Wednesday, August 01, 2018

In which I tell people to get off my lawn, and out of my car...

...and generally out of my business.

After agents changed three times in as many years, I figured it was time to explore a different insurance agency for the annual renewal of auto and condo policies. To be honest, other than yelling at them to stop trying to sneak coverage in for things I didn't want, I'd pretty much let the insurance go by on auto-pilot since the big changes when I bought the condo almost seven years ago. An in-depth review seemed overdue.

In the end, I changed agencies, ending up with increased and strengthened coverage on the condo and comparable auto coverage for quite a bit less than the old policy cost. Everything was hunky-dory until this last Saturday.

A letter arrived from the new insurance company, telling me in no uncertain terms what I needed to do for the "Drive Safe and Let Big Brother Track Your Every Move" coverage I had signed up for.

Oh, heck NO.

They required download of an app, insertion of a bluetooth device, logging into the app when you drive and basic "we want to know everything you do" access whenever I am in the car, or I WILL NO LONGER BE ELIGIBLE!!@@!!

Given I'd never consented to this in the first place, ineligibility didn't bother me. But receiving this letter did.

I emailed the new agent, telling her in no uncertain terms I would not be inserting anything anywhere, that this "feature" had never been discussed and that I'd happily pay any difference in premium arising from telling the insurance company to insert their little bluetooth device...someplace other than my car.

Naturally, she insists we discussed it. She's most likely relying on the fact that there are checklists agents use to make sure they present everything to a customer, but I can state definitively this subject was never broached. I would have had exactly the same reaction in a conversation as I did at home when I received the letter:

Do you think I'm so stupid I'm going to willingly let you track me all over the place and dictate my driving? Go Big Brother someone else.

Truth to tell, I never have the bluetooth or the location apps enabled on my phone. Where I am and what I am doing is no one's business but my own. Besides, it's not like big business has a great track record of keeping people's data secure.

More and more often, businesses are touting their intrusion into our lives as a convenience for us. Oooo, just connect to this app and see all you can do! Never mentioning they are tracking your movements both online and in the real world, constantly collecting data. We assume that data will always be used for good.

Do you really believe that?

Anyway, the day after the response from the agent, that she would remove that "coverage", I got the actual bluetooth unit in the mail, along with another letter telling me to %#$%& put it in and follow the directions to activate it.

I wonder if I have to return it, since I won't be using it, or if I can just take a hammer to it?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

On a clear day... waves travel forever.

On the way to work this morning, my usual syndicated radio station - with a local receiver and antenna - was hijacked by another station. It was odd enough that the frequencies were wildly different (105.1 for the syndicated station, 98.1 for the hijacker), but the interloper is located in...

...Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As the crow flies over Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids is 114 miles away. It was a gorgeous, clear still morning.

Unfortunately, the other station wasn't to my taste, so I changed over to a CD for the rest of the ride in. Interested to see what I pick up tomorrow morning.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The last straw

My ears perked up when the early morning news team said the university for which I work had made a big announcement:

The retail places on campus are transitioning from plastic straws to paper straws.

I shouldn't have been surprised at this social justice posturing, since a key tenet of the university is (social) justice for all. I suppose they needed a quick win, given the spanking they recently received in court. But straws?

Plastic straws have become a "thing" lately, with irate tweets, overwrought Facebook memes and badly sourced "research" into how billions!!@#@$!! of straws are discarded every day, ending up skewered through our favorite Nemo and Dory look-alikes.

Plastic straws are evil, and replacing them with gee-they-disintegrate-in-liquids paper straws allows Millennials to feel virtuous and smug when they throw away what is left of their paper straws...still stuck in the gigantic, domed, all-plastic cup that held their mostly air "coffee" drink.


For all my ire over this, there is almost no impact on me personally. I don't like or use straws, other than the one or two times a year I pick up a milkshake. Honestly, the shakes are so thick I can happily "drink" them with a spoon.

A plastic one, of course.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

And the nomination goes to...

The nomination is in: Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court justice.

By all accounts, he is the perfect choice for the court. He has - and more importantly, has shown throughout his career - a commitment to interpreting the law as written, rather than trying to legislate from the bench as more "activist" judges have done. Yet he is known to have an open mind, a desire to know and understand all sides of an argument, valuing the input of diverse opinions. He's fairly young, and (Lord willing) will lend a consistent, conservative voice to the court for years to come.

Within minutes of the announcement, protest crowds outside were shouting their displeasure. I swear, they must have had a meeting earlier in the day to make up chants for all the potential nominees, so they would be ready the instant the nomination was made.

Then there are the dingbats who have their undies in a bundle over the imminent overturn of Roe v. Wade. Their dingbatted-ness is proved by the fact that they believe the SCOTUS has the power to just vote and overturn the decision. Last I checked, the court hears and decides on cases; it could be decades, if ever, that a case with particular set of facts needed to force the court to reconsider Roe v. Wade makes its way to the Supreme Court - and even then, the court has to decide to hear it.

I held my nose and voted for Trump, not because I actually liked or supported the man, but because the alternative was a proven disaster. I still don't care for him as a person, but I am impressed with a lot of what he has managed to accomplish thus far. This nomination, I think, isn't so much about a desire to push a Conservative agenda with a capital "C", but a desire for small-"c" conservatism.

The challenge these days is to not get too wound up over the dingbats and their shouting, to look past it to see what is actually happening. If nothing else, the current climate is a primer on the utter failure of modern civics and government education in our schools.

Friday, July 06, 2018

This and that, procrastination edition

Why yes, I should be putting the second coat on the wall I painted just before lunch. It's only a ten-minute job, maybe fifteen, given there is a little bit of fussy painting up where the header for the new closet doors meets the upright of the new wall. The paintbrush I was using was too big for the detail level needed, so I left it for the second coat. It's in a spot that no one will see unless you are Kobe Bryant and feel like snooping in my closet.

The loft was painted six years ago. I kept a record in Evernote of the paint number and name, as well as actual paint chips, just for fun. Those came in handy now. The paint colors were Sherwin-Williams; the paint base six years ago, however, was Benjamin Moore. I bought a quart of S-W (they still carried the color) in a base sheen as close as I could get to the original paint job. In the usual loft lighting (and this wall gets no direct sunshine - in fact, it is in shadow 90% of the time) it seems an almost perfect match. Using the tactical flashlight, though, you can clearly see the demarcation. Eh. The wall, at it's highest point, goes up sixteen feet. I'm not going to paint the entire wall when it's just the 18" by 80" new section that needed it. There is a possibility the match will be better after the second coat goes on; this first coat was directly on the new coated drywall.

So that's been my day. Well, not all of it. I did get a meatloaf in the oven before nine this morning. The plan is to cut it and freeze it in portion sizes, but from what I can tell, I may need to freeze it before I cut it. The two eggs that were meant as a binder...didn't. At least not much. Still, it will be dinner tonight and at least three more for later.

I need to inventory the freezer again, or at least start eating out of it more. There are two turkey breast carcasses taking up more room than they should - I may toss those in the InstantPot tonight and turn them into stock. Four containers of stock take up less room than the bones. It may not even make it into the freezer, as I have a craving for Chicken Biscuit Stew. There, too, the advantage is cooking once and eating many times. I feel sorry for the people who insist they don't like (or think they are too good for?) leftovers.

This has been a very fits-and-starts kind of vacation. It started on a productive note, with some cooking for the freezer last weekend. It got a bit lazy Sunday and Monday, as the temperature and humidity outside rose. But Monday night and Tuesday morning I needed to pick up as much as possible from the floor on the second floor - including some small furniture that either went in a closet, on a bed or on top of something else) to get ready for the carpet cleaners. The carpet throughout the upstairs is a deeper cut pile that the previous owners must have put in not too long before they put the condo on the market. They also seem to have sprung for the thicker carpet pad, based on how pleasurable it is to walk across the carpet in bare feet. But, as the carpet cleaner said, this type of carpet doesn't wear well. Sigh. It may be time to put runners in the high traffic areas.

It was still beastly hot on the Fourth, though we had torrential downpours in the early evening. Thursday even hotter and muggier. But a cold front came through, bringing not only lower temps, but blessedly dry air. That accounts for my burst of energy.

Better get to it. After the wall, I want to sew for a bit before/after dinner. On my way upstairs to bed tonight, I need to bring up some of the pieces of a new, small wooden (well, manufactured wood) file cabinet. The box is just a little bit too heavy for me to bring up all at once. Assuming the wall dries overnight, I can move my desk and the other small cabinet back there tomorrow, as well as assemble the new one.

No rest for the weary.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Tossing the pasta

Back on June 9th, I took a header in my own dining room. Well, not a header, more a flailing, twisting, rolling, good-grief-don't-fall-on-the-pasta-bowl kind of a fall.

I had a full bowl of pasta with butter and Parmesan in my hands, and as I started to go down, I knew I could not 1) land on the ceramic bowl and have either of us survive, or 2) drop the bowl - and the pasta - and have it fly all over the dining and living rooms.

So yeah, only about a quarter of the pasta left the bowl, which finished right side up and still in my right hand. As for the rest of me...I think I landed mostly on my butt, which has enough healthy padding that it could handle the blow. But on the way to that landing, I managed to smack my left hand on the wall and my left knee on...something. I think it was the dining room chair that ended up overturned.

After something like this, you lay there doing the damage assessment. Is anything broken? No. Is anything bleeding? No. Did anyone see me make a complete fool of myself? Thankfully no. I got myself up, cleaned up the spilled pasta and went on to eat dinner (the remaining pasta) with an icepack on my knee.

Aside from a bit of residual soreness, I felt mostly fine the next day. Unless I happened to rub that knee. More precisely, the spot just below the kneecap. With the kind of hit I took, I expected quite a bit of bruising.

But noooo...all I got was some vague, deep-seated itchiness. The itching I took as a sign of healing, which is a good thing. I tend to heal rather slowly. Anyway, now that we are three weeks out from the actual event, I'm finally seeing signs of a bruise in that spot. A big, dark red and purple, blotchy bruise. And more intense itching. Ack.

Why am I mentioning this? I just happened to have pasta - in that same bowl - for dinner tonight. Only this time, with red sauce. You can bet I walked very slowly and carefully with that thing in my hands.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Keeping my cool

Air conditioning update number two: It started freezing up again over the weekend. A Sunday service call, wherein I mentioned that if it wasn't fixed posthaste, we would need to look at "other resolutions", was answered promptly. Three hours later, the repair was done.

This time, the serviceman pretty much admitted that the welds on the joins on the original install were not done properly, and that is why they were leaking. He assured me that he checked and rewelded all of them in this visit (he is at least the fifth tech I've seen, and this was his first visit).

So far, it is working very well. It is supposed to get up to 94 by Saturday, so time will tell. I can't help wondering if there are any pipes - and joins - underneath the new concrete slab they installed, that cannot be check without removing the unit.

I've managed not to call my insurance company and unload on them, in spite of severe provocation. The company that handles our prescription benefit changed as of January 1st, and naturally, the formulary changed as well. Three years ago, I was able to get a special dispensation for coverage of a non-formulary drug because the covered alternative made me nauseous, headachy and extremely,, backed up.

I'm ready to finally renew that prescription under the new coverage, and the new processor is insistent that I try two of the other drugs on the covered list, before they will even consider the one I'm currently taking. Of the four they cover, three are variants of the one that made me so sick. The fourth is a very expensive name brand, whose active ingredient is...wait for it...the same as the first three.

Sigh. It's going to be a miserable month. I will pick it up today and be a good girl and take it until my doctor's appointment in late July. At that point, I will list all the nasty side effects I've experienced so he gets it into my records (he is well aware of this, and firmly on my side). I do have about three week's of the old med left; that should cover the time it takes the insurance to finally approve it.

I love it when the insurance wonks play around with my health.

The three A/C repairs, the ongoing insurance issues, some other things going on...none of it is really all that bad, but I'm feeling very unsettled lately. At the moment, all I want to do is put my head down on my desk and sleep. And it feels like I may burst into tears if I can't. One of those awful charley horses in my calf/foot woke me up early this morning, robbing me of about a half hour of sleep. Naturally, when I did get it worked out and got back to bed, only forty minutes remained until the alarm went off.

Whatever the cause, I'm sleepy and weepy and mopey. The university is mostly closed down next week and I'm off...I just may spend the week sleeping.