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In These Otsego Hills

July 12, 2012

In These Otsego Hills: Both puzzling and pleasing ...

Not long ago a friend asked us why parents allow, and in some cases seem to encourage, their children playing in the streets. We must admit we did not have an answer to the question, having often wondered about it ourselves when we see children in the street. We were always taught that it was never a good idea to play in places that are basically designated for motor vehicles, such as streets, driveways and parking lots. However, it seems that message has changed over the years, which means drivers must be more alert than ever, especially in the summer when there are more people out and about.

Of course, we also often find ourselves puzzling over opinions expressed publicly such as in letters to the editor.

And while we do always admit someone is entitled to his or her opinion, we do tend by spells to find ourselves puzzling over the facts used to support a given opinion. For example, there recently was a letter to the editor of a daily paper in the area in which the writer supplied information about his health insurance premiums and came to the conclusion that capitalism no longer works. To support this conclusion, he wrote: “...I pay the exact same amount per month for both Medicare and a supplemental private insurance, yet Medicare provides me 80 percent of the coverage, and private insurance only 20 percent...”

And while there is undoubtedly no question that at this point in time, he does indeed pay the same amount to Medicare for Part B that he pays to a private insurer for a supplemental plan. However, what he has not included in his thinking is the cost for Medicare Part A, which he does not pay currently, but receives from the Medicare system by virtue of having paid into that system during his working career.

At the moment, Medicare Part A is valued, according to information online for those who, for whatever reason do not receive Medicare but are eligible to buy into the system at $451 per month. Thus, the actual dollar value of the letter writer’s Medicare coverage each month is something in the neighborhood of $551 per month. And when his supplemental premium is included, the total cost for health insurance coverage would be about $651 per month.

Thus, the Medicare cost, which covers 80percent of the health care, represents 84.6percent of the monthly premiums, while the private supplemental plan, which covers 20percent of the health care, is only 15.4percent of the total monthly premiums. Thus we would be tempted to point out that it would seem the cost of the private supplemental insurance is actually not out of line with the coverage it is providing.

Therefore, when looking at the total costs associated with Medicare, we suspect it is not the best example to use to decry the decay of capitalism.

And on a more pleasing note, we were most interested when we recently opened an e-mail from Hugh MacDougall to discover a little piece about Susan Fenimore Cooper, daughter of novelist James Fenimore Cooper which had been discovered in the July 2, 1850, edition of the Keokuk Dispatch located in Keokuk, Iowa, by Jose A. Munoz of Clarkston, Michigan. The article said: “A New Authoress.

- Miss Fenimore Cooper, a daughter of the novelist, is about to make her debut as an authoress, a book by her entitled ‘Rural Hours in the United States,’ having been announced in London.” We always find such discoveries to be fairly interesting. We thank Mr. Munoz for sharing his find as well as Hugh for passing it on to us.

Of course, we have learned that we never know when we are going to come across something of interest like this. For example, we had no idea that an e-mail which we received recently from our son would lead to yet another James Fenimore Cooper discovery as he seemed to ask a very simple question, namely what year did you go on “Man and His Land?” And while we did not instantly know the answer, we did determine it was in 1989.

And when checking exactly when in our 1989 appointment calendar, we came across a brochure for a celebration of “The Bicentennial of the Birth of James Fenimore Cooper, September 15, 1789.” And, although the celebration was listed on our calendar, we have no recollection of having attended it. Does anyone remember attending this affair? Please let us know.

We also would like to note that the James Fenimore Cooper Society, of which we have been a member for a number of years now, has redone its membership brochure. And as we looked it over we realized that, given the list of the major writings of James Fenimore Cooper, we still have a bit more reading of Cooper to do. So we consider ourselves fortunate that there is still some great summer reading time left which will hopefully include another Cooper work.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 607-547-8124 or by e-mail at

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In These Otsego Hills
  • Flash back to debate over tourism Congratulations go out to Sandy and Marshall Thorne on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary.

    August 21, 2014

  • Reflecting on the noon whistle Over the years we have been taken to task by readers who do not agree with our thinking. And we have never thought that to be a problem. Opinions differ and it is always good to hear all points of view on an issue. However, for what we think is perhaps the first time, we have been taken to task by a complaint that while we had taken what was an obviously unpopular position on buses within the village, we had been negligent in commenting on another issue, namely the noon whistle. In the writer’s opinion, the current issue, which we now think we understand to be the elimination of heavy traffic on residential streets, is just like the issue of the noon whistle.

    August 14, 2014

  • Summer heading toward destination We were pleased to learn that general reaction to the Hall of Fame Induction Weekend was most positive. From what we read in newspaper reports as well as what we heard from people who attended various events, the crowds really enjoyed themselves. The parade on Saturday got rave reviews from everybody who talked with us about it. Plus, in spite of what we thought when the rain hit Sunday morning, the weather overall seemed to be cooperative. And we gather that the merchants were pleased with the weekend. So we have to think it is probably safe to say it was a win-win for everyone who partook of the weekend's activities.

    August 7, 2014

  • Bringing up a matter of poetic license Since we seem to spend time each week both reading and writing, we have always found the English language interesting to say the least. It seems that it always follows the rules until it doesn't follow the rules. Thus we found Jim Atwell's column "From word to phrase to sentence," which appeared in last week's paper, to be most delightful. But more importantly, it gives us something about which to write this week.

    July 31, 2014

  • Visitings with the Widge, Mare Bear This past week we found ourselves enjoying a delightful visit from the Ohio Ellsworths. And while our daughter-in-law Annie had to attend a conference at Hamilton College during part of the visit here, we greatly enjoyed our time with them. We were, of course, quite surprised to realize how much the granddaughters, The Widge and Mare Bear, had grown since we last saw them at Christmas. Obviously, their parents had not put bricks on their heads to retard their growth.

    July 24, 2014

  • Thoughts on traffic and roads We recently enjoyed a brief visit from Jon Battle, one of our late husband's college buddies, who always enjoys visiting Cooperstown and passing howdy on the front porch. And while the front porch is not as welcoming as it used to be since there are no chairs on it, we were able to pass howdy from the comfort of our family room. And during the many subjects that we covered in our conversation, the topic of potholes came up.

    July 17, 2014

  • Potholes and oversights bring bumps We have received a number of comments regarding our discussion on potholes in last week’s column. And most of them were in agreement that the potholes are indeed a problem.

    July 10, 2014

  • Potholes need place on village agenda We have long thought that the concepts of perspective and priorities have the ability to present problems for people. As we are inclined to say, getting one's ducks all in a row is often difficult. And as we have learned about issues currently under consideration by the Village of Coopertown it does make us wonder about their ducks.

    July 3, 2014

  • Summer unofficially begins with ice cream Although summer officially arrived this past weekend, we have long thought that the kick off event for the summer season in Cooperstown is the annual Ice Cream Social sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church on Pioneer Street.

    June 26, 2014

  • Splitting logs gives splitting headache We are happy to report that Woodside Hall is continuing with its presentation of programs which are open to the public. This evening at 6:30 p.m., they are hosting Glimmerglass Festival designers Troy Hourie and Erik Teague who will discuss their role in the company's summer production of Strauss' opera, "Ariadne in Naxos: Unplugged."

    June 19, 2014