Friday, December 11, 2009

Same Old Steelers

From Left: Chuck Noll, Joe Tucker, Art Rooney (1975)

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:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hoop Dreams

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


While technically correct that 2009 is the 50th anniversary of a contract between the NFL and CBS TV, CBS had contracts with a few teams for broadcasting away games for several years.
[for other posts on Steelers see

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

Modeling for Art Students

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

Background Work on "Crash"

As we were planning to relocate to Santa Fe, I thought what fun it would be to do extra work. There are three television series that film in Albuquerque (about an hour drive from Santa Fe). A number of films are also done each year. Occasionally over the summer I would google New Mexico casting and visit a website that posts casting calls. Now that we are New Mexico residents, I decided it was time to follow through on my research. Moving can be very stressful and I was definitely feeling the tension of camping out in our house until furniture arrives and other craziness going on with the house. To divert my mind, on Tuesday morning I sent my headshot and resume to "Crash" casting for extras.

My early research showed that they would be in production until around October 9th. The notice I was responding to had been posted back in August and I really had no expectations. You can imagine my surprise when I got a call around 5 PM Tuesday to see if I was available for work the next day. I gulped and said yes and then was told I needed to bring three "upper middle class" looking outfits. Well we have very few clothes here... just one suitcase each. Somehow I figured out two outfits and then visited Walmart and picked up a purple jacket that could give a different look as well as some shoes in case the "Keen" casual shoes that I live in won't work.

Then I waited. I thought someone would call with directions. At 8AM I was called asked "Where are you? You're supposed to be here at 8:48 AM. I live in Santa Fe, but the call was for a place in downtown Albuquerque. I had my bag packed and dashed out of the house at 8:10. Speeding is not a character trait. If anything I am more likely to be rear ended by a speeding turtle. But I got there, and ahead of two others who were late.

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.

I must say that this felt like back in the dance studio only now it was about choreographing the timing of seven cars to get the effect they wanted. It was also great fun to be given instructions rather than be the director as I had been for thirty some years. We were each given a walkie talkie set to a channel for our car director. Each car was assigned a name. I was L2 meaning second car coming from the left. We then rehearsed several times the timing as the police closed down the street for us. Periodically the street would reopen for a few minutes and then close down again. Once they were satisfied with the timing we did about five more run throughs while they filmed one of the lead characters in the show getting into a car from various angles with us providing the background. Once done it was back to the holding area where I put on my selected pedestrian outfit.

A half hour or so later the twelve pedestrian extras were transported in a van to a new site. Two of the shows lead characters were doing a scene sitting in the front seat of their car and we provided the background of a street. The AD looked over our group and assigned us various places in the street. I was placed with another woman to cross as if in conversation. The AD following the script assigned us entrances to create a random impression. Again we rehearsed and then they filmed from many angles.

More walking again across the street and then back to our original places for shooting another angle they wanted. In between takes we had a "holding" space and it was interesting to learn about the other extras. A doctor who wanted to do this just for fun, several who had done quite a bit of extra work, several between jobs, a student, a social worker, and one or two who I hunched were aspiring actors.

It was a wrap at 4 and we were all transported back to the base holding area and invited to have dinner which was an impressive spread. The AD came around and signed our time sheets and thanked us for our work. I was surprised to see that not only did I get my $9 per hour for 8 hours, but that I also received extra money for the use of the car!

As I drove back to Santa Fe I thought how good it felt to be part of a production. Since retiring from directing the Avodah Dance Ensemble I have missed that energy and group collaboration. To have had an opportunity so soon after arriving in Santa Fe was indeed a blessing and a definite stress buster!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Nixon Health Plan Revisited

On Monday, August 31, 2009, Paul Krugman wrote an article on the Nixon Proposal. I have been touting this proposal for years:

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:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Murray's latest writing on health care

Murray has written a Letter to the Editor of the Steamboat Pilot on the Structural Problem in Health Care. Here is a link to the letter.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rabbit Ear Pass Steamboat Springs Colorado

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

Hike to Smith Lake in the Flat Tops

As we are getting older we find that some of the hikes that we use to do are just too taxing... too steep and too long.  Smith Lake has long been a favorite and we are appreciating this hike more and more.  It is only 0.7 mile each way with an elevation gain of 277 feet.  While it is steep in the beginning, the rest of the hike is quite pleasant.   

Yesterday we headed out for this hike that is in the flat-tops about 30 miles south of Steamboat.  In less than five minutes after arriving we had put our back packs and walking sticks down and were busy photographing the amazing display of wild flowers.  The Indian paintbrush were spectacular.  

A highlight is the creek that flows directly out of the lake. Blue and white wildflowers grace its banks.  The lake itself is peaceful and serene and a wonderful place to just sit quietly.  We have rarely seen anyone else at the lake and yesterday we saw no one on the trail or at the lake.  

Here are a few of our favorite pictures from yesterday.  Enjoy as we did!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Visit to Georgia O'Keeffe's House in Abiquiu

Abiquiu Lake

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

The meeting place is the Abiquiu Inn where the O'Keeffe tour office is located. After checking in we boarded a mini bus for our short five minute ride to the property. Located on a bluff close to the plaza of the small village of Abiquiu I was immediately struck by the beautiful grounds and spectacular view of the Chama River valley.

Our guide was extremely knowledgeable with a strong respect for O'Keeffe. She grew up and lives in Albiquiu as do most of the other people working for the tour group. She remembers seeing Ms. O'Keeffe walking in the village and met her on several occasions.

We began in the garden with an introduction to the general history related to O'Keeffe's purchase of the property. We also learned that she grew her own food and the strong impact of her gardener. The grandson of the original gardener now takes care of the property.

We could not enter all rooms as they have fragile floors so we viewed her main sitting room and dining room through a large window.  Later we also viewed her bedroom through large windows.

Our first stop in entering the house was an interior patio made famous by the pictures she painted of the "black door" and of photo's of her in this space. This was indeed a very special spot with an almost sacred feeling. A large fragrant sage brush neatly trimmed dominated the center.

The sense of the outside spilling into the inside by large windows was obvious in the kitchen where,besides a table near a large window,a sofa was also placed so one could sit and enjoy the  incredible view.

The living space is 5,000 square feet and O'Keeffe's studio and bedroom are actually a separate building linked by a garden. Again both the studio and bedroom are filled with light from outside.  The studio is quite large and contains two of her paintings. One of the paintings was inspired by an airplane ride observing the floor of clouds below and the second by her view of the Washington monument.  A small original sculpture was featured on a small table.  

Her bedroom featured two sides of windows giving her wonderful views of the valley below and the hills in the near distance. 

Our guide highlighted her commentary by showing reprints of paintings that illustrated how views on the property had inspired paintings. She also read comments written by O'Keeffe when appropriate.

Cameras, cell phones, purses are not allowed. This keeps the tour focused and attention on the guide. The tour costs $30 per person ($25 for seniors 65 or older). Saturday tours are $40 with no discounts. Reservations can be made by calling: 505-685-4539. I highly recommend the tour.

After the tour we had a delightful lunch at the Abiquiu Inn and then visited the Abiguiu Lake about 6 miles further up the road.  We had driven by Ghost Ranch a year before and decided to save a visit to Ghost Ranch for a later time.  Ghost Ranch is currently owned by The Presbyterian Church and is open to the public requiring no reservations.  We look forward to making a separate trip there and hiking some of the trails.  

Monday, May 18, 2009

Exhibit of our work in Santa Fe

This Friday our class and alumni of Tony Ryder's will have an exhibit at the Canyon Road Contemporary Art Gallery. The exhibit will run from May 22 to May 31. I am thrilled to have my still life of pointe shoes included as well as one of my drawings. The gallery has posted our work on it's website so if you would like to see the work of our teacher, Tony Ryder, alumni of his program and current students please check it out at: 

They seemed to have shortened my titles on line: The still life is entitled "For a Young Dancer" and my drawing is titled with a quote from Martha Graham, "The Spine is a Tree of Life."  

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Saturday Stroll through Art Galleries in Santa Fe

Today was an ideal day to check out a few art galleries in Santa Fe. Murray decided to relax in the sun on our patio so I set out on my own. My first stop was the Sage Creek Gallery which featured a juried show of the National Oil Painters of America. Their annual event was last weekend in Santa Fe and there was much buzz around my art intensive course about the show. It features realistic oil painting similar to the work we are studying. The show was fun with a diversity of work and to bouy the enthusiasm for fellow artist was how many red dots (SOLD) were scattered throughout the show. In fact I overhead one of the gallery sales people say that 15% of the show had sold on opening night. Sage Creek Gallery is located about two blocks from the Plaza in the center of Santa Fe.  

Next I headed over to Canyon Road. I checked out the Adobe Gallery which features art and antiquities of the Southwest Indian. I was fascinated with paintings of ceremonial dances my favorite being by Harrison Begay.  

Continuing up Canyon Road I stopped in at the Canyon Road Contemporary Art Gallery where we will be showing our work with the opening scheduled for Friday of Memorial Day Weekend.  Currently on exhibit are some of their regular artists. I particularly liked the pastel works of Kathy Beekman. It will be exciting to see our work hanging in such a lovely space so conveniently located on Canyon Road.

Next door is the Hahn Ross Gallery also featuring their regular artists. Murray and I visited the gallery last August on our quick trip to Santa Fe to find our housing for this winter/spring. I remembered liking the colorful Aspens of Chris Richter and enjoyed seeing them again.

My final stop was at the Moseley Gallery on Delgado. The bold oil paintings of John Mosely combine an abstract feel rooted in an interpretation of the landscape. I was disappointed when I came home to go on line to find websites for the galleries that I visited that his was not updated to include two very interesting feminist painters that are featured this month. I didn't pick up any flyers or information on them and indeed wish the website had included them.

All and all a very pleasant stroll. Fun to see the different styles in the art galleries and definitely builds my enthusiasm for our upcoming show. Tomorrow Murray and I head to Placitas to visit the open studios of the artists living there, especially the works of our friend, Bill Skees. This event happens once a year over Mother's Day Weekend. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tent Rocks National Monument

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

Zen and the art of painting

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.

Once the pose begins with the model a quiet settles over the room. For the next twenty minutes all attention is on the  model with an unhurried sense of capturing the pose. If someone comes in late his/her rush and organizing of materials is definitely an intrusion and slowly all fourteen of us are learning to make sure we are on time and to become considerate of the others. No music plays and if one wants music they listen with earphones.

When Tony demonstrates he talks about focus and intent and demonstrates how a single line or stroke changes the painting.

I am loving this carefulness. Maybe some will say it lacks spontaneity. That is not a problem for me, at least right now. I am learning the appropriate fundamental's of this approach, and seeing progress in this first month as I learn to train my eye and see the shapes and light patterns. There is a peacefulness as I work and Tony has talked about our ability to create best when our minds are open to look clearly and calmly at each shape and interpret it.

While I have done figure drawing before I have never done a portrait so this is a wonderful challenge for me. The picture at the top is a work-in-progress. We began by first doing a poster study focusing only on color, then a charcoal drawing on canvas followed by an ink-in. An ink-in means using an earth tone color with plenty of solvent so that it dries quickly. Then we did a wash of the portrait again using the oil with lots of solvent so that it acts much like watercolor. (That's the stage of the portrait at the top of the page.) This coming week we will start the final painting and have two weeks to complete it.

Check out this link to a blog on Tony's current classes

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Economics 101

There are two ways to look at macroeconomics, one called Keynesian (government spending to prop up the economy) and one most recently related to Milton Friedman (monetary policy as the best way to manipulate the economy). From an accounting perspective, both yield the same answer (GNP), but they diverge in how each leads to its result.

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

Amazing Art Intensive in Santa Fe

I've just completed the second week of a fifteen week intensive art course taught by Anthony Ryder in Santa Fe. Tony, as we students call him, has developed a well thought through curriculum.

The focus is on realism and learning the ins and outs of figure drawing and portrait painting. Sixteen students gather in his studio for six hours, five days a week. Students come from all over the world to study with Tony, a disciple of Ted Seth Jacobs. Jacobs is known for his major contribution to the revival of traditional drawing and painting.  He taught in NYC at the NY Arts Student's League during the 70's when Tony studied with him.  

In our course we have artists from New Zealand, The Bahamas, Holland as well as all corners of the United States. There is a diverse age range. Most have studied art extensively and some are outstanding in their own right. A few, like myself, have had limited training. All of us are totally focused and intensive in learning as much as we can.

During our first week we did some (approximately 4" by 6") poster portrait paintings in oil. Here the emphasis was totally on color with demonstrations focusing on value, hue and intensity of each brush stroke. Some students came with their own palette of colors. Being totally new to oil I choose 20 colors from Tony's list and it was quite exciting to open my tubes and start my palette.

The second week included three demonstrations related to figure drawing. Early in the week we learned to do "envelopes" and "block ins" of 40 minutes poses. By mid week we expanded to three hour poses which added gesture curves and finally on Friday, shading.

The high level of teaching reminds me of Juilliard and the opportunity I had to study with some of the masters of modern dance such as Martha Graham, Helen Tamiris, and Louis Horst. Classes at Juilliard as well as other venues of master classes were filled with strongly thought out concepts and beautiful philosophy as well as an encouragement to reach your highest potential. It is quite wonderful to be experiencing this excellence again.

In addition, the atmosphere at the studio is not one of competition, but of acceptance, and warmth with everyone focused and eager to learn. I am so grateful to be able to be part of this program!

And of course it is really neat to be in Santa Fe. The weather has been great with mostly blue sky days and temperature getting into the 50's. We are wonderfully located close to the Plaza but exploring our own neighborhood will have to wait awhile since Murray is dealing with Sciatica and finding it hard to remain standing or walk more than a short distance. He starts physical therapy this week and we are hopeful that it will help and it won't be long til the evenings and weekends will be spent exploring Santa Fe together.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Universal Health Revisited

Universal Health Revisited

My mother-in-law loves insurance agents, and they love her. They offer relief from the hassle of deductibles and coinsurance that is most appealing to an 88-year-old. But the hassle-free life is brief. Soon she hears, “We don’t cover that,” or “your doctor did not provide one of our diagnostic codes,” aggravation and an unhealthy rise in her blood pressure follow. Can we eliminate this conundrum that constantly repeats itself?

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.


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:

Doctor Appointment: Wait 3 Months


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

Birding in Bosque del Apache New Mexico

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

Super Bowl XLIII

This year's matchup between the Steelers and Cardinals should have been a repeat of one 61 years ago. As discussed in my father's biography, two coincidences are hard to ignore. In 1947 the Cardinals,led by Pitt All-Star Marshall "Biggie" Goldberg,knew the Steelers' offense and trounced them in the regular season. Then, Steelers' field goal expert, Joe Glamp, hit the cross-bar on a thirty yard attempt against the Redskins. Winning either of these games would have placed the Steelers in the championship game against the Cards, then from Chicago. VISIT

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


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

Placitas, New Mexico and More!

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

We have been settled in our 100 year old abode house for a week. The house we are renting was built by the grandfather of the owner who welcomed us and showed us around. Friends who live in Placitas had found the property and checked it out. As you can see from the pictures, the house is nothing to speak of from the outside, however it is furnished in a lovely and comfortable way. About the only challenge is that the bathroom is through the kitchen and up stairs, rather than conveniently off the bedroom.

The village of Placitas has a long and interesting history going back to Spain. I have taken several interesting walks around our neighborhood, passed horses and a winery, strolled on dirt roads, and up hills to vistas.

Placitas, itself is a community 15 miles north of Albuquerque and six miles east of I 25 at the foot of the Sandia Mountains. Lovely housing exists on each side of the main route back and continues past the village for several miles. We have wandered into a few open houses and home prices range from $300,000 up to several million. Most sit on an acre or more and are nestled into the hills.

There isn't much commercial businesses in Placitas, just one small shopping area about three miles in and then a mini mart, gas station and post office in the village. However, all that one could wish for is a short drive to Albuquerque. We have discovered both Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, a good place to work out and a movie theatre with 24 screens and lots of diverse restaurants.

We look forward to discovering more about this area over the coming weeks.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Steelers Bars USA+

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.

Well... need I say that Izzy was clearly the center of attention. Everyone wanted a turn to play with her and what I found most interesting was how Izzy adapted to each one of us. The 8 year old "loved" her .... hugging her tightly and she tolerated it from him and would play the roughest with him. She was also smart enough to welcome time in her crate knowing that it was a time out from Brandon.

I had grown up with dogs as a kid but once married, Murray and I preferred cats. Walks were fun except the one time she decided she didn't want to walk with me and just went belly down on the sidewalk. She made her point and back to the house we went. The rest of the time she was a delight to walk sniffing from side to side and playful, especially to other people and their dogs regardless of size.

At first she was reluctant to go the stairs at the house but that lasted only a day or two and she was soon bounding up and down making the whole house her own.  

A slice of carrot was her treat and she got lots of practice on commands of "sit", "down" and "paw" as all of us wanted a chance to interact with her in this way.

I came away from the week with a deeper understanding of why the relationship between dogs and their owners becomes so important.

At our condo in Steamboat over the years we have had countless "dog" issues. Originally there was a no dog policy, but two owners found a way around that and managed to have their dogs grandfathered in. One of those dogs is still here and royally patrols the property. Now we have a policy that an owner can have a dog on the premises for up to 60 days which works fine for non-resident/second home owners. Renters cannot have a dog and it is amazing how many people attempt to sneak a dog on site for a few days rather than selecting a dog friendly advertised place.  

Now the 60 day policy will work for us. Izzy can be our "registered" dog and visit us any time.