Home // 2012 // June

Counterize Your Blessings

This is my first foray into this world, so I am still learning how to be a blogger. HTML is so sensitive and I am constantly editing posts so the %$#$ links work and I struggle to get all the content working right. And what’s all this business with plugins anyway?

I decided to install one of these mysterious plugins to see what would happen if I did. It thought that if I could learn to use it I could fancy myself a “real” blogger. After some diligent shopping, I installed Counterize — a plugin that allows you to monitor public information about who is looking at your page and if they hit your page as a search result, what search terms they used to get there.

I installed Counterize and have checked it from time to time. At first, nothing happened in the search results column, because my blog was too new to have been caught by the search engine ‘bots. After a few weeks, however, I did get a hit for someone looking for information on Treacher-Collins Syndrome, the subject of my inaugural post, Facing Life.

After a brief absence from my blog, I returned home from NY to see if anything new had developed. Lo and behold, it had!!! I had a search in the last 24 hours from someone in the UK that hit on my page. Guess what the search phrase was!! You ready? It was:


Mission Accomplished!!!

I am going to go drink a bottle of wine.

One of Our Autism Students

I write this post to celebrate the retirement of my daughter’s elementary school principal. We are celebrating a long career that really went on for way too long, and should have ended some years ago, perhaps before it even began.

Why the effusive expression of adoration, you might wonder? Let me start with my best and favorite example. About a year ago, the following letter came home from school in Allison’s backpack.

Dear Families:

Today, one of our autism students pulled the fire alarm at our school. We had a needless evacuation of all of the students and staff, and the local fire department and police department responded. Fortunately, the disruption was brief.

We’re asking all of you as parents, to sit down and talk to your children about the consequences of a false alarm so that they understand the seriousness and importance of this.

We thank you for your continued cooperation in helping us make our school a safe environment for all of our students.


Principal Doofus

The utter cluelessness of this letter exists on so many levels. The best part is the openly discriminatory attitude it takes toward “the autism students.” Can you imagine if he had said, “today, one our [Black, Hispanic, Jewish, Asian] students pulled the fire alarm . . . ,” or called out some other immutable characteristic as though it were germane to the discussion? I guess it might have been relevant if he had pointed out that this “autism” student was non-verbal (nope, not my daughter, but good guess) and therefore could not appreciate his act, but that this was a good opportunity to remind people about the importance of safety. Not to mention that as in loco parentis, it is the school’s fault that this child was not supervised properly and pulled a fire alarm.

But no, that’s not what his intent was in writing this note. His intent was to call out the “autism” students because they were the “others,” the interlopers the County forced into his school with their high-minded ideas about education for all and such.

This attitude pervaded Allison’s time at the school. A time that is fortunately, coming to an end. While I really thought Allison’s teachers were very kind, hard-working and tried very hard to help Allison, I really think the leader sets the tone, and Principal Doofus made it clear that were not welcome there.

Remember when James Jay Lee took hostages at the Discovery Communications building? That was back-to-school night, and Allison’s school is right near that building, so all of the back-to-school events were cancelled. When Principal Doofus rescheduled them, he “forgot” to include the autism program parents on the invitation, so we had no back-to-school night. When people pointed out the mistake, we received no apology, and no rescheduling so we could meet and talk to our children’s teachers.

This year, Principal Doofus’ staff “forgot” to include the names and contact information for all of the autism program’s families in the school directory. Did they re-print new directories when they realized the mistake? No, they did not. They simply sent the children home with a note, mentioning we weren’t in there and suggesting that if anyone would want to contact us (don’t know why you would), you get our contact information directly.

Another memorable event occurred the morning that Neil went to drop Allison and me off at the front door because we had an IEP meeting for her there, and that violated some rule for pulling up the semi-circular driveway that existed for a thirty-minute window. Neil had not noticed the sign. Principal Doofus was on the case, immediately screaming at us, as we pulled up. It was ridiculous. I got out of the car with Allison and he continued screaming at me – DON’T YOU SEE THE SIGN!! CAN’T YOU READ!! YOU CAN’T BE HERE.

I stopped dead in my tracks. Parents and children on their way in to the building were staring at us. The unwanted “autism student” and her family, breaking the rules because we were too stupid to understand how it NEEDS TO BE, were just exemplifying all the reasons why we should not be allowed to disrupt this wonderful school community. I had nothing else to lose, so I lost my temper with Principal Doofus – SIR, YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN AND GET OVER YOURSELF! TAKE AN ‘EFFING ‘LUDE! WHAT? THAT’S RIGHT, YOU HEARD ME, TAKE A *&%*(#* LUDE!!!

I walked right past him into the school. He charged in behind me to the front office, looking to continue the argument. Bad idea. That kind of behavior is not something someone in my situation easily forgives, or looks past.

So, thank you for your retirement, Principal Doofus. It could not have come a minute too soon you curmudgeonly, old, bigoted hag. Now take an ‘effin ‘lude, would you?

NB: The principal’s page on the website says it all.

Rosemary Hills ES – Principal.


A few months ago, I was sitting in bar with some acquaintances in my profession. It was late and we’d all had a bit to drink, when somehow the conversation turned to health care reform. Yes, we were and are on dangerous ground, but you knew I was going to get political at some point, right?

The Supreme Court had just heard argument in the various cases involving the The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Everyone was talking about the “mandate” provision. You know, the one that mandates everyone have health insurance or pay a penalty (or a tax, depending upon which side of the argument you are on). One of the women sitting at the table was a relatively young and seemingly healthy person. She said, “I don’t understand. If someone is healthy and they don’t want to buy health insurance, why should they be forced to buy it?”

I can’t believe that there are people that are supposedly intelligent and educated that seriously believe that. You may be healthy now, but God forbid, if you are ever hit by a bus, I don’t think you will be so healthy then. And who will have to foot the bill for you? We [read: the rest of us] will, and it’s because you could never pay back what it cost to take care of you, even if you turned over every dollar you made for the rest of your shortened and severely limited life. The only way you can credibly take that position is if you will give me permission, when you are hit by the bus, to step over your prone and dying body on the ground.

That was not my inside voice. I actually let that one out. I probably should not have been so biting, but I take this issue very personally. Every time someone tells me that they should not have to buy health insurance and pay for all the sick and fat people, it is equivalent to telling me, “I don’t care what happens to your children. I hope they die.” If you think that’s an extreme point of view, I’d encourage you to think about it again – my children are uninsurable in the private market. If my husband and I were to become unemployed or die, they would need to live on Medicaid to survive. If you think that’s adequate health care coverage, I suggest you give up. I can’t help you.

The great irony of all of this, of course, is the mandate provision was the result of heavy-duty lobbying by the insurance industry. If they were going to be forced to pick up every adult with diabetes or child with autism, they wanted insurance against the phenomenon known as adverse selection. People like my uninformed colleague, who don’t purchase health insurance until they are sick, could leave the insurance companies with a high-risk pool that is rapidly depleted because premiums can never compete with claims.

This is the only time you probably will ever hear me say this, but the insurance lobby was right. They need the mandate and it’s only fair to them. After all, in the present system, we pay for the uninsured anyway. Those without insurance call 911, and get a ride to the one place where they are not allowed to be dumped onto the street without being stabilized – the emergency room.

Me: How can we help you today ma’am.
Pt: Well, my sugar is 642 and I need some insulin. But I don’t have enough money to get my insulin and I need a ride to the hospital.
Me: Off we go, then [gestures toward the ambulance].

This happens quite frequently. And this is the most expensive way imaginable to administer care to the uninsured. When they can’t pay, the hospital simply passes the cost on to you and me. So the next time you get a hospital bill and the Tylenol is $28, you know why.

Pundits are now speculating the Supreme Court’s opinion will be out by the end of the week and we will learn whether there is likely to be real health care reform in this country. I actually am not a fan of the Affordable Care Act. I would have wanted a single-payor system, but I recognize that it was the result of necessary compromise and it is better than what we had. Regardless of your political persuasion, I think we can all agree that we need reform in this country. If you think the current system works just fine, spend some time in any U.S. emergency room and I think it will persuade you otherwise.

But if that still doesn’t persuade you, consider the following statistics about our health care system.

The United States spent more than the entire GDP of Great Britain on health care in 2009. CMS Report Says Health Care Spending Was 17.3% of GDP in 2009 | Swampland | TIME.com.

The United States’ infant mortality rate is higher than in Cuba, the EU, Japan and we are right behind Croatia. CIA – The World Factbook.

A 2009 study revealed nearly 1 in 4 Californians under age 65 has no health insurance. No Health Insurance California | About 1 in 4 in California lack health insurance, a UCLA study finds – Los Angeles Times.

Problems in claims processing cost the U.S. approximately $210 billion year.

And the list goes on and on. Still not convinced? Ok, that’s fine. If you could just sign this document that says if you have an accident, we can just skip past you in favor of the guy who paid $100/month for health insurance coverage . . . .

Think about it.