Archive for the ‘Living in the US’ Category

HOWTO: visit a doctor

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Life in the US is often interesting, from an introspective viewpoint anyway. Yesterday, I decided that this sore throat wasn’t going to get better on its own and needed some antibiotical assistance. So, I figured it was about time to register with a doctor and take care of all that jazz. Actually finding a doctor wasn’t too bad – I just used my health insurance provider’s website to find one down the street, called and got an apointment a few hours later. But when I got there, there was more fun to be had:

  • Fill in registration form.
  • Fill in more registration forms.
  • Fill in background form (all ok so far, overdone, but ok).
  • Fill in survey about depression. So I’m not depressed but they wanted to check I wasn’t about to kill myself as part of their paranoid default paperwork for new patients. I was tempted to write that the hassle involved in treating a sore throat was making me re-consider…but it’s not worth assuming a sense of humor exists.
  • Fill in survey about domestic violence. Yeah, that’s right. A sore throat requires this kind of information.
  • Take my blood pressure, weight, oxygen, heartrate, other vitals.
  • See doctor, who repeats most of the above.
  • Tell doctor “dude, I’ve got the same symptoms as someone who’s now already on antibiotics, I’m not dying, I just want a prescription and then I promise not to come back until I’m actually sick again”.
  • Doctor takes swabs of my throat to send off for analysis (presumably because they can claim this as an additional expense to my insurance company).
  • Discover the doctor is actually an OK dude. Originally Canadian and therefore versed in the Province based system in Canada, we had a good discussion about his support for universal healthcare, which local charities are good to donate to (I constantly feel guilt/annoyance that so many people here don’t have health coverage…and it really pisses me off) and the differences between US, Canadian and European healthcare systems.
  • Get prescription.
  • Go to CVS to claim it. They can’t find me in the insurance database. Phone calls, more waiting (and of course, I’m grumbling about the merits of universal healthcase by this point) and eventually after a wait they are able to process it.
  • Got antibiotics.

Thank goodness I only had a sore throat. I hate to think how bad it would be if I actually had anything particularly wrong with me. It’s not that any one thing was annoying/excessive, it’s just the overall experience that’s typically overblown and rediculous. Anyway, they’ve even more than in the UK, convinced me to avoid seeing a doctor here again unless I really feel like hours of fun and enjoyment just to deal with a trivial sore throat :-)

Irony of the day: being asked a bunch of times for your “social security” number and thinking to yourself “that’s right, social security, because the government here really provide for the people”. I like a lot of things about the US, but nobody is ever going to sell me on how healthcare works here…and now I’ve briefly experienced the whole broken mess for myself. People here do know the healthcare system is broken, it’s just that nobody can agree on how to fix it (read: rightwing types unwilling to pay higher taxes for universal healthcare benefits to wider society).

The number one reason I’m pissed off? Because of the disparity. I get good coverage through my employer, but so many millions of people don’t get anything – I hate to think about their experiences. Health should not be about who you work for, what job you do or how much you can afford to pay…not in an advanced society, anyway. I wish people who vote for fucktarded losers would finally realize this. But they won’t, because it’s not in keeping with unrealistic, unmaintainable tax cuts and general cuts to federal programs in order to spend more on fighting daddy’s war…


Boston Ballet – The Nutcracker

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

So we went to see The Nutcracker at the newly rennovated Boston Opera House last night. That was totally awesome – having never seen The Nutcracker before, I was looking forward to it. I had other reasons to enjoy seeing the ballet, but the performance itself was great. I need to see more performances in Boston. London can move over, even the Royal Albert Hall can’t really touch the Boston Opera House for style and class.

I’m debating going to see Handel’s Messiah performed by the Handel and Haydn Society as another cultural outlet, though I have suddenly realised that I could spend a million years in Boston and enjoy every minute of it.


Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2006

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Photo: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2006

So I went to New York for the 80th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was interesting (and very very cold and wet) and an overall fun experience from the “had to be done at least once” viewpoint. “Unfortunately”, with it being Thanksgiving, I didn’t actually get to do any shopping as even Macy’s itself was closed :-)

The flightcrew on the flight back had to dispense sick bags to some kids due to the turbulance, which was understandable given that we were stuck at 17,000ft on the way back (it was worse still at 16,000ft on the way down). Maybe I’ll take the train next time.


Living with an insular media

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

So, back in the Land Of The Free, and I’m catching up on email and news. I wanted to write a few words about living with the insular US media from my experiences so far. As many sane people will know, one of the major failings in the States today is that the mass produced TV media here have a general aversion to international news coverage. Sure, they’ll cover Iraq (because of its implications back home) and they’ll cover the North Korean nuclear test (after it happens) but many other news items just aren’t there. This is one reason I don’t own a TV (yet) and I’m undecided about getting one.

Fortunately, the BBC stream their major news broadcasts via their website. I’ve signed up to the premium service but will probably cancel since it doesn’t include a high resolution news broadcast, just certain content (I’ve emailed the BBC to ask why they don’t fix this obvious shortcoming). At any rate, I watch at least one of those newscasts each day, if I can. The BBC also make various forms of news available via podcasts on their website and on Apple iTunes. I pull down a version of their breakfast TV show each day.

CNN (the “Clinton News Network” – i.e. not Faux) provide a commercial online service called ipipeline. I’ve signed up to this too, since I can stream everything from the excellent CNN International I used to watch (not available in the US on regular TV) to live feeds of UN debates, and a whole range of other stuff that you just can’t get here any other way either. It’s a small amount of money to pay each month and in return I’ll be getting a lot of good news options that just aren’t avilable through regular TV programming.

Apple iTunes provides various free (as in beer) podcasts. I run iTunes more than I used to because I can, for example, easily pull down the following:

  • ABC World News
  • BBC Breakfast
  • CBC This Week
  • CNN Late Edition
  • New York Times Front Page
  • Newsnight
  • NPR News Summary
  • BBC Ten O’Clock News
  • This American Life
  • …and a lot more

In concert with NPR (my morning alarm) and the New York Times (and other quality print media – actually I’m thinking about subscribing to the NYT, mostly because they have a backbone) I am actually doing a lot better than I thought I would be. It’s a shame that the regular TV options here are so unbelievably crap when it comes to news, but there are modern day alternatives out there even Murdoch’s empire can’t keep down.