Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Old Book, Old Book #13: Graceling & A Long Way Down

So, last I wrote about what I was reading, I was starting "The Miracle of Forgiveness". That was like 3 months ago. And, I guess what happened was I got partway through that book, and then started another book for a book club I joined, and then the copy of Miracle of Forgiveness that I'd gotten at the library happened to have some printing problems (there were large sections where every other time you turned a page, the next two pages were blank). Anyway, I took Miracle of Forgiveness back to the library without finishing it, and in the meantime I read two other books for this book club.


The first one, Graceling, was a first-time effort in fantasy realm that had some potential starting out, but then mostly turned into a romance/feminist novel that stopped caring about the plot that I was caring about and started caring about whether the heroine could be happy in a committed relationship or not. Not my favorite.


The second one, A Long Way Down, was a novel by Nick Hornby (author of About a Boy and High Fidelity, both of which I enjoyed), about 4 strangers who meet on New Years Eve on top of a building they plan to jump to their death from. They end up not jumping and spending the next 90 days deciding if that was a good choice or not. In at least one case the book is clear, in the other 3, I'm not 100% sure what happened. It was my least favorite Hornby that I've read so far.

Seems like this book club thing isn't working out too well for me. Also, it's keeping me from reading some books that I'd like to read, so not sure whether I'll stick with it going forward or not.

I just finished "A Long Way Down" today, and I happened to be at my local library to do some writing (still trying to finish up the last bits of my dissertation) and took a few minutes to look for my next book. No luck finding something I was really interested in -- this library is pretty small, so I mostly use it as a pick-up spot for county-wide requests -- so I picked up another Cormac McCarthy, "Blood Meridian", but when I got home I went online and put in a few requests for stuff I'd really prefer to be reading ("Atlas Shrugged" and "Fight Club"). So I might hold off on starting something new for a week or so to see if one of those comes in. Oh, and tonight during dinner I ended up reading maybe a third of "The Christmas Box" which our stake presidency bought for each member of the stake as a Christmas gift. So I guess that counts as a book, right? Maybe it will tide me over for a few more meals. :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Part of what's wrong with Healthcare

I'm sure that everyone out there has their own opinions on health care and what's wrong or right with it and what does or doesn't need fixing. Now that I finally have a job with benefits (starting next month -- the benefits, not the job), and am no longer obligated to seek all of my medical care through the student health clinic, I decided I ought to find a new Primary Care Provider to meet with and talk about my persistent, nagging, discomfort in my side. Given that I work for the largest healthcare provider in the state, I have a wide variety of doctors I could choose from. How to decide?

Someone I know suggested contacting the insurance company's "advocates" as they could help me find a doctor near me who was taking new patients, etc. I called them today and told them I was a new patient and needed some help choosing a doctor. I asked them if they had any quality measures or feedback from other patients that might help me in making my choice. The first answer was "no". The second answer was "yes, but we don't share that." The third answer was "Don't worry, though, because if anyone complains we really do care and try to resolve their complaint."

So basically, they told me that while they DO, in fact, have information about which doctors are better than others, they can't use that information to help me, their customer. But don't worry, because if you do choose poorly and have a problem (remember these are health problems we're talking about, not car problems), they really will do all they can to resolve my complaints. Unless, of course, my complaint is that they won't tell me who the best doctors are.

I looked around on the internet and found one site with doctor reviews (ratemds.com), and the doctor they ended up recommending to me, based on location and the fact that he was taking new patients, had only one review, which was very positive. Another site someone mentioned to me is Angie's List (ala Craig's List), but unlike Craig's list, it is not free for consumers. Not tons of help, but better than nothing, I guess.

I just can't see how it isn't in the insurance provider's interest to funnel more patients to the doctors that do the best job, whether in terms of patient results or satisfaction, or in terms of cost effectiveness. It seems like somebody ought to be benefitting here, right? If not, where's the motivation for the doctor to do a better job? Just in the goodness of her heart? Not to say doctors don't want the best for their patients, but if there's no reward for being better, why try to be anything but average?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Some Things Never Change

One of my favorite Computer Science professors would bring his laptop to class and actually write code during lectures, which I found to be immensely helpful just to see how the process worked down to that level of detail. (If you aren't a programmer, don't quit reading yet, I promise this isn't just about CS stuff.) One time after compiling some code successfully (basically, the syntax of his code was all correct and he was able to turn it into an actual program that could be run) he said, "No matter how long I've been a programmer, it still always feels good to see your code compile with 0 errors". So true.

Anyway, I bring up that story because I got a date last night for our upcoming stake dance this Friday. And no matter how long I've been single, getting a date still feels pretty awkward. And it still feels good when a girl says yes.

And yes, I've written about this before, so there's another testament that some things really never change. :)

Monday, February 09, 2009

FSS: Two Dinners & a Movie Edition

This past weekend, I went out to eat both Friday and Saturday night with friends. Friday night I convinced a couple friends to go to Sizzler with me because I've just had a hankerin' for some steak and malibu and some cheese toast.

After dinner a larger group of friends went to see the movie Taken starring Liam Neeson. It may be the only movie I can remember seeing with absolutely no sub-plots. And it would have been a tiny bit more believeable if so many people hadn't shot at him with submachine guns at close range without killing him. My only other complaint is that the main girl who was in it also played Shannon on Lost, and I really couldn't stand her as Shannon, which made me still not like her here. I'll probably never be able to get past her as annoying Shannon. Seriously, what was Sayid thinking? I'm just glad that she didn't make it past the beginnings of Season 2. And even though we're now seeing all sorts of dead people, we've managed to avoid a return of Shannon.

And in case you were wondering, Saturday night I ate at Pei Wei.