Sunday, October 30, 2005

Halloween on Crockett Street

I went to the Brent Coon & Associates Halloween party on October 29, 2005, at Antone's. They had a Jimmy Buffett tribute band. They were okay. Afterwards, I went to the Black Cat Lounge and sat in the bar area until closing time.

At a bit after 2:00 a.m. when the bar closed, the elevators apparently were not working, and everyone was herded toward the stairs. There was a long line that was moving very slowly.

Although there was really nowhere to go until the line thinned out, a Black Cat employee was yelling at people to get out. When I say yelling to get out, I really mean yelling "get out." I was struck by the rudeness of it as well as the futility, given the fact that there was no way to get out until the line at the door cleared. I've been in a lot of bars at closing time, and I've never seen that sort of behavior.

After yelling for several minutes, while there was still a large crowd blocking the door, this same Black Cat employee came over to the area where I was sitting. He came up behind a chair that another person was sitting in and pushed the chair over, dumping the person out of the chair and onto the floor. This person was minding his own business and had made no belligerent or aggressive move of any kind towards the Black Cat employee. It was completely unprovoked.

As I got up to leave, I said "you're an asshole." The Black Cat employee turned to me and said "what did you say?," and I looked him in the eye and said "you're an asshole." He apparently didn't like this, and he pushed me into a couple of chairs. I did not respond to this assault physically or verbally (I'm still recovering from some fractured ribs and vertebrae, after all).

As several other people ushered me towards the stairs (in the normal bar-clearing fashion, i.e., without resorting to physical violence), I tried to find out this employee's name so I could register a complaint and possibly file criminal charges. I was told that his name was Paul, but I have no way of knowing whether that was really his name.

I think I should do something, but I'm not sure what. It's one thing when a bouncer in a bar gets physical with an aggressive drunk. It's another thing entirely when he thinks he can resort to physical abuse just because people aren't moving fast enough for him or tell him he's an asshole when he's being an asshole.

At a bare minimum, I think that the management needs to sit this guy down and have a long talk with him. But I really think he needs to be fired. And if the management approved of his actions, they need to be fired too. What this guy did to the guy in the chair and to me was criminal assault, a class A misdemeanor, in violation of ยง 22.01 of the Penal Code. What do y'all think I should do? File a complaint with the cops, complain to the management, or nothing at all? Or did I get what I deserved?

And don't say "sue the bar." Although he was acting in the course and scope of his employment and the bar would certainly be vicariously liable, I believe my employer owns a piece of it.

And for the record, I wasn't intoxicated and I have witnesses. And he was bigger than me.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Price Gouging

I just got the bill from the hospital. Actually, it says "This is not a bill, do not pay," but it does say what they're billing my insurance company.

And the total for taking a few pictures, one night in the hospital, two stitches, a tetanus shot and a little morphine in the IV, comes to a grand total of $21,808.23.

I love these guys. I can understand, sort of, the $10,000 for the CT scans. I'm sure it's grossly inflated, but at least there's some really expensive equipment involved. But they've got to be kidding when it comes to things like the drugs. For a tetanus shot and an IV they bill "pharmacy, general," $2271.00; "pharmacy, IV solutions," $255.00; "drugs-req spec id, req det cod," $714.00. Well over $3000 for about ten bucks worth of stuff.

I'll bet when my insurance company goes over the bill, they'll say the reasonable charge for all these services is a half or a third of what the hospital billed, and the hospital will accept their determination. (They have to. The hospital's in the PPO's network.) At least that's been my experience in the past every time I've received a bill from a hospital.

I was thinking it would be fun to send the bill to the Texas Attorney General along with a complaint about price gouging after the hurricane, but unfortunately, this is just business as usual for hospitals. It doesn't make much difference for me since they have to take what the insurance company pays, but people without insurance (or a government payor) get screwed over royally every time they set foot in a hospital, and that sort of ticks me off.

But that's just me. I'm sort of funny that way.

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Monday, October 17, 2005

Monday, October 17, 2005.

Air conditioning!
Electric lights!

Yup. The power's back on. The phone and internet connection are supposed to be fixed by Thursday.

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Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday, October 7, 2005.

Still no power or internet access at home, but the server's back at the office. I found that I can sit at a computer for almost 15 minutes at a time.

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Friday, September 30, 2005.

Not doing much other than sitting around the house and keeping an eye on things.

Interesting week.

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Thursday, September 29, 2005.

Breakfast at the hospital was good. The eggs had a bit of picante sauce mixed in, and just a hint of cilantro. Cilantro is a dangerous herb. Good in small amounts only.

They gave me lunch and sent me home with prescriptions for Vicodin and Soma.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005.

Another oppressively hot and mostly uneventful day. Got some gas for the generator, cleaned up the house and yard a bit. Helped a friend take care of some holes in her roof. Felt the ladder slip out from under me. Woke up in the hospital. Nothing much.

They did a bunch of x-rays and scans and stuff. I heard one and then later two fractured vertebrae, and one broken rib, although the doctor said there were likely more that didn't show up. It was only a total of about a 20 foot fall (in two 10 foot segments with a bounce of a first floor roof to make it interesting).

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005.

An uneventful day. I had the tree removed from the house yesterday, and today the guy came around to grind the stump. That little project (tree removal and stump grinding) came to $4000. I decided to wait to have the other trees taken care of.

I seem to have lost my glasses.

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Monday, September 26, 2005.

Today I secured a generator and surveyed the damage.

Here's a picture of the tree on my roof:

Here's the one that damaged the water and/or sewer line when it fell (the root ball is eight or nine feet tall):

Here's the one that took out the breaker box and phone lines:

And here's the detached breaker box:

And here's one of both the tree that took out the power and the one that damaged the water and/or sewer line:

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Sunday, September 25, 2005.

Word was that the new Lowes in Lindale had gas cans. I headed out at about 10:00 a.m. and hit paydirt. Six two-gallon cans (and plenty left for those who came later). But I forgot to get the chain saw. Home Depot in Tyler had a few left.

I filled the gas tank and the cans and got out at around four in the afternoon. Traffic wasn't a problem as far as Lufkin, but that's where the gas dried up.

The plan was to go to Beaumont, or, if we couldn't get in, go on to Galveston. When we got to Lufkin, the sign said that the road to Beaumont (US69) was closed ahead. So we took 59 to 146 (the road to Galveston). Power was out everywhere past Lufkin.

59 was lined with hundreds, if not thousands, of abandoned cars. 146 was clear of abandoned vehicles, but traffic was slow-going. Then came the intersection with 105. The signs, and the DPS troopers, said 146 was closed, and forced all traffic west on 105.

Since we were obviously being steered away from any of the places we wanted to go, we cut off on a mostly southbound farm road. We made our way to Dayton where we eventually found our way to 90, which at a bit after 10:00 p.m., took us to the outskirts of Beaumont, where police cars blocked the road.

A driver's license with a Beaumont address was sufficient to get through, and the deputies (I think they were with the Sheriff's department) let us through, cautioning us to be careful of the downed power lines and advising us of the dusk-to-dawn curfew.

The main roads into town were relatively clear, but it took some doing to navigate the neighborhoods.

We stopped first at my ex-wife's house and found that she'd been looted. Bastards.

We'd been worried that a big oak tree next to her house would end up on top of it, but it fell to the side, with only one branch poking through the living room window.

And there were a few holes in the roof. More about that later.

We went on to my house and found the streets impassable. It looked something like this (camera phones aren't exactly the best):

My house is the second one down the block. I had to climb over three big pine trees that had fallen across the road to get to it. One of these trees had pulled up a water line when it fell, and at one point I ended up knee-deep in muddy water.

The neighbor with the tree on her roof (as seen on FoxNews) saw the flashlights and asked who we were. When I told her, she said she had some water if we needed any, and that her house had been looted too.

When I finally got to my house, I found one of those 100+ foot pine trees on the roof. The front door wouldn't open, but the back door would. It was still locked. None of the windows had been broken out (although a couple were cracked. Nothing was stolen. Probably one of the advantages of an impassable street.

Although the pre-storm forecast had called for cooler weather after the storm passed through, it was a miserable, sweltering night. I tried to sleep on the front porch, but ended up having a couple lukewarm beers and watching the crew clear the street.

They had started down the street before we arrived, and they got to my house at about 1:00 a.m. When they got there, I brought my truck around and parked in the front yard. Several hours later, they'd finishing clearing the street and I went to bed.

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Saturday, September 24, 2005.

The storm, such as it was, blew threw Tyler, but it had shifted to the east and moved faster than projected. It knocked down a few trees, but didn't do much damage.

I saw on FoxNews that the house next to mine had a tree on the roof. The news also said that several looters had been arrested in Beaumont. Sounded like time to get back. Sounded more like I never should have left.

Gas was going to be a problem. I'd heard that they had gas cans at WalMart, but when I got there, the power was out. I went to the other WalMart, but they were sold out. It was after 9:00 p.m., so Home Depot and Lowes were out.

Maybe tomorrow.

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