Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy Birthday

Today is my father's 100th birthday. I hope he is enjoying it in heaven.

My father, Ed Allen Jr., was a creative, entrepreneurial person who was interested in everything, although less so when he was old. He's the man who retired and then went to work every day anyway. He died while getting ready to go to work. He was an enormous influence on my life.

We called him Poppy and then Pop. He loved broadcasting. He built a career in radio in Chicago and was proud to have worked for the NBC network. His Early Bird Show on WMAQ had a great following, and listeners sent him quilt squares which my grandmother assembled. I still have the early bird quilt. He started station WDOR in Sturgeon Bay in 1951. It was an adventure that he loved. He started a radio station in Manitowoc with a radio partner, which they sold.

WDOR was a corporation of local people, and it also was our family enterprise. We did commercials. Mother and I worked in the office. My brothers were regulars on the air as soon as their voices changed. David worked hard on the Saturday morning Countdown program of current popular music. Eddy became an excellent sports announcer. An assortment of local programs were tried, including Santa Claus (local doctor), and Mother's recipe program known for most of the years as Five Minutes With Dolores Allen. I think it is the longest runnning program in Wisconsin radio history. Eddy continues to be the manager.

Pop was the religious leader of the family. We all went to the Episcopal Church, whether we wanted to or not. He grew up going to the Moody Sunday School in Chicago, with perfect attendance. We grew up knowing that we should want to be in church. When he didn't like the sermon, he would ostentatiously clean his fingernails to let the priest know that it was pretty dull. Once he asked the priest how long he prepared for his sermon, and was told it was about ten minutes. He then said that it had sounded like it.

When I was a teenager, he let his opinions about my dates be known. He usually wanted to know who the father of each boy was. He usually read the clock wrong when I returned home from dates. He went to bed early. Once I came in at 10:10 p.m, and he sleepily insisted that it was ten minutes to two a.m. If I lingered in the car in the driveway with a boy at the end of a date, Pop would blink the yard light to let us know that the date was finished. I loved him anyway.

I used to go fishing with him, just to be with him. We would go out in his boat, and he would fish and I would draw pictures of the nearby scenery. When he drafted me to work in the radio station office in summer as a teenager, we would go out in his boat and have lunch.

He was Republican chairman of Door County for several years, member of the Door County Chamber of Commerce, Sturgeon Bay Rotary Club, and occasionally played golf. I remember that he would lie down on the green while the other golfers with him did their putts.

He and Uncle Frank Dorn built the family cottage at Clark's Lake. After that he was always doing some construction on it. He moved the kitchen into a former bedroom. I remember when he put electricity into the cottage. Prior to that we had kerosene lamps and a kerosene stove. Later he and Mother sold that cottage and bought an A-frame at Washington Island.

Life with him was always interesting. He was a great person and a great father. Happy birthday.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Medical Insurance Overhaul

Here is what my congresswoman, Tammy Baldwin, says about the proposed "health care" (i.e. medical insurance) bill. Note that she doesn't say when these things will be in effect, if passed. She also doesn't point out that the clause about pre-existing conditions currently is applicable to children and not adults, as I have heard. However bad the bill is, it has some good parts. I heard one legislator call it a quarter of a loaf. I think she should and will vote yes.

Tammy's thoughts, from her newsletter, start:

After decades of unfulfilled hopes, and a year of intense study and debate, the House plans to vote on a health care reform bill on Sunday.
Health care for all is the issue that brought me into public service. As long as I've been your Member of Congress, I've been working to answer your call to reform our health care system.

What this health debate boils down to is one, simple question: Whose side are you on?
Are we going to improve the lives of Wisconsinites and all Americans; or are we going to improve the bottom line of the insurance industry?

My answer is clear: I stand firmly on your side.

I stand with all of you who have struggled to afford your health care premiums, and copays. I stand with all of you who have been denied insurance coverage, or dropped in your time of need. I stand with all of you who have had to declare personal bankruptcy because of the medical bills from a serious illness, and all of you who face this possibility. The health reform bill that I support addresses all those problems and then some. It’s not perfect, and it's not all I wanted it to be....but it is a good start.

I am eager to pass this measure that will help us move forward and put our families and our economy on safer, healthier ground.

Tammy BaldwinYour Member of Congress

As we prepare to vote on health care reform, I highlighted specifically how the reform measure will benefit the people I represent in the Second Congressional District (South Central Wisconsin). Under this reform measure:

539,000 people in South Central Wisconsin will see improvements in their current health care coverage;

7,400 with pre-existing conditions will be able to obtain coverage;

Up to 162,000 families will get tax credits and other assistance to help make health insurance more affordable;

Up to 16,800 small businesses will get tax credits and other assistance to help make health insurance more affordable for their employees;

97,000 Medicare beneficiaries will see better care and pay less for prescription drugs because the Medicare Part D donut hole will be closed;

68,000 young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance policy until their 26th birthday;

13,500 uninsured people will have access to health care coverage;

1,100 families won’t have to file for bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs;

6 community health centers in South Central Wisconsin will receive millions of dollars in new funding to care for thousands of new patients.

Under the bill, if you like the insurance you have now, you may keep it and it will improve. The insurance reforms will prohibit annual and lifetime limits, eliminate retroactive cancellation of insurance policies for individuals who become ill while insured, ban coverage denials for pre-existing conditions, and reduce the cost of preventive care.

Equally important, the health care reform bill will cut the nation’s deficit by $138 billion in the first 10 years and $1.2 trillion in the second ten years – the largest deficit reduction measure in 17 years.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Two dietary planets

I am living on two planets.

One says these things: put fluoride in water systems to benefit children's teeth, with no adverse effects; eating cholesterol is bad and will raise your cholesterol level and raise risk of heart disease; polyunsaturated fats are good for you; it's ok to drink a lot of soda pop; saturated fats are bad for you, including coconut oil; canola oil is good for you; high carb, low fat diets will result in weight loss; the government's food pyramid is a good guide for healthy eating.

The other planet says: don't put fluoride in water systems because it will damage thyroid function; eating cholesterol is not bad because your body produces and uses it apart from dietary intake; polyunsaturated fats are not good for you, olive oil is better; it's not ok to drink a lot of soda pop because high fructose corn syrup gives a major assist to some diseases including diabetes (so why is the government subsidizing corn growers?); saturated fats are not the artery cloggers they are said to be (see cholesterol above), especially coconut oil; low fat/high carb diets are responsible for the obesity epidemic in the US; the government's food pyramid is strongly influenced by food manufacturers and will encourage poor health.

Then we have Michael Pollan, who advocates for eating and enjoying food as food and not as medical delivery systems.

For more than a year I have been reading about what happens to people when they stuff various foods and food-like products into their mouths. The nutrient of this decade seems to be fat. Food science and people don't agree all the time.

It all began with my discovery that coconut oil is a good fat even though it is saturated. The more I read, the more I found. It's a strange world of two planets.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Politician, by Andrew Young

The Politician is a fascinating tell-all book that hit the best seller list immediately. Young tells of his strong desire to work with and for John Edwards for about a decade in the hoped-for ascent to the White House. Young was Edwards' most trusted aide and did what was needed for the Edwards campaigns for senate and President. It is a well written story of the seductive side of John Edwards and the enabling character of Andrew Young. It also is about dishonesty by the Edwardses and the pain of disillusionment for Young as he participated in the cover-up of Edwards' adulterous relationship with Rielle Hunter.

Young describes the close relationship he had with John and Elizabeth Edwards in their home and on campaign locations. As Edwards gradually exhibits what Young calls a sense of entitlement, narcissism and self-centeredness, Young shows his poor judgment in crossing employee boundaries to assist the Edwardses in many personal tasks. Young tells most of the story by letting events unfold into a novel-like tale. His commentary about events goes through the book and is more pronounced in later pages of the book as he reflects about the things he and his family lived through in service to Edwards.

John Edwards seems like a tragic character whose flaws overshadow his powerful charisma and talent. Edwards mistress Rielle Hunter is described as self centered and demanding. Elizabeth Edwards is shown first as a loving person who said Andrew was family, and later when the stress of terminal cancer and attempts to believe her husband's lies get the best of her, a nasty shrew.

In this book we see the clandestine romance of John Edwards and Rielle Hunter. We see Rielle Hunter spend the later part of her pregnancy in hiding with the Edwards family. We see Edwards denying the relationship and his child born to Hunter. We see Edwards denying paternity. We see Young's and his wife's difficulties in dealing with Hunter and Mrs. Edwards.

I don't often read tell-all books, but this one is a winner. It is eye opening for people who supported the Edwards campaign promises and then saw his fall. I, too, was excited by his campaign message.

It may be noted that at the end of the book, Young had possession of the Edwards/Rielle sex tape that has made the news, and John Edwards had not yet admitted that he was the father of Rielle's child. I believe that Edwards confessed paternity as the book became available to the public.