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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Catchin' You Up

Sorry about my absence the past few days. I have been working on a few articles. Gotta pay the bills.

But I have a lot to fill you in on.

  • First, I have an article running next week (no worries, it'll be online also, with video) that will make any of you who are car lovers drool. I mean those of you who appreciate power and beautiful, precise, automotive engineering. I'm not kidding. I don't want to give it all away, 'cause it'll take away some of the fun and surprise. But here are four huge hints of how my Wednesday unfolded: Homestead Miami Speedway, 110 - 130 MPH, yours truly, Ferrari F430. There's more to it. But you'll have to wait and see.
  • Second, I think I may have changed my mind about health care costs. You all convinced me with your comments on my last post about insurance company billing practices. That and the fact that United Health Care is still trying to bend my employer and me over from a mistake they (UHC) made. Plus my podiatrist, who pays $1,500 a month to Aetna for his family's insurance and rarely files a claim for care, just learned they rejected a $300 respiratory medicine he needs. Here's the abbreviated version of UHC's mistake: I went to an urgent care clinic for treatment of a severe ankle sprain last fall, 'cause those clinics are cheaper on insurance than traditional emergency rooms. Fast-forward to today, UHC is still trying to milk money out of my employer, because, as they explained, they gave the clinic the option of billing the insurance company for an urgent care visit or for an ER visit. Hmmmm. I'm the clinic, and I'm told I can bill more or less - my choice. Which do you think I'm gonna choose? Of course, they chose to bill UHC the larger amount. If they had that option, what was the point of me going to them to save money? I may as well have paid more and just gone to a traditional emergency room that was cleaner, and where the air didn't taste of stale plague. Health insurance companies are the collective Devil, and they all deserve rusty pipes in the you-know-where.
  • Third, I have hope that mankind can learn to get along. Mrs. B and I were sitting outside a Starbucks the other evening, when another patron left, climbed into his car and started to drive away. He made it maybe 40 feet, when a different customer began to back his car out of its parking space, blocking the path of the first guy. The first guy, an older gent in a BMW leaned on his horn but didn't back up. The second guy, a younger man in a Firebird, must not've heard the horn, 'cause he backed right into BMW guy's bumper. BMW guy jumped out of the car and began yelling at the younger guy, calling him a stupid S.O.B. The younger guy replied "Eff you, you stupid (piece of male reproductive anatomy)! I didn't see you." So for the next two minutes they called each other names, with the younger guy looking like he wanted to flee, and the older guy taunting him by waving a wad of cash and threatening to call the cops. They both walked away then, like boxers going to their respective corners. Miraculously, about five minutes later they climbed out of their cars, approached one another, shook hands, traded info...just in case that invisible scratch later materialized on the BMW, apologized sheepishly for how they'd spoken to one another, and they both drove off. Amazing. This is Miami. Under "normal" circumstances, I might have ducked under my sidewalk table in anticipation of one of them whipping out a gun.
  • Fourth, I've been meaning to say something for a couple of weeks about our useless Congress. But they need to leave this baseball steroids thing alone. I was listening to a sports talk radio show earlier and it reminded me of this. We have hungry people, mentally unstable military vets who need care, police who are outgunned by crooks, average folks who can't pay for decent medical care, and Congress is spending time on hearings about which millionaire jock got a shot of super juice in his butt cheeks and how many times he did it. This is almost as bad as when Congress held hearings on just how naughty rap lyrics are. Did you ever see that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine sneaked nto Mr. Peterman's office and ate is $20,000 slice of cake - a decades old slice he'd bought at auction, 'cause it had been preserved from a member of the British royal family's ascension to the throne? When Peterman found out what Elaine had done, he barely reacted. He smiled and asked Elaine if she knew what 40- or 50-year-old oil-based cake icing would do to her stomach. She didn't. He laughed and told her he had a feeling that when she found out first hand, she'd be punished enough. This is a Seinfeld moment. Those steroid-using jocks are morons. But when their coin purses start to glow in the dark and their junk starts to shrink soon, they'll get all the punishment they deserve for cheating.
  • Fifth, I'll believe all the tough talk in presidential debates about whether or not to talk to Cuba's next leader with or without pre-conditions, when the tough talkers drop the double standard and insist on pre-conditions from China's leaders too. Remember China's leaders, The guys who ship tons of lead-filled toys, and crappy TVs to the U.S., and who run over government protesters with tanks?

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  • A couple things referring to .gov James.

    I remember way bacvk in the '80s and early '90s about this new thing called managed care and HMO's the gov wanted to put in place because of the 'insurance crises'.
    All that seemed to do was shift the cost upward and the responsibility sideways untill they had to come back in again and astart to really play games with healthcare.
    When are they going to go after "Affordable Auto insurance" or the *right* to homeowners insurance?

    I also remember in your post about the *Urgent care clinic* and the people who knew they didn't have to pay getting free medical care,,,who's insurance do you think picked up part of that tab?

    AS far as the Baseball steriod hearings, yeah it's kind of a waste, but if you think about it- it really *IS* a money saving thing.
    How many government things could they have been doing instead of grilling overpaid athletes?
    Because anything they do up on Capitol Hill costs us lots of money.

    Sorry for the rambling thing, but I've had a long, hard day.

    By Blogger KurtP, at 11:30 PM  

  • At least the two drivers made nice. I'd give them points just for the second approach apology and civil exchange of information even if the initial display of bravado was a tad absurd.

    China's leaders all need a rusty pipe in the you-know-what for everything from their treatment of peaceful dissidents to their use of prisons as body and organ farms. For a few years in college I dated a guy who was born in China and some of the stories he told about life there could make almost anyone prematurely grey.

    By Anonymous steph, at 12:34 AM  

  • I find I agree with you so much of the time. Your mom did a great job.. ô¿ô

    By Blogger Pamela, at 1:42 AM  

  • I'm still stumped about the parking lot fender bender. I wonder what let to their simultaneous change of heart...

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 2:42 PM  

  • You sure have covered alot of ground in this post James :)
    Re the drivers in the altercation, people, at times, display such stupidity when everything would be ok if they just took a deep breath and THOUGHT about what was going on.
    I see it everyday at work, especially in the Emergency Department. Things do not just happen...Accidents involve a cause and effect, even if you are not in "the wrong". Still, the person was there, present, and if they weren't, it would not have happened.
    Here, Aussie guys tend to fight, then make up with a beer at the bar...weird I know, but that is how it is. Seen it enough.

    By Blogger Cazzie!!!, at 7:09 PM  

  • Some of my favorite topics. I think I'll just stick to Congress and spare you and your patience. I had the dubious fortune of having several contracts over the years that had me in the halls of Congress. In fact, I met my own Senator Mac Mathias in 1974 in the second floor men's room. It wasn't just that I knew him and had voted for him. You could pick any member out easily because each and every one wears make up for TV. They wear it all day long. They never know when they are going to be on camera.

    If you have any background in Economics, and you listen to the required testimony of the Fed Chair, mandated by law, in front of the Senate first, and in front of the House Committee on Banking the next day, you realize that what you are watching are elaborate TV opportunities for the politicians to have sound bites shown on the news back home. An example, Jim Bunting, R, Tenn soundly lectured the Fed Chairman last week on the need for the Fed to act faster to avoid economic disaster in the future. Mr. Bunting was a former major league pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, and not a noted economist. Elections are coming.

    I'm sure that Henry Waxman and his cronies looked good on the news in their hometowns calling various people like the trainer who injected Roger Clements (sp,?) "a liar" (I think it was the representative from Indiana looking very forceful and Congressional) for the hometown news. It's hard to unseat an incumbent with that kind of press. I don't think they will send ole Roger to jail. After all, he pointed out that his trainer gave his wife the hormone without his knowledge for a fashion shoot, but he was OK with that. Right.

    By Blogger The CEO, at 12:54 AM  

  • Okay, my company just switched to United Healthcare. Your experience is not making me feel comfortable, James.

    By Blogger GrizzBabe, at 6:29 PM  

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