Fantastic cookbook for healthy eating

Heidi Swanson’s new cookbook Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen is out and it’s fantastic. I cooked from it this weekend and made three amazingly delicious dishes. We had millet muffins for breakfast. The little millet crunchies were great. We had kale, coconut and farro salad with grilled grass-fed beef steak on Saturday night. And last night I made the broccoli gribiche with roasted potatoes, capers, and mustard to accompany steamed mussels. Also fantastic. I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re trying to get more veggies and healthy foods into your diet, this book is a great way to do it. I can’t wait to cook more things from it, and to make the same recipes again.

Need some insurance advice

Following up last week’s post about insurance ridiculous, I spent some time poking around for different plans and found a hospital plan that “covers your hospital needs-and the hospital needs of your covered dependents-even when you are far away from home.” Well visited are covered too, and It’s significantly cheaper than our current plan and a better insurer. You pay out-of-pocket for non-hospital visits, but then hospital stuff is covered. That would work for us.

Here’s the question though: they say they only cover expenses billed by the hospital, so if the surgeon isn’t on the staff, their work wouldn’t be covered. I have no hospital experience and so my question for those in the know: is it common for hospital doctors to be hospital staff? Or are they usually not? What I don’t want is an accident that sends me to the ER, like a car crash, and I have some emergency surgery and after the fact discover the surgeon isn’t a hospital employee. And then be on the hook for $300,000 in bills or something. Anyone with experience, please chime in!

The insurance mess

I haven’t had employer-provided health care in over ten years, which means I’ve been paying for individual or small group insurance for myself and now my family every month. Every year my premiums increase by 30%, so I’ve changed providers going from crappier to crappier policies until now we’ve got the cheapest I can find. This “cheap” policy is costing over $1300 a month and is an HMO, so it only covers in-network providers. Because it’s not a very good insurance company, very few providers take it. For my OB/GYN I just pay out-of-pocket for my appointments.

Two things now: my pediatrician referred my son to an ear-nose-throat specialist to check his hearing. None of his referrals take our insurance, so I called the company, used their website to pick a random doctor, called the doctor and was told they didn’t take it, was transferred to another doctor, was transferred again and finally ended up with a fax line picking up my call after fifteen minutes on the phone. After two hours calling various people, I gave up and am now going to pay out-of-pocket for the referred doctor for Ollie tomorrow.

Some time last week I think I stepped on a piece of glass. There’s something in my heel and I’ve soaked it and squeezed and tweezed but whatever it is, I can’t get it. It’s been throbbing for a week. My primary care physician can’t see me for two weeks. Their urgent care center takes my insurance but I have to make them my PCP to have the visit covered. Another local urgent care facility doesn’t take my insurance. So basically if I want to address this before May 24 and not pay out-of-pocket, I need to go to the ER and it’s a $50 copay.

I wouldn’t even mind going to the ER except my local hospital closed and the ERs are across or uptown. Why did my local hospital, a level 1 trauma center serving an area with over 800,000 people, close? It went bankrupt. There was a New York Times article around the time of its closing stating that its ER was a dumping ground for people with no insurance because they wouldn’t turn anyone away. I don’t know if this is true. I don’t know why they went bankrupt and suddenly closed. But it’s insane that an area as dense as the lower west side of Manhattan has no hospital and that politics and money are keeping residents from critical health care services.

I probably won’t go to the ER because it’s not an emergency, and I don’t think it’s an appropriate use of those services. But my insurance and the system are conspiring to send me there. I’m not sure how that keeps health care costs down, to pay for an ER visit over less extreme types of care. I guess ultimately the insurance company saves money because I’ll just walk around with glass in my foot for two more weeks. And pay out-of-pocket for care in addition to paying thousands of dollars a year for insurance.

I’d hoped health care reform would somehow solve this, but it’s clear to me that it won’t. The system is broken and even people who talk about fixing it don’t seem to realize just how broken it is.

Hidden in our food supply

Great video below from Robyn O’Brien speaking at TEDxAustin about untested GMOs in our food supply. While most of the information was familiar to me, it reminded me once again why I shop and cook the way I do for myself and my family.

There are two old-time meat stores in my neighborhood and I prefer to buy my meat there rather than Whole Foods. But it’s not organic or grass-fed. So those beef cows are most likely being fattened on a fed lot with genetically modified corn. The talk got me thinking about that, and wondering what to do. Stop supporting the butcher whose craft is disappearing? Ask him to buy grass-finished beef? Why has eating gotten so complicated?

The truth behind Cinco de Mayo

In the spirit of bubbling up old content, how could I not point you to my curmudgeonly What you’re really celebrating with Cinco de Mayo rant from 2006?

I think it’s great that once a year Americans decide to pay attention to their friends south of the border and celebrate a piece of their tumultuous history. Just don’t think you’re celebrating Mexican Independence, because you’re not.

Boy I used to get fired up! And I’m still annoyed by Cinco de Mayo.

Best of 2000

Ugh it’s painful to read these old posts, so I made it through July 2000 before stopping. I fear if I keep this up, I’ll become so depressed by the amount of crap I’ve contributed to the world that I’ll give up the site entirely. Not a great start to its thirteenth year.

This post about I/O overload from March 2000 struck me. I clearly remember writing it, and the day I sat on the MUNI and realized I was too drained to do anything but sit. Also at the time I was fairly unable to just sit, to just be, until exhaustion forced me to. I was uncomfortable with the stillness that comes with stopping. There’s a lot of fear of being alone in those early posts.

Quiet time to myself is now so rare and so treasured. I could happily read on the subway if I happened to be alone but I’d also gladly just sit and watch and think. Two kids, one husband, and twelve years later I’m in a much better place. But I sure would enjoy a Saturday to myself.

The best from 1999

Hard to choose something I liked from 1999 because it’s some slim pickings. Boy were blogs just random dumps of junk in the early days, at least mine. (Please refrain from pointing out that’s still the case…)

But upon review, two things struck me:

1. I hadn’t realized, or had forgotten, that we launched the public beta of the Pyra project management app on August 4, 1999. And then Blogger on August 24, 1999. In my mind the Pyra app lived for a few months publicly before Blogger, but it was only twenty days. No wonder Blogger kicked Pyra app’s butt. Poor thing never had a chance!

2. The web sure has come a long way, baby! We all know that, but it’s funny to see posts like this one where I want online travel planning to work better. Or this one about how the average person uses the Web once every 13 days and stays there for an hour. I “joke” I use it once a day and stay for 13 hours. Somewhere between then and now, the Web arrived at where I thought it should have already been in 1999.

Oh yeah, and my favorite from 1999? A true maternal conversation, wherein my mom questions my boyfriend databases choices.

Twelve years man!

Today is’s birthday. In the past I’ve let this day slipped by, but this year I thought I’d count down to it with the best posts from each of the past twelve years. But Ollie was sick last week and didn’t go to school hardly at all, so my limited free time disappeared. And well with all life, etc. I didn’t get a chance to read through twelve years of archives. Also? It’s kind of weird and depressing to do that. So for now, Happy Birthday! It’s hard to imagine twelve more years of this site, but I also can’t picture it going away either. So be sure to check back in 2023. Or maybe just later this week, when I’ll hopefully share some of my favorite posts of all times.