How to keep cats cool in the summer heat

Dexter is enjoying the ice pack very very much. He even nuzzled it and licked it a few times. Weirdo.

That's not quite the word you want

OK, seriously people, you gotta stop using "service" as a transitive verb when you mean "serve." It sounds like you're doing something entirely different to the objects of your sentences than you intended. Trust me on this one.

For instance, the numerous hair salons that say "no children allowed inside unless being serviced." No, really, that's not the word you want. That's something entirely different that you shouldn't be doing to children unless you're a priest at all.

Also, the Door-to-Door storage people who list the towns they service. Really? All at once? And in an 8x8 trailer with plywood panels? Ew.

Even Facebook wants to be a Masshole


Wassup widdat, National Weather Service?

No, not wondering about what's up with capitalizing everything they type, at least not right now.

I'm talking about "tropical depression." That doesn't seem apt. It's not sitting around in the basement writing bad poetry; it's flying around breaking shit. Shouldn't it be a tropical manic?

I'm a mutual friend of yer mom

Seriously, Facebook. Every time you suggest I become friends with someone, you tell me which of my friends "is a mutual friend." Except, see, it's not mutual, now is it, because I don't know most of these people you're suggesting, so it's not like we have some sort of consensual friend-sharing agreement. If I knew them, I'd already be friends with them. Unless I didn't want to be, in which case-- now, that's another thing, Facebook. Some of these people you're suggesting who I do know but barely know or don't know in a sort of way that I'd Facebook friend them, well, I've clicked the "uh, no" X in the corner of their little box half a dozen times. I clearly am not going to suddenly want them friended the seventh or eighth time you ask me, so just lay off already.

HIPAA: what it is and isn't

So, the whole Somerville debacle and the e-mails I've received about it, as well as some recent discussions on a professional listserv, have prompted me to write a little blurb about what HIPAA is and isn't.

In the context of these various discussions, I've learned that many people, including a lot of health care professionals, seem to believe that HIPAA is:

a) a set of confidentiality guidelines that apply to all aspects of information about health care

b) something new that's only been around for a decade or so

c) something that can be maintained or violated by any person including health care providers, patients, city departments, bystanders, etc.

The only part of this that is accurate is b, in that HIPAA was enacted in 1996. The idea of protecting information is hardly new though, as all health care providers have had a duty to protect confidentiality for at least the last half a century. Other entities such as schools and employers might not have an explicit code of ethics around health care confidentiality, but will generally lose lawsuits if they make secondhand disclosures of people's medical information for no good reason, and this is also not anything new and has nothing to do with HIPAA.

HIPAA only applies to "covered entities," which refers to individuals or agencies that transmit medical information electronically for billing and similar purposes. This means that a good number of private providers who do not take insurance or salaried providers who work outside of the insurance system (school nurses, etc.) are not affected by HIPAA. They still are bound by confidentiality standards given by their professional organization, licensing board, state laws, etc., but this is not the same thing as HIPAA.

Basically, someone is only maintaining or violating HIPAA if they are someone who bills insurance electronically. And if they are such a person, they also would be violating confidentiality. In everyday speech and writing, it makes a lot more sense to refer to protecting or violating confidentiality, not HIPAA, since you likely don't know whether a provider is a covered entity (and, apparently, a lot more providers think they are covered entities than actually are).


So, I called the person in the Somerville parking office whom the nice lawyer mans said to contact. The person, named Stephen ("with a 'p-h'"), told me that all I would need to do is send in the fee along with a letter written on my letterhead with a copy of my professional license and car registration, stating what type of health care I'm providing. He said they don't take information about where in Somerville I want the permit to be valid, stating that "we won't limit it, so that it will be valid if you want to pick up more clients in Somerville." He also said that "we usually make it valid Monday-Friday 9-5, but we can do 12-10 or whatever too since you see people in the evening."

What. The. Hell.?

So, either:

1) They've just now changed the policy because of my bringing it to their attention, which would be awesome, except that I'd hope that a city government could act like adults and acknowledge this. Or,

2) It never was a policy that people need to violate confidentiality in order to practice health care in Somerville, and the person I spoke to in parking was an ignorant jackass, who was then backed up by several other sheep whose policy is to "enforce" the word of any other department without actually doing any thinking, including at least one person who holds a professional license as a health care provider and should know better.

Either way, it looks like I'm well on my way to having said parking permit. It only took me six months. Really, for all the time and energy I spent on this, I could have bought my own damn parking spot had I a desire to park in a random residential neighborhood in Somerville for nefarious purposes. Because there's clearly a high risk of that sort of thing. What.

At the risk of attracting a cyclists vs. motorists pissing match...

While honking and swerving to avoid a (car-driving) idiot in heavy
traffic, I nearly took out a cyclist who was WEARING HEADPHONES. The
most disturbing/ironic/fucked-up part was that said cyclist was
wearing a helmet and cycling gear and used proper hand signals a few
blocks after this. Dumbass.

Apparently ISD only cites people for things but can't fix them

I've mentioned my sketchy downstairs neighbors many times here, so I won't go into detail. About two months ago, they got foreclosed, which made me think I was done with them and their sketchiness. Ah, not so. First of all, said unit owner was the sole signer on the condo trust account, due to said person insisting on this and hiring a lawyer to make sure it was so. Bank won't let me as a trustee access the account since I'm not a signer.

So after being foreclosed, their tenants continued to stay in the unit. The tenants were there all along in violation of the condo docs, since we weren't given a copy of the lease and the $1000 deposit (payable by unit owner, unrelated to the security deposit) wasn't put in the condo trust to cover expenses should the tenants do anything sketchy. Apparently this is all unenforceable though; the docs even state that the condo association can fine a unit owner $50 per day for being out of compliance with the docs, but there isn't actually any way to do this unless they decide to just give us said huge some of money when we ask for it. I mean, there are ways to do it involving out-of-pocket lawsuits and whatnot, but I obviously don't have that kind of time or money, and I always thought the reason I pay taxes is so I can make use of things like laws.

So, last week, the squatters decided to move out. I will say that they were generally very nice people and pleasant downstairs neighbors, and I'm guessing they don't know the circumstances around which they were rented the unit. That isn't their problem; it's the unit owner's job to follow guidelines. So they moved out and we saw them moving various furniture and clothing and things down to the curb. Then at some point when we were at work or something, all of said items found their way into the driveway, which I have exclusive rights to use for my car only -- essentially my private property:




Also around this time, I got a card in my mailbox from a real estate agent, stating that he was now in charge of the unit and would like to pay the past due condo fees (which now include bigass fines sufficient to make up for the missing condo account). I contacted said real estate agent and provided info on what would need to be done to pay the condo fees (basically, start a new trust account so we can pay our bills while pursuing theft charges or whatever against the previous unit owner). I also explained that the tenants had left all of this furniture and debris on my driveway, and I would need it moved.

A week later and three more voicemails to real estate guy, it's still there. I e-mailed ISD this morning, and they said they'll be mailing a citation to said real estate guy. However, they won't move the stuff. They said that I am responsible for moving it since it's my property. Wait, what? Isn't that why we have laws? How about if they move it and then charge the person who did it at a really high rate? It doesn't help me or the people who have to look at my driveway if all they'll do is cite the person but not actually do anything to take care of the problem.

On that note, is there anyone who'd like to haul away this debris and bill the condo association for, oh, $1000 for the removal?

Also, Beer Works in the airport has a full bar!

Hijacking planes with forks is OK, but with butter knives isn't.

Fancy flatscreen at Back Bay station not too useful right now

Delores Handy open thread

I'm going to be out of the country until next Saturday (woohoo!), so I'm starting this thread where all of Delores' fans can keep one another updated of all the awesome things she says during the week. Have fun and don't do anything I wouldn't do!

Cat is entirely too damn smart

Yesterday when we got our backpacks out to start packing for Ireland and England, Dexter of course realized this meant we were leaving, so he's spent the past 12 hours or so following me around and shoving a very distressed little face at me. Including this morning when I was in the shower and had a huge wide-eyed snout shoving itself around the shower curtain.

Today, while putting together a note for our cat sitters (thank you, Jan and Karen!), we got out the soft-sided kitty carrier and their leashes, so all of the kitty equipment would be readily accessible if G-d forbid they have to take anyone to the vet or anything. Also, Dexter and Izzy like to hang out crammed in the carrier together, particularly when there are no humans around to serve as cat beds. Then as I was packing and printing out confirmation e-mails, I suddenly noticed that Dexter was not currently wrapped around my arm or rifling through the toiletries or trying to chew up the boarding passes. I went to see what he was up to, and in the kitchen I found this:

Dexter wants to come with us

Poor guy. The "don't abandon meeeee" face seems to have been replaced with a "oh, hey, I'm ready to go" face. It didn't occur to us that he would connect the bag with us taking him along. D'oh! Sorry buddy!

Watch this informative and entertaining video

It might just be life-changing.

Turkish porn what

Why did someone think that they'd accomplish anything by posting Turkish porn spam on a blog that moderates comments?

This is one bassackwards city

So, the city is asking people to remove newspaper boxes from sidewalks, since people might throw them through windows if some sports team wins or loses.

What the hell, people? Seriously, the city is asking that people remove perfectly legal and innocuous items from the city streets in order to cater to grown people who can't refrain from acting like a bunch of toddlers?

Wait, that actually isn't fair to toddlers, since everyone in the developmental playgroup I lead knows it's never OK to throw things. And this includes the toddlers with developmental disabilities.

So, um, the city is asking law-abiding residents and businesspeople to cater to independent adults who can't be bothered to act as maturely as autistic toddlers are able to act? Nice. Great use of my tax dollars. Seriously, destroying shit because of some stupid sporting event should lead to substantial fines and jail time, because it's absolutely unprovoked. I can at least sort of understand how someone might go off in response to a breakup or an argument or getting fired or something. But the sporting team(s) did absofuckinglutely nothing to any of you personally, and if you think they did, there's treatment for that.

Delores Handy weather report of the day

It's forecasted to be "confitable" this week.

Somerville parking bullshit

Previous posts on the issue:

So, today I called the Somerville mayor's office to see what was going on and why it's been six months since the start of the issue. This was largely prompted by getting a ticket outside the individual's house this week, which I'm not even sure how to appeal, since it has an address on it.

I got a call right back from a very nice man named David in the legal department, who told me he had talked to the parking people and it would be no problem at all if I gave them the names of three adjacent streets, one of which is my client's, and they'd issue me a permit allowing me to park on only those streets. Wasn't this what I asked for before? I told the parking person I'd be completely willing to send in verification that I'm a health care provider, perfectly happy with a permit that only allowed me to park in a small area, perfectly happy with a permit that only allowed parking on Tuesdays. As we know from previous posts, the guy was ridiculously rude and unaccommodating. And then the people in the health commission were similarly ridiculous, including the registered nurse who wanted me to contact the person's family without a release to do so and didn't believe I could be doing counseling without an "ordering physician" overseeing my work and wouldn't allow my licensed self to attest that I was doing my job.

But all of the sudden, once a lawyer tells the parking people that, gee, a health care provider was correct about the laws relating to providing health care, they're fine with it? Great, but was all this necessary? Was it worth any of our time to ensure that there was no way in hell some person with proper identification and a professional license would get away with being allowed to park in a plenty-of-parking-spaces residential part of Somerville once in a while? I mean, I understand what a huge risk that would be on their part. Taking a chance at having a car sitting in Somerville is a serious issue, unlike small and frivolous risks like risking one's professional license.

I could have gotten a gun license a lot easier.

Delores Handy OMG of the day

"gay members" responsible for a weekend shooting