The Casual Reporter: October 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Horror Story from France's Universal Health Care System

I'd had a bad stomach for 10 days so I thought I'd get it checked out just in case it's something sinister. I'm new to the area so I went to the phone book and browsed the doctors around me, general practictioners to surgeons, and decided on a specialist, called, made an appointment for 3 days later.

His office was in a private clinic hospital with state-of-the-art technology. I checked in with the secretary and waited about a half hour.

The doctor was well-presented, friendly, attentive, and highly qualified. He had the latest technology on hand in a very clean, bright, well-decorated and well-furnished office. After the examination, 44 euros later, he sent me away with a prescription for 2 drugs and a blood test.

I went home and walked to the pharmacy to get my drugs, which cost me 13 Euros. Since I hadn't bothered to find the lab close to the doctor's office, I asked where the nearest lab was that could take my blood for the blood test. The pharmacist told me which ones were closest, then handed me a slip of paper with the names of 6 nurses I could call and have my blood taken at home. After 14 years in France I wasn't aware I could have a nurse come take my blood.

I went home and called one of the nurses, who agreed to come over the following morning. She arrived a bit earlier than scheduled, took my blood and charged me 7.03 Euros.

Tomorrow I'll walk to the pharmacy and pick up my blood test results, or have them sent directly to the specialist. About 70 - 80% of the dcctor's, nurse's, and lab costs will be reimbursed by the National Health Insurance and another 10 - 20% paid by my employer-provided supplementary private insurance, so I'll be out about 5% of the cost. Prescription drugs are usually reimbursed as well, but not always. It depends on the drug. In this case, the 13 euros won't be reimbursed.

Now I'm sitting at home near the fire watching British Comedy on TV and my stomach is feeling much better. Had I been in the states I don't know what my experience would have been, but considering the experience was inexpensive, efficient, and effective, and I had full choice of doctor, including a specialist, I can't see much room for improvement. The only downside is I just looked at some photos of Wyoming and I miss it very much. Shame this system wasn't over there.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How One Horse Bought a Ranch

Sonna Warvell of the Warvell family soon to be inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and also Annie Oakley in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill) Disney Village, Disneyland Paris, France, recently emailed me a link to an article written about Jim and Jan Warvell, her parents. The article, "Great Horse: White Feather," is a touching account of an extraordinary horse whose talents were so remarkable the Warvells based their show around him for 12 years. According to Jan, the shows success, on the back of White Feather (literally) paid for their ranch. It's worth a read. Click on the title above to do so.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why I Love Wyoming

My grandmother forwarded me this article written by a sports reporter for The Cleveland Plain Dealer. It made me proud to be from Wyoming and made me wonder why I'm not there now.

Trip to Wyoming feels far from home but closer to God: Faith and You
By Terry Pluto
September 26, 2009, 4:55AMI don't think much about heaven, other than that I want to go

There are some images of heaven with angels floating on clouds and playing harps, or perhaps of heaven as a never-ending church service where people sing and pray until they drop. I don't know what heaven will be like, but I doubt either of those portraits is correct.

Last Saturday, I flew to Denver to cover the Browns game I'm not sure what that 27-6 loss to Denver was; it sure wasn't heaven.

But the day before that game, I went to southern Wyoming and thought a lot about heaven.

I drove down roads where I saw more pronghorn antelope than I did cars and people. I drove down roads where I saw signs reading, "Next services, 34 hours." I drove down roads where, when it snows, they drop gates and close the interstates until the storm passes.

I drove down roads under high skies and huge clouds that seemed to rise up to the heavens. I drove down roads through miles of open pastures, roads where my cellphone was long out of range.

I drove down roads that made me think of a line from novelist Dan O'Brien: "You have a sense that everyone can see you, but no one is looking."

That may bother some people, who are uneasy about all the rugged, lonely hills and valleys.

For those who love a crowd and the 50-percent-off sale at the mall, a state with 522,830 people and an estimated 550,000 antelope may not have much appeal.

I have been to Wyoming at least a dozen times. On each visit, I think how the land is not tamed by man. Some mountains are too high, some rivers too wild, some storms too fierce.

I know that there are days when Wyoming can seem like hell on earth during a blizzard, a dust storm, or with a blown radiator in the middle of nowhere and no one around to call for help.

But I didn't think of that as I drove south of Laramie. I saw several herds of pronghorns - 10 over here, 25 there, at least 50 ahead on top of the hill. For 10 miles, not a single car was on the road.

In Isaiah 65:17, God says, "Behold, I will create a new heaven and a new earth."

I had a taste of it as I drove west on Wyoming 130 into the Snowy Mountains. They rose 10,000 feet with the sun peeking behind snow-capped peaks. Rather than spend any time wondering how such a place was created, I was in awe of God's hand and power behind it all.

Then I saw a truck on the other side of the road, a man standing near it, staring into the woods. I slowed down and spotted a huge horse with antlers .. only, it was a moose in a clearing. I stopped and walked over to the man.

"There's four of 'em," he said. Then a female moose and two young ones ambled out from behind some bushes, joining the big bull. We watched them silently for about five minutes, me wondering what exactly got into God when he created a strange creature like a moose. Sheer entertainment, I suppose.

Finally, the four moose disappeared back in the woods. The other man and I left, too, nodding to each other but not saying a word.

First Corinthians 2:9 reads: "As it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. "

But that Saturday in Wyoming, I was given just a glimpse.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sonna "Annie Oakley" Warvell Inductee to Hall of Fame

As reported recently in the Star Telegram, the latest class of inductees into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame includes the Warvell Family: Jim, Jan, Toni and Sonna Warvell of Weatherford. The Warvell family performed trick riding, trick roping and comedy routines worldwide. Jim and Jan now own and train racehorses, Toni is active in judging horse events, cutting and training, and Sonna has starred as Annie Oakley at Disneyland Paris in its production of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (La Legende de Buffalo Bill) since the park opened in 1992.

Also to be inducted are legendary baseball player Nolan Ryan, Olympic gold medal winner and Hollywood stuntman Dean Smith, and James Jennings, the voice of Mesquite rodeos. The Hall of Fame, in the Fort Worth Texas Stockyards, will introduce the class at a January 14, 2010 ceremony. The honorees were chosen because of their excellence in competition, business, and support of rodeo and the Western lifestyle in Texas.

Sonna shared this news with the Wild West Show cast last week, with much pride and to much applause. One of my favorite pictures of her is at age 4, laying down a horse in a Wild West Show. She and her family are now officially living legends. Congratulations to Sonna and the Warvell family for this much-deserved recognition.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Trent's Buffalo Bill Shows are "Electrifying"

The Artistic Coordinator, Artistic Director, and a returning principle actor each recently took time to pull me aside and tell me my performances have reached a level of excellence they describe as "electrifying," "amazing," and "unbelievable." They say I've attained a quality of performance that is now "untouchable," "in a league of it's own," and "beyond compare."

The level of their compliments caught me completely by surprise.

Despite my disgruntlement over the ridiculous idea of management asking us to deliver each show in 90 minutes, striving to keep a 90-minute pace has required that I intensify my energy and focus, which has apparently, unexpectedly, resulted in noticeable improvement to my already strong performances. I was tickled to watch the Artistic Team search for superlatives with which to laden their compliments. What an honor and surprise to have accidentally, even reluctantly, achieved something worthy of gushing approval. According to the Artistic Director, the new pace and intensity inspires other performers and the whole show is improved.

As a side benefit, I get home earlier to watch American Football!

So now you REALLY must come see us!