Polite Company at the MuCCC

It's been a while since I went out to see improvisational comedy. I feel like I kind of burn out on it — after all, it can only be as good as the audience, the performers, and the circumstances. In addition, I tend to hang out with some pretty funny people so it's not uncommon for some extremely hilarious things to come out of it (for instance, I have brought up several times the idea of a Faustian superpower wish that goes awry when the power is revealed to be pooping delicious chocolate — and the comedy of failing to convince anyone that it is indeed true).

Anyway, I headed over to The Multi-Use Community Cultural Center (MuCCC) (142 Atlantic Ave.) to see the public debut of Polite Company Improv Sketch and Comedy. They were indeed funny both in their improv and in their sketches. I really appreciated that they catered to me being in their audience rather than targeting evangelical Puritans and forbidding swearing of any kind. (Seriously: the show doesn't need to stop if someone says "fuck" once.) Of note was their final sketch which was shockingly offensive, but ultimately quite funny.

Afterward I walked over to The Bamba Bistro (282 Alexander St.) for the after-party and got a chance to chat with the crew. (By the way, Bamba Bistro is a pretty upscale-looking place that draws people who like to be seen in upscale-looking places and, on this night, rowdy improvisers and their friends and fans. I'll add that friends raved about an astonishing meal here years ago and I assume that would continue to be true.) The two women running the troupe are engaging and focused — hopefully we'll see Polite Company shows for years to come.

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The High Cost of Privatized Healthcare

Advertisement encouraging people to see a doctor instead of going to the emergency room.

A "non-profit" sock-puppet of the private health insurance industry.

You may have seen these advertisements if, for instance, you have eyes and are have looked up outside. They are everywhere on billboards all around the city. According to the fine print (about 12 point on the full-page ad in the Brighton-Pittsford Post), they are "Sponsored by the Monroe County Medical Society, Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield" and then in even finer print (about 6 point), "A nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association."

The Monroe County Medical Society is some kind of physician organization in the area. Their vague mission is to "unite to consider and act on matters affecting the practice of medicine, to extend medical knowledge and enlighten the public in the best interests of the health of the people of the county of Monroe." Likewise, The Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency "is an independent local organization working to improve health care in Rochester and the Finger Lakes region. We analyze the needs of the community, bring together organizations to solve health problems, and measure the results." And then there's Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a corporation that sells health insurance and is the "nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association." The BlueCross BlueShield Association is the nebulous parent organization whose function I don't understand as it relates to Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Anyway, all these shell games and misdirection align to provide what seems to be a concrete and simple statement: leave the emergency room for emergency services and see a physician at jeir office for non-emergency care.

But why would someone visit the E.R. if they could see a doctor? I know I wouldn't. However, I also know the secret answer: I only have a doctor because I became his patient while I had health insurance. If I did not have health insurance, I would have been refused. What I've found is that doctors generally do not accept patients who pay cash.

So I did a little bit of research on the glorious Internet. My question: do people in England head to the emergency room when they have a cold? After digging around a bit, I didn't find an answer either way. My supposition is, why would they? The E.R. is an unpleasant place, and if they could equally well go to a much more pleasant general practitioner's office, then I can only imagine they would. At least I would.

Thus, this "ER Crowding" problem is yet another cost of the profit-driven private health insurance industry in the United States. I find it appalling that funds that could have gone to serve nationalized health care were instead wasted on a huge advertising campaign.

The people want nationalized health care. The physicians want nationalized health care. The only ones who don't are the corporations of the health insurance industry and they own Congress.

Shame on you, members of The Monroe County Medical Society. Shame on you, Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency.

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I Have a Dog Now

Last month I saw an ad for a dog to a good home. I replied and got the new dog, Lucy (Ali's and my dog), and Pumpkin Pie (my gray American short-hair cat, named by a crazy cat lady) all together and they seemed to get along acceptably — I know things would be rough, but the behavior of the new dog was key.

So last Monday the 23rd I got "Tieson" (the etymology of which I still haven't inquired about). He's a Jack Russell terrier who's 9-year-old (as of today, actually).

The first day I had him his behavior was better than I could have expected. Pumpkin was very patient and only a few skirmishes broke out. His previous owner said he had bladder issues when home alone, and I presumed it was due to separation anxiety. In fact, when I went to Genesee Bakery (1677 Mount Hope Ave.) for all of 10 minutes, he soaked a pillow pretty good. He only had one such "accident" so far.

That night, I let him sleep in my bed. During the night, I noticed he started to intensely regard the vacuum cleaner. After an hour or so, he decided that it was, indeed, an infernal machine and must be barked at. I turned on the light and he was startled to see me, transferring his agression to me. Before I could get him out of the bedroom, he managed to bite me pretty hard on the hand. Being kind of aggressive, I have learned this particular Jack Russell is happiest if he's kept in his place (e.g. lower than eye-contact with people.)

The next day went well as well. I learned some things he didn't like and mostly avoided them. However, when returning from a walk, I expected him to get bite-y when I toweled off his wet belly so I put on leather gloves and, when he inevitably did snap at me, I pinned him down firmly to show that I was "alpha". I didn't like doing it, but it didn't hurt him, and I had to do it again later when he snapped at me on my bed. I gather it's not harmful, per se, especially if used sparingly, but I don't want him to have an "alpha dog" relationship with me. It should help that I signed him up for obedience class at Dogs At Play (75 Howell St.)

By Thursday we were running together in the morning. Jack Russells are known for their speed and endurance: he kept up for all 4 miles or so. During the day, cat-dog relations had a setback when I picked up Pumpkin to pet him and Tieson, apparently jealous, seemed curious to see what I was doing and then he decided it was a good idea to bite Pumpkin's tail. I ended up with a couple scratches on my face and on my hands from the ensuing body launch.

Today he was thrilled to "go for a ride" and was even thrilled to visit the vet at Penfield Veterinary Hospital (1672 Penfield Rd.) for all his shots and more. Now he's all set for his dog license, so he gets to be a real little dog.

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