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We Finally Saw Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors

After losing our original tickets to the snowstorm, we tried again and were able to score 4 tickets to see Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Hirshhorn yesterday.  I’ll admit that our earlier experience with the exhibit probably coloured how I felt about the exhibit.  But that’s art: you carry your baggage with you into every piece.

Was it worth it?  Yes.  I think.  Josh compared it to eating at a molecular gastronomy restaurant, which is more an experience than satiating your hunger.  This was definitely more an experience than a consumption of art.  There’s not a lot you can absorb in 20 seconds.  (Yes, you only get 20 seconds per room AND someone is outside with a stopwatch to make it fair.)  You’re thrown into the piece and then yanked out.

The kids LOVED it and were happy to stand patiently in each line.  There’s a lot to see while you’re in line, and we ended up chatting sometimes with the people around us.  (We spoke to a group of three that had gotten there at 7 am for 10 am stand-by tickets!)  And we definitely had a good time together; though how much of that was just hanging out with one another and how much of that was the art exhibit I have no clue.

Okay, I liked it.  I liked it very very much.

I took 281 images at the exhibit, but here are a few to give you a taste.

March 29, 2017   2 Comments

It’s Probably Not Cool to Be Infertile

New York Magazine had an article about “prestigious” diseases, or the hierarchy of disease.  The author explains,

Physicians were asked to rate 38 categories of diseases on a prestige scale from 1 to 9, based on how they felt health professionals viewed the disease-category in question. In all three surveys, there was stability at the top: Leukemia, brain tumors, and myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) were the top three in all three surveys, though the order switched around. At the bottom were fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, and cirrhosis of the liver.

I’m not sure where infertility falls on the actual prestige list, but I’m going to guess that it falls close to the bottom.  The article goes on to summarize what gives a disease high prestige (at least, in Norway):

  • “Non-self-inflicted, acute and lethal diseases with clear diagnostic signs, located in the upper part of the body, preferably the brain or the heart.”
  • Diseases “associated with active, risky and high technology treatment leading to a speedy and effective recovery.”
  • Diseases “associated with young patients, patients who accept the physician’s understanding of the disease, and whose treatment results do not involve disfigurement, helplessness or other heavy burdens.”

Infertility is not lethal and it involves organs in the lower half of the body.  It definitely can be treated with what I would consider high technology, though perhaps IVF is not as cool as robotic surgery.  And while infertility involves young patients in the sense that it is not a geriatric disease, I get a sense — based on my own experience — that people find family building a burden, whether that’s covering for them at work so they can get treatments or accommodating time off for maternity leave on the other end.

We want people to have babies, we just don’t want their babies to impact us in any way.  It goes hand-in-hand with the societal message of children are precious angels and disruptive brats at the very same time.  Infertility follows that duality of everyone should want a baby but no one’s attempt to have a baby should impact anyone else around them.

The most interesting thought in the article is that this idea of disease prestige impacts how doctors practice medicine.  How they may subconsciously make decisions on your treatment.  It’s not just what area of medicine draws the most people but how much energy doctors expend on what they perceive to be a simple case vs. a difficult case or a known fertility issue vs. an unknown fertility issue.

What do you think?  The article gave me a lot to chew on, especially the role the patient could (would? should?) play when suspecting this sort of prestige bias.

March 28, 2017   10 Comments

#MicroblogMondays 135: Decorations

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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I am not a fan of decorating.  We are not tchotchke purchasers.  We do not like flourishes.  Instead of operating from a place of “that’s beautiful,” I come from a space of “that’s not ugly.”  I like things plain.  Plain, plain, plain, plain, plain.

I am not enjoying bathroom renovation decisions.

Some people love going to open houses to see how other people decorate their homes.  Or peruse home goods catalogues.  Or watch decorating shows on television.  I do not do any of these things.  If we had the money, I would pass off this decision-making process to a decorator.  I would tell him/her, “Aim for plain. Think boring and then take it one step beyond that.”

Do you like to decorate?

P.S. We are moving from the steampunk bathroom idea toward a more spa look.  The Edison lightbulbs hurt my eyes.

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Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored post.


March 27, 2017   30 Comments

639th Friday Blog Roundup

Tomorrow is a Pyjamas Day.  Every once in a while, I write Pyjamas Day on the calendar, and that day is held as sacred.  Nothing can be scheduled on that day.  No one can visit.  The point is to sleep until you wake up and then lounge around the house all day doing pretty much nothing.

I put this Pyjamas Day on the calendar a few weeks ago, and events threatened to derail it at every turn.  People kept asking us to schedule things on that day, but I held firm.  No, I could not do anything on that day no matter how interesting or important.  Did they understand that I needed to spend 24 hours in a manky old University of Wisconsin sweatshirt and non-matching sweatpants?

So that’s what I’m doing starting at midnight tonight.  See you on the other side.

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Part of why I need a Pyjamas Day is that we’re attempting a bathroom renovation.  We had a slow leak that destroyed the tile, and in replacing the tile, we also sort of need to replace the vanity.  We’ve been putting this off for months… cough… years… because (1) I hate to decorate or make any sort of decision about my living space, (2) cost, and (3) a lack of desire to have the work take place and disrupt my life.

But we’re doing it.  We’re attempting to pull all the necessary pieces into place.  I told Josh that I wanted to go with a steampunk theme.  He informed me that he has no clue what this means.  “Like… aviator goggles over the toilet?”  No.  No, Josh.  What I mean is that I will find a bunch of things that remind me of Doctor Who, and we will pee next to a vanity with gear-shaped drawer pulls, lit by a fixture that has Edison bulbs encased in cages.  THAT is what I mean.

Wish us luck.

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Stop procrastinating.  Go make your backups.  Don’t have regrets.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.

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And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

Searching for Our Silver Lining has a eulogy for a dog that contains a really profound thought: “It’s easy to eulogize those that fit into the ideal. The popular ones that check off all the right boxes, giving the imagine of a life out of a storybook … But the truth is we all have our flaws and faults; our skeletons we wish to hide from the world.”  It’s the story of loving and respecting a difficult dog.  And, damnit, she made me cry.

Lavender Luz has a post looking at whether something is good luck or bad luck using a story to illustrate the grey nature of everything.  We never know what our “bad luck” has saved us from, turning secretly into “good luck” in disguise.

With Every Heartbeat has a post about loneliness stemming from that moment when you realize that you are not happy whereas everyone else around you has found what they’re looking for in life.  She writes: “Their lives are working out as they’d planned, dreamed, hoped, worked so hard for and then there’s you and your broken life, unfolding as a nightmare, in tatters, despite everything.”  It is a post about wondering if you’ll ever smile fully again.

Days of Grace has a post about releasing herself from infertility.  She points to the moment, saying, “The end of infertility. It finally can’t hurt me anymore.”  I don’t know if I’ve hit that point yet — where it can’t hurt me anymore — but I love that idea of release.

Lastly, Look No Tubes has a post about going to her transfer alone.  I want people to read this post because it was so stressful, which may be an odd thing to say.  But what I mean is that it highlights the truth for anyone who has thought, “Oh, you can always do IVF.”  Sure, it is an option, but it isn’t easy.  People should know that before they suggest it.

The roundup to the Roundup: Pyjamas Day.  Steampunk bathroom.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between March 17th and 24th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

March 24, 2017   7 Comments

Planned Parenthood Can’t Be Defunded

How much money do you think Planned Parenthood gets each year from the federal budget?

Write that number down because I think you’re going to be surprised by the actual answer.  The answer will probably either be higher or lower than your expectations.  I think your expectations say something about how you feel about Planned Parenthood; what you think its worth.

So… have your number written down?  Scroll a little bit for the answer.

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The answer is zero.  Planned Parenthood receives zero dollars from the federal budget.  You cannot “defund” Planned Parenthood because it is not funded in the first place.  It is not a line item in the budget.  It is not like the NEA which was appropriated almost $148 million in the 2016 budget.  It is not like Homeland Security which received about $41.2 billion in the 2016 budget.  Planned Parenthood is not in the budget.

Planned Parenthood is a clinic.  It takes a lot lower income patients because it was set up as a safety net in underserved or rural communities.  But it’s just that — a clinic.  No different from any other medical provider EXCEPT that unlike your private doctor or your local hospital, it has a reputation for providing abortions.  Your private doctor and your local hospital also likely provide abortions, but that is not how you think about your private doctor or local hospital.

Sit with that a minute: If you believe your doctor is “good” and Planned Parenthood is “bad” but both provide abortions, then this is really about economics and class.

When I heard that Planned Parenthood was going to be defunded, I assumed that meant that Planned Parenthood would have their funding removed from the budget.  So colour me surprised when I found out that Planned Parenthood gets zero dollars in the budget.  Yes, my initial number was not the actual zero.

How is Planned Parenthood connected to taxpayer dollars?  The same way every private doctor or local hospital is connected to taxpayer dollars: Patients on Medicaid instead of private insurance.  In other words, a patient goes to Planned Parenthood OR a private doctor for a Pap smear.  In both cases, the office (Planned Parenthood or your private doctor) submits for reimbursement.  If the patient has Medicaid, the office submits to Medicaid.  If the patient has private insurance, the office submits to private insurance.  Medicaid or private insurance reimburses the doctor for payment not covered by the patient.  This is the way all insurance works, simplified.

(We don’t need to get into the fact that doctors ask for X amount and insurance companies give them Y amount.  Or fight the charge.  Or… you get the picture because you’ve dealt with insurance at some point.)

So Planned Parenthood gets reimbursed through Medicaid because a large percentage of their patients use Medicaid.  The government knows this.  They cannot tell a clinic or private doctor or hospital that is following the law that they can’t practice medicine but they can make laws that make it impossible for them to be reimbursed for services.

The CBO points out that there is really only one entity in the United States that fits the criteria for this part of the law, and that is Planned Parenthood:

For a one-year period following enactment, the legislation would prevent federal funds from being made available to an entity (including its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, and clinics) if it is:

  • A nonprofit organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and exempt from tax under section 501(a) of the code;
  • An essential community provider that is primarily engaged in providing family planning and reproductive health services and related medical care;
  • An entity that provides abortions—except in instances in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest or the woman’s life is in danger; and
  • An entity that had expenditures under the Medicaid program that exceeded $350 million in fiscal year 2014.

CBO expects that, according to those criteria, only Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates and clinics would be affected. Most federal funds received by such entities come from payments for services provided to enrollees in states’ Medicaid programs.

Do you get it now?  The new health care bill states that if you are a nonprofit that provides reproductive health services AND provides abortions AND was reimbursed over $350 million in 2014 through Medicaid then you won’t be able to get reimbursed through Medicaid for the new budget year.

So think about whether there is anyone else out there that is a nonprofit (a community health clinic, let’s say) that also provides reproductive health services (okay, still with you) and also provides abortions (okay, they’re legal so that could happen, too) and also got back over $350 million in reimbursements in 2014.  Oh… wait… it won’t affect that community clinic because it’s small and only serves a few thousand people.

This health care bill is like looking at the person you don’t like and describing them, making sure to make your description super specific so no one else could possibly fit the same description.

It is completely reasonable if you want to vote with your wallet and not patron Planned Parenthood.  You do not have to go there in the same way that I do not have to shop at certain stores or eat at certain restaurants.  It’s a decision I make due to the policies of that business.  It is completely unreasonable to say that no one can patron Planned Parenthood (or a store or restaurant) because you do not like it.  As long as abortion is legal in the US, abortions will be performed.

Unless you are willing to also shut down all private doctors or hospitals that perform abortions, protesting Planned Parenthood is a protest against a clinic, not a service.  I don’t think lawmakers are willing to lose their private doctor or not have hospitals to go to in an emergency.  But they totally are willing to go against people who need Medicaid in order to make their point about abortion.

Because 79% of people who use Planned Parenthood have “incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.”  So make no mistake: this is using the most vulnerable in society to make a point about abortion.

If you feel okay with that, keep on keeping on in making America great again.  But if you look down at that slip of paper where you wrote that initial number and feel confused because the media led you to believe that Planned Parenthood is getting beaucoup bucks from the federal government and using it to give abortions (which they can’t due to the Hyde amendment), it may be time for you to get involved.

Call your representative. THE VOTE IS TODAY, but even if this bill doesn’t pass, we all know that lawmakers will try this again and again. So please let me know if you want to help Planned Parenthood, and I’ll add you to a listserve where you can learn how you can make a difference.

how planned parenthood works

March 23, 2017   8 Comments

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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