things I can do, however, to achieve my goal. For one thing, I could sleep in front of an active television set, couldn’t I? There’s one in the bedroom, after all, and I did fall into the habit of falling asleep in front of the television and waking up in time to watch a rerun of Gilligan’s Island back when I was in college.

I could certainly fall back into that habit with little effort. Sounds like a plan.

Also, I do have some vacation time coming. Why waste it on doing things that would get me out of the house? Heck, I could simply take a couple of weeks off and spend them in my living room in front of that huge, flat screen television set that we bought last year.

Yes, we’ll see people fall short of their resolutions right and left this year. I, however, will be a success story.

Go ahead an enjoy the Boogie Boys video I’ve posted below. Not only does it have some dandy television references, it is also a song that could have only been recorded in the 1980s – my favorite decade.

Arkansas wins Liberty Bowl in overtime, stuns The Hawg


Well, it’s official – the Arkansas Razorbacks beat the East Carolina Pirates 20-17 to win the Liberty Bowl in overtime.

Yes, there have been a slew of bowls over the past few days. Rumor has it you’ve even got a national championship game in a few days.

We in the Natural State only gave a damn about one game and that was the Liberty Bowl (I know that’s true of a lot of us, at least). We’re just happy that Arkansas managed to win.

Frankly, I’m more than a bit amazed.

“But, The Hawg,” you might say. “Why are you amazed? Arkansas should have won that game.”

The only answer I can say is that Arkansas, historically, has been terrible in bowl games. Sure, the Hogs had some success in the old Southwest Conference, but the Razorbacks have found all sorts of odd ways to lose bowl games since joining the Southeastern Conference.

Hell, the Razorbacks lost to UNLV in the Las Vegas Bowl back in 2000, of all things. That was the worst bowl game loss in recent memory, but the Hogs have been decidedly underwhelming in a lot of bowls over the years.

Besides, East Carolina is a very good team. The Pirates won the Conference USA title and has offensive and defensive linemen that are both quick and ridiculously large.

At any rate, Arkansas’ win in the Liberty Bowl boiled down to one thing – the Pirates’ kicker was worse than the Razorbacks’. Arkansas tried to give the game away quite a few times, in fact, and the Hogs’ offense was terrible (you can credit the solid defense for at least 10 points due to grabbing a couple of interceptions).

Neither team could brag much about their kicking games. The Pirates missed four field goals and Alex Tejada – the kicker for the Razorbacks – managed to mess one up, too.

That’s the thing about Tejada – that kid folds faster than Superman on laundry day when he’s under any pressure at all. He’s been underwhelming in a number of games over the past three years, in fact.

Fortunately, he came through when he was needed the most when he kicked the game winning field goal in the Liberty Bowl. Good for him.

So congratulations to the Razorbacks. They didn’t look great tonight, but at least that got that victory and they managed to beat a good team, to boot.