Friday, October 11, 2019

Late night Dak attack

"If I'd had a gun I'd have shot the son-of-a-bitch without a second thought!"

"I wish you had," Said my wife. "Next time you take Dak out you should take your pistol."

"It was frightening. We were just strolling along and he came out of nowhere like a fury. He was really big—a pit bull, I think." I explained. "He hit Dak like a freight train and took him down hard. Dak was crying and yelping in fear and pain while that big dog was all over him. I yelled, 'Get off!' and kicked him, hard, with my heel. He just ignored me, growling and, to all appearances, trying to kill our pup. I kept kicking and yelling for help. I was afraid to get between them. That pit bull had me scared."

After what seemed an eternity the dog's owner reached our location. Reaching in he grabbed the big dog's collar and pulled him off. The pit bull continued to growl and snarl. Dak quickly retreated behind me. Were he not on a short leash I'm sure he would have made himself more distant from the much larger and intimidating animal.

I quickly felt Dak for obvious signs of injury. It was hard to see well in the sparse light from the distant street lamp, but I found no blood or broken bones. Dak’s eyes held a look of pure terror. We were quickly joined by a woman, apparently the man's partner. "Is your dog OK?" She asked.

"As best as I can tell, yes," I said.

"He's not bitten, is he?" She asked.  "Our dog is aggressive and doesn't know his own strength, but he's never bitten anyone or another animal."

“I don’t know your dog. I said. It seemed to me he was intent on killing us both, my pup first.”

I told her that I didn't find any signs of serious damage. We exchanged names and went our ways. The man never did say much. I didn't hear either of them call the pit bull by name. I don’t recall that either of them offered an apology. Dak was obviously still traumatized as we walked away. He stayed very close and kept glancing up at me. Poor little dog. In his two short years of life this is the first dogfight he's been in that I know of. He’s not an experienced street fighter; he’s never even outside that he’s not on his leash. A few more paces away, under the street lamp, we stopped so I could check him more thoroughly. I didn't find any real damage, although I reasoned there must be bruises under his curly white coat. What I did find was a mess. Dak had apparently been so frightened that he lost control of his bowels as the pit bull rolled and dragged him. His coat and tail were badly soiled. I wiped him off the best I could with my handkerchief which I tossed into the nearest doggie-poo station. Oh well, I didn't like that handkerchief anyway.

Back home by 9:00 pm, we had to add insult to injury by bathing him in the utility sink. After the bath, some tooth brushing, and a chewy treat, he seemed ready to tentatively trust me again.

As I finished my shower and headed for bed, my wife said, "Maybe it's a good thing you weren't carrying your gun." I wasn't yet ready to agree with her.

Friday, September 20, 2019

There's nothing EZ about transportation policy

A recent posting from the Strong Towns organization pointed out that we, as a society, criticize public transit as being expensive for very little utilization, but that, in the author's opinion, roads are a worse investment based on passenger mile costs. But, in my EZ opinion, passenger miles is a dangerously incomplete tool with which to measure the value and utility of any transit system.

What I would like to see is a study that would look at usage/riders/freight in comparison to surrounding population density. For instance, in Texas the State Farm to Market Highway System may be very, very lightly used, but those roads made it possible to move agricultural goods efficiently to market, feeding a large part of the city populations of the world and providing great economic benefit to the farmers and ranchers. I don't think it makes sense to look at whether or not the system is "empty" without looking at other factors including total economic cost/benefit and surrounding population density. Further, to say that a road benefits ONLY those who choose to live along or at the end of it is specious, shallow thinking. Our economic system is much more complex than that. You've seen the signs that read, "If you have eaten today, thank a farmer." Yes, but also thank the road builder that made it possible to move that food to your store and home and the taxpayers who pay for it. As a side note, I think that an appropriate fuel or per-mile tax is the right way to pay for roadway infrastructure - any increased costs for commercial traffic would simply be passed along to the consumer, without whom the goods wouldn't be moved in the first place. Thus, traffic on very high usage roads would "subsidize" the costs of lightly used, but important, roads. From those funds collected, we then decide where to best spend them. When we consider these things, please consider that passenger transit is a side blessing -- the main purpose of roadways is economic and military.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Understanding is sometimes not EZ

This morning, my email included a notification from Medium ( that I have a new "follower." A person with a feminine name, I thought, but not DEFINITIVELY feminine. You know, kind of like "Lynn." Could identify as either gender. Still, a person I've never heard of.

My first thought? Why? Why would she; why would anyone follow my writings?

My second thought: Who is this person. What do they write and publish on Medium? Following the link left by the follower, I found that their description of their work is, "Satire, Surrealism, Poetry..."

Reading a few of the posted articles I learned that "she" is actually a heterosexual "he," or is a VERY good author with the skills of writing in the voice of someone else. Prolific, too; thirty-seven posted articles on Medium since August 2018. That's more than ten times the number of articles I've posted in a similar period. The articles posted under his name are definitely engaging, so I, in turn, "followed" him. I will look forward to seeing new posts in the future.

My next thought: How did he happen to happen upon my writings? A quick look at my Medium stats showed no apparent upsurge. I am grateful for a new follower. How could that not be good news?

I still have no idea why he would want to follow my writings.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Medical Insurance. EZ? I think not!

I recently had a surgical procedure performed. The billing is in. Due to my advanced age, I'm covered by Medicare (primary) and thanks to my career in the military, Tricare (secondary.)

The total billings were:

Billings approved by Medicare were:

Medicare paid:

Tricare paid:

The EOB I received from Tricare says that I'm responsible for:

So here are my not-EZ questions:
1.) If Medicare "approved" $178,825.61, why did they pay only $18,103.84?
2.) What is the status of the remaining $140,812.59?

I don't really want to ask anyone that second question!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Mr and Mrs EZ take flight

“Ladies and Gentlemen, in just a few moments we will begin our descent to Ben Gurion Airport. Please take this opportunity to stow your belongings and prepare for arrival. In just a few moments, we will discontinue the operation of Wi-Fi and other on-board entertainment systems. Your attendants will now be passing through the main cabin to collect any trash or recyclable items you have.”
Blinking my eyes open and stretching, I took stock of the situation. My wife, Glenda, and I were aboard Delta flight 86 from New York’s JFK Airport to Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel. We were seated in the Comfort+ section and had two-up seating, row 13, seats A and B, at the main cabin bulkhead on Delta’s long-range Boeing 767-300ER. Glenda had the window seat and I was on the aisle. The air seemed heavy and muggy; my teeth felt fuzzy and my mouth tasted stale. I felt grumpy, stiff, and groggy; just a few dwarves short of a fairy tale. This had been a 12-hour flight and there is a seven-hour time difference between New York and Tel Aviv. We had departed JFK at 11:00 pm local Thursday and would arrive in Tel Aviv at 6:15 local Friday evening.

It had been a long flight, but not horribly bad. The Comfort+ seating did give us a bit more legroom and the two-up seating, which, to me, is a bigger improvement than all the legroom in the world. There’s nothing I hate worse than a middle seat on an airplane. Still, the service was disappointing and other than getting a free $.95 eye-mask indistinguishable from the lowest class of passage. And that in-flight service was certainly nothing to write home about. Meals? Swanson does microwave tray dinners better. Free drinks? This was the day after Thanksgiving in November of 2018. Delta began to offer free drinks for Comfort+ in January 2019. Plus, as we were at the front of the main cabin, but not in a premium class, the ‘heads’ were a long ways away behind us. In the hard airplane seat, even with Comfort+’s extra degree of recline and my trusty neck pillow, it was hard to sleep; just being away from my own bed probably had something to do with that. I was able to read, listen to music, and nap sporadically. Every time I did get to sleep, it seemed it was time for Glenda’s bathroom break. At least every couple of hours I’d gone out of my way to stand, stretch, and walk a bit; I didn’t want to risk a blood clot in my old legs.

I could feel the aircraft slowing and beginning to descend. Additional announcements were made indicating our final approach to the airport and instructing us to complete our preparation for landing. I noted that the lights of the Israeli coast were visible out Glenda’s port-side window. I managed to get my shoes on. I didn’t remember them feeling this tight, before. Our goods were all gathered and stowed. Taking another healthy stretch, telling myself to take a few really deep breaths, I noted an odd smell. To notice an odd smell in an airplane that’s been jammed full of people for 12 hours means that it is a really odd smell.  Wrinkling my nose I thought to myself, “What is that smell? Fishy? Garlic? Urine? It’s acrid, in any case, and it seems to be getting stronger.”

At just that moment, Glenda suddenly leaned forward, unfastened her seat belt and jumped to a standing position, bumping her head on the overhead bin on her way up. I don’t’ recall when I last saw her move so quickly. I immediately thought, “Oh, no! Now the flight attendants are going to reprimand us.”  Her sudden motion distracted me temporarily from the acrid smell. Looking at her concerned face, I asked, “What?”
Glenda declared, “Something is hot. Very hot. It’s burning my behind!”  She’s a very genteel soul. To use any stronger language would have been totally out of character.

What? Hot? Acrid smell? Oh, crap, smoke! That means fire. I reached down over the dividing armrest to feel her seat’s cushion; yes, it was very, very hot. I, too, quickly stood up and pressed the call button. By now, people in the row behind us are murmuring about smelling something. Quickly a flight attendant arrives and I explain to him the situation. He motioned for us to step out of our row into the aisle and when we were clear, he reached into Glenda’s seat.

Pulling back his hand with a cry, he shouts what was either a code word or something other than English to the senior attendant, which I assume was a call for a Halon fire extinguisher and to notify the flight crew of a potential “situation.”  He then yanked up the seat cushion. On the bottom inboard edge, it was smoldering; there was smoke but no visible fire. The attendant pulled a heavy cloth from his pocket and smothered the offending spot. A second attendant had arrived carrying a red fire extinguisher, but the first motioned for him to simply stand by.

Meanwhile, the aircraft continued its steady, droning, descent towards our landing. Once the attendant was sure there was no active fire he shouted, “Clear!” which I assume told the rest of the crew the problem was not serious. Then he again reached down and probed the seat tray under the cushion and pulled up a beat-up-looking old Bic butane-fueled lighter. Testing the business end of the lighter by touching with his thumb, he jerked his thumb back, and said, “It’s been ignited. Is this yours?”

“No!” I said, alarmed. “Neither of us smokes and we don’t carry any lighters.”

Apparently, the lighter had fallen out of someone’s pocket on an earlier flight. Seat cushions are not removed as part of the routine turn process, so it would not have been seen. As Glenda repositioned herself for the landing drill, her weight must have “flicked the BIC” in such a way as to activate it, which ignited the seat cushion. Most furnishings on modern aircraft are fire-resistant, as, thank God, was the seat cushion. Glenda’s ankle-length black polyester blend skirt, not so much. As we all recognized the crisis was averted and we were safe, the attendant replaced the cushion and asked us to quickly resettle so as to be prepared for landing. As we turn in the aisle to reenter our seats, I notice a flash of white at Glenda’s posterior.

“Wait,” I asked her. “Let me look at something.” With my hand on her shoulder, I turned her a bit to her left. Yep, there it was, just to the rear of her right upper thigh – a hole the size of grapefruit melted in her black skirt, allowing the exposure of her white underwear.
We had no changes of clothing in our carry-on bags, but at least she did have a sweater to tie around her waist and cover the view. 

After an otherwise uneventful and safe landing, we claimed our heavy luggage, cleared Customs & Immigration without incident, and got our rental car, a white Fiat sedan. I was exhausted and it was getting late, so we proceeded as quickly as we could to our comfortable Air BnB in Herzliya, along the Mediterranean coast north of Tel Aviv, allowing WAZE to guide us.

Once again, we had cheated death, as I’ve been doing for over 60 years. It easy to see that this situation could have been so much worse. There are not many things more frightening than a fire on an airplane in flight. Maybe Snakes on a Plane would be worse. I know that the movie of that name was painful to watch.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

An EZ 4th of July

We spent the 4th, 5th, and 6th at our sons' cabin in Colcord Cove, which is up in the pines at 6,400' AMSL and about 20 miles east of Payson, AZ, in the Tonto National Forest. The weather was absolutely perfect, about 82 for a high and around 50 (F) for the low each day. For the evening of the 4th, we drove back down into Payson to the small-town America celebration on Green Valley Lake in the city park. A nice respite from the summer heat in Mesa.

We enjoyed food-truck eats, popcorn, and a wonderful fireworks display.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

I'm not having an EZ time understanding the Wayfair walkout.

The conditions at the border are horrendous and need to be corrected ASAP regardless of who is in our Federal Administration. But, it strikes me that some of the people who are refusing to sell the mattresses are also the same people complaining the loudest about children sleeping on a hard floor. Maybe the additional visibility will help in the long run? the House passed a funding bill to help. Can we get the Senate to do the same? If not they are willfully complicit in inhumanity if not civil rights violations. What if both House and Senate pony up the money: What, then, do we do if nobody will sell supplies and comfort items for this use? Having said this: We can't take care of the entire world. At some point, we need to reduce this flow to a manageable level. I believe that's going to take many steps, increased border security only one of them. We have made some progress in getting Mexico to cooperate. I think we also need to work closely with the governments of Central America so that people there can have a fair chance to safely stay home and build a life in their own land. Maybe some of our overseas federal aid could be diverted from countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel (and I don't mean abandon them -- just use resources in the best way -- maybe if we stop poking Iran and speak to them as fellow humans Israel could be more secure). Our Democrat representatives (I refuse to call them "leaders") are busy telling us that no one, not even the President is above the law (I agree with them.) So please, Ms. Pelosi, explain to me why the same logic does not apply to immigrants. Humanity first, but we must eventually deal with lawlessness and justice if we are to maintain a Democratic Republic. There is no simple answer. If we can't work together as a nation and as a continent, let alone a world, it won't get solved. Meanwhile we need to make a difference for the "one" if we can. A good mattress might be appreciated by one in the camps.

Here's something to consider: