Medical Anxiety

Anxiety for Dummies on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, my wife Lauren had another panic attack a couple of days ago. It’s horrible – two straight days of her throwing up bile and writhing around in agony and kicking at the covers and thinking she’s going to die because her heart feels like it’s beating weird. It’s the first panic attack she’s had in a year and since then, Michael Moore’s film Sicko came out. That movie contained a lot of medical stories and before I saw it, I would have been too embarrassed to tell my story. Now I know that it’s not just me; it’s the whole system. Here’s the one I’m living now.

I have a good job that I love and that pays well and has benefits. The company pays a bunch of money into our benefits plan, but not enough to cover our monthly premium. I picked Kaiser Permanente – the cheapest option – and the monthy premium was still $920 a month to cover me and my family. I had to come up with $300 or so a month out of pocket.

Early this year, they cut all of our overtime across the entire company. I lost over $1000 a month in take home pay; a big amount to lose for me. I got behind a couple of payments and was dropped. You can only sign up one time a year – January – so if you get dropped in April like we did, you don’t have medical insurance until the following January.

So, I work in a good job, have benefits but have had no insurance for the past eight months. But – surely I could pay for my own health insurance, right?

Nope – can’t even do that because Lauren’s had panic attacks before. That’s a pre-existing condition. So when I applied for health insurance on my own – not through the company – I was denied, period. Can’t get insurance because of the pre-existing condition. And the company that denied us? Kaiser Permanente.

In a month, I’ll re-sign up for Kaiser through my company and then it’s guaranteed acceptance. But right now, Kaiser won’t take us for any amount. Nobody else will either. And now is important, because Lauren’s having a panic attack right now.

So, the woman I love is writhing in agony for two days. She needs an IV to give her liquids and some medicine to stop the anxiety and nausea. We tried the local private urgent care place but they aren’t equipped for it. Our option is the emergency room. That’s what Lauren did the first panic attack she had three and half years ago, in Texas. (She’s had about five since then.) The bill was $6000. You can be sure it would be more here. When we were insured, emergency room visits were $35.

So what do I do? I don’t know, really. What I do know is that we have a really fucked up health care system in this country – and don’t let any Republican tell you otherwise.

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I Have Exchanged Email With The 10th Smart Person In Hollywood

The 50 Smartest People In Hollywood | Photos |

Entertainment Weekly has a list of the ’50 Smartest People In Hollywood’ and ILM Effects Supervisor John Knoll is number 10.  That means he’s way way smarter then Ben Afleck (#50 – barely smart) but less smart then Will Smith (#5 – could have invented Photoshop WITHOUT his brother).  Why is Knoll #10?

He designed some of the most groundbreaking computer-generated effects of this generation. In 1989 he helped conjure the morphing magic in James Cameron’s The Abyss, and he has overseen the effects on all three Star Wars prequels and the entire Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

I’ve talked to Knoll a few times, years ago. That was before he was so officially smart though.

I did not make the list. Thanks for asking.

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Lauren and I were banging around on Amazon and trying to find good Xmas gifts and we just weren’t feeling it much. Lots of just generic plastic-y overpriced crapola.

Then I heard about from Seth Godin’s blog

I Took The Handmade Pledge!

I’m not going all handmade this year, but we’re mixing it up and there’s some great stuff out there. I’ve thought for a while that if you make indie art, it’s important to support indie art. (If you don’t make indie art, it’s still important to support indie art, by the by.)


cover_walesbench on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

I’m in my first editorial war on Wikipedia and it’s no fun.

A few days ago, I noticed from hits coming into this site from Wikipedia. I went over and found out that somone had added a section about Criticism to the WIkipedia Kitchen Nightmares page. Again – I didn’t add this link to site, some total stranger did. I have no idea who.

So I went over to correct a couple of things – there was a spelling error and an explanation of something was slightly wrong. Then today, I noticed the whole section was missing.  I undeleted it – and then it was deleted again. It’s one particular editor that I’m having trouble with – you can read the back and forth here-look for the Kitchen Nightmares section.

I’ve been editing Wikipedia stuff for a couple of years now. Not too much stuff but I understand editorial policy. I’ve worked professionally as a writer and editor for over fifteen years now. And now some dude from the Netherlands whose claim to fame is that he is into Doctor Who gets to tell me I’m not a reliable source when I spoke firsthand to people and related that on this blog? I don’t think so. We’ll see how it goes.

Update: Here’s how it went…

I want to strangle people. Wikipedia admins are little hitlers with no common sense.

Poor Jimbo Wales.

More Update: My lovely wife Lauren had a panic attack last night at about 3am and so I’ve been attending to her for the last 17 hours or so. She’s been puking up bile and sweating and miserable; panic attacks are really nasty, if you aren’t personally familiar with them. So, between cleaning her puke bucket out I’ve been going back and forth about what this policy is or what a guideline is or whether blogs are ever valid as cites and what counts as ‘original research’ and stuff like that.

Cleaning the puke bucket was more fun.

Poor, poor Jimbo Wales.

He started a religion! He didn’t mean to, but the admin side of Wikipedia is truly the biggest Gordian Knot Clusterfuck Of Epistemological Misunderstanding And Bickeing I’ve ever seen in my life. Byzantine in it’s construction and terminology and ruled by people who don’t actually understand the policies that they are enforcing. Bizarre. Yuck. And counter productive – no wonder the Kitchen Nightmares page sucks there. And that’s just for a dumb TV show! Glad I didn’t get into theology or Star Wars or something controversial.

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Live Blogging Kitchen Nightmares: Campania – 9pm East, 6pm West

Tonight’s episode should be interesting because as my preview of Campania said, it seems we have a chef who is very competent with a restaurant that’s busy. Will Fox stick to their script or bring a much needed dose of reality to tonight’s Nightmares? Your comments are or join the discussion on the message boards.

UPDATE: I’m now convinced that Kitchen Nightmares just makes stuff up completely on a regular basis. Bill Pitcher from did a MUST READ blog that I mention and link to below. Great work, Bill.

I will have a overview post in the next few days detailing the mess of falsehoods and fakery that Kitchen Nightmares has become. It’s pretty pathetic really.

Now on with the show…

9:00 Opening shows empty restaurant ‘headed for disaster’, clueless chef owner…
9:02 Said Joe Cerniglia took over 18 months ago and ‘business seriously’ declined…more on this later…
9:03 People acting immature
9:04 Debt of the restaurant is overwhelming, as is personal debt. Is that scary looking ‘You better!’ guy for real?
9:05 Edited awkwardness….I doubt it really went like that….
9:06 Gordon tries the food – shock. He doesn’t like it!
9:07 Bad breath isn’t exactly the same as saying the food is bad, is it?
9:08 And didn’t like the chicken. But there’s a lot of editing going on.

Break: There’s another live blog you can follow, live from the restaurant here…

9:14 Joe is not an ‘inexperienced’ owner….that’s just untrue.
9:15 The lack of customers doesn’t jibe with any review I’ve read – but Fox has a script and that’s part of it.
9:19 More of the script – food is late and lame. But they keep bringing up the portion size so there may be something to that.

Break – Bill Pitcher is a very fast typist! He asks a good question “Let’s suppose for a moment that a customer just happened to do something so ridiculous and immature as to order a pizza from another restaurant. And let’s suppose that Fox just happened to have a camera on him. And let’s suppose that Fox just happened to have his phone wired up to record it. ” Yeah, just suppose.

9:25 Going to visit the wife….oy
9:26 I am willing to believe that Joe may have needed help running the business – but I don’t believe that it was that bad, really and I know they are portraying the owner wrong
9:28 Gordon says he goes to Sicily for meatballs – but the name of the restaurant is CAMPANIA, which ain’t Sicily is it?
9:29 Those T Shirts and hading out meatballs is totally cheesy – AND – that is not the kind of restaurant Campania seems to be – the menu is more upscale, fine dining.

Break : Bill Pitcher is my hero. I’m just quoting highlights, but he’s there on the scene and boy – the show just lies about stuff. No other way to put it.

Pitcher says…
““With the aid of Gordon’s recipe, Joe and his staff are now armed with outstanding meatballs,” the narrator just said.

Wow, that’s a blatant lie. That’s not even close.

The recipe is not Ramsay’s. It’s Cerniglia’s. And it’s so guarded, he once told me he’d share any recipe “except that.”


The show has yet to mention a certificate that Campania has New Jersey’s best meatballs, a copy of which is posted here in the restaurant. We suspect that’s what Ramsay’s holding in his hands in this photo, taken by Tyson Trish at the restaurant’s reopening. (It hasn’t been aired yet.)”

9:35 The logo is better, yeah.
9:36 And the free makeover is really the only reason I can see to let Kitchen Nightmares come in and lie about you.
9:38 And – we had Gordon cooking for about 30 seconds…
9:39 This thing about selling the whole menu is Actually Interesting – good idea, very interesting….MORE of THAT, please


9:44 Think about it – how would a new menu pack a restaurant instantly? The producers packed the restaurant….
9:45 The complaining ladies – my bet – paid ‘customers’
9:46 Why would Gordon talk to a customer that way? Why? And why let Fox make him look like a total asshole?
9:47 Hey – it’s time for someone to walk out isn’t it?
9:48 Orders are backed up – why? Because it’s about 48 minutes into Kitchen Nightmares. But – I predict a turnaround!
9:49 Yes – when the producers overbook the restaurant, orders go out late. Every fookin’ week, in fact.


9:52 Ah, New Jersey – love the drunken yelling in the parking lot.
9:53 Bill Pitcher says joe left because Gordon told him to – but we have to have a walk out…and noooooow…
9:54 The turnaround!
9:55 Cue the upbeat music….
9:56 Everyone had a app, entree, and dessert because the food was free…
9:57 Read the reviews – the food was always known for quality…
9:59 Wow. Fox just follows the same script no matter what, don’t they?