Friday, January 29, 2010

Shadow People

In a discussion this morning I mentioned about how I feel and others in my peer group what I call the "shadow people" phenomena - late boomers who are under/unemployed, draining their resources and wondering if they will make it see any resolution, help or even make it to the social services safety net of Social Security/Medicare.

My companion googled the phrase and found this description regarding "shadow people"


WHAT WAS THAT?" You were sitting comfortably on your sofareading the latest issue of FATE in the dim light when movement across the room caught your attention. It seemed dark and shadowy, but there was nothing there. You returned to your reading - and a moment later there it was again. You looked up quickly this time and saw the fleeting but distinctly human shape of the shadow pass quickly over the far wall... and disappear.

What was that? Some natural shadow? Your heightened imagination? A ghost? Or was it something that seems to be a spreading phenomenon - apparitions that are coming to be known as "shadow people" or "shadow beings."


I cannot think of a more fitting description regarding this group. And then there was this article in the NY Times about what is happening to those who are more of what I call the "shadow people"

I have decided that we need a place, a voice and a chance to connect where "shadow people" can find one another and perhaps find a voice that someone will listen to. A voice that yes is angry, yes afraid but with a tone of intelligence and rationality that may actually be a counterpoint to the crazy rhetoric of the tea baggers. But who will listen and does anyone really want to come out of the shadows to admit the truth?


**I wrote this before Occupy Wall Street when it seemed there was no voices, no indignation, no anger explored about what has happened to this country and to its seemingly obliviousness to those that built it and their children who are meant to carry it on. While still an evolving and hopefully long term movement, I cannot think of a better more fitting description than the 99%. We are so vast, so diverse that all of our collective voices have to mean something. Its time now to come out of the shadows I think ****




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Jobless Turn to Family for Help, Often With Complications

By MICHAEL LUO
Published: January 29, 2010

WARRENTON, Ore. — After Jean Ley lost her job as a mental health counselor in June 2008, she quickly realized how limited her options were. She had little savings. Unemployment benefits were not going to be enough to pay her bills. She was at risk of losing her home here on the Oregon coast.

In June 2008, Jean Ley lost her job after she had just purchased a home. Her son Matt has been paying her mortgage and other bills.

As a last resort, Ms. Ley, 62, turned to her family. Her older brothers conferred with her son, Matt, and agreed that one of them would help pay her bills if needed.

But the assistance proved more than temporary. A year and half later, her son’s regular payments covering her mortgage and occasional emergencies, like a car repair or arthritis medication, have proven to be her bulwark from economic catastrophe.

“If my family weren’t able to help me out at this point, I wouldn’t have a home,” she said. “And I would be struggling.”

As joblessness persists, credit cards max out and the government’s safety net has grown thin, many Americans have turned to a patchwork quilt of family members and friends to stave off eviction, keep their electricity running or cover an unexpected medical bill. It is an underground banking system, complete with lenders and borrowers.

But borrowing from others can be complicated, according to interviews with more than two dozen unemployed adults who said they had done it. The act of asking, even in these hard times, is often humbling; some even call it humiliating. It can be equally stressful for lenders, many of whom are also on shaky financial footing and can barely afford to extend a small amount — especially when loans turn into gifts.

“I think money changes everything,” said Matt Ley, of Seattle. “It’s a cliché, but when you lend money to a friend, when you lend money to family, it changes things.”

More than half of the respondents to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll of 708 unemployed adults nationwide said they had borrowed money from friends or relatives. In most cases, their financial pictures were bleak. Nearly 80 percent of those who reported borrowing money said their family’s financial situation was “fairly bad” or “very bad,” a significantly greater proportion than among those who had not had to borrow.

Nearly 40 percent of those who had been lent money received food stamps, compared with just 13 percent of those who had not.

Younger unemployed adults were more likely to borrow money — 61 percent of those under the age of 45 said they had. But more than a third of those over the age of 45 had as well.

For adult children borrowing from parents — by far the most common occurrence among those interviewed — the act often meant acknowledging an uneasy dependence that many thought they had escaped long ago.

“Here I am, 38, and having to ask for help from my parents is just belittling,” said Matt Gibbons of Kingsport, Tenn., who has accepted more than $2,000 from his mother to cover his bills since losing his job at a home improvement company in early 2008.

John Morris, 36, of Chicago had to go to the emergency room recently with a leg infection. Without health insurance after losing his job a year and a half ago, he applied for charity care from the hospital. But he still needed about $300 for antibiotics after being discharged.

Mr. Morris waited two and a half days before finally summoning the nerve to call his father, Rich, who had already lent him money for an emergency car repair. Rich Morris, who recently retired, eventually wired the money but only after checking some accounts to make sure he had enough.

“It’s not like we have hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around in a slush fund that you can pull out and do these types of things,” Rich Morris said.

What became clear from interviews is that borrowing from family or friends is often done only with great reluctance.

Carlethaus Hopper, 35, was laid off from his job as a welder in September 2008. A few months later, his wife, Lura, 50, lost her position as a ticket clerk for Amtrak.

They started pawning jewelry, even their wedding rings. But when they received a notice from their landlord threatening them with eviction if they did not hand over $1,025 for the monthly rent, they had no recourse but to ask Ms. Hopper’s 82-year-old father.

Since then, the couple has turned to Ms. Hopper’s father two more times, borrowing more than $3,000. Ms. Hopper also recently borrowed $2,000 from an old friend to pay for medication.

“I had already pawned everything I could pawn,” she said.

In most cases, according to interviews, repayment is left open-ended, given how bleak the odds of re-employment remain. Interest is usually not part of the agreement. Some lenders said they did not even expect to be repaid. But the borrowers often insist that they will as a matter of pride.

After Christine Oxley, 56, and her husband lost their jobs at a nonprofit trade association in 2008, Ms. Oxley drew up a legal contract when she was forced to go to an elderly great-aunt for $40,000 after her husband had a heart attack and was hospitalized without health insurance. Some portion of the money was eventually going to be directed the Oxleys way in an inheritance, but Ms. Oxley insisted upon a formal agreement that required repayment within five years.

“I wanted her to know I wasn’t going to walk away from this and I wasn’t trying to get a handout,” she said.

Some borrowers have exhausted their unemployment benefits, while others did not qualify in the first place. Even among those who have been able to draw benefits, like Ms. Ley, it is frequently not enough.

The Leys’ situation was complicated by the fact that Matt Ley and his wife, Sandy Brown, had lent his mother money to pay legal bills and other expenses when she went through a messy separation from a partner several years ago that depleted her savings. The assistance became a source of tension in her son’s marriage, prompting Mr. Ley and his wife to seek the help of a therapist.

“Emotionally, we had to readjust,” said Ms. Brown, who works part time as a lawyer. “How do we communicate in our marriage about this difficult issue without making anyone feel bad?”

This time, Ms. Ley provided the couple with a detailed budget of how she was spending her money, down to cat food and hair cuts, proving her frugality. Still, the $750 a month for the mortgage on her small modular home, along with some other bills, was not insignificant, even for a couple with means, forcing them to set aside other priorities.

Mr. Ley, who is a commercial banker, said the exchange of money has pushed him and his mother apart in subtle ways. But he tries to maintain perspective.

“At some point, you have to step back and say, ‘This is your mother, this is family, this is blood,’ ” Mr. Ley said. “And this is what you do when they have something bad happen to them.”

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dr. No

This used to refer to the eponymous Bond villain but it is increasingly now known as the Republican party and their childish position on everything Obama. Increasingly reminding me of an incalcitrant 2 year old, the Republicans demeanor, attitude and stony demonstration during the State of the Union was truly reminiscent of the pouting silent treatment of the same 2 year old now a hormonal teenager being told 'no.'

I get that there are fundamental political differences but what is increasingly alarming is the belief that their no is actually doing something beneficial. But for who the recipient of that benefit is unclear..or is it? It seems that whatever the Democrats want to do that benefits the American Citizenry is in direct opposition to the Republicans beneficiary - business.

The systemic destruction or at least watering down of Government is over 30 years in the making. It began with Nixon and became in earnest during the Reagan years; both Bushes and yes even Clinton continued on slowly eradicating Government authority, their regulatory powers and access to intelligent and productive members who wanted to work in civil management by wage stagnation (illegal ironically as passed during the Clinton years) diluting their authority as well as slowly appointing imbeciles, wingnuts and others who had no interest in the Agencies or their purpose continued existence. One only has to look at the number of appointees ("heck of a job Brownie" anyone?) to Cabinet positions of the last 20 years to find those whose vested interest let alone experience in the field was questionable.

Blatantly ignoring or repealing laws or simply avoiding regulation led to what has been the utmost goal of continuing on the Republicans dream of destruction of big Government and the establishment of States and Business running the country. As you can tell that worked out great!

Thomas Frank in the Wrecking Crew discusses at length and with excellent documentation and research how this goal has come increasingly close to destroying the fundamental operations of our Country. And that despite their "goals" the Republicans in true fashion exceedingly fail and in fact build both Government and its power however inefficiently. But you see politics is just that power and to have power you need a concentric if not Totalitarian center and if Business was to succeed then the division of power well would be just that too divided. I just cannot see how the Republicans could survive without their single brain trust consolidated in Washington.

The Democrats seem to be handling this NO much like the yuppie parents they are, alternating ignoring or threatening while simultaneously doing nothing. Obama got a few jabs in but it remains to be seen if he can truly wrangle them into cooperation. Unlikely he just doesn't have the bad daddy chops that Bush had (well that Cheney, Rove,et al had) and that LBJ had. He is like a mellow 21st Century parent that has read too many pop psychology books and thinks by watching Oprah he will somehow figure this out.

The Party of NO did make me laugh when they could not even support Michelle's quest to reduce/end childhood obesity. For heaven's sake you can't even support helping fatty kids get healthy? Oh that is right the snack food industry will suffer and the health care industry later when they hit them up for drugs to counter the diabetes, heart disease etc... Maybe gym and fitness professionals are liberals so fuck them!

Both parties of Congress are very guilty of being patrons of business. Government has been in the hands of Corporations for quite awhile so the admonishment by Obama to the Supreme Court was well just another parent scolding falling on deaf ears. No wonder even Alioto was hostile. He had heard Obama say this before during his own Supreme Court vetting... and well that worked out didn't it?

Do I see hope for the country? To be honest I am also a party of NO. I just cannot see that happening. I think unless Progressives mobilize and begin to take to the streets a la Tea Baggers and truly unleash a resistance to this we will be back to the Reagan years in no time. A FRIGHTENING THOUGHT!!! People think Nixon was an enemy to the people it was only his downfall as that is what brought the wingers to avenge that wrong. They have spent the predominant part of their adult life fighting to restore the beliefs of Imperial Presidency and one party Government on behalf of industry. They came close and you are living the results right now.

Now is the time for you to JUST SAY NO. See the 80s are back.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The State of the Union

Tonight Obama is to give the countries State of the Union address. In this he is apparently to admit his missteps, propose new tax credits and my personal favorite a spending freeze.

Like everything in this country and in direct contradiction to his platform that he ran on (you know health care for all, no war, close Guantanamo, stop the banks) nothing has changed for the better but only for the worse.

For the VERY wealthy its been a rough ride but as we have seen the players in the game, the financial services sector and health care are apparently business and money as always. They continue to find ways to generate profit and grow apparently while the rest of the country falls to tatters.

The say Health Care is dead... yet with the growing number of unemployed and those finding themselves facing real illness with real issues surrounding insurance (In 2009 20-25 thousand lost insurance due to exceeding lifetime limits)Congress seems firmly intent on ignoring this issue until they have made it through mid term elections. That "revolution" caused by tea parties (again not really the case in Mass) has scared them sufficiently that many current candidates are dropping out and others choosing to not drop in - Beau Biden anyone?

Meanwhile that leaves the well funded and crazy to fill the gaps. If there is one the right loves is a fight and they will fight with a shadow if it means they win. If it means lying, corruption, manipulation and well criminal activities to WIN they will do so. And who really wins - well the money makers, the losers who vest all their life work into this shit and all of it at the sacrifice of the general good. Paul Krugman is right - good people who want health care reform, true Government, Gay Marriage, etc are the MAJORITY but you would not know it when you hear the Republicans speak.

I have had serious conversations of late with friends. Serious enough to warrant real compassion and yes empathy but more importantly connection and understanding. We call ourselves the "Shadow People". Predominately white urban educated professionals who in this society (economy regardless) managed to make it work. We had good jobs but decided to stake out entrepreneurial ideas or pursue work that had more meaning.

It was great until the year 2007. I can say for me it was slightly before that. I divorced and that first business ended. I could not find work. The last job I was offerred before returning to Seattle was for 35K selling tile. And that was living in San Francisco.... so I saw the writing on the wall and thought well I will do it again but where I thought it was still affordable and I had roots. But it was too little too late. I just turned 50 and now my primary income is substitute teaching.

My girlfriend saw her business die and when she tried to return to the workplace only to see that business shutter, the next job downsized and finally back to a luxury mattress store working for $15.00/hour. She is 60 years old.

My other girlfriend had a successful retail store and eBay related business. She stopped using eBay three years ago as it was become unwieldly and no longer a viable option. Her retail business is non existent and she is living off of her depleting savings. She is 53.

My friend the Artist was at the high point of his career. With commissions from major businesses and collectors. He has not sold a painting in a year. He is broke and has seen one friend die of AIDS after years of living well and now his partner is living with him trying to find a business base for his hair salon. They are both just wondering now when it will all end. He is 57 and his friend 48.


We all openly discuss the impact the economy has on our lives. My friends have stories of other friends all just a little "too old" and a little "too young" to find work and to qualify for Medicare and Social Security. We came up with the term Shadow People as we live in the shadows. We are single, some of us with grown children some with no children. Our parents have died or are in an odd turn of events helping support them or their grown children are. We don't qualify for unemployment as we were self employed, we don't qualify for Welfare or Food Stamps or Medicaid because we still have savings left. So we walk around trying to keep it together as everything around us falls apart.

Business do not want to hire us because we would command more money. True we know what things cost and we are little long on the tooth to suddenly go back to roomies and cup o'noodles. We pay for own health care because well we know that businesses don't want to pay as premiums on us "old" people are higher as well. We understand business and financials and many of us have experience and knowledge that the bosses don't or don't want you to have otherwise they might be expected to actually work and do something. The allure of 401Ks hold nothing as we can't be expected to stay at the job long enough (like we can afford to retire) to reap the benefits of that bullshit form of savings.

How many of us are out there? The 45-62 year olds that are considered unemployable? Who are talented and smart and hard working but are finding work impossible to find. This economic meltdown left massive damage to the white collar marketplace. For Attorneys, Architects, Interior Designers, Financial Service professionals (yes for every success there is a failure.. WAMU, Bears, Lehmans) and other professions that in good times required degrees and persons with experience and knowledge to perform them. Even the Tech industry is paying the price and outsourcing is their threat.

And there are less successful but still thriving groups of people of this age. The ones who had booths at Farmer's Markets or Art Shows or sold online products and crafts that added to their income and allowed their families to have a step up. I know tons of those people who made jewelry or pottery now that small source also gone.

So how many Shadow People do you know? The people who on the outside are getting by but on the inside having that open discussion of what to do when the money runs out. Their State of the Union is not good and not getting better.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Green Your World

As always I do (in between following politics particularly as it relates to Health Care) like to keep aprised of what my fellow greenenprenuers are doing.

Yesterday I received a notice about a blogsite that reviews green products. I liked the simplicity and useablity. Some sites are complex, detail oriented and not really based for the average daily consumer.

Here is a little history and background on Ecobold.com

EcoBold.com does video reviews of all kinds of green and eco-friendly household products. From reusable calendars to organic body lotions to recycled candy wrap purses, you'll find everything you need here, at a discount!


Ecobold.com CEO, Steffany Boldrini, was born and raised in a small ranch in Brazil, her mom raised her and her 2 sisters under true "green" standards. As kids they were always eating fresh fruits, recycling, composting, playing in the mud and picking up trash around the forest that was left behind by others. But not everything was always green in her mind, one of the things she always wanted was to live in the city and have a doorbell and a house number just like all her school friends! Today she understands that her childhood has prepared her to help in bringing global awareness towards taking care of our environment. She is a huge advocate for creating new manufacturing standards for products that should never harm our planet or our health. www.EcoBold.com

Steffani also tells me taht she is adding a Valentines section so instead of going red this time think GREEN!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

That Old Black Magic

After the last few weeks I am beginning to think Voodoo is the answer. After the devastation in Haiti to hear the racist rhetoric of Rush to the tragically disturbed ramblings of Pat Robertson one has to wonder if free speech is all that.

Last week following the election of his own ilk Glenn Beck once again made ill reputed remarks implying that Scott Brown is like Gary Condit and watch for a dead intern. Aside from the fact that Gary Condit was an asshole he did not murder the girl and that the true perpetrator has been found. Of course things like "facts" have nothing to do with Glenn Beck or his "thoughts". Frankly the 10 minutes a week I commit to watching his ramblings I am more amused than appalled. From cutting a pie up to insult Michelle Obama to his obsequious fawning over Sarah Pallin there is really little left for this man to do except perform a sex act or murder/suicide on air.

In that debate if we have too much free speech came the Supreme Court decision. So now what has been the "voice" of the individual (although really that is debatable) it appears even businesses are entitled to free speech. So now Government already a tool of the Corporations, the Lobbyists and Special Interests will become even more a reflection of who has the most money to spend and distort and subsequently cloud the process and muddle Democracy and Government even more.

Yet without free speech we would not have dissent. We would not have had leaders and activists willing to go on the line to fight for their beliefs that they are right and I support that even when its a teabagging group of oldsters.

But when I think of all of this happening during the week of MLK day I wonder if we will ever have a single voice uncorrupted to advocate what Dr. King so eloquently stated SOCIAL JUSTICE FOR ALL.

Seeing the "teabaggers" protests I have to laugh. Most of them are elderly already on pensions, social security and Medicare. All elements of a massive social justice reform brought on by Democratic leaders against the will of the opposition. Yet consistently Republicans have attempted to reduce or eliminate these programs but that is conveniently forgotten. No one can say that the Republicans are not good at revisionist history. Their other strong suit is unified propaganda and bullying. They stay with the same message - be it wrong, right or simply misleading - they know on to stay on point and say it in a way that is effective. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE and one thing they know is that their audience are largely elderly, poorly educated, lowly employed, highly fearful of change and yes racist.

Liberals suffer from the misleading belief that a group hug is better than a right hook. And they also believe that everyone has a voice in the room and they are smarter than everyone so they know better. Every met a liberal? They are the smug arrogant one prone to easy discomfort, eye rolling when confronted and very good at burying their heads in sand. When not hand wringing or pearl clutching they are simply good at avoiding it all. Look at the response when Brown was elected. "Health Care is dead." "We are in a minority!" HUH... they may be smarter but simple math is obviously over their head. The Republicans have NEVER had a majority in Senate and yet it has never stopped them from anything through the Reagan years and the Bush years in getting what they want... You would think a Filibuster is a bad thing. Well it is when you are 70 years old and need your sleep.

I meet many "liberals" who frequently say to me 'you should probably not read or watch those shows." Few of them can sustain or even want to have a discussion on the subject. I think why is that they are ill informed themselves and don't want to admit it and the other is they really don't want to admit that they share the "I Me Mine" philosophy that dictates much of the Republican philosophy. Apparently if you don't KNOW what is happening its not happening right?

But Democrats don't have the fire in the belly of a MLK or Cesar Chavez of a Susan B. Anthony or any other activist who walked the street in protest over the denial of rights of one over the other. I wonder what they would think now?

I have always struggled with Obama. I liked his real connection to the real world. He is well educated and articulate and I truly liked his dedication to his family. I wasn't ready to drink the Obama-aid but when he won the nomination I supported him wholeheartedly. I was a Clinton supporter for the obvious reason - she was a powerful woman. And while I knew of the baggage and issues I think there is something about her that says there is nothing you could say or do that will stop me. She is one tough broad. I never thought Obama was well tough enough. Reading Game Change I am now more sure of that then ever.

Obama has returned to the populist message this week. He suddenly found Volker who was running around in outer hinterlands and returned to the idea that financial reform must occur. He still however has retained the coterie of Wall Street acolytes that while not sitting in the front of the bus are still on the bus. And ironically he has been willing to throw many under that same bus that may bring a taint of problems to his position... Rev. Wright, Van Jones among others. I have a problem with someone who began health care reform with the Pharmaceuticals only to realize that deal would not hold and the fact they walked out the door and poured millions in lobbying against it. You cannot have it both ways and his propensity to conciliate is not working.

Until you are ready to fight don't come to the fight. We have an angry and afraid population. Our main fear is work. Its mine. Its my neighbors its my community's fear. Terrorism is not even really on the table. Most people don't understand health care reform and its connection to the greater economy. They don't understand the need for financial reform and its connection to the greater economy. They don't understand the need for a greater stimulus (the bailouts were neither a stimulus nor an Obama plan but the Republicans again with their great single voice and propaganda have done well in disguising that fact). People don't get that having a stronger government would actually be beneficial in the greater good. That said for Republicans that is not how they see it unless of course it relates to them, their industries that receive subsidies - such as farming or military contractors - and once again that is brushed under the rug.

Republicans and Democrats have systemically destroyed the benefits of Government. Its not just the banks that went unregulated but its the FDA - the drugs recalled, the medical devices that go unchecked, the food problems, the problems with our air and water are all part of a Government that has been eviscerated to the point of ineffectualness. So you see why people fear Government.

When you don't understand something you fear it. And now we have a black man who speaks in big words and fancy ideas and well its just all black magic.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Old vs New vs Green

I found this analysis and article on MSN the other day and I do have some thoughts to add.

When buying a home that is

Green vs Not Green

It doesn't matter unless it matters to YOU. A quality home that is built above code with modern standards and geared towards energy efficiency is the most important element you need. In other words is the roof attic sufficiently insulated, ventilated and appropriately water retardant to reduce leaks and problems of heating and cooling loss. Think of this as the 'hat on your head' that protects you in the cold or shades you in the sun.

The crawl space or basement. Insulate the foundation and if possible make a crawl space a conditioned one to improve the heat loss and the air flow to the house. Think of that space as a secret room that needs a little TLC but little maintenance once done right.

Interior insulation. While I prefer the non-formaldehyde options be that batt, foam or straw bale, make sure its simply installed appropriately and effectively. Double the code is sort of my mantra on this.

Ventilation. Without it the interior air quality and overall humidity of the home could rise to contribute to long term problems that effect performance and sustainability.

Energy efficient appliances well installed and heating that is effective. Include lighting and how you use it to overall reduce use without loss of performance/need.

Windows. She suggests Serious Windows. They are great and are EXPENSIVE. This is the one thing that seems to suffer throwing the baby out with the bath water. Before replacing especially in older homes look to refacing and re glazing. You would be surprised that the performance while not "serious" could be enough if you use that opportunity to check flashing, seals and insulation around the frame. Good windows come in a lot of shapes, sizes and options. Have a good unbiased source explain what all the ratings and codes mean and make sure you pick the right windows for the right locations throughout the home. You can actually have a prescription for your windows!

And NONE of that has to be green designated.

What makes a green home is more than using the latest fads in building materials, its an entire encompassing approach to how the house functions, its purpose and its long term goals. And believe me I have seen plenty of "green build" that will need work in the next decade as much of the materials used were new and as in oil and water may have some failure when used without testing.

Again, buying a home is a sum of its parts. From the ground up all of it works in tandem and without quality workmanship frankly its junk build and there were many who jumped on that green wagon or well the wagon that was the housing boon and they are long gone and with them warranties and information that could be beneficial in finding the right home. A quality home inspection and if you really want to go to extreme a performance test would be the best place to start.

When you take on the home look to what composes the structure and worry about the latest in Paperstone countertops or cork flooring later as they are simply aesthetics that lend to the homes green interior but lend nothing to performance or true measures of sustainability.

__________________________________________________________________________


Will your new home still be standing in 50 years?

By Marilyn Lewis of MSN Real Estate

You hear people say that houses just aren’t built the way they used to be, that true craftsmanship is a thing of the past. Is it true? We asked experts — a homebuilder, an engineer and two materials scientists — if new homes today match up to those built by our grandfathers, and their grandfathers. Their answers were surprising.

We learned that homes — and homebuilding — have changed enormously. Just 50 years ago, most homes were made by small, jack-of-all-trades builders. Today, large corporations predominate, and most homes are built by contractors specializing in particular trades. Materials and techniques are different, too. An old home’s strength comes from its big timbers made of dense, old-growth wood. Built when fuel was cheap, old homes leak heat from windows, doors and cracks.

Most homes built today get their strength from engineering principles, not massive timbers. Built correctly, new homes are weather-tight systems of interrelated parts, each highly engineered to do a specialized job. Whether new homes perform as intended depends greatly on whether these highly specialized systems are assembled correctly. Each component has technical requirements that, if ignored, can void its warranty and sabotage the home’s quality.

In some ways these new, engineered homes are built better than in the old days; in other ways they don’t hold up. Read on to see what we learned.

A century ago, American homes were built of stout materials: old-growth timber and durable native stones, slate and brick. Virgin forests produced trees hundreds and even thousands of years old. The dense, highly compressed wood often formed every part of a house, from massive support timbers to solid doors, plank floors, window frames, siding and, often, shake roofs.

Wood today is farmed, like corn or wheat, and harvested in around 25 years. Young trees pass building codes, but they’re not as dense, straight and free of knots as the old timber. Lumber made from young trees also holds more moisture, which causes problems: Once the house is sealed up and the heat’s turned on, floor joists and wall studs may shrink or warp as they dry, causing drywall and floor tiles to crack, and caulked seams to pull apart, says homebuilder and remodeler Tim Carter. He dispenses construction advice and wisdom at his Web site, AskTheBuilder. “The older trees just are more stable than the younger wood,” concludes David Carlysle, president of the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers and owner of Criterium-Carlysle Engineers in Birmingham, Ala.

Craftsmanship (worse today)

Nostalgia for a bygone time lets us imagine that all old homes were made by master craftsmen. But that’s not true. Remodelers uncover a wide range of craftsmanship in old homes. “I can show you many old houses with sloppy craftsmanship, rooms out of square, foundations that are wildly out of plumb,” Carter says. He finds sloppy work in about 15% of the old houses he’s worked on. But Carter guesses — from the “staggering” number of owners e-mailing him with complaints — that today some 40% of new homes have problems. Poor craftsmanship is more common today, Carlysle agrees. A Consumer Reports study in this decade found serious defects in 15% of new homes. But builders may be improving in response to the tougher sales climate: A new J.D. Powers survey of homeowners finds that their satisfaction has been growing in the past couple of years.

With new materials and new techniques, old skills have been left behind. Carter blames the trend away from vocational schools and apprenticeship programs for the loss of skills and pride in craftsmanship. New construction techniques and materials require specialists. “Installing the air conditioning properly and dealing with the refrigerants, you’ve got to really know what you’re doing,” says Vladimir Kochkin, director of applied engineering at the NAHB Research Center. “You probably wouldn’t have the expertise and couldn’t afford the equipment if you were a jack-of-all-trades.” There’s little room for error now. Problems arise when subcontractors or supervisors don’t — or can’t — read the manufacturer’s technical instructions for installation. Or, for example, if installers don’t bother using flashings (seals), an expensive, highly efficient and gas-filled triple-pane window will leak heat and the warranty will be voided. What’s worse, moisture creeps in invisibly, letting rot or mold grow inside the home’s walls. It’s the same story when sloppy workmanship compromises a foundation, roof, house wrap or many of the other highly engineered components in a new home.

In the good old days, homes were covered in stone, brick, adobe or wood. But those materials can be prohibitively expensive today. That leaves us searching for low-maintenance, affordable siding that looks great and holds up forever. Siding products like aluminum, vinyl and hard board (including Masonite) and stone veneers all have had their day. But each has problems. Today, fiber-cement siding has won a lot of fans. It looks great installed and costs less than most wood, stone or brick. It resists rot and insects, can be painted and also can be made to mimic wood shingles and lapped wood board siding; Like stone and brick, it resists fire and damage from storms. Unlike hard board, it tolerates rain and damp.

The fiber-cement product most respected in the trades is by JamesHardie. The newest JamesHardie products are engineered for the climate zones they’ll live in and have a 30-year (limited transferability) product warranty. You can pick a baked-on color (15-year warranty) to avoid the gases and odor from paint. Otherwise, be prepared to paint as you would with wood siding, although JamesHardie claims your paint job lasts about 10 years longer on its product. The downside: Fiber cement is heavy, which makes it difficult to move and more costly to install. (Cost: roughly $2 per square foot installed.)

Trusses (Better and worse)

Trusses, used in old homes and new to support floors and roofs, have gone high-tech. Today, they’re as strong as those made a century ago from old-growth timbers, but they’re a lot lighter and more efficient. Yet, they’re mostly made of air — showing how a good idea can substitute for older, heavy components. New trusses are made in a factory, with less waste, then shipped to a home site, helping keep homes affordable yet well-designed. Architects and designers use them to span longer distances and transfer heavier loads — snow and a roof’s weight, for example.

Unfortunately, there’s a downside: Lightweight trusses are prone to collapsing quickly in a fire. “This type of engineered floor (and roof) support system provides substantial strength, but has been demonstrated to fail quickly under fire conditions,” writes Ed Hartin, who trains firefighters in fire suppression and safety, in his blog for professionals, CFBT-US. “Legacy lumber” is harder to burn because it has more mass and less surface area. Engineered trusses are the opposite — more surface in relation to their mass — and so they ignite and burn faster.

Even steel trusses are vulnerable. In fact, they may fail faster than wood. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, urging firefighters not to risk their lives simply defending property, says (in “Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Fire Fighters Due to Truss System Failures”): “Lives will continue to be lost unless fire departments make appropriate fundamental changes in fire-fighting tactics involving trusses.”

Waterproofing (Better)

House wraps repel moisture, the eternal enemy of homes. The “water resistive” membrane is installed under the exterior siding to keep water from entering a home’s interior walls. In the old days, builders used tar paper, if they used anything at all. Older houses were not sealed tightly: If moisture got in, it could get out. “Now, as we start cranking down on energy efficiency, we have to … see the impact that has and use new technology and products to make sure the house still functions properly,” says Kochkin, of the NAHB Research Center.

A new product, DELTA-DRY dual-chambered ventilated rain screen, takes moisture barriers a step further. Installed over house wrap, it repels wind-driven rain and also drains and channels away any moisture that’s leaked into the walls from outside. Its surface, made of dimples and channels, gathers trapped water vapor and guides it down and out of the building. The rough surface also keeps air moving to reduce humidity inside the wall cavity, helping to protect against mold and rot that can cause building failure and toxic mold infestation. It is one of the few ventilated rain screen products that continues to function even if torn during installation, according to the manufacturer, Cosella-Dörken Products. (Cost: 85 cents per square foot MSRP.)

Windows (Better today)

Until recently, most gains in energy efficiency came from improved insulation in ceilings and walls. Windows — which lose 10% to 25% of a home’s heat — lagged, in spite of innovations like highly insulated frames, UV-protective films and triple panes sandwiched with insulating layers of gases. But now there’s a new class of “super-efficient” windows. They cut spending on heating and cooling by up to 50%. Where most windows are rated R-1 to R-3, these windows earn ratings of R-5 to R-11. (“R factor” — resistance to heat flow — measures a material’s insulating value. Higher numbers are best: Walls typically run between R-13 and R-15 but can reach R-30.) Read about tighter windows at the National Fenestration Rating Council.)

Stop leaking heat from your house, and everyone wins: Your bills drop and so do demands on pollution-producing power plants. SeriousWindows, by Serious Materials, has been getting praise recently for building windows that exceed the federal government’s EnergyStar standards by double. (Prices available from dealers.) Install windows that meet EnergyStar requirements and you can earn a federal tax credit of up to $1,500.

Fiberglass (Better today)

Fiberglass is “the latest miracle material” for windows and doors, says Sal Alfano, editorial director of Remodeling Magazine. It is strong but, unlike steel, doesn’t easily dent, rust or scratch. And, unlike wood today, fiberglass won’t warp, rot, split or crack. “It is very rugged and durable, can be painted or stained and made to look like almost any kind of wood. But it’s more stable than wood,” Alfano says. “A fiberglass window or door won’t crack or warp or expand and contract from humidity and dryness, as wood does. It needs no maintenance.”

An added bonus: Fiberglass can be made to mimic wood grain perfectly and takes a stain or can be painted. Carter recalls how impressed he was with a mock-wood fiberglass door: “I swear to God, if I took you up to the door and put your face up to it, you would think it is a solid oak door.” Carlysle has had a similar experience: “I can’t tell the difference in the way (fiberglass windows) look, and when I tap on them, they sound harder than wood.”

Doors (better today)

A home is defined by its entry. For years, the best doors worldwide have been made of solid wood. In the mid-20th century, the invention of the hollow-core paneled door was a big step backward in quality. Cheap, leaky and easily demolished with a hard kick, hollow doors did as much as anything to hurt the quality reputation of American homes. Now, door manufacturers are atoning for the sins of their fathers, particularly with strong entry doors of vinyl, steel and — best of all — fiberglass. These doors are built to last a lifetime and beyond. The best have adjustable thresholds: If your house settles, you can whip out a screwdriver and adjust the threshold to fit tightly against the frame’s weather stripping. Example: Therma-Tru’s Tru-Defense entry doors, named by Popular Science Magazine as a “Best of What’s New” product in 2007. In tests, the door, a sandwich of fiberglass, steel and polyurethane foam, stood up to a two-by-four shot from a cannon and endured 236 mph winds and eight inches of rain. Cost: $650–$1,500.

Longevity (worse today)

You’ll find homes 200 years old or more standing in America’s older cities. In older countries, people live in homes 1,000 years old or older. Will American homes made today still be good 200 years from now? Or even 50? Opinions differ. Some experts say that today’s components and techniques, properly applied, should create a structure that’s long-lived. Maintenance — in the hands of homeowners — is a big factor, points out Bob Hill, NAHB Research Center’s director of laboratory and certification services. “As long as they’re maintained and you keep termites out and that kind of thing, there is no reason to believe a house is going to fall down in 60 years,” Hill says.

But will a typical subdivision dwelling still be livable in 100 years? The 1910-era homes still standing now were “overbuilt” by today’s standards. Building codes, which differ from one community to the next, are the standard that builders use today. The codes don’t anticipate a home that will last 100 years, Carlysle says.

“Most residential structures (today) are built to last 50 years,” he says. Builders could go further, of course. Some do. The codes, after all, only set a minimum standard. Meeting code “is like getting 70% in a test,” quips Carter, who also allows that a home built today is more likely to survive an earthquake or violent storm.

Sawn lumber (worse today)

A century ago, American homes were built of stout materials: old-growth timber and durable native stones, slate and brick. Virgin forests produced trees hundreds and even thousands of years old. The dense, highly compressed wood often formed every part of a house, from massive support timbers to solid doors, plank floors, window frames, siding and, often, shake roofs.

Wood today is farmed, like corn or wheat, and harvested in around 25 years. Young trees pass building codes, but they’re not as dense, straight and free of knots as the old timber. Lumber made from young trees also holds more moisture, which causes problems: Once the house is sealed up and the heat’s turned on, floor joists and wall studs may shrink or warp as they dry, causing drywall and floor tiles to crack, and caulked seams to pull apart, says homebuilder and remodeler Tim Carter. He dispenses construction advice and wisdom at his Web site, AskTheBuilder. “The older trees just are more stable than the younger wood,” concludes David Carlysle, president of the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers and owner of Criterium-Carlysle Engineers in Birmingham, Ala.

You hear people say that houses just aren’t built the way they used to be, that true craftsmanship is a thing of the past. Is it true? We asked experts — a homebuilder, an engineer and two materials scientists — if new homes today match up to those built by our grandfathers, and their grandfathers. Their answers were surprising.

We learned that homes — and homebuilding — have changed enormously. Just 50 years ago, most homes were made by small, jack-of-all-trades builders. Today, large corporations predominate, and most homes are built by contractors specializing in particular trades. Materials and techniques are different, too. An old home’s strength comes from its big timbers made of dense, old-growth wood. Built when fuel was cheap, old homes leak heat from windows, doors and cracks.

Most homes built today get their strength from engineering principles, not massive timbers. Built correctly, new homes are weather-tight systems of interrelated parts, each highly engineered to do a specialized job. Whether new homes perform as intended depends greatly on whether these highly specialized systems are assembled correctly. Each component has technical requirements that, if ignored, can void its warranty and sabotage the home’s quality.

In some ways these new, engineered homes are built better than in the old days; in other ways they don’t hold up. Read on to see what we learned.

**note: OSB the most common material being used is great. However the drawbacks are that when exposed to moisture it deteriorates very quickly and in turn is also prone to mold when damp then used to clad the home without appropriate drying can be prone to mold. This may not be apparent for quite some time and is difficult to see until later.. so that is another drawback to something "green."

Nostalgia for a bygone time lets us imagine that all old homes were made by master craftsmen. But that’s not true. Remodelers uncover a wide range of craftsmanship in old homes. “I can show you many old houses with sloppy craftsmanship, rooms out of square, foundations that are wildly out of plumb,” Carter says. He finds sloppy work in about 15% of the old houses he’s worked on. But Carter guesses — from the “staggering” number of owners e-mailing him with complaints — that today some 40% of new homes have problems. Poor craftsmanship is more common today, Carlysle agrees. A Consumer Reports study in this decade found serious defects in 15% of new homes. But builders may be improving in response to the tougher sales climate: A new J.D. Powers survey of homeowners finds that their satisfaction has been growing in the past couple of years.

With new materials and new techniques, old skills have been left behind. Carter blames the trend away from vocational schools and apprenticeship programs for the loss of skills and pride in craftsmanship. New construction techniques and materials require specialists. “Installing the air conditioning properly and dealing with the refrigerants, you’ve got to really know what you’re doing,” says Vladimir Kochkin, director of applied engineering at the NAHB Research Center. “You probably wouldn’t have the expertise and couldn’t afford the equipment if you were a jack-of-all-trades.” There’s little room for error now. Problems arise when subcontractors or supervisors don’t — or can’t — read the manufacturer’s technical instructions for installation. Or, for example, if installers don’t bother using flashings (seals), an expensive, highly efficient and gas-filled triple-pane window will leak heat and the warranty will be voided. What’s worse, moisture creeps in invisibly, letting rot or mold grow inside the home’s walls. It’s the same story when sloppy workmanship compromises a foundation, roof, house wrap or many of the other highly engineered components in a new home.

*Old houses are often built over and above current building codes. Why don’t builders today do that? “To keep the cost down,” Carlysle says. “It’s almost consumer-driven, so that the price of a house can be in the range that the average American can afford to buy one.”

Given enough money, you can exceed the requirements of your local building code. But could you afford to buy that house? Builders construct in large part in response to the demands of American consumers, who respond when the market offers a lot of “affordable” homes.

Evidence: In 1900, fewer than half of Americans owned their own homes. About two-thirds are homeowners today.

Longevity (worse today)

You’ll find homes 200 years old or more standing in America’s older cities. In older countries, people live in homes 1,000 years old or older. Will American homes made today still be good 200 years from now? Or even 50? Opinions differ. Some experts say that today’s components and techniques, properly applied, should create a structure that’s long-lived. Maintenance — in the hands of homeowners — is a big factor, points out Bob Hill, NAHB Research Center’s director of laboratory and certification services. “As long as they’re maintained and you keep termites out and that kind of thing, there is no reason to believe a house is going to fall down in 60 years,” Hill says.

But will a typical subdivision dwelling still be livable in 100 years? The 1910-era homes still standing now were “overbuilt” by today’s standards. Building codes, which differ from one community to the next, are the standard that builders use today. The codes don’t anticipate a home that will last 100 years, Carlysle says.

“Most residential structures (today) are built to last 50 years,” he says. Builders could go further, of course. Some do. The codes, after all, only set a minimum standard. Meeting code “is like getting 70% in a test,” quips Carter, who also allows that a home built today is more likely to survive an earthquake or violent storm.

Doors (better today)

A home is defined by its entry. For years, the best doors worldwide have been made of solid wood. In the mid-20th century, the invention of the hollow-core paneled door was a big step backward in quality. Cheap, leaky and easily demolished with a hard kick, hollow doors did as much as anything to hurt the quality reputation of American homes. Now, door manufacturers are atoning for the sins of their fathers, particularly with strong entry doors of vinyl, steel and — best of all — fiberglass. These doors are built to last a lifetime and beyond. The best have adjustable thresholds: If your house settles, you can whip out a screwdriver and adjust the threshold to fit tightly against the frame’s weather stripping. Example: Therma-Tru’s Tru-Defense entry doors, named by Popular Science Magazine as a “Best of What’s New” product in 2007. In tests, the door, a sandwich of fiberglass, steel and polyurethane foam, stood up to a two-by-four shot from a cannon and endured 236 mph winds and eight inches of rain. Cost: $650–$1,500.

*Fiberglass (Better today)

Fiberglass is “the latest miracle material” for windows and doors, says Sal Alfano, editorial director of Remodeling Magazine. It is strong but, unlike steel, doesn’t easily dent, rust or scratch. And, unlike wood today, fiberglass won’t warp, rot, split or crack. “It is very rugged and durable, can be painted or stained and made to look like almost any kind of wood. But it’s more stable than wood,” Alfano says. “A fiberglass window or door won’t crack or warp or expand and contract from humidity and dryness, as wood does. It needs no maintenance.”

An added bonus: Fiberglass can be made to mimic wood grain perfectly and takes a stain or can be painted. Carter recalls how impressed he was with a mock-wood fiberglass door: “I swear to God, if I took you up to the door and put your face up to it, you would think it is a solid oak door.” Carlysle has had a similar experience: “I can’t tell the difference in the way (fiberglass windows) look, and when I tap on them, they sound harder than wood.”

Windows (Better today)

Until recently, most gains in energy efficiency came from improved insulation in ceilings and walls. Windows — which lose 10% to 25% of a home’s heat — lagged, in spite of innovations like highly insulated frames, UV-protective films and triple panes sandwiched with insulating layers of gases. But now there’s a new class of “super-efficient” windows. They cut spending on heating and cooling by up to 50%. Where most windows are rated R-1 to R-3, these windows earn ratings of R-5 to R-11. (“R factor” — resistance to heat flow — measures a material’s insulating value. Higher numbers are best: Walls typically run between R-13 and R-15 but can reach R-30.) Read about tighter windows at the National Fenestration Rating Council.)

Stop leaking heat from your house, and everyone wins: Your bills drop and so do demands on pollution-producing power plants. SeriousWindows, by Serious Materials, has been getting praise recently for building windows that exceed the federal government’s EnergyStar standards by double. (Prices available from dealers.) Install windows that meet EnergyStar requirements and you can earn a federal tax credit of up to $1,500.


Waterproofing (Better)

House wraps repel moisture, the eternal enemy of homes. The “water resistive” membrane is installed under the exterior siding to keep water from entering a home’s interior walls. In the old days, builders used tar paper, if they used anything at all. Older houses were not sealed tightly: If moisture got in, it could get out. “Now, as we start cranking down on energy efficiency, we have to … see the impact that has and use new technology and products to make sure the house still functions properly,” says Kochkin, of the NAHB Research Center.

A new product, DELTA-DRY dual-chambered ventilated rain screen, takes moisture barriers a step further. Installed over house wrap, it repels wind-driven rain and also drains and channels away any moisture that’s leaked into the walls from outside. Its surface, made of dimples and channels, gathers trapped water vapor and guides it down and out of the building. The rough surface also keeps air moving to reduce humidity inside the wall cavity, helping to protect against mold and rot that can cause building failure and toxic mold infestation. It is one of the few ventilated rain screen products that continues to function even if torn during installation, according to the manufacturer, Cosella-Dörken Products. (Cost: 85 cents per square foot MSRP.)

* Trusses (Better and worse)

Trusses, used in old homes and new to support floors and roofs, have gone high-tech. Today, they’re as strong as those made a century ago from old-growth timbers, but they’re a lot lighter and more efficient. Yet, they’re mostly made of air — showing how a good idea can substitute for older, heavy components. New trusses are made in a factory, with less waste, then shipped to a home site, helping keep homes affordable yet well-designed. Architects and designers use them to span longer distances and transfer heavier loads — snow and a roof’s weight, for example.

Unfortunately, there’s a downside: Lightweight trusses are prone to collapsing quickly in a fire. “This type of engineered floor (and roof) support system provides substantial strength, but has been demonstrated to fail quickly under fire conditions,” writes Ed Hartin, who trains firefighters in fire suppression and safety, in his blog for professionals, CFBT-US. “Legacy lumber” is harder to burn because it has more mass and less surface area. Engineered trusses are the opposite — more surface in relation to their mass — and so they ignite and burn faster.

Even steel trusses are vulnerable. In fact, they may fail faster than wood. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, urging firefighters not to risk their lives simply defending property, says (in “Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Fire Fighters Due to Truss System Failures”): “Lives will continue to be lost unless fire departments make appropriate fundamental changes in fire-fighting tactics involving trusses.”

In the good old days, homes were covered in stone, brick, adobe or wood. But those materials can be prohibitively expensive today. That leaves us searching for low-maintenance, affordable siding that looks great and holds up forever. Siding products like aluminum, vinyl and hard board (including Masonite) and stone veneers all have had their day. But each has problems. Today, fiber-cement siding has won a lot of fans. It looks great installed and costs less than most wood, stone or brick. It resists rot and insects, can be painted and also can be made to mimic wood shingles and lapped wood board siding; Like stone and brick, it resists fire and damage from storms. Unlike hard board, it tolerates rain and damp.

The fiber-cement product most respected in the trades is by JamesHardie. The newest JamesHardie products are engineered for the climate zones they’ll live in and have a 30-year (limited transferability) product warranty. You can pick a baked-on color (15-year warranty) to avoid the gases and odor from paint. Otherwise, be prepared to paint as you would with wood siding, although JamesHardie claims your paint job lasts about 10 years longer on its product. The downside: Fiber cement is heavy, which makes it difficult to move and more costly to install. (Cost: roughly $2 per square foot installed.)

*Roofing nails (Better today, if …)

In time, nails can back out of a roof. When your roof heats up, the plywood under it swells, pulling nails up with it. Eventually, the wood cools and settles back down. But the nail stays where it was. Nails gradually work their way up and out of a roof in this way, punching through the shingles lapped above them. When roofing gets loose or blows off, water creeps in, doing damage inside your house that can get pretty bad before you notice it. Ring-shank nails are a big improvement: They have a series of rings running down the shank that prevent the nail from popping out. Oddly, lots of builders ignore them. “I don’t know why people don’t use them,” Carlysle says. “Probably because they cost a penny more.”

Joists (Better and worse)

Joists are strong beams used in roofs and floors to bear heavy loads. They were — and often still are — made from long, straight pieces of sawn lumber. But an innovation — the engineered I-joist — often is used these days instead. Like trusses, I-joists are manufactured from “composite” wood. A board called a “web” is framed by lengthwise “flanges.” Cut into a cross section, the beam looks like an “I,” hence the name. To make composite wood, scraps and lower-quality logs are broken into smaller strands and combined with glue products to become superstrong for their size. I-joists aren’t cheaper, but they are straighter and lighter than dimensional lumber, are uniform in size and won’t shrink or warp. Fewer natural resources are wasted and I-joists let architects and designers span long distances to create larger, more-expansive rooms without increasing the number of supports. However, like engineered trusses, I-joists are more vulnerable to fire than solid lumber. In a 2008 test by the Underwriters Laboratory, engineered lumber collapsed in less than a third of the time that it took fire to burn through traditional wood components. The solution? UL says to protect lightweight building components with half-inch gypsum wallboard.

Roofing (Better today)

Roofing materials have been improving steadily in recent years. An asphalt roof purchased in the 1920s or ’30s probably had a 15-year warranty. Today, asphalt shingles typically are guaranteed for 25 years; some even carry a 50-year warranty. Contemporary metal roofing offers another improvement in homes. It lasts 20 years or more and withstands the torments of hail, sunlight and high wind. In addition to greater longevity, newer roofs do a better job of keeping in heat and cooled air. The best products reflect the sun’s rays to reduce air-conditioning bills and contain rising temperatures that make cities overheated in summer.

Paint (Better today)

If you’ve ever suffered a headache from fresh paint, you’ll appreciate this development: no- and low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint. Old-style paints include cancer-causing solvents that are released into the air as your paint job dries and cures. Now, even mainstream paint companies like Benjamin Moore, Kelly-Moore, Sherwin-Williams and Olympic Paint and Stain offer “zero-VOC” paints —water-based products with five grams of VOCs per liter or less. Low-VOC paints use formaldehyde and heavy metals sparingly or not at all. Improvements began in the 1970s when manufacturers stopped using lead, a traditional component of paint through the centuries that is poisonous if eaten or inhaled. Before you try removing paint that might have lead, get advice from the staff at a reputable paint or hardware store. Don’t even sand old paint; you can get lead poisoning simply from eating or inhaling lead paint dust.(Learn about the hazards of lead paint here, from the Environmental Protection Agency.)


On the balance, you’re the one to decide whether you prefer the benefits of a new home or those of an older house. The bottom line: Don’t walk blindly into a home purchase. Here’s how to protect yourself:

* Become an educated buyer (read “How to avoid buying a lemon”).
* Choose your builder carefully (read “8 ways to check up on your builder”).
* Learn how to spot problems when shopping for a home (read “6 signs your home could be a lemon”).
* Use new-home builders who will explain in detail their program for managing quality on their work sites, and seek out builders who can demonstrate their commitment to quality work.

And Massachusetts Means?

I watched the results of the special election of Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy's seat last night.

The hysteria on both sides of the fence declaring blame and/or triumph is basically the same song with slight variations of the lyrics that has dominated the political spectrum this past year.

Do I believe that Browns' victory was a slap about health care reform? In a word NO. This is a state that has socialized medicine and yes Scott Brown voted for it. This is a state that elected Mitt Romney an outsider from Utah based on his Olympic work. This is a state that kept Ted Kennedy in office for close to 50 years. This is a state that really only has 1/3 of the population registered as Democrats. This is a state that ironically has not suffered as much pain through the economic meltdown and possesses some of the best Universities and Education in the country. So what does it say? That people are screaming for Change. Remember that mantra CHANGE?

Well I was in Massachusetts in December. I make it a point when I visit somewhere to talk to the locals and wow what I thought I would find and what I found was quite a disparate view.

I found mostly working class people who were very white. They were not intelligent and almost reminded me of the towny vs elite in the old movie Breaking Away. You know outside looking in at all the smart people resentful of their education but dependent on it for its prestige and finances it brought to the town.

I met a very conservative group of people all very fearful of Obama and his "health care plan" not seeing the connection to their own. When pressed about it it always fell to the argument that they didn't think those who "did not deserve it" would get it. I hear this all the time from both black and white people who think somehow the newest minority will somehow get something free that they worked for.

This is the big issue once again FEAR. Americans are really afraid. They fear tax increases, they fear losing their jobs, they fear mostly change but they also need it.

Scott Brown is a classic politician and candidate. Handsome, drives a Jeep Cherokee (how real!!), his daughters are cute and one was on AMERICAN IDOL!!!, his wife is a newscaster. He has posed for a Cosmo centerfold and is not cheating on his wife or is a closet gay. He seems like the Robert Redford in Candidate. He says all the right words in the right tones.. NO NEW TAXES!!! Man we really hate taxes in this country... well you would when you make less than you did 20 years ago which has NOTHING to do with taxes.

He also is a nutjob. He inferred that Obama is illegitimate. He is an asshole who supports torture. When called out on his inconsistency by Coakley he used his own 21 year old daughter to fight back.. as a kind of human shield. How can anyone respond to her or that? Of course last night he attempted to pimp her during his acceptance speech. There are other incidents of displayed Homophobia and Sexism. But my favorite was when he went on verbal profanity laced diatribe in a public high school (King Phillip) calling out the students by name who derided him on Facebook claiming he was only repeating the language used. It was so alarming and odd that the Principal tried to stop him, unsuccessfully, as he continued on that also included misrepresentations and bizarre accusations about the school curriculum. In other words a perfect partner for the GOP fantasy ticket Palin/Brown 2012.

So it says more about the kind of people I met in Massachusetts. Underemployed, lowly educated, exhausted and confused. I was not really impressed about the people I met... while I thought they were friendly they were also some very odd moments that concerned me enough. I came home saying "wow that was like going to Seattle only with accents."

This election is more about what America really is... DUMB and DESPERATE. And the GOP has this weeks "new AMERICAN IDOL" whose entire family embrace the mantle of Famewhores quite nicely. Of course like many of the GOP stars they melt under the glare of the spotlight... Bobby Jindal, Michael Steele, Sarah Palin and now Scott Brown. This is CHANGE you can believe in.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Being Green and Being In Sync

Yesterday the NY Times had an article on couples who are finding strains in their relationships when a partner commits to going green.

I have long said that being green is a commitment to more than buying something that will make your life easier, the planet greener and us all feel better. With consumption comes conservation. You cannot BUY your way out of this quagmire. We must also be responsible consumers by changing our behavior and our usage of precious resources.

But on that note its not easy to make another person follow your drumbeat. Especially if its something you have adopted over the course of a relationship and all relationships evolve and change and sometimes that means in different directions but does that mean divorce?

Well as one who is divorced and sees no reason at this point to change that status quo I know how difficult it is to merge two competing if not completely opposite lifestyles. But I do meet a lot of couples who do have differing opinions on what they should, could and will do. I stay out that and say that again I only offer ideas and suggestions not solutions.

So how does a couple go green when one's shade is darker than the other? Well on this question I will quietly step out. I don't judge and no one else does. I support whatever efforts anyone makes as long as they are making some. Its all anyone can do.

But I reprint the article for those curious on how to resolve the differences.. that or contact Dr. Phil. He may have a better idea.

_______________________________________________
Therapists Report Increase in Green Disputes

By LESLIE KAUFMAN
Published: January 17, 2010

Gordon Fleming says his girlfriend, Shelly Cobb, is in a “high-priestess phase” of environmentalism, which includes raising chickens at their home in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Gordon Fleming orders more things online than his girlfriend would like, but he makes sure to recycle the packaging.
He bikes 12 1/2 miles to and from his job at a software company outside Santa Barbara, Calif. He recycles as much as possible and takes reusable bags to the grocery store.

Still, his girlfriend, Shelly Cobb, feels he has not gone far enough.

Ms. Cobb chides him for running the water too long while he shaves or showers. And she finds it “depressing,” she tells him, that he continues to buy a steady stream of items online when her aim is for them to lead a less materialistic life.

Mr. Fleming, who says he became committed to Ms. Cobb “before her high-priestess phase,” describes their conflicts as good-natured — mostly.

But he refuses to go out to eat sushi with her anymore, he said, because he cannot stand to hear her quiz the waiters.

“None of it is sustainable or local,” he said, “and I am not eating cod or rockfish.”

As awareness of environmental concerns has grown, therapists say they are seeing a rise in bickering between couples and family members over the extent to which they should change their lives to save the planet.

In households across the country, green lines are being drawn between those who insist on wild salmon and those who buy farmed, those who calculate their carbon footprint and those who remain indifferent to greenhouse gases.

“As the focus on climate increases in the public’s mind, it can’t help but be a part of people’s planning about the future,” said Thomas Joseph Doherty, a clinical psychologist in Portland, Ore., who has a practice that focuses on environmental issues. “It touches every part of how they live: what they eat, whether they want to fly, what kind of vacation they want.”

While no study has documented how frequent these clashes have become, therapists agree that the green issue can quickly become poisonous because it is so morally charged. Friends or family members who are not devoted to the environmental cause can become irritated by life choices they view as ostentatiously self-denying or politically correct.

Those with a heightened focus on environmental issues, on the other hand, can find it hard to refrain from commenting on things that they view as harmful to Earth — driving an oversize S.U.V., for example.

Sandy Shulmire, a psychologist who lives in Portland, confesses that when she is visiting her sister in Abita Springs, La., she cannot resist bugging her about not recycling her plastic and cardboard, even though she knows she will be perceived as “bossy.”

Cherl Petso, an editor of an online magazine who lives in Seattle, says trips to visit her parents in Idaho can be “tense at times,” in part because she and her mother interpret each other’s choices as judgmental.

If Ms. Petso prepares a vegan meal for the family, her parents prepare hot dogs to go alongside. Her parents serve on throwaway Styrofoam plates; she grabs a plate that can be cleaned and reused. Her mother, who says she prefers the way food tastes when it is served on Styrofoam, notes that washing dishes has its own environmental costs.

Linda Buzzell, a family and marriage therapist for 30 years who lives in Santa Barbara and is a co-editor of “Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind,” cautions that the repercussions of environmental differences can be especially severe for couples.

“The danger arises when one partner undergoes an environmental ‘waking up’ process way before the other, leaving a new values gap between them,” Ms. Buzzell said.

Changing the family diet because of environmental concerns can be particularly loaded, Ms. Buzzell added. She warns wives and mothers not to move a family toward vegetarianism before everyone is ready.

“Food is such an emotional issue,” she said.

Christienne deTournay Birkhahn, executive director of the EcoMom Alliance, an organization based in Marin County that provides education to women who want to have their families live more sustainably, finds that disputes over how green is green enough often divide along predictable lines by sex.

Women, Ms. Birkhahn said, often see men as not paying sufficient attention to the home. Men, for their part, “really want to make a large impact and aren’t interested in a small impact,” she said.

That is certainly the case in her own marriage, she said. Her husband, Kurt, an engineer and federal employee, sometimes seems to be baiting her by placing plastic yogurt cups in the garbage or leaving the reusable shopping bags in the car and coming home with disposable bags instead.

In the ensuing discussions, Ms. Birkhahn said, her husband argues that the changes she is making may have a large effect on their lives but have little or no effect on the planet. He fought every step of the way against the gray-water system she installed in their bathroom to recycle water to flush the toilet, calling it a waste of time and money, she said. The system cost $1,200 to install.

Ms. Birkhahn said she found it hard to dispute his point but thought it was irrelevant. “I am trying to be a role model for my son,” she said.

Ms. Buzzell suggests that couples can overcome such differences if they treat each other gently. She advises partners who have a newfound passion for the issue to change only a few things at a time and provide lots of explanation.

“It is like exercise,” Ms. Buzzell said. “Take it slowly.”

Still, Robert Brulle, a professor of environment and sociology at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said he had seen divorces among couples who realized that their values were putting them on very different long-term trajectories.

“One still wants to live the American dream with all that means, and the other wants to give up on big materialistic consumption,” Dr. Brulle said. “Those may not be compatible.”

Mr. Fleming, in Santa Barbara, said that he was not quite at that point, but that he was drawing some firm lines.

He continues to make purchases on eBay — although he immediately breaks down the delivery boxes and puts them in the recycling bin to “avoid scrutiny.”

And unless Ms. Cobb can make peace with his long, hot showers, the issue may someday be a deal breaker.

“I like to see the water pouring down,” he said, sounding utterly unrepentant.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Job Searching is Two Sided

During this economic tsunami I have come to realize that job seeking is a two sided affair. The searching and the searchers.

Many talented and qualified people are seeking work. Excited and educated new comers without the experience but the passion are also seeking work. How does someone in a business decide what kind of candidate is best suited for the position and more importantly HOW do you decide and find that candidate?

After shuttering my first business with my ex my first thought was now was a good time to work for another business, preferably in Residential construction or a company doing larger scale multi family units. I thought my already established knowledge was transferable and more importantly I was willing to crawl before walking, take time to learn new ropes, including going to school to build on my foundation and perhaps grow with a new company.

I found that the challenge of this idea was one I faced immense age discrimination and yes some sexual discrimination as well. But the biggest impediment was my intelligence. Time and time again I heard "you are too smart for this job" Code meaning: you will want more money, figure out early we are a disaster, or you will leave sooner than later for something better or we have to pay you more when we can get someone less experienced/qualified/younger/cheaper than you.

It didn't take too many interviews to hear those words and realize how challenging the market was and this was in the supposed boon times when employers in the trade were "desperate" for good workers. I knew then perhaps it was time to rethink my plans.

I went on a lot of just "interviews." For jobs that did not interest me but allowed me to practice and hone my interview skills as wells as experience interview styles from others. The results were frustration, distress and frankly disappointment. I rarely went on an interview that was both professional and on point.

Much is written for the seeker. Have the right resume, wear the right clothes, say the right things but what about the "interviewer?" I found little information to help those in business sit on their side of the desk and enable them to handle an interview in a professional manner.

I just recently saw that one individual who I applied with has since sold his company and is now in consulting. He and his wife had a mid level remodeling company that while was well respected was not growing and they had stagnated. They were looking for a Project Manager who could also act as a Sales Representative. I interviewed with them. First up was a silly "psychological" test which looked copied from a manual they received at some seminar. I was then escorted into the tool garage, a dark dim and cold room where I sat on folding chairs and was interviewed by them and their "receptionist/office manager." It was an odd mish mash of questions that veered on bizarrely personal and illegal. Questions about my divorce, my liking of the city and how did I find the people of this city vs my own. A few questions on how to handle sub-contractors but little about them, their business what they were NEEDING and LOOKING for. I walked out dazed and confused and without a job offer.

I found this to be the case almost across the board at similar sized companies. They were poorly handled and often seemed intent on trashing the previous employee. I was handed spread sheets, phone bills and other documents asking how I felt or would fix them. They often spoke of themselves and their lives and families, one gentleman (using that term lightly I may add) informed me that I was still attractive and could get a man and I was both arrogant and desperate. Okay! He then sent me a very bizarre email asking me back for an after work interview which I declined.

It is been my experience that like seeks like. Interviewing in most Construction businesses you are going into what started as a family based business and in order to grow are seeking people who can wear multiple hats to be more of a jack of all trades. This might work in some respect but what you see is that people fall back upon their strengths and tend to avoid or ignore their weaknesses. Smaller to mid size companies don't have the budget or time to pursue Education or training so things like interview skills and personnel management fall by the wayside.

I also think we interview the same way we are interviewed. So however that was modeled it is replicated. Interviewing is often thought of us as annoying and laborious and not something people embrace. So you make a use of test or some type of extrinsic means to find the candidate and quickly use a judgement call based also on the same.. too old, too womanly, too fat.. whatever.

As a result those biases and beliefs are possibly causing many great candidates to fall by the wayside. We do need to "get along" with our colleagues and we need people who will work for us as they would if they worked for themselves. And believe me working for oneself is not for everyone and there is no reason to believe anyone who once owned or operated a business or even managed another business is not willing or able to work alongside someone else. Proper compensation, proper training and opportunity, good management style and communication will make ANY employee feel like a contributing and longstanding member of the team.

And frankly I don't need another me. I need people who come from different experiences and professions. Yes there can be mistakes but that is why there are contracts and 90 day hiring windows to allow both employee and employer to get comfortable and familiar with the job. Expect to be both a student and a teacher if you cannot fulfill those roles your workplace and company will suffer. We all go through cycles of ups and downs and you need diverse ideas and concepts that will let you build your business. Hiring a bunch of clones of you makes for great sycophancy but it doesn't really stretch you professionally and even personally.

I was hired on contract by a very famous and respected Architect in the community. He had done the most amazing work with Cement as a major interior and exterior product in residential build. His company was not a reflection of his work. Fraught with turnover, low morale and financial issues he had handed much of that to his major investment partner. A man who was in the only way I can describe A TOTAL ASSHOLE. There were few, if any, who liked this man and as a result people who may have been tremendous assets left and those who stayed were there simply out of allegiance or some reverence for the Architect. I stayed for the project and could not wait to leave. It was total chaos and I learned that brilliant people need other brilliant people to help them but they also need people who have people skills. Brilliance does not compensate for total assholeness. And I should have known this but chose to ignore it because the interviews were HIDEOUS. And again they spent much of the time discussing the failures of the previous employees and how they needed only the best who would comply with their Herculean standards. Talk about being set up to fail; I took the contract like anyone with the idea that I could work alongside one of the greats. I barely made it to the end of it with my sanity.

If you don't know how to interview.. get the books that are for the interviewee. They give you the questions, the expectations of both sides and more importantly offer guidelines that include areas of gray and black that should not be broached during an interview. Don't use "tests" unless you actually know how to administer but more importantly MEASURE them. One contractor said "your test indicates you are a people person. How do I know you won't give things away in order to please a customer?" I think that question was "will you steal or commit fraud" Highly inappropriate and well odd. Clearly he had no idea how to read or analyze the results.

How you interview can also reflect on YOU and YOUR business. If you want quality people you attract them by being professional. And this is easily learned. And in the world of Contracting the word gets around. I have met and been invited to speak to some smaller businesses and the seemingly dated almost provincial attitude clearly affects and reflects the nature and demeanor of that business. If I find them discomforting doing business WITH them what would it be like to HIRE them or be HIRED BY them?

And in turn if you are seeking to rebuild, renew or switch careers make sure you do your homework. Find the business website, address letters and have well crafted and detailed ones that ask appropriate questions and information. If you aren't sure it sounds "right" give it to a friend to read and review.

I have received resumes with no cover info or letters just saying what are my chances to work there? I would much rather a frank question/info seeking letter first with no resume from which I could respond. And in turn if I am not seeking employees I am not seeking them. I think that antiquated notion of contacting hiring managers and all that is gone. Even larger companies are reducing their HR staffs and going back to finding employees through Temporary Agencies. This way its try before you buy. And frankly its how I got all my jobs in the past and they were much more successful and happier ones than the ad/apply/interview kind. I knew them, they knew me. And its how I built my crews. They did a small easy job at first, I saw their work ethic, I saw their abilities first hand and more importantly how well we communicated.


And don't take a job with someone who demonstrates that they are total assholes, are disinterested in you or your skills, who ask inappropriate questions, who trash former employees. Try to remember that if you were the boss is this how you would hire someone and more importantly if they are judging you in that 15 minutes its reciprocal. First impressions are lasting and even if its somewhere you have always wanted to work or with someone and that nagging feeling is not a good one.. respond and react to it. I know its difficult in these times when you are in search of work but sometimes it is not worth it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

When things go wrong

My friends at the Construction Paper blog sent me an amusing link to their blog posts on the Top 10 DIY projects that went horribly awry.

I have seen a few odd repairs when I was redoing homes myself. That was a great opportunity to do a total overhaul. However when being called into a client's home that has attempted to do their own work I caution any professional to make sure that any warranties or exemptions are covered as a separate rider in the contract.

We elected to not warranty any work from a client who had previously attempted to repair or provide their own materials. Clients signed off on the contract as we found that if they were likely to do this once they would do it again and the chance of liability is always higher on said projects.

Working with clients who want to do some of the project or provide materials is not something many contractors do for the reason above but as the economy dictates you may not have that option. In these cases finding a reasonable approach and simple education and encouragement that you can provide at a reduced rate minor support work encourages clients to feel less intimidated and more willing to stop them from doing well any of these "improvements." Many that can cause serious problems later on.

Shaking your head and walking away is not the kind of service one needs right now and yet you also need to know when to walk away from clients who may also bring more problems than you need. Balance is a form of communication and education. There is nothing wrong with helping those who want to help themselves if its approached in a mutually beneficial and supportive manner. You could end up building an excellent relationship that will lead to more work down the line and that is a very good thing.

Follow this link to the Construction Paper to read those DIY PROJECTS GONE WRONG.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Do You Feel Lucky Punk?

That is the question everyone of you should ask when you seek medical/dental help.

If there is one book you must read its this - Money Driven Medicine, The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much by Maggie Mahar.

This is a long book, its packed with details and information but mostly its packed with quality research about the question "why is medical care so expensive."

The New York Times yesterday did an article on the reaction by Fort Collins residents regarding the current state of the Health Bill. There is little support on any side as to what this "reform" has become. Because little is seen as actual reform.

At this point serious reform is a long way off. Without it we will continue to have evergrowing costs to an already bloated and expensive system.

No one can pinpoint or explain the sole reason why this industry is seemingly out of control on cost or why it rises inexplicably year after year.

I just finished this book. Money Driven Medicine by Maggie Mahar. You can go to this website to watch the documentary based on this book.

Money Driven Medicine


This book does what I think is a comprehensive and detailed job explaining the numerous reasons for why Health Care has become one of the most expensive and destructive forces in our Economy.

We are the only Industrialized nation without a Government controlled and regulated industry. The nations who offer either a sole single payer option or have a universal public option have lower costs and actually superior service. This goes in contrary to our American way of thinking that "you get what you pay for." Here we pay for a lot and only some of us get well anything. Again we have become a nation that if you truly want superior Medical treatment its much a crap shoot as it is having money and access to the kinds of treatments, doctors and well HELP you need (and sometimes that doesn't matter either)

The fear or at least explanation for why many Conservatives don't want a Nationalized system has to do with big Government. Yes the very thing that under their Administrations have grown but well that was then and this is now. The other is the "undeserved" meaning "illegals" or well lazy people who just want free shots I guess.

I think Lindsay Graham said it best during the Senate debate. "I come from South Carolina where we have 31% unemployed and black people." Yes its just not fair that some states get something maybe they have 32% unemployed and black people too or they are just better negotiators/extortionists (I will let you pick the term that fits.)

In the book Money Driven Medicine there are many reasons for why Medical care has become this behemoth. Some of the many points she makes (and I am truly paraphrasing as this book is chock full of detailed explanations and information.)are as follows:

1. Lack of Regulation and Control and caps on pricing from drugs to treatments. You know the stuff that they do with Medicare/Medicaid that pisses off Doctors but in reality keeps costs down. In addition hospitals and clinics are built in cities where they are often duplicating the same kind of care without need to the greater population and in turn ignoring rural areas in desperate need. Providing a glut of care that has no purpose yet also is neither competitive when it comes to pricing.

2. Pharmaceuticals. Yes drug companies need money. Not so much for R&D but for those cool celebrity ads and endorsements that appeal directly to the public and their naievite that there are generics or well no drugs necessary for their often "created" illnesses. Restless Leg Syndrome or Fibromyalgia anyone? Remember Vioxx?

3. Device Makers. In their haste to get things approved debate and testing becomes a non starter. Instead get them out there as fast as they can, pay Doctors "fees" to encourage their use and well if they fail cover up the failures, convolute the results or face the music in court. Someone has to pay for those court judgements. And they say "tort reform" is really the issue.

4. Doctors. Yes Doctors don't want to change their way of living or have to decrease their salaries. Much of coming from the encouragement of lobbyists in their industries through Insurance payments, drug kickbacks, equipment "gifts" and consulting fees that add to their bottom line. Direct care and interest in your case not so much. Patients are a nuisance.

5. Hospitals. They are PROFIT driven and that means well you know Wall Street not Main Street is their boss. So rather than being service modeled they are product modeled with all the latest and greatest in technology available whether they need it or not or whet er its even effective or not.

6. Lack of Communication. The idea that Doctors communicate and speak to one another is a myth. They don't. They don't talk to the staff at the hospital let alone the patient so many unnecessary or contrary treatments, medicines or procedures are done for them not you. This coupled with medical records not kept or maintained using modern technology (well I mean they have the latest and greatest in MRI machines yet their computer system was in effect when Bill Gates was a boy) is not the issue. It takes time to learn this shit.. I mean time that I could be on the golf course. When was the last time any Doctor or Dentist worked a 5 day work week or 40 hour one?

7. Lobbyists. If this was neither successful nor lucrative would it exist? No and they spend 1.7 billion a day making sure that they stay successful and lucrative at the expense of your health and financial security. Well its free market economy.

8. The Uninsured and Medicare. Well they do cost the system something because deadbeats who don't pay the bill, file bankruptcy even when insured or simply the poor that need help are obliged to be treated (and how they are 'treated' could be debatable) Well not really but.... and then of course those oldsters that spend their day getting their share of stuff. Yes and that whole goddamn Government that dictates cost of care - come on now that hip replacement you pay only 10K for I can get 50K for on the open market.. BASTARDS!

9. Lack of Transparency and Information. The hidden costs of everything along with the lack of viable information that would help Doctors determine what course of treatment, what devices and medications work without prescribing expensive and unnecessary options would allow patients to make better decisions as well as regards to course of treatment. End of life care is 80% of most of the expenses and really is it necessary to have a liver transplant when you are dying of cancer and are 90 years old. Fear of death seem to dictate a lot of that and Doctors manipulate these situations to their advantages. Maybe a "death panel" is not a bad idea. And while at it restore the Mortality reviews to make sure everyone knows why and what failed and how to prevent that in the future.

10. Discriminatory or Rationed care. We do treat people differently. Mahar documents many cases where people are turned away, given none or minimal treatment when it becomes apparent that insurance is insufficient or non-existent. In Alcohol treatment alone.. the people who are in for 28 days has little to do with that being a standard for care but one of the maximum allowed by many insurers. So those with the same problem but no insurance well you are out in 10 days or less.

These are just my Top 10 list of the myriad of reasons, excuses or explanations for why Health Care has become the runaway train of inflated egregious costs.

I was saying the other day that the current debate on inoculations causing Autism made me realize that the last great intervention and prevention came from Dr. Jonas Salk and the Polio vaccine. I cannot think that Dr. Salk today would be as fortunate to allow himself the ability to properly research and treat victims of that disease and do so without some splash advertisement or promotion for a properly "branded" vaccine.

It is embarrassing to think that really medical care has despite itself done little to really break ground, improve the quality of care and find appropriate treatments or cures that are both affordable and safe. It scares me to think if I do get sick I will be held hostage to a hostile system that has no interest in me as a patient nor individual who will actually need treatment and care two things that are oxymoron's in this current system.

Health Care in all its entities at the present is venal, corrupt and unmanageable. Without reform, real reform by consolidating all the medical offerings to a central single organizajavascript:void(0)tion that can both provide insurance and the ability to negotiate and demand transparency and costs that are both realistic and appropriate.

Its a megalithic task that has to be done. But with a Government divided by party and policy and really business will it ever get done? We suck. Our care is not the greatest and the best. Its average at its best deathly at its worst. We really need to be honest and face the truth about who and why this continues. Look to the conflict of interest in the past positions of power, Bill Frist or Mark McClellan who are true indicators of how nepotism will of course further delay the cause. There is no lack of influence by those with everything to lose if reform truly happens. Ask yourself why the party of NO is so intent on stopping this. Is this about you or them?

The next time you have to go to a Doctor or Hospital ask yourself... DO YOU FEEL LUCKY PUNK?