Monthly Archives: September 2009

Unnecessary Operations Craze?

I saw a tea bagger on the news going on about being against health care because we are 200,000 short on doctors. No facts on that number as the GOP fired the facts checkers years ago. He said Obama’s  plan simply won’t work because of this shortage already. Five minutes later in the speech he says a big problem we need to fix is unnecessary  operations.  It seems to me if there is a doctor shortage they’d be too busy to do all of these unnecessary operations. I know I always have to wait at my doc’s office. I even have to wait months to get in. When I see my doctor  he says, “This doesn’t look good you should have come in sooner.” I tell him, “I called in May your secretary said September was the soonest appointment.”

Unnecessary operations? Is the doctor in his office saying, “The next patient that walks in the door is getting an unnecessary operation.” He then throws a dart at a dart board. The board reads large intestine. Doc thinks, “I’ll schedule the operation at 8 am and I can still make my 9:30 tee off time at the Country Club. That should all work out if I take out 8 ft. of intestine or less.”  Note to self, bring a tape measure.

Or is it the patients that want an unnecessary operation? Mrs. Miller is thinking, “I’m bored I think I’ll get an unnecessary operation.” How exciting she continues, “I’m going to call the girls and see if they want to go robe and slipper shopping.” She decides she’ll have one kidney taken out like Mrs. Jones who entertained the bridge club last month with tales of her kidney operation.

As far as I am concerned there is only one unnecessary operation. That would be a vasectomy. I took a friend once to get one so I could be his ride home. We went into the waiting area where he had time to read one GQ magazine and one Sports Illustrated. After the operation they had him sit in the waiting room for a while to see if he was OK. He now read an Oprah magazine. He was 6’3” before the operation he is now 4’5” as he has never been able to stand up straight again. No vasectomy for me thank you very much.

Some doctors are worried that if we had a new health care plan where everyone had access to a public option they’d be out of business. That would be because the public wouldn’t have to settle for the doctors that graduated at the bottom of their class. You know, like the ones in your present health care plan. Bad doctors need not fear they can always  get that bottom of the food chain medical job. You know a company doctor. It’s that job where when you get hurt the company doc gives you a Tylenol staples your hand back on and sends you back to work. For company doctors the Hippocratic oath is replaced with the term, no lost time accidents.

I am amused by FOX NEWS speak on how a public option (or pubic option as I saw on one tea baggers sign) will provide poor health care and yet it will put the supposed superior health care companies out of business. I thought competition was the lifeblood of the GOP’s beloved free market system.

Paul Hipp: We’re Number 37

Pirates of the Heath  Care-ibean: Go Ahead and Die

Financial ruin from medical bills is almost exclusively an American disease.  ~Roul Turley

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What Are the Odds?

I haven’t gotten around to making my list of the best of the Mahoning Valley. I’d still like your input on that. Let me for now complain about a business.

After work on Thursday September 17, 2009 I stopped to get two dinners for my wife and I. I went to the China Wok in Niles, OH which is not far from where I work. I had a coupon from my Youngstown Area Entertainment 09 book. The coupon was good for up to $8.00 off a second dinner when a first is ordered. I ordered two dinners that were about $7.00 each and handed the cashier my coupon. She then said, “We no take these coupons.” I asked why as it was good until Nov. 1 2009. She replied, “We don’t feel like taking them?” I replied, “What?” She then said something in Chinese and then said, “You still want to order?” I responded, “Certainly not and here is your menu back as I will never eat here.”

When I got home I e-mailed and told them what happened. They responded that they are not responsible when someone refuses the coupons. They also said they will look into the problem at China Wok.

Friday morning at work I tell my four colleges I work with in the same room about my experience at China Wok. Sometime later when I believe I wasn’t around a worker from another room said that some people in our building were ordering out. Here the folks in my building ordered from China Wok. A couple of people I had told my story to in my very room ordered. So much for any sympathy for my plight or and solidarity in my fight against China Wok. People from work had not ordered out in weeks. That leads me to ask what are the odds people would order from China Wok the very next day after my plight with them?

The odds are damn good if you know how my life goes. I’m the guy who walks into Home Depot (it’s near work but I prefer locally owned hardware stores) to buy something. That something is 90% sure to be in the aisle that is closed as a tow motor is being used to stock the shelves. It will of course be hours before that aisle is opened. As far as the other 10% of the time there will also be some snafu. For instance I went in to buy a light bulb and the store was totally empty. That is except for one other guy that of course is standing in front of the area of the light bulbs. Mr. Joe Slow is methodically inspecting two bulbs. It’s as if he is making the decision of his life. He can’t decide whether he should buy a 55 watt bulb or a 60 watt. I am waiting patiently for the moment. In another minute I will say, “Damn pick both bulbs and I’ll buy them both for you, just move.”

As for my new enemy China Wok you I’m sure have heard people accuse Chinese restaurants of cooking up dogs and cats. I think that is usually an outrageous statement but I did notice Meow goo gi pan on the menu at China Wok

THE STAGE will make its grand return on Wednesday, September 23 at 7:30 pm at the Oakland. The first Stage back will be framed as a sort of “Town Hall” meeting, where the topic of discussion between acts will center around health care reform. The Stage features, comedy, music, poetry and more. The Elecpencil will be in attendance and I hope you will too. Call (330.718.5515) or email ( if interested in performing or know someone who might be…and spread the word!

Mink Deville: Spanish Stroll

Mixed Up Shook Up Girl

The purpose of life is a life of purpose. ~ Robert Byrne

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A Don’t Miss Event

I had a great time last night at the 11th annual  Pig Iron Poetry Slam. I might add that the Elecpencil did very well in the competition. It was held at the Lemon Grove in downtown Youngstown. If you haven’t been to the Lemon Grove you owe it to yourself to check it out.  At the event I had a nice conversation with local activist, Therese Joseph. This morning I open up the Youngstown Vindicator’s Entertainment extra section to find this article on her.

Last night she was telling me about the following event:

The Numbers Band

Saturday night September 19th at the Youngstown Club.

There will be a buffet from 6:30-8:00 pm

Concert and buffet is $35/Couples $65

The concert itself is at 8 pm

and is $20/$15 for cash strapped (the Elecpencil’s category sadly).

You can pay for the concert at the door but if you

want the buffet give her a call at 330 747-5404

I have seen the Numbers Band many times over their 40 year career and they just get better with age.  They are one of the best blues/jazz fusion band you are ever going to see.  You have the Elecpencil’s word on that! Get your butt to the concert and thank me later. Help out a fellow activist and give Therese a call.

For more on the Numbers band check out their website here.

The Numbers Band: She Becomes the Jones

The Numbers Band: New Matchbox Blues

This is what a critic said about the Numbers Bands record, ” Jimmy Bell’s Still in Town”:

“Genuine Rhythm ‘n’ Blues and a large potion of free jazz by ex- Golden Palomino Robert Kidney, featuring slightly Captain Beefheart-like eccentricity. Frighteningly intense… This is one of those records that will probably never sell, but will secretly carry its genius among all those other CD’s that were overlooked by the public. Except if you take this review seriously of course. A timeless statement.” – RV, Platomania, December 2000

15  60


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Rugged Individual Revisionist History

I am not getting any suggestions for an article I want to write called, “Best of the Valley.” So instead I will resort back to complaining about politics.

In Monday’s  Warren Tribune I read about the Sunday, September 13 tea bagger party in Warren Oh attended by about 75 people.  The Trib reported that the organizers started with a  tribute to America’s armed forces, veterans and police and firefighters. They then began speeches that were a tirade against the government. The last time I looked the armed forces, police and firefighters are part of the government.

Dr. Charles McGowen, an internal medicine practitioner said, ”America has elected its first socialist president in (Barack) Obama.” Attention: if you were to find the Elecpencil passed out somewhere, let me die before you take me to a  nut bag doctor like McGowen.

“Ken MacPherson, of the Campaign for Liberty, said the next TEA Party hopefully could feature speeches by former U.S. congressman James A. Traficant Jr.” I guess the only politicians these clowns like are ones that are felons.

”We’re promoting that rugged individualism that built our country,” MacPherson said. These would-be “rugged individual” types really don’t know their history. They think they are like the rugged individual cowboys who didn’t need the government. Well, other than for: The Government of Spain funding Columbus, the US government Hiring Lewis and Clark for surveys, the Homestead Act, the Morrill Act,  the US Geological Survey, the Pacific Railroad Grant, giving out land to promote settlement, for being a steward of open spaces and parks, for maintaining military outposts and forts, proving the calvary to protect from Indian attacks, for building roads, harbors, subsidizing mail delivery, mayors, territorial governors, Indian agents, Bureau of Indian Affairs, staffing the Land Office, sheriffs, Texas Rangers, treaties with foreign nations for land purchases, US Forestry Service, Northwest Ordinance etc. Conservatives and tea baggers insult themselves by think the government hasn’t played a big part in our history by giving what they’d call handouts

The “Wild West’s” citizens decried federal power, and at the same time, complained that more federal dollars were not sent their way. It reminds me of today’s tea baggers who had no problem with GW Bush blowing money on a war in Iraq but thinks Obama is a bad president for wanting to spend money to make sure the USA has health care for all.

The mythologizing of the West and “rugged individualism” was promoted by minstrel shows and dime novels out to cash in on exaggerating the truth. Today’s “rugged individual” revisionist history is promoted by corporations and the talk radio and FOX NEWS media that they own. These promoters are today’s P.T. Barnum’s that have succeeded in manipulating the public during economically troubled times. They have decided they can cash in big while at the same time providing the public with a villain. The corporations villain is of course the government. After all the government is the one who puts unreasonable demands on corporations. You know things like: not wanting them to pollute our air and water, expecting them to actually pay taxes and to not make a quick buck by selling unsafe procedures and products.

I hear teabaggers  promoting Tort Reform. They want to limit the amount of money that a person can sue a company or doctor for. If I go to get my tonsils out and the doctor instead amputates both of my legs by damn I’m suing big time. If conservatives are so concerned about protecting corporations and doctors there is a simple solution. They should sign a paper saying they will never sue no matter that their legs were removed instead of their tonsils. Besides having to get by with no legs can make the “rugged individual” experience that much more dime novel like.

Here is an event tomorrow I want you to attend:  The eleventh annual Pig Iron Poetry Slam Wednesday, September 16, 7:30 p.m. It is at the Lemon Grove Cafe 122 West Federal Street Downtown Youngstown.

To participate, come and bring an original poem to perform and be scored by a panel of peer judges, randomly selected.  Contestant is limited to 1 poem, four minutes.  No costumes or props.  The winner takes home the Piggy Bank!
Audience Invited
Donation $1.00
The Elecpencil will be competing so stop and say hi.

Lies of Our Fathers: Racism

The Specials: A Racist Friend

URBAN COWBOY, n: One who is typically all hat and no cow.

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Holding Hostages

Did you ever watch PBS when they are doing their fund raising? They tend to have their best shows on and I get ticked when they break away to raise money. To me they are holding the show I am watching hostage until someone pays a ransom. That is kind of what I am doing. I promised to publish a list of the best things our area has to offer. I wanted to put this list out to help people who might be visiting or moving to our valley. I have not put the list out because I have twice asked for your help and not received much.  I am asking a third time.

Come on my fellow residents of the Mahoning Valley surely there are things you love about our community.

Let me give you an example. The weekend before last I ventured out with three friends. We went to see the free open house at the Oakland Theater for the Arts.  A nice crowd came to see scenes from their upcoming shows. I can tell you there is not one that didn’t interest the Elecpencil! Because of my limited funds (due to my vows of poverty) I will be hard pressed to pick the few I will be able to afford to attend. I am not saying it is expensive to attend the plays I am just saying I am dirt poor. Check out the link to the Oakland under Valley Entertainment Info on this page.

After the great show at the Oakland we wondered over to the Lemon Grove.  We came early enough to get an upfront table to see the nights entertainment. There was tap dancing, interpretive dance, singing and rap recited to the backing of a violinist.  How were the acts? They sounded great but I didn’t get to see them. Why not you ask? Well, late comers decided to stand up and block the view of those  who had come early to get a good seat.

The Elecpencil prides himself on being a man of peace. On the other hand I also love a quote by IWW unionist T Bone Slim. Slim said,  “Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.” I was definitely out number but if I had a stun gun I would have zapped a few folks just to clear a small path so I could see.  I don’t mean a long cruel zap where someone flaps on the floor for several minutes. I don’t want to create a spectacle to take away from the entertainment. I am talking about a medium size zap that would have Mr. I Make a Better Door Than a Window drive his beer bottle deeply into his forehead. I want him to say, “Don’t tase me again bro I ‘m  moving.”  For many of us our parents taught us manners. For those who didn’t learn any there is the taser!

The Lemon Grove is a beautiful place with some great drinks so check it out.

Send me your favorite area places as a ransom or you may never see my list of best places alive on this blog.

For Labor Day I offer the following poem I wrote a few years back.

Body Snatchers

An Unsolved Crime

Working in the coal mines

was the only work available.

Joe started there as a young man,

he died at middle age

as an old man.

He left his family next to nothing

because next to nothing

was what he was paid.

What he got out of the mine

was arthritis

from the dampness,

a curved spine

from the low ceilings,

blindness from the darkness,

deafness from the drills

and black lungs

from the dust.

Everyday he left work

a company guard checked

his lunch bucket and thermos.

As if he was the one

who was the thief.

Strawbs: Union Man

Mike Stout: We the People

Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

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