Where’d Everyone Go?

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(Kommando and Snoops woke up Monday morning starving as usual. Snoops went over and woke up Kommando.)

Snoops: Hey! Why isn’t there any food? Didn’t you wake up the humans? You know that’s your job. It’s already light outside.

Kommando: Bad news. Remember when they got in the car yesterday? They never came home. They aren’t anywhere in the house.

Snoops: Oh no!! I wonder if something happened to them? Who’s gonna feed us and take care of us? I am NOT going back to that shelter. They stuck me in a cage and all I could smell was dogs. And there is no Cat TV. And the food was awful!

Kommando: What about me? This was my only home. I was left at the side of the road.

Snoops: Don’t panic! It’s not a crisis yet. We still have dry food and water.

Kommando: I have a great idea!! We could use that computer thingy and order out.

Snoops: That is a great idea! And we can look for new humans too. When it gets cold again we’ll need someone to snuggle up against.

Kommando: OK, Snoops, you’re the one who spends all the time in here. What do we do first?

Snoops: Well, the first thing Dad does is push in that button. (points to “ON” switch).

Kommando: Oof (pushes with her whole body). Maybe it’s stuck. Mrrrrow! (Falls over as the computer turns on.)

(Hear somebody at the back door.)

Kommando: Run! That’s not our humans.

Male Voice: Here kitty, kitty. I’m here to feed you while your humans are out of town.

(Cats look at each other.)

Snoops: What do you think?

Kommando: Anyone could come in and say that. Maybe he wants to kidnap us and sell us to rogue Canadians to use as sled dog trainers.

(Snoops stares at Kommando.)

Kommando: What? It could be true.

(They hear a can of food being opened and sneak forward.)

Kommando: He doesn’t look too dangerous.

Snoops: Naw, I’ve seen him with the beta male. Just watch out for his feet.

Male: Oh there you two are! Here’s your food. I’ll change your water too.

Kommando: Should we trust him?

Snoops: I’m hungry! And he’s feeding us the right stuff. I’m eating.

(Runs over and starts to scarf down the food. Kommando sniffs her food and begins to eat.)

Kommando: Yumm! It’s our food. We won’t starve.

(They don’t notice the male leaving. The next day he appears about the same time. They greet him at the door, meowing.)

Male: Hi, cats! How’ve you been?

(Kommando rubs her head against his leg.)

Male: You’re so cute. No wonder your humans said they’d miss you while they were gone. They’ll be back in a couple of days.

(Snoops and Kommando look at each other. They wait until the male humans leaves.)

Snoops: They’re coming back! They’ll probably bring treats to make up for leaving us. I wonder where they went.

Kommando: Who cares? We should have a party to celebrate!

Snoops: Great idea! You send out the KittyChat, and I’ll check out what’s in the refrigerator and cupboards. Tell them to bring their own milk if they want it.

Snoops in Fridge 3

(Later)

Snoops: Kommando, how many people did you send that KittyChat to?

Kommando: Just our mailing list.

Snoops: Then why did so many cats come?

Kommando: Ummm – Well, I did tell them they could bring a friend if they wanted. I wanted to make sure they knew they could bring their mates. And I did tell them it was going to be awesome because the humans were out of town.

Snoops: We don’t know a gang of alley cats. There aren’t any alleys around here.

Kommando: They said you were cage-mates at the shelter. At least everyone’s gone before the neighbors saw.

Snoops: This place looks awful. We need to clean it up.

Kommando: Why? Most of the damage is outside. We don’t go outside. They’ll think raccoons did it.

Snoops: What about the house?

Kommando: They didn’t clean before they left. They’ll just think we did the rest because we thought they deserted us.

Snoops: You’re smarter than you look. Let’s take a nap.

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Inside Mega Medical Insurance

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If Congress ever stops obsessing about whether Vladimir Putin’s attire (or lack of) is an indicator of Russian foreign policy, maybe they can actually look into the running of the medical insurance companies. In the meantime, maybe this is what’s happening inside the boardroom:

Chairman: Gentlemen, we have invited you here for an explanation of why profit margins have plunged so dramatically.

Board Member A: The investors are very unhappy. Our largest shareholder had to use existing funds to make the payment on his ski lodge. Another had to postpone his trip to Fiji and Micronesia.

Chairman: Let’s start on the pharmaceutical side. What is going on, Mr. Hogg?

Lester Hogg (Pharm Guy): Well, you know that it’s hard to get companies to create new drugs because it’s so hard to get the government to approve anything. It’s all going generic.

Chairman: We’ve heard all that. Are there any new trends?

Hogg: A lot of people seems to be trying herbs and other supplements. We’ve even heard of psychiatrists prescribing them. That pulls people completely out of the pharm system.

Chairman: That makes no sense. Insurance doesn’t cover herbs. It has to be more expensive.

Hogg: Talk to the twits over there (points to the medical insurers). Copays for drugs keep going higher.

Julius Bones (Med Guy): You people can’t keep your costs down. We had to start charging them a percentage of the price instead of a flat fee. You said it was the only way to make a profit. The customers said the premiums were too high.

Hogg: And whose fault is that? You guys are letting patients get CT scans for a sprained ankle.

Chairman: We thought that forcing people into HMOs and such was supposed to keep costs down and profits up.

Bones: Well, it didn’t work out quite the way we expected. We thought that by forcing everyone to go through a primary doctor, a lot of the specialist fees would be eliminated.

Chairman: What happened?

Bones: Them. (Points to a team of attorneys)

Phineas Shark (Legal Guy): We have to make sure the doctors don’t get sued for malpractice.

Chairman: So you decide which tests are needed to protect the doctors?

Shark: In a manner of speaking. We make sure the doctors don’t make promises they can’t keep.

Hogg: So they try herbs instead of drugs.

Shark: There are fewer proven side effects. People don’t want to die from their treatment.

Bones (aside): That completely dries up the flow of money.

Shark: And we make sure enough tests are done to avoid missing a problem.

Chairman: So why aren’t we making money off all these extra tests?

Bones: Well, we made some reforms in the past that are cutting into those profits. We forced the providers to form groups for internal referrals and improved communication. And we made them switch to electronic communication.

Chairman: So??

Bones: So instead of taking the x-ray and sending the patient somewhere else for further diagnosis, the patient is referred internally and the x-ray is available for anyone in the system to see.

Chairman: What idiot thought that would be good for the insurance industry?

Shark: We never thought the medical world was organized enough to actually follow through. Our bad.

Chairman: This is totally unacceptable. It seems that every time we come up with something to protect our interests while still looking like the good guys, they figure out how to actually use it.

(He looks around the table.)

Chairman: I’m giving you insurance executives 90 days to come up with a way to exploit the holistic medicine industry or you’re gone.

 

Bedlam in New York – The Conclusion

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(This is part 3 of a 3-part story investigating Stringham Hospital, a psychiatric facility, and the doctors associated with it. Previously we heard an account from a former patient about his stay there and the story of our undercover work. Patient names have been changed to protect their privacy.)

You may be aware that Stringham Hospital closed at the beginning of this month due to the investigative work done by this paper. Once we had finished putting the pieces together, they painted a very ugly picture of what had been happening.

Patients became aware of the medical offices of Drs. Igor, Boris, and Bela from flyers posted on lampposts and subway walls in middle- and lower-income neighborhoods. They were written to appeal to the employees of the uptown millionaires and disgruntled plant workers:

Tired of the Bosses Getting Better Medical Care?

We can help you get first class service without the first-class price!

Visit Doctors Igor, Boris and Bela today!

No waiting!

Cash and all Insurance Accepted!

Call 212-555-5522 for an immediate appointment!

Callers would be given same-day appointments to meet with one of the doctors. The receptionist would call the insurance company to determine the person’s coverage.

If the person was paying cash, they would be given a “complimentary” bottle of sugar pills and sent on their way. If they had complete coverage under a union policy, the receptionist called Stringham so orderlies could come to office to pick up the patient. If the receptionist couldn’t get the required information or the insurance was less comprehensive, the patient was given a follow-up appointment so Stringham could decide whether adequate payment could be made.

When the patient arrived at Stringham, he was taken directly to the Burmese cat panel and admitted to the hospital. An insurance claim was initiated with the notation that it was an involuntary admittance and there was no projected date of release. The Siamese doctors received payment for each patient admitted.

Once the animals were admitted, they were taken to one of six rooms. On a rotational basis eight animals were taken from each of the rooms for “exercise”. When they arrived at the lab, Michele told them that they would be testing a new anti-psychotic drug.

Michele spoke with each of her subjects to determine which four would be easiest to control. The others were to be given a lethal injection and taken to a disposal site. The drugs being tested had been created by Dr. Stein in hopes of creating a success that would make him a rock star of science.

The only heroes in this story are the cats responsible for the disposal of the unwanted test subjects. Somehow they managed to dilute the lethal dose so that the animal was unconscious but not dead. The cat responsible for disposing of the bodies would take them to a remote part of the city and leave them to wake up. There were six cats involved in this part of the operation.

Aftermath:

The Siamese “doctors” turned out to not have medical licenses. They have been convicted of practicing medicine without a license, insurance fraud and illegally receiving kickbcks. They are currently serving a sentence of six months as “ratters” at the federal penitentiary. They will then be under house arrest for another six months at a public housing project and probation for the rest of their lives. They are required to return all money they received illegally.

Dr. Stein was convicted of malpractice, insurance fraud and unlawful imprisonment. His medical license was revoked. He will spend a year as “class pet” for a first grade class in an undisclosed Staten Island school. He will then spend a year under house arrest and probation for the rest of his life. He is required to return all money he received illegally.

Michele was convicted of attempted murder, assault, and unlawful imprisonment. She will spend the rest of her life as a “bad example” during police presentations to school children. She is living in an undisclosed precinct, ratting for them at night.

The other four Burmese were convicted of unlawful imprisonment and insurance fraud. They have each been sent to a shelter specializing in dog adoptions to act as “ratters” for six months. They will then spend a year under house arrest and probation for the rest of their lives.

Orderlies who had been with the hospital for more than six months were convicted of cruelty to animals and sentenced to a year’s probation. They are prohibited from working at any medical facility for the rest of their lives. Orderlies who had been with the hospital for less than six months were not charged.

The six cats who assisted the patients in escaping have received honors from the city and placement in fast-track positions at Gibbons Medical Research.

The patients are receiving whatever psychological and/or mental health treatment they require and will receive job placement training when they are finished if their prior positions are no longer available.

Ed and Pavlov have formed a private investigation partnership specializing in medical fraud.

 

Bedlam in New York – Part 2

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(This is part 2 of a 3-part story investigating Stringham Hospital, a psychiatric facility, and the doctors associated with it. Previously we heard an account from a former patient about his stay there. Patient names have been changed to protect their privacy.)

As reported by archy and mehitabel

At the end of Ed’s story, we were perplexed. Was there a story there or not? Maybe what Ed needed was a competent doctor. But stories of cats tormenting rodents sounded too close to the bad old days of New York City to ignore. We decided to split up to do some investigating.

From archy:

As a cockroach, it seemed natural that I would go to the offices of Dr. Igor, Dr. Boris, and Dr. Bela. I would be able to hide in a nook and listen. Even if I was discovered, it would just look like an addition to the neighborhood.

The office is in a well-kept part of a working neighborhood. They shared the building with several other medical practices. The sign said “Medical Office” under their names. I thought it was a little strange. Usually doctors specialize: “Small Animal Skin Disorders”, “Rodent Eating Disorders,” or the like.

I went one night and settled in a nice spot in the wall where I could get to any part of the office easily. I spent the first day with Dr. Igor. He only works in the mornings. In four hours, he saw twenty-five patients. Needless to say, he only spent a few minutes with each one. But that wasn’t a red flag. Lots of doctors barely see their patients anymore before diagnosing and writing a prescription.

He had a tablet that gave him the patient’s name, address, occupation, and insurance information. It also had the reason the patient was there. A typical visit went something like this:

Doctor: Hello Jack. Nice to meet you. I see you have a cold.

Jack: Well, I’ve been feeling….

Doctor: No need to get into that, I’ve been seeing a lot of patients like you.

(Looks at the tablet)

Doctor: You can pick up a prescription on your way out. Please come back in a week so I can make sure you’re better.

Dr. Igor’s patients got one of three instructions: I’m sorry I can’t help you, I need to refer you to Dr. F.N. Stein, or come back in a week.

Listening to Dr. Boris and Dr. Bela, I heard similar responses. What triggered which response?

The receptionist was Siamese, like the doctors, and talked a lot. I’m surprised the patients could get a word in. Every call was the same: patient species, patient name, patient address, patient phone, patient federal ID number, type of insurance, insurance numbers, and date of appointment. Interestingly, they did not accept cats as patients.

When she got off the call, she immediately called the insurance company to find out when coverage began, whether medical services were covered, if psychiatric services were covered, how long benefits would continue and whether there was monetary limit to the benefits.

From mehitabel:

I applied for a job at Stringham. At the interview, they said I looked like I would be good at managing patients and hired me as an orderly. Later I discovered that only pure-blood cats would be hired into administrative/executive positions. The rest of us would be orderlies, maintenance or cooks.

We “mutt cats” were treated as if we were invisible. It was degrading, but worked to my advantage. (Ed. Note –The term “mutt cat” was applied by the hospital. This paper does not discriminate based on species or parentage.)

When a patient arrived, the first thing we did was accompany them to their medical assessment. There were five cats (Norwegian Woods) on the panel, with a Dr. Stein as the leader. Everyone who came here was admitted. There was no appeal. If they made too much trouble, an orderly gave them a shot and dragged them to their room.

There were 15-20 animals in each room. We fed them once a day, kitty kibble. Once a week, we put down new litter. The place was beyond disgusting. The patients were mainly small animals with a few dogs thrown in. There were no feline patients.

Every morning, a Burmese named Michele would tell us which animals were to be taken to the lab. She was the head researcher. We took the animals to the lab. She decided which ones she needed that day and told her maintenance staff to get rid of the rest. The maintenance staff was three “mutt cats.” They took the unneeded animals out, and we never saw them again.

We orderlies waited outside until the experiments were over. We took the test subjects back to their room. Usually they were sedated to the point of insensibility.

They fired me after two weeks. They had decided I wasn’t the right “type” for the position.

 

Coming soon: Part 3: Putting the pieces together.

 

Bedlam in New York

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(Bedlam refers to an English hospital for the insane. During much of its 600-year existence it was noted for its screaming, moaning “inmates”, who were often held in chains or locked in rooms. Others were allowed to roam the halls and generally left to their own devices.)

As reported by archy and mehitabel

Based on information from a former patient, we have been looking into conditions at Stringham Hospital. As you may be aware, Stringham specializes in behavioral medicine and psychiatry. We have changed the names of the patients in the interests of privacy. Further, we would like to point out that there are “bad apples” in every species.

Ed’s experience started with a visit to Dr. William Igor. Ed went to see Dr. Igor with what he considered to be a common case of depression. Dr. Igor prescribed a well-known mood stabilizer which had the effect of worsening the depression, as would be expected. At his follow-up visit, Ed reported increased depression to the point of suicidal thoughts.

Dr. Igor thought that was very bad and immediately admitted him to Stringham Hospital. Ed wanted to just quit the medication, so Dr. Igor had him admitted involuntarily as a threat to himself. Being admitted involuntarily meant that Ed could not sign himself out.

At this juncture, we should point out that Ed is a muscular Nonsense rat (ed. Note – it’s a real breed from India) and Dr. Igor is a rather small Siamese cat.

As soon as he reached Stringham, Ed needed to show his insurance cards. He never saw them again. He also had to hand over his watch, wallet, and all other personal items. (As a rat, it was a relatively simple process.)

Next step was to see the doctors. He was accompanied by two large alley cats. There was a panel of 5 Norwegian Forest Cats. They looked at Ed and started talking amongst themselves about lunch. Without asking Ed a question, they told him he was obviously demented. They told the orderlies to “Take him to cell 6, oops, we mean room 6.”

Six turned out to be a rather large room with about 20 animals of various species. There were a couple of large snarling dogs chained to one wall, rabbits scratching at a pen to get out, bats in a mesh cage, and several guinea pigs who looked catatonic. The rest of the animals were running around the room chasing each other.

Ed looked around. There was cat litter in each of the cages and a large litter box in one corner. He almost gagged and said to one of the orderlies, “Do you ever change the litter?” “Of course. It’s done every Wednesday.” Ed turned green (not easy when you’re covered in fur). It was Friday.

The orderlies turned to go. Ed asked, “What do I do now?” The cats smiled evilly and told him, “Just behave and do everything you’re told to do, and nothing will happen to you.” They locked the heavy door behind them.

Ed sat in a corner, dejected. Soon a white rat joined him. “Name’s Pavlov. Who are you?” “Ed. Why are you here?” “Went to the doctor for a sore throat. He said it was a sign of neurosis. Got thrown in here. That was six months ago.”

Ed was appalled, “Why are you still here?” Pavlov looked at him sadly, “Once you’re here you never get out.” “That’s ridiculous. It’s the 21st century. Who’s your doctor?” “Dr. Joseph Boris.” Ed remembered seeing Dr. Boris’ name on the door of Dr. Igor’s office.

“Pavlov, are there any other patients of Dr. Boris or Dr. Igor here?”

“Now that you mention it, most of us were admitted by those doctors. Or Dr. Bela.”

“What happens during the day here?”

“Not much. We’re not allowed to have books or magazines or TV. Sometimes they take some of us out. Those guys usually come back looking like that.” Points to the guinea pigs.

Ed notices that in addition to the drugged animals there are also some in coats tied behind their back. “What’s up with them?”

“Medication doesn’t work. Those coats aren’t very effective though. You can chew through them in a couple of hours.”

“Does everyone come back like that?”

Pavlov looks away. “A lot don’t come back.”

They ate their dinner of dry kibble and went to bed.

In the morning, Ed was among those chosen for an “exercise.” He was strapped to a chair, than felt a poke in his shoulder.

The next thing he remembers is waking up by the river with a note: “Hope you enjoyed your cat nap.”

 

Coming soon: Part 2: Is there a problem or is Ed really mentally ill?

Love/Hate

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Suburban Hobo (http://suburbanhobo.com/) tagged me for the Love/Hate challenge. The rules are below.

  1. List 10 things you love.
  2. List 10 things you hate.
  3. Tag other people to take the challenge.

Love <3

  1. Cool summer nights so I don’t wake up in the morning tired and sticky (no AC).
  2. Watching fireflies. We’ve had quite a few this year.
  3. Lying in the grass watching the clouds.
  4. Having the cats come up and nuzzle me.
  5. Watching the hedgehog eat worms. He’s amazingly fast. It’s a little scary seeing how quickly he scarfs, chews and licks his lips. (Do hedgehogs have lips?)
  6. Customers who appreciate my help.
  7. Thrift stores – never know what I might find there.
  8. My “dumb” phone. All it does is call and send/receive texts. I have no ability to stay connected 24/7, and I am really happy about it.
  9. Doctors who actually listen to what I say. I’ve started to see two holistic mental health professionals, and they are wonderful!
  10. Clear nights where I can see the stars and moon. Even if I see them when I get up for work.

Hate (more intensely dislike, except #10)

  1. Not being able to go into a bookstore and browse the shelves. I didn’t like it when Border’s and friends forced the small booksellers to close. I really don’t like that even those behemoths are being forced out by Amazon, et al.
  2. Getting the worms out for the hedgehog. My husband usually does it but he’s out of town. They come in wood chips that are about the same color. I can only tell that I have a worm because it’s cooler than the wood.
  3. People who are constantly connected to technology and still don’t have a clue about what’s going on in the world.
  4. The amount of roadkill I see on the local roads.
  5. Road construction on every major road around here.
  6. People who say they will do something and then don’t do it with no explanation.
  7. People who let their children run amok in public.
  8. Cleaning the litterboxes. The cats supervise and immediately test out the clean litter.
  9. Customers who get nasty because we are out of some product. It’s nothing personal, really.
  10. The Internet being so tone-deaf. I don’t like always needing to use smiley faces to show that I’m trying to funny, not being a jerk. L

Below are the blogs I tagged. I was a little confused about this part. I’ve seen people list from zero to ten people. If you choose to accept the challenge, feel free to distribute your largesse in any way you choose. If you do not choose to accept the challenge, please ignore the previous sentence. J

Purr and Roar (http://purrandroar.com/)

A Dog Called Storm (https://dogcalledstorm.wordpress.com/)

Creekview Carol (http://creekviewcarol.com/)

Mother Hen Diaries (http://motherhendiaries.com/)

PrairieChat (http://prairiechat.com/)

Robynchristi (https://robynchristi.wordpress.com/)

The Divine Peach (https://thedivinepeach.wordpress.com/)

The Weekly Cheese (https://theweeklycheeseblog.wordpress.com/)

 

 

May I Introduce to You

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As promised, we are making some changes to Adventures in Cheeseland.

The 15 or 20 of you who were around during the early days of this blog may remember that the point of the title was that it was going to be about my work in the cheese department of a big block store.

Before too long, I got bored with that idea. It was either because those of us with bipolar minds have a tendency to jump topics or because it was a pretty boring/limited topic to begin with. I imagine it was mainly the second.

Which left me with a rather sizable problem: what to do with a title to the blog that was related in no way to what was written in the blog. I was advised that under no circumstances should I change the name of the blog.

So I’ve been searching for a way to bridge the disconnect. Occasional cheese features? Alternative world where cheese rules?

Hmmmm. Where have I been headed? Eureka!

Welcome to Adventures in Cheeseland: Possibly the Only WordPress Blog Hosted by Mice

We’re adding some new contributors, but will remain basically the same. Without further ado:

Owner and CEO. Editor-in-Chief: Cat (me)

Managing Editors: George and Lenny

Image result for two mice

Staff Writers: Super Snoops, Kommando Kitty, and Horatio Hedgehog

SS and KK               20141214_220841-1

 

City Desk: archy and mehitabel

http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/cockroach-close-up-660.jpg 

African Bureau: “Ace” Sopp

Asian Bureau: Ricky T. Tavi

European Bureau: H. Chris Andersen

Latin America: Still interviewing. The sloths are cute, but won’t commit to deadlines. The snakes scare the rest of the staff.

Oceana: Ahab

All in all, we’ll be the same strange combination of real reality and alternative reality you’ve (hopefully) come to know and love.