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August 31st, 2009

in the south

A few days of vacation have been immediately followed by a few days of business trip. Tomorrow I finally get to fly home to stay for a while. The business trip has been a good one, as business trips go. I had to stay the weekend, but that had the consolation of a nice walk on a little place called Belle Isle watching ubiquitious Canadian geese play among the Hollywood rapids in the midst of the James River. I also had a great lunch and a visit to a botanical garden, complete with cool butterfly house, with nacowafer and the large and little fellows named D. in her life. I've allowed myself arguably too many indulgences, such as blackberry cobbler, a slice of key lime pie and a somewhat creamy she-crab soup, but I will survive.

I'm alternating a reading of Alex Ross' "The Rest is Noise" with a reading of Timothy Hilton's "The Pre-raphaelites", which makes for a nice juxtaposition. I've already finished Joe Haldeman's "Marsbound", a curious and yet entertaining homage to "Podkayne of Mars". I like a world so meta- that the satire is almost untraceable.

I was reading tonight about the relative statistics of the uninsured after being challenged on a statistic. I had quoted the 33 percent figure (which is roughly the uninsured under 65), when the total USA uninsured is roughly 15ish percent, per the census estimates. I was glad to know (a) that my figure had a basis, albeit an imperfect basis, and (b) to get a figure more meaningful to me, i.e., a census uninsured figure.

This health care issue perplexes me because I believe that at least a dozen systems better than our current system are easily do-able at a credible cost. I could imagine ways to do it with single payer, public option, and even with a series of temporarily subsidized private non-profit insurance exchanges. It frustrates me, though, that lots of people will continue to be uninsured needlessly for largely political reasons. But my hope is that over time a plan will be adopted.

Sunday I attended church at Centenary United Methodist Church in downtown Richmond, a charming church founded in 1810, a short walk from my hotel. I was interested to see that some members did a small bow by way of genuflection towards the altar, which is not the norm at our local Methodist churches. During her sermon, the preacher talked about how taking care of the needy includes health care.

I had a moment of personal vanity when the woman sitting a row ahead of me turned to me after the service and said "I sure enjoyed sitting in front of you, because you have a beautiful voice". The compliment gave me more credit than my voice deserved, but I appreciated it nonetheless.