Subscribe to the RSS Feed for "Musings and Rants"  rss-feed-1340637685
Mar 20 2006 Out state health plan has lots of different providers depending on what medical service you want. So, it’s not odd to get a letter from one or another of them regarding information they say they need. Such was the case over the weekend when I received a form addressed to Marian.

The first question (which, somehow, was Part II) was confusing. It asked if any of the household was covered by another health plan. Then, in parentheses, they specified group health, Medicare, Medicaid). Well, I am 65 and am under Medicare, so you would think the proper answer would be “Yes.” But, if you gave that answer, you then had a whole litany of information they wanted which really had to do with private health plans and nothing to do with Medicare.

If you answered “No,” you were told to go to Part III. That is the specific Medicare section where they wanted to know who was on Medicare, when, etc. And, finally, at the bottom of the form, it asked for the “subscriber’s signature and membership number.”

The form also gave a telephone number and said that the information could be given over the phone rather than being mailed or faxed it. Since the Part II question seemed a bit ambiguous to me, I thought it would be easy to just call the information in and get it right. So, I dialed the 800 number and got a customer representative on the line. She verified my membership number and name.

She then told me that Marian would have to give her the information needed and that I could not. I asked whose signature they wanted at the bottom of the form and was told mine since I am the subscriber. My signature was required since I would be verifying the information that, theoretically, Marian was filling in. I noted to the attendant that the only box we had checked was “No” in Part II (she confirmed that was the correct choice) and the only other information we filled in was my name, Medicare number, eligibility dates, etc. So, in essence, the only thing that Marian could have filled in was checking the “No” box and leaving everything else blank. She was sorry, but she could not take the information from me and had to have it from Marian, or we could mail the form in.

We went back and forth on this and I became a bit more incredulous with each iteration. I tried again and again to insert logic into this discussion, but to no avail. Normally, I am calm about these annoyances and ask to speak to a supervisor. But this time, I was so non-plussed that all I could do was to thank her for her non-help and hang up. Hope they don’t hold that against me when they get my form in the mail. And, doggone it, I didn’t ask one pertinent question: If she had talked to Marian and gotten information from Marian, would I then have to get on the line to verify that Marian was telling the truth?
Mar 18 2006 For the last week or so, I have had pneumonia. The germane definition for this piece is: Pneumonia (noo-MONE-ya): An infection that occurs when fluid and cells collect in the lung (from: I have been having spasms of coughing, but am otherwise fine.

Last night around 9:00 PM, Marian told me that there was some water collecting around the big water pressure tank we have in the basement. We’re on a well. There is a 150-gallon tank in the basement that is not only a reserve of water, but also creates the water pressure to move it through the house. When I went downstairs, I saw that the pressure gauge on the side of the tank was wildly fluctuating between 40 psi and 60 psi which was turning the well pump on, off, on, off…a good way to burn out the pump.

This on, off, on, off condition is caused by the tank being waterlogged…too much water in the tank and not enough air. Thus, there is no way to get any constant air pressure since water has filled the tank and there is no air to compress. The only way to cure this is to turn off the pump, use an air compressor, and drive all the water out of the tank getting it back to almost all air. Then, you can turn the pump on again and fill the tank and compress the air so you are back in business. I have done this before. It’s a pain and take a long time.

I turned the pump off at the breaker box, went out to the barn, and got our air compressor. Marian went into the living room to sit by our grandchildren, who were asleep in there and who might be awakened by the noise of the air compressor. So, I turned on a faucet in a laundry utility sink, plugged the compressor in, and held same kind of tool you use to fill a car tire to the valve on the tank. Things went along fine for about 15 minutes. Then the hose blew off my air compressor. This is one of those you buy to inflate car tires. It’s a self-contained unit and there is no way to take it apart and do something simple like reattach the hose. It was now 9:35.

I called the local Lowe’s number and found out they are open to 10:00. Woo hoo. So, off to Lowe’s I go. It’s literally five minutes from the house. The place was empty. But, thank goodness, there was someone in the power tools section. And he knew compressors. He asked a lot of good questions. I did not want to get one like I had, but, rather, a more commercial model that would be more sturdy and have more capacity than the rinky-dink one I had. He recommended what I should get. Purchase in hand, I headed home.

I have grown to adopt the theory that you really need tools that are well suited to a job. If you want a weed eater, get one from a store that sells to landscapers and not from Lowe’s. If you want good power tools, a store like Lowe’s handles DeWalt and other commercial grade stuff. And they have good air compressors.

It still took time (about an hour) to completely flush the tank of its water, but the difference in air pressure from the new machine as compared to the old one was gigantic. And I now own an air staple gun which I was assured would be wonderful for installing quarter-round. Now if I could only figure out such an efficient way to get rid of my pneumonia.
Mar 14 2006 On January 9 of this year, I wrote “The Tax Assessor Calleth” in which I describe a telephone conversation with a member of our county’s assessor’s office. Here is part of what I said then:

“Where,” I was asked, “was the trailer listed last year? Surely it must be a horse trailer.” “Nope. Only a beat-up farm trailer with no road license that I use to haul fence posts through the pasture to make repairs. It’s right there on my schedule of equipment.” It was.

At 8:15 this morning, the telephone rang and the same member of the assessor’s office was on the line. As an aside to this drama, I have bronchitis and got virtually no sleep all night due to my violent coughing. I finally went to sleep at 6:30, had just awakened, and was still in bed when the phone rang. I was not in a friendly mood, to say the least.

Him: “We looked at the State of Missouri records and the state shows your farm business owns a 1988 horse trailer. Is the trailer you are showing on your books a horse trailer?”

Me: “No. It’s a used utility trailer as I have told you in the past.”

Him: “But the state says your farm business owns a 1988 horse trailer. Are you sure that the trailer you are showing is not a horse trailer?”

Me: “As I have told you in the past, it’s a used farm utility trailer. The state’s records are wrong. We have not owned that trailer for years. I do own a horse trailer personally, and, if you would look up my name in your records, you would see that it’s declared along with our two cars.”

Him: “So, it’s not a horse trailer?

Me: “No.”

Him: “Do you license it?”

Me: “No. I just drag it around behind my tractor doing fence repair work or hauling trash. It’s just a used farm utility trailer.”

Now, let’s look at all of this logically. I have listed a farm utility trailer on my books with a cost of a couple of hundred dollars. It’s been listed that way for the last three years, I think. The 1988 trailer that was referred to was a six-horse gooseneck. I bet it sold for over $20,000. So how does one mistake one for the other? And a simple review of the state’s records would also show that no trailer license has been issued to my farm for that or any other trailer. And, finally, if I had indeed licensed the farm utility trailer, wouldn’t I need a valid paid personal property tax receipt showing that I listed that trailer?

Next year I’m sending a picture of the farm trailer in with my return. Bet they call anyway.
Mar 16 2006
I own a Husqvarna helmet pretty much like this picture. I use it when weedeating or using the chain saw. Inside the helmet is a harness which is the hat band and suspension that fits over your head and keeps the helmet from falling off. Well, the harness broke…plastic headband just snapped. So, today I embarked on a mission for a replacement part.

I first went to Lowe’s. They had new helmets for $47 and their special order catalog did not show they could order replacement parts. They did give me the Husqvarna 888 number, which I called. After I had been transferred to consumer products customer service, a service representative looked up the helmet number I own and told me the part number for a replacement harness. But, he told me, this could only be bought through a Husqvarna dealer and not at Lowe’s. He was even nice enough to give me a local dealer about a block away and the dealer’s phone number.

Next stop was the Husqvarna dealer. The parts guy was super nice and took down the part number to send in as an order and told me I would have the part (about $10) in three days. So, happy as a clam, I went home. The parts guy then called about a half an hour later. Seems as if this part was discontinued. I told him that I had talked to a guy at Husqvarna who had given me the part number. He said he would try again and took down the model number of my helmet. Well, about 15 minutes later he called again. Yes, this was the right part number. No, it was no longer available; it had been discontinued. The notation in the catalog is “while supplies last” and there were no more.

So, a plastic headband broke and, even though this is a replaceable part (you just snap in a new harness…so they must have known that they break), the part is unavailable. I am left with either using the handyman’s best friend (If you watch the Red Green Show you will know what I mean) or spending $47 for a new helmet. Such is planned obsolescence.
Mar 03 2006 I wrote the following poem and it’s in Roots and Paths:

Fine Whine

The message that came with the bottle
Says the wine will be at its prime
In about ten years. Aged a bit
Beyond perfection myself,
I’m taken aback.
Is this a sign
I’ll be here
To enjoy the bottle in its time?
If I keep buying young wine
Will it extend my life,
Or will the bottles I put in the rack
Have another’s fingerprints
When poured?

A couple of months ago, I got a brochure from Clos du Val, one of my favorite Napa wineries, letting me know about their Dusty Bottle Club. I joined and just got my membership card and a description of benefits. Besides getting invitations to select tastings, twice a year they will send me one or two bottles “of our rare, older vintage Cabs.” It’s a bit pricey and it’s limited to 100 people. I also get good discounts if I want to buy a few bottles more of these aged wines.

Guess I won’t have to wait to drink these suckers. Woo hoo.