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I spent most of the evening discussing health care with mom and her neighbors. This was all sparked by a conversation we had last night, during which I said that I was dreading going to the dentist because of the cost. I have four teeth that have cavities, and need some serious cleaning. I told mom that when I last saw the dentist, I was told that, with insurance, I would need to pay at least $500 in order to get all this work done. They were all aghast! They just could not believe it was that expensive!

It was about 9:30 in the evening by then. Mom jumped up and said that she would call the dentist immediately. Umm... It's 9:30, isn't the clinic closed? To which she replied, so what? I have his home number. She called him at home, and he said, "I usually don't work on Saturdays, but you're welcome to bring her in tomorrow if you like, and we'll see what she needs. I'll wait for you guys in the afternoon."

We went out for lunch, and mom called to confirm. He had indeed been waiting for us. So we headed there, and he saw my teeth, and sure enough, four cavities, and some serious cleaning was needed. He worked on me for a full two hours, and finally filled out my cavities with ceramic filling, which required five Novocaines in my gums. Then, he did the cleaning. All in all, it was a two hour ordeal. I'm surprised I put up with that much pain! But thanks to some homemade wine, I was numb to begin with.

When it was time to pay the bill, both mom and I were worried it would cost upwards of $500. He calculated everything and said, "$110.... $100 would be fine". WHAT??? $100 for all that work? Are you kidding me?!!

Turns out that that was normal. This was truly shocking to me. I then thought it was an anomaly because mom is his patient. Turns out that it was truly an average price. Her neighbor got five teeth worked on, and some serious cleaning for $200. Mom has had some bridgework done, and all her teeth worked on for $1000.

She then said that all medicine here was like that. Her mastectomy this year which took 6 hours in the operating room cost $3,500. This included everything, including a new prosthesis, and a replacement one which had melted during her radiotherapy treatment. All her followup with this doctor has been free of charge. Her surgeon is one of the top surgeons in the country, and her operation was in one of the top hospitals in the country too!

Her neighbors all confirmed that this was actually the norm, and not an anomaly. It wasn't until now that I fully understand the impact of Michael Moore's "Sicko". The US healthcare system is absolutely abysmal, and overrun by thieves without any conscience. People in their seventies and eighties should not be working in order to cover their basic health care. The fact that we can approve millions upon millions of dollars for a war, but can't provide basic health care for people is an absolute disgrace. The fact that people have to make the choice between eating and getting medicine should be considered a human right violation.

There are some who actually believe that universal health care is a code word for communism or socialism. How is that even possible? Where is the logic in that? When people get sick, they dread going to the doctor's or the hospital because of the bills, even if they have insurance. Of course, this is assuming that they can see a doctor in a timely fashion to begin with!

I know I have said this a million times before, and I will say it again. I really don't mind paying taxes. I think taxes are a fundamental part of living in a society, and I will gladly pay it. Money for services needs to come from somewhere. What I do mind, however, is my tax money being used for wars and for the benefit of the few, instead of benefitting the entire society. Living in a society, at least to me, means watching out for myself and for others. Otherwise, I might as well be living alone on an island.

As a medical anthropologist, differences between health care systems is something I am very interested in. It's really something else to be experiencing this firsthand.

Oh man... too true!!

The Bonjour service

Stupidly, this morning, I uninstalled the @(#*& Bonjour service. Lo and behold, all my networking functions on my laptop are now completely nonfunctioning.

Here's what I learned about this insane program.

- It's primarily bundled with iTunes, but can also come with Photoshop CS3 to help with Version Cue (a feature I don't need anyhow).
- If you disable it from the Vista Services, you will be fine.
- If you uninstall it completely, you will spend a few hours in Windows hell like me. It literally complete kills all possible networking. You won't be able to get an Internet or a Local Connection.

There's a small utility called TurnoffBonjour that just turns it off, so you won't have to uninstall it.

I am trying to uninstall Photoshop CS3, to see if that helps. If not, I will uninstall iTunes, Skype, etc. and reinstall them.

Damn it.



3:16 - I have found a fix that has worked! I am copying it here in case anyone needs it.

Found it on
Check and repair Winsock corruption.
Click Start. In the Start Search dialog box, type: cmd, and right-click cmd.
Click Run as administrator.
Type: netsh winsock reset, and then press the ENTER key.
Type: Exit and press ENTER.
Restart the computer.

Reset the TCP/IP protocol.
Click Start. In the Start Search dialog box, type: cmd, and right-click cmd.
Click Run as administrator.
Type: netsh int ip reset, and then press ENTER.
Type: Exit and press ENTER.
Restart the computer.

Microsoft also has some convoluted fix, which is pretty much the same as the previous one. The article is entitled: "How to determine and to recover from Winsock2 corruption in Windows Server 2003, in Windows XP, and in Windows Vista"

I have to move my files over to the new laptop, and then I'll take a shower, and finish packing.
But here's the link anyhow:

Installing WindowsME trauma

Well, after two hours yesterday, and going on three today, I think I am very close to getting this laptop all set up.

See, the problem is that Windows ME is not bootable. And, if you formatted your entire harddrive, you know that you will not have even DOS installed on it. The solution, of course, is to use a bootable floppy, format the harddrive and get it ready for install. Then, launch the WindowsME setup from the CD-Rom. Straight forward.

But, because I have a swappable floppy and CD-ROM, it's impossible for me to do that. So, I had to track down a version of DOS that I can put on a CD, and have it be bootable. After three different tries, I finally found the correct version of DOS that supports large disks (for a comparison of different versions, click on this link).

I downloaded the correct version from, and it's currently checking the partitions on my haddrive. But, since I don't really have any partitions, I don't know what it's doing. I might need to burn another disk to fix this. I've gone through about six CDs so far, because I don't have CD-RW disks to use. Grr..

Actually, strike that, I need DOS 8.0. I finally was able to download the correct version from Powerload Boot Disk Project. This actually seems like it's working. We'll see.

10:11 - Now FINALLY formatting. Looks like exactly what I need. Stupid Windows!

11:30 - I needed both disks mentioned above to get things set up. Not only that, but I also had the pleasure of reinstalling Windows 98 because stupid ME will not clean install since it's meant as an upgrade, and crashed at first install. Now, ME is at 61% install.

Meanwhile.... I uninstalled Bonjour.exe from my Vista laptop, and now my network has stopped working.

I should just stop, and like go back or something.

From Vista to ME....

Eleven years ago, I bought a Gateway laptop for $1,700. At the time, it was the hottest and greatest thing out there. 10 Gigs, swappable DVDRom and floppy disk, and a whopping 512MB of RAM! At the time, I was in the middle of my MA degree, and thought that would be a good idea to invest in a laptop. Windows ME had just come out, so it was a very big deal to have moved from Windows 95 (which I STILL miss) and Windows ME.

Over the years, I have used it for basic word processing, and as new versions of Windows came, this poor little thing was left behind in the dust. But, in the meantime, it traveled to Trinidad, London, Lebanon, and all over the United States. The fact that it still works is mind boggling. Sure, many of the new softwares don't work on it anymore, but for basic things, it works.

In the last four years, I have used mainly laptops from the various contracts I have worked for, but still used the ME one for text, basic browsing, and Solitaire.

My last two projects have ended, and thus, I had to give up their respective laptops, and was left with this one. After visiting my mom, she was amazed that I was still using this piece of junk, and decided that she would buy me not only a happy new shiny laptop, but also a digital camera. I love my mom!

I was thinking about turning this laptop into a Linux machine, but mom asked for it so that she would give it to a friend. So now, I have to reformat it, reinstall Windows ME, basic programs, and then give it back.

So, in the last hour or so, I have reformatted a 3.5" floppy disk, reformatted the harddrive, and err... oh no! Swappable drives! That means that I can't run a floppy and the CD-Rom at the same time. And, since ME is not bootable, I have to figure out how to do boot into it somehow. Ugh.

This will probably take all day, and I will update as I go.

12:30 - Formatted A:\ disk, and tried to boot up
12:45 - Somehow made it to the D: drive, and now formatting C:\. It's 8 percent complete.
12:53 - Not bad. Completely finished. Um... how do I install from a D:\ drive, while there's no setup file? This is going to be interesting.
1:04 - I'm stuck!!

So a while back in 2005, I bought a 40G iPod from someone on EBay. I was so excited when I got it. I just couldn't wait until the thing worked. This was my first experience with a Mac product, so I decided to give it a go.

Over the years, I am constantly amazed by the quirks this thing has. It's amazing. I should have picked up on that when I first got it, and had to reset it. So here's all the weird things.

- When you reset an iPod factory settings, you HAVE to have a power source to connect it to. Merely connecting it to a computer will not work. I think the power is separate. But, you can go to any Radio Shack, plug your iPod in any of their auxiliary machines, and after thirty seconds, it boots itself.

- If you use your iPod also as a disk drive, anytime you accidentally disconnect your cable from the machine, you have to reset the iPod, and start all over again, and then copy your library again. So, best advice here is... back everything up that you save on it. It's tempting to save your files on a 40 Gig drive, until you lose your data. Not so much fun then.

- There's actually a site out there where you can check the life of your ipod based on serial number. Sorry, forgot the site. After I entered mine, it told me I had two months left on mine, and sure enough, in two months, it started acting VERY funky. After a while, I just turned it off, and forgot about it because I was annoyed so much. I don't like self-destruct mechanisms that I can't control.

- After getting my new shiny HP laptop, I thought I'd try the iPod again. Had to download iTunes, because for some reason Winamp was not recognizing it. After download, I noticed that iTunes was launching about thirty different processes, and using a "Bonjour" utility that was bringing down my entire network. After tweaking it a bit, I got it to work.

- Everything went fine software wise, but suddenly the iPod starting making an incessant clicking sound that was driving me batty. After some research online, I discovered that this was a common problem; the harddrive was loose. The solution? Insert a folded business card between the harddrive and the cover, and everything will work. I tried that, and now it works without the clicking.

So, for the time being, the iPod is working again. We'll see what devilish things happen next with this piece of machinery. I would like to have it when I go home this summer, but don't trust it enough to throw it or use it as a door stop. If it works, great. If not, then, well.... it won't, and I'll just figure something out to do with it.

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