Saturday, March 28, 2009

Medicare coverage in a nutshell

This showed up in my email this morning. I found it funny and, sadly, too true as to how the Medicare system presently works.

Medicare coverage in a nutshell:

The phone rings and the lady of the house answers,


'Mrs. Sanders, please.'


'Mrs. Sanders, this is Doctor Jones at Saint Agnes Laboratory. When your husband's doctor sent his biopsy to the lab last week, a biopsy from another Mr. Sanders arrived as well. We are now uncertain which one belongs to your husband. Frankly, either way the results are not too good.'

'What do you mean?' Mrs. Sanders asks nervously.

'Well, one of the specimens tested positive for Alzheimer's and the other one tested positive for HIV. We can't tell which is which.'

That's dreadful! Can you do the test again?' questioned Mrs. Sanders.

'Normally we can, but Medicare will only pay for these expensive tests one time.'

'Well, what am I supposed to do now?'

'The folks at Medicare recommend that you drop your husband off somewhere in the middle of town. If he finds his way home, don't sleep with him.'

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hot Stuff!

SWMBO* & I visited Avery Island and the Tabasco factory on Sunday, as I mentioned in the entry below. It was a beautiful day and temperatures were perfect for a road trip.

Avery Island in the distance as viewed across the sugar cane fieldsAvery Island, Louisiana, viewed across a sugar cane field. Photo credit: This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. Source-English Wikipedia, original upload 7. Sep 2006 by Skb8721

From the English Wikipedia entry:
Avery Island is actually a huge dome of rock salt, three miles (5 km) long and two and a half miles wide.[1] It was created by the upwelling of ancient evaporite (salt) deposits that exist beneath the Mississippi River Delta region. These upwellings are known as "salt domes." Avery island is one of five salt dome islands that rise above the flat Louisiana Gulf coast.[6]

At its highest point, the island is 163 feet (50 m) above mean sea level.[6] It covers about 2,200 acres (9 km²) and is about 2.5 miles (4 km) across at its widest point.

  1. ^ a b Tabasco, History of Tabasco Pepper Sauce
  2. ^ a b Inventory of the Avery Family of Louisiana, 1796-1951
  3. ^ History of McIlhenny Company and Tabasco sauce
  4. ^ Shevory, Kristina. "The Fiery Family: The McIlhennys Make Tabasco Come What May," Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2007, pp. B1 and B4.
  5. ^ NPR Morning Edition, November 29, 2002
  6. ^ a b c d History of Avery Island where Hot and Legendary TABASCO Sauce is Made!

The factory building is relatively new and covers more than two football fields in area. My wife's health is such that we are not up for a long walking tour. Tabasco didn't disappoint.
Click 'em to enbiggen...
The oak barrels formerly held Jack Daniels whiskey are what the pepper mash ferments in for 3 years.
Shade is a rare commodity out in the bayous.
A bit of the Tabasco history presented in the waiting room of the factory.

"Guided tours" go off every 20 minutes or so and consisted of a brief explanation of the rules ("No smoking, no photos of the line, please.") history of the facility and island and then it is off to the projection room, where a professionally produced video is shown that details the history of the company and the actual process of making the world-renowned pepper sauce (all you need are red ripe peppers, salt and water and patience - the pepper mash is fermented for three years!). Then it's off to a stroll along the bottling line behind a glass enclosure (the line runs Monday through Thursday so we didn't get to see the sauce being bottled and labeled for distribution to over 160 different countries).

Next we visit the Tabasco store, sampled some Tabasco ice cream (!) and various other concoctions with Scovil ratings anywhere from 600 to over 3000. Hot stuff - washed it down with ice tea and lemon to cut the heat. Tasty, though.

Off to "Birdland" and the "Jungle Tour" -- a self-guided drive and walk through the nature reserve on the island established by the McIllhenny family. We kept a sharp eye out and were rewarded with alligators,

This 3' long fellow was swimming along in the bayou next to the road we were driving on, keeping pace in hopes of a snack when a boat came up very fast and he sank below the surface.

Next stop was the Buddha Garden. The pagoda-like structure houses an 800 years old bronze bodhisatva. Sadly, you can't get in to touch or take a clear photo. But, I did see this four foot specimen eyeing my calf while I was trying to focus:

I failed to oblige him or her by offering it a munch, so it lazily swam away. This isn't a captive gator by any means - the pond is connected to the bayou beyond by large culverts under the road. We then visited the Crater of the Palms.. This is a large depression in the surface of the salt dome which used to be the site of a large number of stately date and fig palms which found the sheltered micro-climate to their liking. Hurricanes Rita & Ike decimated the palm population (Katrina struck much farther east of here).

The Avery Island Trust is working to bring back the palms. starting with this big fellow.

Those Live Oaks that survived the hurricanes' winds are thriving and covered in Spanish Moss.

As any gardener will attest, bamboo is a pest of gigantic proportions. Once established it is darn near impossible to eradicate without resorting to some pretty heavy artillery. Imagine, if you will, importing over a thousand varieties. The stuff is everywhere on the island. It's kinda pretty, though.
Look behind the pagoda - bamboo wall!

"Pesky Bamboo Eats Truck - Film at 7"

More to follow as I find the time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Games Old People Play...

Spent Sunday touring Avery Island, home of the McIllheny family and the source of all things Tabasco. WHILE SWMBO spent most of the visit looking out the window, I just had to get out and walk over hill and dale (it's a "salt dome" so yes, Virginia, there are some hills in south Louisiana).

Oh boy, I'm paying the price today. Just bought more stock in Bayer and find myself contemplating things to do as I get older. Like playing new versions of old favorite games...

1. Sag, You’re it
2. Pin the Toupee on the bald guy.
3. 20 questions shouted into your good ear.
4. Kick the bucket
5. Red Rover, Red Rover, the nurse says Bend Over.
6. Doc, Doc, Goose.
7. Simon says something incoherent.
8. Hide and go pee.
9. Spin the Bottle of Mylanta
10. Musical recliners.

Still working on the photos from yesterday so a photo narrative must wait until later. Have a good week.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tempus Fugit

My, my. Where has the time flown? Seems like just last week I wrote the entry below. Tempus Fugit goes the old saying. My personal tempus seems to be employing a Learjet while my memory and recall creeps along in this Model A flivver for a brain.

Mostly consumed with the intricacies of daily life and survival in this modern world of ours. This area, Baton Rouge, hasn't seen the drastic economic collapse evident in so much of the rest of the nation and world. Hurricane Katrina forced a massive population shift northward five years ago, Some 400,000 came and only half of them went home. There is a construction boom here that is mind-boggling to the uninitiated. Old, bad, habits die hard, so I see new construction that I would have placarded as unsafe back in the day. Oh well. Some other schmoo's problem. I'm out to pasture.

We've had a beautiful run of weather the past week: warm, sunny days in the 80's with nights in the 50's and 60's. A good thing the nights have been so cool, too. The Airstream needs its air conditioner recharged and there isn't a 30 amp hookup so I couldn't run it even if I wanted. :-0 We have had rain the past two days but it is needed (it is Spring here) so it's all good. My wife saw her first snake of the year over at her son's house. Time to start paying more attention to the dogs when they are out and no more bare feet walking from the trailer to the house.

Up home they are having a bit of a thaw. The local "Pettybees"* are voicing concerns about flooding and roofs collapsing from the weight of water and snow (over 4 feet of the stuff up in "the county" but my neighbor says the only threat to the homeplace is on the garage and I designed the trusses for a 100 pound per square foot snowload, so no worry). Another month and it will be time to head north to take advantage of the building season to get some things done to the camp.

One of my stepdaughter's dogs has come into heat. Her two males, a visiting male Schipperke (Iggy's sire) and Iggy are all extremely attentive to the BIH. Timing couldn't have been better as far as I am concerned.

Iggy made the promised trip to the Vet last week and came home a day later with an "elizabethan collar" and a drug hangover that made me wince. Oh, and he was minus previously intact portions of his anatomy. Took the E-collar off last night and he discovered what he was missing. Refused to have anything to do with me all evening!

Waiting for the mudbug season to really start down here - another couple of weeks the price should come down to near-reasonable and I'll get us a mess to chow down on before leaving Louisiana. Should be strawberry festival in Ponchatula soon, too. Yum...

That's the news. Be good to yourselves...

* "Pettybees" or PTB's = Powers That Be