Sunday, September 27, 2009

Still in Virginia Beach..

And still savoring the momentary thrill of winning two medals at the contest here. I ended up calling it "Tell It To The Moon" and yes, it is personal.

Winning second place and - even sweeter - scuptors' choice awards could well end up being the high point of my year. (I have posted photos of all the masters sculptures on my flickr stream.)

I don't fly out until late afternoon so today feels like a bit of a vacation. Neptunefest is still going strong (check out the percussion set-up in the short video below) and there are still a few of my fellow sculptors hanging round.

But I am ever so ready to be back home on beautiful South Padre Island.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tentative Title: Communing with the moon

Am handstacking huge walls. Scaring myself. Don't see how they can stand, but maybe they will. And maybe those scattered T-storms they keep mentioning will scatter themselves somewhere else.

Today's photo is a closeup of the focal point of this forced-perspective thing I have been playing with lately. Tomorrow I will back up and show you all the sand I moved today.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Seaturtle Inc Auction

JoAnn Evans is the proud owner of the latest Tony Schaub masterpiece - "Junior's Birthday"

Friday, September 11, 2009

And we used to think that embedding Christmas lights on a sandsculpture was cool


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

the garden path

So this is what I have been working on.
During this record-breakingly hot summer I have been trying my hand at landscaping a footpath from my driveway to Dad’s Annex. I uprooted lots of grass and weeds, toped the existing path with a layer of Australian pine needles, of which I have an abundant supply. (They keep down the undergrowth.) Then a layer of sand/dirt excavated from the annex’s foundation. And onto that is stomped/pressed/embedded all kinds of stuff including shells, rocks, concrete stepping stones I made - some with Dad’s help, driftwood and rocks from his sizable collection, and pieces of tile and marble I have collected. When finished, I will poor diluted glue on the packed sand and see how it stands up to weather and time. The new beds I am creating will be filled with good soil, planted with pansies and show off my collection of Dad’s “birdcastles.“

It is hot, slow, sweaty, labor-intensive work, and sometimes it feels like punishment.

But when it is done it will be magical.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Let's Stop Yelling at Each Other

Yesterday I went to my dentist - a pleasant, capable professional with state of the art equipment in a spotless environment who just happens to practice in Matamoros, Mexico. I had my teeth cleaned, xrayed and examined. I needed two fillings, one of which was done on the spot; I will have to go back next week to take care of the other one. My bill for yesterday’s work was $77.50. I can’t say for sure how much these services would have cost me on this side of the border, but I am guessing something like $300 - $500....

I have been entrusting my chompers to my Mexican dentist for 3-4 years now and in the process figure I have saved myself thousands of dollars. Was the care as good as what I would have gotten in the US? Can’t say for certain, but so far so good. Is it better than what I would have gotten had I paid for what I could actually afford in the US? Most definitely. Because I probably would have had to let my teeth rot in my head had I not had the Mexican alternative. What is the reason for the huge disparity in fees between two clinics that are only a few miles away from one another? Not a clue.

I have this friend who prefers to remain anonymous for reasons that shall become evident. Let’s call her Betty. She is self-employed with no dependents and makes just enough of a living to meet her modest needs. After going for decades without health insurance, she decided to get coverage to prevent her family from having to bail her out in a worst case health scenario. She was relatively healthy for someone who had gone without regular medical care for so long, but she did have one pre-existing condition that made finding a provider difficult. It wasn’t cancer or a heart murmur or anything terribly exotic. Just asthma - a condition some studies suggest as much as 10% of the US population has to deal with. When she finally found a company that would cover her, it was because she lied about the fact she had had problems with asthma all of her life - at the urging of the gentleman who sold her the policy.

She had learned to live with the occasional flare-ups by self-medicating with drugs she was able to purchase in Mexico without a prescription, and she had gone for years without having to see a doctor. But the day came when she was working out of town and caught a cold that sank down into her chest, leading to serious breathing complications. She went to a minor emergency clinic, but the staff there was unable to help her and finally convinced her she had to go to the hospital. She was in emergency for a total of ten hours, responded well to treatment and was able to get herself home. The total bill for her 10 hours in the hospital? Just a hair over $10,000. Yes, that is $1000/hour. For asthma. The bills were duly submitted to her insurance company and of course the adjustors were suspicious, immediately demanding all records for any doctor visits made over the previous 5 years. Since she had been self-medicating, there was no paper trail so the insurance company did in fact end up paying 80% of the bill. She was still out $2000 that she could ill afford but did finally manage to pay off.

That’s the good news. Of course, the bad news is that now there _is a paper trail. She officially has a “pre-existing condition.” Insurance companies no longer have any interest in competing for her business so she is essentially at the mercy of her existing provider. If this company raises the premiums to the point where she can no longer afford them or finds some other reason to dump her, she has to hope she can hang on long enough to qualify for Medicare.

Ladies and gentlemen, healthcare in America is broken, and it is not going to fix itself. Almost everyone can agree that some sort of reform is necessary. What shape that reform will ultimately take is in the hands of the people we elected to lead us. Let’s tell them - respectfully and rationally - our concerns, and then step back and let them formulate a plan. They have the research. They know what the budget of the richest country in the world can handle. They have access to the experts and the most able problem solvers this great nation can produce. Let’s give them a chance to fix this problem. If they fail, then we can elect someone else and it will be _their turn to take a stab at it.

And please please please let’s stop yelling at each other.