Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Removing HTC G1 USB cover

I've been finding the USB cover on my G1 phone annoying lately, so I just took a look at it to see how I could take it off. After some searching I saw some instructions on removing a screw or prying the cover to get it out. But, after reading that it was just a rubber ball on the end that was anchoring it to the phone, I decided to just carefully pull on it instead and guess what? -it popped out fairly easily without having to worry about marring the phone by prying or removing screws that may cause a voided warranty!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Be careful with your credit cards!

Be careful with your credit card payments! I got a letter in the mail from Discover the other day (it looked unassuming, like most of their advertisements) that said I "triggered the variable Default ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE" and my rate was being raised to "Prime + 21.49%"!

I called right away since their customer service is open 24x7 and found out that the cause of the change was the fact that I was 3 days late with 1 payment! The girl looked at my 7 year account history and saw that this was an isolated incident and very quickly reversed the interest rate increase as well as crediting back a $39 fee for me, but still -it's obvious they were hoping I'd never open that letter and they could start charging me 30% interest on any new purchases I make. Shady. Makes me that much more motivated to kick the credit card habit!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

How to deal with difficult people

I spent 11 hours volunteering yesterday. Each hour was grueling. Not because of the work or the length of time, but because of someone I have to work with. It's driving me crazy because I can't recall ever being in such conflict with someone that I couldn't work with them before, but it's truly gone that far at this point. I keep running the situation through my head. Is it my fault?

Yes, I can see various ways where the conflict we had yesterday, in particular, was my fault. I was brewing about several small personality um ...differences that we have all day before the blow-up. And yes, it's happened before that I was short with her. So, this is where the guilt lies.

But honestly, I think these are symptoms of lost respect and not the true cause of the conflict. There are several situations I've been in with her that have rendered me unable to gather up any respect for the woman in order to even want to work on the matter from my end. Does that sound harsh? Well, it is and I can't help it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Health care problems and solutions

Problem #1: Employer-provided insurance puts all the choices in the hands of my company's executives and HR people and leaves me, the consumer, with limited options.

I don't understand my insurance policy at all. If I were out in the market I'd give my money to whatever insurance company would provide me with the best customer service at a reasonable price. I'd love the ability to choose a plan that had online tools to help me understand my coverage. But that choice isn't mine to make and there's no incentive for insurance providers to make my plan work better for ME because I'm not the one choosing it, my company is. So, whoever gives my employer the lowest cost? a kickback? free "executive coverage" if X number of employees sign up? Who knows how employers choose insurance, but I'm sure it has nothing to do with my experience as an insurance user. I mean, let's face it, I can pay $100 a month for insurance through my employer or 3-6 times that amount if I want to go get insurance on my own. Yes, technically that's a choice, but practically it is not.

Problem #2: Complex insurance coverage makes the consumer afraid to use it.
About a year ago I woke up in the middle of the night with pain in my lower right stomach. I tossed and turned and eventually got back to sleep. In the morning it was gone. The next night I woke up again, but this time the pain was worse. I had to get up, walk around, and eventually sat down at my computer trying to find out what it might be -appendix? stones? Again, by morning it was okay again. The next night it was so bad I was in tears. Tired and in pain, I did more research, but had no idea what was going on. The pain was intense. I considered going to the emergency room, but I didn't because I was afraid of how much it'd cost. In the morning I decided it wasn't going away on it's own so I made an appointment with a doctor. Turned out it was my stomach and antacids solved the problem, but it could have been much worse. If it HAD been my appendix it could have burst by the time I was willing to get it looked at. We put off routine care and checking small issues out early out of fear for the hassle of dealing with the insurance, for fear of the cost of emergency care. Perhaps our overall health care costs would go down if we were able to easily seek care, even if it was from a Nurse Practitioner or Physician's Assistant rather than an actual doctor. But, if we caught more issues and diseases earlier on we'd be WAY more healthy as a country.

Problem #3: Red tape makes the consumer resistant to making changes even if they are warranted.
I see a specialist and he stinks as a doctor. Whenever we discuss changing my medications, he'll list 2 or 3 that I could be put on and asks me to make the choice! If I ask a question about a fourth medication, he'll ask if I want to be put on that instead. It's like being my own doctor, not exactly what I'm looking for since I didn't go to medical school like he did! Besides that his front desk staff are nearly comatose -I waited for over a half hour in a non-busy office in the middle of a Tuesday for a prescription refill because the front desk lady forgot about me. She was too busy complaining to the nurses and plant watering lady about her job to shuffle my paperwork from point A to point B and back again (and this isn't an isolated incident!). Why don't I change doctors? Because I saw this guy on my previous insurance. To be able to see him under my new insurance I had to go back to see my Primary Car Physician (randomly selected out of a book) and pay a copay and sit on an uncomfortable table for 15 minutes in order to get a referral (to the doctor I had already been seeing for YEARS!). To switch to a new specialist, I assume I'd have to repeat that process, which is such a waste of time I keep putting it off even though I think it'd benefit my health in the long run to get a more competent doctor.

That's enough for now. More to come. I'm far from out of ideas on issues with our current health system! ;-)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Link: Blog article on the danger of far-right politics

What? You thought this blog was dead? Well, half-dead. I post by posting posts from others on others' posts like this:

Despite my silliness, this article really is quite good and lays out the exact reasoning that lead me to leave the Republican party:


Perhaps one day I'll come back to write my own material!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dental medicine sucks!

On June 16th I went to Wheatland Dental for a checkup. It had been two and a half or so years since I had been, so I wasn't surprised when I was told I needed another deep cleaning/scaling and that I had 4 cavities that needed to be filled. At that visit the hygienist said that one cavity was pretty deep -she showed it to me on the xray and she said there was a possibility that that tooth would need a root canal. After meeting the dentist who just briefly went over what the hygienist already told me, I moved on to scheduling to set up two more appointments for cleaning and cavity fills. After the appointments were set up, I was told that they'd call my insurance to check my coverage for me and give me a call wit the results. Soon after I arrived home, I got that call and was given the estimated cost of the cleaning and cavity fills. I was very happy that they were willing to do that for me because, not knowing the codes, it's hard for me to get precise information on coverage and costs.

So, at my second appointment I was expecting 3 cavity fills and root planing/scaling. After the dentist started on the first cavity I heard her say "Uh-oh, I accessed the pulp of the tooth. You're going to need a root canal on this one, so I'm going to go ahead and remove the nerves from this tooth. Then she grabbed a much bigger drill bit and got to work. At the end of the visit I was told that she only started the root canal and that I'd need to see a specialist to get it completed. I was urged to make the appointmen "soon" and told that there may be a little discomfort in the tooth, but as long as it wasn't a pulsing pain it should be able to be taken care of with some ibuprofen. After the novacaine wore off there was no pain at all. I was happy and wondered what all the fuss over root canals was about.

About a week later I had my second appointment for the other half of the root planing/scaling and one more cavity fill. The first thing the doctor asked me was whether I had scheduled the rest of the root canal work or not. I told her I had not and that I was waiting until the other side was done in case there was another one. Then I asked her how soon it should be done. -I was under the impression after the first visit that the issue in waiting would be the temporary filling material. So, I asked her this time -like, if my insurance is tapped out for this year, can I wait until January? She said something like "I wouldn't wait that long, you should get it done as soon as you can." ...being numb and unwilling to talk while drooling out the side of my mouth, I left it at that and went home.

On Friday night (June 26th, 10 days after the partial root canal) I had a little tenderness in the that tooth, but by morning it went away. The next day was similar, a little discomfort at night, so I figured by morning it'd be okay again. But, on Sunday morning I woke up early with pretty bad dull pain in that tooth. When I bit down, though, lightningbolts of pain shot through the tooth -it was overwhelming pain. Right up there with the pain I felt when I broke my arm. Aside from that it's the worst pain I've ever felt. But, being Sunday, I stuck it out. I ate nothing but pasta and swallowed most of it whole because chewing was slow, difficult, and one wrong move and there was the sharp shooting pain again. But, I kept my hopes up that it'd be over Monday morning as soon as the dentist office was open again.

Sunday night I took a sleeping pill to try to get some rest. I woke in the morning around 6am with pain and started the countdown to 8am when I might get some relief. While waiting I called Wheatland Dental and left a message to get my name in ASAP in case it'd get me in a little sooner. At 8:15am Wheatland called and told me that I was in pain because I hadn't gotten the root canal finished like I was told to and there was nothing they could do -I needed to call the Endodontist. After letting them know about how I felt about them drilling my tooth out and then shoving me out the door, I hung up to call my insurance company.

It turns out neither Endodontist they referred me to is covered, but I found one that was that could get me in today and hopefully by 11:30am I'll be out of pain. What makes me really angry about this is the lack of involvement in my own dental care. I don't understand why I couldn't be told what to expect before the tooth was ever touched. At that point it didn't hurt! At that point I probably could have waited 6 months, if necessary, so I had enough benefits to cover the expensive proceedure. But I wasn't asked -I was TOLD, and even then only after the pulp of the tooth had been accessed and nothing could else could be done!

Dentists -do you really wonder why you get a bad wrap? When this is the service we get? To be drilled out and pushed out the door to be someone else's problem with no idea what to expect, what timeframe the rest of the proceedure needed to be done in, and no idea that the consequence for not making the appointment in less than 2 weeks would be intense pain? This is not caring treatment -it's not even HUMANE if you ask me!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tattoo ideas

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Erica, author?

Not quite.

...I never dreamed of being a writer, but in an attempt to get a bit more serious about my offering professional photography lessons, I've started writing a book(let) to give to my future students.

Basically, I've had the lesson plans written up for a year. I've had a few inquiries about the lessons, but I've either met up with them for a day of shooting for free rather than give formal lessons because I felt they knew enough to not make it worth their time/money, or they've not responded after I gave them my price (despite attempting several different prices), or I've had to say no because it's winter and I have no location where I can hold the lessons and do the practice shots that are a big part of the lessons.

But, spring's around the corner. I've brushed up my webpage, set firm pricing and made it public, and that leaves one thing holding me back from publicizing it more. -My presentation.

Originally, I made a Powerpoint slideshow to go with the lesson plan, but the more I thought about it the worse of an idea that seemed to be. My laptop's battery is dead, I don't have a projector, and if I'm giving lessons outside (which is the plan) the bright light won't make seeing my screen or a projection very easy.

So, putting it on paper seemed logical. There's a few upsides to doing it this way as well. I could charge extra if they want to take home a copy (although that seems a bit wrong), and it could be used for the online course I'm thinking about starting. If I decide to try online lessons, writing up this booklet would be a big step in getting ready for that. And the idea would be that the cost of the online lessons would be purchasing a copy of the "book" from cafepress or whoever I decide to get to self-publish it.

...anyway, it feels like I got something done today. It's been awhile. Being out of work is driving me crazy. Not having money is driving me crazy. It'd be nice to make a few bucks by doing some lessons. It's nice to have a project. And I've decided to try to keep my personal blog updated as well.