Thursday, February 25, 2010

help me win!

I've entered a bunch of photos in a contest. Please click here, search for 'charlotta kratz', and vote for me!

'my father asked me to kill him'

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I like Keith Olbermann. He's a passionate guy, and his dad has been very sick for a long time. His point all through the health care debate has been that everybody should have the right to the same level care that his dad gets, regardless of whether they can afford to pay for it, or if they can afford to pay for private insurance. He thinks health care is a basic human right, and I agree.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Someone on the Martha Stewart morning show just injected a dog, and referred to vitamin C as "anti-cancer".

It's extremely upsetting to me that people make it sound as if simple vitamins could stop a disease. "Anti-cancer" isn't a casual statement. It could sound a lot like a promise to someone who needs hope more than anything.

The truth is that nothing is anti-cancer, except death. Take vitamin D, exercise, eat lots of veggies. Avoid red meat, smoking and alcohol. But there are no guarantees.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

in the doctor's office

tree in bloom

white flower


health insurance, again

I went to see my oncologist today. (And isn't that a sentence you don't think you'll ever write.)

I like her. She's a good doctor. Click here if you want to see her picture.

First I have to go the lab downstairs. You sign in, they check your insurance card, and the second you sit back down again they call your name. Very efficient.

When I had had my blood drawn I went upstairs and paid the $10 copay for the doctor's visit. I waited 15 minutes, then I got called in and the nurse took my blood pressure, and weight, and temperature.

She put me in a room and I waited another 15 minutes before the doctor showed up.

The visit took ten minutes. Maybe 15. Everything seemed OK.

Anthem Blue Cross is the largest health insurance company in California. I heard on the radio today that they are proposing to increase the rates for private insurance holders (people who buy their insurance on the open market, and don't get it through an employer) with up to 39%. Why? Because the company's costs have increased. In the recession young, healthy people drop their insurance when they loose their jobs. So Anthem Blue Cross is left with the older, sicker, people to insure, and fewer young healthy ones to help offset the costs.

So, yeah.

Friday, February 19, 2010

spiky red flowers that come out in the spring

maybe I shouldn't have told you this

American public bathrooms, in workplaces and movie theaters and restaurants, often have several separate stalls with doors and walls that are open at the bottom and open at the top. You don't have a lot of privacy.

Years ago I was in such a stall. I couldn't help identifying the sounds as the woman in the stall next to me flushed the toilet, pulled up her pants, and got out.

I couldn't help hearing that she left. And I couldn't help hearing that she didn't wash her hands before she opened the door and got back to work.

I never told anyone.

Months later I overheard her offering to cook a meal for a colleague's sick daughter.

I never told anyone about that either.

The other day I was back in that same stall again. And I couldn't help recognizing the same woman's shoes in the stall next to me.

I waited.

She left.

No, not this time either.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Feb. 18, 2010

Students have held a theme party at UC San Diego that mocked Black History month. Here is a link to the Los Angeles Times story.

From the story:

History professor Danny Widener, who directs the university's African American studies program, said he was outraged but not surprised by the party. He said African American students comprise less than 2% of undergraduates at UC San Diego, which he described as inhospitable to them.

"The campus climate is one in which you are constantly regarded as a statistical anomaly at best," he said.

Widener also criticized [UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne] Fox's response as "tepid" and urged strong action against the party organizers, including expulsion if they are found to have used UC computers or facilities to send the invitation.

Chris Strudwick-Turner, vice president of the Los Angeles Urban League, also urged a tough response.

"If campus climate is important, a message needs to be sent that this is not acceptable," she said.

In Sacramento, Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D-Compton) said leaders of the Legislature's black, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, gay and women's caucuses would gather outside the Capitol on Thursday to condemn the party.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

'the kitchen had been the source of so much unpleasantness'

This is a very funny blog:

suck it

When I was in my twenties in Sweden all of my friends, or almost all of my friends, and I, smoked. You were allowed to smoke in bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, and there were designated smoking areas in university buildings, work places, and in every public waiting area. People smoked everywhere. Waiting for the bus, driving, and at home. You could smoke in air planes. One of my former boyfriends commented years later that I had been the only one able to smoke while riding my bike. I don't think that was true. I saw lots of people do it.

Yesterday I went for a walk on the trail in my little California town. I walk most days. Lots of people use the trail, most of them doing some kind of serious exercise. Biking, running, hiking. The trail goes to the mountains and you can get a good workout.

I met this couple. We didn't talk, they just came towards me on the trail. They were ordinary enough, dressed in exercise outfits, walking briskly. The man held a cup of coffee in his hand. You see that a lot, actually. People get coffee at one of the cool downtown coffee places, and take it on the trail. It looks weird to me. How do you keep a decent pace while handling hot coffee? And why would you want to walk and drink out a cup at the same time?

Then it hit me. Coffee is the new smoking.

Coffee drinking fills the same emotional needs as smoking does. It's something to hold onto in life. Like a teddy bear. And, it's something to suck on, like a pacifier or a mother's nipple. I think that's why those plastic containers, or the straws, are so popular.

It's also something to help build your own personal brand. Your identity. People's coffee orders are complex and specific because we think that is a way of knowing who we are. Just as smoking Marlboros or Camels made my friends and me into who we thought we were. People know turn into "Peet's People", or "vanilla soy latte", "tall" or "short".

I did a little googling, and here is the most complicated Starbucks order on the interwebs: "a tall half-skinny half-1 percent extra hot quad shot (two shots decaf, two shots regular) latte with whip".

That kind of reminds me of my 27 year old self, rolling my own cigarettes from a specific brand of Norwegian tobacco, and smoking them in 1950s cigarette holders.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

yeah, really

I'm a member of a site for expat Swedes. Sometimes there are interesting discussions on the forums, but most of the time there isn't much activity.

One topic gets people going, though. Television. There is a flurry of messages anytime someone asks for the best ways of accessing Swedish TV from somewhere.

OK, I'll be honest. I think that's a little pathetic.