Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How Money Walks

J.D. Tuccille takes a look at a recent Washington Post story contrasting the styles of California vs. Texas. That led me to this map of how money has been shifting among the different states. You can't tell much from the small version.

The bigger map here gives more detail. You can click and drag to move the map around. Clicking on individual states shows which counties in the state are winners and losers. In California, looks like Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties are the big losers with Humboldt and most of the northern counties seeming to hold steady.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tim Martin Writes a Good One

I was surprised to see Tim Martin take on Arcata's anti- smoking ordinances in his My Word column. I would have expected him to support them. In any case, nicely done!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Free Weight Bench

Since I haven't found much news to whine about lately, I'll post my latest Craigslist ad here. Posted in the Free section of the Craigslist classifieds:
I'm giving this weight bench away. I actually prefer this bench over my "new" one, but since the new one is a bit "better", I'll just try to get used to it. 

I've already received two e-mails to my ad. I suspect one or both are spam. The one I already discarded pretty much just said, "Cell phone  text or call", but no phone number.

The second one seemed more real but said to e-mail or call him, giving a phone number with a 704 (North Carolina) area code. Could just mean he activated the phone in NC, though. He did point out it wasn't a 707 area code. I told the guy he could have it but I'll give it to someone else if he doesn't come get it within two days.

The picture below is my "new" bench that I picked up on the 24th from another guy on Craigslist giving away a free bench. Hard to tell what shape it was from the picture he provided, but I thought I might be able to use the leg attachment on my old bench if nothing else.
I e-mailed the guy Monday in the late afternoon telling him I might be interested and wanted to come take a look at it. After I hadn't received a reply by early Tuesday morning, I figured someone else beat me to it.

Lo and behold the guy e-mailed me around 10am Tuesday asking if I could come pick it up. That kinda put me on the spot as I wanted to make sure I really wanted it first. But, I went ahead and said I'd take it figuring I could always take it apart and dump it in the scrap metal bin at City Garbage if it was real junk. 

Went out to Cutten real quick to pick it up and it was actually a pretty good bench in good shape. I'm just not comfortable with some of its dimensions yet- uprights a bit higher and much wider than my old one. That will take getting used to. That's it below in the clutter of my garage. If the guy doesn't pick up my old one in a day or so, it's up for grabs.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Times- Standard Polls

The home page to the Times- Standard web site always includes some polls. There's usually three of them asking various questions on any number of subjects. I always enjoy participating them if only because I find some, if not many, people agree with me on at least some issues. Sure, they're usually not political questions, but at least I'm not the only one that feels a certain way on just about everything.

A couple days ago one of the questions asked something along the line of "Which major league sports do you follow?". Being one of the few I've ever known who doesn't follow sports at all, I was pleasantly surprised to see 34% of respondent's didn't follow sports either. Not bad. That's one out of three.

There's usually a link at the bottom of the poll results to "View more info", or some such. Clicking on that link the other day to me to this graph showing 25% don't follow professional sports. Not as good as 34% but still one in four. 

Just as with many other poll questions they provide, it shows maybe I'm not always the loneliest guy in the world!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Drone Survival Guide

Neat idea. Someone came up with drone survival guide that not only shows their shapes but tactics for hiding from them and tips for interfering with their sensors. You can get a free download here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Drought, Or Not?

A week or so ago some guy wrote a letter to the editor of the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat suggesting dire predictions of a serious drought in the state might be wrong. He pointed to the Old Farmer's Almanac, which some have said is a better predictor of long range weather than more conventional sources. 

He claimed the Farmer's Almanac forecast a very wet winter for our area, especially in January and February, if memory serves me correct. That was a relief to hear as I'd heard the Old Farmer's Almanac was surprisingly accurate in long range predictions. Yesterday I checked to see if what he wrote was really true. I'm not sure where he got his information.

Taking a look at Eureka's 2014 forecast, it looks like the Almanac is mostly wrong:

"Winter will be much snowier than normal, with frequent snows from mid-December through the first three weeks of January. Rainfall will be near normal, with temperatures below normal, on average, in the north and above in the south. The coldest periods will occur in mid- to late December, early to mid-January, and mid- to late January."

It seems to be right about below normal temperatures, except it says above normal in the south. It looks like Eureka is in the south of the area being forecast for. We have had some record strings of frosty nights, according to the local news, but daytime temperatures haven't been too bad. The rest is totally wrong. Our rainfall is currently well below normal and we've had little snow.

I don't know where the guy came up with the prediction of heavy rain in January and February. I don't see that mentioned. Maybe that's in the hard copy of the book? I do see you can buy the long range forecast from the web site for $4.95. Maybe that's where he found it?

Either way, looks like they already got the rainfall and snow predictions wrong for our area. I won't buy the possibly more detailed forecast. I'll just be hopeful he's right and we do get a bunch of rain over the next few months. I certainly won't count on it based on their prediction to date.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Product Review: Oster 1.1 c.f. microwave

Before we even bought this microwave I read in a review from someone that it stopped working within days of purchase. After we bought it I read similar reports. Since we've had this one for about 5 1/2 weeks, I guess it's enough time to write my own review, although I suppose it could break down tomorrow.

The wife bought this one at Target for less than $80.00 after our other microwave finally stopped working. The price was right, but how well does it work?

Ok. Not as powerful as our old one, but no one ever said it would be. It has one of those rotating plates in it that save you the trouble of turning your food. It also has those generic food setting buttons where you just press a button for popcorn, or whatever. I have no idea how well those generic buttons really work. We've never used them.

Overall a decent appliance for the price. Just a couple of annoying things about this one I don't like:
  • It has a reminder beep that goes off if you don't remove the food from the microwave after 30 seconds or so after it's done cooking. We both find that annoying. Hey, there might be a reason we're leaving it in there!
  • It doesn't hold the cook settings more than about 30 seconds. If you set the power and cooking times, then walk away without starting the cooking cycle, it loses the settings and you have to come back and start over again. I find that annoying.
  • Our last microwave would show both the elapsed time and the power setting as it's cooking. This one doesn't show anything but the time countdown. I don't like that as I've burned food before when I inadvertently cooked something at 100% power rather than 50%. Granted, I burned the food even with the power showing while it cooked, but with this one I don't even have the option to check the power setting. I don't like that.

So far, though, I wouldn't have a problem buying this one again, especially for the price.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Days Getting Longer Now

Hooray! I love it when the days start getting longer, not that we'll really notice for some time. Time magazine tells us about the winter solstice.

2014 Campaign Season Begins?

I was out in the garage yesterday afternoon when some younger fellow came walking past the house with a bag of flyers over his shoulder. He looked at a stack of papers he was carrying, came to me and said he was looking for either me or the wife. That was a voter registration list he was carrying, as I suspected.

He asked me if I'd heard of this Mike McGuire guy that's running for state senate and gave me one of the fliers. He rattled off some supposed endorsements and even claimed the Eureka City Council had endorsed him. After I thanked him for the flier he headed on up the street.

Hard to believe the Eureka City Council would have endorsed the guy, especially this early in the game. Besides, I don't know that the city council endorses candidates, do they? They might endorse as individual council members, but not as a group. If they did endorse as a group, I'd find that highly inappropriate. It's not mentioned on the flier, or his campaign web site, at least not yet.

Regardless, I wouldn't vote for this McGuire fellow anyway.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Obamacare Adventures: Epilogue?

I went back to the Covered California site maybe three days ago to again try and figure out if I might have done something wrong since I'd been told by them I wasn't enrolled despite the web site saying I was. I focused on trying to find a link to upload my income verification.

I still couldn't find it, although I'd seen it before. I did look closely at the page that said my citizenship verification had been uploaded but not verified. Then, ah hah! Scrolling down to the bottom of the window that same page had a Submit button. 

I pressed that and nothing seemed to happen. Then I noticed red letters saying I couldn't leave the Comment section of the form blank. I'm not sure why they would have a comment section for the upload or why they'd require I fill it out if I had no comments to make. But, since they wanted a comment, I simply wrote that I couldn't find the link to upload my income verification. I clicked Submit and after a second or so was told my form had been uploaded and the verification of citizenship had been completed.

Why didn't I see that Submit link before? That was about all I could do at that point. I hoped maybe I'd receive some communication from them telling me my status. In the meantime I went back to look at the plan selection page. There was a link on one of the pages to withdraw from whatever plan you're enrolled in. I was thinking of dumping my plan and starting over if I didn't hear something from them soon.

I noticed the $77.01 plan I'd signed up for wasn't on the list of options this time, but the $57.00 one I'd seen before was, along with the more expensive $89.00 plan. It was tempting to bail and try for the $57.00 one, but I decided to leave well enough alone for now.

As of yesterday I still hadn't heard anything from Covered CA but, much to my surprise- if not relief- I did receive a letter from Anthem Blue Cross in the mail yesterday.

Dated December 11(???) it thanked me for applying for one of their plans and told me I wouldn't be enrolled until they received my first premium payment. It told what forms of payment they would accept and a number of addresses and phone numbers to send payment through. 

It also gave the address of a web site where I could pay online so I went there. The letter included an Application ID number which I needed for the site. I inserted the number in the field and was taken directly to a payment page. Seemed strange I didn't have to open an account to do that.

I filled out the credit card info, submitted it and it was accepted. I even received a verification e-mail, unlike with Covered CA. I guess that's it, although I expect I'll get something in the mail again confirming the deal.  Maybe even a card to show to medical providers?

About the only thing I'll do after things settle down a bit is contact them and see if I can switch over to the $57.00 plan. Hopefully that's pretty much it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Balko's 2014 Civil Liberties Predictions

Radley Balko considers possible civil liberty developments for next year. 

Well, kinda. But he does make one real prediction: It's probably going to get worse.

A Flooding Adventure

Connie gets up about 3am this morning to go to the bathroom. She walks in the bathroom and I hear her say, "What's going on?". The bathroom light comes on. I hear her say something about water running. I get up and can hear what seems to be water. I'm guessing it's maybe the flapper in the toilet bowl not closing all the way meaning the water is continually trying to fill the tank.

Nope. As I walk over to the bathroom I see water all over the floor, extending out into the room this computer is in. WTF??? I enter the bathroom and ask if she knows where it's coming from. She doesn't know. The toilet looks ok so I figure- I hope- it's under the sink. If it's leaking from somewhere we can't get to we're screwed.  

I open the cabinet beneath the bathroom sink. Nothing at first as there so much stuff cluttering up the compartment. I drag a bunch of stuff out on the floor and there it is. The hot water line to the faucet failed and water is spraying out from what seems to be a small hole. 

Naturally, when I try to turn the shut off valve it's stuck. Connie suggests going outside and shutting off all the water to the house. I figure it will be quicker to try and get this one valve closed. I go get a pipe wrench and am able to break the valve free so I can close it. The water stops. 

Now we have to clean up the mess. Finally getting a look with all the lights on, the water went out of the bathroom, around the corner into the foyer, about eight feet past that and into the kitchen. It's kinda deep on one section of the kitchen but we caught it soon enough that only 2/3 or so of the floor had water on it. It's a small kitchen, too.

Connie grabbed some towels and started on the bathroom. I grabbed a bucket and the piece of crap mop we have. It proved to be worthless, mostly just pushing the water around. I remembered a bag of decent sized sponges in the washroom so got them and they soaked up quite a bit of water. That, and another towel seemed to work the best, although the towels were tough to wring all the water out of.

After maybe a half hour or so we had it pretty well cleaned up, so not as bad as it could have been. Good thing she got up to use the bathroom when she did. I'd gone to the bathroom an hour to an hour and a half earlier and everything seemed fine then. Just by coincidence she got up probably not too long after the water started flowing. 

It would have really sucked had neither of us woken up before I usually do at around 5:30. Or even worse, if it happens when we're out of town. That's what has me worried now.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Phil Roberston gets Politically Corrected

You might have read by now that Phil Robertson of television's Duck Dynasty show has been suspended for making some politically incorrect statements in an interview with an online magazine. Here's some of what he said:

GQ: What, in your mind, is sinful?

Robertson: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then heparaphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Also: "He opines to GQ about how a vagina should just be “more desirable” to a man than an anus. “That’s just me.”

Reason magazine tells more.

I've read a few comments on the story elsewhere I had to disagree with, all of them referring to Robertson as a bigot. I suggest he's not. At least his comments weren't bigoted.

Some heterosexuals, just as some homosexual people, don't like anal sex. Some find even the thought of it unpleasant, if not disgusting. To say something along that line isn't bigotry, whether a hetero or homosexual says it. It's a matter of personal opinion or sexual taste. Nothing more.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pretty Neat Recycling

If you have any old scrap wood around, give it to this guy. He makes neat stuff out of it. I'm impressed.

Dump DISH Network?

Just got a notice in my e-mail that Dish Network is raising their rates yet another $5.00. That makes a $15.00 increase since we signed up with them around four(?) years ago. These guys are almost as bad as cable.

They're blaming it on local affiliates, KAEF to be specific. There's an Dish Network ad in the Times- Standard today urging people to call KAEF to complain. Anyone know more about that?

Found this back and forth in the Dish Support Forum where some are complaining and a Dish guy is trying to placate them. One guy says he'll dump Dish if they won't penalize him for violating the contract. I'm awfully tempted to, too, but the wife is the big TV watcher and she would not be happy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

So True

"The problem with reading quotes on the internet is that you never know if it is true or not".- Abraham Lincoln, 1862

More good stuff from John Fullerton's Facebook page

Should You Contact The Authorities?

Claire Wolfe, has a post up at Backwoods Home Magazine about a situation she got herself into. She noticed a flooded house while walking her dog and notified authorities. They came out and took care of the problem but it concerned her that one of the water guys tried to gain access to the house in the process. Would that bother you?

I didn't see a problem with it. In emergencies like that it might make sense, although in that particular case it would seem the damage had been done. It does raise the question, though, of whether it's always wise to call the authorities. I recall one situation where, after all was done, I wished I hadn't.

We had an earthquake here some years ago that caused a fair amount of damage to our house. The City of Eureka offered free building inspections to those who worried their homes might not be safe. I took advantage of it. The inspector came out quickly, looked around and put a green placard on the front door. That meant our house was safe for occupation.

After he left I got to thinking and realized he could have actually had us removed from our house if he deemed the house unsafe. It seemed to me we were just as able to judge whether it was safe to be in the house. What if his judgment differed? In hindsight, I realized we shouldn't have bothered calling him. Nothing to gain and much to lose.

That turned out ok after all was said and done, but then we called the insurance company. That involved having them send an adjuster out to the house where she went through every nook and cranny. She found damage we weren't even aware of.

She also noticed little insurance type things- like a blocked door- she felt were safety hazards and reported them to the company. That meant our insurance agent had to come out to the house and reassess our rates. Fortunately, recently retired Janet Holmes found no reason to raise our premiums, but the potential was there. 

Oh, and the damage cost estimate came to just under what our deductible was.

Best to think twice before calling the authorities unless it's a real emergency.
And just because you think you don't have anything to hide or worry about doesn't mean you don't. Reason magazine looks at the case of a guy that spent a month in jail because a drug test kit wrongly detected cocaine in some soap in his trunk. In that case he didn't call authorities, but he supposedly gave them permission to search the car.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Oh, NO!!!

Something else to worry about: The universe might collapse. Then again, at the end of the article we're told,

"It’s also possible that a collapse never happens.... If the universe consists of undiscovered particles, the whole basis for the prediction of phase change ceases to exist."

That's easy for him to say. We need to act NOW...just in case!

More scary stuff from the Rational Review News.

I'll Join This Lynch Mob

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Enjoying Willie Brown

I'm a Willie Brown hater from way back. You'll remember him as a big shot in the state legislature and later Mayor of San Francisco years ago. I can't recall my exact reasons for hating him. I'm sure at least some of it involved the old us vs. them partisanship.

But I do enjoy his Sunday column in the San Francisco Chronicle. I never cease to be amazed at some of the nasty comments that I see in response to it. I get the impression they're not always the result of partisanship, either. What gives?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Consensus Building Against The Police State?

Radley Balko takes a look at a recent Reason/Rupe poll that shows a slowly growing consensus against the police state we're creating.

"... police militarization has flourished in part because while partisans on the left and right have been quick to denounce heavy-handed tactics when used against people with whom they sympathize or to enforce laws that they oppose, they've been somewhere between silent and gleeful when such tactics are used against their political opponents. But that too is changing. The reaction to the book has been encouraging, from across the political spectrum."

"More broadly, I think there's an increasing pan-ideological realization that the creeping surveillance/security/military state is starting to tread on the values and principles that are critical to a free society. And more encouraging yet, a willingness to speak up when government violates the rights of one's political opponents."

I don't know that I place much value in public opinion polls. They often change quite quickly and seem affected by whatever sound bites Joe and Jill Sixpack hear in the news on a particular day, I do seem have noticed a growing concern from both the Left and Right over civil liberties. That this sentiment seems to be growing relatively slowly, does that mean those concerns might last a while?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Obamacare For Fred Update

Just got a letter from Covered California. That's the state run Obamacare web site. They say they don't show me enrolled in a plan yet. The letter is dated December 8. Checking my earlier blog post I supposedly enrolled in a plan on December 4. I believe the web site says I'm enrolled. Hmmm???

Funny. I got the same sick feeling in my stomach when I saw the return address on the letter as I used to get when I'd get stuff from MediCal/CMSP. I guess that's one thing that won't change.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

More Obamacare Stuff

Roxanne Olson, over at the Ask Roxy blog, has some legal info to consider if you're either on MediCal, or considering enrolling in it. MediCal can take your house after you die under some circumstances.

The reason that's an issue is, as part of Obamacare, the state is trying to expand the number of people on MediCal. I didn't qualify, but since the wife is partially on MediCal, it still applies to me.

I've known for some time MediCal can take your house after you die. My question is do they ever actually do it? I don't know that I've heard of anyone's home being taken after death, but it's probably limited to the type of people you'd never hear about after they die anyway.
The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat sent out an announcement maybe a week ago. A reporter wanted to do a story on people who have benefited from Obamacare and wanted them to contact him. Having heard all the bad stories going around I imagine he wanted to put a better spin on things. I've yet to see his story appear. Guess he couldn't find anyone?
I had to comment to Roxy Olson that I might be one that benefits from Obamacare. It's really too soon to tell but at least for now I don't have to worry about having too much money in the bank disqualifying me from MediCal/CMSP. I hated that and it is SUCH a relief not to have to worry about having too much money- that amount in our case being less than $2500.00.

On the downside, Obamacare does consider income but not expenses as to how much your health plan is subsidized. That means if you make $20k a year and are barely getting by, your subsidy is the same as someone making the same amount but doing fairly well. They don't take into consideration that one person might pay $1500 a month rent, and another one pays half that.

Also, since they check your income each year to verify you qualify for the subsidy, that means if you get a raise your monthly payments might go up. I don't know how much. Would they take your whole raise or just part of it?

But beggars can't be choosers, can we?
 A doctor explains why health insurance- whether private or public run- raises health costs.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Political Show To Debut

Reason magazine announces the debut of a new political show on Fox Business Network. The Independents will be a "...roundtable discussion on the news of the day with a special emphasis on the protection of economic and civil liberties.".

I tried to watch this last Wednesday but couldn't find it. I guess the Reason article is slightly off and it starts this week. Should be on at 6pm Wednesday and Friday, or will it? I received an e-mail bulletin from Reason yesterday saying it was going to be on last night(?).

Monday, December 09, 2013

Minimum Wage Stuff

Pretty even handed look at the minimum wage controversy here.

This Craiglist guy has his own take on the politics of minimum wage, although it seems a bit brief. I wish he'd had kept going. Might have made a great essay if he organized his thoughts better.

As for me, I'm sympathetic to those wanting to raise the minimum wage, but wonder how much good it really does?

I recall decades ago there was an effort to raise the minimum wage. The unions were amongst the most vocal supporters. The minimum wage was raised. I recall feeling somewhat chagrined when those same unions pointed to the new minimum wage as a reason to raise their own wages.

And so it goes. The price of things go up. Everyone raises their wages as a result, and the minimum wage earners end up back at square one.

Friday, December 06, 2013

A Mandela Moment

Most of you know by now that South African past- president and activist, Nelson Mandela, died yesterday. I wasn't sure what to think. I only remembered him from back in the day trying to bring communism to South Africa along the lines of what Robert Mugabe brought to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

I listened to a few of the obligatory and expected tributes to him on National Public Radio yesterday afternoon. He sounded pretty neat from what I heard, but was it true? I guess so, since my one go- to source for avoiding politically correct news, Reason magazine, had a short column on him yesterday:

 "And in fact Mandela cut it out with the nationalization talk once he left jail, and will be remembered for something almost no politicians outside of George Washington are ever noted for: choosing not to exercise the power he had."

"Nelson Mandela could have chosen to be–had the power to become–an even greater monster than Mugabe. Instead, Mandela chose to become a saint. A great leader, a great Christian, a great example. The world cannot honor him enough as it should hope that all people offered the complete power he was would act as he did."

I guess he was a pretty cool guy, at least in that regard.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Happy Repeal Day!

Today being the 80th anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition, Radley Balko offers some little known facts about alcohol and prohibition.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Gridlock is Good

Reason magazine reports congress is on track to beat its record for fewest laws passed in one year. I'll never understand how some would consider that a bad thing. So many get upset because congress didn't get things done. The less laws the better. Gridlock is good.

"Given the low level of competence among politicians, every American should become a libertarian. The government that governs the least is certainly the best choice when fools, opportunists and grafters run it. When power is for sale, government power should be severely limited. When power is abused, the less power the better."- Charley Reese

Obamacare: Enrolled?

I think I just enrolled in one of those Obamacare plans. The Anthem Blue Cross Silver 87, PPO supposedly cost $98.06 using Firefox, but I couldn't seem to find a way to go further with that browser. I quite Firefox, opened Google Chrome and fumbled my way back to the health plans where it showed what seemed to be the same plan at $77.01. 

There was an Enroll button so I clicked on it and signed up, figuring it may take me days to find my way back to the same spot again. I didn't pay too much attention to the actual nuts and bolts of the plan. My main concern was upfront cost and I needed something less than $100.00 but not as low as $1.00 (Firefox still showed the lower cost plans at $2.00, with Chrome showing them at $1.00).

I expected to find some welcome type e-mail in my inbox by now but nothing yet. No, I'm not particularly happy about this. Just something that had to be done, assuming it is done. It could end up being a nightmare as time goes on. Time will tell.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Still Trying Obamacare

What a pain! Regulars here will remember I was having problems with the Covered California web site. I tried using Google Chrome and Internet Explorer yesterday but couldn't find a link to log in using those. Tried Chrome again this morning, starting with the Start Here link. Didn't take too long to find a log in link after that.

The first page I was taken to after that was the same as with Firefox. Just as with Firefox, some MediCal message was superimposed over some of the links making the links unusable. I found a different link to shop for plans and ended up at the plan page with none of the problems I had with Firefox, at least at first.

For some reason the list had three $1.00 plans instead of $2.00 ones, plus there was one for $79.00 that I don't believe was there yesterday. I added that one to my "cart". Wasn't planning on buying it right away. I was mostly hoping it would be saved in a better window so I could look at it on a less cluttered up page. Got a "Wait" message that just kept going so gave up on that.

I decided I'd try uploading at least one of the verification documents they wanted- a driver's license or verification of income. I figured the license would be easiest. That worked pretty well. Didn't see the link for income verification so I logged off.

I tried going back to Firefox again. After not being able to load the site the first try, I tried again later and got back to where I was before. The plan I'd hoped to have saved to my "cart" wasn't there, or I wasn't looking in the right place. There were no plans in my "Favorites", either. I thought I added a couple to that first time around just to make things simpler in going back. You'd think when you'd pick a Favorite the site would save them? Isn't that part of what having an account is for? I guess not.

At any rate, this time I found a way to view the plan on the right of the table that was obscured by the frame using those scroll keys on the keyboard. Could have sworn I already tried that. Hadn't missed much in not seeing that one. Just another $2.00 plan.

I found one plan I hadn't seen before for $98.00 a month. A bit more than I'd want to commit myself to each month but the only real intermediate plan available I could find at this point. I clicked on the link to apply for it if only to see where it would take me and got another endless Wait message. I logged off at that point.

I guess I'll keep trying for a day or so and see if any better plans show up. Then I'll have to bite the bullet and try enrolling in one.

Tyranny: A Quote

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.   It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C. S. Lewis

Rise of the Libertarians

I don't often watch online videos that others provide links to, but yesterday I finally got around to watching this Rise of Libertarians video that Reason magazine posted. I was in Libertopia and ended up watching the whole thing which runs just over 40 minutes.

John Stossel has some libertarian guests including Reason magazine's Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch (first segment) along with Ron Paul and Penn Gillette. Columnist Fred Barnes is there for one segment as the statist naysayer.

I'm not as optimistic as some of the guests are. I'm certainly a bit more skeptical than Stossel tries to be with his devil's advocate questions. As we've seen not just in comments to this blog, but in news from around the state and nation, there's still a large number of people that want government controlling every aspect of our lives. I'm not sure I see that changing in my lifetime.

The first segment, with Gillespie and Welch, was my favorite. It runs about 12 minutes if you're not into watching the whole thing.

Monday, December 02, 2013

SacBee's New Coments System A Flop?

Looks like it so far. To recap, the Sacramento Bee suspended comments on October 14 saying they were going to redesign their system. They didn't like some of the comments. A week or so ago (over a month after suspending them) they announced they were starting test run of a new system where 500 readers would be allowed to comment after obtaining a voucher. 

I actually followed a link and filled out the required info. I never received my voucher. Hmmm???

Did it work? You would think this oped in the Bee this morning by Dana Milbank advocating a universal military draft to "restore America" should have drawn a number of comments. Last time I looked, I saw none. 

I made a point to check for comments on some other stories recently. All I found was one in response to an article on how meteorologists are saying it's quite certain this would be a dry year. The comment- from someone I didn't recognize- was simply that we needed more water. I made an attempt to reply to his comment but wasn't allowed to because I didn't have a voucher.

I'm wondering about maybe a couple of things going on: Since 9 out of 10 comments to the Bee were critical of their big government style, maybe a whole bunch of lefties went in first and grabbed all the vouchers? Seems as if it would be a bit hard to pull something like that together, but I have seen what seemed like orchestrated efforts by lefties to dominate the comments there every now and then.

Either that, or maybe I was right earlier on and they don't really want comments back? It may seem a far fetched but maybe they knew which commentators they liked, which ones they didn't and just sent vouchers to their friendly ones. That seems a bit far fetched, though.

Whatever is going on there the new system test doesn't seem to work well, if at all.
Oh, and since I'm posting on other newspapers, as an aside: The San Diego Union- Tribune web site, which I subscribed to recently, just doesn't work. I have yet to be able to read articles I'm interested in, except for a handful on the main page. No matter what link I click on, I still get sent to the Subscribe page. This despite the icon in the upper right hand corner of the page telling me I'm logged in.

I finally sent them an e-mail yesterday asking to unsubscribe and describing the continuing problem. They asked me to call them on the phone to discuss it. I'll do that later for whatever good it will do. I can't believe it's just happening to me, though.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Obamacare Adventures Update

I just got done going through most of the Obamacare application process on the Covered California web site. Whew! Seemed to be so much simpler the first time I went there in September. For some reason it took me a while to figure out where to start. I finally clicked on the "Open an Account" link, or whatever it said. Then it got a bit easier, at least for the beginning.

The application isn't that bad. I think it's the exact same thing that gal and I went through on the phone. Where she might have made a mistake is that after you have all the household members listed, you can specify whether or not the other household member needs insurance. Plus there's a question that asks about being the primary taxpayer she must have checked off wrong. 

Took me a half hour, or so it seemed, to get towards the end. Then you get to where you verify everything is truthful and you click Submit, or whatever the button says to finish the application. Something went wrong with that. A window popped up with a spinning progress wheel saying, "Please wait while we verify your information".  And it spun and spun. 

I couldn't even log out of the site at that point as all links were deactivated. I waited for at least then minutes and was considering just leaving the site without logging out, since I was kinda stuck, when a window popped up saying I was inactive for too long and they would log me out in two minutes if I didn't do anything. Since I couldn't do anything with that Wait window open anyway, I just let them log me out.

Took a break, went back and logged in. Got back to the verification page and pressed Submit. This time it worked fine. A bit confused how to go further I finally clicked on some link to select plans and it took me to some page asking my zip code and income. WTF? I thought they already knew that? Isn't that what the application was about?

They also had a thing that asked how much you used medical services and prescriptions. It specifically asked how much each household member used them. What difference does that make? It's supposed to be just for me. I gave them the info for both of us, anyway, and it took me to a list of plans. There was a couple $2 a month plans, after the tax rebate. The rest were way out of my range starting at two or three hundred a month and going much higher.

I went back and submitted the info for just me. That took me back to a slightly better selection with three $2.00 a month plans. The next one up was $126 a month. Nothing in between and $126 was a bit high for me although the deductibles were much better. A bit high, but not totally unaffordable. Would love to have seen that $35 one mentioned by the commenter on the list.

I was not happy with the page presenting the plans, though. The window was too small, obscuring the plan on the far right and I could find no way to widen it. Must not be compatible with Firefox, my screen resolution or maybe the fonts I'm using? I got a little fed up trying to check out each plan since it wasn't fitting my screen right so gave up. I'll deal with that later.

They also have a thing where you can upload your identification and income verification. I think they said something about having until March to do that. I'll get to that one of these days.

First They Came For The Smokers

Some local person on Craigslist trying to start an effort to restrict or ban the wearing of perfumes.