It’s Called The Hastert Rule

Denny Hastert, formerly House Speaker Denny Hastert, is a pretty disgusting man who went to prison for his deeds, both fiscal and physical. This isn’t about that. The Hastert Rule guides Congress. It’s not a real rule, but a custom which is followed. Here’s Wikipedia’s tl:dr.

United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.

Helaine hates when I write about politics. I beg her forgiveness. This is a subject that’s crazily important and little known. It’s called the Hastert Rule.

Denny Hastert, formerly House Speaker Denny Hastert, is a pretty disgusting man who went to prison for his deeds, both fiscal and physical. This isn’t about that.

The Hastert Rule guides Congress. It’s not a real rule, but a custom which is followed. Here’s Wikipedia’s tl:dr.

The Hastert Rule, also known as the “majority of the majority” rule, is an informal governing principle used in the United States by Republican Speakers of the House of Representatives since the mid-1990s to maintain their speakerships and limit the power of the minority party to bring bills up for a vote on the floor of the House. Under the doctrine, the Speaker will not allow a floor vote on a bill unless a majority of the majority party supports the bill

That means a bill which could pass the House with a consensus of Republicans and Democrats doesn’t reach the floor unless it has support of 51% of the Republican congressmen. It’s why the 35ish members of the House’s conservative Freedom Caucus can stall something that could find 35, or more, Democratic replacement votes.

The practical effect is to move the ruling party (I assume the Dems would do the same or similar) farther from consensus, farther from the middle, farther to the right. The acronyms you’re hearing about today: DACA and CHIP could be solved quickly by a majority that already exists! It just seems crazy.

This is politics at its worst because it elevates party over country.

H, don’t be angry.

Look What Stef Found

My first paying job on TV was hosting a one-time special on Channel 48 in Philly, “Popeye’s 50th Birthday Party.” The station went off-the-air not long after. As far as I know there is no tape.

In fact until a few minutes ago I thought I had no remembrance at all. And then Stef found this!

Can you believe I was skinny enough to wear this?

The jacket is 38 years old and vintage now. Stef will be stylish.

The Cost Of Staying Alive

I’ve got the $400 a year. Not everyone does. This is the 21st Century version of being nickel and dimed to death… literally, not figuratively.

Lantus Solostar. I shoot 26 units of this 300 unit pen every day.

I am insured on a Medicare Advantage Plan. I pay for Medicare, but the additional “Advantage” coverage from Blue Shield of California is free to me.

For 2018 they changed their formulary, the list of drugs covered. It’s really got me upset. $400 a year they used to pay for insulin I now pay.

This is a drug I’ll probably be taking until the end of time!

A little background first. My cancer is gone, but there is collateral damage. Whipple surgery removed half my pancreas and left me with Type 2 diabetes.

It’s easily treatable. I take a pill and shoot insulin every day¹. My blood sugar levels (which I check every morning) are in the range I want.

My insulin, Lantus, was a Tier 1 drug, meaning minimal cost. As of January 1 it’s Tier 3. Now it’s $100 every 90 days.

I’ve got the $400 a year. Not everyone does. This is the 21st Century version of being nickel and dimed to death… literally, not figuratively.

“This is why some people have to choose between medicine and food,” Helaine noted.

You would figure insulin, which has been around since the 1920s, would be off patent and cheap. Guess again.

A generic version of insulin, the lifesaving diabetes drug used by 6 million people in the United States, has never been available in this country because drug companies have made incremental improvements that kept insulin under patent from 1923 to 2014. As a result, say two Johns Hopkins internist-researchers, many who need insulin to control diabetes can’t afford it, and some end up hospitalized with life-threatening complications, such as kidney failure and diabetic coma. – Johns Hopkins Medicine

So, the system gets gamed and people who are too ‘rich’ for assistance but too poor to have this extra cash lying around suffer.

Left untreated diabetes will kill you a little bit at a time. Fingers, toes, limbs, eyesight — it’s a shitty disease. No one who needs insulin should be deprived. Insulin is not an option.

We need to find a way to rein in prescription costs, meaning we need laws. That a system exists today which allows drug companies to do this hanky panky is reprehensible. Must every business decision in life and death drugs be totally profit driven?

It’s time for insurance for all, just as we have education, police and fire protection for all. This is what modern nations do in 2018.

¹ – This is not like the shot you get at the doctor’s office. It only needs break the skin, not find a vein. I use needles so tiny, some nights I don’t feel it going in!

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Before long nearly everyone was putting their photos in the album. Google automatically adds tags with the shooter’s name then organizes everything. You can sort by chronological order or just ask for shots with a specific person seen (this is the love part of my love/hate relationship with facial recognition).

The family

My sister and brother-in-law are in town from Milwaukee. So were two of their kids, their spouses and four children¹. They’re renting a house near Disneyland for the week. That’s ten plus the three of us.

Judah and Gabby at MKE
Because Jess and fam were leaving early, much of the ‘big’ stuff was shotgunned into the first few days. By yesterday the remaining visitors were in tail drag mode. What good is vacation if you come home worn out?

Exhibit A: Jessie and Evan’s kids at Milwaukee Airport. See what I mean?

One thing that’s changed on family vacations is the number of photos taken. Everyone totes a smartphone picture taking machine–probably the best camera they’ve ever owned. On this trip five of us took the bulk of the shots.

Software automatically backs up my photos to Google. I clicked a few buttons and put the vaca photos in their own album then shared a link with everyone. Before long nearly everyone was putting their photos and videos in the album.

Nearly everyone! Will this be enough to spark the remaining two?

Google automatically adds tags with the shooter’s name then organizes everything. You can sort by chronological order or just ask for shots with a specific person seen (this is the love part of my love/hate relationship with facial recognition). The photos remain private only to those with the very long and unguessable link.

Jessie, Stef and Melissa

Every day my dad gets to look and see what’s going on. He likes this a lot. We like that too.

There are other places to do albums like we’ve done, but Google is ubiquitous (all of us have Gmail accounts), are the database kings and have a very good track record on security.

Having this album makes all our pictures a whole lot better. This is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

And now, fireworks.

¹ – Alas, work has taken my niece Jessie and her family back to Wisconsin. Boo for adult obligations.

My Buddy Kevin In Scotland Has Disappeared

Every day or two I see an automated message showing he’s gained or lost Twitter followers, but no Kevin. Creepy. For most pancreatic cancer patients, even Whipple graduates, the result is death — sooner, not later.

Kevin Lyon
I’ve met lots of people during my journey through pancreatic cancer. Kevin Lyon was one. Kevin lived in Edinburgh, Scotland. We met on Twitter.

Like me Kevin had gone through a Whipple and was doing well. And then he wasn’t.

We spoke last the first week in November. He’s disappeared since then.

Every day or two I see an automated message showing he’s gained or lost Twitter followers, but no Kevin. Creepy.

For most pancreatic cancer patients, even Whipple graduates, the result is death — sooner, not later. My outcome is rare. I am very lucky. I was hoping Kevin’s would be too.

In the fairy tale ending Kevin writes to say reports of his death are premature.

Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright

I was in deep sleep when the phone rang. 6:00 o’clock. It was my dad.

I had lunch with a friend in Laguna Beach yesterday. We walked a lot. Steep inclines. Going down nearly as much effort as going up!

It was nap time when I got home.

I was in deep sleep when the phone rang. 6:00 o’clock. It was my dad.

“Why are you calling now?” I asked. “It’s 3:00 AM there.”

See what I did? I subtracted three hours instead of adding two. And I thought it was 6:00 AM. Dysfunction, thy name is Sleepy Geoff.

My father was upset. “I hate calling when you don’t call first.” He was upset he woke me.

“No.”

I don’t want him to feel that way. His calls are too important and I get back to sleep very quickly.

I proved that within ninety seconds of hanging up.