Monday, October 29, 2007

Yikes I'm on fire! (or why every American (and especially children) need health insurance)

So, generally this trip has truly been lovely. However, in the last week, MommaBean got sick. really, really sick. Not the vomiting and diarrhea sick that I can ignore as awful as it is. But, the fever of 102+ degrees and alternating chills and sweats and such that is actually rather scary. I spent an entire day bringing down my 102 degree fever with Advil and Tylenol every 4 hours and never seeing it go below 100.5. Finally, when it spiked at 103.5, I decided it was time to go see someone. Of COURSE, it happened on Saturday. So, traditional doctor's offices were closed limiting my options. I could go to the emergency room (NOT gonna happen) or find a walk-in clinic. I vaguely recalled being surprised that there was a walk-in clinic in the Wal-Mart near the house, so we called over an determined that they were there and could write prescriptions. I went and saw a very fine nurse practitioner who took my pulse, blood pressure, etc. We talked, did a breath test of some sort, and a strep test.

The diagnosis: double ear infection, strep throat, and a small touch of pneumonia. Wow! I've never had all that at once before (that I'm aware of). Now, just to give you the background, I avoid Doctor's until I can't avoid them any longer. I'm not a "go at the first sign of a cough" kind of person. With the kids, I expect most things they'll battle through on their own and until they are (like I was) running a high fever for 2 or more days, I wait and see.

So, with the handy diagnosis ($45 by the way, awesome price) came the prescriptions. Rx: A super-strong antibiotic and two (count them two) inhalers for opening my clogged airways. (Oh, did I mention that I have an allergy to the most benign mucus unblocker in the world?)

I proceeded to the Wal-Mart pharmacy (which is typically one of the cheapest) and handed in my prescriptions and the "emergency" insurance card and prescription discount card. The end total? Just a few dollars shy of $500! The antibiotic was nearly $300 alone. Honestly, I was shocked and could not believe it. And, I find myself scared for the working poor. Those Americans who are seeing their S-CHiP programs going away because the genius in Washington decided to veto the compromised agreement the Ds and Rs came to. S-CHiP provides health insurance to children whose parents are unable to afford it otherwise. Imagine I were a child of a family who works 2 or 3 jobs just to make ends meet. A huge pharmaceutical bill like this would be untenable. I'd go without the medicines and either a. go to a charity hospital and hope, b. die, c. well, there really isn't a c, is there. George Bush, you should be ashamed!

I thank God that we have the means to pay for this and am ashamed at the lack of understanding W seems to have with the plight of Americans. Perhaps he'd like to share his wealth. For those who haven't followed this, about 2 years ago, he started trying to steer companies and individuals away from traditional insurance plans and toward these high-deductible plans. This is what El 3atal and I maintain for our family. Basically, it covers nothing until we have paid $5000 out of pocket in a given year. If we lived in the US, we couldn't afford a policy like that. So, I just wonder what world he lives in that he thinks he understand and can speak for the average American. For the average American, $500 in prescriptions in one day can feel like a catastrophic illness. It's truly outrageous.

Get it together folks, get some coverage out there for Americans who can't afford it. End of diatribe. Tomorrow we will resume our usual programming of light and mostly issue-free satirical commentary and obvious observations...

Happy pill popping!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Do you, in fact, need a yard for a yard sale?

This might seem like a odd concept, but it seems the new fad here in this little corner of the US is to set up your old junk on the side of the road. No yard or garage needed. This self-service yard sale is an interesting concept. The most interesting thing about it, from my perspective, is that the stuff they have out isn't even interesting useful stuff, it's truly just junk.

A friend who moved up here from Louisiana apparently has noticed the same strange thing. They even saw one of these roving yard sales set up on a median in the middle of the road with such exciting items as broken lawn chairs. So, is this enterprising business ot just some folks who don't have enough excitement in their lives?

Happy yard saling!

Favorite Bloggers Blog post

In the spirit of Blogging Unity, I figured I'd blog this one, too. Like Kinzi, I can't possibly pick one blog, so instead, I'll post the ones who consistently interest me to the point that I have them bookmarked (in no particular order)...

Dave (An American in Jordan) It's nice to see the American expat experience from a male perspective.

Kinzi Dogs spitting up grass, sneaky purse snatchers, a whole family of konouz, what's not to love?

El 3atal Kind of a no-brainer, this one...

Bakkouz Bakkouz has such exceptional perspective. Besides who else would I learn new techno-stuff from?

The Jo Ladies A combination of ladies with far more in country experience than my paltry time here. I always find interesting things to read about here.

Jazarah (Samer Marzouq). Provides a very interesting look at the Middle Eastern Ad scene.

Rambling Hal Such shoes, such chocolate obsessions, such humor, enough said.
There are other bloggers I read and enjoy, but not with quite the consistency of these... Kudos o all of the excellent Jordanian bloggers out there.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Timely Reminder: You Can't Go Home Again...

So, during this very nice visit to the US, we went back to our former city to visit and see friends. In the process, we took a tour of our old house (up for sale again). It gave me a nice sense of closure to go and visit it again. As we drove through the neighborhood the night we arrived, I teared up remembering how happy we'd been in the house. It's funny that a place can do that to you. In the light of day, we've been as happy (or happier) in Amman, but there's always something alluring about the happy past, isn't there? So, the next day we called our realtor (who sold the house for us) and asked her to arrange a tour. It turns out that the people after us lived terribly hard. In the process, they had to re-floor the entire house and repaint. The brilliant painters simply stuck colors over the fabulous murals that had been on the kids' rooms. So, somehow, the house had lost all of its personality. I would never have bought the house we went into... But, it was a nice break and gave us the sense of closure that, even though we had spent over 4 years there, it wasn't home anymore.

As a side note, I was drooling over our HUGE backyard. I could see the look in the kids' eyes and JoojooBean even commented that it needed a playground. Actually, it's probably bigger than many parks in Amman :). It's something I miss greatly. Now, as we finish out our visit, I turn my thoughts back to Amman and can't wait to get home. Even as I sit here, I'm giving thanks for the comfort and happiness we have there. God has blessed us greatly and even given us the insight to see it more clearly.

Happy Closure!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pimp My Wife? The Danger of Using Pop-culture terms you don't understand

Today, I received an e-mail about a program called Pimp My NGO. A friend told me about a friend of hers who sent her an e-mail about his idea, "Pimp My Wife." There is one thing about this of which I am certain, they don't have any idea what this term means. I know where they got it. MTV has made the concept popular with the show "Pimp My Ride" which transforms people's cars. In the US, people get that the term is completely tongue-in-cheek. However, when the concept is carried overseas where understanding of a term like pimp is sketchy at best, this can be a bit dangerous. So, let me tell you why.

First, let's talk about the word pimp. Does anyone know what a pimp is? A pimp is the guy who "manages" a group of prostitutes. Pimps are known for several things: beating their "ladies of the night," making money off of them and returning barely enough to live in squalor, and driving a specific type of car. So, is this REALLY what you want to say? Let's talk for a second about the car thing. It's important in understanding why MTV chose this title for their show. There is a certain profile for "pimp cars." They tend to be large American made cars. Cadillacs and Lincoln Town Cars seem to be the most popular. They are typically very wild colors and feature things like fuzzy dice in the windshield. Basically, in an America where cars have very little personality (except the newer offerings from Chrysler like the PT Cruiser), pimp cars were full of personality (I don't necessarily mean that in a good way, by the way). So, the show title makes sense for MTV if they're taking a boring ordinary car and spicing it up. I hope they aren't literally making it look like a car that a pimp would drive, but...

When we take the term and try to adapt it, it loses the only connection to the actual meaning. So, when my friend told me about this "Pimp My Wife" concept for a makeover show, I was horrified. I explained to her what pimp means and she was horrified as well. She realized that saying you would "pimp" your wife was seemingly equivalent to saying that you planned to prostitute her out. I am absolutely positive that wasn't what the guy meant, he was just following pop-culture and MTV. And "pimp" my NGO also comes across very negatively. Saying that makes me think that the NGO is willing to do literally ANYTHING for money. My oh my. Is that REALLY what they wanted to say. I seriously doubt it.

It is very scary when people take a term they don't understand and adapt it to (they think) suit their purposes. I hope this may give some folks pause to think, do I really understand what that expression means?

Happy Embarrassing Poor Expression Usage!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I Have Just Two Words for You: Bloomin' Onion

El 3atal and I visited Outback Steakhouse last week and I simply have to post about it. There have been a number of changes, but the right things have remained the same. You all may remember that in my "Foods I miss" post, I talked about a steak at the Outback. Well, I forgot a few things as well. Okay, for those of you (like me) who have been away for awhile, the Outback has gone non-smoking! Yes, that's right. A whole restaurant with no nasty stench of puffing smokers. What a nice surprise. The menu has changed (which it seems to do about every 6 months) making selection slightly more confusing, but generally was fine as they still have the Victoria's Filet (mm, mmm, good).

So, the steak was everything I had hoped it would be, but I had forgotten certain other things. Let me see...
  1. Can you say bloomin' onion? How, oh how, could I have forgotten this? Ah, the beauty of the onion cut to resemble a blossoming flower, then dipped in batter and deep fried... And, with a sauce with a bit of horseradish, just enough to give it kick... Oh my, my mouth is watering thinking about it. Perhaps I need to have another one this week :).
  2. Hot dark bread fresh out of the oven. Again, I SO didn't remember the bread. When the waiter offered it, of course I jumped on it. I had forgotten the joy of that thick, dark, bread with its grainy goodness. And the butter, melting onto the steamy bread. Ahhhhhhhhh.
  3. Ranch salad dressing. Now, if there's one thing that you can't get in Jordan (yeah I know there are many things, but allow me the poetic license), it's good ranch dressing. And, Outback has one of the best ranch dressings out there. I missed their salad for sure.
  4. Sweet tea. I've been having FAR too much of this Southern delicacy. And, the sweet tea at the Outback was fresh, cool, refreshing, and sweet. Just the way I like it...

Only four things, but I KNOW you get the picture. Over and out from the land down under (well, not really, but I ate like I was in the land down under, right?).

Happy bloomin!