Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Letter to My Rep

My representative is holding a town meeting tomorrow. I can't go, so I wrote him a letter instead. I highly doubt he'll read it, so I am posting it here as well for the reading pleasure of anyone who might be more interested in health reform than Rep. Chaffetz is.

Dear Rep. Chaffetz,

I am sorry I will not be able to attend your town meeting in South Jordan tomorrow, so I wanted to voice my opinions to you via email instead. I am hoping you will reconsider and support health care reform.

My husband has two genetically derived chronic illnesses. In spite of his diseases, he stays healthy because of the excellent disease management he receives through PEHP and our own hefty contributions of co-payments and co-insurance. My husband works but does not receive health insurance from his employers. I work for the state of Utah and I do not have the option of becoming a stay-at-home mom, working for a smaller organization or becoming self-employed because we would lose PEHP. Private insurers will not insure my husband at any price. I do not believe that the American dream is that people with sickly family members should be barred from pursuing the range of employment opportunities available to people with healthier families!

I also feel for the many other families whose situation is similar to ours, except that they don't happen to hold government jobs and have no way of paying for health care.

Of course, many of their bills are transferred to the rest of us through higher insurance premiums and co-pays, and will continue to be until we reform our system.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

House Wins a Battle

I have to admit defeat in the latest battle in the war against the house. I think House's surveillance team somehow found out about my mother-in-law's anticipated visit even before I did and launched a preemptive attack.

There was little House could do to make the situation any worse in the guest room. That room is part of the 1940's section of the house. We replaced the leaky window there but we still needed a window frame. Without the window frame, we could not hang curtains or blinds, so privacy was a problem. The door that wouldn't close was a privacy issue as well. The ceiling paint was peeling in places and patched in others. During the remodel, one of the walls was replaced; the new wall was primed but unpainted and had a visible scar at the top, where the new drywall met the old plaster and chicken wire. Baseboards were missing.
Getting this room guest-ready would be a challenge, but we could have pulled it off, if House hadn't launched an attack from the direction of the main bathroom.

The main bathroom is also from the 40's and the previous residents of the house had textured the walls with pimples that attract mold. They had also punched several large holes into the difficult-to-repair plaster/chicken wire walls. And of course, we only have ourselves to blame for the nice new window lacking a window frame and covered with a classy Star Wars pillow case.

In spite of these issues, remodeling the bath was a low priority to me. Sure, it was ugly, but it was roomy and functional.

That changed when House broke the toilet and a large pipe in the bathroom wall.

My oh-so-handy husband removed the offending toilet and replaced the pipe, but he had to sacrifice most of the bathroom wall in the process.

We were left with one teeny tiny inconvenient bath, hardly ideal for entertaining houseguests.

We fought back hard. We found a very cool wainscot that looks like clean, shiny tile to cover the damaged walls in the bathroom and my husband sanded and plastered over any pimples that were still visible. He framed the bathroom window and part of the guest room window and repaired the guest room door. I painted the guest room, primed the bath and hung curtains. My family helped us out with painting, wallpapering, baseboards, and some creative woodwork to cover remodeling scars.

In spite of this heroic effort, we didn't manage to get the new toilet installed before my husband's mom arrived. Lack of a toilet is an unforgivable flaw for a bathroom. Apparently, we didn't test the door repair enough either, because it locked our guest in her room the first time she closed it. There were enough other details left undone that I have to admit we just didn't pull it off.

I hope House doesn't hear about my pregnancy; the nursery is one of the few rooms we've finished and I really want it to stay intact.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ode to Speech-Writing

My office is sponsoring a conference tomorrow. The powers that be usually make me speak at this conference, but this time I thought I got out of it. About a month ago, one of the people they did ask to speak, a fellow state employee, called me and asked if I would like to co-present with her, since I really am the expert on this topic. I sweetly declined, for two reasons:

1. This audience needs to hear other voices; they hear from me too often.
2. I didn't want to.

Of course, that person happened to be a mere mortal like myself and I could get away with saying no.

I like public speaking, and I do a lot of it at work, but I just finished presenting at quite a few events, I have a lot on my plate, my office is being audited (more on that another time) and I was happy to avoid this assignment this year around.

About a week ago, a co-worker informed me that I was on the agenda for the conference. This confused me, since the conference committee did not ask me to speak. "It's just a panel. You only talk for a few minutes about the reports you've done lately and answer questions," She explained. The committee knew I wouldn't say no to such a simple request, so they hadn't actually bothered to make it.

Fast forward to yesterday, my last day in the office before the conference. I found an email in my box. One of the deputy directors (translation: a person who is much, much more important than I am and usually wouldn't condescend to speak to me) had emailed me with a request...well, actually, it was an order, but very politely written. She is speaking at the conference tomorrow and had located a powerpoint presentation I had made about a year ago, and was wondering if I could update all the data in it (about twenty graph slides) and send it to her by 4:00 yesterday afternoon. Then I got an email from another deputy director (that makes two out of three). He will also be speaking tomorrow, and needed, essentially, a speech, with a much more liberal deadline of 6 pm yesterday.

It occurs to me that it would have been easier to have presented myself...