Sunday, June 28, 2009

Everyone is Going Gay!

From the looks of things at the Denver's Annual Pridefest Parade, everyone is going gay! Hip, hip, hurray! Great turn out, great weather, homophobia be gone! Spread the word.

(Second) Update on Former Planned Parenthood Site...

from Peter J. Hynes, Architect, of urbitecture, inc. 1736 Race St, Denver
20th and Vine
IMPORTANT NEIGHBORHOOD MEETING: Come discuss the Argus Senior Residences project proposed on the corner of 20th & Vine Who: CPWNA and Argus Home Health When: Tuesday, June 30 at 6:30pm Where: Harry's Chop House, next to Vine Street Pub Why: We need your input! Pizza and beverages will be provided For more information, please contact Bryan Craig with City Park West Neighborhood Association at (303) 885-2861 or Sean Maley at (303) 570-3096 or Ed. comment: Looks great to me! The new zoning map shows this as a G-MU-3 zone (too bad I can't find a definition of this anywhere at the site).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Newborn Miniatures

Our friend Tom has a ranch north of Denver where he raises miniature horses. He's got a new batch this spring and has started the process of "gentling" them.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Credit Cards Akimbo

The entire credit card "industry" is one giant scam. Remember when our mailboxes were being flooded with entreaties to sign up for another “introductory zero interest rate” scam? Remember when people proudly showed you that they had 20 credit cards, and they actually carried them all in their wallets? It seemed a mark of wealth but was really an indication of extreme stupidity. You might have had a total of $100,000 “available” in your credit limits. Wow, you were “rich”. But how could you not see that paying $18 a month on a debt of $3000 would have you paying interest for the next ten years? And if you added a few purchases from month to month you might have been able to see that you would never pay off your actual debt and that with rates as high as 29%, you might be paying forever. You probably could not even remember what you bought with your card, and yet here you were now paying it off – forever! And then it seemed prudent to refinance your house to pay off your credit cards. Now you were turning your credit card debt into a mortgage. Now you could take 30 years to pay off that $10,000 debt, with the result that you would pay back $30,000 for that $10,000 worth of stuff you couldn’t even identify. Not smart! Now with some kind of “reform” coming down the pike, these companies are scurrying to fleece you in new, creative ways. As usual, I’ll take an example from my own experience to elucidate. I keep two cards, one for business expenses and one for personal expenses. In May, I, along with millions of others, received a notice from Chase that my limit was being lowered from $9800 to $3000 (merely a business decision they said) and the interest rate was being increased to 29%. I really didn’t care that much since I always pay the entire balance off each month. But then I encountered the recent inflation of dental costs. One of my next to front teeth broke off at the gum line. I was flabbergasted to discover that the cost of fixing it was going to be $2200, but you can’t go around with a gaping hole in your smile, so I put it on my personal credit card. I knew I might be close to my new limit, but I didn’t actually check on it since I had just paid off the previous months balance. When the credit card bill arrived, I carefully scanned the charges (something you MUST now do every month). Apparently, for one day, my balance had exceeded the new $3000 limit. And there it was, a $39 charge for exceeding this new lower limit. Mind you, this was not for not paying, just for exceeding the new lower limit they had set. You may have also discovered that if you protest these charges, the credit card company may back down and remove them. I called to protest, and they agreed to remove the charge BEFORE I EVEN ASKED! My point? Scan every month’s bill and protest every charge. Better, yet, keep your card for emergencies and pay in cash.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Medicare for All!

You’ve probably noticed a lot of discussion on healthcare – how many people don’t have health insurance, how a medical calamity can cause a family to lose their home through foreclosure, how universal healthcare is socialism, etc. You may have become confused with the new terms “single-payer”, “public option”, and so on. And what about the confusion between “healthcare” and “health insurance”? President Obama seemed committed to getting something done, but “single-payer” was “off the table”. What is going on? I see the whole thing from the point of view of a person who, for most of my life, could never afford health insurance, but who always got good healthcare for myself and my family by paying for it. As luck would have it, we all stayed pretty healthy, and never suffered a medical calamity. When I reached the age of 65, I enrolled in Medicare parts A and B. I didn’t get “supplemental” insurance to pay my parts of A and B, and I didn’t get Part D (Bush’s give-away to the big drug companies). So far I’ve done okay with that as well. Learning how the system works has been quite interesting. Here’s my example. 1. I went to the emergency room at PSL on Jan. 5 with severe abdominal pain. I gave them my Medicare card and signed a statement that I would be financially responsible for the bill. 2. Among other tests, I was given two ct-scans, one before and one after an iodine injection. The ER doctor talked to me for about 5 minutes and said I might have irritable bowel syndrome, but that the tests showed nothing unusual. I was given a shot of morphine and a prescription for a pain killer. 3. Days later the invoices began arriving. The total for the ER visit was $7,304.00. The ER doctor was an additional $789.09. Had I not had insurance of any kind, these are the amounts I would have had to pay. However, based on my prior experience without insurance, I know that PSL would have offered me a deal – pay now and we will give you 50% off. But with Medicare as my insurance provider, I was going to get a much better deal. 4. The ct-scan charges were listed as $2,064.00 and $1,766.00. Medicare actually paid $176.00 and $111.63 to PSL. I had to pay a total of $24.55 for both. In total, I paid about $200.00 for the $7,304.00 ER visit. 5. BTW, Medicare is administered by the Government at an agency called CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). I understand their “overhead” is 3%. From this example we see that: 1. Soaring medical expenses are the “list” or retail price. 2. Medicare allowed about 10% of the list price. 3. The poor schlumps without any insurance were the ones who would pay the highest price (50% off), and, I presume, those with other kinds of insurance would pay somewhere between the list price and the Medicare price. 4. Everybody should have Medicare. But how will we pay for this? you may ask. Well, we could stop trying to be the world’s police department and cut the military budget in half. But most likely, we would pay for it the same way we are paying for the bailouts, the stimulus plans, the wars, and that $250.00 check I just got along with 50,000 other Coloradoans. We would simply have the Federal Reserve cartel print the money, and use that money for “quantitative easing” to monetize the debt by having the Fed buy Treasuries, just like they are doing now. Of course this “fiat money” path leads to inflation and eventual ruin. But that’s coming anyway, so why not get good health care along the way. Medicare for all! Addendum: I forgot to add that this Medicare "insurance" costs me $96.40 per month, automatically deducted from my Social Security payment.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Aim for the Middle

My good friend George McKelvey (1936 – 2009) passed away in March and I’ve been contemplating writing a bit about him since then – but death brings a new perspective and sometimes you have to let that settle for a while. I first met George back in the mid-seventies through Linda Byers and John McClure III. Linda was a film student in a class I was teaching at the Western States Film Institute. Linda made a great short film, and John, a musician, played the main role. George was always thinking – and constantly coming up with new ideas. The first project we worked on together was a film about the Kennedy assassination (but that story, involving John McClure II (John III's father), John Denver and Dick Gregory, will have to wait for a while, because it’s too long for this occasion). We also went to Hollywood to shoot a pilot (I was the cameraman, George the producer) starring Jonathan Moore, an English comedian who also became a good friend. We shot scenes which included Pat Paulson and Rory Flynn, and a guy from Mash, whose name I can’t remember. After a month in L.A., we returned to Denver, frazzled and fried. George was always making “moves”. Building a gigantic log lodge in Evergreen himself, and then selling it. Selling his RV, buying a boat. Selling that boat, and buying another. Starting Denver’s first comedy shop, “The Comedy Works” on Larimer, second floor, and then pulling out and starting another, and another. He ran many improv classes which turned into acts, including one which my then-wife Bonita joined called “Spur of the Moment”. I think he was also instrumental in starting “Chicken Lips”. which earned a life of its own. And George was a maniac joke teller. He always made sure that you had heard the “latest”, and they were always funny. When he moved to Albuquerque where his wife Carole had gotten a job, he continued to call me to discuss current events, and would always start with a great joke. In fact, I have to admit, that it was George who saw to it that our friendship continued, with his periodic phone calls, after he left Denver. Years of hard living took its toll on George, and his health began to decline in Albuquerque. He lost a lot of weight due to a misdiagnosed bout of diverticulitis, which he had correctly suggested was the problem all along. Boy did he carp about that one. Although George always contended that a black cloud hovered above him all the time, he was actually an eternal optimist, plotting against the fates to continue his routine. I was amazed to learn that he had moved once again, to Hemet, CA, to be closer to L.A., still thinking about potential movie parts and comedy routines. Over the years, I shot a lot of footage of George, some of which is now so old I don’t even have the hardware to play it on. But I’ve got a lot of good stuff, one of the best of which is his original “Aim for the Middle”, which I present here. Thanks for all the laughs and friendship George, you were one of a kind. Also check out the tribute to George on YouTube created by his son Ian, and his Scopitone music video.