Excuse me, but your model needs to be hospitalized.

So I have to go to a cocktail party. I’d rather be beaten with sticks, but it’s not an option. My wardrobe choices are limited; I’m either dressing to work in the yard or go to court. So I browsed through some department store websites, just to see what was out there. Good grief, what a shock.

Isn’t anorexia understood to be a problem? I thought advertisers had agreed to be more responsible and not use models that encouraged teenagers to think their bones should protrude through the skin. Look at this poor thing! Click to enlarge, and check her elbows in case you missed it.


I’ve represented women who looked like this; they were usually charged with prostitution and possession of heroin or cocaine. I always offered to take them to the hospital. Like, before they died in the elevator.

The picture below was taken in 2006.  This is backstage at an actual runway event– the model being made up died soon afterward. I assume she wasn’t modeling the underwear, but even if she was about to put on an overcoat, the people in charge should have been shot for allowing her to work.


If the art directors at Bloomingdale’s think there’s nothing wrong with the girl in the pink dress, I’ve got to shop somewhere else.  Does LL Bean make cocktail dresses?

Try Something Different

There’s no earthly reason that this topic should appear on the RBC, but here it is anyway.  I love dogs.  I use a service dog.  When I got Cormet, two years ago in April, we had a hard time adjusting to each other. A friend suggested I try an activity called nosework.  I am not making this up.  In nosework, dogs are taught to search for a hidden cotton swab scented with something like birch oil.  We tried it and Cormet loved it.  I still hide swabs for him in my house on rainy days when he’s bored, but I could not get fired up enough to make it a quest.  So I got into the “sport” of AKC Tracking. Continue reading “Try Something Different”

Best Intentions– the backstory of Mark’s post

How weird that Coulter picked up on this very old case. Without having clicked on your links, I recognize it as the story of Eddie Perry, who was a scholarship student at Exeter. It seemed to me that Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities relied on the story for its central plot line, although Wolfe took a lot of poetic license with the details. The writer Robert Anson, whose son was then a classmate of Perry’s, found the story shocking and researched it. His book, Best Intentions: The Education and Killing of Edmund Perry, is a classic. Meticulously researched, it dropped a bomb that all the New York newspapers failed to turn up and tried to answer the obvious question: how could all these good intentions, from the non-profit scholarship foundations, the public school teachers who nurtured Mr. Perry and got him into Exeter, the staff and students at Exeter themselves– have resulted in such a massive tragedy? Continue reading “Best Intentions– the backstory of Mark’s post”

Has Mt. Auburn Hospital No Shame?

I sent the following to the patient relations person this evening:


I attach two bills which I have just paid, and a screenshot to demonstrate how badly I have been overcharged.

I am appalled. In mid-December I visited your emergency department because my doctor insisted. I had been bitten by a cat and since the punctures went deeply into a finger joint, she advised me that without prompt IV antibiotic, I was at risk of losing use of the hand. I was treated with IV ampicillin, given some pills and with a little help from one of your employees, fashioned my own splint. More about that later.  I had to come back in exactly 12 hours for another dose, and I did.

Frankly, knowing what I know now, I would hesitate!  It might be worth the risk.  The ER charge for 2 visits ($1,217) seems staggering but not unusual in today’s health care reality– right up until the moment that it becomes clear that this was some kind of a base charge only; there are separate charges for each and every action taken on my case. The “visit” charges: $756 plus $461, must be purely for administration. How difficult was it to put a wristband ID on me? Honest, I didn’t scream and thrash about, although perhaps I should have.

Let’s look at those itemized charges: $88 to give me a shot (vaccine) and $86.38 for the vaccine itself. You charged $22.01 for each of the two doses of IV antibiotic, and $267 for the nurse to start the IV. She only had to do that once, since I was a good sport and kept the catheter in my arm between the 2 visits. You charged $9.54 for the oral antibiotics I took with me, and .90 cents for the tablet of Percocet. You should enclose more of that with your bills. I might have been too blissed out to send this note.

But here’s where I really lose it. Okay, I also come pretty close to losing it over a $1,217 charge for a wristband ID and lots of bookkeeping to send these outrageous bills, but I digress.

$341 to administer a finger splint. Let me put this in terms you can understand. Just before I left, a sweet young man appeared with a piece of flexible metal with a foam cushion. He asked me to bend it around my swollen finger to avoid accidentally hurting me. I complied. He then wound some gauze around it, and handed me some paper tape to secure the ends. $341? I attach a screenshot from Amazon. I could buy this splint– me, an individual with zero bulk buying power, for $2.18. Seriously! Given the number of these puppies that you buy, I bet you could talk them down to .50 cents. $341? Just saying! Oh wait, was it the gauze? The paper tape? Kinda doubt it.

I am entering into similar discussions with my estimable insurance plan, Tufts Navigator (motto, “We cover nothing!”) in the hope that they will apply some pressure to require a modicum of common sense, but I am far from sanguine. In the meantime, be a mensch and tell me what you paid for that splint. No fibbing! I will catch you if you do.

**********Okay, back to the RBC.  This was not the cat’s fault.  His name is Charlie and he belongs to my neighbors.  He is a Maine Coon, about the size of a Lhasa Apso.  Charlie owns the whole street.  On that morning in December, I stepped on the porch to get the paper and Charlie slipped inside for a visit.  My dog tried to kill him, so I had to rescue Charlie.  I do not blame him for biting me.  He holds no grudge either: he still naps on my porch when the sun is right.

Teachers at Sandy Hook

The father of a 4th grader who survived the shooting is a childhood friend from the small town in Vermont where my I spent some of my formative years.  He provided my sister, who was his classmate, with some details.  His son was in the library when the shooting started.  The librarian got all the children into a closet, shut the door, and then barricaded it by moving filing cabinets in front of it.  She tried to block the actual door into the library with other boxes, and she remained outside the closet door, talking to the children.  When the police arrived, she would not let them in until they managed to get their IDs where she could see them.

Think about the choice she faced.  She could have gotten into the closet with the kids and maybe if the shooter came into the library he would not have thought to look in the closet.  She chose to leave herself exposed, while buying precious minutes for the kids by barricading them.  Extraordinary.  The kindergarten teacher herded her charges into the “safe area” in the back of the classroom, and then was shot in the doorway, where she must have been trying to either rush the shooter or dissuade him.  I hope these women and their selflessness are never forgotten.

My mind cycles back to these moments in the lives of ordinary adults, untrained in reacting to armed invaders, and I wonder what I would have done.  So I ask, would it be wrong for police, or perhaps the military, to offer some training to the rest of us?  I don’t want to carry a gun to my boring government job, but if an armed assailant entered the building, I would like to have an idea of how to maximize my chances of slowing him down.  Obviously my first choice would be to hide, and I probably would not rush an armed person head on because it would be futile.  But just like the passengers on the Pentagon-bound jet that did not hit its target on 9/11, I can appreciate the logic in preventing more deaths if my own is certain.  I’d like to have some strategic understanding so I could avoid making matters worse and maybe even mitigate the harm.

Voter Protection in Massachusetts

So I’m a volunteer lawyer assigned to election protection here in the land of the bean and the cod. Thinking about dirty tricks, voter suppression and the importance of maintaining a perfect demeanor on the job, and as I was pumping gas today, a cheerful man in work clothes, filling his landscaping truck, asked me who I thought would win: Elizabeth Warren or Scott Brown. I said, truthfully, that I was sick of the subject. Undeterred, he asked me if I knew what kind of a car Warren drives, and I said no. “A Jeep Cherokee!” he said happily, and waited for my reaction. “Um, sounds about right,” I said, blankly. He gave me an odd look and left. Then it hit me. Cherokee! Duh!

Sometimes I think I have a touch of Asperger’s. Racial insults fly right over my head. Years ago I got dragged to South Boston to help counter-demonstrate against some organized racists at a rally. There were all these scrawny white kids wearing baseball caps and some of them were holding signs saying “One man, one woman.” Since I had gone with a delegation from the ACLU, I turned to the legal director and asked if there were voting rights issues in the rally. He chuckled and told me quietly that those were anti-gay signs.  I felt like Homer Simpson– d’ho!  I am not quick, that’s for sure.

Hurricane Sandy on my street

This is the house next door to mine (just outside the camera range, behind the tree branches) in Huron Village, Cambridge, MA.  I immediately checked on my neighbors, a retired pair of professors and found them fine, without even a power interruption.  The tree was resting right on the electrical and phone lines, however, which should make anyone anxious.  The police came by, called the city, and a building inspector arrived.  He told my neighbors to hire an electrician and talk to the city soliciter about reimbursement.  I promised to call City Hall for them today and make sense of it.  I understand that municipal resources are strained, but “deal with it,” seems like an inadequate response from one’s city when a large tree is leaning on the power lines.

(Don’t) Keep Your Head Down

Government needs to have mandatory discipline for high-ranking officials who act like jerks, and a mandatory snitch rule for lower-level employees who pretend they didn’t see it.  If Massachusetts had such a policy, we might not be in the mess we now face about faked test results at the state lab.

Have you ever heard the term “disruptive physician”?  Continue reading “(Don’t) Keep Your Head Down”