Saturday, February 25, 2017

Blue Shield's Arrogance

The summary of the issue is contained in my email to California's Dept. of Managed Health Care:

This is to the attention of Maggie. (Thank you, Maggie, for your very helpful conversation just now.)

As I stated on the phone, my husband has a plan through Blue Shield through Covered California. I think it's a Silver PPO. He has had this plan since Day 1 of ACA, and we are grateful for the money saved and the stress we didn't have to experience for this period of time. Of course, rates went up dramatically, with my husband's plan going from about $550 to $941.31 per month beginning January 1, 2017. We received email notifications of that at the time I renewed his plan and have since received additional letters stating the amount (dated January 7 and January 26).

On Tuesday, we received the attached letter from Blue Shield (backdated to February 10) advising that they would be withdrawing $1,882.62 (precisely double the premium amount) on Feb. 28, presumably as March payment. We called yesterday and the representative told us it was a mistake, that Blue Shield's "back room" was aware of the mistake, and, no, there was nothing more I could do beyond just getting the mistake fixed for my husband. She suggested cancelling the auto withdrawal so it wouldn't happen and instead make a one-time payment of the correct amount of $941.31 right then. I declined to pay, saying I would wait until it was due on February 28. But the auto withdrawal authorization was removed.

It is stunning to my husband and me that Blue Shield can be so blase about an error that could have a tremendous effect on many, many people. I have no idea how many errors they've made. I can't find out. But you can. And the time to correct the error is BEFORE they start pillaging the accounts of people already stuck for health insurance because organizations like them.

So, please, get going on this! While my husband and I would have weathered a storm of $941.31 suddenly disappearing -- illegally, I might add -- from our account, imagine those who can ill afford to do so.

How about that, folks? See what Blue Shield is doing there? They have made a mistake that will have them withdrawing double the amount they are authorized by me to withdraw. And it ain't just me, folks. Heads up, you poor Blue Shield "customers," get ready for a doozy come Tuesday.

And, yes, I did notify the Los Angeles Times as well. Seems I know someone there.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Atheist's Mother

I have a very good friend who is making a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. She is a fervent believer that the Virgin Mary appeared to six kids in 1981. She is going on a spiritual journey for her own reasons.

I am an atheist. I do not feign otherwise, to my very good friend nor to my family members, including my mom, Louise. [Hey, Mom!] Mom is a devout Catholic, just like my very good friend.

About a week ago, Mom was diagnosed with what turns out to be liver cancer. Tests are still being run, but that's where she sits now, in a hospital room in Florida, with no treatment plan in place yet as it is quite early in the process. By the time you read this, she'll probably be back home, possibly still waiting answers to questions we're not even sure we know we should be asking.

When I told my very good friend the news last week, pretty much as it unfolded, she asked me for a picture of Mom and something she can bring with her that was Mom's. I cried when she said this to me because, regardless of my own beliefs, what she is doing, to her, is tantamount to carrying my 80-year-old mother to Bosnia and Herzegovina. She's bringing my mom with her.

I don't believe. I will never believe. But I do believe in is the power of prayer: to lighten the load someone in need might be carrying. To that end, on Thursday, March 2, if you're not doing too much else in the 11 a.m. hour (EST), do me a favor, and send your very good wishes and thoughts and prayers to my mom, Louise. She might never know you, but she'll know of you.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Permit me an Indulgence

There is a house I pass on the twice-daily-walks with Corrie-the-wonder-mutt. About nine years ago, a family of four lived in it: an ex-SFPD cop out on disability, a high-powered working wife, a 17-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old daughter. As more than five, six, seven years passed, no matter when I walked by the house, the only person I ever saw, and that was a rare sighting, was the ex-cop. For the last couple of years, it's been rented out. The middle schooler son of a friend of mine, a nearby neighbor to that house, said they suspected the renters were drug dealers, what with all the activity going on.

It's been vacant for awhile now, perhaps the ex-cop finally heard from some neighbors. Who knows? A few months back, sporadic renovations seemed to be starting, and about two weeks ago, I started noticing more activity around the house. I've seen some work people, and I've seen the ex-cop again as well. I walk the dog and approach his house and turn right up the street at the intersection where his house is on the corner. I see him and he sees me. I stare. I do nothing but stare. I stare the whole time I walk my dog by his house. He mostly looks away.

About nine years ago, when that family of four lived there, that 17-year-old daughter had done a few babysitting gigs for us and, when our little family went to Tahoe for the three-day weekend, she stayed to take care of the dog and the house.

It didn't end well.

It occurs to me, a tad over nine years ago, that I expected something more as time went by. I expected that fucked up 17-year-old Saundra to grow up and mature and maybe make her way back to my house one day, mature-like, and acknowledge what she did. She hasn't.

Her mother? The one who thought money is all it takes? Never heard from her again.

Today, as I walked by that house with my dog and saw no one, it occurred to me that the amount of work that's being done means permits would have been pulled. Should have been pulled.

Should have been pulled.

Why are there permits, anyway? For the safety of others, as I'm sure any ex-cop knows. Should know.

Should know.

Trudging up the hill back home with the dog, I make a note to myself to head on down and take a gander at those permits when the government offices open Tuesday morning. I should do that.

Should do that.

I got home, fired up the old blog archives, and found the post I linked up there. Those archives are an amazing thing. I read that post, and I saw that ending where I express sorrow for the ex-cop. Travel back to my time, nine years on, and I realize something about that permit.

They really should have one.

Maybe not the ending you thought I'd come to. Maybe you thought I'd realize it's not really his fault. Maybe you thought nine years is a pretty long time.

Hear me out.

They're still married. They're still all one big happy family. [Or not, what the fuck do I care? I do know her very good friend Victoria is constantly in and out of jail, so for all I know, Saundra is doing hard time herself somewhere and that's why she can't come with sincere apologies. Good.]

Lie down with evil, evil you are.

Not sure if I hope he's a law-abiding citizen or not. Don't really care. Just know he should be.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Conceding Privilege

I admit it. I've been intentionally taking actions that, if considered in their entirety, might put me on a watch list, if, you know, VOTUS was on the lookout for radicalized aging white women. And during all that, it struck me last night that I can do those things because of my privilege. I am an aging white woman, so it's unlikely if, for instance, I only use my Passport for identification from now on, that anyone would take notice. Or if I take part in marches. Or if I buy a burner phone. Or I register to buy a gun.

You get the drift.

While group messaging with two friends about rallies we are holding at school sites in our little burb Friday, I message another local friend about the illnesses hitting our two families. The two chat windows appear on my little screen side-by-side. In one, I joke about the NSA reviewing our texts in the coming years. [I'm funny that way.] In the other, we exchange illness updates.

Side-by-side, I should think nothing of the two conversations, beyond the amazement that I'm this old and can manage it and not accidentally send one message to one that is meant for the others. But side-by-side, in the era of VOTUS, Putin, and other scary motherfuckers charged with eavesdropping on pretty near everyone, I think something of it. And I'm in no way worried about me. But my foreign-born friend, an American citizen married to an American citizen with American-born children? I got a twinge of worry, which grew into a blog post, the act of which writing makes me firmer in my belief in two things.

1.  VOTUS and his death eaters need to go. And so does Putin.
2.  My friend should probably not text me anymore.

Monday, February 13, 2017

If I Should Die Before I Wake

In the throes of fever and such and amid trying to get a #resist activity going, I lie in bed thinking about, of all things, death. Because my reaction to recent celebrity deaths have almost always included the thought of, "Well, at least they don't have to live under a Trump presidency." Being sick [and, hey, also losing more weight than I would want to so maybe foreshadowing, kids], my mind veers to my own death. What if this is the illness I've been expecting since I was, oh, 8 or 9, finally come home to roost?

My expectations of my own death [and, sorry, everyone else's deaths, too] are that there is nothing more after that. Rather, at least there is nothing for my conscious being. Parts of me will live on for however long the universe lives on, just as they lived on ever since the universe was formed. Sadly, none of those parts can unite to come haunt some people. And, yeah, I'm talking about VOTUS or SCROTUS, for sure. [I lost that battle, too, didn't I? VOTUS never took on. It's because SCROTUS is just too fucking perfect. I was so close to online fame. Hah!]

I acknowledge the impact the death will have on the people I love most fiercely in my life. I can say truly that no one knows how any of them feel going through my death. No one does. No one will. No one ever does. No one ever will.

[Shit, now Pete is going to be pissed off that I put that in there. But hear me out. One of the several overpowering emotions I can call up at a moment's notice regarding my father's death relates to people coming up to me in the early hours, days, weeks and months saying, "I know just how you feel," as they then launched into something about some death of a loved one they had experienced. Fuck that shit, folks. It angered me then and it angers me now. No one can know. No one ever can. Now, Pete, teach them to put that "Cheshire Smile" on their faces when they encounter people saying that to them. Practice doing it yourself. Thankfully, the lot of you are far more sympathetic to the needs of others than I am. Maybe it won't anger you all. Or maybe you'll just bury it deep inside you and rage at a TSA agent in your future. You decide.]

Man, I just completely derailed the post I had hoped would sail me into post-mortem fame and (heir's) fortune. Okay. Nothing to see here, folks. Just more ramblings of someone who admits, that, yes, my mother is correct and I should get a flu shot every year. Remember, if it's already happened, it's not advice you're giving, it's judgement.

Conclusion to be Read Upon My Death. You'll all come back to this post, after I'm dead if I'm dead sooner rather than later, and you'll read the words again. Of course, the viralability [hey, did that become a standard term used after I wrote this but before I died or did it become after I died] will depend on the winds of progress.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

So You Want to be FBriends

There's that pesky little friend request you've been meaning to send me via Facebook. Maybe you've already sent one and have been ignored. Maybe you sent a second, but also never heard back. I'm here to help.

Are you a relative of mine? Yes? Have we met at least six times over the course of our lives? Yes? You're in.

Are you a relatively local real life friend of mine? Like "friend" in the "friend" sense? Yes? Have we seen each other more than in passing at least six times over the last year? Yes? You're in.

Are you a long-lost friend from my past? Yes? Did we hang out together a lot in our past? Yes? When I come to town, do I make sure I tell you I'm there and make efforts to see you? Yes? You're in.

I can't imagine anyone else in my life with whom I'm not currently FBriends sending me that friend request who doesn't fall into one of those categories.

I'm not the FB user you think I am. I feed my twitter (@patois42) to FB. My FB page is public, so anyone can -- and does -- wander over, sometimes to my great amusement. Follow me on Twitter and I'll follow you back (assuming the follow-back is in keeping with my Twitter rules). Or follow me on FB and you can see all the Twitter crap that feeds into it and the random wholesome FB interacting I do.

Or not.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I Will Fight for You

During the frenzy that was the Women's March run-up and post-op, I read a piece by a woman that essentially told female opponents of the march that they don't have to believe in the need for the march because she would march for them, for their daughters and for their granddaughters. It was a very well written post. But it left me thinking that, were I an opponent of the march, I'd take her marching for me the same way, as an atheist, I respond to "I will pray for you." In short, it means nothing.

It truly is so meaningless to me that you say you'll pray for me. I put my game face on, though, because I'm a goddamned human being, and I say, "Thank you." But I really think, "Fuck that shit." I don't believe. So your whispering words aloud or in your head? Good on you. You go.

I'll try to explain it in that winding way I have of blabbering on and on.

Pete is allergic to cilantro. Put a pinch of that evil weed in a big bowl of curry, and that's all it takes. If he doesn't spit it out quickly enough, the rest of us get to watch his face begin to flush. Hates the stuff, he does. Tastes like soap, he and others tell me.

Me? I don't even know what the hell cilantro tastes like. It's nothing. It's another garnish that brings nothing to my palate.

My Mexican-born colleague? Loves cilantro. Puts it in all the wonderful dishes she prepares. Swears of its glory.

Here's your cilantro scale:

1. No fucking way.
2. Meh.
3. Yes fucking way.

Ain't no way you're going to convince Pete of #3 on the cilantro scale. And he's going to fight you to the death (possibly quite literally) on that. Ain't no way Martha is going to believe #1. No way. Me? Meh.

How does this relate to fighting against that asshat in the White House and how does it relate to religion?

Here's your #resist #VOTUS scale:

1. No fucking way.
2. Meh.
3. Yes fucking way.

Finally, here's your belief in a god scale:

1. No fucking way.
2. Meh.
3. Yes fucking way.

Any questions?


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