This page gets grumpier as it goes.

Once in a while I've mentioned my stoner nephew George, mostly making him the butt of jokes. He's been a pot-head since he was a teenager, and now he's in his 50s, but if you meet him, talk to him, he still comes off as a combination of Bill and Ted at their most barely coherent.

Since moving back to Seattle a year ago, I have not had any time with George where he didn't frustrate me with all the stereotypes of stonerdom — drifting concentration, cosmic but obvious points, always lighting another joint, and a whole lot of "man" and "yeah" and "cool."

Sometimes, though, people surprise you.

George texts me frequently, about meaningless things like sports and TV, but we've also had texted conversations about politics, religion, and riding the bus.

He's a Christian so we disagree about things, but he makes valid points, often points I hadn't considered. George via text comes off far better than when he's in the room.

Which makes sense, I guess. I'm lots better on paper than in person. 

Just wanted to say, I'm proud of my nephew George. He's an intelligent man, and that's not an adjective I ever would've stuck him with, until we'd texted.

♦ ♦ ♦   

Early on in the pandemic, I briefly had a Zoom account, and used it for weird, jittery, frequently-disconnected conversations with my family.

In addition to sucking technically, Zoom was flagrantly disrespectful of privacy, and I quickly deleted it from my computer.

There was later a class action lawsuit, which I cheerfully didn't follow and had nothing to do with, and now Zoom owes a small amount of money to several million people.

Heads up, then — if you get an email from something called Epiq, telling you there's cash from a Zoom settlement, it's not a scam. The payout is $32 plus some change, and they'll send it in your choice of several easy ways. I took my payout as an Amazon gift card.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

I've been looking forward to at least a couple of weeks of sitting on my duff, because Friday's my last day at Haugen & Dahl. Or so I thought. 

On Tuesday, four days and counting until my last day, the boss pulled me aside to ask whether I'd reconsider.

I reminded her of the terms I'd asked for: ① a raise, but again she said that's out of the question. ② reduced hours, but again she told me that couldn't be done. ③ I'd told her I wouldn't answer phones, but she said she still wants me taking calls once I'm trained.

"Well, you're not offering much," I said, since she wasn't offering squat. "Why are we even talking?"

"What about working from home?" she said.

Fuck, yeah, I said internally, but held a straight face.

Haugen & Dahl is an awful company, doing "insurance work" that shouldn't be done, making people miserable — presumably, killing people — by saying, "You don't have health coverage this month, but maybe next month. Call back in a couple of weeks."

But working from home? Ooooh. The commute to work is an hour and fifteen minutes in the morning, an hour and a half at night, and longer if the my bus luck is bad. Eliminating those bus rides means almost three more hours daily would be mine, five days a week. Factor that in, and it's a sizable raise even if they cut my pay (which I didn't say).

I'm still not willing to answer phones, but I've already told my boss that, so why say it again? If she ever tells me it's time to be trained on the phones, I'll remind her that the answer is no, but meanwhile, even working for an evil company, doing it all from home sounds sweet.

It's not official, though. My boss has to talk to her boss, and her boss probably has to talk to his boss, to get it approved.

♦ ♦ ♦   

That was Tuesday. Today's Wednesday, and nobody said anything more about it, and I didn't ask. I'm impatient, and about over it.

Tomorrow's Thursday. If nobody says anything about it by noon or so, Friday's my last day — again.

♦ ♦ ♦  

And let's close with a follow-up about signing up for Medicaid. This afternoon I googled around like I should've a month ago, and it soon became clear that I'd misunderstood. You do not get Medicaid coverage in this state simply by being 65 or older. There are lots of loopholes and limitations.

If I'd known, I wouldn't have have wasted two hours of my Monday filling out the forms.

Right now, I'm so angry I could punch the wall, but if it broke my pinky I'd have no health coverage, so there'll be no wall-punching.

It's one of life's most infuriating things, for me anyway, and I guess it's only me — I've never heard anyone else complain about it. It probably won't make sense to you, but I'm going to try to explain it anyway.

I'd thought health care starting at 65 was one of the very few things the government does for ordinary people. I'd thought it was a lovely benefit of growing old (of which there aren't many).

It's not. Health care is only available after completing hours of paperwork, and only if the paperwork passes inspection, with every blank filled in and every required verification attached.

For the dream of filing a claim over a broken pinky, I'd first have to tell the state what's in my bank account, and how much is my paycheck, what's my rent, and lots of further intrusive questions, and also provide supporting documentation and contact info for my bank, my employer, my landlord, and for every inquiry on their list. And absolutely, I won't do it.

There are two purposes for such questions, forms, and verifications. On the surface, it's about making sure that only people in need are granted these services. Beyond that but very intentionally, it's designed to make health care hard to get for anyone who's not willing — or worse, not able — to answer a hundred questions and produce a dozen documents.

It's a distant cousin to literacy tests and residency requirements and now you must show ID, all to prevent "the wrong people" from voting. They want to prevent "the wrong people" from having health care.

Well, I am unwilling to beg or do tricks in order to see a doctor, and also uncomfortable taking health care that's denied to other people who need it, so the State of Washington can fuck right off. 

Maybe I'll regret this and reconsider when cancer comes for me or I get flattened while jaywalking, but today my health is OK. I would rather take my chances and remain uninsured, than battle acres of small print to hope and wonder whether I can slip through a system designed to reject me — and then re-file and re-battle and re-prove everything again, every six months or every year until I die.


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  1. It sounds like somebody was listening when you said that the long commute was wearing you down. Without granting all your requests (demands), your employer was actually paying attention when you expressed your concerns. That's worth noting.


  2. Worth noting, or worth nothing. It all depends on what the h...

  3. George reminds me of my niece. She was always angry at the world and everyone in it and everyone started keeping away. Then she started a blog. this was 15 years ago when blogs were a thing, and it was funny and clever and we had a niece again. She's about 45 and single now, maybe she'd be a good matych for your George.

    1. George seems to be happily married to a nice lady about his age. Sorry about your niece, but I guess all the good stoners are taken.

  4. If you're indigent I think they can't turn you away and eventually the government pays, so signing up for Medicare is a courtesy for other people. You're still covered.

    Say do you still watch movies? Movie posts have been infrequent, My gf wants us to watch Station Eleven, and tells me it's science fiction but she's not all that into science fiction so i think it might be a chick flick thing and it's really long. Should I say no?

    1. I am far from rich, but I can afford to pay and see a doctor once in a while, at the uninsured rate. I even kinda like the last doctor I saw, for $180 or so (I forget the price).

      I liked STATION ELEVEN, for the most part, though 35% of it got on my last nerve.

  5. I am not the boss of you and you will do what you will do, but refusing to sign up for Medicare or Medicaid is cutting your nose to spite your face. You are too old to be going uninsured, Doug.

    1. Yes I am. No argument. Old folks ought to get health care, it ought to be free, and it ought to start with someone explaining how it works, or better yet, it ought to be so easy as to need no explaining.

    2. Yup, it should be easy. I had a half million saved for retirement and it all went to doctor bills and living expenses for three back surgeries before I was 65. So when I was eligible, I went through the horseshit of signing up for Social Security and Medicare. When I was 66, I had a heart attack that should have killed me. But Medicare paid for a three-way bypass, and seven years later, after seven years of little pain and a few laughs, the heart is starting to give out, and Medicare is paying for the cardio guys to do what they can. So I'm a poor retired guy living on Social Security, but I'm living and, as you know, doing a little laughing, because that's all there is.

      So yeah, it should be easy to sign up, but it seems a little self-defeating to boycott the feds on that account.

      I wish you good health because you deserve it, but I'm not in charge of these matters. Fate will intervene. Get the health insurance so you can keep writing and I can keep reading.

      with love and respect,



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