Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Obamacare Renewal Time?

Got a thing in the mail yesterday from Anthem Blue Cross. It was from ABC but only for those with ABC Obamacare plans. It says it's "time to renew your individual health benefit plan". Renew it? I'd read something about enrollment periods starting up again in the news but I thought it was for people that weren't on Obamacare yet. Do I have to renew if I just keep paying the premiums as I always have?

It goes on to say they've made some changes to some of the individual plans. They attached a table to show the changes. 

Then they say if I want to renew to simply pay the $116.26 premium as it appears on my bill. What? I've only been paying $77.01. I'd heard Obamacare premiums might be going up depending on where you live. Am I one of those?

Hard to say. Checking the Anthem Blue Cross web site, it still shows my premium at $77.01, but the mail said the enrollment period runs from November 2014 to February 2015. Maybe the new premiums aren't in effect yet? Will my premiums go up, or down? 

This article from Reason magazine sorta explains the situation and tells us we won't know for sure until sometime after the middle of November. The Affordable Care Act folks held off on giving more info until after the election.

I guess I'll have to wait to find out the good or bad news. I'll expect the worst. But what changes have been made to my current plan? 

I only see two changes: They got rid of the $1000.00 co-payment requirement for out of network hospital visits. That seems like a good thing.  They also added a pediatric dental plan which wasn't provided before. That makes no sense at all for me as I don't have kids. Oh well. Overall the changes seem like a glass half empty, half full type of thing.

I guess I'll wait until after the election and see what bad news awaits me. Funny thing is, it almost doesn't matter since my health care provider, Redwood Family Practice, doesn't accept Obamacare.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Desalination 101

Another good article from the Sacramento Bee that pretty much tells all you need to know about seawater desalination. 

I keep hearing from some circles how California really needs to get going on desalination. What they don't realize is desalination is probably the most expensive way to get usable water. Even proponents admit the only way desal will become economically competitive is when the cost of other sources of water become expensive enough.

Not that I'm against desalination- Southern CA certainly should consider it- but for all the money these plants cost to build and run, they still only supply a relatively small amount of needed water- 7% of the service area is what the Carlsbad project will supply and that will be the biggest one in the state.

As someone in the article points out, they're making a commitment to buy the desal water whether they need it or not. It's a big decision to make when five years from now we might go back to wet winters and might not need all the water those desal plants provide. It's an expensive gamble even under the best circumstances.
Something I hadn't known before: I was always under the impression that the effluent from the desal plants is real salty, but that it quickly gets diluted back into regular seawater. The article says it is so salty it doesn't break down real fast in sea water. It's akin to oil and water so doesn't mix well. Still, over time it does or the water around Saudi Arabia wouldn't have as much life as it does. I've seen that myself.

Faro Hounds

I was out at Happy Dog Kennels on Jacob's Avenue Saturday. The first thing I see in the front dog run was what I thought at first were deer- reddish brown, long legs and big ears. A closer look showed it to be two dogs of a kind I've never seen before. There was an adult and a younger one.

I was intrigued. I was thinking maybe some kind of greyhound? I went into the office before I left and asked what breed of dog they were. The guy told me they were Faro Hounds, supposedly with origins in Egypt. More properly called Pharaoh Hounds, but a Google search for Faro Hounds worked. The kennel worker said they were the first he'd seen, too.

Pretty interesting looking dogs, but from what little I've read about them it seems their origins might be from Malta and not Egypt. Anyone else ever seen a Faro Hound?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

S.F. Chronicle Does The Freddy Wrong

I suppose it was inevitable. The San Francisco Chronicle seems to be working its way into a pay site. One of my favorite weekly columnists, Willie Brown, seems to be behind a paywall now. I checked a couple other stories and there doesn't seem to be a paywall on them. Maybe it's just a glitch?

Probably not. Maybe just the more viewed pages to start and the rest to follow. Looks like it might be $10.00 a month for a subscription. I can't find anything about rates for online only. Too expensive for me, regardless. I'm bummed.

Everything You Need To Know About Prop 47

The Sacramento Bee did a great job of summarizing Proposition 47. Prop 47 is the one that will reduce some felonies to misdemeanors and thus supposedly reduce incarceration rates. They tell what it does and doesn't do, along with who supports and opposes the measure (Paul Gallegos is listed as a supporter).

I filled out and sent in my absentee ballot yesterday. I voted Yes on Prop 47. I'm almost sorry I did. Maybe I should have just left that one blank? It wasn't the Bee article that makes me feel that way. I wrote here earlier I was giving it a grudging Yes vote.

It just strikes me as if they're saying some common criminals aren't as much of a criminal anymore because they've redefined their crimes, and that those same criminals are going to go on the straight and narrow now that they're only going to be charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony. 

I have nothing against rehabilitation. I certainly don't want anyone languishing in jail for "victimless crimes" such as prostitution or drug use. I do have a problem with career petty thieves and the like and that there seems to be little we can do to deal with them anymore due to lack of jail space. Reducing the classification of their crimes doesn't stop them from their predatory behavior. 

Oh, well. My vote is cast. Whether it passes or not I suspect it won't change much, if anything, from the standpoint of crime victims.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Measure R Sign Wars

It probably shouldn't be called a war since in this case it's pretty one- sided. Seems the Yes On Measure R folks have been busy taking No On R signs around town. I noticed someone took one from a neighbor's yard the other day, although mine is still up. I think they took one I put up on I street a while back, too, but I'll have to go back and make sure. Maybe it just fell down.

Got an e-mail today from the Protect Eureka folks telling me that half their signs have been stolen so far, some up to four times after being replaced.

This should be no surprise to most of us. The Yes On R people do things like that. The No On R people don't.

Weird Mail

Anyone else notice mail being a bit slow lately? Maybe it's just me but it seemed as if at least some the checks I received as payments showed up a bit late this month. I'm wondering if they're already routing our mail through Medford(?).

Some of the checks I usually receive early in the month didn't show up. That's not too unusual. Then on the 15th I received maybe four checks. All were postdated the 14th but two of the checks were dated a week earlier, and that's for mail originating in Eureka. So, a week to get a letter from two blocks away. 

If it is the shutting down of the Eureka main office and re- routing to Oregon, it does strike me as odd. I believe Federal Express sends all their packages back east before delivering them locally.

Saw a news clip on a Bay Area TV station about it a few years ago. The guy was doing a segment on FedEx and had a FedEx delivery guy standing there with him. He asks the FedEx guy if he wanted to mail his package to a building across the street, where does it go after it leaves his office. The delivery guy said it went to their San Jose(?) center, then was flown to their main routing center in Pennsylvania(?) then back to San Jose where it would be delivered the next day. All that just to send a box across the street.

FedEx makes it work, assuming they're still doing it that way. Wonder why the post office can't? Not that I really care. When the checks get here, they get here. It's not that big of a deal. Just wondering

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thursday: A Bike vs. Car Collision

I had just gotten into my truck to go to work yesterday around 10:30am. I was facing north on E street. I had just started my engine when I noticed a guy on a bicycle ride out from behind my next door neighbor's fence that borders the Nazarene Church parking lot. It seemed like more of a blur than anything else because the guy was going so fast.

For a split second I thought there was no way he could turn onto the sidewalk as he was going too fast. I figured he must by planning on turning into the northbound lane of E street instead. There were cars coming down the street in both directions.

Nope. He goes flying into the street attempting to cross it without looking. It happened so fast. There's a car traveling southbound. I see no way for the car not to hit the bike or the bike the car. I'm thinking I'm about to see the bike guy get killed. Yep, except the bike flies into the driver's side front part of the car, instead of the car hitting him. The bike was going so fast (plus, no helmet) I'm figuring the rider must be seriously injured.

Parts of the car fly off and land on the street. The rider and the bike fall to the ground but I'm surprised to see the rider immediately get up, swear, and start picking up the bike and other stuff that fell down- he ignored the car parts. He limped a little but otherwise seemed ok.

The guy he ran into pulls over across the street, gets out of his car and starts walking back towards point of impact. I get out of my truck and shout out to him that I saw everything that happened and it wasn't his fault. The bike guy flew right into the street and into his car. He yells to the bike guy, "Are you ok?". The bike guy just goes about picking up his stuff and starts looking at his bike to check for damage.

The car driver tells me he thought he killed the guy. I told him that's what I thought, too, but that it wasn't the car guy's fault.

The bike guy rolls his bike to the sidewalk next to where the car guy parked. The car guy and I walk over to where he is. The car guy asks if the bike guy has insurance. The bike guy says he doesn't. The car guy asks if he has identification. The bike guy says he lost his ID. 

The whole time the bike guy's just adjusting things on his bike with no seeming concern about anything but himself and the bike. I can't believe the bike is in the shape it is as he really creamed the car. The collision took of the car's side view mirror, broke the driver's side window and put a big dent in the metal above the left front tire, yet the bike seems in pretty decent shape.

The car guy then tells the bike guy that he's taking his bike. The bike guy says something like "No, you can't have that". The car guy tells him he messed up his car and he wants something to help pay for it. The bike guy refuses saying he has to go because he's on his way to a job interview. He's full of shit.

Bike guy says he has a battery charger in his pack worth $60.00. Will the car guy take that? Car guy isn't interested. Bike guy then reaches into his backpack and pulls out a large bottle of whiskey. It looks full although the seal on the cap was broken. Car guy says "I'll take that just so you (the bike guy) won't have it". With that the bike guy hops on the bike and rides off- basically a hit and run.

A girl parked in the Nazarene Church parking lot that also saw the whole thing yelled to us if everything was ok. I gave her a thumbs up. Me and the car guy go over to speak with her. She says she saw it all and it was the bike guy's fault as he'd just come racing through the parking lot before he went out into the street. I told her I saw pretty much the same thing except I didn't see him in the parking lot.

He didn't seem interested in taking her contact info down. She went back to what she was doing and I told the guy if he needed a witness that I lived in the house my truck was parked in front of. He asked me if I wanted the bottle of whiskey. I took it and tossed it in the ivy next to my driveway.

I asked him if he had uninsured motorist insurance, although I'm not sure if that applies. He said his insurance should be fine and that he'd be ok. With that, he got into his car and left.

I do wonder if he'll be ok with insurance. I'm not sure how that uninsured driver thing works but he probably still needs to pay a deductible and it could be quite high. He got burned by the flake bike rider as I'm sure the damage to his car probably was at least $1000.00.

About the best that can be hoped for is the bike guy suffered internal injuries he was unaware of and will crawl off into the bushes and die. Yes, I mean that. 

He recklessly caused an accident and a lot of misery to a guy that was just minding his own business, yet didn't seem to give a damn about it and might well do it again. We don't need people like that on this planet.
That sort of thing makes me wonder. I read about such things happening in the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat fairly often. Comments to the story often include someone calling for bicycle registration, or something similar. I'm surprised nobody ever calls for mandatory bike collision insurance. 

Do we want to go there? I'm not sure I would, but it would be nice if bike riders could be held responsible for their actions. It would also be nice if we could prohibit dirt bags that cause accidents like that to never be able to ride a bike again.
Speaking of eyewitness testimony, as I've brought up here lately: I realized not long after that accident I'd be hard pressed to give a description of the guy. I might recognize him if I saw him again, but I don't know I could have written down an accurate description of either him or the bike. I'm one of the worst when it comes to being a witness.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cooking for Wellness

I was out in my garage yesterday afternoon when I heard car doors close out in front of the house. I went out to see who it might be and saw a car parked behind my truck with two women on the sidewalk. They were looking at my house as if they were going to approach it but when they saw me I could see the one lady point to me and they headed my direction.

Both of them wore green aprons that said Saladmaster on them. The older one came up to me and said they wanted to make me a salad. Thinking it was some new entrepreneurial effort in town I thought that interesting so listened and asked a few questions. She ended up saying they only make the salad inside the person's house as they wanted it to be just right and perfectly healthy.

Interesting idea for a business, I thought. I told them I was famous local blogger and if they had a brochure they could give me with more info about themselves I'd give them a plug. The older one had just one small flyer she showed me but didn't seem interested in letting me keep it. I got the impression it might be the only one they had.

Looking at the brochure, there wasn't much on it. No contact info at all. No phone number, web site address or anything. I thought that strange but just chalked it up to naivete on their part. Hey, if you're starting or running a business, shouldn't you give people a way to get hold of you?

I asked about contact info and she told me to go to the Cooking for Wellness web site. With that, I told her I wasn't interested in a salad right then but I'd check out the web site and give them a plug.

I went inside to write down the address and mentioned it to Connie. She said something along the line of, "Yeah, I've seen them before". She went on to tell me they sell cookware- very expensive cookware. They do the salad thing to get into your house and then try and talk you into buying their very expensive cookware.

Nope. That's not for me, but this is the plug I promised them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Robots vs. Minimum Wage

Yet another commentary about the threat of automation taking over human jobs and that minimum wage increases will speed up that takeover. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the writer, a libertarian, suggests the best way to deal with the advent of robotics is to get onboard:

"There is a way that Puerto Rico can benefit from this paradigm shift. Education officials could make robotics a core class beginning in grade school. It should be continued throughout high school and be required for graduation. Understanding how robots work and are programmed and maintained will give Puerto Rican school children and young adults a leg up in the new robotic world order."

I guess that makes sense in the short term. What else can you do? The problem as I see it is that automation, combined with artificial intelligence, is going to eventually take those jobs, too.