America Celebrates

Flag

The American Flag has a lot of meaning to me. I like everything about the flag. I remember learning about Betsy Ross making the first American Flag. The red and white stripes represent the original thirteen colonies. The white stars represent the states. The stars increased over the years, but the flag remained the same as America grew and got stronger.

Just as we are all individuals, we all have our own memories of what the 4th of July means to us. For some it means a family get together and a BBQ. For others, it is a parade and commemorating those who have fallen in war. To end the day, there is usually a display of fireworks.

I especially like the music associated with America.

America the Beautiful
By Katharine Lee Bates

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain.
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy
by George M. Cohan

I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy
A Yankee Doodle, do or die
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam
Born on the Fourth of July

The Star Spangled Banner
By Francis Scott Key

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

This Land Is Your Land
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

God Bless America
By Irving Berlin

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.

It doesn’t matter what political group you belong to or what church you attend. America is the greatest country on earth. We have the most freedom and hope for a better tomorrow. We have lots of reasons to sing about our country.

How do you celebrate America’s birthday?

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The Week – A Unique Magazine

 

 

Week

The Week is the most unique magazine I have ever encountered. As they say on the cover; “All you need to know about everything that matters.”

From the magazine in the picture above for the week of April 25, 2014, the most intriguing article for me is the “Detroit great house auction” piece. It reads in full:

Detroit is on the auction block, said Les Christie in CNN.com. “In an ongoing battle to fight blight and boost home values.” The bankrupt city has launched a website to auction off the more than 16,000 vacant homes that were seized in tax foreclosures over the last several years. Fifteen properties will be listed beginning May 5, with one house to be sold each day. Opening bids start at just $1,000, but “winning bidders must quickly rehabilitate the home and have someone living in it within six months.” The auctions will only be open to Michigan residents and companies, and winning bidders must put down 10 percent within 72 hours and close the deal with full payment in as little as two months. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

This one small story generated dozens of questions for me. Are the homes to be auctioned in a good area? How did this all come about?

What is the history of Detroit? According to Wikipedia, Detroit was “The Paris of the West.” That sent me off on a fact finding mission. I learned a great deal by reading Wikipedia.

Sadly drugs and drug lords had a bad effect on Detroit in the 1980s and 1990s. I wonder where those people are today. Will the people buying these houses be safe from drugs?

Drugs caused people to flee to the suburbs. Lower population meant lower taxes and fees being paid to the government. Detroit is now filing for bankruptcy per Wikipedia.

How does one create a new neighborhood? Will it be safe? Who will live there? What will be the return on investment?
Revitalizing Detroit is a massive undertaking, but it can be done. I hope the new neighborhoods cause Detroit to be called The Paris of the West once more.

I talked about Detroit and what is happening there now. The real message is to tell you about my favorite magazine, The Week. I like to read material that makes me think.

What is your favorite reading material?

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American Medical Costs

 

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Have you ever asked how much a medical procedure will cost before you have the procedure? I have, but the person performing the procedure was never able to tell me the price. That leaves me to make a decision. Do I sign a form saying I will be responsible for this unknown charge or do I stop the procedure until I know how much it cost? How much will my insurance pay? How will my health be affected if I do not have this medical procedure? It is the only area of my life where I sign up front for unknown expenses. Not only that, I know that I am signing for high priced items. It is scary.

I just received a statement for a three day hospital stay. There was no explanation for the charges. I called the billing office and asked for an itemized bill. When I received the bill, most of it was in code. I asked for the code breaker. I was told there was none. I would just have to look the codes up in the dictionary. That helped somewhat. I am not sure why I was charged $15,307 for a patella (the knee cap) because I still have my own original. The dictionary explanation of stem fem leaves me wondering. That cost $8,100. I have no idea where they used $6,646 worth of cement. The Skryker Knee Replacement video mentions cement being used. I just can’t imagine $6,646 worth of cement being used.

I was surprised to see that the Prilosec like tablet I received cost $79. More surprising was the Topiramate tablet that I pay $.03 for cost $128.00 at the hospital.

I thought about contacting Medicare to discuss these charges, but they already approved them. If they unapproved them, that means I could be left owing thousands of dollars. I guess it is best I shut my mouth and pay the bill.

A friend of mine had a similar experience with high costs. She was in the hospital overnight, but did not stay the full 24 hours so she was an outpatient. She did not qualify for Medicare inpatient care. That meant she was charged in full for all of her medicine at the same rate the hospital would charge Medicare. She is paying off the bill at $25 per month for the next four years.

From the Facebook comments to that posting I learned that we have laws that keep the prices of pharmaceuticals outrageously high. Yes, Congress passed laws in the middle of the night that require hospitals to charge high prices for drugs. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but it’s the law. Check out this video from 60 Minutes.

It seems we are all doomed to pay the higher prices until the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented. I tried to find a nice neat explanation of the ACA. After reading until my eyes burned, I can only tell you that we should be better off when the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented. You may be interested in this article about the business end of Obamacare.

What is your experience? How do you feel about health care in America?

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Me and My New Knee

 

Continuous Passive Motion

Continuous Passive Motion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Five weeks ago today, I had my knee replaced. I had intended to keep you updated about the recovery, but all that didn’t happen the way I planned.

On the third day after my knee replacement, I went to the Health South Valley View Rehab Hospital in Las Vegas, NV. They treated me like a queen. I think it is the best hospital treatment I have ever received. If you need to go to rehab, I highly recommend this facility.

I am totally amazed to say that I was up and doing assisted walking within 24 hours of having my knee replaced. Within a week, I noticed I didn’t have any pain in my knee. I only had surgical pain.

There was a lady in rehab with me who had one knee replaced on a Monday and the second knee replaced on a Tuesday. I didn’t even know that could be done. Her approach to therapy was amazing. She always had a smile on her face.

Rehab is different than a regular hospital. We go to a large open room called the Gym. The Physical Therapist starts a patient doing exercises and then instructs the next patient. Patients encourage each other with smiles and encouraging words. There was a great feeling of support.

Physical therapy in the gym lasted one and a half hours a day. I also had occupational therapy for an hour and a half. I preferred the physical therapy because I wanted to regain my strength and get back in the swing of things. Back in the room, I used a machine called a Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) machine. It bent my knee back and forth. The goal was to continually increase the bend of the knee until I reach 120 degrees.

As of this writing, the machine is home with me. I am at 118 degrees. The machine is heavy, but portable. It provides steady, constant movement as it bends the knee. It is a clever piece of equipment and I am happy to have the use of it. It is much less painful to use than manual manipulation.

After nine days in the rehab hospital, I was discharged to go home. Steve did an outstanding job of having safety grab bars installed in the bathroom. He bought me a walker and other things I needed at home. Everything was perfect. I just felt guilty having him wait on me all the time. Thankfully, that only lasted a week and then I was more independent.

Sixteen days after surgery, I started “out-patient rehab” at the Health South Rehab center in Henderson, NV. I go three times a week for a 45 minute one-on-one session with a personal Physical Therapist. He has everything timed down to the minute. We cover many different exercises in the time we spend together. Every time I go, he adds something new to my list of exercises to do at home. In addition to the four plus hours I spend on the CPM machine, I am using a goodly portion of my day doing therapy. But that is OK, I am making progress.

Before surgery, I was told that recovery would take six to twelve months. That is probably true for complete recovery. At five weeks, being about to walk unassisted, makes me feel very blessed. The word is that the more physical therapy that one does right after surgery, the more successful one is at regaining full use of the knee. That sounds good to me.

I learned that healing takes a lot of energy. My body required, and still requires a lot of rest. I don’t get emails answered immediately. I missed a lot of Facebook information. I missed Tweets and Instagram pictures, but I am gaining more energy every day. Life is good.

It is good to be back.

Mom Pop Pow – Where You Can Do It If You Try!

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Bellagio – The Jewel of Las Vegas

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The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is the first place I suggest people see when they come to Las Vegas. The scenes change five times a year, but they are always magnificent.

The current offering celebrates the Year of the Horse for Chinese New Year through March 1, 2014.  The horse sculpture is beautiful. When I stop and think about how much thought and labor went into making such a breath taking display, I am mind boggled.

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The Ding Pots sitting at the entrance of the garden have special meaning. A nearby sign has the meaning:

Ding Pots

These vessels commonly made of bronze, widely used for cooking, could only be possessed by an official or a king. Our replica is an example of a pot that would  be used for worshipping by a Chinese temple.

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Chinese Money Tree – sign

A symbol to bring good fortune to the Chinese while still living and in the after-life. Also used to guide spirits to heaven and provide wealth while there. The meaning has been handed down from ancient Chinese legend that a person shall grow wealthy through hard work and relying on one’s own sweat and blood.

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Many people have their picture taken, especially in front of the money tree. Steve and I with our Godchild, Kathleen Cassidy, had our picture taken.

I totally enjoy going to the Bellagio Gardens. Most everyone is happy. People take pictures of each other. Smiles abound. People are cooperative. It is a wonderful place to be. It seems as if the magic of the place and the flowers mix with the people and their personalities. Everything is right with the world.

The magic of the garden is carried over to the registration desk where flowers are replicated. We always tell people to check out the entrance because you never know you may find.

 

Photo by Steve Brogan

Photo by Steve Brogan

Currently in the lobby is this jeweled horse. Beautiful to behold. Awe inspiring. The place was alive with snapping cameras and smiling faces.

 

Photo by Kathleen Cassidy

Photo by Kathleen Cassidy

More exciting was when we noticed the view of the horse against the Dale Chihuly ceiling. We took dozens of pictures trying to record the feeling we were experiencing.  We had a wonderful time.

I highly recommend you visit the Bellagio and enjoy the fabulous gardens where magic happens.

Mom Pop Pow – Where You Can Do It If You Try

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#NMX – New Media Expo 2014

NMX

Last week at this time, Steve and I were at NMX in Las Vegas having a wonderful time.

This was a challenging year for founder, Rick Calvert. Many of the presenters did not show up due to the cancelled flights caused by horrendous weather.

Three

Our son, Chris Brogan, who was attending NMX this year, filled in for two missing speakers. Other people also filled in vacancies. It was all good.

Ric Dragon, head of Dragon Research and his group of some fifteen people got stranded in New York. Only one dragonette, Etela Ivkovic, made it to the conference.

Etela manned the Dragon Research booth as if that was her sole profession. When I praised her for her excellent showing, she said it was due to all the help and kindness she received from others. She is such a lady.

Dino Dogan, Diane Brogan, Steve Brogan

Dino Dogan, Diane Brogan, Steve Brogan

We totally enjoyed the pictures provided by Dragon Search. It was fun and Dragon Research made a big statement even though the whole crew was not there. This is a picture of Steve and I with Dino Dogan.

Misty and Marty McPadden at work at #NMX

Misty and Marty McPadden at work at #NMX

We saw many of our friends at NMX and that is half the reason for going. I was talking with Misty and Marty McPadden, remarking how happy I was to see them. Marty made a profound statement. He said: “Meeting people in person, creates a solid foundation for social media.” I think that is a true statement.

Mitali and Shashi Bellamkonda, Diane and Steve Brogan, Chis Brogan seated

Mitali and Shashi Bellamkonda, Diane and Steve Brogan, Chis Brogan seated

Our friend Shashi Bellamkonda and his daughter, Mitali, attended. We are always happy to spend time with Shashi.

Sam Fiorella, Diane and Steve Brogan

Sam Fiorella, Diane and Steve Brogan

Sam Fiorella was very much in attendance and he gave us a “signed” copy of his new book, Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing.

Brandie McCallum

Brandie McCallum

We were so happy to see Bandie McCallum. She helped out by introducing speakers and filled in wherever there was a need. I didn’t get to make Brandie any corn bread this time, but the next time Brandie comes to Vegas, we will schedule more quality time together.

Calvin

Calvin Lee, was at NMX. He has so much Klout, the writers of Klout Matters, singled him out in the audience and gave him a signed copy of their book.

Street Fighter

Calvin is a kind, wonderful, helpful, fun person. He is also an excellent photographer. The picture above was taken by Calvin and got wide circulation on the internet along with many comments.

Jane

Jane Boyd and Lego man were at NMX. She also brought her daughter Brittany. It was fun to catch up with Jane. We even made an audioboo for our friend Paul O’Mahony in Ireland.

Marla

The one and only Marla Shulman showed me her new Google Glass. I treasure Marla and her enthusiasm for life. It is always wonderful to see the DvinMsM.

Lynette

Although it was at the beginning of the conference I heard Lynette Young speak, it wasn’t until the end that I got to meet her. Lynette is as lovely as she can be. We had a wonderful chat. Our conversation would have continued longer, but it was time to get Chris Brogan on a plane and homeward bound.

With reluctant goodbyes to #NMX 2014, we bid farewell and anxiously await next year.

Mom Pop Pow – Where You Can Do It If You Try

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To Be American

American flag

American flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

We are so fortunate to live in America. You can debate me on every issue I am about to mention. Even your right to disagree with me is a right that many in this world do not have. We are blessed with so many rights that we don’t even think about any more. And then something happens that reminds us how great it is to be an American.

As an American woman I am happy and thankful for:

-Clean water

-Safe housing

-Food

-Hospitals

-Our government

-The right to vote

-The right to go to school

-The right to practice my religion of choice

-The right to wear the clothes I choose

-The right to drive a car

-The right to live where I want

-The right to be friends with people of all cultures

-The right to read what I want

-The right to have a child

-Clean air

What can you add to this list?

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Rock of Ages

Sign

Rock of Ages at the Venetian in Las Vegas in more than just a concert featuring music of the 80’s. It is a musical! It has a story line, multiple love stories and great music all the way through.

Hall1Hall2

Before the show started, we had the opportunity to look at some pictures of the artists of the 80’s.

LTRT

I am so pleased we had the opportunity to see the show. It was very well done and most enjoyable. I was afraid the music would be too loud, but that was not the case. The music was loud, but it did not blow my head off.

David

Back in the 80’s when our sons were teens, I was particularly fond of David Lee Roth, lead singer of Van Halen. I even had a poster of him in my bedroom. I don’t remember where the poster came from, but I remember the poster.

We were living in Augusta, Maine at the time. It was a most momentous occasion when Van Halen came to town to give a concert. That was a major thrill. The concert was held at the Augusta Civic Center.

I was so excited. I would actually get to see David Lee Roth in person. Because of previous commitments, Steve and I could not attend the concert until after it started. We entered the back of the concert hall and waited a moment for our eyes to adjust to the dim lighting. Our eyes adjusted, but our ears never adjusted to the loud head splitting music. I can’t even say for certain that we stayed for a whole song. After that I continued to like David Lee Roth and Van Halen, but only when I could control the volume.

Cast

Our outing to see Rock of Ages was even more fun because we went with our friends, Debbie Drummond and Michael Petit. I think you will enjoy this fun, high energy show as much as we did.

Have you seen the show?

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Quality at Sale Prices

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Chris Brogan’s pretty new sneakers

I like wearing top quality clothing and shoes, but I always look for sale prices. You could say it is almost like playing a game. The only problem is, I don’t really like going shopping frequently to get the best deals.

As a matter of fact, I don’t do too much of anything regularly. Watching our son, Chris, go to the gym every day, even when he is on vacation, in a great incentive. While he was at our gym last week he met a lady. Chris told us this story:

There was an 84 year old lady here today killing it on the treadmill. She rolled up in a wheelchair and did the work. Her son died two years ago. Her granddaughter died last year. Her last cousin died last month. But she said she’s got to stay and do God’s work. She’s a retired school teacher and former principal. When I offered to help her off the treadmill she said I had best move on lest my family would have to file a MIA report on account of her taking me home with her. She said she’s a selfish woman. 84 and pure inspiration.

Then Chris looked me in the eye and suggested I may want to spend more time at the gym and perhaps meet up with that nice lady and make her acquaintance.

I thought about that and agreed that yes, I would like to meet her and yes, I should spend more time at the gym. BUT, I need some proper footwear. Steve suggested we go shopping. Steve has the patience of Job and is such a saint – a helpful one.

It could be age or just making a shoe choice too quickly, but several times, I have bought shoes that felt great at the shoe store, but hurt my feet when I got home. Steve suggested I buy more than one pair. He said that changing his shoes daily made his feet feel better.

We went to DSW – where you get Designer Shoes at Warehouse Prices. I didn’t really want sneakers with ties. The ties always come undone. I got these nifty pull-ons. They make me feel like I am walking on a cloud. They are called Go Walk by Skechers and they are great for walking.

Go Walk

Then I got these smart walk around shoes, just because I needed them. We often do a lot of walking around Las Vegas.

Naturalizers
Total savings $25.10

Encouraged that I found an awesome pair of shoes for the gym, we went to the Skechers store to see if I could find one more pair of gym shoes. They had a ton of memory foam shoes, but they didn’t appeal to me. Maybe I should have tried a pair???

Runners

I wondered down to the sale merchandise and found these comfy runners. Got them for 70% off. How’s that for a bargain. I was so excited, I looked around some more.

TwoStrap
As my feet frequently hurt when I go for a long walk around Las Vegas when I have to look cute, I decided these little cuties would be nice to have. They look cute on the top, but have a sneaker bottom. AND they too were 70% off.

OneStrap
These shoes are on the same theme. Cute on the top, with sneaker bottoms. Can you believe I got these at 70% off too. Woot! Today was my lucky day. Total price of the last three pair together $53.40.  Total savings $124.60.

Do you shop for quality and bargains?

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