Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dreaming of Circling the Globe

The other day I found myself poring over this Google map. Each red dot marks a place I've visited in the past four years. Google has been watching me.

Some places don't count: in Seoul I was in transit to Busan, in Salt Lake City we were on our way to Palm Springs, and in Amsterdam I was in transit to Edinburgh or Newcastle upon Tyne.

You can see dense clusters of red dots. Of course the densest cluster is Minneapolis where I live, but there are clusters in the northeast of England where I grew up, Hawaii, and Japan. These are important physical locations in the place where I live. Place is complicated.

In each of the past four years I made separate trips to both Europe and Asia. This week I found myself wondering what it would mean to aggregate the separate journeys. What would a round-the-world journey look like?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Our Annual Walk on Fall Leaves

Every October, after the peak of Fall foliage has subsided, we head up to the North Shore of Lake Superior to walk sections of the Superior Hiking Trail. We like this time of year: the trails are uncrowded, the temperatures are good for hiking, and mosquitoes are done for the year. Besides, we don't need the bling of peak Fall colors.

This beautiful trail stretches over 300 miles from the Minnesota/Wisconsin border in the south almost to the Canadian border in the north. The trail winds its way between views of Lake Superior and views of the back country.

Much of the time we crunch our way on fallen leaves through forest trails. The trail in the photograph at the top of this post took us through an extensive maple forest. I enjoy this quiet experience: the dry leaves underfoot, moss on rocks, fungi on tree stumps.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

My Most Expensive Night Away from Home, Ever

  • In the above infographic I used a stock photograph of surgery being performed using a da Vinci robot, a device that costs about $2 million. July 2016, a surgeon operated a da Vinci on me via five small incisions. I was glued to the table: alcohol was sprayed on my back to activate an adhesive on the table. 
  • The $31,561.86 $32,661.86 [Infographic updated October 20, 2016] bill includes hospital, physician, laboratory, and pharmacy charges. This may not be was not the final total: another bill trickled in last week and another came in after this post was published. The work-up prior to surgery produced $6,400 in medical bills. I expect to undergo radiation therapy which will result in another $30,000, or thereabouts, in new claims going to my insurance company. In all cases, the insurance company negotiates a lower rate with the healthcare provider. 
  • Unpaid healthcare bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcy in the USA. There's evidence most Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Public policy needs to double-down on access to insurance and the affordability of out-of-pocket expenses. 
  • I'm grateful for my good healthcare outcome, and for good insurance.