Friday, December 11, 2009
As he passed my father after suffering another humiliating defeat, Art Rooney, founder and then President of the Pittsburgh Steelers, would utter a phrase I heard all too often, but seems applicable today. Dad would say something like, "Well Prez, we had a chance." To which Art would respond, "SOS." Art never seemed to be upset with the team he founded and nurtured through years of deficits with no thought of moving the franchise as so many other owners had done: Cardinals from Chicago to St. Louis, to finally repose in Arizona; Rams from Cleveland to LA to St Louis, Redskins from Boston to Washington, Colts from Dallas to Baltimore to Indianapolis.
I'm sorry, but on Thursday December 10th, I completely forgot about a game with the Browns because I knew the outcome. Instead, I chose to watch the Penguins, a team with which I had no history having moved from Pittsburgh in 1966. I saw the poor passing of "star" forward Malkin who has started more than one scoring rush for the opposition and thought of Recklessburger's game losing interceptions into the end zone. I swore. I don't know how Dad kept his cool when Pete Backer would wind up for a slap shot on the power play only to have it blocked and the opponent on his way to a break away on Gil Mayer.
Steelers History month is on at the Heinz-Pittsburgh History Museum on Smallman Street. I wish I could attend, but, alas, I like the Sun in Santa Fe, and the comforts of home and a 50 inch flat screen, HD TV as I sink into my couch.
You can get my book, Screamer:The Forgotten Voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Museum Bookstore, or order it through my web site: www.murraytuckerwriter.com
Sunday, December 6, 2009
One of the advantages of Santa Fe is that large snowfalls are rare. At one of the large garden centers here we saw a demonstration of a 4'x8' garden in which various vegetables can survive even though the temperature goes to zero or below.
The base of the "box" is constructed of cedar. The steel hoops have a summer cover and a winter cover that keeps in heat. A soaking hose is run along the ground and one 100 watt light is mounted in an inverted pot to maintain temperature when the outside temperature drops below 38F.
We wanted to see it work for two reasons, curiosity and to have certain vegetables virtually year round.
The system has worked except for the soaker hose. We had to hand soak the ground and may have to do this again in a week.
As part of the "Green Movement" we expect to see many of our neighbors with such a convenience in the next couple of years.
Planted now: spinach. Kale. broccoli, chard, onions, lettuce (various)
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
[for other posts on Steelers see http://sportbehindthemike.blogspot.com/
My father, Joe Tucker, was a pioneer in broadcasting both radio and television of Pittsburgh Steelers' games. His initial telecast in 1951 was carried by DuMont from Comiskey Park in Chicago (Steelers vs. Chicago Cardinals). His work for CBS TV began in 1954. His last report was in 1981 as a guest on a radio broadcast.
[Video of last broadcast]
Reading through his notes in preparation for writing his biography (Screamer: The Forgotten Voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers) I was surprised that he stuck with television. While there was more money and prestige in the visual media, the changes in broadcasting style, forced by production people who had no experience in football, brought down the quality of what a listener would get from an announcer. Cardinal Rule 1 with Joe was to provide an oral picture of everything that was happening on the field. This rule conflicted with Cardinal Rule 1 of the production people: Describe what the viewer was seeing on his TV set. What this conflict meant was that description of what flankers were doing on offense and linebackers were doing on defense, was not provided.
On a punt, the camera's focus was first on the punter and then on the receiver. Clips (now known as blocks in the back) were called by referees. The fan had no notion of the alleged crime other than it was called. The announcer was told not to relate his own view either of the fact or the severity; there was no replay.
As CBS moved towards a League contract, the number and force of production people increased. Perhaps the most disconcerting was the institution in 1958 of "time out for a commercial." CBS producers wrote specific guidelines instructing officials when to interrupt the flow of the game. While such interruption was to be as neutral as possible, timing was left to sideline officials who (at that time) were hired by the home team.
Television coverage has evolved to the state of art it is today, but the early days were chaotic and conflicted for announcing. If you're like me, you ignore the announcers who are often in another world and either turn off the sound or pay it no mind. You time chores of 4 minutes so that they occur with commercial interruptions that last at least four minutes. Games that used to last 2.5 hours now stretch beyond three hours, but the game has become genuinely entertaining, especially in high definition on a big screen.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Do it yourself Sanitary Engineer, JoAnne (she studied for five minutes at the Transfer Station to get her Ph.D. pile it higher and deeper).
Loading the transfer mobile (aka garbage truck) took five minutes- Murray watched.
Actually, where we live it is easier to drive our 'refuse' than to move a garbage can down our drive and up to a cul de sac. It's also way cheaper and we get to recycle.
We run refuse once every two to three weeks. Each trip costs $1.35 plus gas with no wear on Murray's body- he loves taking pictures, and JoAnne sees the trip as part of her stay healthy- keep the earth for the future routine.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Now that I am settled in our home in Santa Fe it is time to get back to painting and drawing. On Tuesday and Thursday Evenings current students and alumni of the Tony Ryder Studio, meet to draw. Because the cost of a model is beyond the budget of most, each participant signs up for one week of modeling. The rest of the time one gets to draw.
Last night, I went for the first time. The assigned model didn’t show. We waited fifteen minutes. Knowing that I had never modeled before and that I would be signing up to model for two sessions later on, I decided that I wanted to give it a try for a shortened session to see if I could handle it. I volunteered and immediately the five other artists began setting up. I climbed into the chair set up in the dramatically lit section of the studio and found a comfortable pose. As it was most likely that people would be doing just a portrait my big question was hair up in an informal bun or down. I decided “up.”
A fellow participant began the timer. I choose a spot to focus on knowing that would help keep my head at the same angle and began using meditation techniques of counting my breathing to help pass the time. As always at The Ryder School an intense quiet fills the room as artists focus on their work. It was an amazing feeling to be their model and know that sitting very still and focused was enabling them to create.
I thought I might have felt self-conscious, or that my ego would get in the way. Neither happened. Instead I simply felt a part of the creative process. After 20 minutes of sitting there is five minutes of break. During the break I could look at the progress being made by fellow artists. Each protratit was from a different angle. Each clearly captured my likeness and each had a quality unique to the artist. One of my favorites emphasized my eyes. The dramatic lighting gave a sculptured effect that I enjoyed seeing.In all I did four sessions of twenty minutes. Time went by quickly, and the experience taught me new things about myself. I was not at all self-conscious. I felt totally a part of the creative process by simply being still. And I loved the results. It was tempting to ask if I might have a copy of what they had done. I knew better than to ask. The experience was not about me or a finished product. It was about helping to facilitate a practice drawing session for fellow arts.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
After signing in, wardrobe looked over my three outfits and selected a first outfit and a second if needed. Luckily the first one they selected was my own and my hope was that I would be able to return the Walmart jacket along with the shoes. Back to our "holding" area to wait for instruction. The Assistant Director in charge of extras then asked if any of the extras had driven because they were short on "upscale" cars. He asked us to raise our hands if we had a car that wasn't red or white. He then asked us each the kind of car we had. I shared that I had driven a 2001 SVU Mitsubishi Montero Sport. Two of us were selected to join the line with a Porsche, a Mercedes, and a BMW. We were led to a parking lot where the action was to take place.
Monday, August 31, 2009
On Monday, August 31, 2009, Paul Krugman wrote an article on the Nixon Proposal. I have been touting this proposal for years: http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/2009/jun/10/murray_tucker_phd_buying_reinsurance/
It is a public option that is more progressive than anything that has been put forth, so far. I urge followers of this blog to view it: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/31/opinion/31krugman.html?hp
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
It was unusual for so many wildflowers to be present this late. At the end of June we visited the same area with our grandson, Jonathon. There were NO wildflowers.
Rabbit Ears is easily accessed off of US 40, east of Steamboat Springs. Its name relates to two stone outcroppings on the summit (you can see one of these outcroppings in the picture on the left).
The picture on the right was taken at a picnic area at nearby Lake DuMont. The dominant flowers were Lupine and Indian Paint Brush- but there were many more varieties.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Awesome is the best word I can use to describe our tour to Georgia O'Keeffe's house and studio. The tour is run by Georgia O'Keeffe Museum for which we made reservations by phone 10 days in advance. I understand that sometimes,especially in the summer. there can be a month or more wait. This is not surprising as the tour only runs three days a week from mid March through mid November (Saturday tours are added from June through October) with just five tours per day. Each tour is limited to twelve people at a time. No cameras are permitted
Monday, May 18, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
The first thing you notice as you drive from the Pueblo de Cochiti on a hard packed dirt road are the white cliffs, "Kasha-Katuwe" in the native Keresan language. It is not until you are out of your car and enter the trail that these amazing, somewhat unique geological structures appear. Shaped like various sized tents-thick at the bottom that come to a peak, they have been formed out of tremendous explosions from the Jemez volcanic field some 6 to 7 million years ago and shaped from over 1,000 feet of pumice and rock fragments. The "tents" vary in size from a few to 90 feet.
There are two main trails. A short loop trail that climbs to a cave, returning to the parking lot (1.2 miles). We did not do the portion to the cave having tired ourselves with the more intense trail that leads through a slot canyon and then up a steep hill (630 feet vertical) to a vantage point that overlooks the monument and to Taos, 50 miles to the north, the Sandias and Jemez mountains to the east and south and the Sangre de Cristo to the west and the Rio Grande.
We stopped many times to enjoy the scenery and to rest. Flowering cacti, Indian paint brush and alpine flowers dotted the path, but there is little shade. This trail is one mile after 0.5 miles along a flat path that also serves the loop trail. The total hike to the top and back is 3 miles.
Getting there: The park is 35 miles from Santa Fe, NM (exit 264, SR 16 to SR 22) and 52 miles from Albuquerque (exit 259, SR 22) of I-25.The turn off is right before the Pueblo and is well marked.
After our journey, we enjoyed a beer (Murray) and a diet coke (JoAnne) at the grill of a Robert Trent Jones golf course adjacent to the recreation area of Cochiti Lake.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
One of the things I like most about studying with Tony Ryder is his emphasis on painting each stroke with intention and full focus. In our poster studies, we were encouraged to ask ourselves what is the value, hue and intensity for each brush stroke. Each stroke makes it's own statement. This carefulness is carried over into all of our assignments.
Each day begins with getting our palette ready. We check to see if we need to add any paint and if not to use our palette knife to make sure the paint is smooth and usable. Palettes are stored in the freezer overnight and this helps save our paint keeping most colors ready to go the next day. These simple procedures have a meditative quality. As we check our paints our energy transitions to painting.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Keynesians view GNP as the equation of the sum of income (what consumers earn for consumption, C, and what they save, S) and what the government earns in taxes (T). This side equates with expenditures, what consumers spend for consumer goods (about 70 percent of the total), private investment (I) and government expenditures (G).
The formula, C+S+T=C+I+G, symbolizes the basic model — the left side is income, the right side is expenditure. In today’s economic scenario, consumer expenditure (C) and private investment (I) have slumped to depression levels. The only salvation under the Keynesian model is for G, government expenditures, to make up the difference. The gap in the last quarter was over 6 percent, a reduction in C and I expenditures.
C and I are about 80 percent of GNP. They are so large that increasing G must be so massive to bring GNP back to equilibrium. GNP should be about $15 trillion. The 6 percent reduction would require about $1 trillion in immediate increase in G, and possibly a continuation for one or two years.
Monetary theory also has a formula for national income: M, the money supply and V, the velocity of turnover. GNP equivalent to the Keynesian would be M times V.
In our current circumstance, V has been slowed because it is the banking system that controls it. The Bush administration operated from the perspective of “juicing” the banks, getting them to lend funds so the economic system would regain its foundation and money would flow from buyers to producers to workers in an endless cycle. Nothing wrong with the thinking, it just did not happen.
Now, there is another measure of GNP I will call micro/macro. National income is the sum of all quantities bought (Q) times their price (P). In order to clear markets (Q), P must be such that there is enough money (MV). If the money supply is curtailed by a slow down in V, P must fall, a deflation — something to be avoided at all costs — it is a psychological killer.
Conclusion. If you are a Keynesian, increasing G is your chosen route. The amounts would have to be so substantial as to be impossible to comprehend.
If you are a monetarist, finding a way to increase either M (printing press) or V (getting the banks to lend) is your answer. Our first attempt was to increase V (lending by banks). It was a failure. Printing money is a possibility, but very dangerous.
The long run solution is that liquidity must be restored, that government deficits cannot be maintained at the trillion-dollar level. The real need is to restore confidence in the money supply and those who run it, the banks and the Fed.
Steamboat Springs Today March 11, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Universal Health Revisited
We’ve tried. In 1947, President Truman presented a plan. The AMA railed against it as “socialized medicine.” In 1971, President Nixon put forth a program to provide a public plan that is better than most of what is now considered "progressive." The insurance industry and Congressional Democrats led by Ted Kennedy, defeated it. Hillary Clinton oversaw development of a broad coverage plan in 1993. Because of a proposed increase in employer funding, business lobbied against it. The insurance industry that had the most to loose led a lobbying attack that was championed by Congressional Republicans and some disaffected Democrats.
Every year financing health care has become increasingly more difficult. More and more Americans are no longer insured (47 million according to the Census before the latest downturn in the economy). About the same number are considered to have inadequate coverage.
Increasingly the electorate is asking our representatives to do something. But they seem to be stymied between the veritable rock and hard place. The rock is “how do we fund a program that will cost over $1 trillion,” and the hard place is “how do we counter the insurance lobby’s power.”
The largest insurer, Aetna, gathers more than 20 cents of each premium dollar for "administration." The proportion of an individual premium that goes to administration increases as the number of beneficiaries in an insurance pool decreases. Thus, small employers find that their premium per worker is much higher than larger competitors. Younger workers often opt out of employer plans because they view their share of the premium as “not worth it.” They’d rather risk the possibility of a heavy medical expenditure against paying the monthly premium. The loss of this healthy group increases the premium that must be paid to cover older workers. And we pay for these uninsured when they get sick, $43 billion in 2005.
In these troubled times, universal health care makes even more sense because more services can be purchased for less! According to The New England Journal of Medicine, Canada’s single payer plan spends 17 cents of each health care dollar on administration. The comparable U.S figure is 31 cents. The potential saving is 14 cents of each health dollar or $280 billion. The bargaining strength of a universal plan would reduce the price charged for all types of services similar to what Medicare has done, an estimated saving of $200 billion.
Employer and employee premium payments reduce income before tax. This tax advantage, amounting to $200 billion, would end and lead to increased income tax collection. The end of the Medicaid program would produce a saving of more than $200 billion. Without an income tax increase, general revenues would increase $400 billion.
The current method of financing health care is inefficient. How would the program be funded? We are already paying for it, in fact, as shown above, we are overpaying. Allocating for the program would continue to need contributions from employers, employees and government.
THE FRENCH EXAMPLE
France’s health care system provides an example of what can be done. In 2000, the World Health Organization rated the French system the best in the industrialized world. (The U.S. ranked 37th of 191, just ahead of Cuba).
The French system is only partially publicly funded. Individual responsibility for paying for care increases with income. Individuals use private insurance, similar to Blue Cross and Blue Shield, to supplement public contributions. If a person falls below an income ceiling, stays more than 30 days in a hospital or has a chronic or debilitating illness, financial exposure is minimal. The equivalent situation for an American is often bankruptcy.
Almost all French providers accept the fee schedule set by government. Patients are responsible to pay providers directly, receiving reimbursement in about 10 days.
Based on studies between 1997 and 2000, the French have more resources per person than the U.S. Per 1,000 people, France has 3.3 physicians and 4.0 acute hospital beds; in the U.S., those numbers are 2.8 and 3.0, respectively. The only place the U.S. far exceeds the French is in nonphysician personnel: 1.9 in France, 5.7 in the U.S. Personnel who handle administration and billing account for the difference.
The French have twice as many office visits per capita, longer hospital stays, use more pharmaceuticals, but only half as many expensive MRIs as Americans.
Tax revenues fund 75 percent of the French health care program. Over half comes from a tax on employers and about 35 percent is from general revenues. Additional amounts come from taxes on automobiles, liquor, cigarettes and pharmaceutical companies and a 5 percent tax on earnings.
Why are we troubled about our health care system? After all, 83 percent of Americans have some form of third party coverage, yet only 40 percent are “fairly satisfied.” Are we more critical than the French, two-thirds of whom give high ratings to their system?
I submit that the U.S. system is balkanized and more bureaucratic than the French, the country that created bureaucracy. Our private insurers (there are about 1,300 of them) determine whom they will pay, for whom and how much based on contracts that change annually.
In the U.S., if you have the ability to pay, you can receive first class health care. But, a significant portion of our population (between 16 and 30 percent) is locked out and must resort to inferior, often more costly services, or none at all.
In 2006, more than 16 percent of our GNP went for health care; the French laid out less than 10 percent. While the French government funds 75 percent of services, the U.S. funds 50 percent. Yet, on a per-capita basis, we are spending more public funds than the French.
Looking at systems like France, I can see the possibility of providing access to first class care to everyone with the financial resources we now use, maybe even less.
On Monday, August 31, 2009, Paul Krugman wrote an article on the Nixon Proposal. I have been touting this proposal that is more progressive than anything that has been put forth, so far. I urge followers of this blog to view it: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/31/opinion/31krugman.html?hp
WHERE HAVE ALL THE DOCTORS GONE?
Incentives in our public and private health insurance are skewed away from prevention. The incentives for a medical graduate are to go into specialization. This incentive system has led to an excess of specialists and a paucity of preventive care primary care physicians. A recent survey of 1200 graduating medical school students indicated that only two percent were oriented to primary care. (TIME, 9/10/09). Because we have an excess of specialists, we don’t have the lines for elective surgery that exist in other countries. That is why a Canadian with means comes to the States for elective surgery. That is also why specialists, trained in Canada, come to the States to practice. To a great extent, that is why we spend over 16% of our GNP on medical care and most other countries spend (on average) 9%. That is also why our health statistics lump us with third world countries on such indicators as infant mortality. In addition, Dartmouth researcher, Elliott Fisher, M.D. suggests that too much health care may actually be killing us. His research indicates that as many as 30,000 Medicare recipients die annually from too much doctoring.
Primary care physicians report that up to sixty-five percent of what they are paid goes to administering their office. (Read Shannon Brownlee, July & August 2008 AARP Magazine, Why Does Health Care Cost So Much? Also read September 2008 AARP Bulletin.
Monday, January 26, 2009
In central New Mexico south of Albuquerque lies a premier spot for one of the most spectacular birding sites of North America. The Bosque del Apache is a National Wildlife Refuge in which you will have no trouble during the winter seeing bald and spotted eagles and hundreds if not thousands of Sand Cranes and white Geese.
I am not a great birder, but I enjoy the outdoors, and this year has been special in New Mexico. While the rest of the U.S. has suffered winter, temperatures have climbed to 60F with clear dark blue sky and no crowds.
The pictures on this page were taken by me and demonstrate the abundance just waiting to pose.
The Bosque is about 100 miles south of Albequerque just off of I-25. If you get a chance, don't forget your camera.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Oh well, that was then, this is now. Again the Steelers are up against a Pitt great,Larry Fitzgerald. The only way to stop him is to get to the quarterback. Let's hope that a great officiating team is sent to this game. I'm tired of throwing my yellow flag at the TV when Harrison is blatantly held.
[Joe Tucker would be 100 this year. Here he relates his disappointment on the missed field goal. Myron Cope, longtime friend, introduces Joe].
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Volunteering in Pittsburgh
MEMORIES of THE CAMPAIGN
Future President and Future Press Secretary Deplane
David Axelrod juggles papers and cell phone
Barack's message of hope and change challenged us to work on this campaign and why we are so proud, today, to be Americans.
Monday, January 19, 2009
As the snow kept coming in Steamboat we were very glad that we had planned to spend five weeks in January beginning Sunday, January 11th in Placitas,NM. Luckily we had a sunny day between snow flakes the Thursday we left. An easy leisurely drive was highlighted by a short side trip to a castle made of beer cans in San Antonio, CO and a tour through the Earthship Visitor Center It was fascinating to see how discarded tires stuffed with mud were a key part of the construction materials used. The Center itself is "a fully functioning Earthship that combines passive solar architecture with thermal mass construction, uses renewable energy, integrated water systems and is made out of natural and recycled materials." Check out their website www.earthship.org.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
While in Steamboat Springs we have enjoyed Sunday Brunch or Late Lunch at the Tap House that has about 15 flat screen TVs. Other than when the Broncos played, Steelers fans dominated.
But, as usual, we traveled. For each Sunday we sought out a place to watch the Steelers. In Fruita, CO, I sold three books and yawned through the drubbing of the Bungles. On return from a family reunion in Lost Wages (thanks Aunt Bess Tucker-you really had that place pegged right) we stopped east of Grand Junction, CO. The bar there had seven screens-six covering the Broncos, one on the Steelers. Another easy day.
Then a near death experience in Atlanta (picture). This was truly Steelers country-Large screen and several 32 inch plasma screens provided more than adequate coverage. The old 14 inch screens provided coverage of the other games. It was close, but we prevailed.
CBS in Denver prefers airing infomercials to Steelers games, so back to the Tap Room for the second near death experience- the Ravens II, seemed to have creamed Ben.
The last bar was in Sarasota. Almost all the patrons were Steelers fans, but we had to argue to get a screen on the game.
Nothing really compared to watching the AFC championship and Super Bowl XL in Ushuaia-the most Southern city in the world.
Yes, JoAnne and I are part of the Steeler Nation and proud of it.
Over the holidays we spent a week in Atlanta visiting with grandkids, daughters and son-in-law. Accompanying our daughter, Julie, from NYC was her 8 month old Yorkie, Izzy, the first dog in our immediate family. According to Julie, no tranquilizer was needed for the 2 hour flight, but they did fly first class.