Fourth of July

“The corn is knee high by the Fourth of July.”

Ever walk through a corn field that was taller than you? Growing up we
lived near a big farm that had a pond, creek, and on the other side of
the creek, a very large corn field. We’d venture deep into the corn,
completely lost, surrounded by green and sugary smell of corn, you
would completely disappear. If you walked around long enough, you’d
have no idea where you were, the only way to navigate was to look into
the sky, look for the tops of the trees that congregate by the creek,
head towards the trees and make an escape.

I placed my vote for who I thought should be on the Major League
Baseball All Star teams. When I finished placing my vote, the website
said, “You can vote up to 25 times”. I thought that was really
annoying. I only voted once and will not vote another 24 times.

For July Fourth, I plan on grilling some shrimp in a cajun marinade
that I learned how to make while I worked at Heller’s Seafood. I’d
like to stay up late on July 3rd or 4th by the little outdoor firepit
and have a beer or two. Anyone interested in joining me?

Last night I took Winston and Jaclyn to a carnival held at a church in
Horsham. Winston has been to carnivals before, but wasn’t old enough
to take in the phantasmagoria of it all. He felt it last night.
“What’s that daddy? Wow daddy! What’s that there daddy?” He just
loved looking at the rides, the flashing colorful lights, the funnel
cake, and the general rise in sensation. He wanted to ride every ride,
well, maybe not the slow ones geared for him, but the big fast towering
rides, he wanted to be a part of it. Jaclyn and I ultimately decided
that it was a terrible risk to allow him on any ride, because he has
consistently demonstrated that he will not sit down for longer than 2
or 3 seconds, which is not a good tendency if you want to stay alive on
an amusement park ride. We were able to distract him with the petting
zoo and left thinking it would be another year until he’s ready for the
rides. Dalia on the other hand, she could ride any of the rides right
now, she just sits so perfectly still, just a happy little jelly bean.

Speaking of Dalia, last night she made a valient effort to steal her
brother’s dinner. Winston sits at a little blue table which is the
perfect size and height for a toddler, Dalia can crawl up to it and
pull herself up to a stand so she can survey the little blue table top.
She grabbed Winston’s plate and yanked it out right from under his
nose, the food fell to the floor and Dalia and the dog scrambled for
the droppings. Winston just doesn’t care much about food, I am totally
serious, Dalia eats more than him, she even tried to wrestle a
cheeseburger away from me on Saturday. She’s a funny girl, if she
keeps eating this much, her dates will make her go dutch.

Summer, summer, summer, I think it is finally here.



History Of RKDeem – Brief Moment In Time (Square)

A couple years ago, back when I was a wild and crazy kid right out of
college, I had a vendor from work take me and some cohorts to NYC for
dinner, broadway show, and a night on the town. My work colleague
brought his wife, I was by myself. The work colleague and me were
really partying it up, we were at the Whisky Bar near Times Square.
The dance floor has a Saturday Night Fever feel to it where the panels
are all lit up with different colors. Anyways, my work colleague’s
wife was also a mother of 5 kids and she stated to get tired out around
midnight and wanted to go home. I was really annoyed with her that
night, I had never met her before, but I was really bummed out that the
evening was concluding. Now, with slightly more perspective, I can
understand why she wanted to get home. I will say this, I would still
be pretty hard to drag out of a bar with free drinks for a night, but I
can now at least understand her point of view a little bit better. I
think I only bring this up now because I was seriously annoyed that
night, I have now come to peace with it.

My mom sent me a touching email this morning. It was the last email
I’ll get from her work address, she is retired when today concludes.
I’ve gotten sentimental about jobs when I’ve only worked there for a
year, she’s worked at this company for over 20 years. As far back as I
can remember, she worked at this company. She’s won awards, worked at
the highest level of her profession, and really made a name for herself
at the company, I know, I worked at the same place for awhile. Growing
up, she always said to me, “I don’t care if you are a street sweeper,
just make sure you’re the best street sweeper you can be”, it is
evident that she really did a hell of a job with all the awards and
advancement in her career. When I think about my mom at work, I think
about how I called her when I got home from school. As a busy
professional now, I can’t imagine a 14 year old kid calling me to ask
what food is in the house? What can I have for a snack, there’s
nothing to do, etc. She was always patient and helpful, having an
exact inventory of food to eat, what games I had, and things to do.
People talk about work/life balance, I don’t think there was balance,
she just gave everything her all and now she gets a chance to enjoy the
time she earned. Congrats Mom, I’m very proud of you.




Did You Ever See An Ant And Then Get Itchy?

The Associated Press – June 18, 2009:

“The (Oil) industry spent $44.5 million lobbying Congress and federal
agencies in the first three months of this year, on pace to shatter
last year’s record. Only the drug industry spent more.”

If you don’t mind, read that quote one more time and seriously think
about it for 30 seconds. Think about how that might be shaping your
care, the costs of healthcare, the inefficiencies, the reason why it is
on pace to bankrupt our government and many of us individuals.

Some of you might think I am overly sensitive to healthcare because you
haven’t had to deal with it. I haven’t been to the doctor in over 5
years, actually, I guess I was in college when I last went to the doc
for a regular visit. My wife and kids have gone for pregnancy and
routine visits and let me tell you, there’s something horribly wrong
with the big picture, it is slowly becoming par with a trip to the DMV.

My goal with this entry is to outline a couple major remedies to the
situation. They may be an over simplification of the problems we’re
facing, but I can honestly say that there is no doubt that they would
improve the system.

Before I pontificate on major issues that need to be addressed, I would
like to say that any doctor or nurse that I have ever met or been
associated with has been an incredibly good person who truly cares
about the patients they help.

With that being said, here are my proposed solutions:

1. You the patient must stop seeking remedy for symptoms and start
addressing the cause. There are many disease states where the symptoms
are related to unhealthy habits such as inactivity, smoking, and poor
eating decisions. In fact, I would venture to say that some of the
largest markets out there are interlinked with some of these poor
decisions, such as diabetes, cancer, heart and cardiovascular issues,
acid reflux, and sleep apnea to name a few. I worked on a small
prescription drug to treat acid reflux, it made $10 Billion in one
year. The drug represented 10% of the prescription drug market, now
imagine the over the counter marker with Prilosec OTC, then ad in
physician visits, specialist visits, you’re now over a $100 Billion for
one disease state that can be minimized and in some cases eliminated
through a more healthy lifestyle. Okay, maybe we can’t expect people to
live like saints, but then tax the contributors to that impact the
cause. Tax McDonald’s, tax cable TV, tax Ben & Jerry’s, and then you’ll
start paying for the health costs associated with them. We already tax
cigarettes and alcohol disproportionately, why not make the leap to
culprits who are contributing equally.

2. Stop Direct To Consumer advertising of medical products. There is a
placebo effect, we all know that a placebo is capable of making people
feel relief or in some cases, adverse events. Did you ever see an ant
and then get itchy? That’s what direct to consumer ads are doing,
making people feel symptoms that they didn’t know they had. There’s a
reason why pharma companies are doing it more and more.

3. Stop several companies from manufacturing the same product and
selling them all at the same rate. If you want to release a product
that has the same active ingredient and a similar mechanism of action
to an existing product, you can still enter the market, but you can
only do it at 50% costs of the current offering. Almost every drug
available has 3 or 4 “me too” products in the same class. These
products offer no true differentiation, just marketing niches that
require 1,000’s of drug reps to carve out the micro differences.

4. The payment should be based on the disease or problem, not the
medication and procedures. Many physicians, specialists, and
pharmacists know they can get paid more by doing additional procedures,
additional tests, and in some cases, by prescribing one drug over
another. Some pharmacists even get kickbacks for dispensing one drug
over another. Major managed care organizations negotiate with all the
pharmaceutical companies to see who can give them the best deal out of
all the “me too” products, not so they can keep prices down, but so
they can keep a higher profit margin on what is dispensed to their
patient. If doctors and pharmacists were compensated on the disease
state, they would stop trying to maximize profit on each patient and
focus on fixing the problem more efficiently to move onto the next
patient who brings on a new disease state representing new revenue.
Imagine being billed for pregnancy, rather than the dozen bills for
ultrasounds, medications, physician visits, hospital room, etc.

5. Consolidate medical records. This is one thing that’s being done and
I really do think it would be very helpful. Imagine not having to get a
tetanus shot every time you went to the doctor because it was already
available on a global system. If you went to the ER, you wouldn’t need
a battery of tests, you might be able to eliminate a few with a
complete set of records. This will help and I can’t wait until it is a
reality.

So, the question comes up. Am I crazy for saying this about an industry
I work in? Probably. But I am fascinated by this industry and think it
has the potential to be the greatest industry to work in, but we need
to take a look at ourselves and really ask if we’re doing what is
right. Are we advancing medicine, are we helping patients and
physicians, or are we trying to maximize profit? I am committed to
doing the best I can, to provide marketing materials that help patients
and physicians. I just think the industry as a whole could do a better
job.

We Didn’t Start The Fire

I think I’ve been stressed out lately. There’s been a couple things
driving the stress, but they’re all stupid things like:
– Figuring out how much I need to pay the health insurance company for
visits back in January. We still receive random bills with no real
explanation.
– Trying to get paid. Now that I’m a contractor, I have to submit my
hours on a monthly basis and then wait for 15 days after that to get
paid. 45 days between paycheck are fun and exciting, but in my case,
it got even more exciting because there was a mistake made by the
accounts payable department that was going to hold up my paycheck until
July.
– Taxes. Now that I’m an independent contractor, I have to take taxes
out of my own paycheck and submit them quarterly. To submit quarterly,
I have to estimate what I’ll make for the entire year to determine what
I need to pay now. Do I take into account what I made with my agency
or just the money I’ll make as an independent contractor? I started to
work on it and it looked like I’ll owe $20,000, I’m hiring an
accountant to figure this out, that’s too much.
– Personal liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance,
unemployment insurance. I may be required to have the aforementioned
insurances to maintain my position as independent contractor, none of
which I have any knowledge about.

This stuff is stressing me out because there’s very little information
available to guide you through all of this. It is all insanely
complicated, written in muddled and incomplete sentences, and every
government website is completely useless. I just keep hearing the
Billy Joel song in the back of my head, but with new words:

George Bush, OJ
9/11, Rachel Ray
Jack Black, Ed McMahon, Jose Canseco

Al Gore, CNN
Ellen is a lesbian
Paris Hilton, Perez Hilton, Republic of Kosovo

Swine Flu, Bristol Palin’s Ex,
Hospital Bills, Debit Card, writing many checks.
20 Dollar Co-Pay, WHAT ELSE DO I HAVE TO SAY!

We didn’t start the fire
It’s always burning
since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
We didn’t light it,
but we tried to fight it

Worker’s comp, personal liability
send money now, pay a penalty
Jon & Kate are now divorced, I CANT TAKE IT ANYMORE!



Okay, my life isn’t that bad, but I just wish all of these insurance
bills, taxes, and types of personal insurance we’re much easier to
figure out. It’s like I now need to pay someone to tell me how much I
need to pay someone else (the government). I would much prefer to just
pay the government directly and be done with it. Honestly, all of this
craziness, the taxes, insurances, and wacky policies, are very
demotivating. The good news is that my taxes are being used to bail
out multi-million dollar corporations and huge bonuses, sponsor our
politician’s travel by jet planes, and a war that was started by
mistake. Okay, I need to turn the page and start looking on the bright
side.

I have decided to enter the Bulldogs into a charitable softball
tournament this weekend. Jaclyn and I have a romantic getaway planned
for mid July, and a wonderful family vacation at the end of August.

The Barn

Let me start off by saying that it is Monday morning and I just drank a
Red Bull. The fusion of exhaustion and stimulants creates an alloy of
activity and poor results. The exhaustion, a result of Dalia waking up
at 5AM, grabbing my nose, eyes, and hair, steadlily pushing me further
to the side of my king sized bed until half my feet slid off and rested
on the cold wooden floor boards. The exhaustion is also the mark of an
excellent Father’s Day weekend.

One of this weekend’s highlights was seeing The Hangover movie at the
Barn Plaza Regal Cinema Theater. I really wanted to go to the Barn,
does anyone remember the Barn actually looking like a big red barn?
How freaking cool was that, if I remember correctly, it even had a big
red silo. I get very passionate about this subject, I wish people left
the odd and crazy places how they were, but instead, the barn now looks
like all the other Regal Theatres. So many franchises, so many things
look exactly the same around the country, that is why I want you all to
take a super close look at the Neshaminy Strip Club when you drive by
it next time. It is going to be damn hard to find some crazy weird old
building painted a hundred different colors ever again. My guess is
that the building will be demolished and replaced with a gas station,
TD Bank, or CVS.

Does anyone have any other strange buildings that they want to
recommend? We should start an offbeat preservation society, or a
society for the advancement of uncommon landmarks. There’s an old,
closed-down bowling alley on 202 in New Britain with a big clock that
no longer works. The building is for sale, it is surely to be
demolished and replaced with something much more common. These places
need to be preserved, maybe a tax credit to use those buildings and
preserve some of their integrity. I think the Neshaminy Strip Club
could be made into a swanky restaurant and bar, keep the pole in there
and everything. The bowling alley could be a great office, remove a
couple of the lanes, but keep a couple just for fun. You could put a
bowling pin on your business card and people would ask why, it would be
a great conversation starter.

The Hangover movie was hysterical. Definitely deserved the R-rating.
Best use of a character singing a song in a movie ever.

Okay, back to work for RKDeem.

Na Brasa the Brazilian Steakhouse in Horsham

It is 7AM, Tuesday morning and my stomach is doing some weird stuff.  Lots of grumbling and churning, trying to digest the sixteen pounds of meat consumed last night.  Where does one go for all you can eat fine cuts of meat like fillet mignon, Parmesan encrusted pork chops, top sirloin, fillet wrapped in bacon, lamb chops, flank steak, and not to mention a very fine complimentary salad bar on the side?  You go to the Brazilian Steakhouse, of course!  Last year, several of my friends ate at Fogo De Chao in Philly which was incredible, I’m pretty sure that all of us would have rated the restaurant a perfect ten.  Recently, a Brazilian Steakhouse opened in Horsham called Na Brasa, here’s how it compares:

Pluses:
– It is cheaper, instead of paying close to $50 a head, you’re closer to $35
– The meats are comparable, the excellent quality and variety are matched here in Horsham
– The volume of meat presented and the speed in which it is presented is unrivaled.  This is not like a buffet, the food is not cooking on a silver platter over a sterno, it is speared on a long prong and rushed over to you, several men constantly swarm the table carving meat off the spear as you desire

Minuses:
– The salad bar is not as robust, but any seasoned veteran of Brazilian Steakhouses knows not to waste their time or stomach on the salad bar
– I believe the Philadelphia location rushed out all meats all the time.  I may be wrong, but I feel this location makes more of an effort to fill you up on the less expensive selections before bringing out the fillet mignon and fillet mignon wrapped in bacon.  It was not a problem though, they brought it out immediately when it was requested.   Plus, some of the early offerings ranked as my favorites.  If I had to pick one choice of meat that was my favorite, I’d say it was the sausage.  Trust me, all the meat was flavorful and cooked to perfection, but the sausage was bursting with goodness, best piece of sausage I’d ever had
– My opinion is that you skip dessert here.  This isn’t a game changer or anything, but the colleagues I was with pretty much sampled all their dessert offerings and no one was blown away.  You just ate more food than you know what to do with, take a walk into town and grab some Rita’s instead

http://touronabrasa.com/index-2.html

Here’s the first couple of pics that I would like to share:


A picture from the David Byrne concert.  He’s performing “Life is Long” which is an excellent song off his newest album.  I try to get my work colleagues to recreate the choreography involving business chairs.


I can’t believe it, they seem to like each other.  Jaclyn and I are proud of our little family.

Damn I look cool in my Ray Ban sunglasses, Winston in his Chase Utley jersey, beautiful wife, and Dalia decided to not smile…darn, one smile away from being Christmas Card material!

Pursuit of Happiness

Hello RKDeemers!

I’m posting by email again, which is putrid, because I have some
excellent pics that I need to post and you’ll love them. I will post
them tonight or tomorrow.

This weekend was an excellent one, especially in the light of finally
seeing the Will Smith movie, In Pursuit of Happiness. I haven’t seen
the movie before, but it was on TNT last night and I laid in bed,
exhausted and contemplative (maybe, emotional is the right word, but
that doesn’t sound tough), and was tearing up watching the hard working
guy overcome so many obstacles to provide for his son. Sometimes I
think that I have a lot of obstacles or that life has thrown me an
abundance of curveballs that really knocked me down, but I watched that
movie last night and determined that I am a really lucky man and my
family has located happiness, grabbed it with both hands and isn’t
letting go of that wild beast.

Examples of happiness from the weekend:
10. The Bulldogs stunned the #1 team in the league. Is this the year
the Bulldogs finally win it all?
9. Laurie Fellman’s surprise party, with an uninvited monsoon that
dumped 5 inches of rain upon the celebration. The consequence, 20 good
friends, huddled together under a small awning sharing laughs, good
beer, and a cake featuring a picture of Laurie and her dog (Suuki – sp?)
8. Friday night’s Phillies game, with the Phillies down by a run in the
bottom of the ninth, when the mighty Ryan Howard unloads on a ball and
sends it over the fence to tie the game. The Phillies ultimately lost
the game, but that spark of hope and excitement was a beautiful moment
in an otherwise relaxing summer evening
7. Sunday morning, I woke up to see both of my children awake on the
floor next to our bed playing with each other. Winston had two
pacifiers, he would wave them back and forth in front of his sister,
Dalia. She’d try to grab them and he’d quickly swing them out of her
reach, she’d let out a wail of excitement and he’d giggle like crazy.
Amazing thing to see, something I had not foreseen, my wife and I were
sleeping, but the kids were playing together and enjoying each other’s
company, their laughing is what woke me up
6. Friday night Winston comes running into the living room with a life
vest in his hands, saying, “Daddy, fishing, come on daddy, fishing!”
If it wasn’t 8:30PM, we would have gone, but the possibility of my son
loving the water and fishing as much as me, put a big smile on my face,
still not sure where he found the life vest
5. Saturday morning, we decide Winston needs to get his water fix. We
take him to Central Park in Doylestown and take the walking trail back
along the Neshaminy Creek. Not sure how he knew, but before water was
visible, he starts pointing to exactly where the creek was located (but
not visible because of trees), “Waaaater!, Waaaater!” he yelled. We
found a path that took us to the creek and he quickly shed his clothing
and hopped into the frigid water. Twice he fell into deep water,
probably would have drowned if we weren’t there to rescue him, but he
loved every minute of it and did not want to leave.
4. Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and breakfast at the Bagel
Barrel. Dalia gummed her bagel into submission, the girl eats like a
champion.
3. Dancing with Dalia at the free Zydego concert at Jamison Hunt Park.
The music was flavorful and the perfect tempo to compliment the evening
2. Jaclyn making a wonderful dinner featuring the Mahi Mahi I caught
fishing in the Outer Banks, it’s never just dinner with her, she puts
so much love in everything she does
1. Winston discovering a water sprinkler/fountain at the Jamison Hunt
Park, he just ran and ran laughing, smiling from ear to ear, spashing,
stomping, jumping, and soaking it in. It is hard not to love summer.

These weekends go by way too fast.

PS. I’m hoping Laurie can post a comment about the liberation of her
turtle, another moment of happiness this weekend!