Hurricane Maria’s Aftermath: The Leaks Become A Flood

Trump’s Oval Office Occupation has shattered so many norms, it’s impossible to assess what “bad news” might be for him. But this is an ongoing tragedy in real time — not just in Puerto Rico, either…



Hanging up the whistle

This is me this morning:

My ankle decided to not work for me early in the week. This is not unusual. Usually it will hurt like a bastard for half an hour and then I am good. This time it was different. Three days out of the injury despite the normal rest, ice, compression, elevation and not getting up more than I have to routine, I was still hurting. So I had it checked out.

The initial analysis is that my ankle is held together with duct tape and chicken wire. There is nothing too serious from the most recent injury , but there are a couple of bone chips floating around and worn smooth after years of not being detected in the ankle as well as visible damage from repeated sprains and other soft tissue injuries. I have a follow-up visit scheduled soon for more advanced diagnostics and planning. My inclination is to go with conservative treatment as I don’t want surgery unless it is a guarantee of 100% functionality.

I had been cutting back on my refereeing before this most recent injury.

When I was in Pittsburgh, refereeing was a key component of the family budget. We had two kids in day care for several years and then as my daughter got to school, her little brother was still in daycare. Refereeing made day care plausible. The fragmented buyer side and fairly well organized supply side of the referee market meant that I was taking home, after travel time, taxes and expenses, roughly what I was taking home from working a real job. I enjoyed it, I loved working with a great crew and I got to explore Western Pennsylvania and most of West Virginia.

When I came down to North Carolina, I noticed very early on that the buyer side was extremely concentrated and getting more so and the supply side was fragmented and disorganized. The game fees are lower, the number of games assigned at one field are less and the travel distance is far greater due to league organization. On net, after travel time and expenses, refereeing in North Carolina is a $12 an hour gig.

A few weeks ago on Saturday morning, my son, who started kindergarten this week, was watching television. He saw me dressed in ref shorts and a black t-shirt going out the side door.

“Daddy, are you going to soccer today?” He asked plaintively.

“Nope, just throwing out the trash and getting coffee”

“Can I come get coffee with you?”

“Get some pants on” He giggled. We spent fifteen minutes finding the most awesome pair of pants ever for him to wear.

I had already decided to make myself available on an extremely limited basis. If I thought my kids were going to be asleep or visiting the grandparents, I had openings on my schedule. I had taken a few games here and there just so I could stay on the field. But 2017’s game count was struggling to get to a score when usually I was turning down assignments to avoid being double and triple booked.

With a freshly jacked up ankle, the decision that I probably would have made next year just accelerated. I am hanging up my whistle and my flags. I’ll still re-certify but I don’t think I’m taking games again until I become perpetually embarrassing to both of my kids and they want me out of the house and away from being potentially seen by their friends.

I’ll miss the field, I’ll miss the camaradary and the dynamic mental challenge of riding a game to the edge and pulling the players back right before it devolves into mass chaos. I’ll miss that. But I’m okay with missing that if it means I can ask my 5 year old if he wants to get coffee with me on a Saturday morning.








Let the midnight special

I want to re-up Anne Laurie’s post about how to help people in Houston. I gave to Houston Food Bank.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, one of my local stations did nothing but music from New Orleans for 24 hours. I was just thinking the other day, there’s so much great music from the Houston area too — Janis Joplin, Beyonce, Jimmy Webb, Rodney Crowell, the Winter brothers, the chopped-and-screwed hip hop stuff.

What are your favorite songs related to Houston?

And, speaking of New Orleans, here’s a nice article (edit: here’s a similar article you can read without a subscription — h/t lamh36) about the volunteer “Cajun Navy” of volunteers helping out with the relief effort.








Saturday Morning Open Thread: Going Strong

I was so proud of Katherine as I sat with hundreds of other guests in the East Room of the White House and watched as she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama last year. Katherine’s great mind and amazing talents advanced our freedoms at the most basic level—the freedom to pursue the biggest dreams we can possibly imagine and to step into any room in the country and take a seat at the table because our expertise and excellence deserve it. Katherine, now 97, took her seat without fanfare. As far as not being equal was concerned, she said, “I didn’t have time for that. My dad taught us ‘you are as good as anybody in this town, but you’re no better.’ ” I’d posit that Katherine was better—not only at math but also at applying her talents with the precision and beauty possible only in mathematics. She achieved the perfect parabola—casting herself to the stars and believing she could chart the journey home.

Apart from honoring our heroes, and prepping (or praying for those) in the path of Hurricane Harvey, what’s on the agenda for the day?

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On a much less elevated level, just to vent…

I avoid Andrew Sullivan’s work as a general practice, but the NY Mag Most-Read sidebar title only said “The Boston Rally Exposed the Left’s Intolerance of Free Speech“. I won’t quote here, but this was an astonishing hat trick of Sully-ness.
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Flat Rejection Open Thread: There Are *NOT* Two Sides to This Argument

I know, I know — overkill. But this is 2017, and we’re trying to explain to the guy currently squatting in the Oval Office, in this very timeline, that Nazis are wrong. It feels like we have to make some kind of record…


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Open Thread: At the Trump White House, It’s Always Worse Than You Expected…

Whoever invented the game of RISK has a lot to answer for…


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50% of income is a wonderful choice

I was laid off from a program evaluation job in September 2009. I had been working at a grant funded pediatric behavioral and mental health care coordination demonstration project. It was a service that was more expensive up front but usually saved Medicaid money in a few years and social services/criminal justice costs very quickly. We had good results that had been backed up by an external program evaluation.

Our funding when I was on this project was overwhelmingly federal grant pilot funding with a small local match. We needed to transition to regular program funding. That meant we needed a Medicaid waiver for the service that we offered. There was absolutely no discretionary local money in 2009 so we did not receive a waiver. The nerds were let go in order to stretch operational funding. We wanted the kids to be served for as long as possible until a smooth hand-off could be arranged.

Thankfully I lived in Pennsylvania so I had a decent unemployment check. I was eligible for about $1,600 a month. My wife was working part time at the time and earning $1,000 a month and my daughter was nine months old and being very silly and adorable. I received an offer to COBRA our health coverage. We had a $2,500 high deductible health plan for $1,275 a month premium as the risk pool at my former employer was sick as hell. Half of our income would have had to go to just the premium. We were lucky, as part of the stimulus, there was a program that paid for 65% of the COBRA premium. That meant our premium was “only” 16% of our income.

We tried to make that work and we did until January when we switched my daughter to CHIP for $25 a month. CHIP was the best insurance I have ever had. My wife and I got a cheap underwritten policy that offered $500,000 in benefits after a $7,500 deductible with severe coverage limitations. We were getting it to give us some protection if the other person got hit by a bus.

Half of our income for a policy with a deductible equal to our entire monthly income is not an actual choice for insurance. We were trying to stay current on the mortgage, keep diapers on our daughter, and not fall too far behind. And we mostly were able to manage. Once we were both working full time, it took us two years to dig out of the hole that my lay-off placed us in. And that was only because we got lucky. We got lucky that we stayed healthy. We got lucky that we both could find decent enough jobs with decent pay and better advancement opportunities. We got lucky in that we were going to be okay if nothing else happened and nothing else actually happened.

Your money or your life is not a choice.