Decisive action on the VA

Two decades ago, I had the pleasure of working with a Viet Nam vet while lobbying on health care rationing for the National Right to Life Committee. He told me then that the Veteran’s Administration health care system was awful, and he avoided it like the plague. When he told me that, I just assumed it was because the VA is like most bureaucracies: slow moving, impersonal, and full of people who are coasting until retirement . . . in 20 years. It turns out that is the most charitable description that can rightly be described as rotten to the core.

Because he is disabled, my friend is eligible for Medicare. He has an out, but many veterans don’t. They depend on the VA for their health care, if it can be called that. A few months ago it came out that VA employees were creating secret waiting lists in order to make it look like they were complying with regulations that veterans be seen within two weeks. In reality the wait was months for many, and coming too late for some.

One of the reasons they fudged the wait times? To get bigger bonuses.  It’s not true that no one has been punished for shenanigans at the VA. Whistleblowers are retaliated against, including one episode where nurses got back at a surgeon who complained by refusing her orders in the operating room.

There was a flurry of media and activity when the initial reports came in. But evidence kept piling on and other events were “fresh”, so the media moved on. And rather than the raids and carting people off to jail that you’d think the criminal neglect of veterans would have, there have been studies and investigations. The results of those studies are in and the verdict is . . . give the VA more money.
I have no words so you need to go read Jimmie Bise’s righteous rant. He says it all.
And I agree with Dave. Burn it down, salt the earth.

Terrible Tuesday: Very tired

We went to bed early because MTG had to be up at 4 am. But I tossed and turned for an hour or so. No big, I can sleep in. Except when MTG got up, I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep for a couple of hours. I finally did get back to sleep, but alas, not for long enough. Because Bulldozer needed to know if he could go pick some tomatoes at 7 a.m. Weirdo.

Exhausted links!

Spaced Out Challenge: the summer sky for beginners with binoculars. It’s amazing how much can be seen with just a pair of binoculars, but sometimes you want something bigger. The 5 massive new telescopes that will change astronomy forever. (They probably won’t give me a look-see, will they?)

My kids are just getting into Minecraft (we are not early adopters), and these free Minecraft Mods look . . . free. I’ll be honest, what I know about Minecraft can fit into a thimble, so I don’t know if this is good, bad, or indifferent. But hey! Free!

Never Give Up! Never Surrender! An oral history of Galaxy Quest,

13 Useful tools you should only buy on the cheap.

Everything you don’t know about tipping. With handy charts!

I can live forever, but it has to be in Indiana? Decisions, decisions.

death map



Jeff Bridges did an amazing Q&A with Reddit, here are the highlights.

Quit pointing your avocado at me. Be sure to read the folk tale at the end.

The scourge of Upworthian headlines (You’ll never guess what x did next!) is driving me crazy. One man with a Twitter account is fighting back. Saved You A Click cuts the link and tells you the answer. God bless him.

Homeschool Sea Change


In years past, I’ve had one or two big planning sessions where I could shut out the world, hunker down with the books and the charts and the lists, and get the major overview of our year planned. For various (and frankly unsatisfying) reasons, that hasn’t happened this year. I’ve snatched moments here, scribbled down ideas there, made about 5 charts and curriculum lists–none of which I can find at the moment, and generally gone about it in a slap-dash manner.

So I don’t have a big overview of the year down yet, but I do have the impression that this year is going to be big-D-Different. It feels different. I’m realizing a lot of things that have worked well in the past, won’t work this year. At the same time, some old challenges are no longer issues allowing for new opportunities.

The biggest difference is that Little Miss will be in high school. That means more records, more formal structure, and oddly much less teaching from me. She’s taking two on-line classes and two classes at a University model school. Most of the stuff she has at home is self-directed. My role in her education is much less teacher and more overseer/chauffeur/record keeper.

But even with the other kids, it seems like it’s going to be a different year. We’ve been working hard with the boys on their various therapies this summer and it feels like maybe, just maybe we’re on the edge of a breakthrough with Bulldozer. (At the same time, all this extra work has shown me just how much further we need to go. Sigh.) It feels like this could be a big year for him, but all I have to go on is my instinct, so what do I know. Satchmo has developed a yeoman’s attitude toward his therapy, which is amusing. But my point is that this is not the same-old stuff that’s been going on for the past six years. I think this year will bring something new that could change a lot for the boys.

And finally my contrarian Sprite has decided she prefers worksheets. Worksheets. Who is this child? Has she met me? Fortunately, the internet is awash in free worksheets I’ve been using for American history, and the literature base history I chose has a text book supplement that has some text-booky features I can throw at her. We’ll see how long she lasts. (Mwahahahaha!) (She’s probably gonna love it. Contrarian.)

But even with all those things I can put my finger on, I think there’s something I’m missing. It just feels different, which isn’t a lot to go on.  It’s like when you walk outside and can feel the weather about to change. The difference is I’m  not exactly sure what’s coming: fair weather or stormy seas. I think I’ll batten down the hatches to be safe.

Theological argument

A different point of view in the infant baptism/believer baptism debate.


Snagged from the Stuff Christians Like Pinterest Board.

Something’s gotta give

I tend to clench my jaw when I’m stressed. Clenching my jaw gives me a headache. Having a headache makes it difficult to accomplish the #&$%^# to-do list. Getting behind on the #&$%^# to-do list stresses me out. I clench my jaw when I’m stressed. . .

This is slightly worrying because looking ahead to the school year, things are going to be more intense than ever–more places to be, more demands on time and money, less room for error. I know I need to get a handle on my stress level and how I handle it now, before the full blown crazy starts.

stress meme

Part of that is better planning. I know I need to take a big chunk of time to plan our school year, that I need to take regular time for things like menu planning and fitting in extras like therapy exercises and field trips and all those things that shove themselves in to life whether you like it or not. But again there’s that that catch-22 of needing to take time to plan but already being so far behind I don’t have time to take. (Stop clenching your jaw, April.)

One stressor that has been sneaking up on me is the grocery budget and meal planning. A recent review/revamp of our budget revealed that we have been busting our grocery budget every month, but we haven’t changed our eating habits at all. Food inflation is ridiculous and getting ridiculouser all the time. The fact is that comfortable meal plan I had won’t work unless we up the budget considerably. That’s not going to happen, so I have to adjust our menu. But that’s okay because everyone knows how much kids love change and trying new things. (Stop clenching your jaw, April.)

There are things that can be more efficient, better managed, or better executed to give some more breathing room.  I’ve tried to eliminate some time-intensive projects as well, I just hope it’s enough. And if you see me around, tell me to stop clenching my jaw. I really don’t need the headache.

How do you handle stress?

Fine Arts Friday: Appreciation

Taking a break from the whys and hows of studying fine arts to merely soak in the beauty,

flaming june

and the fun,

And the grandeur

Happy Fine Arts Friday!

When good things happen to good people

We have these really awesome friends, the Malones. If you look up Christian hospitality in the dictionary, you’ll find their picture. They are also possibly the most fun family on the planet. Part of that fun comes from the joie de vivre that they all have, and part of it comes from the fact that Josh Malone is, in fact, a fun-genius. That is, he’s a genius who invents fun things. (I think this must be where they get their mad hospitality skills. They are so fun and loving, everyone wants to hang out with them. So they’re always welcoming people into their home and their lives and getting really good at hospitality. I think there’s a lesson in there somewhere.)

He’s latest fun thing he invented is Bunch O Balloons, which you’ll agree is the sliced bread of water balloon technology.

You combine this technology with the Hydromanator* (which is also Josh’s design), and you get more fun than any summer could possibly contain. You get Phineas and Ferb level fun.

So I was all set to promote their Kickstarter and say, “Hey! Go help out my friends who are brilliant and great people.”

But I really don’t need to, do I?

I really,


really don’t need to.

bunch o balloons

But I’ll help you out. You definitely want to get in on the fun before you’re the only person on your block who doesn’t have a stockpile of water balloons. And go ahead and build yourself a Hydromanator while you wait for the fun to arrive.


*Hydromanator is our term, because we’re huge Phineas and Ferb fans. You can call it whatever you want, but it won’t be as cool as Hydromanator.


Just one month

The 12th Doctor approaches.

I’m intrigued to see how this is going to play out. As Jim Treacher says, he’s menacing. No more cute young things flitting through time and space. (Well, I’m sure there will still be female cute young things, but no more Time Lord cute young things.) There’s always been a dark aspect to the Doctor, but it’s been overshadowed by the fluffy puppy aspect or clever remarks. Don’t get me wrong, I love both David Tennant and Matt Smith and their versions of the Doctor, but I think Capaldi will bring some interesting twists.

And it’s all just a month away. From our perspective anyway.

Terrible Tuesday: Expansive edition

Have you ever noticed that how when you get more of something–time, space, money, etc–you expand to fill it up? If you move to a bigger house, in a couple of months it’s as cluttered as your smaller space. A raise gets spent as soon as it’s earned, and a opening in the schedule disappears before you can blink.

Theoretically, I ought to have all kinds of time this summer. And yet. . .

Bad planning links!

5 posts you’ll never see on social media, primarily because not posting anything is how you communicate this. If that makes sense.

The Spaced-Out Challenge covers the moon landing anniversary and features some beautiful amateur supermoon photos.

Math gifs! I don’t know why I’m so excited about that.

This recipe makes me really sad my zucchini attempts have failed. But at least I can find it cheap at the grocery store now.

Great security idea. I still say kill them with fire.

fire ant

A few months ago, the great Bill Watterson came out of retirement to sub for Stephen Pastis of Pearls Before Swine. Now he’s auctioning off the drawings for charity. Wouldn’t that be great if this was the beginning of a comeback?

From an article revealing some of the details of the death of a legendary Marine: “I was with him in Fallujah,” the Marine continued. “And if we had to go back in there, I’d follow him in with a spoon.”

If you’ve missed it (how can you have missed it?) Weird Al Yankovic put out a new video every day leading up to the release of his new album. i feel very old because I didn’t know most of the songs. Anyway, this is a great story of how he inspired one little girl.

My favorite of the new videos, but I’ll admit I only know the original song by reputation. Mosey on off my lawn.

Pulling a Scarlet

There’s a lot of really bad thing going on in the world right now. Frightening things, heartbreaking things, things that make you want to smack some sense in people.

But I won’t think about that right now. I’ll think about that tomorrow. The world is often an ugly place, but there is joy. So I share my go-to joy video. (And meanwhile, pray for . . . everybody. Many of whom are featured in this video.)

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