Monday, May 31, 2010

First Dates are Awkward

I went on a first date today. I haven't been on a date in awhile. I wasn't even actually sure it was a date initially since I kind of think I was the one who did the asking. We met via OK Cupid, which I never really knew was a dating site, I thought it was just a dumb (albiet totally silly) quiz site. Lyday turned me on to the site. It's free and honestly, you get what you pay for with them. I found more poly couples looking for a 3rd or 4th than I have ever seen. And it didn't stop once I moved to the Bible belt!

Anyway, we'd been emailing back and forth for about a month and a half. I wasn't sure if he was really interested. He'd email like 2 or 3 sentences and I think at least once I think he asked me the same thing he had previously asked. I started to not respond since I figured he wasn't really that interested and yet he'd email again.

So we met today at Fuddruckers which is not the restaurant I thought it was, but it was fine. We talked a lot and then went to get snow cones. He's a nice guy. It was a fine time. There's not a lot to say about that.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Doggie P0nr

I want a pet. I have missed having one basically ever since I've moved. However, in order to get a pet, I have to pay the pet deposit and the adoption fee and then all the accoutrements a pet needs and I'm just not quite there financially yet. I'll get there, maybe in July, but not yet. Until then I've been scouring and craigslist. It's become an addiction. I had found one I was really interested, but I had told Michelle I would not adopt a dog until after her visit and he's no longer listed so I can hope that means he was adopted. In reality I couldn't have anyway (see previous part about $$). I can't get a cat because apparently everybody I know is allergic so it has to be a dog. I'd prefer an adult dog because I honestly don't want to deal with potty training and/or crate training a puppy. Michelle has offered me their dog, Shelby. Her size made it really difficult for them to find a place to live. Weight wise I could actually take her (I thought I couldn't). She's a really good dog and she and I get along very well. But her poop would be ginormous to pick up! :) So I'll wait and maybe the perfect pet will present itself.

I find it vaguely fascinating as I scour Craigslist that people will give up cats for free. Lots and lots and lots of free cats, but rarely dogs... Dogs always have a "rehoming" fee. I've seen one free dog in over 100 listings and this one was dumped and has only 3 legs. Oh let me back up... I just saw 2 more free dog ads... for pits. Now I have nothing against Pit Bulls, however my apartment complex does. No pits or anything crossed with a pit. (Also in case you care no: malamutes, rottweilers, German Shepherds, Huskies, Doberman, Chows, St. Bernards, Great Danes, Akitas, American Staffordshire Terriers (Pit Bulls by another name) and American Bull dogs.)

Stephen had to have Rigby put down. I knew it was coming. In fact if she hadn't been so spry I would've probably done it before I left Seattle because I knew at her last appointment she was declining rapidly. (She had lost I think 70 or 80 grams between 2 vet appointments that's a lot for a pet that only weighed 780 grams to begin with). By the time Stephen took her to the vet she was down to 400. Poor girl. Poor Stephen.

The Plan for Today

Go to Brunch(sadly by myself)
Unpack the last 4 boxes
Maybe go see Letters to Juliet
Buy some vinegar to combat the fungus gnats on one of my plants.
Put away what needs putting away

What's on your agenda for today?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On A Lighter Note - I'm so not in kansas anymore.

I joined the party planning committee at work. I did this of my own volition. I thought it would be fun. Clearly I'm a moron. We're talking about doing a "shirt" day once a month when the whole site all wear shirts following a theme (sports teams, hawai'ian, etc) This month is Memorial Day so we're wearing red, white and blue. The committee sent around a flyer (flier?) for opinions before it got sent out and I commented. Holy crap. I clearly opened up a can of worms. I just found some of the phrasing to be a little potentially offensive and should we try to say it a little differently. I then pondered if perhaps honoring Memorial Day wasn't a little too political. Again, clearly I said that perhaps we should all eat babies for dinner for their tender and succulent meat. Luckily I got lectured on the history of Memorial Day so now I could not possibly be confused about potential offensiveness of Memorial Day. So I'm sharing this whole ridiculous drama with my coworker and we both came to the same agreement: not everybody is for the wars that have been fought recently and Memorial Day honors those that fall in war and MAYBE it could be offensive to some. And then she says "Yeah, we should have just nuked the shit out of them and been done with it." Funny how that works sometimes.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Health Care Reform: My take

I spent last Thursday at an all day event talking about health care reform and how it is going to impact us, employers, in administrating our benefits. It sucks. I do believe that uninsured should have options. I do believe the uninsurable should have options. I do not believe the legislation that passed is the right answer.

Exchanges: When you buy a car, you buy car insurance. You can't expect to call up just after you got in an accident and get car insurance to cover that accident. The exchanges will not work that way. You, an uninsured person, could not bother signing up for health insurance and pay your $8.00/mo fine until you get sick. Then you can sign up with the exchanges and get coverage immediately that will cover that condition (since no pre-existing condition rules apply and you cannot be rejected). You could then drop back off the insurance once you're done receiving treatment. This is not a sound business practice. Potentially they will be paying out way more in claims than they're bringing in in premiums and since they will be hamstrung on increases by the government, they won't be able to continue to offer plans and/or stay in business.

Employer penalties: If your company employs more than 50 people, they must offer health insurance. Failure to do so results in a $2,000/year/person penalty. I can promise you that your health insurance costs your employer more than 2k per year. It might be easier and cheaper for your employer to chuck insurance altogether rather than deal with the rest of the governmental mandates that have come up.

If your employer's plan is too "rich" (EMPLOYER cost exceed certain limits) a 40% excise tax will be assessed to the insurance carriers. Like they aren't going to pass those on to the employer as higher rates? Yeah right. Insurance company rates are established by the company's experience and demographics. An employer who has a particularly poor year or two may find themselves on the receiving end of that penalty. Further, what difference does it make if an employer wants to offer a particularly rich plan to its employees? How is it good business to penalize companies for offering more for their employees? (If you start adding on riders such as infertility treatments the rates can go through the roof).

If your employer's plan is too poor they can be penalized. There are minimum standards required now. I'm not against this. Most employers plans are there, HOWEVER, similar to the talk amongst employers about dropping health insurance many are considering cutting plans to the bone to comply with the too rich rule. If costs to the employee are more than 9.5% of than their family's AGI, the employer can get dinged. If costs to the employee are between 8 and 9.5% of their AGI, the employer is required to offer vouchers so employees can go to the exchange. How in the hell is the employer supposed to know what the family's AGI is? We have no way of knowing that. So an employee could take our voucher (worth the value of the plan we offer) and turn around and get a lessor plan in the exchange (the minimum plan is a 60/40 coinsurance plan) and pocket the rest.

Employer insurance must cover clinical trials. They must also cover the fix if a clinical trial doesn't work or makes things worse. I know that clinical trials are necessary, however experimental treatments are expensive. Covering them will increase costs and see above about plans that are 'too rich.'

Starting Jan 1, 2011 Flexible Spending Accounts can no longer cover over the counter medications and in 2014, the max will only be 2500. There's this perception in DC that FSAs are the tax shelter of the rich. As I announce that change in my open enrollment meetings, it isn't the doctors lamenting that change.

And finally the CLASS act. This is a "voluntary" long term care policy that starting January 1 you will be autoenrolled in if your employer can offer payroll deductions. Of course they can. There are very few employers that cannot accommodate it. Therefore if we CAN do this, we MUST do it. So we have to autoenroll employees unless they proactively opt out. The government is counting on most people failing to pay attention to their paperwork to sign up for this plan. The plan pays out only $50/day for your Long Term Care needs. There is nowhere in the country you can get care for $50/day. And, for most young employees, you can get better rates from the independent market than what the government is offering them for.

Some things Health Care Reform doesn't address that perhaps they should...
Tort Reform. Medical lawsuits are out of control. I'm sorry for people who lose loved ones, but a million dollars isn't going to bring them back. Fifty million definitely isn't going to bring them back. Perhaps if there were limits on lawsuits, physician's medical malpractice insurance wouldn't have to be so high and perhaps their overhead wouldn't be so high and on down the line.

Tort reform would also decrease the use of defensive medicine. Defensive medicine is the provier's practice of recommending further tests or treatments that may not be helpful but is more of a way for the provider to cover his/her ass in case of lawsuit. Nice how that works, right? That raises everyone's medical costs.

I think there should be help for people who can't get it. I do think it is ridiculous that some people pay over a thousand dollars for family coverage. But this health care reform isn't it. However, given that there are 4 to 8 years between now and when some of these practices start (not all), who knows what the hell will happen.

Growing up in a border town

(The first of two political posts. Yeah I know I don't usually blog about politics but get over it.)

I spent all of my formitive years living in Arizona. I grew up literally 30 miles from Mexico. Probably even closer since that 30 miles is from my town to another town using highways. Growing up in a border town gives you a vastly different perspective on the issue of illegal immigration than those who live in the rest of the US. Most people only see the immigrants. I see an illegal immigrant and think of the coyotes (the people paid to smuggle illegals into the country). And that, in my heart of hearts, is why I have a problem supporting illegal immigrants here in the US. To ME supporting illegal immigrants is supporting the coyotes that bring them here and that I can't stomach.

Coyotes are out for only one thing... themselves. Growing up I read more than once about how vans or trucks had been abandoned with people inside. They had baked to death or shot. According to a governmental report (read it... it's fascinating... especially about the Tucson sector( my sector)), in the 80's there were about 300 per year. By 2005 that number had doubled. Of all the deaths of illegal immigrants analyzed from the 80's to 2005, 25% were due to exposure to the elements... and worse 15% were homicide. In case you care... by 2005, almost 1/2 of all the illegal immigration deaths were in The Tucson Sector. 250 people died somewhere in southeastern Arizona after crossing the border illegally. According to the report, not all of the remains are able to be identified. All I can think is that some of those 250 people had families who have no idea what happened to their family member.

On a closer to home level, my dad went out to get the paper one morning. There he met a young woman who spoke no English. She couldn't have been more than 20 he said. He didn't know what to do with her so he took her to a nearby house where he knew the homeowners spoke Spanish. The coyote dropped her off by the highway and told her she was in Miami (Arizona. It is over 175 miles to Miami AZ from where my parents live.) The people my dad brought her to helped get her to her family in Miami, but hard to say what would've happened to her if she hadn't found helpful people. It's easy to get all up in arms about shit when it is in the abstract, when you're looking at the 'poor innocent immigrant who just wants a better life' but it is just as important to remember that not all illegal immigrants are good kind people. Not all of them want to come here to improve the lives of their families back home.

Remember some time ago probably maybe 20ish years, there was an anti-pot commercial that went on and on about how if you smoked pot, you were supporting all these illegal other things on the back end. That's kind of how I view illegal immigration... by supporting them in this country, we're supporting the illegal means they used to get here and making the coyotes richer and more dangerous. I don't know what the right answer is. I really don't. I tend to think if we could improve the conditions in their home countries maybe this wouldn't be as big an issue. (I don't mean to sound racist. I hope I don't. I just think if I grew up in relative poverty some place or with terrible governmental corruption and wanted a better life and I packed myself up promising my family I'd send for them or return for them or whatever, if where I lived was better in the first place maybe I wouldn't take such crazy risks to try to make a better life for myself.)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Sing, Sing out loud...

I stopped in to my favorite barbecue place to pick up dinner tonight after work. It was odd. There were A LOT of cars in the parking lot. Hmm. Usually it is not that crowded. I go in. First of all there is a table of firefighters. Nice. Secondly, and far more unintentionally hysterical, there were about 6 - 8 old people jamming in a little group. They were singing and playing really old country and western songs (as opposed to what you would consider country songs). Most of them were along the Tumbling Tumbleweeds variety.

Friday night I went out for Chinese food. It was not good. Apparently the Chinese place (maybe it was Saturday) is a haven for single people to eat by themselves. I am pretty sure I got checked out by this one guy. Probably won't go back again if I can avoid it. The food was just eh.