Thursday, January 17, 2008


It's us hopelessly naive types who are always disappointed with reality.

In spite of everything, I still believe that the function of bureaucracy is to ensure that everything that needs to be remembered is recorded, that people who need something get it, and that people who don't don't. Unfortunately, reality ensures that bureaucracy prevents those who need something from getting it.

No Rest for the Weary

I began snoring a few years back, and decided to do something about it. A family doctor gave me a referral to a sleep clinic on the basis of my having sleep apnea. Based on this referral I made an appointment with a sleep clinic. Done?

No. The sleep clinic can't see me until my health clinic gives me an approval based on my referral. So I go to the health clinic to get the approval. Done?

No. The health clinic won't give me an approval, because my referral has to come from either a neurologist or an ENT, not a family doctor. So I go to an ENT. Then I go back to the health clinic. Done?

No. The health clinic doesn't like what the ENT wrote. Apparently, the reason the ENT gave for my needing a sleep clinic isn't a good enough reason.

Now at this point, two doctors and a sleep clinic know I need a sleep clinic, and the health clinic knows this, too. A naive person might think that the health clinic would step aside or help me straighten everything out, rather than continue to stand in my way.

No. I have to go back to my ENT and get a new referral with one of the approved reasons for seeing a sleep clinic. And what are the approved reasons, you may ask, as I did? They refused to tell me, because they didn't want me or my ENT to just write down a fake reason expecting it to get rubber stamped. The ENT is supposed to know the approved, secret reasons.


The ENT obviously doesn't know what your secret reasons are, I said, seeing as she already gave me a referral with these reasons. I think we can expect that the ENT assumed that the reasons given were sufficient, or she wouldn't have given me this referral, no? We can't help you, says the health clinic.

So I go back to the ENT and relate my sad story. The ENT says (surprise) that the reasons she gave me were perfectly sufficient and I should go back and tell this to the health clinic (I'm not walking between two offices in a building, you must understand. Each of these visits is to a different part of town on different days, and each visit is about 30 to 60 minutes.) She can't think of what reasons would possibly be more sufficient than the ones she already gave me (secret reasons, no less).

The ENT writes on the bottom of my previous referral that my reasons are certainly sufficient and if anyone questions it, they should call her cellphone number. I take this back to the health clinic. Done?

No. The health clinic tells me that nothing has changed and that it's still not sufficient, but that they will run it by Doctor so-and-so and call me back. A day later they call me back and say it's finally approved. Done?

No. I still have to go back to the health clinic and wait again to get the approval in writing to run it over to the sleep clinic. They won't fax it for me.

Credit Card Woes

My American credit card company called me about some suspicious transactions in mid-December. Turns out someone was using my card to rack up small online charges at places like Skype and music places I'd never heard of. My American credit card company immediately took care of the problem and sent me a new card.

I had to rip up my old card. I ripped it up and threw it out, only to discover that I had instead ripped up my Israeli credit card by accident. So for a week or two I was out both cards.

Getting back my Israeli card was more of a hassle, since I had to go down to my bank branch and agree to new fees. You can't just do it through the credit card company. But eventually I get a new one with the same number as the old one, after paying an annual fee and agreeing to monthly fees to boot.

This month's Israeli credit card statement, on my new Israeli credit card, contained a bogus charge to an online music store that I'd never been to. It was made around the time that I received the new card in the mail.

OK .... the Israeli credit card company canceled my card and is sending me a new one. They'll cancel the bogus charge after sending me a form to fill out and sign and I send it back (already done).

But wait. The same type of charges on two different credit cards? Either someone copied my credit card info from my wallet, intercepted my mail, or is logging my keystrokes on my computer.

As to the last, I've run a dozen programs now and I can't detect anything. As to the other two, they don't seem all that likely. Maybe it's pure coincidence?

Now I'm nervous.

Game News

Here's a link into coverage of yet another police raid onto a small poker game. This time the illegal activity was collecting $5 from each player to pay for the food and drink. Follow the links to read the detailed stories.

The Calgary Herald covers the local Euro-gaming group.

The Dice Tower's podcast episode 114 is a diverse look back at the year 2007. If you pay careful attention, It's Alive is briefly mentioned as having been a nice surprise.

In the Israeli town of Sderot, whose schoolyards and playgrounds are still being bombarded with daily barrages of rocket fire from Gaza, there are many different ways to cope. According to this Haaretz article, "The Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council ... has modified the Monopoly board game to allow players to "fire" Qassams, as a way of reducing stress."

"Board game" searches on Lycos are up 400% (whatever that means).



Simon J said...

Your tale of the Isreali health service .... reminds me of .... your tale of Isreali banking.

Whilst bureaucracy is bad in most places it seems particularly bad in Isreal for some reason.

Yehuda Berlinger said...

People have always told me that it's just because I'm an immigrant, and that foreigners to America have the same difficulties. But I suspect that Israel is actually worse, anyway.


Anonymous said...

You might find this interesting:

And I do believe that most of your problems with Israeli bureaucracy is because of you being an immigrant.