Times this morning:

As the nation’s obesity crisis continues unabated, federal regulators on Monday issued their bluntest nutrition advice to date: drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda, fill your plate with fruits and vegetables and cut down on processed foods filled with sodium, fat or sugar.

This makes me so angry. How about federal regulators quit subsidising corn, which is used to make CHEAP SUGAR and CHEAP MEAT, and start subsidising vegetables? How about adjusting rental laws so that landlords have to provide fridges and cookers so that low-income renters can actually produce and store that unprocessed food? How about they investigate what's in the water, so that people don't drink so many hormones and carcinogens?

Yes, I admit it's an advance on "Eat more lean meats like chicken," but it's not THAT much of an advance.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Aug. 22nd, 2010 04:33 am)
Large beast roaming the new apartment. Beast is probably very small and light, except for its fangs, and its sacs of poison, which are almost certainly the size of table-legs and bean-bags respectively. Probably winged, or equipped with a ladder or abseiling gear.

Judging by results, anyway.

That is to say, I am covered in the most impressive lumps. I look as though I've taken a cricket ball to the forehead...and to the arms...and to the legs...and I'm not at all sure how my toes are going to fit into my sandals.

Now, I grant you I was absolutely asking for it, sleeping with NYC windows wide-open in mid-August before installing bug screens. And perhaps I should have tacked up nets - something, anything - but I thought I'd chance it until getting around to buying bug screens, and this is the result.

I should perhaps Lie Awake with a Baseball Bat tomorrow night, so that when the Beast returns I can beat it to DEATH, but I rather doubt the efficacy of such an approach, and think that perhaps blow-torching the bedroom would be more sensible. I mean, I am awake right now because of being unbearably itchy, but I rather think the Beast has retired to its lair for tonight, overblown and corpulent, to digest the couple pints of my body it's extracted.

Hey. You'd exaggerate too if you were me. It's half past four in the morning!
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Apr. 13th, 2010 09:23 pm)
The offices of Dr Robert Morrow, of Riverdale, are staffed by idiots who can't follow simple instructions.

Since January of 2008, we've been having the following conversation:

Me: My insurance is XYZ. Bill them for this visit.

Them: We billed Insurance 123 and they will not pay. You owe us $100.

Me: That is because my insurance is XYZ, not 123. Bill insurance XYZ.

Them: Oh, okay. The last girl who worked here was a bit of a ditz.

Months pass.

Them: We billed Insurance 123 and they will not pay. You owe us $100.

Me: That is because my insurance is XYZ, not 123. Bill insurance XYZ.

Them: Oh, okay.

Months pass.

Them: We billed Insurance 123 and they will not pay. You seriously owe us $100. Pay up or we will set the dogs debt collectors on you.

Me: What part of "bill XYZ not 123" do you not understand?

Them: Oh, we need to bill XYZ? Sorry, the last girl who worked here was a bit of a ditz.

Months pass.

Them: We billed Insurance 123 and they will not pay. You owe us $100.


Insurance: Claim denied. Reason: Claim Not Filed By Filing Deadline.

It infuriates me - INFURIATES ME - that I pay $370 a month in health insurance plus office visit fees to enable this kind of idiocy.

Is there an adult way of saying to the office "Don't even THINK about trying to bill me for this. This is COMPLETELY YOUR OWN FUCKING FAULT and if you try to lay this one on me I am probably going to come up to your stupid office and scream and throw things"?

So yeah. Dr Morrow of Riverdale. Office of fools. You'll probably go in for antibiotics and he'll cut your foot off. Steer clear.
hatam_soferet: (toothpaste)
( Oct. 20th, 2009 09:58 pm)
I'm trying to develop the habit of anti-grumbling. This is an anti-grumble about AT&T's customer web interface. [ETA: Yes, really! I wasn't being sarcastic!]

It is pretty damn good.

Right now I am happy because I have two phones, and I wish to move my contacts from phone A to phone B. Moving contacts isn't something I do much, so I am looking for the manuals.

Well, the site has a .com/copycontacts. It knows what model phone I have, so when I say Copy From, it gives me all the options but puts my phone at the top of the list as the most likely. That is Good Design.

Then I told it what my new phone is, and it gives you the choice of the available methods - sim card, bluetooth and so on. You choose. Then it brings up the appropriate instructions, with model-specific pictures and everything. One nice neat Copy From tab, one nice neat Copy To tab, all dead smooth and easy.

AT&T get cookies.
There's quite the lightning storm going on out there. I'm at the airport, so I have an unusually large amount of horizon to look at, and the lightning's the kind that plays acriss the sky as far as you can see, back and forth, these gigantic parallel streaks filling the sky and flicking off again.

It's the strange kind of lightning storm that fills the sky but makes no sound. There's no rain, no thunder, just the sky lighting up, like headlights across a ceiling, but it's the biggest ceiling *ever* and the biggest headlights too. Every so often a bigger whopper than usual breaks through and you can see the bolt shaking itself into the ground.

There might be thunder, actually; I'm wearing earplugs because someone's talking about healthcare on the piped television and it makes me mad to listen to white dudes with health insurance pontificating about why the existing system is made of cookies. Cos from where I'm standing it's a question of "how many people have to be permanently crippled from inadequate care before you start feeling sorry enough for them that you want your health money to pay healthcare costs rather than insurance executives," which seems like something of a no-brainer to me; I'd much rather my friends got treatment than that we should pay for some twerps in an office to shuffle claim forms and misfile things. I mean per capita the US could spend what the UK spends, and everyone would have health care, and there'd still be bloody masses left over, and we could use it for unemployment benefits for those recently fired from insurance companies. Anyway, I'm wearing earplugs, so if there is thunder I can't hear it. But I don't think there is.

Talking of health insurance, as part of my divorce paperwork, I and he have to submit a form which says: I [NAME] fully understand that upon the entrance of this divorce agreement, I may no longer be allowed to receive health coverage under my former spouse's health insurance plan. I may be entitled to purchase health insurance on my own through a COBRA option, if available, otherwise I may be required to secure my own health insurance.

That is, before your divorce is admitted for the consideration of the court, you have to turn in a sworn statement to the effect that you understand just how much a divorce can bollocks up your healthcare. I know that benefits and pensions and stuff can play a part when deciding whether to get divorced or not, but healthcare - and sworn statements - sheesh.

For those not used to the US system: there's this magical thing called a pre-existing condition, you see; if you have ever been sick before you are a Bad Risk. If you actually have real chronic problems and need to get your own insurance after your divorce you'd better marry a doctor pronto, and if you once got sick ten years ago and got better and didn't think it worth mentioning you'd better pray you never need expensive treatment because then the insurance company digs that up and says "oo you had a pre-existing condition your insurance is invalidated now we don't have pay your bills NEH NEH NEH and btw you owe the hospital several hundred thousand dollars" and you're screwed again. So getting your own insurance isn't necessarily going to happen, even if you've got a job that offers it. Oh, your insurance premiums pay for the dirt-digging peons as well. It's in their interest to deny you care so they put a lot of effort into it. Ugh.

The downside of watching spectacular electrical storms from the airport is that...they close the airport. Planes are great big Faraday cages so people in planes are okay, but I suppose it's dangerous for the ground crews, and I spose it might fry the tyres as well.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Aug. 14th, 2009 12:21 pm)
Wow, what terrible journalism. Reads like the sort of comprehension exercise one does for GCSE English, where they give you three pieces of real journalism and require you to produce a precis. In lower tiers, this means that you winnow out some tangentially-related facts and string them together in arbitrary order, with no apparent awareness of useful things like paragraphs or article structure, and you get marks for things like copying the spelling correctly. Presumably the BBC's staff writers' journalistic training stopped there.

A group of rabbis and Jewish mystics has taken to the skies over Israel, praying and blowing ceremonial horns in a plane to ward off swine flu.

About 50 religious leaders circled over the country on Monday, chanting prayers and blowing horns, called shofars.

The flight's aim was "to stop the pandemic so people will stop dying from it", Rabbi Yitzhak Batzri was quoted as saying in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

The flu is often called simply "H1N1" in Israel, as pigs are seen as unclean.

Eating pork is banned under Jewish dietary laws.

According to Israel's health ministry, there have been more than 2,000 cases of swine flu in the country, with five fatalities so far.

"We are certain that, thanks to the prayer, the danger is already behind us," added Mr Batzri was quoted as saying.

Television footage showed rabbis in black hats rocking backwards and forwards as they read prayers from Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism which counts the singer Madonna among its devotees.

The shofar is the horn of a ram, and is used to mark major religious occasions in Judaism.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Aug. 13th, 2009 10:14 am)
Comment on the healthcare debate (which you may have noticed I have not been commenting on).

Quote from a random American, on why private health insurance is much better than a publically-funded system:

I just don't think it's right to have to subsidize other people's insurance.

What on earth do you think insurance is? It's a system of shared subsidisation based on an assessment of collective risk, but adding a nice whack for the shareholders. Zounds, but this foolishness wearies me.

This apropos of the US Right's recent effort to prove that publically-funded healthcare is Evil, by claiming that Steven Hawking wouldn't have lived to grace the world had he been born in the UK.

This is obviously stupid; what's additionally interesting is how it's a lovely example of the smouldering tissue of invented truths, lack of fact-checking, wild assumptions, and smoke blown out by stirring same, being presented as reasoned debate in this country.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Aug. 9th, 2009 01:46 pm)
Router says: ppp status DOWN. This means computer is fine, router is fine, line has problem somewhere.

Phone internet company.
Internet company goon walks me through checking all the cables.

I am pretty sure it is not the cables because it is never the cables, but I comply politely.

Discover cable unplugged.


I've turned into one of those people who forgets to check the obvious stuff before calling tech support.

Can I have my pension yet?
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Jul. 29th, 2009 10:17 pm)







hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Apr. 14th, 2009 02:27 pm)
Having received an unexpected bill from the doctor's office, I gathered my metaphorical spoons, girded my metaphorical loins, and telephoned the insurance company.

Well, let the record show that:
* the phone was answered at once
* the person on the other end wasn't in a bad temper
* and communicated clearly, without using insurerspeke
* they agreed it wasn't my problem
* and are not denying payment
* it's just that the doctor's billing cycle and the insurance's paying cycle don't quite match up
* so it's okay
* and she didn't make like I was a fool for not knowing that already.

Thanks, universe!

And for your viewing pleasure, under cut: )
"being molested" is so ubiquitous that it is considered a normal part of growing up female

Source thread.

This was my first sexual experience: I was eleven. It was my first year in big school, in a technical drawing class. The teacher was out of the room. The Popular Boy groped me from behind while the rest of the class, girls and boys both, looked on and laughed. Through a fog of terror and utter humiliation, I managed to stab his arm with a pencil. It drew blood. As well as the shame of having been groped and laughed at, I was frightened all day that he would tell on me and I would get into trouble with the school authorities for having stabbed someone with a pencil. I guess I must have known on some level that being groped wouldn't be viewed as sufficient grounds for defending oneself violently.

Like other kids, I grew up being told about Stranger Danger and how if someone touches you in ways you aren't comfortable with, it is okay to tell on them. So, since I had been invaded and humiliated in a sexual, unwelcome, public, shaming manner, and since I was extremely upset, I tried to tell someone I trusted.

I got told to shut up and stop making such a fuss. Being molested is a normal part of growing up female, you know. So I shut up and absorbed that shame and embarrassment and knowledge that if you are molested, other people are going to laugh at you for objecting, and it is your own fault for being insufficiently invisible.

And it's only very very recently that I've realised that something doesn't have to be full-on rape to be Wrong, and it's okay to object to being groped, and if someone tells you to shut up, that's not because you suck, it's because they suck. Hear that? It may be normal to be molested, but that doesn't mean it's okay. It doesn't mean you have to shut up and stop making such a fuss. It's okay to want to be a human being, and to want to be treated as such.

Well, that's today's post. It doesn't have much to do with Torah. On the other hand, it has everything to do with Torah.

PS - Comments are screened and will stay screened unless you indicate specifically that you're okay with them being unscreened.

PPS. Telling women that they should learn self-defence IS NOT the answer. That validates and reinforces the assumption that molestation is the norm, accepts that such is completely inevitable, and plants or strengthens the idea that someone who is attacked is somehow at fault for not having learned to defend herself. A woman shouldn't have to learn self-defence in order to avoid being molested.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 25th, 2009 09:57 pm)
Cripes. Obama reversed the media block on military coffins. The media is now allowed to print pictures of "flag-draped caskets of fallen U.S. troops returning home," pictures which were banned because various US presidents, quite a lot of whom were called Bush, thought that such images might make people fed up with wars.

That's pretty amazing, really.
or, Why I Like Hanukah More Than Purim.

Because parading your wife in public as a sex object isn't funny.
Because getting mad when your wife doesn't want to comply isn't funny.
Because governmental fearmongering with wild speculations about women isn't funny.
Because turfing out your wife in a fit of pique isn't funny.
Because government legitimising intimidation in domestic relationships isn't funny.
Because abduction isn't funny.
Because fetishising virgins isn't funny.
Because rape isn't funny.
Because imprisonment in a harem isn't funny.
Because your husband being allowed to kill you isn't funny.

Don't tell me I'm wrong in reacting to the text in a way that disturbs you.

Don't tell me I'm reading it wrong.
Don't tell me what the Midrash says.
Don't tell me to lighten up.
Don't tell me it's all just a joke.
Don't tell me it's parody.
Don't tell me that if I read it like you read it I wouldn't get upset.

Comments will be screened. Comments failing to understand the above will not be passed.

ETA: For instance, "Did you not notice that none of these things you complain of are supposed to be good or wise?" is telling me I'm reading it wrong. FAIL. Yes, I did notice. Pipe down and think.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 8th, 2009 01:36 pm)
Today I actually approve of the bank, for once. I'm spending a Large Amount Of Money on parchment, and using my debit card to pay for it.* The bank, spotting that I generally make smallish purchases in New York, declined to process a lone transaction in the region of $5000 in Israel. So I phoned and said would they please authorise this one, and they did. This is an example of Getting It Right. Good bank. Have cookies.

* okay, actually my agent in Jerusalem, but it comes to the same thing
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Dec. 8th, 2008 09:02 pm)
I observe that these days, you are allowed to take pointed scissors onto planes provided they have blades less than four inches in length, yet you are still not allowed sealed cans of Coke. I don't know about you, but I think pointed scissors with blades three and seven-eighths inches long are inherently somewhat more threatening than cans of Coke. "Take this plane to Cuba, or I will drink this Coke and belch mightily at you" isn't especially compelling, when you think about it.

Parenthetically, on goons... )

As ever, I would rather the Israeli approach, which credits terrorists with sharp thinking, and reasons that if your adversary is cunning, original, and determined, it is better to counter him with personnel of similar calibre and outwit him, rather than attempt to thwart him with goons who would only be able to spot a terrorist if he put a twenty-pound bomb in his luggage tray, labelled ACME BOMB and with the string fizzing. And even then, you'd have to hope the goon wasn't distracted by any cans of Coke someone might be trying to sneak through.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Nov. 6th, 2008 10:34 pm)
By the way - whatever happened to corsets? I've been wondering this for a while.

Like, a hundred years ago, people wore corsets like we wear bras. In the 1920s, stick-thin was fashionable and people used an awful lot of underwear to accomplish that, corsets and girdles and whatever. Stuff that you use to hold your tummy in. Same in the late 40s and 50s.

Then foundation wear got less popular towards the end of the 60s and was basically Right Out by the end of the 70s. But the expected body shape stayed. As in, you're definitely expected to be thin, or at least to have a flat tummy, but now you're expected to do it with diet and exercise, and no assertive underwear in sight.

I know that Slimming has been on the stage since - well, since the 20s anyway. But even so, no-one was expecting you to have a perfectly flat tummy without some assistance, were they? From what I understand, tummy-shaping garments were about as standard then as bras now. And then at some point we lost the assistance and expected everyone to have flat tummies with diet, bizarre exercises, and willpower.

So now everyone's supposed to beat up on themselves for not being able to accomplish unassisted what it used to take whalebone, steel, and industrial-strength elastic to attain. Sounds like bullshit to me, but I'd still be sort of interested to know more about how that happened - not so much why people wanted to wear less restrictive underwear (something of a no-brainer), but how we transitioned into thinking that you should have a flat tummy without it.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Oct. 30th, 2008 07:20 pm)
It's frustrating...when you spend $100 on a lamp, and it expires after eighteen months. The bulb is supposed to last 10,000 hours, which is a fat lot of use when the lamp dies first. There's nothing obviously wrong; I took apart the bits which can be taken apart and can't find any fuses or anything that looks bust. Just...it doesn't work, and the company's advice is: it's out of warranty, you should go buy a new one.

I don't want to throw out a lamp. It took masses of resources to make, and it shouldn't be that difficult to fix. A lamp ought to last for years. But I don't know how to fix it, and I don't know enough to find out how, and most of the components are fused into plastic cases that you can't open, anyway. That too is frustrating. I frequently wish we lived in a Fix culture rather than a Replace culture. Now is one of those times.
hatam_soferet: (tea)
( Oct. 15th, 2008 09:46 pm)
And a note on global warming: this is New York City in the middle of October. A meal in a succah should feature warm clothes, scarves, and grumbling about how this is a festival designed to be celebrated in Israel. But these past two evenings - evenings! Long after dark! In October! - I've been comfortable in the succah in a t-shirt and shorts, and I only wore trousers and socks the second night because I didn't want more mosquito bites.

I find this extremely scary, honestly.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Oct. 7th, 2008 06:51 pm)
I think I posted about arriving at London Gatwick September 2nd to find no plane to New York because the airline had gone bust...well, yeah, that sucked, but,

the credit card refunded it!

I got the money back for the flight that never was! I don't know how that works, beyond "credit card magic," but I was jolly jolly happy about it.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Sep. 29th, 2008 04:19 pm)
This is just wrong. Bottled water for dogs.

I'm not a fan of bottled water in general, as it seems to me a dreadfully wasteful use of resources; shipping water from France to New York is just ridiculous, and squillions of plastic bottles aren't my favourite idea ever either. But for dogs? Puh-leez. It's a dog. It chows down on bones that have been buried in a flowerbed for a month. Tap water isn't going to hurt it.

Hat tip to Chum With Private Journal.