Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Here is a letter I sent to Senator Bayh. Feel free to copy it and send it around to all other representatives. -- Stephen Fraser July 23, 2009
As a practicing physician I have major concerns with the health care bill before Congress. I actually have read the bill and am shocked by the brazenness of the government's proposed involvement in the patient-physician relationship. The very idea that the government will dictate and ration patient care is dangerous and certainly not helpful in designing a health care system that works for all. Every physician I work with agrees that we need to fix our health care system, but the proposed bills currently making their way through congress will be a disaster if passed. I ask you respectfully and as a patriotic American to look at the following troubling lines that I have read in the bill. You cannot possibly believe that these proposals are in the best interests of the country and our fellow citizens. Page 22 of the HC Bill: Mandates that the Govt will audit books of all employers that self-insure!!
Page 30 Sec 123 of HC bill: THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get.
Page 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill: YOUR HEALTH CARE IS RATIONED!!!
Page 42 of HC Bill: The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your HC benefits for you. You have no choice!
Page 50 Section 152 in HC bill: HC will be provided to ALL non-US citizens, illegal or otherwise.
Page 58 HC Bill: Govt will have real-time access to individuals' finances & a 'National ID Health card' will be issued!
Page 59 HC Bill lines 21-24: Govt will have direct access to your bank accounts for elective funds transfer.
Page 65 Sec 164: Is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in unions & community organizations: (ACORN).
Page 84 Sec 203 HC bill: Govt mandates ALL benefit packages for private HC plans in the 'Exchange.'
Page 85 Line 7 HC Bill: Specifications of Benefit Levels for Plans -- The Govt will ration your health care!
Page 91 Lines 4-7 HC Bill: Govt mandates linguistic appropriate services. (Translation: illegal aliens.)
Page 95 HC Bill Lines 8-18: The Govt will use groups (i.e. ACORN & Americorps to sign up individuals for Govt HC plan.
Page 85 Line 7 HC Bill: Specifications of Benefit Levels for Plans. (AARP members - your health care WILL be rationed!)
Page 102 Lines 12-18 HC Bill: Medicaid eligible individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. (No choice.)
Page 12 4 lines 24-25 HC: No company can sue GOVT on price fixing. No "judicial review" against Govt monopoly.
Page 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill: Doctors/ American Medical Association - The Govt will tell YOU what salary you can make.
Page 145 Line 15-17: An Employer MUST auto-enroll employees into public option plan. (NO choice!)
Page 126 Lines 22-25: Employers MUST pay for HC for part-time employees AND their families. (Employees shouldn't get excited about this as employers will be forced to reduce its work force, benefits, and wages/salaries to cover such a huge expense.)
Page 149 Lines 16-24: ANY Employer with payroll 401k & above who does not provide public option will pay 8% tax on all payroll! (See the last comment in parenthesis.)
Page 150 Lines 9-13: A business with payroll between $251K & $401K who doesn't provide public option will pay 2-6% tax on all payroll. Page 167 Lines 18-23: ANY individual who doesn't have acceptable HC according to Govt will be taxed 2.5% of income.
Page 170 Lines 1-3 HC Bill: Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from individual taxes. (Americans will pay.)
Page 195 HC Bill: Officers & employees of the GOVT HC Admin.. will have access to ALL Americans' finances and personal records.
Page 203 Line 14-15 HC: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." (Yes, it really says that!)
Page 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill: Govt will reduce physician services for Medicaid Seniors. (Low-income and the poor are affected.)
Page 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill: Doctors: It doesn't matter what specialty you have trained yourself in -- you will all be paid the same! (Just TRY to tell me that's not Socialism!)
Page 253 Line 10-18: The Govt sets the value of a doctor's time, profession, judgment, etc. (Literally-- the value of humans.)
Page 265 Sec 1131: The Govt mandates and controls productivity for "private" HC industries.
Page 268 Sec 1141: The federal Govt regulates the rental and purchase of power driven wheelchairs.
Page 272 SEC. 1145: TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS - Cancer patients - welcome to rationing!
Page 280 Sec 1151: The Govt will penalize hospitals for whatever the Govt deems preventable (i.e...re-admissions). Page 298 Lines 9-11: Doctors: If you treat a patient during initial admission that results in a re-admission -- the Govt will penalize you.
Page 317 L 13-20: PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. (The Govt tells doctors what and how much they can own!)
Page 317-318 lines 21-25, 1-3: PROHIBITION on expansion. (The Govt is mandating that hospitals cannot expand.)
Page 321 2-13: Hospitals have the opportunity to apply for exception BUT community input is required. (Can you say ACORN?)
Page 335 L 16-25 Pg 336-339: The Govt mandates establishment of=2 outcome-based measures. (HC the way they want -- rationing.)
Page 341 Lines 3-9: The Govt has authority to disqualify Medicare Advance Plans, HMOs, etc. (Forcing people into the Govt plan)
Page 354 Sec 1177: The Govt will RESTRICT enrollment of 'special needs people!' Unbelievable!
Page 379 Sec 1191: The Govt creates more bureaucracy via a "Tele-Health Advisory Committee." (Can you say HC by phone?)
Page 425 Lines 4-12: The Govt mandates "Advance-Care Planning Consult." (Think senior citizens end-of-life patients.)
Page 425 Lines 17-19: The Govt will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. (And it's mandatory!)
Page 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3: The Govt provides an "approved" list of end-of-life resources; & nbsp;guiding you in death. (Also called 'assisted suicide.')
Page 427 Lines 15-24: The Govt mandates a program for orders on "end-of-life." (The Govt has a say in how your life ends!)
Page 429 Lines 1-9: An "advanced-care planning consultant" will be used frequently as a patient's health deteriorates.
Page 429 Lines 10-12: An "advanced care consultation" may include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. (AN ORDER TO DIE FROM THE GOVERNMENT?!?)
Page 429 Lines 13-25: The GOVT will specify which doctors can write an end-of-life order. (I wouldn't want to stand before God after getting paid for THAT job!)
Page 430 Lines 11-15: The Govt will decide what level of treatment you will have at end-of-life! (Again -- no choice!)
Page 469: Community-Based Home Medical Services = Non-Profit Organizations. (Hello? ACORN Medical Services here!?!)
Page 489 Sec 1308: The Govt will cover marriage and family therapy. (Which means Govt will insert itself into your marriage even.)
Page 494-498: Govt will cover Mental Health Services including defining, creating, and rationing those services.
Senator, I guarantee that I personally will do everything possible to inform patients and my fellow physicians about the dangers of the proposed bills you and your colleagues are debating.
Furthermore, if you vote for a bill that enforces socialized medicine on the country and destroys the doctor-patient relationship, I will do everything in my power to make sure you lose your job in the next election.
Stephen E. Fraser, MD
The decade in travel: Technology and terrorism
By BETH J. HARPAZ (AP) – 3 days ago
NEW YORK — Remember getting through an airport without removing your shoes, dumping your water bottle or showing ID?
Remember when buying plane tickets by phone was faster than using a clunky Web site with a dial-up connection?
Remember when you needed a guidebook to plan a vacation, and when you had to phone ahead to get directions?
All these things are different now, thanks to two forces that have changed travel and tourism in the last decade profoundly and forever: Terrorism and technology.
Long before Sept. 11, 2001, air passengers walked through metal detectors and had their carryon luggage screened by X-ray. But these procedures failed to prevent the 9/11 attackers from boarding four jets with knives and box cutters.
In the aftermath of the attacks, the Transportation Security Administration was created, "the number of prohibited items doubled or tripled," all checked bags were screened, and "the scrutiny passengers undergo was increased," said Robert Baker, director of global security intelligence studies at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz.
A few months later, in December 2001, Richard Reid tried to blow up a plane by igniting explosives in his shoe. That led to barefoot passengers padding through the checkpoints. Then in August 2006, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up aircraft using liquid explosives. That led to restrictions on liquids and gels.
Today, travelers who forget that snow globes, wine and water bottles aren't allowed through airport checkpoints seem absurdly out of touch. And there's little sympathy if you miss your flight because you didn't allow enough time for security lines.
The attitude toward air travel has changed over the last decade too. Flying isn't fun anymore. It's just one big headache: Flight delays, lost baggage, overbooked flights, fewer onboard amenities and fees for things that used to be free.
Despite the hassles, though, Americans fly more now than they did a decade ago. U.S. air travel hit a record high in 2007 with 769.6 million passengers, 100 million more than flew in 2000. Even with the recession, more people flew in the first eight months of 2009 — 478.6 million — than in the first nine months of 2000 — 453 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Why do we take so many flights when it's so unpleasant? Because families are spread out; jobs require travel; and relatively low ticket prices encourage it. Bureau of Transportation Statistics data comparing average domestic itinerary fares for the second quarter show that they were actually 11 percent lower in 2009, at $301, than in 2000, at $339.
Technology is the other big force that's changed travel in the last decade. Expedia and Travelocity began accepting online bookings in 1996, but the phenomenon of using the Internet to routinely book and plan travel has exploded in the 21st century.
In 2009, for the first time, more than half of travel bookings were made online, according to Douglas Quinby of PhoCusWright, a travel industry research company. (If you're surprised that online bookings make up only 50 percent of travel, consider this: Most group travel, most cruises, many complicated itineraries and even the majority of lodging reservations are still booked through a travel agent, by phone or in person, Quinby says.)
But the Internet's impact on travel is not just in booking; it's also in planning trips. Instead of buying a guidebook, today's traveler might consult a destination Web site. To find a restaurant, you might go online to Yelp or Chowhound, or ask friends for a recommendation through Facebook or Twitter. For hotels, you might visit TripAdvisor.com, which started allowing customers to post reviews in 2001 and today has over 30 million of them.
Technology has even changed the way we drive to our destinations. MapQuest started offering directions online in 1996, the same year GM introduced Onstar. Google Maps dates to 2005. An early handheld Garmin GPS device sold for $589 in 2003; today's Garmins start as low as $89. But you might not need one if your phone has a mapping app.
A few other noteworthy travel trends from the last decade:
_Americans make more international trips than they used to, but they are choosing more exotic destinations.
In 2000, 61.3 million U.S. residents traveled abroad. In 2008, the number climbed to 63.5 million.
But the number going to Western Europe declined about 20 percent, from 12.9 million to 10.4 million. In contrast, travel increased from the U.S. to many other regions: Eastern Europe and South America, up 30 percent; and travel to India, China, and Vietnam, roughly twice in 2008 what it was in 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries.
_The old saying that "cruises are for the newlywed, overfed and nearly dead" is no longer true. The last decade has seen innovations in cruising as in no other mode of travel. Ships have become small cities, carrying 4,000 people, with amenities like ice rinks, rock-climbing walls, planetariums, surfing machines and water slides. Some cruises cater to families, with kids' programs; others are magnets for partying singles, offering easy spring break trips to sunny climes. And you don't have to live in Florida to catch a ship. There are year-round home ports in New York, Galveston, Texas, and many other coastal cities.
"Cruising, once the territory of the rich and famous has become a mainstream vacation today, and provides a well-packaged floating vacation with all the basics included in the price: accommodations, meals, sports/fitness facilities, and entertainment," said Douglas Ward, author of the "Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2010." "It has become a particularly good vacation value for families with children — hassle-free, entertaining, and safe."
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
This is the smartest bank there is. And it's my bank now! A breath of fresh air because I have been down the road with the big banks, and this one is different
“A Hidden Gem!” or “Lame!!!”? Online Travel Reviewers to Watch Out For / Daniel Edward Craig / November 2009
By Daniel Edward Craig, November 2009
In 2007, a traveler wrote the following review of Opus Hotel Vancouver on TripAdvisor: “The GM who thought he was Ian Fleming was a real detriment to a great trip. Shame -- let’s hope the hotel sees sense and releases Daniel to make another movie.”
Ouch. The comment was a reference to my James Bond namesake and my secondary career as a mystery novelist, but nonetheless I was baffled by it, having no recollection of any guest encounter that would have provoked a public cry for my dismissal. Since the review was anonymous, we had no way of contacting the guest to find out what went wrong. Because it was a personal attack that offered little useful information, we asked TripAdvisor to remove it. But they refused, and it remains there today. Sometimes we hoteliers have to set aside our professionalism and say, “Whatever”.
In my last post I wrote about online travel reviews from a hotelier’s perspective. This time I take off my hotelier’s hat to poke some fun at online reviews from a traveler’s perspective.
When planning trips, I always check out amateur reviews for a refreshing, grassroots alternative to the salesy propaganda on hotel websites. Yet as these sites grow in popularity the process has become increasingly time-consuming and confusing. The playing field is now so cluttered, the reviews so contradictory and polarized, it’s hard to know who to believe anymore.
And whereas the vast majority of reviews are benevolent and seemingly authentic, a few reviewer types have emerged whose advice should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. In the spirit of parody, here are a few to watch out for.The Self-Appointed Expert. This reviewer has posted scores of reviews, yet quite possibly has never left his computer room. An aspiring travel memoirist, he writes lengthy, flowery missives colored with acid-tongued remarks like, “To call this a fleabag hotel would be an insult to fleas and bags everywhere.” Although he positions himself as a martyr to the travel community, he wouldn’t object if a hotel offered him a free stay in exchange for a glowing review.As a rule I bypass extreme reviews -- unless there are a lot, in which case I take heed. I also skip reviews with the word “lame”, the online word of choice for people with a chip their shoulder. I find the hotel’s overall ranking to be helpful, but it doesn’t always tell the real story. Pull up your home city on TripAdvisor. Do you agree with the top five hotels? There’s always at least one that raises an eyebrow.
The Patron Saint of Hotels. This reviewer is so over-the-top in her praise either she’s never had a vacation before or she’s been into the sacred wine. She rates all services as excellent, including those the hotel doesn’t offer, and uses exalted phrases like “A hidden gem!”, “Glorious!” and “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!” Because she insists on seeing the good in everyone, she often finds herself making excuses on behalf of a hotel, such as, “My niece fell down the elevator shaft, but I’m sure they’ve gotten that fixed.”
The Up-trader. Having scoured the internet for deals until he scored a five-star hotel at a two-star rate, this bargain-hunter now expects all other services to be equally discounted. He expresses moral outrage over charges for breakfast, telephone and the mini-bar, accusing the hotel of gouging. His comments are revealing: “$28 for parking!?! That’s how much I usually pay for a room! Rip OFF!”
The Down-trader. This high-flying business traveler used to spend lavishly on luxury hotels until the economic crisis forced a drastic reduction in her expense account. Now obliged to stay in budget properties, she lives in denial, complaining bitterly about the lack of a day spa, fur boutique and gourmet restaurant at her roadside motel.
The Uncle Bob. Like that dull relative who subjects you to endless vacation photos and anecdotes, this reviewer goes on and on but never manages to say anything helpful or interesting. “My room had a bed and a desk and a chair. Oh, and a painting of a landscape. Molly at the front desk—or was it Maggie? Well, whoever it was, gosh darn was she swell when we needed directions to the local IHOP…” Next.
The Extortionist. After a series of mishaps, all of which were his own fault, this traveler tried every trick in the book to weasel a comp stay from the hotel, and now resorts to posting a blistering online review. He rates everything as terrible, including things that were perfectly fine. His reviews read like ransom notes, with bad spelling and grammar, excess punctuation, and random capital letters: “This hOtel SUKCED!! RobeRto the Duty manger?%? was LaiMe…!!!!!”
The Shill. This reviewer writes in a style that sounds suspiciously like the hotel’s promo material, with phrases only marketing people use, like “nestled in the heart of vibrant old-town” and “well-appointed furnishings with dreamy Celestial Comfort™ beds”. Her review contrasts sharply with the other, not-so-generous reviews and is typically a one-off. Although she signs off with a cutesy pseudonym like “TravlinGrrrl”, she’s undoubtedly the hotel’s director of marketing.
The Forensic Examiner. This CSI enthusiast treats hotel rooms like a crime scene, posting reviews with gory photographic evidence of carpet stains, bathroom mold and bedbug bites. Even when his review is glowing, his photos make the room look cheap and squalid, particularly when personal items and family members are in the background.
The Corporate Saboteur. This reviewer is a hotel owner writing a nasty, bogus review of a competitor hotel in hopes of boosting his own property’s ratings. Telltale signs include anonymity and remarks like, “I finally checked outta that dump and went to the ABC HOTEL. Twenty bucks cheaper and free donuts! I’ll never stay anywhere else!”
Recognizing that not every reviewer has the interests of fellow travelers in mind, Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline restrict reviews to customers only, whereas anyone can post a review on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Yahoo and Travelocity. TripAdvisor has been known to post a warning to travelers if it questions the authenticity of reviews, but this practice has attracted a flurry of criticism in the blogosphere.
There’s no question, online reviews are a great resource, providing insight, humor and tried-and-true tips from the field. Yet travelers shouldn’t forget to consult the experts in print and online guidebooks, newspapers and magazines. If I find a lump on my throat, I’m heading to a doctor for treatment, not to some online quack who claims to be able to show me how to remove the lump from home.
We can all help increase the reliability of reviews by posting our own after our trips. Just remember to stick to the facts, play fair, and go easy on the punctuation. And try not to get too personal. It might not always seem evident, but hotel managers have feelings too.
Daniel Edward Craig’s third mystery novel, Murder at Graverly Manor, comes out in April 2009. Craig has worked for luxury hotels across Canada, most recently as general manager of Opus Hotel in Montreal. His blog provides a frank and entertaining look at issues in the hotel at www.danieledwardcraig.com.
Good guide for categorizing the hotel reviewer
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Mojo Rising: Tiger's Celebrity Score Up On Negative Buzz
Mojo Rising: Tiger's Celebrity Score Up On Negative Buzz
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
11 best iPhone apps for Business Travelers...I'd have a somewhat different list. What about you?
11 best iPhone apps for Business Travelers...I'd have a somewhat different list. What about you?