Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Stevie Joe is Star Stuff

Thanks to Lolo . . .

Really, really there,
Stevie Joe Parker

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stevie Joe on True Love

Yesterday, I saw two folks out riding a motorcycle. They were wearing matching Harley-Davidson gear. Matching Harley-Davidson rain gear. Yes, it was pouring rain, and their clothing gave a good indication that they went out intending to encounter it.

Now, you and I know that the wife finds this whole enterprise to be ridiculous. She has no interest in motorcycles to begin with. Even if she did, she certainly finds no joy in splashing through a monsoon. So, why does she go along at all?

That's amore,
Stevie Joe Parker

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Stevie Joe and Acetaminophen

A advisory committee of the FDA has issued a couple of recommendations regarding acetaminophen (the key ingredient in Tylenol). First, they suggest reducing the recommended dosage in over-the-counter preparations. Second, they recommend taking drugs that combine acetaminophen with a narcotic, such as Vicodin and Percocet, off of the market altogether.

The committee correctly points out that overdoses of acetaminophen can cause damage to the liver. This damage can be fatal. However, the committee did not appear to address alternatives to these products. Ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and ketorolac all have similar problems. Large doses or extended use of all of these can cause liver damage and carry other risks as well.

Removing products like Vicodin from the market raises other concerns. The acetaminophen in these products acts as a potentiator. That is, it increases the effects of the narcotic. So, if consumers can no longer take Vicodin or Percocet, they might need to switch to a product that contains an even greater narcotic dose to get the same effect.

Two advantages often cited for products like Vicodin and Percocet is that they allow the patient to get pain relief with a lower narcotic dose and that they are less susceptible to abuse. Folks who abuse drugs aren't too keen on taking large doses of these because they know that they will fry their liver. Drugs like OxyContin that have no potentiator are much more popular drugs to abuse.

Of course, the biggest fear is that some folks will just have to live in pain. It seems that the muckety-mucks don't care too much about that.

Not FDA-approved,
Stevie Joe Parker

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stevie Joe, Health Care, and the $4K Headache

Now, just about everyone agrees that the US health care system is about as goofy as Junior's dog, Junior Junior. While those of us down here in Junebug Holler can band together to keep Junior Junior out of our damn yards, not many folks can agree about what to do with this whole medical fiasco.

Sure, the politicians have bumped it over to the lit burner again. However, the pharmaceutical and insurance oligarchs are airlifting crates of cash to Washington DC to ensure that nothing too drastic happens. Of course, ol' Stevie Joe has some ideas, but I think I'll let 'em all squirm a while before I deliver up the solution.

Anywho, I have a little story that illustrates how screwy this whole deal is. A few weeks ago, ol' Stevie Joe paid a visit to the local Emergency Room ("local" being a relative term as the closest hospital, other than veterinary, is over in the next county).

Those who are frequent readers know that Stevie Joe is afflicted with migraine headaches. Now, some of you may question the medical necessity of an Emergency Room visit in the case of a headache, but let me tell you this was indeed appropriate care. If you have never experienced such an event, it can be difficult to judge just how bad it can be.

Some have compared passing a kidney stone to the pain of childbirth. I don't know about the childbirth part, but I have experienced kidney stones. I'd much rather endure one of them than a full-blown migraine headache. Plus, Stevie Joe's migraines can last a day and a half and include some mean nausea and vomiting (hope it isn't dinner hour out your way).

So, having one fierce headache, I headed on over to the Emergency Room. They started an IV and gave me the standard migraine cocktail: Toradol, Reglan, and Benadryl (Google 'em if need be). After a bit, I felt well enough to go home. The headache was still there, just a bit subdued.

A couple of weeks later, I get the bill: FOUR GRAND. Being the Smart Ass that I am, I telephoned over to their accounting department and asked for an itemized bill. Plus, having some connections in the medical world, I was able to get the cost of all the items used during my visit. So, here is how it went:


TOTAL COST OF ALL SUPPLIES (assuming that they bought all name brand stuff and received no volume discounts): $27.98 (really - I would not lie about this).

Here is how I was billed:

I don't know what constitutes "Level 5" treatment. In the lobby of the hospital, they list some sample prices and show "Emergency Room Level 1" as costing $118 and "Emergency Room Level 2 - Doctor" as costing $157. Now, keep in mind that the sign made clear that these fees did not include the fee paid to the doctor. So, I guess the extra $39 between Level 1 and 2 just buys you the right to see a doctor. Presumably, in Level 1, there's no doctor.

So, maybe Level 5 includes the right to see a doctor, the right to see a nurse, and the right to sit on the edge of a bed. Level 1 includes the right to look at the ER through the window.

LEVEL 4 CARE - DR. [name deleted] - $381
Here is where the doctor gets paid. Sounds OK, I guess. He spent at least five minutes with me. Don't know why I only got Level 4 care, though.

So, where is the nurse's fee, you ask?

IV Hydration Up to 60 Minutes - $315
IV Hydration, Each Additional Hour - $69
IV Injection - $139
IV Injection, Each Additional Drug (2) - $83 (ea), $166 for both
These prices include starting the IV, letting it run for 2 hours, drawing up 3 drugs, and injecting them into the IV tubeset. They do not include the drugs or any supplies. $689 total for RN labor. I'm sure that the nurse is not getting most of this money herself. She spent maybe ten minutes with me during my visit. She was very nice (maybe that's part of Level 5 care).

1000 ml Bag of Normal Saline Solution - $130
The most expensive 1000 ml bag of saline I could find cost $3.15. The alcohol prep swabs, tape, dressing, IV tubing, and IV needle/catheter cost another $14.60.

Benadryl (diphenhydramine), 50 mg - $41.20
Actual cost = $1.98. Add in 64 cents for the syringe.

Toradol (ketorolac), 30 mg - $41.20
Actual cost = $5.44. Add in 64 cents for the syringe.

Reglan (metoclopramide), 10 mg - $41.20
Actual cost = 89 cents. Add in 64 cents for the syringe.

CT Scan, Head, w/o Contrast - $1300
Yes, they did a CT scan. For those of you who are not familiar with a CT scan, it is basically a three-dimensional x-ray. A computer takes a series of two-dimensional x-ray images to create a three-dimensional model. Contrast dye is sometimes used to highlight certain structures. Stevie Joe received no contrast dye.

Now, this sounds pretty high tech. Maybe $1300 is a fair price. I did some checking around. Not many hospitals advertise their prices, but I did find one chain of hospitals that advertised a price of $438.55 for a CT scan of the head without contrast. It was only $364.02 at their outpatient locations. This cost includes "equipment fees, staff time, and supplies." Doctor fees are not included.

An informational site about CT scans lists the average cost of a head CT scan at $200-400. The Emergency Medicine Journal lists the average insurance reimbursement for a CT scan of the head at $300.

So, where does the $1300 come from? Who knows.

The one fact that Stevie Joe does know is there was no free market at work here. I could not call around to find out what various hospitals were going to charge me. I was in no position to make an educated choice about my treatment options. I took up one ER exam room for two hours, occupied a nurse and a doctor for about ten minutes, and used up $27.98 in supplies. My bill came to $4K.

Now, I am all in favor of the doctor and nurse making a comfortable living. I know them both and know that they are not getting rich. I am also in favor of keeping the hospital running. Emergency Rooms and CT scan equipment cost some big bucks. This is a non-profit hospital, though. So, I assume that they don't need to worry about paying big dividends to the stockholders.

The irony is that the whole visit could have been made unnecessary with two Vicodin tablets that cost about 30 cents each retail. However, Vicodin is a narcotic. Oooooh! Scary! Narcotics! Bad! Bad! We can't let folks have those. Especially since there are no patents on them. Where's the profit for the drug companies?

See, the pharmaceutical companies have convinced everyone that narcotics are evil. Instead, they (and my doctor) would rather have me take a different pill that cost $30 each rather than 30 cents each. Sometimes, you need two of those pills ($60), and even then, they offer no relief at least half the time (hey - if you still hurt, just go to the hospital, right?).

This is what happens when everyone is trying to make money off of another's misfortune. Take away the cheap and easy options. Heap on the expensive medicines and machines. Everyone gets a cut!

OK, I'm tired now,
Stevie Joe Parker

Stevie Joe and Jacko

Say what you will about the man, but this video still brings tears to my eyes:

Rock on, King of Pop,
Stevie Joe Parker

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stevie Joe and The News

Things that are not news:

1) Palin and Letterman
2) Jon and Kate

Completely irrelevant. Unimportant. Should not get an inch of newspaper column or a second of broadcast news.

And that's the way it is,
Stevie Joe Parker

Monday, June 15, 2009

Deep Thoughts with Stevie Joe

Peace is what happens when we try to understand the suffering of others.

Like wow man,
Stevie Joe Parker

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Stevie Joe Watches Iran

They say that the revolution will be televised. Well, in Iran, it's on the Internet. Videos, e-mail, and tweets are arriving minute by minute even as the traditional news media are being placed under house arrest. Western reporters are finding their equipment confiscated. Many are being told to leave the country. Yet, the world can still catch a glimpse of what is happening on Iranian streets.

The Huffington Post is maintaining a page of the latest news from Iran. It's a loosely-organized collection of text, photos, videos, and links to other sources. They have been trying to post videos using their own player since YouTube has been blocked within Iran. As important as it is to show the world what is happening, Iranian citizens need to know what their fellow countrymen are doing in response to the supposed election results.

Stop by and take a gander for yourself. It's not often that we get to see people taking "change" into their own hands instead of entrusting it to a bumpersticker. Maybe, we can learn something.

Stevie Joe Parker

Friday, May 15, 2009

Stevie Joe Ponders National Happiness

There are lots of indicators used to measure how well the folks in one part of the world fare against those in another. You can look at life expectancy, per capita income, and things like that, but how do they all stack up? A new study looks at the bigger picture and asks how happy we are.  That's what it's all about, right?  

So, it turns out that the US ranks 11th in the world in happiness.  The top ten might be surprising and spark a little debate to boot.

Happy happy joy joy,
Stevie Joe Parker

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Quick Thought from Stevie Joe

Your bumpersticker isn't going to change my mind.

Yours truly,
Stevie Joe Parker

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stevie Joe Makes the Switch

Now, I have been a Coca-Cola man since birth. Don't know why. Just was. But as of today, I may be switching over to the Pepsi-Cola. See, they have a "new" version out called Pepsi-Cola Throwback. It's made with real honest-to-JC sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Some of you young folks out there probably never tasted sodi-pop with real sugar. Let me tell you, it's some good stuff. Here are three advantages off of the top of my head:

1) Tastes much more yummy than the corn syrup kind
2) Is actually good when it's warm (!)
3) Is a good way to tell each overlord Archer Daniels Midland to stick it

Joinin' the Pepsi People Feelin' Free,
Stevie Joe Parker

p.s. Pepsi says that this stuff will only be available until June 13. If so, poop on them. I'll have to switch back to Coca-Cola in a couple of months.

Stevie Joe Loves America

Best version of the national anthem ever:

Tell it Brother Marvin!
Stevie Joe Parker

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Stevie Joe's Bizarre Prudy Sighting

So, I was driving through the Holler today, and I saw Prudy out in front of her house.  Now, what do you think she was doing?  Raking her gravel driveway.  That's what.  I might get a little OCD now and then, but I ain't raking my driveway, that's for sure.

Better to roll it, anyway,
Stevie Joe Parker

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Stevie Joe's Letter to Texas

So, you say you want to secede?  See anybody stopping you?  Git along, now.  

Stevie Joe

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Stevie Joe is Hopping Mad

Stevie Joe has not been posting lately for a couple of reasons. First, you need to understand that my brain is a sponge. I can spend hours on the innerwebs just absorbing information, but it often takes a while before I can squeeze some back out.

Second, I've been pretty durned PO'd lately about all the bailout baloney. It seems that the working folks are getting the short end of the stick. Not only are we all going to have to pay this back at some point or another, it's the blue collar folks getting laid off and taking pay cuts to make the plan work.

See, the execs all can point to their employment contracts and say, "See? Y'all have to pay me my bonus because I got a contract." However, the union folks got contracts, too. Why are their contracts the only ones being renegotiated?

Folks tend to focus on the abuses at AIG, but they are hardly unique. According to a recent study, the average CEO earned 431 times the pay of the average worker in 2004. In 1965, the ratio was 24 to 1. From 1995 to 2005, CEO pay increased at a rate 5 times faster than the average worker. In fact, the inflation-adjusted income of 90% of Americans has actually decreased since 2001. Yet, the fat cats keep getting fatter.

When you hear about the woes of the US auto companies, much is made of their "legacy costs," the costs to pay pensions to retired union workers. Yet, GM has to pay over $1.4 billion per year in pensions for retired executives. Given that their total annual pension cost is somewhere $3 and 6 billion (depending on what source you believe), it seems like executives are getting a pretty big share of the pension pie.

Health care is another common target. CEOs are pretty good when it comes to complaining about the health care costs they have to pay. These costs, according to the execs, put them at a competitive disadvantage against foreign competitors. So, what do they propose? Cutting health care benefits. Funny, that's not happens to the foreign workers. They generally get free universal health care. Why don't the US execs propose that here? Hmmm.

Enough for now, must go rest brain,
Stevie Joe Parker

Monday, March 9, 2009

Get Back, Stevie Joe

Back to Where I Once Belonged,
Stevie Joe Parker

Monday, March 2, 2009

Stevie Joe Remembers Wrigley Field

From a 1978 Wrigley Field program:

Box Seats  $5.50
Reserved Grandstand  $4.50
General Admission (adults)  $3.00
General Admission (children, age 13 and under)  $1.50
Senior Citizens General Admissions, Tuesday  $1.00
Ladies Day Friday, General Admission, 14 or older  $1.00
Bleachers  $1.50

All Beef Quarter Pd. Hot Dog  $1.00
Oscar Mayer Hot Dog  60c
Hamburger Sandwich  70c
Smokie Link Sandwich  70c
French Fries  35c
Better Baked Cheese Pizza  65c
Better Baked Sausage Pizza  65c
Borden's Frosty Malt  45c
Coffee  30c
Hot Chocolate  30c
Coca Cola  40c & 75c
Heileman's Old Style Beer 85c & $1.00
Miller's High Life Beer  85c & $1.00
Salted-In-Shell Peanuts  25c
Cracker Jack  45c
Popcorn  35c
Candy  35c
Cigars  25c
Cigarettes  75c
Wrigley's Gum, 5, 7-stick pkg  15c & 20c
Wrigley Field Program  25c
Cubs Program Pencil  10c
Pennant (All N.L. Teams)  $1.00
1978 Cubs Roster Book  $1.00
1978 Cubs Color Team Picture  $1.00
Cub Rings (Round or Square)  $1.00
Ballpoint Pen Set  $1.00
Bear Emblem  $1.25
Cub Wristband  $1.25
12 Miniature N.L. Pennants  $2.00
Cubs Plastic Helmet  $2.00
Caps 'n Bats Kit  $2.50
Souvenir Caps  $3.75 & $3.25
Cub T-Shirts  $3.00 & $3.50
Autographed Baseballs  $3.50
Plastic Autograph Ball Holder  $2.00
Ball Cushion  $3.25
Cubs Sweatshirts (Childrens)  $5.50
Cubs Sweatshirts (Adults)  $6.25
Cubs Windbreaker (Childrens)  $10.50
Cubs Windbreaker (Adults)  $11.00

Hey! Hey!
Stevie Joe Parker

Monday, January 19, 2009

Stevie Joe's Land is Your Land

It's made for you and me,
Stevie Joe Parker


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stevie Joe and Neil

For your listening pleasure:

Neil Young - Fork In The Road

Fork in the Road

Got a pot belly,
It's not too big
Gets in my way
When I'm driving my rig

Driving this country
In a big old rig
Things I've seen
Mean a lot

Friend has a pickup
Drives his kid to school
Then he takes his wife
To beauty school

Now she's doin' nails
Gonna get a job
Got a good teacher

There's a fork in the road ahead
I don't which way I'm gonna turn
There's a fork in the road ahead

About this year
We salute the troops
They're all still there
In a fucking war
It's no good
Whose idea was that?

I've got hope
But you can't eat hope
I'm not done
Not giving up
Not cashing in
Too late

There's a bailout coming but it's not for me
It's for all those creeps watching tickers on TV
There's a bailout coming but it's not for me

I'm a big rock star
My sales have tanked
But I still got you
Download this
Sounds like shit

Keep on bloggin'
'Til the power goes out
Your battery's dead
Twist and shout

On the radio
Those were the days
Bring 'em back

There's a bailout coming but it's not for you
It's for all those creeps hiding what they do
There's a bailout coming but it's not for you
Bailout coming but it's not for you

Got my flat screen
Got it repo'd now
They picked it up
Left a hole in the wall
Last Saturday
Missed the Raiders game

There's a bailout coming but it's not for you
There's a bailout coming but it's not for you
It's for all those creeps hiding what they do

From another old coot,
Stevie Joe Parker

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stevie Joe's January Holler Update

A deep freeze has gripped Junebug Holler. This means that Junior and most of the other nuts have confined their activities to the indoors.  The rest of us have enjoyed the quiet.  The Junebug Cafe and Internet Lounge is another matter.

The locals still gather every morning at Prudy's to discuss the news of the day.  Of course, there has been much gnashing of teeth over the collapse of the mortgage, finance, and job markets.  Now, I'm pretty sure that most of the loudest complainers have no mortgage, no investments, and no job.  That won't stop the bitching, though.

I've been holding my own thoughts on the economy in reserve.  My predictions are rather dire, and they might just push the gang right over the edge.  I'll compose them for posting on this here blog, and you folks can read them in a day or two.  A few of the local residents can read and will eventually find out, but they are the ones less likely to cause a panic.

I'm off to church shortly so I have to go.  More Holler news coming soon!

Stevie Joe Parker