Litmus Test

Tonight sets the tone for 2008; the annual appraisal of the general state of your scribe.

Will the tuxedo fit?

The only solace is that we are fast approaching the time when it really doesn’t matter…..

Getting What We Pay For

Here’s a bit of good news. Of course, it seems like common sense to assume that federally funded research should be available to the taxpayers, but what do I know?

A slice to entice:

Until now, the placement of NIH-funded research papers into publicly accessible repositories was not mandated, but recommended. However, only about 5% of the authors actually did it, as the process was complex and not always clear. This number is growing, but far too slowly. From now on, authors will have clear guidelines and assistance in making sure that all the research becomes public a year after publication in a scholarly journal.

Not long ago, I read a post wherein the researcher could not get, from the Census Bureau, a consolidated, complete copy of the latest census data. Seems that different organs distribute different parts, and it’s not in the procedures manual for the public or the bureaucrats to see complete, compiled data. When I can find the link, I’ll update this post.

H/T Blog Around the Clock

Together, Alone

The Agricoli are, we suspect, like many other family groups living on the fruited plain. With parents in different time zones, and siblings scattered even wider, hewing to the Christmas tradition of a ‘shared Christmas’ is increasingly difficult. It seems to be an experience that increases exponentially in importance the further apart are parent and child.

Agreements to share the experience amongst various departments are sacrosanct.

un.jpgWith negotiations more delicate and difficult than those between, say, Sunni and Shi’ite, any understanding that accords with most participants is treated as something like the Declaration of Independence, or the Magna Carta; that is, an immutable agreement that transcends time, distance, and change.

So, for the past 10 years, we have known where and with whom we will share the Christmas experience. Whether in the frozen Midwest, or in the temperate clime of the Southeast, it has been a predictable experience.

Like the European Powers of the late 19th century, our family had grown comfortable with the complicated web of understandings that seemed to keep peace between the parties. We had achieved our own balance of power.

This year, we had our Balkan moment when various family members chose to violate the agreement. Instead of a local event, some were implored to void the agreement and travel this year…..a gross violation of the agreement. Not only were they willing to throw out 10 years of peace, they recruited other family members to travel with them. Such a thing has never before occurred in our family….leaving the Agricoli home alone.

Because of the complicated weave of other agreements, which are unknown to the violators, we cannot travel to the other side of the family. They are committed to other people. It is too complicated, and would cause too much confusion and disagreement. It would cause further disagreement among groups that have coexisted peacefully for many years.

We will not be the agent of war in our family. To prevent the destruction of our greater whole, we will suffer this wound silently.

In the words of Agricolae, we will be together, alone.

A Lucky Man


Ten years ago today, in the wonderful city of Indianapolis, I took my girlfriend out for a nice meal. At some point I proposed. To my astonishment, she accepted. Seven months later, on the 4th of July, we got married in a pretty little church in Aspen. We have lived in 4 cities, at 6 different addresses. We still love each other very much. I’m a lucky man.

Post-Op Report

Everything’s fine. I’d post the pictures, but I don’t think the readership needs photographic evidence to accept my assertion.

The process was a LOT less traumatic than my imagination had projected. The kind nurse was correct in her remark that the preparation is a lot worse than the procedure. After a short wait in the reception area, I was wisked into a semi-private area and instructed to remove all clothing below the waist, socks excepted. Various monitoring devices were attached/inserted, and I was, too quickly, on my way to the ‘procedure room’. Two very nice nurses, one an anthesisist, keep me engaged while they prepared for the exam. The doctor arrived, which must have been the cue for the anesthetic, because at some point in the next 20 seconds I was gone. After a wonderful, but apparently brief, sleep, I was yanked into the world of wakefulness by my wife. A brief visit by the doctor, and it was home to bed. It was a breeze. Fellas, don’t be afraid…….get it done!

I could not help but admire the efficiency of the process. While in the ‘room’, I asked the nurses how many procedures were done on a typical day. 45! Got that: 45 colonscopies per day. Of course, she said, there are 4 doctors and they share the load.

Still, let’s take a look at the numbers.

Per my paperwork:

Physicians Fee: $700 – 1100.

Anesthesia: $200 – 400

Facility Services: $650

Taking the low number, totalling $1,550, and multiplying by 45 yields a gross revenue number of $69,750. Not bad, not bad at all. Assume that the practice does that 3 days per week, 52 weeks per year. The gross revenue number: $10,881,000. That’s a big number. It also does not include any other form of revenue from the practice.

Now, I am not begrudging those good people a single penny. My life is worth at least that much. But, it just strikes some nerve in my body in some way…..


A spot of bad news for Christmas, via NewsMax. I’d stop the kiddies of a certain age from reading any further. A sliver of the report:

According to the Chinese defense ministry, Santa’s sleigh was being escorted by J-8 fighters from Hainan Island. The Chinese government characterized the fighter escorts as a precaution against Santa’s “aggressive acts that endanger lives.”

The tension over the shoot down of Santa Claus caps a year of drama between the North Pole and Beijing. Beijing denied the shoot-down occurred because of the failing trade ties between the world’s biggest provider of Christmas gifts and the largest manufacturer of toys.

The toy ban is not the only incident between China and the North Pole.

China also came into conflict with the elves in the past few months. Elf union representatives met this past year with members of the Chinese labor force in order to inspect mainland factories for human rights violations.

This is bad, folks!

H/T The Weekly Standard.

The Joy of Being (Over 50)

Through the nimble minuet of avoidance, your scribe has managed to delay the inevitable for nearly 10 years. Despite pleas from spouse, family friends, and, yes, the doctor, the monster known as the colonoscopy has remained far from our being. Now, at age 54, I yield to the process, and have begun, today, the preparations for tomorrow’s examination.

I am not particularly worried about the result. Genetics are on my side, and there have not been any signs that indicate the possibility of a problem. No, the sad truth is that I realized that my health plan has a deductible, said deductible has been reached in this calendar year, and, in a few days, will reset to $0.00. Why not save myself $500 and put this behind me (pun intended)?

The hardest part is the preparation:

 For one to three days, the patient is required to follow a low fibre or clear-fluid only diet. Examples of clear fluids are apple juice, bouillon, artificially flavored lemon-lime soda or sports drink, and of course water. As orange juice, prune juice, and milk contain fibre, they are banned from the list, as are liquids dyed red, orange, purple, or brown, such as cola or coffee. On the day before the colonoscopy, the patient is either given a laxative preparation (such as Bisacodyl, phospho soda, sodium picosulfate, or sodium phosphate and/or magnesium citrate) and large quantities of fluid or whole bowel irrigation is performed using a solution of polyethylene glycol and electrolytes.

I’m starving and it’s only been since last night!

The Latest NIE

I won’t bother with links, or any pithy extractions of quotes that support my position. I will simply note the nearly total acceptance of this intelligence evaluation by those who, not so long ago, questioned the political leanings of the drafters of other, earlier NIEs that drove policy in a direction they did not like.  The question that comes to mind is why we should believe any analysis coming from the politicized and ineffective policy shops of our intelligence organs. The entire process is foul with politics, and nearly void of common sense.