who the heck knows anything, anyway

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More Reasons to Improve Healthcare: For the Sake of the Internet

I think I may increasingly be a fan of Federal Government (Sorry, T-Jeff).
This may sound odd, because I have never been a fan of The Man, and federal government is about as Man-ful as it gets. However, I love organization and, though I'm sure it's drowning in its own bureaucratic nonsense, I imagine the consistency offered by it (at its most ideal, mind you) would make jobs like the one I currently have MUCH easier.
Before the days of the internet, I would probably be a Power to the States girl. But the internet has proven to me that the Texas Medical Board has it way more together than the Oregon Medical Board, and this is disheartening. There goes my state pride. But if EVERY state had to meet certain searchable board requirements, I would be The Happiest. Because I am researching on medical boards across the country all day long, and it is a headache and a half to try to find a license for an emergency transportation organization in about 46/50 states.
(this is Thomas Jefferson, in case you hate history)

The issue is consistency. Oregon, for example, breaks out each medical specialty into its own board (leaving MDs, PAs, and DOs together, fortunately). Looking up a nurse? Nursing Board. Chiropractor? LCSW? Physical Therapist? All on their own boards. This is nice as far as additional information is concerned, but the licensing lookup should be centralized. Additionally, each lookup should consist of:
   1. license number
   2. original effective date of said license
   3. license renewal/expiration date
   4. Board actions
Some states even appear to fund their state department in part by charging people to access this information. I am not okay with charging for public information, no matter how broke your state is. That's ridiculous.
There's a larger argument hidden in here. About communication between people who essentially dictate the outcome of other people’s lives—i.e. there is none. I had a conversation with one of my coworkers about it this afternoon, and she was describing how inconsistent keeping charts can be from doctor’s office to doctor’s office. And here’s an interesting story: Health Insurance providers (like the one I work for) can get a bad rep for denying non-formulary prescriptions. Many require prior-authorization from a doctor’s office. So it gets bounced back to the doctor who is supposed to contact the health plan. Health plans turn over prior auths within 24 hours. However, if your doc forgets about it for a few days, and then we take another 24 hours, and then the doc doesn’t call you back right away, you might be prescription-less for a while. Which is awful, considering the point of prescriptions. It’s an absolute miracle anything gets done, ever. And, yes, everyone thinks healthcare needs an overhaul, but honestly, you can’t blame President Obama for not being able to single-handedly make healthcare affordable AND streamline it, when you have to crack down on everything from provider education to medical boards using the same (or at the very least compatible) software*.
I see no immediate solution for this insanity other than actually scrapping EVERYTHING and starting from square one. I love being a citizen of the United States (especially of the Pacific NW persuasion), but it’s almost too big to handle itself.
Ah, capitalism. I kind of hate you.

*you see the problem here. All of a sudden you’re fighting big, fat Insurance monsters AND big, fat software companies, AND doctors who don’t want to change how they’ve been conducting business since forever, etc.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Being a Teacher's Assistant: a Review

Somehow, I forgot to re-cap my full TA experience. So here it is.
(I'll try to keep it short and sweet)

The class was only four weeks long (as summer classes are occasionally wont to be), so right about the time people were starting to get all warmed up to the idea of Magic Realism*, the term went kaput. Their presentations went amazingly well, though, and I don't know how the papers turned out (those weren't my responsibility to grade, Thank Heavens) but I would guess they were, at least, chock full o' heart.

Grading was an extremely humbling experience. It simultaneously enlightened me (some of my students truly blew my mind with their input) and depleted my faith in humanity (out of twenty students, only two got A's, and I was being generous. Those two deserved it, definitely, but the people who didn't get there have absolutely no excuse. They never asked for help or extensions). I tried the best I could to give them the benefit of the doubt, but some really smart kids only got 35% on their homework**. Sloth was particularly popular sin to indulge in this summer, I guess. I will never understand it. Though they are probably a lot less stressed out than I am, on the whole...

That's about it. I loved interacting with the students***, and being treated like an authority on a subject was pretty awesome, though the best part about it was realizing how much more I have to learn. I'm not kidding. Nor am I trying to sound like a total toolbag. This is how it works:****

That One Class you take and love makes you feel like an expert, because you're on the receiving end of a font of knowledge. You feel all full up of good, smart things on a subject most people don't realize even exists. And then you do some independent research, and you feel even better about your knowledge base. And then you teach a class, and you start having revelations all over the dry-erase board about things that were never even on your radar. It's like flipping a switch. And BAM--you understand one of those elusive Truths. But instead of making you cocky, it makes you want more. I suppose you could compare learning to an addiction. At first, it's just a social indulgence--something you do because you need that degree to get a job, etc. Some people are content to leave it there. But some of us can't help it. We need more, more, more, because the rush of learning something fantastic is as invigorating as seeing the Hold Steady play live (i.e it's how I imagine being on E feels, sans crashing the next day).

This is why it's going to be really hard to leave school this winter. Yes, I am more than done with all of the BS that comes with getting a degree (and Portland and I are having a fight right now), but you might want to start taking bets on how long it takes me to go back. You could win some hella monies.

...What will I do when I don't have homework?

Post Scriptum:

Look what I found today!!! And immediately employed. DUH.

An example of my obsessive nature

 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is my homeboy.

*despite being one of my favorite genres, it is King of Ambiguity--concocting a definition for it has taken me about two years, if that's any indication.
**the lowest grade I gave on homework participation was 0/100. Seriously. ZERO PERCENT. Does that actually happen??!
***weirdly, I'd guess only one or two of them were younger than me. Teaching your peers is a disconcerting experience.
****disclaimer: probably not for everyone, but I'd warrant this is the case for more than just myself.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A List

Just to get us started on the same page: this is A List. As in a singular list, not my A-List of whatever. This is important, because I will, in fact, be engaging in a brief discussion of Things I Have a Habit of Doing That End Up Being a Bit Stupid, Though Otherwise Harmless. Engage:

1. Listening to the Les Miserables Soundtrack at Work.

This is not a very swell idea for anyone who has issues with The Man or, more precisely, their manager. If you and your coworkers are prone to cracking halfhearted jokes about celebrating Bastille Day in the office, it doesn't matter how much you want to listen to Javert serenade you with "Stars." Resist the temptation, or else you'll find yourself sobbing gently behind your softly-glowing monitor while Fantine takes away all of your hope in humanity.

2. Watching Sad Movies By Myself

I thought that watching the Shawshank Redemption in the kitchen while awaiting out-of-town company was a one-time mistake--and one necessitated by a Crime Films class, no less. So what if I had mascara cascading down my face as I opened the door to greet one of my best pals and my boyfriend-to-be*? It was for a grade! Hoooowever. While perusing the Netflix Instant Watch selection two weeks ago, alone in my bed with naught but my stuffed animal and the prospect of work on the horizon, I decided to watch the first episode of Pillars of the Earth. Because I love medieval things. And I often forget that not every medieval movie is Monty Python. So, what happens in this first episode, praytell? Spoilers: BAD THINGS. It's medieval England, yo. But, seriously, do NOT have a woman give birth in the forest with her husband and children standing by, KILL HER OFF, and then FORCE THE FATHER TO LEAVE THE BABY BEHIND. That's emotional warfare, and I will have none of it.

Perhaps I learned my lesson! Haaaa. Funny funny. Here I am at home, no homework (for the first time in months), no social obligations. Just me, and whatever the heck I want to do. So after I get a little tattoo research and Amazon-purchasing** out of the way, I decide to hop back on the ol' InstaWatch wagon. Prompted by my previous purchases, I decide to investigate some classy Irish films which have been on my list for a while. My search was narrowed for me by online availability, but one of the very first I looked for yielded fruit! The Boxer, starring Daniel Day Lewis! So what if key plot points involve the IRA during part of The Troubles? Reflecting on this now, I have no idea what I was thinking. It's not like I am unaware of this bit of Irish history. In fact, I'd say it's the bit I'm best acquainted with. Note, this knowledge did not help me one little bit when it came to The Saddest Scene in the Movie. Suffice it to say, I cried for, like, ten minutes. I don't think I'm even exaggerating. Seriously. Too bad it's a truly great movie, because I'd feel dirty if I lied and told you it wasn't worth seeing. Don't know about the Troubles? This is a pretty good place to start. Or you could just watch Gangs of New York and still get your Daniel Day Lewis fix and not cry into your pillow like a lonely baby.

This movie is not as sad, and DDL is super hot with a moustache.

3. Staying Up Just a Little Too Late

Getting seven hours of sleep is way worse than four. And, despite being in my room by 9pm, I am going to sleep past 12:30am. Siiiigh.

*he gets so many points for erasing this image from his mind
**I bought The Secret of Roan Inish, Waking Ned Divine, and Charade. One of these things is not like the others.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

of Clocks and Hell-Hounds

Instead of starting on my last paper of the term, I decided to look up DIY projects that might be more fun/distracting than just reading for the nth day in a row*.  First of all, this is kind of depressing:

Irony: Oregon's Favorite Pastime

But then I found what I was looking for. I'm putting it up here (a) because it's the coolest and (b) because I want Daniel to help me make one sometime. Probably not an easy project to dive into today, but whatever!

Also on the docket** today, viewing Pt. 2 of Собака Баскервилей (The Hound of the Baskervilles)! I'm pretty pumped about watching some more of these next weekend, as well. In fact, I would not doubt a repeat viewing of Baskervilles, (a) because Daniel needs to see it and (b) because Watson is way too good in it. I almost added a spoiler, but I refrained. Just keep an eye out for the ending scene on Pt. 1. You can thank me later.

Vitaly Solomin plays Surrogate Detective

 Seriously, I cannot wax enthusiastic enough about this Holmes-Watson team. Maybe I have an inexplicable weakness for Russian accents? More likely, Livanov and Solomin are just great actors accompanied by a great cast, performing in amazing settings, and with costumes that make me wish I was a dude. But the Russian doesn't hurt.

"Now is the dramatic moment of fate, Watson, when you hear a step upon the stair which is walking into your life, and you know not whether for good or ill." --Sherlock Holmes, a la Baskervilles

*I love reading, but I also love doing other things. If all I did was read, I would probably have no fine motor skills, and that would be sad. You never know when you'll need to become a mechanic to support your writing habits.

**Does anyone else appreciate how great this word is? I'm not generally an aesthetic fan of words with more than one hard consonant in them, but I make a glad exception for docket. Plus, though people use "on the docket" an awful lot***, it wasn't until my Victorian Detective Lit class thatI heard it used authentically, in reference to an actual docket, and not some made up list of things in your head. Frick, man, I love language.

***Ok, I do. I probably shouldn't generalize, because I was also under the impression that "come off it" was a popular phrase in the Pacific NW. Not so much.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sherlok Kholms I Doktor Vatson

If I were Julie Andrews a la Sound of Music, these are things I would sing about, in addition to paper and strudel:

1. Sherlok Kholms I Doktor Vatson (I technically watched episode 2 of Priklyucheniya Sherloka Kholmsa I Doktora Vatsona, circa 1980). This is most definitely in the running for Coolest Depiction of Sherlock Holmes, Pretty Much Ever. It's shot largely on location in old Russian towns, complete with broody lighting and plush yellow fainting couches. A-mazing. Plus, I honestly challenge you to find a better Sherlock/Watson pair than Vasili Livanov and Vitali Solomin. Ok, aside from Rupert Everett and Ian Hart (if you haven't had the honor yet, please watch this movie). People are usually partial to a particular kind of Holmes, and though I find Jeremy Brett quite charming (he seems to be the Fan Fave among many an aficionado), he can be a bit too manic for my tastes. Rupert Everett is a bit more subdued, but ever the charming egotist. Fab. However--and I beg your pardon--we were talking about Vasili Livanov. This guy is just flat-out an amazing actor. He's rather stoic at times, but his wit is biting, and occasionally his exchanges with Watson (Solomin) are downright hilarious. Also, points for CUTEST MS. HUDSON EVER. The scene where she walks in on Watson as he fights the apartment fire is just great scripting. Sure, the music reminds you a little bit of a game of Tetris, but this is Russia in 1980. So, somehow it makes sense (sort of?). I'm also tempted to make a bad pun about detective fiction and puzzle games, but I will refrain. Oh, and if this picture I'm about to show you doesn't sell it, then perhaps my telling you that Moriarty's doorman appears to be a werewolf, will.

Just look at that nose! Hawt.

2. Adam Worth. He is, as my professor put it, The Father of Moriarty. He was a legitimate criminal mastermind whose life went something like: fight in civil war, crime, crime, crime, get sent to Sing-Sing, break out days later, crime, crime, Europe, more crime. Actually, he was wounded in battle during the Civil War, but, for some reason, they (meaning "the man") had listed him as "killed in battle." So he left the hospital with no identity, and practiced some good ol' bounty jumping until he decided to really, truly defect. Then, like I said, there was a lot of crime. The amount of money he stole during his life was something like $4 million. And that's in 1800's dollars

Prussians for the win

Meanwhile, my TA job is still torn into "OMG, classroom stuff is great!" and "WTF, online posts??" Y'know. The Usual.