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The Padded Cell: Bookmarque Reads without Rules (Part 2)

The Green Dragon

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Edited: Apr 1, 5:11pm Top

The first thread was getting a little long so here's a new one.

March is over already. ¼ of 2019 is behind us.
So how did my reading go? Like this -

14 books read
3 non-fiction, 11 totally made up
6 men, 8 women
9 new authors, 5 familiar
2 ebooks, 5 audio (!!), 7 physical
4 library books, the rest I bought
Of those 7 I bought new, 2 were used and 1 was an ER copy


The least cataloged on LT was not bad people by Brandy Scott with 13
The most cataloged on LT was The Child by Fiona Barton with 544

The worst was The Naturalist which was so bad I skipped a lot towards the end - ½ star - we really need to have negative stars! So bad.
The best was a tie between Eagle and Crane and Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter with 4 ½ stars each

Edited: Apr 2, 12:35am Top

>1 Bookmarque: Q1 gone already. :-(

Happy new thread.

Apr 3, 12:02pm Top

Was out and about yesterday looking for abandonment. It doesn't take long and you don't have to go far. This is in the next county south.

The house was to the right and had the front door open and swinging in the wind.

Apr 3, 12:52pm Top

Apr 3, 3:25pm Top

>3 Bookmarque: Sad that people just have to up and leave, or that they just grow old and die and no one can make a living on a small farm.

Apr 3, 6:37pm Top

A lot of it is how much food has changed here in the US and pretty much none of it for the better. But I won't get into that. Not the place. It is sad to see so much left to rot, but the state will survive. I just wish that there could be some wilderness reclamation along with it. The trouble is that the parcels, even if they do run into the hundreds or thousands of acres, are disconnected. When you are in a forest, though they are all logged, you can envision what all that farmland once looked like.

Apr 4, 1:29am Top

>6 Bookmarque: Agree, on all points. This has been going on in Sweden, too, but a lot of it was so long ago that nature has reclaimed much of it. Maybe helped by the century-old reform that shifted parcels of land into continuous large areas, so that when a farm is discontinued the wood can start to creep back in over the whole of it.
The shift reform aimed at making farming more rational: probably hurt a lot when it happened but has been over-all good. The abandoned old farmsteads that can be found here were generally left during the famine/s that forced people to emigrate to the US.

Apr 4, 5:44am Top

>6 Bookmarque: Very similar here, with one important twist. Abandoned farmland (due to farmers attempting to raise crops on dry land that is too marginal for that) and pasture (sold for urban development stalled by bureaucracy in the example I'm thinking of) revert not to grassland but to scrub woodland. This is due to a shortage of large herbivores (think elephants and rhinos) bulldozing the trees and making conditions suitable for grasses, which in their turn attract the antelope we first thought of. Curiously, this is a major problem in the Kruger Park, where the management has tried to use massive fires to redress the balance.

Apr 4, 5:51am Top

>6 Bookmarque: "parcels are ... disconnected"
This may not be all that disastrous. A book I'm reading at the moment (Wild Karoo) reports infrared-camera trap studies suggesting that at least on pastoral farms around here, there's a lot more wildlife than anyone ever suspected, and it moves around quite freely, despite "jackal-proof" and "game-proof" fences. (Consider the example of Sylvester the lion, who escaped from the Karoo National Park and was recaptured 400 km away; he now lives apparently happily in a private concession attached to Addo National Park.)

Edited: Apr 4, 9:19am Top

Could be these abandoned farms will be helped by time like yours Busifer. Most of them are less than 100 years old. Heck, Wisconsin didn't become a state until well into the 19th century.

Agreed, Hugh, there are more critters on vacant land than we think, but it's not an ecosystem and like your grassland being difficult to make without ketstone species, the right woodlands mix is tough here, too. Mostly it's lack of beavers, but hopefully that can start to change. Ben Goldfarb who wrote the book Eager up on the first post is going to be speaking here in Wisconsin in May. Granted, it's to a bunch of wetland lovers up north, but it's a start.

Meanwhile another farm gone bust -

Apr 4, 5:27pm Top

One of my favorite books has an awesome Penguin cover!

Apr 5, 9:15am Top

Apr 5, 9:26am Top

It's not that gruesome, honest. It's more metaphorical and apt. In many ways.

So I realized I haven't shared any swamp photos with you from my trip down south. Here are some that came out especially well.

Before the rain -

During -

After the rain -

All in the same little section of trails by the visitors center.

Apr 5, 9:33am Top

Apr 5, 9:37am Top

Love the pictures!

Apr 5, 10:59am Top

Super pictures, as always. I love the "during" shot. The depth is great.

Apr 5, 5:46pm Top

Thanks guys. What's the point of having a water-proof camera unless you take it in the rain?

Here are a few more favorites -

In this one you can see the bald cypress "knees". At this point I had no idea what they were, at first thinking they were gnawed off saplings, but when I got to look closer I realized that wasn’t it. They’re so odd and I didn’t learn what they were until the next day when I read a sign in another park. Even though they have a name, we still don’t know what they’re for. Only bald cypress trees produce them, but not all trees. Ones on dry land or in perpetually deep water don’t have them. Only trees in shallow, but variable, water have them. The theory that they are for oxygen exchange/absorption has been eliminated because cypress don’t have the necessary physical structures in the bark to make this happen. Another idea is that they are part of the stabilization structure, like the buttresses, to make them more resistant to high winds. Unfortunately this is difficult to test and therefore remains unproven. Don’t you love natures little mysteries? 200 years of looking at them and we still don’t know.

This shot has another thing the bayou is famous for - Spanish moss, which like petite syrah, is neither. It’s actually an epiphytic flowering plant that is dependent on, but not parasitical to, the trees on which it grows. An epiphyte absorbs nutrients and moisture through its leaves from the air and rainwater. Spanish moss can grow many, many feet long and it dangles and sways everywhere. It’s mystical and otherworldly and enchanting.

It was wonderful.

Apr 5, 6:08pm Top

>17 Bookmarque:

And no snow!

Apr 5, 6:54pm Top

Love your pictures! Makes me want to go there. I've heard of cypress knees, but never seen pictures before. My imagination didn't match reality.

Apr 6, 4:41am Top

>17 Bookmarque: Good heavens! Didn't they tell you? Knee roots are standard anatomy for all mangroves: here are some of Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, Red Mangrove, growing at Beachwood in Durban:

Any tree species that makes a habit of growing in flooded ground will have some adaptation for getting air to the roots -- it'd drown else. You saw what Swamp Cypresses do; many mangroves do something similar. Even Fever Trees, despite being related to (semi-)desert trees, throw up knobbly roots above ground/water level if their home is wet enough.

Apr 6, 6:43am Top

Love your photos from the swamp.

Apr 6, 8:44am Top

Thanks Busifer. I love a good swamp.

And hugh, while that may be true for the trees where you are, it seems it doesn't apply to the bald cypress. The problem is that bald cypress knees have no lenticels or aerenchyma - two structures necessary for gas exchange. A few scientists have measured gas exchange between bald cypress knees and the air. Paul Kramer, the renowned plant physiologist at Duke, and his students found no evidence of significant gas exchange and concluded that knees do not play a significant role in bringing oxygen to the root system.

Apr 6, 9:36am Top

And upon further research, a cypress swamp is not a mangrove. There is no salt water and it is not affected by tides. Inundation would happen irregularly. Maybe that's why bald cypress knees are different.

Apr 6, 11:50am Top


Apr 8, 12:57am Top

>11 Bookmarque: I believe you scored a direct hit with that one. Here's hoping I can find it at the library. I cannot, simply cannot, buy any more books for a while.

As always, your photographs are brilliant.

Edited: Apr 8, 9:02am Top

If it's Any Human Heart, you should be ok, it's his most popular book I think. And I'm glad you like the shots. I'm almost done processing day two in the swamp. Or maybe I just started day 3. Something like that anyway. Here's day two -

No boardwalk meant many trails were too damaged to be open or just too muddy for comfort.

Apr 8, 1:07pm Top

>26 Bookmarque: The library has only the e-book and the audiobook. I understand their problem with shelf space, but when I go to the library I want a book.

Apr 8, 1:52pm Top

>27 Meredy:

I am proud to know you!

Apr 9, 8:56am Top

The green of the swamp foliage is so intense! That must have been refreshing after the whites and browns of a northern winter. Lovely photos as always.

Apr 9, 4:12pm Top

That's weird Meredy. Maybe you can find a used copy somewhere, although I enjoyed it as an audio book. The whole thing is a fictional journal so it works well.

It absolutely was, Sakerfalcon! This time of year my eyes are starved for color. But it won't happen here for a couple of months. So more abandoned places!

And a look through the lower left window -

Everything you need for a quiet evening in your rocking chair - coffee, thermos and hydraulic brake parts!

Apr 10, 12:14am Top

>30 Bookmarque: Oh my, I have a friend, oh, you met her! She could make that chair beautiful with her upholstery skills. Assuming it isn't isn't broken.

Edited: Apr 10, 9:43am Top

I did!! It looks like a comfy design. I envy people who have skills to preserve cool stuff. And here's the house that goes with the farm above -

There was far less color in this scene so I decided to treat it a little differently. The house pops more I think.

Apr 10, 12:31pm Top

Your pictures a just wonderful. They are very atmospheric. The abandoned farm ones are a fantastic record of recent history.

The last on in post #17 is straight out of a horror movie. It is fantastic. I can see a spirit beckoning unsuspecting travellers to come this way.

Apr 10, 1:59pm Top

Thanks Pete. Sometimes when storms roll in and I'm out and about, I can't resist playing up the drama a bit -

Apr 10, 2:42pm Top

Well, some of us enjoy the drama, so don't be afraid to keep them coming!

Apr 10, 3:29pm Top

Apr 10, 5:49pm Top

Thanks guys. For a nature photographer, I sometimes think I spend too much time with the ruins, but they fascinate me just as much. The untold stories. The unremembered people. The unspoken voices.

An old school house.

Apr 11, 2:46pm Top

Drama of a different variety.

The beginning of my very short time in the most enchanting backwater bayou. If my tour guide moves ahead with plans for a 3-day package, I will probably go. It's amazing to paddle a cypress swamp. Just amazing.

Apr 12, 4:26am Top

>38 Bookmarque: That's a great image. I find bayous and cypress swamps fascinating, though I'd be wary of snakes!

Apr 12, 9:11am Top

The light started out a little flat, as it had been the whole time I was down there, but a little sun broke though at the end. Sigh. I hope I get a chance to go back.

And I love snakes so of course I only saw one little water snake on my first day.

Apr 12, 9:17am Top

>40 Bookmarque: Awww. Is that a little garter snake?

Apr 12, 9:32am Top

Isn't it cute? That was after it was scared into the bushes by some folks who didn't even see it. This is how I first encountered it.

Not a garter, just a water snake. No venom or fangs.

Apr 12, 10:00am Top

>43 -pilgrim-: It hss an adorable little face! What a pity it doesn't have the garter's flashy red and yellow markings. This is quite a retiring little fella in comparison.

Until your comment I had no idea that garter snakes produced a neurotoxic venom. (I love the Wikipedia description of them as "nearly harmless"!)

Apr 12, 11:52am Top

That's probably why the tip of my finger was all tingly when one bit me once. The ones that are most common in north America look like this -

Apr 12, 2:05pm Top

>44 Bookmarque: Yes indeed. The red flashes are only visible when they expand.

And that is a gorgeous photo. Another of yours?

Apr 12, 2:06pm Top

Yup, that's mine. From a few years ago when I lived in New Hampshire.

Apr 12, 7:00pm Top

And apparently being invisible isn't really more than just peeling the flesh off your head -

Apr 12, 7:26pm Top

Beautiful pictures, as usual! You are so talented! I especially love the pic of the Spanish moss. That stuff is spooky looking.

Apr 13, 11:50am Top

Thanks very much catzteach!

Another Shelf by Shelf post for today - http://thebookmarque.blogspot.com/2019/04/shelf-by-shelf-robotham-to-sandford.ht...

Apr 13, 8:17pm Top

So many lovely photos. Thanks for sharing :) Love the little snake! Reminds me of the rat snakes we get in my area.

Apr 20, 9:50am Top

Thanks Narilka! Glad you like my little herp collection.

I’ve been a little absent because I spent the week at Mayo Clinic Rochester. It was crazy. It’s what I imagine entering the Borg collective would be like. Nearly 40,000 people WORK at this place and pretty much all of them are color-coded by uniform. I’ve never been in so many elevators or said my name and birthday so much in my life. It’s a frantic maze of efficiency, artwork and the walking wounded. At points I felt a tad unworthy because my condition isn’t life-threatening and so many people come to Mayo as a last resort.

But anyway. It’s my leg and my life and so I’m looking for answers.

They told me what I already knew. I have lymphedema in my left leg and it is a closed system. Lymphoscintigraphy shows that while my right leg is super efficient, the left is shut down. The lymph fluid just flails around in my calf not knowing what to do. It doesn’t flow up and out via the lymph system above my knee.

Everything, apart from insurance authorization, is a go for a surgical repair. It is micro surgery and VERY delicate since lymph tissue and structures are so absolutely tiny. What the surgeon will do is first locate the clogged lymph nodes and then bypass them directly into the vascular system so they will drain. From my reading it’s a reasonably successful procedure although it might not be permanent and there is a chance it won’t work for me. But since my condition isn’t too far gone and I had functionality up until a year or two ago, it’s a good bet I can get it back.

I won’t know the insurance situation for probably a couple of weeks. Am a little nervous that it won’t be approved and I’ll have to stump for it myself.

And so to end, here's a shot of an abandoned church I stopped for on my way. It's in a tiny little Wisconsin town by the Mississippi and there's a brand new church in a similar style just down the road.

Apr 20, 10:14am Top

Best of luck with the surgery!

I am enormously envious of your pictures. Having posted some pictures recently myself, I am now able to say with complete certainty that there's much more in it than meets the eye (heh).

Apr 20, 10:14am Top

Good luck and strength to you! Do the Mayo staff in red uniforms survive to the end of the episode?

Apr 20, 10:46am Top

Thanks guys.

Ha, yeah, Hugh. I think they get picked off. No safety in numbers!

And thanks Richard, I've been a photographer for over 30 years and I'm still learning. The biggest transition was to digital and the processing techniques that go with that. Because I'm so grounded in film photography, playing in software to achieve different effects has been a tough go, but lately I've been branching out a little to drive my vision into new directions. This next shot is a good example -

I've passed by this burned out house for years now, waiting for the right conditions in terms of weather and light. I got those (and a bonus puddle), but I also learned how altering reality just a little with software can complete the effect I want. I try not to go too overboard, unless it's really called for, and mostly I'm a reality driven photographer, but I like playing around too. I wrote a whole blog post about it here - https://wickeddarkphotography.com/2019/03/17/are-you-real-or-not/

Apr 20, 12:34pm Top

Holding my thumbs for the insurance situation turn out in you favour.

Apr 20, 12:35pm Top

Terrific photos, and I really hope the surgery is the answer for you, and covered by your insurance plan!

Apr 20, 12:58pm Top

Thanks ladies. I hope they will approve. They have covered all treatment up to now so chances are they will since I've followed accepted protocol/treatment plans with no result. Plus I have no chronic illnesses or conditions (apart from asthma which I've had since I was in single digits) which would tell against me. The more things you have wrong with you, the lower your chances of coverage are. Like giving a liver transplant to an alcoholic - not a good prospect. If they're looking for best outcomes, I'm a good candidate.

It was kind of funny though...every time a doc would go through my history with me, he was amazed I am not on more medication. The only thing I take is an asthma control drug. The rest of the world is medicated I guess.

Oh and here's some more abandonment for you. I shoot so much of it - seems endless!

Apr 21, 9:13am Top

Great picture. Just to think that someone once spent a lot of money and effort to get those silos up...

Apr 21, 9:17am Top

Funny you should mention those. They're Rochester silos, company now defunct. Made in...you guessed it, Rochester Minnesota, the very place I was last week. The former manufacturing site is now an industrial park. At least it was in the 1990s.

Apr 21, 2:57pm Top

Ah, I've worked with the largest farming co-op here in Sweden, specifically with harvesting, quality assessment, and grain trade, with a side of animal feed, for some years previously, so tend to see such things as silos.
I can also spot various tractor brands, for the same reason.

I am a collector of odd information ;-)

Apr 21, 4:16pm Top

Oh that sounds pretty interesting actually. I don't photograph equipment very often since it requires trespassing and I don't do that, but when I have the opportunity I don't hesitate!

Collectors of odd information unite!

Apr 21, 4:38pm Top

>51 Bookmarque: All the very best for the procedure. I’ll be thinking of you and wishing you well.

Lovely picture of the abandoned church.

Apr 21, 5:16pm Top

thanks Pete. It will be some weeks until I even hear if it will be covered. Surgery probably sometime this summer. After the trip to Portugal.

Apr 21, 5:47pm Top

>63 Bookmarque: I look forward to your pictures from Portugal.

I read the start of your blog post on using effects. I look forward to getting the time to read the rest of it.

Apr 21, 10:45pm Top

I hope you get approval for the surgery and it all goes well.

Apr 22, 1:19am Top

See, I always knew the Pub was full of collectors of odd information.
And >63 Bookmarque: best wishes for the surgery and your dealings with the insurance company.

Apr 22, 5:44am Top

Yes jndeed. I wish you well with your surgery.

Apr 22, 8:02am Top

Thanks everyone, my waiting game has begun! Luckily I have some distractions - Las Vegas this weekend and Portugal starting on May 14 or so.

Apr 22, 12:27pm Top

>68 Bookmarque: Not bad. I have to wait until 2nd May for the discussion as to when my surgery will be!

Apr 22, 1:51pm Top

Yeah, a lot of complaining is done about a private-pay/employer-pay health system in the US and I know it has its flaws and that I'm part of a privileged class with reasonably good access to it. I'm not going to get into the ins and outs of that v. a government/NHS type scenario because that has its good and bad points as well.

That being said, competition is key to making the current US system work. Premier providers like Mayo have to compete worldwide with others of its ilk. When people have money they have choice. I could have gone to Beth Israel in Boston or the University hospital in Chicago for this same treatment, but I chose Mayo for its closeness and its reputation. They are very aware of this. Absolutely EVERYONE I dealt with, from people handling the elevators, to janitors to doctors and receptionists - everyone was fabulous. If someone had run over her dog that morning I wouldn't have known. It must be a very closely monitored mandate; Be outstanding.

And I only waited for one appointment. Everything else was early or on time. The one I waited for was in the middle of the day so understandable, but it's what the doctor did next that was kind of amazing. He scheduled some tests for the end of that day, so I had to stay an extra night so he could review them the next day. Luckily the Hilton could accommodate me and I didn't have to move rooms. But the doctor couldn't review my stuff until 5:00 on Friday, leaving me with nothing to do until then. And the inconvenience of checking out of the hotel, getting the car and trying to navigate the parking at Mayo. All the major hotels are connected to the hospital complex via tunnels and skyways, so once I parked at the hotel I just walked and not even outside until the weather was better. Anyway...

On my way back from dinner the doctor calls me. It's like 7:30-8:00. He says there's no need for me to wait until 5 and to come in at 10 and he'll fit me in. Not his receptionist, not a nurse, the specialist called me. And he saw me on the dot at 10 and I left for home when we were finished.

Shit that turned out longer than I wanted, but the upshot is that the Mayo is an exceptional place to receive healthcare. Yes, it's a privilege and it probably shouldn't be as extreme as it is, but I can't change that and I'm very grateful that I can access it.

I still have the Blue Cross hurdle, but it's out of my control so I will just wait to hear if they will pay.

Apr 22, 4:42pm Top

Glad your health care is going well so far and hope that continues. Sending "cover this" vibes to your Blue Cross provider.

Your photos are stunning, I love old barns and farm equipment.

Apr 22, 6:10pm Top

That is some stellar service! Nice to hear a positive story about health care :) Fingers crossed your surgery is approved. Can't wait to see photos of Portugal.

Edited: Apr 23, 2:17pm Top

Thanks peeps. It was a good experience overall and for that I'm thankful. It's pretty obvious that the leadership at Mayo knows that it is stressful and they do everything they can to limit or reduce it, or at the very least not add to it much.

Spring is very slow in coming to northern Wisconsin. Folks in the southern part of the state have wildflowers and bees already, but we still have snow on the ground. From the 9th or so -

The trail there now is basically inaccessible because of all the melt making the stream below the 1/2 built beaver dam really wide and mushy. I sank in to my shoelaces a few times. The trail leading to it is semi-frozen under ground and really unstable. There are large rocks sunk in to their very tops. Kind of like this little set of pine cones in the snow -

And from two days ago -

It was weird to have on a t-shirt, work up a sweat and see snow. Then the breeze would blow across it and instant air conditioning!

Apr 23, 9:05am Top

Ah, refreshing photos for me. We are hitting 100°F this week. Still cooling off at night though, so that's nice.

Apr 23, 11:17am Top

Wow, the Mayo, clinic sounds wonderful! I really hope it all works out.

We just started warming up here. So glad spring is here, but I love your snow pics!

Apr 23, 9:59pm Top

Not so warm here MrsL, but that's ok. We have enough water everywhere as it is. A slow melt is safer for everything. It's pretty much gone in the yard now. Maybe some stubborn shady spots. The ground basically feels like a giant wet sponge.

And yeah catzteach, it was a more pleasant experience than I was expecting. The doctor that centered around my case just sent me a little thank you note. It's perfunctory and probably canned, but what the heck. Glad you like the snow pics.

Apr 24, 1:42am Top

>70 Bookmarque: As someone with a congenital, chronic condition, whose symptoms began to affect me whilst still at university, health insurance was never a viable option for me - so I have to be in favour if an NHS- type system.

But the UK does have a two-tier system now, with a parallel system of private hospitals. Certainly the cossetting and pampering level is much higher there, and access times a lot better. But they tend to suffer from overspecialisation.

It is the effect of the market forces that you refer to. It is more cost-effective to specialise in common, well-paying procedures - and often relatively minor ones, since that is where the NHS waiting lists are longest, causing more people to "go private".

But the one time it was suggested that I go to a private hospital, since it was a minor day-surgery type procedure, and it was thought they would be able to support my post-operative recovery, the private hospital refused to accept the referral. They were concerned that if my pre-existing conditions caused complications during surgery, they did not have the intensive care facilities on site to deal with them. It was not the quality of staff that posed the problem - our private hospitals are usually staffed by top consultants who do this work alongside their NHS practice. The problem lies with the range of equipment.

So I was wondering - do US clinics have the same degree of specialisation?

Apr 24, 8:50am Top

Well I can't speak for all clinics, but yes, some are highly specialized like the surgeon who repaired my husband's torn pectoral. He does sports medicine/injuries and liked to do pec repairs so he did a lot of them. He might have also refused a person if that person had something like what you have, a complication they can't handle. Maybe the referring doctor should take those potential complications into account before referring, but it's complicated. Or maybe the specialist should change the venue from local office to hospital - they have privileges to do so.

Insofar as preexisting conditions go, my experience has been pretty decent. I've only had one raised eyebrow over my asthma, but that was decades ago and never since (they covered me). I don't know if you would have had the same issues here once you got covered in the first place with your first job. Because private is it unless you are covered by medicare/medicaid, blocking people out is tougher on Blue Cross than it is on British privates because there is no alternative. I've been covered by my husband's various policies for a while now, and prior to that he was covered under mine. During open enrollment there are always questions about what health issues you have, but I've never been refused.

At least that's my experience.

Apr 24, 9:17am Top

Oh and just a little PSA for those who celebrate Mother's Day. I've been adding new stuff to the shop. Free US shipping and gift boxes for everyone!!

Etsy store is at https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheWireSmith
The independent store (where there are a few exclusives) is here https://www.twsjewelry.com/store

Apr 24, 1:39pm Top

>78 Bookmarque: Thank you for the reply. I have always wondered how the US system deals with lifelong chronic illness. Since in my case, the condition is congenital, I could never have been covered "on parents' insurance" as a child, because they have the same issues with getting insurance.

Your comment about getting the cover through one's first job is intriguing. Do all employers pay employees' health insurance premiums? Does this mean that having a rare condition, with attendant expensive medication, becomes a factor taken into consideration when hiring (in addition to questions of whether the condition affects your ability to carry out the job itself)?

Edited: Apr 24, 2:07pm Top

Nope - no discrimination. The insurance company could refuse to cover things associated with a preexisting condition, but the employer can't refuse to hire you for the same. They can't even ask or refer to things like that during the interview process. Most full-time jobs come with some kind of health insurance. It is a one-size fits all scenario - the CEO and the janitor have the same policy. At least that's how it's been in my experience and my husband's. For example the guys who build the stuff his company makes have the same insurance as he does in a high-level management position. The employer pays the same dollar amount per employee for each scenario - single, couple or family coverage. There is usually a portion the employee pays directly. It comes out of pay before taxes. We also have health savings accounts that can be paid into before taxes as well. They go into a fund you draw on to pay out-of-pocket expenses. Like for an prescription you will have a co-pay...usually a small flat fee depending on the class of drug. Same with doctor visits. Does that make sense?

Health insurance is part of a benefit package including salary, company vehicle, 401k matching, time off etc.

Apr 24, 2:56pm Top

Great pictures, as always.

Not getting into the health care system discussion, because it will turn very political very fast: in fact I think it already has, and so I bite my tongue and just back away.

Apr 24, 5:04pm Top

I didn't think it had. Not from me anyway, and I don't see it anywhere else, but that's fine.

Edited: Apr 25, 3:12am Top

>83 Bookmarque: I understand that, but I wrote three different responses having to delete everyone of them, to not offend pub rules. Which was why I in the end decided to just tiptoe out backwards ;-)

Heath care is inherently political, I think, so whatever "side" one takes someone will get upset. But please continue, if I'm alone in my reaction that's more because I'm from a place that differs very much from both the UK and the US systems than because this is a volatile issue for the majority of the pub denizens!

Edited: Apr 25, 4:02am Top

>84 Busifer: I agree that this could become a political debate very easily; I am relishing the fact that this pub is a civilised place where I can ask how a different system works, and get an informative, factual answer (rather than the conversation degenerating into a debate of the political ideologies underpinning the different systems).

>81 Bookmarque: Thank you, that was very helpful. But if the insurance company could refuse to cover anything associated with a pre-existing condition, how would employer health insurance like this help someone (like myself) with a congenital condition (as you suggested in >78 Bookmarque:)?

I was advised (by a UK broker) that any health insurance policy would be pretty meaningless in my situation, since my congenital condition would impact my recovery from almost anything else that might befall me, and so the insurance company would be able to refuse payment under the "pre-existing condition" clause.

BTW I am also enjoying your pictures!

Apr 25, 8:03am Top

Understood Busifer, as I said up there somewhere, I don’t want to debate about which system is “better”, just relate my experience with the one I have.

Employers wouldn’t have anything to do with the insurance company’s decision, they just can’t not hire you because of some condition. You would probably be covered except for issues directly stemming from what they don’t want to cover.

Apr 25, 2:25pm Top

>86 Bookmarque: So, if I understand you correctly, I would not be covered by health insurance in the U.S . for the same reasons as I would not be covered in the U.K. (i.e. that since the congenital condition impacts recovery from anything else, everything could be interpreted as part of the pre-existing condition, and hence excluded)

Given that, do I presume that, under the U.S. system, I would be expected to self-fund all treatment?

I am aware that healthcare is changing in the U.S. I don't wish to raise the question of the rights or wrongs of these changes; I am simply unclear as to how the system now works in practice.

Apr 25, 3:01pm Top

Your condition might be excluded, but otherwise you might be ok.

Apr 26, 7:32am Top

>88 Bookmarque: Sorry, I don't follow; what do you mean by "otherwise" here?

Apr 26, 2:02pm Top

They would cover anything else. Routine doctor stuff, emergency visits, flu shots...things unrelated to the preexisting condition.

Am in Vegas now. Had a great evening with friends old and new. More of the same today.

Apr 26, 2:44pm Top

>90 Bookmarque: I can't honestly think of anything that would fall into that category. Preventative procedures, such as "flu jabs" risk doing more harm than good, and I am not accustomed to visiting the doctor unless ill. (I was assuming you mean "check-ups" by "routine stuff"; I hope I understtood you correctly?) Routine visits for me mean regular blood tests to check I am not developing an adverse reaction to my medications (which I assume would not be covered by the pre-existing conditions clause). And I have never yet had an emergency where my congenital condition has not impacted my recovery.

As I understand what you are saying, my medication costs, regular routine procedures, surgical interventions etc. would not be covered by American insurance any more than they would be by a UK policy.

I presume there are a significant number of Americans whose circumstances are like mine. What do they do? Are they paying the full costs of their continuing care?

I am glad you are getting a good break in. There is nothing like good company to distract you from prospective medical matters!

Given that we share an enthusiasm for Dumas, may I recommend Marie; a novel of Russian loveaka The Captain's Daughter by Aleksandr Pushkin as an excellent "comfort read"? It has a similar quota of excitable young men burning to fight duels at the slightest provocation, whilst getting caught up in momentous historical events. (Not what I was expecting from Pushkin at all.)

Edited: Apr 27, 12:36am Top

>91 -pilgrim-: You have reminded me that the last Pushkin work I read was, The Duel, which I read in May 2016. (I tag my read reads with year/month of completion) I enjoyed it very much.

Apr 26, 7:29pm Top

>92 pgmcc: You mean from Eugene Onegin? (Your touchstone links to a work by Chekhov.)

Eugene Onegin is another example where I join hfglen by being familar with the Tchaikovsky opera, but not the work that inspired it!

Apr 27, 6:26am Top

Apr 30, 10:40am Top

I downloaded the PG copy of the Pushkin. Gotta hit the rest of the Marie Antoinette novels before starting anything else.

I haven't been reading much at all lately. Making jewelry then dealing with all the pictures and posting process has taken up some time. Ditto processing all my Louisiana swamp shots and others I've taken this "spring". Also spent last weekend in Vegas catching up with some old friends and making some new ones. One of the crew has an idea for a mini get together this fall in South Carolina at a gorgeous log home. I'm in!

Anyway...here's a cover that caught my eye.

Doesn't make me want to read it, but it is great!

Apr 30, 10:58am Top

>95 Bookmarque: I am glad that I have tempted you to the Pushkin.

And I love the book cover!

Apr 30, 12:37pm Top

>95 Bookmarque: Great cover design!

Edited: May 2, 9:00am Top

Where did April go? Crazy.
With one thing and another I didn’t do much reading. Still got through 6 ½ books though.

A half? What? Yeah. With one of them I was reading it like normal when the stupid just got too much and I skipped way ahead to read what happened to the idiots in the story. They got what they deserved, but it took much, much too long. So I’m counting it … kinda.

6 ½ books read
1 non-fiction, 5 ½ fiction
2 new authors, the rest I’ve read
2 by men, 4 by women and 1 team of both
Borrowed 2, bought 5 - all new
3 physical books, 3 audio and 1 ebook


The oldest was from 1953 and the newest 2018
The most cataloged book was Pocket full of Rye - 2558
The least cataloged book was Chasing Sophea - 38

The best was Buzz : the nature and necessity of bees by Thor Hanson - this book focuses on wild bees not domestic honey bees and was a treat because the writer is good, the subject is interesting and I learned a lot. I am going to drill some holes in wood to leave around the yard as nesting sites and try my hand at putting native plants in my garden. Yay bees!!

The worst was - you guessed it, my ½ book - I Remember You and oh how I wish I could forget. Take three of the stupidest people ever, put them in an isolated situation and then torture everyone with prolonged and repetitive scenes that aren’t the least bit scary. Then add a bumbling, self-absorbed jerk who insists on “investigating” a suicide and of course isn’t telling you everything. And then everyone and everything is connected in ways that are supposed to be unsettling, but just comes off as fake. Ugh.

May 2, 2:04pm Top

Another update. My surgery has been deemed medically necessary, so we're going to schedule. Problem is there's no time in the next three months that works and the following three month period isn't open for scheduling yet. So I will get a call back from the office to schedule in August. I hoped to get it done in June, but that's not possible and I get it. Busy surgeon, plus the microscope he needs is communal and that has to be scheduled as well.

So. I will be going through another almost whole summer of no shorts.

May 2, 2:37pm Top

>99 Bookmarque: Strength to you!

May 2, 3:02pm Top

>99 Bookmarque: That sounds gruesome :( but good news on your need being judged medically necessary!
I'm holding my thumbs for you to get an appointment as fast as possible.

May 2, 3:18pm Top

Thanks peeps. If I wanted to cancel my much anticipated St. Croix river paddle, I could have gotten in earlier, but I don't want to do that. Plus I'm making a long weekend of it and visiting a huge nature preserve I've had my eye on for years. Summer only lasts so long up this way and you have to take advantage of it.

Yeah, last year was the summer of no shorts and very few shoes that would fit. Same for this year it seems. I hope it doesn't get too hot.

May 2, 5:40pm Top

Yay for your surgery getting approved! I hope all goes well when the time comes.

May 2, 8:23pm Top

Yes indeed. Good luck woth the surgery- plus you will have an excellent break to take your mind off it.

May 2, 8:32pm Top

>99 Bookmarque: Yay, surgery approved!

May 3, 6:51am Top

>99 Bookmarque: Happy for you that your surgery has been approved. Here's hoping you can get an appointment sorted and all goes well.

May 3, 8:18am Top

Thanks peeps. I hope I can distract myself enough from now until whenever they can get me in. And I hope I fall into the 70-80% of people for whom this works. Today is the first day all week that's had any sun so I hope to get out into the yard and photograph small things. In the meantime, hey look, something abandoned!

May 3, 10:06am Top

Best wishes in every way for your surgery.

May 3, 10:09am Top

Best of luck with your surgery and well done on getting an insurance company to do what it is supposed to do.

Now, enjoy your distractions and continue to amaze us with your great photographs.

May 3, 10:55am Top

The date is set. Mid August. Coincides with a weekend match my husband is doing about 2/3 of the way to Rochester. So we'll spend an extra night so he doesn't have to drive all the way back here. I'll fool around in a nature preserve while he shoots holes in paper targets. Good all around.

May 3, 11:18am Top

Glad you have a date now, and lots of good things planned in the run up to the surgery. Your paddling trip sounds fantastic and I'll be eagerly awaiting pictures.

May 3, 11:52am Top

>110 Bookmarque: Good luck for August. As Clare said, photos will be appreciated.

May 3, 1:16pm Top

Absolutely! I plan to keep the camera handy. And in two weeks time I'll be in Portugal!!

May 4, 8:34am Top

Better late than never, the hepatica is blooming!

Edited: May 4, 8:34am Top

Good to hear that you now have a date!

And - Portugal. So close, and yet so far away. From me, that is.
I hope you'll have a good time. Any special part of Portugal, or travelling around?

May 4, 8:50am Top

Funny, we posted at the same time Busifer.

I'm on a wine tasting trip with some of the same folks I went to Argentina with last year. We'll be in Sintra one night then the Douro valley...a river cruise and lots of wineries. There's a train in there somewhere too...more wineries. Restaurants. Crazy wine geeks. All fun.

May 4, 10:08am Top

>116 Bookmarque: Hey, I'll be in Porto next Friday! not going to the wineries though. I'm going to visit "the most beautiful bookshop in the world".

May 4, 10:16am Top

How funny, Richard. I'll be in Pinhão on Friday. That bookstore sounds lovely though. Take pictures!

May 4, 10:27am Top

Oh and it looks like I'll be in Porto on the 20th and 21st. What's the name of the bookstore? Looks like there's one with the "iconic red stairway" near the hotel I'm at.

Edited: May 4, 10:36am Top

That's the one. Livraria Lello. You have to buy a coupon for €5 to get in, but you get it back if you buy a book.

ETA I just worked out how to do a euro sign!

May 4, 10:47am Top

They charge admission? Wow. OK. I'll have to see if I have time and if they have English language books.

May 4, 11:02am Top

I understand that they do have English-language books. I assume the fee is because the shop is a destination--it appears on many lists of beautiful bookshops and apparently also has a Harry Potter connection (JKR lived in Porto for a while). If you google 'beautiful bookshops", you'll find pictures of it. Website.

May 4, 11:07am Top

>117 haydninvienna: Knowing your interest in food, you may wish to look out Cozinha Indo-portuguesa at Lello's, if only for the imposing name of the author: Maria Fernanda da Costa e Sousa. It does include a recipe for a vindaloo that includes about a kilo of meat and 50 chillies.

May 4, 12:08pm Top

>116 Bookmarque: That sounds very nice, indeed.

>123 hfglen: 50 chilies... now, that's a vindaloo!

May 4, 12:35pm Top

>123 hfglen: Yes, that is indeed a vindaloo. Les Murray's Welsh mates, tasting a forkful, would no doubt croak to white Jesus (reference). (Reminded of this because Les Murray died just the other day.) If there's an English version I'll consider it, but once again I'll have to take baggage weight limits into account, and I may be travelling with just a backpack, as I did when I went to Santorini.

May 7, 10:39am Top

I'll definitely put it on my list of things to see and hope I have the time. Looks like we have more time on this trip to do individual things.

More blooming hepatica! Hope to get into the yard later today to shoot some trout lily. It looks like it's blooming, too.

May 7, 8:19pm Top

So pretty!

May 12, 7:23pm Top

Thanks Narilka! I hate to leave just when spring seems to be finally here, but a week won't kill me. After Portugal we're staying put for the most part. Summer in 'Sconnie is too short to leave for long.

May 16, 9:43pm Top

As usual your photographs are spectacular. This might be a silly question, but are there more abandoned buildings in Wisconsin than there were near where you lived in New England?

May 17, 2:42am Top

Oh yes, tons clammy. You know how densely populated southern New England is. Just no room to let things go to hell, they need the space. Up here...not so much. It’s normal to have a nice house next door to a ruin. Some share a driveway. For some perspective, the town I lived in in NH has about the same population as the county I live in now. Plus WI is mostly farm country and you’ve seen what Americans think about food and farmers. They just give up.

May 17, 4:31am Top

Brilliant pictures. They cheer up my day.

Your trip to Portugal sounds enticing. Be sure and wave as you pass Ireland.

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