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3 weeks

So, I’m less than 3 weeks away from my last day at Transgender Law Center. The timing feels right with my internal clocks– the ones set to my Oprah-style-destiny-path– and as I head down the home stretch, I feel restless and focused on making my home more livable. In the last few weeks I’ve undertaken a number of home improvement projects, including one I can’t tell the landlord about (does it count as capital improvements if I do it myself?). Martha Beck says this nesting period is a classic sign of being in “square two” of the “change cycle.” other signs: hope returns (cue crying at every single olympics event i watch on bbc), you change your personal appearance (full beard to goatee– check), you start doing things you’ve never done before (coaching football, traveling to Vancouver, setting up a weight bench in my apartment), and, of course, settling in on a clear, focused picture of what you want your life to look like (getting there, but swinging pendulum-like towards and away from it).

I can list these signs off the top of my head because, in the 9 years since a friend gifted me /Finding Your Own North Star/, I’ve read it cover-to-cover once or twice and drilled myself on the topics multiple times. I’ve found the 4-stage change cycle to be a magnificently helpful unifying concept for understanding and making informed decisions about my life.

After spending so many daytime hours in relatively dry work (policy, admin, planning, developing my down-to-earth and reliability skill set), I feel uncomfortable talking about big picture hopes and dreams again. Things that aren’t tested, evaluated, evidence-based. Thinking that way is one thing, but voicing them aloud in a public space is different. But I miss writing too much to let my crust of grown-up self-protection take priority over my more basic need for self-expression. I’m listening to my intuition, but still afraid it could vanish into an un-findable frequency. Using my magical antennae to feel out the universe of my perceptions, but worried they might fall off. Particularly when the stability and protection of a biweekly paycheck ends all at once.

Sparrow, the smaller cat, is alternating between curiosity and fear with all the changes at home. Today she was very interested in the new corn-based litter I’m trying out in the bonus litter box. She did /not/ like how it tasted, but went and huddled out in the open on the rug by the front door instead of under the bed or in the closet. Finch has mostly been meowing for affection and food. People are always talking about themselves when they talk about their animals. Pro tip from /Anand’s Life Lessons/.

Okay, well, enough bravery for one night. There, I’ve faced you, fear of exposure and public humiliation (vulnerability). Time to start my 30-minute bedtime routine.

Call for participants: Vajayna Men’s Choir Workshops!

vmc1

Hi all! After a 6 years, I’m thrilled to announce that, thanks to a beautiful collaboration with The Singing Bois and a generous grant from the Queer Cultural Center, I’m resurrecting a dream project: the Vajayna Men’s Choir! The VMC is a group of transmasculine-identified people singing and joking about current events, trans politics, sex, and anything else that fits the moment. We’re holding workshops for any masculine-of-center people who want to learn to use their singing voices, get empowered to sing in public, share the joy of music, and other good stuff. The first one is coming up soon — Saturday, December 5, 2015! If you come to the workshop and like what you find, we’d love to have you sing with us at our joint concert with The Singing Bois next June as part of the National Queer Arts Festival. If this sounds good to you, please fill in the form below so I can get a hold of you. No experience necessary, but enthusiasm (or at least curiosity) will help a lot. 🙂

 

 

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Another chart

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) contract with 8 private companies distributed in 14 jurisdictions to administer Medicare parts A and B (medical and hospital) benefits. In the course of a work project, I ended up making this chart, of which I am proud. The private companies are called Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs).

bar chart shows comparison for all 8 MACs of % of Medicare beneficiaries, annual claim volume, and % of U.S. population living in their jurisdictions

Data compiled from: http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Contracting/Medicare-Administrative-Contractors/A-B_MAC_Jurisdictions.html and Wikipedia page for U.S. population by state/territory

Let’s look at the first set of bars, to understand what this chart is telling us. The green bar says that 24% of the total U.S. population lives in jurisdictions that Novitas Solutions, a MAC, administers. The blue one says that 24.3% of Medicare beneficiaries live in those same jurisdictions. The yellow bar says that 24.1% of all the Medicare claims filed in one year go through Novitas. All 3 being about equal is interesting in that this is what we expect would be the case.

MOre interesting is Noridian’s bars — 22% of the U.S. population lives in Noridian’s jurisdictions, but only 17.7% of Medicare A/B beneficiaries do, and only 14.7% of total Medicare A/B claims go through Noridian. Fascinating! What accounts for the gap between the green and blue bars? One explanation could be that the population in Noridian’s jurisdiction skews younger, resulting in fewer Medicare-eligible people in their populations. But if that were the case, we might expect to see the opposite trend (higher blue bar than green) in the data for FCSO, which administers Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, since we know the population of Florida skews older. And we don’t see that. Hm.

Another explanation could be that more Medicare beneficiaries in Noridian’s jurisdictions opt for Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans instead of traditional/original fee-for-service Medicare plans, which the Kaiser Family Foundation will tell you all about here. But, looking at the map below, that might not be the case — check out the high rates of Medicare Advantage enrollment in Wisconsin and Minnesota, 2 of the 3 states in the Wisconsin Physician Services jurisdiction (see map at bottom for jurisdictions) — they have pretty high MA enrollments, though Illinois, the last state in the jurisdiction, has very low MA enrollment. Wisconsin and Minnesota together have a roughly equal population to Illinois, which makes the average proportion of MA enrollments work out to be (very) roughly 28%, which is about on par with the national average (30%), so, um, actually this doesn’t help with the original question.

Kaiser Family Foundation map showing Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) enrollment proportions by state; from: http://kff.org/medicare/fact-sheet/medicare-advantage-fact-sheet/

Kaiser Family Foundation map showing Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) enrollment proportions by state; from: http://kff.org/medicare/fact-sheet/medicare-advantage-fact-sheet/

 

What I’m really most interested in is the height differences between the green and yellow bars — for example, why does Novitas evenly match the proportion of beneficiaries and claims they handle, while Noridian appears to handle 3% less than they “should”? I have only speculation, and no evidence to back me up. Any Medicare sleuths out there?

For reference, here is a map from CMS that shows the creative Jurisdiction names and geographic areas, along with the name of the MAC that administers Medicare A/B benefits in those areas.

A-B-Jurisdiction-Map-April-2015

Original source: http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Contracting/Medicare-Administrative-Contractors/Downloads/A-B-Jurisdiction-Map-April-2015.pdf

The Libzarian’s Credo

  1. You have the right to ask questions.
  2. You have the right to receive help in meeting your needs.
  3. You have the right to meet your needs.
  4. If 1-3 going well, you have the responsibility to help other people meet theirs. If 1-3 is a struggle, 4 is a right as well.
Tagged , , ,

From a paper I wrote in 2010

“Exacerbating the marginalization of oppressed people is the information blackout on issues, identities, and experiences in formal and informal media. Queer and trans people—especially youth and intersected, of course, with other categories/types of social identity & experience—have information needs that are linked to particular moments of identity development and critical awareness (Taylor 2002; Beiriger & Jackson 2007). In absence of the requisite information, development stalls and awareness fails to materialize, as available information sourced heavily from Big Media continues to predominate, instead of an oppressed person reaching liberation through uprooting and dismissing it. So, the consequence of not meeting queer/trans information needs is a perpetuation of socially mediated constructs of gender, sexuality, race, disability, class, age, body size & shape, and religion, which are products of a system of oppression that succeeds by obliterating its targets in their own minds
first.”

Don’t worry, I proposed a solution.

Good tidings of Taxmas!

Guess what I just found out! The IRS has changed the way it calculates how much tax you owe. Now, instead of taking a straight percentage of your earnings, you owe a flat rate PLUS a percentage that’s based off how far you are above the bottom cutoff for your tax bracket. This sounds more confusing than it is. The happy effect is that the new tax rates eliminate the scenarios where a person making just above the cutoff makes less than they would if they were below the cutoff. Here’s a specific example: if your gross income was $36,000 in 2013, you’d bring home $30,600 after federal taxes. If you made $37,000, you’d be in a higher tax bracket, so you’d only bring home $27,750. But in 2014, if you make $36,000, you bring home $31,075.53, and at $37,000, you’d net $31,893.75. Huzzah!

Here’s a graph that shows the difference (NB: I’ve only included data for up to $100,000 gross income). Algebra I & II teachers out there, making this graph would be a fun exercise for your students.
line graph showing that the 2014 tax brackets eliminate drops in net income across tax bracket lines

Enjoy this happy change and the knowledge that, somehow, Congress actually did something nice for the 99% this year (or last year… I don’t actually know when this change was legislated).

Another poem

Denny dined a donor for dinner,
but dinner was done,
so Denny deigned to dine at a different diner for the donor dinner,
and then he got lots of money.

O, Pioneers

O, Pioneers
that wintry landscape swept
oer plains to fields
upon the bounty god granted
to someone else,
whose house you razed
whose bodies you violated
whose resistance you used to justify
extermination —
What said your mind?
How cried your heart?
Who tended your body?
Not God.
Not god.

Tagged

Ain’t no HIPAA violation now, baby!

I just had the most pleasant and helpful interaction with a top-notch librarian via the University of Michigan Libraries’ chat reference tool (Ask a Librarian). I thought I’d share the transcript (below), just to share the love (also because one time, when I myself worked on the other side of the reference desk, I got in trouble for sharing a chat reference transcript with the reference team (that’s a funny story that I’m honor-bound not to tell)).

Enjoy!

1:54 me Hi, do you have a few minutes?
1:54 UM Librarian Sure!
1:54 UM Librarian How can I help you?
1:55 me Thanks! I found a citation for this article, and I need to read the full text, but I don’t know how without a UM log-in. http://www.lib.umich.edu/articles/details/FETCH-LOGICAL-c679-ce93f6d454f3ca48a5e9c9193d362ae7e1e3b5f4863107baee8037057b2205e2
1:56 UM Librarian are you affiliated with UM?
1:56 me I’m an alum (actually used to work at the Grad and UGL reference desks myself)…last I checked no remote access to databases for alum accounts
1:57 UM Librarian yes, that’s true
1:57 UM Librarian it’s possible to purchase a card to continue your access to our print collections
1:57 UM Librarian but the remote access is only for current students, faculty and staff
1:57 UM Librarian there is a small amount of content available if you are a member of the alumni association:
1:58 UM Librarian http://www.lib.umich.edu/services-alumni
1:59 me Hm, okay. Can you help me figure out which databases index the journal that the article i need is from?
1:59 UM Librarian sure
1:59 me that way I can check MeL
1:59 UM Librarian also
2:00 UM Librarian public libraries can be pretty good about interlibrary loan requests
2:00 me Oh, yeah, that makes sense. How does ILL work with digital materials?
2:00 UM Librarian it depends
2:00 UM Librarian for us, for digital journal articles
2:00 UM Librarian we receive a PDF
2:01 UM Librarian I used to work in ILL at Ann Arbor District Library
2:01 UM Librarian and we would get paper copies
2:01 UM Librarian but that was in 2008
2:01 UM Librarian so things may have changed
2:01 UM Librarian if you’re nearby, everyone has access to our digital collections in person, too
2:02 UM Librarian hmm
2:02 me cool, thanks. i’m in california, so sadly I can’t come in in-person.
2:02 UM Librarian it looks like it’s indexed in a few places
2:02 UM Librarian but the coverage varies
2:02 UM Librarian the article you sent is from 1974
2:03 UM Librarian outside the range of a number of the databases that include it
2:03 me hmm
2:03 UM Librarian so, are you looking for just that specific article?
2:03 UM Librarian or do you want to search the archives more generally?
2:04 UM Librarian also, if you’re near a public university
2:04 UM Librarian you might be able to access by visiting
2:04 me well, i was looking specifically for research on the search string: “curved surface” AND geometry AND network
2:04 UM Librarian ah, I see
2:04 me yeah, i live close to UC Berkeley, I might stop up there
2:04 UM Librarian that’s a great idea
2:04 UM Librarian just a moment
2:06 UM Librarian From the Berkeley site:
2:06 UM Librarian “Campus visitors are accorded free on site access to reference assistance, electronic research resources, reference collections, government reference materials, and the Library’s reading rooms. Priority access to UC Berkeley Library services and resources is accorded to UC students, faculty and staff.”
2:06 UM Librarian http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/services/for_users/alumni_visitors.html
2:06 UM Librarian it looks like they discourage visitors who need a lot of reference assistance
2:06 UM Librarian which is different than here
2:06 UM Librarian but since you’re a pro searcher
2:06 UM Librarian it sounds like you can visit there
2:07 UM Librarian and use their databases in person just like you can here
2:07 me awesome. i guess i should probably search their print journals first, then
2:07 me (i’m so out of practice, this is embarrassing)
2:08 UM Librarian oh no worries!
2:08 UM Librarian their electronic databases will probably help you the most
2:08 me full text back to 1974? this *is* the future!
2:08 UM Librarian
2:08 UM Librarian not always, but sometimes!
2:09 UM Librarian we have it, so they might too
2:09 me fabulous! thank you so much for checking all of this for me.
2:09 me btw, who am i speaking with?
2:10 UM Librarian this is [redacted]
2:10 UM Librarian no problem!
2:10 me Hi [redacted], this is Anand
2:11 UM Librarian nice to talk with you!
2:11 me likewise. have a great day!
2:11 UM Librarian you too!