Thursday, October 30, 2008

The next Dr. Who

Dr. Who is one of the reasons I'm glad we have BBCAmerica. I wonder if the original creators of the series back in 1963 ever envisaged that it would continue as long as it has? Having the hero be able to die and regenerate into a new body obviously helped!

David Tennant announced this week that he is leaving the Tardis and will not be playing the role of a Time Lord in the next season of Dr. Who. His successor has not yet been chosen, but there are plenty of good actors to choose from. I suppose it's extremely unlikely they'd choose a woman! Of the contenders suggested on the BBC website, I think I like the looks of Paterson Joseph and David Morrissey. Whoever gets the role, I'm glad the series will continue for yet another season.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Of EOBs, lying dentists and cheap insurance companies

We never used to hear from our health insurance company, but now they send me mail regularly. Apparently it's now state law that every time they refuse to pay 100% of what the doc bills them for, they have to send an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) to me so that I can see what the original amount billed was versus how much they actually paid. When the health insurance does that I simply file the paper in the trash (after recovering from being gobsmacked that the doc charged $132 for putting some freezy stuff on DS's verruca/plantar wart - a 10 second item that suddenly turned into outpatient surgery on the bill!) However, when the dental insurance company sends me an EOB, I pay closer attention because in that case I have to pay the difference between the amount originally billed and what the insurance paid :-(

I lived for years in the US without dental insurance. Many employers simply don't offer it, or it is so expensive it's not worth it. When I finally had a job that offered dental insurance and decided to sign us up for it, I was advised to look for a dentist that was already cooperating with that insurance plan, or to find one who was prepared to do so. If we go to a 'plan dentist', routine visits are covered 100%. If we go to a non-plan dentist, routine visits are covered 100%. So what's the difference? Either way, the insurance reimburses the dentist what they believe to be reasonable rates for the service. Unfortunately, that is usually significantly less than the dentist actually charges. (Hmm - can you spell NHS?) If you see a plan dentist, they have agreed not to bill you for the difference. A non-plan dentist, on the other hand will bill you for whatever they don't get from the insurance company. And if you need any treatment other than routine checkups and cleanings, the non-plan dentist's work is only partially covered.

My dentist back then would not sign up with the insurance company we had because their reimbursement rates are too low. (Just like the dentist I used to see in the UK, who no longer does any NHS work!) I continued to go there because I liked the dentist. I called once to make an appointment because I had a lump on the inside of my cheek. Although usually it takes months to get appointments, the dentist agreed to see me the same day. In fact he gave me the last appointment of the day - at 8 o'clock in the evening! I was there until after 9 o'clock even though it turned out to be a minor problem that the dentist was able to resolve quite easily. When he told me what the cost was, I almost fainted! As he was a non-plan dentist, I would be responsible for 50% of the charge. I pointed out that had I gone to see my doctor instead and been referred to an oral surgeon, it would have cost me a lot less. His solution: to bill the insurance company for a more involved procedure, let me make just the $10 copay I would have made to my doctor, and so long as the insurance company paid him a specific dollar amount he guaranteed he would not bill me for the difference! Although I was grateful, I was really rather taken aback that he was so quick to offer to lie!

We are currently receiving mail on a regular basis from both our medical and dental insurance companies. The children's routine dental care is covered by our medical insurance, and fillings and so on are covered (at least partially) by the dental insurance. Right now the two companies are arguing about who is the 'primary' insurer, and who's going to pay what. Fortunately, before I got too worked up about it, I noticed that the letters I've been getting are actually only cc'd to me, and it is up to the dentist's office to sort it all out. I suppose that's part of what their insane charges are supposed to cover in the first place so I'm going to let them earn their money!

When it comes time to deal with the orthodontist I'm sure it'll be easier. That's because the coverage for orthodonture is, and probably always will be, simple to calculate no matter which dentist we see - ZERO!

BTW, unless something remarkable happens this year to inspire me, you'll have to consider this my Halloween post, as I've already blogged about Halloween here, here and here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bumper sticker theft

I saw this on a car at work this week:

bumper sticker

Apparently this is the third Obama bumper sticker that's been put on this vehicle. The first two were stolen. By McCain supporters d'you think? Or Obama supporters too cheap to buy their own?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Political thinking

I had never heard Colin Powell speak at length before viewing the video clip below, but I had heard good things about him. I was impressed with him in this interview - not just because his views coincide with my own but because he reasons well. He is even handed. He seems comfortable pointing out both the strengths and the weaknesses of the candidates. I do not believe that Obama will be the perfect president and wreak miracles, but like Colin Powell I am convinced that he will do a better job overall than McCain.

Thanks to Houston for posting the video on his blog. As an ex-pat American, he has a lot to say about the election. I wouldn't have seen American Prayer if not for him either. (I guess I just don't watch enough television!)

Monday, October 20, 2008

If the world could vote

It makes sense that a lot of people all over the world are intensely interested in the outcome of the US presidential election even though they cannot vote in it. This site gives everyone, US citizen or not, the chance to 'vote'. I was somewhat surprised by the results so far when I visited the site this evening. I had no idea they would be so skewed!

So even if you can't vote in the real election, go ahead and vote anyway - online!

Monday, October 13, 2008

New England fall weekend

This was Columbus Day weekend in the United States. This is traditionally a weekend when the roads here are swamped with out-of-staters driving slowly 'leaf peeping'. As the weather was just stunningly gorgeous, with not a cloud in the sky and temperatures reaching the 70's we decided the heck with petrol prices - we'd head out in the car in search of fall foliage to photograph too! Although a lot of the colours seemed very muddy, and we didn't think the colour was necessarily at its peak, there were still some beautiful sights.

What's for sale? Not the lone pumpkin, or even the house! It's the dead corn stalks! Yes, really! I don't know what it is about dead cornstalks, but Americans (around here at least) like to decorate their porches and mailboxes with them in the fall.

We drove past the insanity that is Yankee Candle ("the scenter of the Universe"!) beginning in the fall all the way through to the New Year. You'd think they didn't sell candles in New York and New Jersey. Parking two deep on the grass! I don't need candles that badly! Nor do I need to visit their version of "Old World Europe where fairytale dreams come to life and every day is Christmas." Yuck! I suppose for many Americans it's very original and 'cute', but we moved on to some authentic New England scenery just a few miles down the road.

That's a real live (and very noisy) chicken in the front yard of this house!

A hitching post with burning bush.

Small town New England celebrating with a 'Fall Festival'. Games for the kids, lots of things to eat (fried dough with maple cream - yumm!), crafts being sold, music and dance performances (we missed the Morris dancers though - would have liked to see them), and lots of money being generated for local causes like Boy Scouts.

Every now and then a balloon escaped . . .

Despite the general muddiness (to my mind) of the colours, there were still some stunning trees!




I was hoping when I took this that you'd see the colours on the hillside in the background. I'm happy that the tomatoes and peppers have not succumbed to frost yet. The pot on the right had (dead/dying) nicotiana in it that I pulled out and replaced with the chrysanthemum today. I may try to overwinter the geraniums as they are doing so well but haven't figured out where in the house I'd put them. The pumpkins won't get carved until closer to Halloween - the temperatures are supposed to be back up in the 70's this week and carved pumpkins will rot much faster. Is it fall yet with temperatures like that?

Friday, October 10, 2008

In which I give in to temptation

Friday was relatively exhausting, but certainly not the worst day I've ever had. After I got home with the kids I sat and read my Handwoven magazine while the kids attempted to tidy the playroom. When DH got home he not only prepared dinner for the kids, but also made a cake for us to take to a friend's house for an Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday. So I'm not at all sure why I was feeling so stressed that I felt I needed to go downstairs to the basement and retrieve the 10 pound (yes, that's TEN pound) bar of Ghirardelli chocolate that I have been successfully ignoring for the last four or five years since I received it as a Christmas present. (Ironically, the magazine subscription was from the same relatives who bought me the chocolate!)

Fortunately, it is a solid block of chocolate and it's extremely difficult to break pieces off it! (You know me and chocolate!)

Yes, that's a 12 inch ruler on the chocolate bar!

6 things meme

Karen (aka CrunchieMummy) tagged me to do this meme.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write 6 random things about yourself.
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know he/she has been tagged.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Six rules. Six things about myself.

1. I've worn glasses since the age of 7. I hated them and as soon as I heard about contact lenses decided that I would get some. At age 13 I was the first in my class to get them, which confused the teachers who were supposed to make sure I wore my glasses. They thought I was lying when I said I had contact lenses.

2. I'm terrified of deep water. Swimming pools are OK, but I hate lakes and rivers.

3. I somehow always knew I wouldn't marry a Brit, though I never imagined I'd marry an American. I thought my kids would be bilingual, but I suppose they are in a way.

4. I had a hampster as a child that died after eating a green crayon that my brother fed it. I'm sure the color was significant. Had it not been green, the hampster wouldn't have eaten it. (My brother was a toddler at the time, so I don't blame him!)

5. I've almost never used a PC. I'm very happy using my Macintosh computer.

6. I'm nickel sensitive like my maternal grandmother. This proved to be a problem when I didn't think to tell my Ob/gyn and she used staples instead of stitches when I had my first C-section. You can be sure I let her know the next time around!

Hmm - now I'm supposed to tag 6 people . . . I hate this part of it . . . so if you want to do it, go ahead - let me know and I'll put a link here!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Learn to speak English, why doncha?

As evidenced by my blogroll, I love to read about other people's ex-pat experiences. I have a lot of ex-pat Brits listed here, but that's mostly only because I followed links from one to the next, to the next . . . However, most of the ex-pats I encounter in my 'real' life are not Brits. In fact, most of them do not speak English as their first language. Some speak almost no English at all. I remember being in that situation when I was in Asia - the foreigner who doesn't speak the language. The grownup who is treated as a child. The college-educated adult who is treated like an idiot. It's frustrating, and it's not a situation you can remedy quickly. It takes time (and a lot of effort) to learn a language, and some languages are harder to learn than others. Even when I lived in France and spoke the language well, I was always an outsider.

When I think of what new immigrants with children have to deal with in terms of language - specifically communications from their kids' schools - it makes me really angry when I hear people complaining "Why don't they learn English?" "Why should we have to provide interpreters and translations?" "They should just go home if they don't want to learn English!" These are all legal immigrants, and the United States government did not require a language test of them. They are hard-working members of society and the reality is that many of the parents are so busy working in menial jobs that people born here won't do that they have no time now to take English classes.

I met a teacher last year who has been in the US as long as I have - over 20 years. Originally from Germany, her English is excellent. (In fact, she teaches English to new immigrants.) Yet even she - a fluent English speaker, familiar with the public school system - said she felt discombobulated trying to navigate the system trying to get support for her special needs child. The people who are complaining that parents in our school system should make more effort to learn English clearly have no experience themselves of having to navigate real daily life (not just tourist life) in a second language and culture. I'd love to drop some of those complainers off somewhere like China or Russia for a year and see how they fare! Sadly, the experience would probably do nothing for them except to 'prove' to their blinkered satisfaction that the United States is the best place in the world to live.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Community organizer vs. governor

Seen on another blog:


Hmm - but didn't Pontius Pilate have Jesus killed?

Friday, October 03, 2008

That Obma!

Even elementary school children around here are discussing the upcoming presidential election. The children are clearly influenced in their political views by their parents. One 9 year-old of my acquaintance (not one of my own kids!) walked up to me today and announced unprompted: “That Obma [sic] better win the election.”
“Really, why do you want him to win?”
“Cuz when they kill him, then the president won’t be a woman.”
“And why would any one kill him? You know he’ll have lots of body guards?”
“Yeah, but he’s a bl . . . brow . . . umm . . . black man and my dad says people don’t want a black man to be president.”

I wonder who her father would have voted for if Hillary Clinton had been the Democratic candidate for Vice-president?!

Racism is alive and well even in the liberal northeastern United States :-(

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

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