Friday, February 29, 2008

Golden or Gold

There has been a lot of talk about gold these days—how it is at an high time high and is the investment to buy (yes—maybe before it hit this peak—not so much now) Gold futures saw a record high-- 978.50 Friday. And where it is stored—there’s the obvious place—Fort Knox and also West Point but more than $200 billion of it is—as anyone who has seen Die Hard with a Vengeance (aka Die Hard 3) knows-- way underground in downtown Manhattan under the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

But what about another type of gold —a coin specifically. For another type of collector, or investor. The Sacagawea dollar coin. Today the President signed a bill that ensures that the $1 Sacagawea coin will still be minted in 2008—but not as pocket change. It will only be minted in 2008 for coin collectors.

It seems there was a glitch in a law last year that said 2009 coins would be produced, forgetting about the 2008 coins that needed to be minted for all those collectors. The reverse of the 2009 coins will be changed periodically to highlight different Native American topics.

The Sacagawea coin is quite beautiful. And according to the United States Mint’s website here is the coins composition:
“The dollar coin features distinguishing traits including: a golden color, extra-wide border, smooth edge like the nickel's, and specially designed alloy.
Specifically, the Golden Dollar is: 8.1 grams in weight, 2 mm thick, and 26.5 mm in diameter.
The coins physical makeup is a three-layer clad construction - pure copper sandwiched between and metallurgically bonded to outer layers of manganese brass.

Manganese brass composition:
77% copper
12% zinc
7% manganese
4% nickel

Golden Dollar's overall composition:
88.5% copper
6.0% zinc
3.5% manganese
2% nickel "

It seems that all that is gold, is not gold.

Copyright 2008 Kathryn Fallon klaatukafe

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dispatch from Colombia

Thanks to our correspondent in Colombia for some personal insight into the hostage release:

"The big news here is the release of the 4 Colombian hostages. We watched the release on TV. It is incredible that there are so many hostages held for so long and that the parties concerned are so frozen in place about what to do. It seems that the powers that be are not that interested in negotiations and in changing the status quo. For instance, Betencourt, who you would think would be a sympathetic figure, isn’t because she was with an opposition party. When she went to talk to the guerillas and got taken, the consensus was it was at her own risk. So she depends on her family and international supporters. There are a few hundred others and some have been killed. It is so complicated and long standing. The hostages who were released today had been in the jungle for six years! Imagine living in the jungle for six years. And there are some who have been held much longer. "

Copyright 2008 Kathryn Fallon klaatukafe

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

VP Bill Richardson

The candidates are waiting patiently for Bill Richardson’s endorsement but maybe the reason he is taking so long is that someone is telling him that he would make a viable VP candidate. So why endorse Hillary or Obama when it is still not really clear who will be the Democratic candidate? Richardson would make a good addition to either Democratic option. The Governor of New Mexico has the kind of broad adhesive that could result in a cohesive Democratic offering.
It’s a thought at least.

Copyright 2008 Kathryn Fallon klaatukafe

Health Vault vs HIPAA

Have you ever attempted to get information about even your own health or medical history? It is easier for spammers to access private health information than it is for an individual to get at their OWN medical information. And I’m sure any insurance company can find what they want about us even without leaks from ChoicePoint or the VA Health system.

I was intrigued by a possible solution by Microsoft, which says Health Vault " the hub of a network of Web sites, personal health devices and other services that you can use to help manage your health. HealthVault lets you store the information in one central place on the Web. You're in control of what information you store and can decide who else can see, change, or help manage it. HealthVault never lets other Web sites or programs see or change the information in your HealthVault record without explicit permission from you or a record custodian invited to share your records.”

Of course, even though no one can be sure anything is secure on the web, the same can be said for archaic records management systems that delay or prohibit helpful transfer of information to the body in question: The person who should be the owner of the health information.
This seems a bit like the centralized health information systems that some larger group practices use. And it is a timesaver and immensely helpful when a specialist in a group can immediately see the notes the GP or another specialist has entered in the patient’s file.

I have had heard of many frustrating experiences of people trying to get much needed medical records for others when they have the authorization to do so. They run into the HIPAA Wall at hospitals and doctors’ offices and have even been told they cannot access even their own records without nonsensical paperwork because of HIPAA.
Here’s what I think about HIPAA. It makes it impossible or at least very difficult for someone to access his or her own medical information while at the same time, people who shouldn’t be able to get at it, probably can.

Maybe Health Vault or something like it could be a step to a solution.

Copyright 2008 Kathryn Fallon klaatukafe

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Election thoughts

This is the kind of national election that makes me [almost] wish we had a king. As recently as a month ago, at least a few of the candidates seemed to have potential. If not potential for running the country, then at least potential for running to run the country. Now, I want to run from all of 'em. What happened? Was it them? Is it us? Yep--I know-- "I have seen the enemy and they is us." Not my quote. Walt Kelly, via Pogo.

So, assuming we do get the government we deserve, what is the next step--to avoid complete apathy?

What say you?

Copyright 2008 Kathryn Fallon klaatukafe