Saving Us From Those Troublemaking Hot Wheels

Today Son was very good at school (after a new trend of misbehavior), so I decided to really acknowledge said good  behavior in an attempt to show that listening and following rules was much more fun than the alternative. We did the hugs and kisses and calls to Daddy, and frequent discussion.  Earlier I had to return something at Target, so while there I allowed Son to choose a Hot Wheels car  (on sale for $.92, by the way).  This wasn’t a reward, per se, but to show that boys that behave have lots more fun.

After returning home we chose to take advantage of the gorgeous weather, so Son, Dog and I went for a walk around  our complex.  As we passed the pool I noticed a (relatively?) new sign posted by the entrance:

“Dogs?  Check.  Cats?  Check.  Skateboards and roller skates?  Check.  And don’t forget those damn toy cars!”

Why Hot Wheels? Are Matchbox cars allowed?  The Barbie Corvette?  What did Hot Wheels ever do to them?

Then I thought that perhaps the Association had become more hip than I, so I checked the Urban Dictionary to see if  “Hot Wheels” had a meaning other than die-cast metal toy cars.  There are apparently a few other meanings, but since I don’t think the Association would be banning hot girls in wheelchairs nor annoying paraplegics, I can’t think of anything they could mean besides these toys.

I’d love to hear your ideas, however creative, as to why they may have been banned.

i’m not even Mentioning the interesting Capitalization Choices.



State Farm and the State of Florida Play Poker, Insureds Are the Biggest Losers

It’s been a very large pissing contest, and now it may be over.  Where did the piss wind up?  In the eyes of State Farm’s insureds.

State Farm officials have been playing poker with Florida’s Insurance Commissioner for years as they tried to get unconscionable rate increases approved.  The State told The Farm to go suck a hose.  State Farm has now gone all in, announcing today they are pulling out of the Florida homeowner’s insurance market and will be canceling some 1.5 million policies.   And Florida has called their bluff, saying, “Florida already has new companies who are eagerly looking to grow their businesses and will welcome the opportunity to add more customers.”

Sure, Florida has new companies.  Florida has become  so desperate to attract any new insurer to write business in the state they are accepting pitifully underfunded companies with unproven track records.

I’ve been happy with my State Farm policy.  They stood by most of their policyholders after Hurricane Andrew changed the South Florida and Insurance landscapes in August of 1992.  While  Allstate and Prudential did mass cancellations after Andrew, State Farm kept their current policyholders and mostly just stopped writing new business. I was proud to be able to reassure people that their policies were safe.

State Farm insureds enjoy a much better homeowners policy than the standard ISO policy most of these start-up companies offer.   More endorsements are available (things like business property, backup of sewers and drains coverage, increased jewelry and furs, gun coverage, incidental office, etc.), more personal property coverage is available, and our agents have more influence in the underwriting and claims process.

Now they are setting us adrift.  But gee, I’m so glad to know they’re going to be happy to keep my auto, life and other policies.  Thanks, guys!

State Farm or the State could back down and fold their hand, but we’ll still end up losing.  No matter what happens it’s bad news for State Farm insureds.   And for several of  my friends, who are sure to lose their jobs as their employer/agents lose 40- 60% of their income.

Come my renewal I’ll probably need to get a different policy with less coverage and a higher price tag.  I’m just disgusted.

It’s Benefit Enrollment Time – Medical Insurance Part 1 – Evaluating What You’ve Got

This post is part of a series on choosing benefits.  Today I will look at our choices for Medical Insurance and how I will decide which route to go.

Most people, especially young people, don’t carefully consider their health insurance choices.  They’re young, they’ve never been sick, there’s other  things they’d rather spend their money on.

To those of you who say you’ve never been sick, well, no one has ever been sick until they get sick.

I’ve always worked for companies that offered excellent health coverage, so I didn’t really have to think about too much.  My last employer offered an excellent PPO (Preferred Provider Organization), and they paid 100% of the premium.  I was allowed to see any doctor I chose, and had to pay a $500 deductible and 80% coinsurance (90% if I stayed in network) with an out-of-pocket maximum of $3000 for the year.  Most years I never even spent more than my deductible.  The only year I came close was the year I had Son, and I maxed it out that year (a Cesarean Section will do that).  Still, by negotiating with the hospital and then being rewarded by my insurer for finding errors on the bill I was able to reduce what I actually spent to about $1800 (I really should write a post about that!).  Meanwhile, my friends with HMO’s paid $25 for their entire pregnancy.

I stayed home with Son for three months after he was born, and we’d decided that I would leave go back for six months before leaving permanently (we had delusions of grandeur that we’d be moving out of state).  Our income would be cut in half, so we already were reassessing all our expenses.  We’d added Son to Husband’s insurance (also a PPO) as soon as he was born because we knew I’d not be working long and because it was less expensive than adding him to mine.

I wound up leaving after  three months, and since the PPO they offered at the time was $200 more per month (for the three of us) than the HMO ,we went with the HMO.

Why am I telling you all this?

Step 1 in evaluating and choosing our medical benefit is to take a look at our lives, our current health, and our plans for the next year.

These are the factors that are going to influence our choices this year:

  1. Our financial situation – we are a one income household, and the economy is…challenged.
  2. Husband has diabetes,  meaning we’re going to use our policy for his treatment.
  3. Son has asthma, though I am hopeful that we will begin to see him outgrow it this year.
  4. I have some of my own health challenges that will rear their ugly heads again next year.  We need to plan for that.

Step 2 is to figure out how our current plan did for us last year.

  1. How much were the premiums?
  2. How many times did each person in our family go to the doctor this year, and how much did we pay for co-payments? We’ve been to the doctor or lab thirty-two times this year and paid $375  in co-payments.
  3. Were all our doctors on the plan, and were we happy with them? Yes, and mostly. We’re going to look for a new primary care physician that isn’t thirty miles away.  And there was the one  time that Son’s pediatrician diagnosed MY illness (that my doctor had missed, but when I went back and told her what he’d said she said,  “Hmmm.  Yeah.  That IS what you have…”).

Now that we know where we’ve been we can properly evaluate next year’s choices.  Tomorrow’s post will look at the actual plans, and what they will really cost us.

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Read the rest of the series!

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Read the rest of the series!

It’s Benefits Enrollment Time, Series Overview

It’s Benefit Enrollment Time – Medical Insurance Part 2 – The Plans and What They Really Cost

It’s Benefit Enrollment Time – Flexible Spending Accounts Mean More Money in Our Pocket!

It’s Benefit Enrollment Time – Dental Insurance and Why The Math is So Important

It’s Benefit Enrollment Time – Life Insurance a Bargain For Us

It’s Benefit Enrollment Time – Seeing the Vision Plan Clearly. Finally.

It’s Benefit Enrollment Time – Disability and Long Term Care Insurance are Good to Have

It’s Benefit Enrollment Time – Legal, Pet Insurance and Lots of Little Perks

Just Call Me Grace

We were a little late leaving the house this morning. Son had his “late breakfast” in hand, consisting of an Oatmeal to Go bar and milk. He was directly behind me and I started to say, “We’re late, so let’s hurry and get into the car,” but before the word hurry got out of my mouth I stepped funny and got to experience that time-slowing phenomenon where you’re saying to yourself, “Oh, great. I’m falling. Don’t cry out! Son is seeing this! This is going to hurt. I’m sure I’m not looking pretty right now either. And Husband is really going to tease me! What am I making for dinner…, etc.” All this as I’m doing my best imitation of a porpoise bodysurfing on the driveway…

I lay there for a moment, checking to see if I have any excruciating pain that might indicate serious injury, and getting my head together. After all, Son had seen this happen and no matter how hurt I was my first priority was to make sure he wasn’t scared. So I said, “Whoops! I just went kaboom!”, which is what I always say to him when he falls. “My homework!” he answered, and I looked to see homework strewn about, and remembered I’d been carrying it. I wish he was so concerned about his homework when I was asking him to do it.

Before I could reply he asked, “Mommy, are you okay?” I assured him I was, and carefully got up. I didn’t even cuss. There was quite a bit of dirt, my knees were skinned but the most serious injury was to my dignity. Surprising, because I didn’t know I had any left. I thought it eloped with my pride. I think I’m all out of both now. I quickly went back inside and got a few bandaids, gathered the scattered homework and off we went to school.

That’s another of those quirky things about about motherhood. Son was my first thought. Protecting HIM. Even as I lay bleeding.

All in all I’m feeling lucky. Two years ago I fell in a full restaurant in the Bahamas, spraining my ankle and spending the rest of my vacation hobbling around. The time before that- six years ago – I slipped on a nut on a sidewalk and broke my elbow. Apparently I was even less graceful those times. Apparently when G-d was handing out grace I was too distracted over in the stubbornness line to notice.

Kitchen Tips from BeThisWay

If you’re melting two cubes of semi-sweet baking chocolate for a recipe, and it took you two minutes in fifteen to twenty second increments to melt the first batch to perfection, please do not assume that you can just put the next batch in for two minutes straight.

If you do you will have some very burnt chocolate, which smells just like you’d  think it would.

And, when you put the glass dish you melted it in into the sink, make sure the cold water isn’t flowing.  Unless you really hate the glass dish and don’t mind tossing the now-cracked bowl in the trash.

And if you toss the now-cracked bowl in the trash, you may want to put the pieces in a paper bag to prevent  serious injury.

Just saying.

Flatulent Felon Faces Further Felonies

Sometimes reading the news is a such a source of frustration that I must take a break from it’s onerous affect on my well being.

Today is not one of those days. This news isn’t onerous, it’s odorous.

Apparently it is against the law to pass gas in Charleston, West Virginia. Well, at least in the presence of a police officer. And if you are so unfortunate as to fart in front of a police officer, it is in your best interest not to fan it towards him or her, even if the fanning is meant as self-preservation, not assault.

Apparently in Charleston, West Virginia the prosecutors are so bored that they are stretching the definition of battery to include fluffy attack.

It’s a good thing it wasn’t an SBD, or they’d have to a heck of a time proving he was the, er, perp. They’d have to interrogate everybody present:

Prosecutor: Mr. Cruz, did you in fact fart in front of Patrolman Parsons?

Mr. Cruz: Wasn’t me!

Prosecutor: Mr. Cruz, Patrolman Parsons smelled it.

Mr. Cruz: Well, he who smelt it, dealt it!

Prosecutor: He who denied it, supplied it!

Okay, I’m done.

No! Wait…

I hope his sentence isn’t too harsh. Perhaps instead of Taps this will be played at his sentencing…

NOW I’m done.

My Own Cynical Take on Presidential Politics – Hypocrisy Edition

Let me preface this by saying that I’m sure, sure this type of hypocrisy goes on with liberal windbags rhetoricians, too.

But this is why I want to have Jon Stewart’s children.

Okay, not really. But I’d love to have him over for dinner. I’d even serve gefilte fish.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Read the rest of this series:

My Own Cynical Take on Presidential Politics – Sarah Palin Edition

My Own Cynical Take on Politics: Going to the United Nations Does Not Foreign Policy Experience Make

My Own Cynical Take on Presidential Politics: Get Your Facts Straight Edition


I am a genius.

I have been saying since middle school that “they” should make a pill that stops your period until you’re ready to have kids and another that should give you the benefits of exercise while you sit on the couch changing channels.

The first of my ideas was finally implemented a few years ago. Lybrel is an oral contraceptive that stops menstruation indefinitely. Women rejoiced! No more tampons! No more pads! No more Pamprin! No more PMS defense! But wait – even though you don’t have regular periods you can have unplanned, breakthrough, unscheduled bleeding or spotting. Uh huh. Methinks there’s a little more work to do on my ingenious idea, scientists! Get cracking!

Now they’ve announced a compound called Aicar that causes mice to run 44 per cent farther on a treadmill than mice who did not receive the drug. It’s going to be exercise in pill form. What ho! That means I can continue to use the treadmill as a hanger while having a six-pack that’s not Diet Coke! A pill that will let me watch Tila Tequila National Geographic and still be able to crush beer cans with my biceps! It’s a dream come true! Does it really matter that it won’t be working my heart and lungs, burning calories, and giving me an endorphin rush?

Does it matter that both of these drugs seriously mess with body chemistry and could potentially wreak all kinds of other havoc?

Of course not! We’re talking no periods and muscles!

Dammit! Get back to work, scientists! You’ve had thirty years to perfect my ideas. My genius is getting impatient.

And when you’re done with these two, please get cracking on some of my other ideas, like making all healthy food taste like Oreos.

Free Isn’t Really Free. A Story Of Mendacious Marketers.

I’ve never responded to an infomercial or any seems-too-good-to-be-true advertisement. I have an inbred skepticism and mistrust for the misleading, exaggerated and even blatantly false statements and assertions these marketers offer as truth.

Husband is much more trusting than I, and it’s a quality I cherish. I’ve had to burst his bubble about the validity of the assertions in infomercials, and it was not fun. I hate to be the one to burst his bubble.

Today Husband came home from work, kissed me on the cheek and handed me a slip of paper. “Find out what the catch is,” he requested. “Some guy bought a a million of those Natural Cure books and is giving them away for free!”

He is, of course, referring to Kevin Trudeau’s book Natural Cures ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About, which is being hawked by Trudeau ad nauseum all over the infomercial airwaves.

He’d heard a commercial on the radio about this free offer (radio commercial assertion bubbles are apparently still intact), and I was pleased to see that his first comment (“See what the catch is…”) means that he’s trying to grow a little bit of skepticism. Be still my heart.

“Hon,” I said, “It’s Kevin Trudeau – the smarmy infomercial guy! Besides, I’m positive it’s not free. They’re probably going to charge something like $9.95 for shipping and handling or something…”

“That’s why I want you to call!” he reasoned.


So I call. Lo and behold, there is a shipping and handling charge. And it’s $9.95. Am I good, or am I great?

I politely ask why they charge $9.95 for shipping when the media mail rate is only about $3. I smile as he hems and haws, telling me he’s never been able to mail a book for that little with anyone. I explain about media mail rates, and he tells me I’m wrong and counters with having to pay the people that pack and ship it. I don’t push it. I just wanted to have some fun…

Besides, Husband is on a tear to find ways to outsmart his diabetes, and he really wants the book. So I turn my brain off and give them my credit card number so I can have $9.95 worth of uselessness sent to me.

And then the real push for the real product begins…

They offer me a $25 gift certificate to WalMart and a $25 prepaid gas card for free if I agree to try out their two great money saving programs. The programs will save me money on groceries, gift cards, hotels, Carnival Cruises, and all I need to do is pay $1 each for the two clubs for a thirty day trial period. I can cancel at any time in the first thirty days if I’m not satisfied. If I decide to keep my memberships I’ll be charged the low, low price of $16.95 per month if I don’t cancel.

They don’t ask me if I want it – they tell me, “Of course you’ll be taking advantage of that…”

“No, thank you.” I say.

I immediately am treated to another sixty second treatise of the wonders of these two programs, ending with an equally conspiratorial encouragement from my buddy to start saving now.

“No, thank you.”

But he’s sure I don’t mean that. After all, how can I be sure I don’t want the programs until I’ve read everything about them? He didn’t stop to hear my answer to that question (The same way I’m sure I don’t want to join the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization…) but went into the spiel again.

“No thank you.”

But I can’t possibly be understanding the wondermous offer that’s being presented to me. Repeat spiel.

“No, thank you.”

He’s sure if I just read the materials… At this point I ask Husband if he’s following this. He tells me to hang up…

“No, thank you.”

When he starts again I say, “How many times are we going to do this?”

“Do what?” he asks, though he knows exactly what I mean.

“Go back and forth with me politely declining and you politely trying to change my mind.”

“But you just don’t understand,” he begins. “No, YOU don’t understand,” I interrupt. “I do not want to join. I want the book I ordered and nothing more, please.”

“But that doesn’t make sense,” he continues. “You have to read the materials to decide if you want it or not.”

“Look,” I say. “If the next words out of your mouth are not ‘Thank you for your order. Have a nice day…’ I am going to cancel my order completely.”

You can’t tell me what to say!

“Please cancel my order.” I am, after all, a woman of my word.

I’m just doing my job,” he protests as he cancels the order.

“I understand. That’s why I’ve been polite. Now, by canceling the order, I’m doing my job.”

After I got off the phone I googled the names of the two discount companies they were trying to get me to join: EZ Saver and American Leisure. Charges of unauthorized billings are numerous.

Bubbles burst: One.

Bullets dodged: Two. Three if you count the useless material in Kevin Trudeau’s book.

At least I have some ideas about what to get Husband for Father’s Day.

When Your Wife Has It Coming Out of Both Ends, It’s Time to Man Up and Not be an Ass

I had a colonoscopy today.

For those of you lucky enough not to know, in order to do a colonoscopy the doctors need a clear, clean colon. And there’s only one way to do that.

In my case that meant 4 Dulcolax and a 238ml bottle of Miralax poured into some Crystal Light iced tea. This after eating nothing but a lemon italian ice and 1 bottle of Ensure for the 21 hours prior.

After awhile the stuff started working, but then the same thing happened this time that happened last time I went through this: I started getting nauseous. Very nauseous. Despite drinking a ton of water I started vomiting. I’m not sure if my system didn’t like the Mirolax, or if it didn’t like it combined with Crystal Light iced tea, or if I was just getting dehydrated.

So, suffice to say I did not feel well.

It was a rough night, but Husband was kind enough to finish giving Son the pizza I microwaved for him, and to make supper for himself. He was also nice enough to leave me the dishes and the job of making Son’s lunch for school the next day. He did agree to drop Son off at school the next morning – only the second time ever (the first was last year’s Colonoscopy). I’m not complaining – that’s what I do while he’s at work.

But why is it that some men need explicit instructions on how to do simple daily tasks? Why does a man with a four year old have to be told night after night where the pajamas are kept (okay, he stopped asking awhile ago, but he asked for waaaaay too long!)? And why does the observation that Son needs a bath have to predicate a hissy fit of epic proportions about being late for work instead of a simple question of whether it needed to be done before school or if it could wait until after? And why would he not know that his sick wife would appreciate help getting Son ready for school, that “getting ready for school” means getting him dressed and fed, and to do that himself?

So I, still issuing orders from both ends, made Son breakfast and got him dressed. Husband did put on his socks and shoes and put the lunch I’d made the night before into his lunchbox with the cold pack, so there’s that.

And I think he wished me good luck as he left with Son, but I wouldn’t know.

I was still issuing orders.

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