poisonwood's Diaryland Diary

Date: Oct. 14, 2009 . Time: 8:53 a.m.

flood zone Entry:


flood zone

I heard on the news yesterday that a study in British Columbia showed that the regular flu vaccine increases the chance of getting the swine flu by a factor three. This has not been duplicated in any other studies. The US government says this is nonsense, and the regular flu vaccine is perfectly safe. The BC government apparently disagrees and is apparently stopping their regular flu vaccine campaign to focus on getting people vaccinated against swine flu. Who's right? BC or the US?

The point of this story is not to suggest there is something wrong with the regular vaccine. My point is that just because the US government says something is safe does not mean that it is. In this case, our government says something is 100% safe but another government disagrees and is taking action as a result. As it happens, the US uses slightly different flu vaccines than Canada, so this study probably doesn't even apply to our vaccines. Still. You have to think for yourself, weigh the risks and benefits before taking action, and be ready to take care of yourself.

I'm living in the middle of an example of apparent government incompetence. The Kent valley, where I work, is protected by a dam built in the 50s. The government built this dam, then encouraged people to build in the Kent valley which they did with the abandon. There are lots of private residences, but there are also lots of businesses, such as Boeing, with an incredible amount of very expensive capital equipment. Well, the dam is damaged, has been for some time. As a result, it doesn't hold as much water as it needs to. If there are heavy rains this winter, the valley will flood.

The local government's reaction has been interesting. First, they sent out letters telling everyone to buy flood insurance. This is amusing, I guess, for two reasons. First, insurers aren't stupid. They have refused to sell flood insurance to those who live in the likely flood zone. Second, they sent these letters to everyone, include those of us who live hundreds of feet above the valley. There is no mention that perhaps you should evaluate the likelihood of a flood in your location - only an order to buy flood insurance. Insurers are having a field day with those of us for whom a flood is practically impossible. They are sending duplicate copies of the county's letters and practically begging us to buy insurance.

Despite online searching, I've been unable to find a readable flood map online despite the fact I know one exists as they've been handed out at valley businesses. Why not send that out instead of a useless letter about flood insurance?

Anyway, my house won't flood from rain (though sewer backup is possible), but loss of power for an extended period of time is very likely this winter. I have no intention of freezing again, so I purchased a kerosene heater yesterday. I need to look into a sewer disconnect, make sure I have candles and a lighter, and make sure I have adequate food for a few days. During the last power outage I used work as a haven, but it's right in the middle of the flood zone.

What are local businesses doing about this? Well, Boeing is building an 8 foot flood wall - I kid you not. My company is supposed to announce their flood plan in a couple of weeks. I have a feeling signing up for sandbag crews will be expected from employees. We'll see.

8:53 a.m. - Oct. 14, 2009


mayo clinic

Interesting article on the Mayo clinic and health costs. Everything I read comes back to the same issue - health care, regardless of who pays for it, is really expensive in the US.

The White House has repeatedly held up for praise Mayo and other medical centers, many of which are in the Upper Midwest, that perform well in Dartmouth College rankings showing wide disparities in how much hospitals spend on Medicare patients.

The model centers have capitalized on their status to insert into health-care legislation provisions that would result in higher Medicare payments for hospitals that do well on the Dartmouth rankings while punishing those elsewhere -- mostly, big cities and the South -- that spend the most per Medicare patient.

Mayo announced late last week that its flagship facility in Rochester, Minn., will no longer accept Medicaid patients from Nebraska and Montana.

Separately, the Mayo branch in Arizona put out word a few days ago that under a two-year pilot program, it would no longer accept Medicare for patients seeking primary care at its Glendale facility. That facility, with 3,000 regular Medicare patients, will continue to see them for advanced care -- Mayo's specialty -- but those seeking primary care will need to pay an annual $250 fee, plus fees of $175 to $400 per visit.

Mayo officials said Monday that the two moves were "business decisions" that had grown out of longstanding concerns about what it sees as underpayment by Medicare and Medicaid.

As if most Medicare patients can afford $175+ per visit for primary care!

8:49 a.m. - Oct. 13, 2009



NASA's lost female astronauts.

3:54 p.m. - Oct. 12, 2009


larch weekend

I spent more time this weekend looking through wedding photos, especially the ones Daniel sent. I'd seen the main ones, but not the rejects. Those are actually pretty good, too. At some point, I am going to get my act together and make a scrapbook. However, I will wait until I get the photos from the pros. They sent me an e-mail saying it takes them at least 8 weeks to process the photos. I can kind of understand this and kind of not. On the one hand, processing photos is a lot of work. On the other hand, they do weddings most weekends, so wouldn't it just stack up? I guess things probably ease off in the Fall. Anyway, of all my vendors, I was probably least pleased with the photographers. They weren't terrible. Overall, I had stellar vendors. They were kind of mediocre. All will be forgiven if the photos are amazing, but I'm not holding my breath.

B and I went hiking yesterday to see the larches. Larches are a coniferous tree that whose needles turn yellow and fall, like most broadleaf trees. In order to see these mysterious larches, we had to drive 1.5 hours from Seattle on the 90, a further 30 minutes on secondary roads, and than 30 minutes on a very rough dirt road. (Jonathan thought it was in "decent" shape; I didn't really concur.) In any event, we finally arrived at the trailhead. There were no larches in sight. We proceeded to hike up about 2000 feet over the course of 3 miles without a larch in site. Finally, we got Ing*alls Pass, and were rewarded with yellow larches everywhere. We wanted to go on to Inga*lls Lake but B had a flight that night, so we had to pass. It looks spectacular in photos, but I was exhuasted just after the 6 mile hike, so maybe it's for the best. We were pushing the pace so we'd get back in time, so that was a contributing factor. Unfortunately, after the hike, we realized you weren't supposed to take your dog there. No one hassled us, but I'm not really a rule-breaker, so I guess if we go back, we'd have to leave P behind.

Next weekend, we'll do our annual pumpkin expedition. After doing this the last 3 years or so, I'm a little less excited about it than previous years. It's getting to be old hat.

8:41 a.m. - Oct. 12, 2009


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