Drive like a maniac while eating bags of fried pork rinds – why auto insurance should be more like medical insurance

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get in your car, pick a long, desolate stretch of highway, crush the accelerator to the floor and exceed the “suggested” speed limit. 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, as your speedometer covers numbers it’s never met before. Bliss, pure bliss, as your shaking foot settles down at 130 mph.

Little red Corvette. Well not quite, but this picture was free to use if I mention Balaji Dutt and Creative Commons

And when you start racking up the tickets and paying fines for your weekend jaunts to points far away, wouldn’t it be great if the infractions didn’t raise your auto insurance rates?

So, you blow a grand on some tickets. What fun it was. And worth every dollar you’ll no longer have to spend on your wife’s anniversary gift next year. So much fun, in fact, you tipped the officer when he gave you a ticket. “For the police officer’s retirement fund, Sir Kill My Fun.”

What if you decided red lights were optional and caused a three-car pile up on your way to Starbucks to get your pumpkin latte before you were late to work?

Your insurance company would inflict a world of hurt on your pocket-book by raising your rates to the moon, Alice, and back again. Perhaps even drop you for being an idiot, which would surely happen the second time you crashed your car while running late to your massage therapy appointment due to the first accident.

Now if auto insurance were like the health care industry, your rates wouldn’t go up for being reckless.

Isn’t that the way it is with medical insurance? You can drink and smoke in excess and gain a couple hundred pounds eating McGriddles but your rates stay the same.

Want to sniff a pile of blow Tony Montana would be proud of? Take a dozen coke-induced trips to the ER with your heart ready to explode like Alderaan blasted to smithereens by the Death Star? Be our guest, you’re covered by the company plan as long as you keep your job at the law firm billing 70 hours a week. And the cartel in South America thanks you for your patronage, Señor Deviated Septum, which was also covered, though you lied to your doctor and blamed it on a face-plant you took when you borrowed a neighborhood kid’s board to show off. Oops, my bad, Doc. 

So, here’s my real question that took me an hour to get to: Would our health care system be busting at the waist if it were punitive like auto insurance?

Now I know the argument to this crazy idea because I shared it with my wife, who put the pin in my balloon by asking me how we’d measure what is considered healthy.

A minor obstacle, my dear wife, who had the misfortune of marrying me, King of the Pre-Existing Condition.

If I placed a picture of a McGriddle in every blog post, I'd feel pretty good about the decision

It’s a good question, but couldn’t we start with BMI? The higher your BMI over normal, the more you pay, except for conditions where the person couldn’t control it. But for the rest of us who fill our bellies with McDonald’s three times a day and think anything can be deep fried (dead or alive) and eaten, it’s going to cost us more in insurance premiums. (Damn the thin vegetarians who will be loving their cheap rates and stick-thin BMIs.)

And isn’t this really why medical costs are at a breaking point? What incentive do people have not to use it?

With auto insurance the incentive is losing your insurance or paying more if you’re reckless. Do you lose your medical insurance if you’re reckless with your eating habits or if you smoke a pack a day, which by the way should be Philip Morris brands if you do smoke, as baby needs some new shoes and our PM stock needs to keep going up, up, up.

Yes, radical ideas from an idiot, no doubt. But change doesn’t happen until you tap someone’s wallet or purse.

Perhaps we need to raise rates really high for everyone and follow the “discount for cash” plan some businesses do when you get money off for using cash instead of a credit card. If you take care of yourself and avoid fried McGriddles, which I would eat in a heartbeat if I could talk my girlfriends at McDonalds into tossing one in the deep fryer for me, you’d receive a big discount on your medical insurance. Do your best to stay healthy and you save money and live longer.

The question is . . . would someone be happier passing up their usual lunch of two Big Macs, large fries and super-sized coke for a salad and water? I know I wouldn’t, which makes me think this has all been one very stupid idea. Nevermind.

Shallow thoughts from an idiot purple sheep

[WARNING: Adult language, themes, and childish thoughts – a bad combination. Read at risk to your mental health.]

The big monkey pays a visit

Life disguised as King Kong took its giant monkey hand, paw, whatever it’s called because I’m too lazy to Google it, and picked me up by my ankles and dipped me headfirst into a gas-station toilet. Then it slapped me to the ground like a wet fish and called it a head cold.

I have a bad case of mascot head, big and stuffy. My chest is congested, too. It’s not looking good for staying out of jail. I should know better than to go to the mall in March without a space suit – and one for my daughter, too. The term for “Mall” in my language is “Casa de Virus.”

Read the instructions on the soup can and follow them

Soups don't burn people, people do

I read the instructions to cover the soup bowl and let it sit for a minute before removing it from the microwave. But I didn’t let it sit or stay covered – hence the accurate title of this blog post. Instead I pulled it out and peeled away the plastic covering.

The escaping steam burned my middle finger, bad. Bad enough to override my mental ability to turn pain into pleasure, which makes me sound like I’m calling 900-numbers nightly to speak to dominatrices. It’s not nightly, just once a week, but even this level of pain overrides my amazing ability to withstand pain, which was honed by dozens of hospital visits and the hospital workers who think smoking crack and showing up to work is a good idea.

And, if Lizippy’s brilliant theory of “Google-search-word pervs” is true, I should get some new readers with this post. Welcome, slaves. Now sit down and shut up and beg for your beating.

“Leather-whip to the ass” fans aside, I will be borrowing my wife’s Vicodin, another key search word, so I can once again flip off Walmart when I drive by it. My thanks for selling me $5 rubber-hard pillows that make my head bounce up and down when I’m sleeping. Or, is it my rubber neck? Hmm, I did look at the accident on the freeway the other day.

Making a correct decision doesn’t mean a warm fuzzy feeling in return.

Yes, I made the correct decision not to go to Jersey yesterday. Still, today I stayed away from the knife drawer and was thankful California has a waiting period for handguns. Not a good day. The work team is in NJ and I’m not. Once again CF isolates me from the clan . . . of the cavebear – (more disappointed Googlers). CF has a way of doing that – for my entire life. I’ve always felt apart from others, someone who doesn’t belong, a purple sheep.

So, between my cold getting worse and not being able to travel, I’ve done a fantastic job of feeling sorry for myself today. I want a gold star and a meaty rib from the Woolly Mammoth we killed together, as a work team. We worked together to kill it. Go, Team Cavebear.

Guys, why am I by myself? Hello? Anyone? This cough isn’t contagious, you stupid fucks. Come back here.

Scare the people who knock on your door – if they’re not kids selling cookies or chocolate bars

Someone came to my door today selling steaks. Steaks? Are you f’ing kidding me? Who thinks of something like that? I know who – the guy who passes out on the couch with his hand in the front of his jockeys after drinking the entire 12-pack of Schlitz. Yes, my dad.

A dim Christmas bulb blinks while he’s sleeping it off, and he dreams: “I can sell steaks. I can sell steaks door to door. I’m a fucking genius. No one sells steaks door to door. I’ll be rich just like the person who glued sleeves on a blanket.” No, you won’t, Dad, because they sewed the sleeves on. My apologies to those Googling “selling steaks door to door,” but not to my dad.

The next time someone comes to my door selling shiate I don’t need, I’m going to put on my McDonald’s bag, or better yet, wear a bandanna, western bank-robber style. I’ll say in my happiest of voices, “I have highly contagious TB,” and ask them to feel my forehead to see if I have a fever, just like my mommy did. I’ll ask them if they’d like a whip to the ass, too.

Then I’ll call Mistress Honey with the news that some salesman who looked like my father dropped a box of $2 llama steaks on my porch. She’ll be angry because I’ve been bad again. Yes, I have.

Sunday Stories: Anger or CF? and Welcome to Liceland

Anger or CF? Which came first?

When the SUV stopped hard in the middle of the crosswalk, we and the crowd of families with soccer kids had the “walk” symbol. The hurrying driver realized he’d stopped too deep, a common mistake easily forgiven at that point. But then he looked over at us and decided to compound his mistake and step on the gas and make the right turn. My fuse burned fast. And I added to his mistake by yelling out “Jerk Off” in front of everyone and, I hoped, loud enough for him to hear. My wife looked at me in the way only wives can do, and I apologized to everyone. I meant to say “asshole.” But I caught myself, just not in time to keep quiet. I redirected the impulse and fired off another nicer term for the young impressionable minds, each of whom, thanks to me, asked their parents tonight: What’s a Jerk-Off, Pa? Well, son, that’s someone who yells “Jerk-Off” in public. I don’t understand, Pa? Well, son, let me make it simple. It’s the same as an asshole. Exactly.

In a perfect world, without CF, my wish would have been for the SUV driver to stop, get out, and for me to deliver a beating to ensure he wouldn’t run a crosswalk again with kids present. It makes me wonder if I were “cystic fibrosis free,” would I be blogging from jail right now? Is my anger created by the trials of cystic fibrosis, or not? I believe I would not have the degree of pent-up anger without the life CF gave me, or has taken from me, depending on one’s point of view.

Welcome to Liceland. Now go home.

If my wife owned a flamethrower, our house would be a pile of ashes right now. She would let rip with the weapon and scream, “Burn in Hell, lice, Burn in Hell,” until there was nothing left. My daughter and I would stand watching, silent, fearful we might draw her attention and earn a good singeing of our hair as a precaution.

This weekend has been difficult on my wife, who has the strength and courage of a frontierswoman. But even lice can break the strong. She’s cried several times from being overwhelmed. She is due. Her chromosome-challenged husband has mild hemoptysis and may be hospital bound. And, our house, garage and a car are filled with quarantined black plastic bags of anything non-washable. “Can you fit in one of these bags,” she asked me. I kid that she did, maybe. Yes, I kid. Stop it, Fox.

The bug bags will be here for the next two weeks (she wants four weeks) while the eggs, if there are eggs,  hatch and die. My fear is that my wife will have done all of this work to eradicate the lice, then my daughter will go back to school Monday and be infected again.

We emailed the school Friday. They’ll do an inspection Monday. What’s interesting is how many families don’t tell the school when their kid gets lice. We discovered this over the weekend: “Oh, yeah, so and so had lice, and so did they and them. Oh, and them, too.” Yet, we don’t remember the school mentioning them or they. Oh, well, what can you do?

So, we continue to vacation in Liceland and abide by the strict laws of the country. We strip down to our birthday suits before entering the house, then receive a chemical shower, a body-cavity scan from TSA workers, and fresh white space suits. In my Darth Vader voice: “Lice, I am your father.”

We’ll kick the lice problem, one day. Or soon we’ll be living at the Holiday Inn for a few weeks until we catch bed bugs and have to move to the moon, which is bug free I hear. But who knows? Perhaps here is a louse living there that burrows into your ear and eats your brain, which, for me, makes the moon the perfect place to live.

Raindrops on Roses, Crushes and Bromances

Today started off in a dark place and improved until I coughed up blood streaks tonight. Add that to the back pain I’ve had for the past four days and I feel like I’m playing the game where you place your forehead on a baseball bat, spin around it, and then run to first base. How did I end up in the stadium parking lot?

Photo by Angela Sevin, Creative Commons

This is my mind on CF

My “monkey mind” is lighting up like a fireworks factory fire. Will I be in the hospital tomorrow for the bleeding? What if my kidneys are damaged? I can’t get comfortable. Am I peeing too much or too little? I can’t concentrate on work. WebMD says I have a rare form of kidney Ebola.

I gave urine and blood at Quest Diagnostics (QD) yesterday. I fucking hate Quest Diagnostics.

First, the waiting room is full of sick people who want to kill me (always bring your own pen to sign in with or you will catch Ebola).

Second, the QD workers always ask me: “Why the mask?” Because I have a highly contagious disease that made my ass expand to the size of a beach ball. They used a 14-inch railroad spike to pop it. Hurt like hell. Oh, and what a mess. However, I will take this mask off if you kiss me while I pee in this cup?

Third, QD bills are the gift that keeps on giving for months to come. Thanks to them I had a collection agency harassing me over a $120 invoice I’d never received. QD representative on the phone: Oops, we’re so sorry. Computer error. We’ll tell the agency to remove the medieval catapult parked in front of your house.

I’m in the outfield again. Oh, yeah, Crushes and Bromances.

I was thinking tonight about a few of my blogging and Twitter friends and how much I dig them. I admit the following: I have crushes on my female readers. And a bromance or two – don’t want the guys to feel left out. But, dudes, eat your hearts out – I have some highly intelligent women reading and commenting. How did that happen? Clearly, the bag on my head makes me better looking, as I was told it would in high school – yes, the bullies were right. Thanks guys, I thought you were just screwing with me.

So when does the “Women of CF: Mensa Edition” calendar hit stores? I am so ready to buy it. Sign me up. And I want each month autographed: To Unknown, [(I +U ) 2011] x CH3CH2OH + HLT = CF-3 ft x ∞

Strange, I never anticipated blogging would have this benefit. I do confess it’s hard to be on my best behavior in comments and email.  Sometimes, I’m biting my knuckles with Fox telling me: “Write it. Write it. She’ll take it as a compliment. Oh, you wimp.” Rule #2 in the Book of the Unknown: Never listen to Fox.

Having a blog rocks! And so does Josh of Joshland!

If my daughter reads this blog one day, I hope she takes away the lesson that you can only get rewards in life if you take a first step in one direction or another. When I started writing this blog I had no idea it would return the level of support, intelligence, humor and kindness that it has. I’ve been blown away over the past year by the experience, as I thought I would attract two or three people who had read every page on the Internet and were down to mine. Like love, I find it best not to analyze anyone’s reading choice too deeply, lest the magic fade. I’m grateful for my new friends – I’ll leave it at that.

And then there is Josh from Joshland, a kind soul unlike any other who walks the walk of inner strength and positivity; a person who has experienced more than a reasonable amount of heartache in his life with cystic fibrosis and the death of his sister, Angie, from CF. Mere mortals might give up. Not Josh. He colors this world orange with his  crazy pal Moganko* and almost makes me want to believe in the goodness of humanity (almost, which is a future blog post).

So, what does this crazy friend of mine from the land of Vikings go and do? He creates two amazing graphics for me. The banner at the top of the page and the Unknown Graphic below. I opened my email and there they were – gifts for moi. And I like gifts. Yes, I am the luckiest person alive.

My humble thanks to Josh for the thoughtfulness and generosity. The banner will go into rotation immediately and appear randomly, depending on my mental state. Regarding the other graphic, I like admiring my handsome self in it. The resemblance is uncanny. Well done, Friend of Moganko.

Please raise your nebulizers for Josh tonight. Salute.

I rock in my purple shirt. Fox doesn't like the way he looks.


*There is some debate whether Moganko created the character Josh or vice versa. It’s a mystery that remains unsolved.

Does this car come standard with panic attacks?

OCD, CF and buying a used car don’t mix. However, after over two months of shopping for a used wagon, my search is over. Drum roll, please.

And the winning wagon is . . . the Volvo V70 R in Electric Silver.

It's mine, all mine. A new used car.

Yes, I am done spending my nights looking for cars on Craigslist, Autotrader and Thank god it’s over for now. No more going to car dealerships and dealing with salespeople who don’t say anything at all, don’t know the product they sell, or lament about the life they used to live before selling cars. No more sitting in wagons ruined by smokers, making me wonder if they destroyed the lungs of their children at the same time.

Cool thing about the Volvo I bought: No smoky smell and no ashtray (nice touch, Volvo).

I had the Volvo inspected by a third-party to make sure it was mechanically sound and the accident was minor, as claimed by the dealership and previous owner. Everything checked out with flying colors. The Volvo mechanics said it was one of the cleanest used Volvos they’d seen.

I didn’t get a great deal. I was tired of looking and the R is a rare version of the V70 with only 27 of them listed for sale in the USA. But it was the wagon I wanted and a standard V70 wouldn’t cut it after driving the V70 R.

Here’s the fun part: 300 horsepower, 295 lb-ft of torque and zero to 60 in 6 to 6.5 seconds depending on the information source. Yep, this wagon goes fast, especially when the high-performance turbo kicks in. The suspension is stiff and has three modes: comfort, teeth shattering, kidney bruising.

When I got it home the other night I had a mild panic attack worrying about whether or not I had bought a reliable car for my wife and daughter, if I should have negotiated a better deal, and over the money I’d spent – my wife and I don’t like to spend money (thanks, CF).

I didn’t sleep well and woke up to a major panic attack with my heart racing and missing beats. I thought I was going to have to go to the ER because I was worried I was having a heart attack. A full dose of xanax took awhile to kick in and save me from that hell, but I can’t get it out my head that maybe I did have a heart attack and now I’m damaging my heart. See how screwed up I am.

I’m feeling better about the purchase and really dig the wagon. Beats the 13-year-old SUV I’ve been driving. It’s nice to have working headlights that show the road ahead and AC that works – features I haven’t had for awhile. Ah, the little things in life.

Stay healthy.

The Labrador Print

I have this hanging on my wall. It reminds me of the lab I used to have.

I heart labs. Yes, I admit it. I do. And I’m not embarrassed to share my deepest feelings about them here on my blog.

I’ve had labs most of my life. A couple of black ones when I grew up. And a chocolate lab who lived 15 years and survived a rattlesnake bite, the eating of several pounds of Hawaiian chocolate (the fact she swallowed them whole with wrappers on saved her life), a bad reaction to a medication for arthritis, and the first shot the vet gave her to end her life. She fought to the last possible moment when the vet, red-faced, had to inject a second dose.

Now we have a yellow lab, which was supposed to be a black lab, but my wife and daughter used mind control on me when we visited the breeder looking at puppies. Somehow we left with a deposit on a yellow. To this day, I’m not sure how that happened, how I gave in to them on that decision. But when I look at the four-year-old yellow lab sleeping at my feet, I’m glad I did. She’s perfect.

But that’s not why I’m writing this post.

Why I’m writing it is because I have three framed prints of Labradors in my office. Two of them are paintings of hunting labs, manly dogs. But then there’s a third poster – one slightly off-kilter. There are no shotguns in the painting, no testosterone-laced hunting scene in the background to make me feel better. I look at it and wonder: What was I thinking when I picked out that one? I thought it was a good use of my money? Really? I fear digging too deep in my memories to dredge up any deep thoughts about its purchase. I understand the simple theme of it: Lab pups dreaming about growing up into adult labs.

Ebony and Ivory - can't you just hear that song playing in your head all it the time. I do.

But most of all I wonder about myself and who I was when I saw it in a catalog and felt the overwhelming need to use what money I had at the time and order it. I look back on my life now and thing of the all the cash I’m spent on stuff I had to have, much of it discarded or something you’d sell at a garage sale for a couple of dollars. I struggle with the question of value and consumerism all the time.

But now I look at the print of the two labs again and I can feel the testosterone draining from my pores.  I like the print. It makes me feel warm inside like when I drink hot chocolate and wrap myself up in a quilt and read the latest trashy romance novel. Hmm, that sounds good. Ooh, I have goosey bumps just thinking about it. How sweet it is.


Sorry, I plead momentary insanity. That is the power the print has over people. Question it not.

Here’s something more embarrassing. I used to own a Labrador t-shirt with an image of a large chocolate lab head on it and “Chocolate Labrador” printed under it, as if one wouldn’t recognize the disembodied head of a lab. I think it went to Goodwill several years ago. I won’t be surprised if sometime in the future when I’m homeless and pushing my shopping cart down Ventura Blvd, black lab on a rope next to my side, I’ll see a fellow man of the streets pushing his cart toward me. He’ll be wearing my old lab T-shirt. And we’ll give each other a nod like only dudes do. No words will leave our lips, but we’ll know. Yeah, we love labs. Yes, yes we do.

Deja Vu Office Cliches

Dressed in a blue suit he wore two times prior to this glorious day, once at a funeral and once at his cousin’s wedding, your new manager delivers the line like an actor with years of summer theater behind him. He sends it forth, passes it on, believing you’ve never heard it. Like it’s fresh, just born, a baby of an expression crying and taking its first breath of hospital air. The words will make all the difference in how you approach your work from now until they find you face down on your laptop.

And later, when you and your “colleagues” leave the meeting, feeling queasy, heads held high as the survivors, the phrase’s impact will be lasting, like the weekend in Vegas where you puked on the Blackjack table and you remember the staff at the Wynn telling your friends to remove you from the premises, which they have to do because you can’t do it yourself. Your only coherent thoughts being that it was neat how they hid hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades in the carpet design and that the last six Mojitos were a mistake and you’d like a do-over because you didn’t get more attractive to the cocktail waitress each time you tipped her a five dollar chip, then a ten, followed by a 25, which would have hurt had she not delivered the pain medicine each time.

You thought you were unique, as did your new boss when he used the phrase you hate the most, the one that is both confusing and depressing like some fart-house French film one of your brainiac friends with the faux Euro glasses seems to have a complete understanding of but in which you somehow got lost when the clown rode the merry-go-round for two hours then ran screaming into the rain, which is what you felt like doing, running from the movie theater into the street where you wished a large semi would barrel down at 40 mph and send you flying, separating you from your shoes. And that’s how you feel now, hearing your boss’s words. Does anyone realize you are sitting in the meeting without your shoes? Had anyone looked under the table at your socks or realized the smell comes from them because your feet were swollen from the side of beef you ate this weekend, including the charred part, which might be something you’ll regret later in life at a doctor’s office?

You wished you could go back to kindergarten when all words were newborns and clichés thrilled your parents, who were your paparazzi, who took pictures of you, or better yet video they’d show during the holidays to the family. And everyone loved the parts with the clichés and you spitting out the most mundane of them. But you were excused because you were five and everything sounded cute coming from your pie hole at that age.

But now work clichés are like acupuncture with icepicks, screaming is involved, and pain, though not in that order. And that’s the pain you feel now when he said it again and another identical icepick stuck you in the forehead. But this pain was worse because of the long string of thoughts it released from your cranium that everyday was the same and that nothing changes, and that you’ll be sitting in the same stained red office chair that doesn’t recline with its cheap sandpaper fabric and plastic frame and handles that never work when next year’s manager says the same thing and thinks it’s original, important. But it’s not. It’s the same. And you’ve heard and seen it before – in another language no less. It’s the French film and you’re doomed to watch it over and over until your eyes pop out of your head and roll down the sticky movie theater floor where one comes to rest against a gummy bear a three-year-old dropped and was told not to pick up lest he catch typhoid fever or something really bad one can only read about on the Internet by typing in “red spots and itching and slimy discharge.”

Yes, that’s what you thought about when the new manager stood there, bright smile filling the room with sunshine and happiness that he had said the correct things over the years and wrote the correct emails and made friends with the correct people and climbed the correct ladder, each rung hand over hand, never breaking a nail. All of that work and this is what he said first: “We have to do more with less.”

It’s a shame really. What about the beauty and three-dimensional quality of  “thinking outside the box” or the soft-drink sounding “synergistic”?  He could have coughed up one of those, the bad oyster not staying down. No, those have a positive quality to them, as if you might hear your kindergarten teacher use them “that’s not a box, that’s a rectangle, and you’re coloring outside the lines, Mr Amount To Nothing.” Now you’re upset because you were taught to color inside the lines but to think outside the box, which is as confusing as what the beer ads tell you, drink responsibly, as this is not something you’re good at, wishing now you could hoist the beer can over your head and pop the top letting its life flow down the plastic tubing of the beer bong into your waiting mouth, trying not to spill any, but failing, and drawing the jabs of your equally irresponsible buddies. The same ones that left you outside the Wynn. When you woke up the next day you spent the morning hung over cancelling all of your credit cards because someone took your wallet when you fell over sideways, landing in your vomit, exposing your back pocket to the sky, where some scumbag pretended to care and helped themselves to your plastic and family pictures. Worst of all, you had to drive back to LA at the speed limit because you had no license. Then the horror of the DMV that week, and the circles under your eyes in the picture as a memento of the trip living forever in your wallet or until someone lifted the new one you bought at Macy’s for $42 plus tax.

But as bad as it was explaining how you lost everything to your wife, it was still 100 times more fun than sitting in the large conference room without windows and blackjack tables and the sound of slot machines and the cocktail waitress who had never met anyone more charming than you than it was listening to the new manager say “do more with less.” And wondering if he really meant you when he said “less.”

Fox designs a line of hospital shirts

You can't keep a good fox down.

Fox here. I’m back. And better than ever. I spent the summer in Monaco with some of my Hollywood friends. I’d love to write about my adventures, but I don’t remember a lot of what happened. I do remember waking up face down on the water bed most afternoons, sometimes wearing the dress of the woman next to me. Crazy fox fun.

The entire summer wasn’t a complete inebriated waste of time. I came up with an cool idea for Unknown – a line of hospital t-shirts. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. What do you think? A different one for each day he’s in the hospital next time?

Party like it’s your last.

Fox out.