Monday, July 26, 2010

And so it begins

You catch that?

"If somebody has insurance they like, they should be able to keep that insurance... They should just pay less for the care that they receive."

That was from March 6, 2009.

The Obamacare bill was introduced in congress in late 2009.

In February 2010, Blue Cross Blue Shield raised the rates for our company's insurance plan by 24%.

So much for "you should just pay less for the care you receive."

Why an increase in rates of 24%?

Last week we got an email from BCBS listing all of the things that they now have to cover, without cost sharing, per the new dictates from the Department of Health and Human Services. Companies will also be required to report the value of all healthcare benefits provided to employees. To quote the email... "This is for reporting purposes only to accommodate various studies and begin preparation for the "Cadillac tax" in 2018."

In other words, here is all the stuff we are forcing your insurance company to cover, but if they charge to much we will slap an extra tax on them.

Today my boss sent out an email that Consumer Reports is about to publish a report attacking Blue Cross Blue Shield for holding too much money in reserve (6 months operating cost.) BCBCAZ issued a pre-emptive response, ending with this comment:

"Particularly during these times of economic uncertainty and major health policy changes, plans must be sufficiently capitalized in order to maintain service levels in this untested new environment."

In other words, the gov't just passed a 2000 page bill, no one is quite sure what is in it, but all indications are that vast regulatory powers have been granted to agencies that oversee health insurance companies. We fully expect to be subject to much more regulation on what we cover (see above) and how much we can charge (see above.) Given that we have no clue how much this healthcare monstrosity is going to increase our costs, we feel it is prudent to begin increasing your rates now and socking away cash so that we can survive as a business.

I don't fault BCBS for this at all. Seems like a perfectly reasonable business response to me.

However, based on the email from my boss, it sounds very likely that we will be shopping for new insurance, and likely switching. Keep in mind, I've worked there for 11 years, and we've had BCBS insurance for the majority of that time, if not the entire time. I'd say that many years with the same insurance indicates that we liked our insurance plan.

And we will likely be getting rid of it, because they increased costs due to Obamacare.

So much for "if you have insurance you like you should be able to keep it."

"Everyone will have the security and stability that's missing today."

Yup! 24% increase in costs and changing up our entire insurance company sure sounds like the security and stability I've been missing!!!

$*!%$*(%!(@)!@#)!$%#$%">#!@)!@#)!$%#$%/a#!#!!!!! ...... Jerk...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I'll take the dry heat.

I headed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida this week for work. Our customer put us up in a nice hotel, right on the beach.

The view was pretty nice, the water clear.

Not that we really enjoyed any of it that much. We spent the whole time working, and didn't even have a chance to head down to the beach. Which is unfortunate, because "Jason" and "beach bum" are nearly synonomous. :) Actually, I think the engineer I went with would have enjoyed some time at the beach, but we just were too busy. Confidentiality prevents me from spilling the beans on what we were testing, but it was a weekend of testing, stress, and not a lot of engineering success. We also had a couple dinners with customers and investors.

Which was totally relaxing, since "Jason" and "social butterly" are also synonomous.


The guy I went with lived here for a while, so he took the scenic route around town. I thought that Scottsdale was an obnoxiously wealthy place. Let's just say that this joint takes conspicuous consumption to an entirely new level. Along Las Olas Boulevard, we spotted huge houses. And parked next to the houses were boats that were even bigger. I can't even imagine the keeping up with the Joneses that goes on in these neighborhoods.
After feeding my ulcer with a few days of stress (no, I don't really have an ulcer, but after that trip it won't suprise me if one pops up) we hopped back on a plane for the flight home. We dodged tropical storms and thunderclouds most of the way back home, some of the biggest clouds I've seen on a flight. The captain kept telling people that he was actually serious about the seatbelt sign. The flight was actually very smooth though.

Finally, we dropped through the thunderstorms into the promised land, as evidenced by the rainbow. Think there is a pot of lost Dutch gold at the end of that one?

Even at 20% relative humidity and probably 100 degrees when we landed, it felt wonderful. I can't even fathom how people in Fort Lauderdale live in that humidity. A couple people even asked while we were there "So isn't the weather so much nicer here that out in Phoenix?"

Ummmmm, no. I much prefer walking out into a blast furnace compared to a pressure cooker.

I'm honestly hoping not to have to repeat that trip anytime in the near future.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Too good not to post...

...given my several Old Spice posts lately. From one of my favorite comics, Day by Day:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mmmmmmm, goooooood.

Normally, when Paige takes off for the summer, I eat like this:

Lots of meat and very few vegetables (unless you count potatoes.) Which is why I also end up on a steady diet of this:

So this summer, I'm attempting to eat a little more of this:

However, while I was in Utah, my decadent buddy Jonathan enlightened me to the high-falutin' method of fruit consumption, revealing that he typically eats his fruit with this:

And you thought a bowl of berries couldn't get any better. Oh, how wrong you are.

While I was in Utah we ate lunch at Ruth's Diner. On the menu I discovered Ruth's Chocolate Malt Pudding. Per the menu... "Before Jell-o, all puddings were made this way..."

Back up the Kraft Foods truck... "Before Jell-o" ?!?!?!?

I wasn't even aware such a time existed. In all my 30 something years, it never even occurred to me that you could make pudding that didn't come out of a box. And since I've never even heard of such a thing, and everyone uses the boxes... I'll bet homemade is an even slower process.

Could life get any better?

Where was I? Oh yeah...

"Before Jell-o, all puddings were made this way. Rich semi-sweet chocolate, barley malt syrup, heavy cream, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla served with a generous swirl of whipped cream."

So, a little of this:

(Note Mother... the H&H is organic. Probably like 83 times better for me than that sythetic hormonal pesticide stuff that all the normal people drink. The eggs, however, are not free range. And the vanilla is Mexican.)


And quite a bit of this:

And I had this for desert last night:

While watching this:

Mmmmmmmmmmm, gooooooooood.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

57 takes to get that sweater to land?

And it's all one continuous shot? Not CGI (except for the diamonds)?

You. are. kidding. me.

I intended to balance the checkbook today. Obviously that isn't happening...

Do you like the smell of adventure?

Hello ladies. How are you? Fantastic...

Seriously, Old Spice has hired marketing geniuses.

As evidenced by the fact that my boys often smell like a man.

Or that every morning I can now choose between smelling like LIMES, AN OCEAN BREEZE & FREEDOM, or PALM TREES, SUNSHINE & FREEDOM, or even ICE, WIND & FREEDOM. It's like an exotic vacation, without the cramped international air travel!

Seriously... have you ever smelled freedom before? And yes, I realize that I am missing the smell of WILDERNESS, OPEN AIR & FREEDOM. Gotta add that to my to do list...

Either marketing geniuses, or something about a sucker being born every minute.

Swan dive!

PS: There's a ringtone?!?! I know what my text message sound will be in about 5 more minutes...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Meeting Mr. Thomas

Last Thursday I loaded up my car and headed north to meet Mr. Thomas Bakker. The first night I drove to Flagstaff, and slept in the parking lot of First Southern Baptist Church. Then I headed out again with the sun. My trusty pooch was my only traveling companion.

We stopped to stretch our legs and get a peek at Glen Canyon Dam.

And then took scenic highway 89 most of the way up to Salt Lake City.

I arrived in Salt Lake on Friday night, and got to meet Thomas Gordon Bakker. Short of my own kids, one of the cutest and most easy going babies I've met. And yet I somehow made it through the whole weekend without managing to snap a picture of him.

That night we worked on the ol' Volvo (see Bakker's blog for pics.) It seems it's been having vapor lock problems. We were pretty sure we had found the source of the problems... an air intake stuck on the hot setting, overheating the engine.

The next morning I got a text from Paige with big news!

Jonathan and I took a drive up into the mountains east of Salt Lake, and had lunch at Sundance.

Jonathan told me that it was typically populated with hippie liberal types, so I made sure to dress so as to blend right in.

The views up there were gorgeous, hippie liberals not withstanding.

That afternoon, we came up with a spur of the moment project, a pneumatic potato launcher. We also adapted it to launch sections of foam fun noodles, fashioned into rocket shapes using duct tape and ingenuity.

After some fine tuning, we had it working quite well (lousy video quality on the camera, but you get the idea.)

We also discovered that you can shoot marshmallows a looooong way with just an old oxygen bottle and a piece of 1" PVC.

Sunday night we busted out the 4th of July fireworks. Jonathan taught his nephew the finer points of daisy chaining fireworks.

Banjo was convinced that the fireworks were evil demons or something, since she tried to attack them every time we set one off.

On Monday, Katie and young Thomas joined us for a scenic drive up to Ruth's Diner for lunch. The drive up the canyon to lunch was very scenic, as was the drive down the freeway towards home.

Yeah. Apparently our repairs on Friday night weren't exactly successful. Good thing the weather was fairly pleasant. I'm not sure we ever did figure out exactly what was wrong. We managed to limp back home and got trouble codes for a MAF sensor and a "fuel trim" setting. We cleaned the MAF, but I haven't heard yet if that really fixed anything.

Tuesday I packed up and Banjo and I headed back home.

No videos of my drive this time (even my wife said that my last road trip video was the most boring thing she had ever seen.) I did, however, take some photos of some interesting road trip sights.

These were everywhere around Utah. I must have gone past 20 of them during my stay there.

Apparently Utah'ns aren't taking adequate care of their colons, and someone really wants them to.

And these were everywhere as well...

Now, I'm sure the inspirational billboard idea is just an effort to make the world a better place... but every time I passed one I just thought of these guys...

Someone should put those billboards up all across the state.

And finally, I don't think this one is going to fly if he gets pulled over...

It was a great trip, to visit great friends, and meet one cute little kid. At one point, after leaving a voicemail for my mom (in falsetto), she texted me back:

"Nice to feel 15 years younger for a while, isn't it?"

It sure was!

So, uhhh... sorry about that Katie. Hopefully your husband returns to his mature, 30 something, fatherly behavior soon. I shouldn't be around to revert him to adolescence again until at least next year. ;)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Milepost 240.2

Ten years ago today. Nearly this hour.

It seems like I should write something. But I don't have anything to say.

Only that it still stings, nearly as much as the first minute. Just less often now.

Ten years of memories not made.

Ten years of memories fading, and worrying that the only thing you have left of them here on this earth is slowly slipping from your mind.

Ten years of looking forward to seeing them again, in a place where physics doesn't kill, and where "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.