Saturday, January 31, 2009

Obama Disappointed Cabinet Failed To Understand His Reference To 'Savage Sword Of Conan' #24

Yes, it delights me to no end that Obama's a comic book fan. And yes, I love the Onion.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Yeah. It's like that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Check your Interest Rate

I logged into my primary credit card account yesterday to make a payment after cashing an insurance reimbursement check.

While looking at the summary page, I was startled to see an interest rate percentage of 14.99%


Hold on here, crackerbarrel.

I have a variable interest rate of 6.55%. I've never seen it above 9.99%. I went back through my statements from the three months prior. It ranged from 7.1% to 8.5%.

My interest rate had nearly doubled overnight.

I gave my card company a call. They capitulated pretty quickly (why does it suprise me so much that I can get what I want so easily after that insurance fiasco?).

Apparently, Citibank has rewritten the lending terms. They're not offering my rate anymore (at least not for me), but what I could do was reject the terms and just let my card expire on the expiration date, which is in 2011. This lets me carry the rest of my balance at my old interest rate until that time (yes, I can still use the card, too. I'm just rejecting the new policy). She's going back and adjusting the finance charge for this month to reduce the month's inflated interest.

The idea behind this is that interest rates, hopefully, will have improved by 2011 and I'll be able to sign up for another term with my old interest rate (of course, I plan to have this card paid off by then, but because it has the highest credit limit, this is the one card I did want to keep on hand after both are paid off).

What I find hilarious is that Citibank raised thier interest rates RIGHT AFTER getting their share of the bank bailout money. Go Citibank! That's some awesome customer service, there.

Moral of the story: a very quick, easy phone call can save you 50% in interest payments.

How many people don't actually notice it when their interest rate goes up? How many people just go, "Well, shit, that's the way it is?"

Please check the interest rate on all of your credit cards.

That is all.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

OmniPod Improvements

How I got three boxes worth of pods with a 20% failure rate, I'll never know. I actually suspect that until recently, that was the order of the day for Omnipod. Over the last three months, Omnipod has made some improvements.

We're down to a respectable 1% failure rate. I think the last one that failed was over a month ago. The shipment I just got also includes a much better adhesive, which is good news for people like me who are always knocking their arm against doorways. I just smacked myself good while walking through my closet and hot damn but if that thing didn't stay affixed to my arm.

The new adhesive does irritate slightly more. I noticed an urge to scratch around the edges a few times, which I didn't really notice so much with the other ones. But that's well worth getting and keeping those things on.

My blood sugar (barring today's miscalculation of how many carbs are actually in Subway flatbread) has been great. My mood's improved. Life is generally awesome. I can't wait to see what my A1c is on Friday.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Socking it Away

As much as I get on about not saving enough money (I'm trying to find a way to put $50 a month into a savings account), I realized when I did a detailed review of my paycheck this week that I'm actually putting $100 a month into the company 401(k).

You forget how much it is when you just fill out the percentage box on the 401(k) form.

I'm feeling slightly better about approaching 30.


The little weather bar underneath my Vista gadgets clock says it's -13 outside. -13, seriously?


You know, in Alaska, I got this type of weather, sure, but it included perks like northern lights, low population density, and liquor.

In Dayton, not so much.

Also, I'm really not prepared anymore for weather like this. Maybe I'll call in cold.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chilly Beans

It's supposed to be -25 tonight.

Holy crap, what is this? There's a reason I'm not in Fairbanks anymore.

I think I may be saving the gym for tomorrow. I don't have proper snow boots or gloves for this type of weather.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Look What Arrived Today.... OmniPoddery

Doesn't look like something that should have taken that much effort, does it?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Images We Should Be Protected From

Whew! I'm glad my government censorship agencies are on the job!

What are you doing in the Spring of 2010?

I'll likely be in Peru.

Well, that's what I was supposed to be doing, but I'll likely be promoting God's War instead, as it looks like it'll be pushed back from a Fall 09 to a Spring 10 release date.

This is due mainly to all the craziness at my publisher currently (and in the publishing world in general). I'd figured this was likely to happen cause, you know, the book was sold a year ago and... no copyedits as yet. It was sort of inevitable that the book would be pushed back.

I don't have too many complaints - the book's still being published, and 2010 will likely be a better time to be a debut author (2010, man, look at that, that's like the future or something).

In the meantime, a Spring 10 release date means I've got to wait even longer before selling more books (my publisher gets first right of refusal on my next book, which I can't present to them until I deliver book 3). And in the short fiction world, well, I haven't been writing much of it. I figured I'd just churn out books happily...

Now I'm feeling like a seriously slacker writer. Nothing of mine will see print until 2010? Bummer.

So, I'm back to toodling with some short fiction pieces. There was a time when I strove to keep about 10-15 stories in the mail all the time. Whatever happened to those days? Ok, well, I guess I sold the sellable stories, is what happened, and then never created more.

Yeah, yeah.

I'm working toward creating a backlog again. It's been kind of refreshing. I've been stuck in the GW world for so long that I think a part of me has gotten bored and stale with it - which is funny because it's an awesome world - I'm just so brain-rutted about it that I've ceased to be able to push my imagination as far as it needs to go, in some instances, and I can see that when I'm going back to rewrite book 2.

We'll see if some short fiction can help jutter something loose.

P.S. Peru will be way better in October anyway!!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

How to Get an Insurance Claim Expedited (Without Cutting Off Anybody's Head)

Here are some tips on how to get an insurance claim expedited by your health insurance provider. I deal with UHC. Your mileage may vary:

1)Be sure all of your paperwork is in order. Before you start fighting, be sure the company has all the proper forms on file. There’s nothing you can do if the right forms haven’t reached them.

2)Send a formal letter asking them to review the claim. A formal request for review gets logged in their system. The one from your medical provider does too, but it’s not as potent as the one you send. Also, mention things like being prepared to file a formal complaint with the Attorney General. And mean it. If you aren’t prepared to do this, you aren’t ready to do what I just did below.

3)Prepare to spend 4-6 hours of time on the phone over several days. Once I get really good at this, I’d like to get it down to 1 day, but for now, prepare for about 2-3 days of haggling.

4)Keep a record of dates/names/times you contacted people. What company you called. What they said. Ideally, you’d never get disconnected or have to call back, but inevitably, you will be telling your story to several people several times. Cut down on the number of people you have to start the process over with again by hanging on the line and just being transferred as long as possible. Tell them you won’t get off the phone until the issue is resolved.

5)When you reach Customer Service, ask to speak to a supervisor. Whatever you do, don’t get stuck with a first-pickup person. You want to get to the third tier. Immediately state that you have an expedited claim. The second are the second tier folks may have different names: Rapid Resolution Specialists, Resolution Specialists, Resolution Managers, Customer Care Managers, Customer Care Specialists…Once you have a reference number (ask for this once you reach a resolution manager) you can just immediately ask the support person to transfer you. Customer Service is the first line of defense, and all they can do is read to you what you see on your own screen when you log into your insurance account online. Nobody can do anything to physically change your account until you get to at least a 3rd tier person. That means getting to the supervisor/resolution specialist’s supervisor, at the very list.

6)Have a list of ways that you will escalate the call. “If they say this, I will respond with this.” Sometimes you have to hang up and call back several times before you can frame your argument correctly. This is understandable, since we’re often pretty emotional when battling for health services.

7)DON’T EVER LOSE YOUR TEMPER OR GET EMOTIONAL. Don’t EVER lose it with a customer service rep. Be firm, but not hysterical. I lost it twice along the line, and got stonewalled both times. The first time, I had to call back and start all over again with a different rep. The second time, I apologized, explained the situation, and got the payment processed in 30 minutes. Stay calm, but firm. Firm is good. Have your situation story written down so you can recite it calmly. You’ll be repeating it a lot.

Here’s an example of how to keep a record of your contact with the various folks involved in resolving a major health insurance issue (and yes, I know, it would be wickedly funny if it wasn’t true).


December 17th, 2008
So, Jason at CCS Medical, provider of my Omnipod insulin pods, contacts me and says they are withholding my Omnipod shipments until UHC pays outstanding claims from 7/1 and 10/1. UHC claims that the provider is Out of Network. This is untrue, as they have already signed paperwork with CCS Medical to get the in-network rate. They already have the pre-authorization form on file. They’ve had the paperwork for 6 months. Prior to that, it took a year of bullying from Omnipod just to get approved.

Now that it’s approved, UHC isn’t paying.

Jason says they submitted a formal review of these claims to UHC on 12/4 and have still not been paid. He advises me to put pressure on UHC. Mmmm pressure.

December 17th, 2008
I call UHC. The claims rep says it takes 30 days to review claims. I should wait another two weeks for the Dec. 4th claim to be processed.

I submit a written request for review of claims to UHC. This includes EOB documentation and threats about filing a complaint with the Attorney General (not just threats, actually. This same day, I request a list of the other outstanding complaints against UHC in order to prepare my own. I prepared early for the long haul).

December 22nd, 2008
UHC receives my request for review. CCS Medical calls and is told it will be another 2 weeks to correct these claims (I learn this on the 5th).

December 24th, 2008
I check the status of my claims. My online UHC records show that the 7/1 claim is in the process of being adjusted. Somehow. It involved a duplication of the claim, only with a “– “next to it, which I could not understand but figured must mean something was happening to the claim. There was no other explanation. Just the duplicate claim with minus marks next to it.


January 5th, 2009

With three days left until my shipment is due to go out, I call UHC to inquire about what’s going on with the adjustment of the claim submitted on 12/4. I’m told it will be another two weeks.
I ask to speak to a supervisor. I’m told there is no supervisor. I just need to be patient.

I call CCS medical and tell them that the claim is being processed. The Rep from CCS medical gives me a breakdown of their previous contact with UHC (see above). She offers tips on how to bully my way past the customer service rep.

I call UHC back and use bullying techniques (buzz words like “rush,” “expedite” and “this is not acceptable” and “today.” Because resolution of this claim will result in failure to deliver much-needed medical supplies, I explain this loudly and often. The fact that it’s true, and the idea of going back to shots terrifies me, helps me with my argument. I do, in fact, need this expedited. Today. Now.). I am transferred to a Rapid Resolution Specialist. Specialist assures me that claim is being processed and will certainly be processed this week. If it’s not processed by Wednesday, I should call back then and hold a conference call with UHC and CCS Medical to get things sorted out.

At this point, I am exhausted, and out of fight. Fighting for a shipment reminds me of how much better I’ve felt since going on the pump, and how much shittier my life will be without it. That’s the thing with switching to a pump. If you’ve never had it, you don’t know what you’re missing. Once you’ve had it, you realize how much better your life can be. When someone tries to take that away, it’s terrifying.

I hang up.

January 6th, 2009
8:00 am –After a long night spent detailing my escalation procedures (including a list of “if they say this, I say this,” prompts to help me when I get overly emotional about it) I call UHC and ask about the status of my claim. They say it is still pending. I tell them I need to put a rush on it.
I ask to be transferred to Rapid Resolution Specialist. She fights it, but eventually transfers me after I tell her it needs to be resolved TODAY so that my medical supplies will ship TOMORROW. Again, the fact that I urgently needed medical supplies NOW was a good selling point, cause let me tell you, I wouldn’t be going through this for a bandaid.

The Rapid Resolution Specialist is surprisingly perplexed and helpful about my claim. She says they can put a rush on it, but it will still be 24-48 hours to process. She warns me, however, that I have a pre-authorization that expired on Dec. 31st. I ask if that will delay payments already not made. She says no. I tell her I’ll advise CCS Medical of this (having no idea who the hell handles pre-authorization forms).

She transfers me to her supervisor, since she has no way to directly change anything on the screen. Supervisor says she and another manager will get it to someone who can actually change the screen and it will be reviewed and out the door today.

RRS supervisor tells me someone WILL contact me either tonight or early tomorrow.
This whole process took about two hours, about an hour and a half of it, total, on hold with UHC. Most of it while the supervisors tried to figure out who the hell they could get to expedite the claim.

7:00 p.m. – Martika from UHC calls and says she spoke to Deanna at CCS. Martika told them my 7/1 and 10/1 claims had been incorrectly processes and would be paid. Martika says that Deanna has released my shipment.

Hooray! I am full of win!!

January 7th, 2009
8:30 a.m. - I call CCS Medical to verify that my shipment has gone out. I’m told it’s still on hold and will not go out today. I’m told there are no notes on the file from Deanna or Martika.

I find this annoying, but not, ultimately, surprising. This is, after all, why I called to verify.

8:45 a.m. - I call Omnipod to see if the holdup is on their end. Perhaps UHC called them instead of CCS?

I get transferred to Billing. Billing sends me to shipping.

I get transferred to Shipping. They tell me to contact CCS medical.

9:30 a.m. - I call CCS Medical back. I speak to L. I tell her to check the notes. I tell them Deanna should have released this from hold. I’m told Deanna didn’t have the authority to do that.

I’m told that it’s because my “pre-authorization form” has expired (as of 12/31/08). It was resubmitted to UHC by CCS Medical yesterday, after they received confirmation that they would receive payment. They could not submit a new pre-authorization form without getting payment first (??).

I tell them this shouldn’t be an issue. I was told all I needed to do to receive today’s shipment was to get them to pay the prior claims.

She says she will call back with more information.

10:45 a.m. - I call CCS Medical. I am told my shipment will ship today and is not on hold!
Hooray! I am full of win!!

11:00 a.m. - I get a call from L. She says I have been misinformed. My shipment will not ship today until the pre-authorization form is processed by UHC. She says they tried to get a rush on it but were denied. She suggests I try and get a rush on it.

12:30 p.m. - I call UHC.

I get Gail in Claims. I tell her August/October/Rush/Expedite/Medical Supplies.
I’m transferred to Coletta the Rapid Resolution Manager. I tell her August/October/Rush/Expedite/Medical Supplies.

I ask to speak to her supervisor, Debbie. I tell her August/October/Rush/Expedite/Medical Supplies.

Debbie tries to stonewall me with, “It’s still processing, process, process, time to process…” This is what every claim rep says first off. What you tell them is that these are urgent medical supplies and they need to go out TODAY. Must be resolved TODAY. Has been processing for SIX WEEKS. ALL FORMS ON FILE.

I lose it with Debbie. I’m afraid this slip up has ruined my chances of getting a resolution. I apologize and explain I’ve spent about six hours on the phone over the last three days with half a dozen people at three different companies.

She says she will contact her manager and call me back. She says she will get it paid today. I told her that’s great – should have happened yesterday. Now I need her to expedite the pre-authorization form. She says they already have a pre-authorization on file for 1/6 to 10/31 2009. She will work on this and get the payment made today.

1:15 p.m. - I call L at CCS Medical and say pre-auth is already on file. She says this isn’t true – UHC was just saying they have a record of it, but it hasn’t been processed. I tell L. that they will call me back today when the claim is paid, and I will get auth # then. L. advises me to conference call in CCS medical with UHC – calls are recorded, and shipment can go out immediately after end of call.

2:10 p.m. - Debbie calls back from UHC. She says the initial 7/1/08 claim has now been paid (record! It’s only been six months!). When I ask about the pre-auth and conference call, she says her department doesn’t handle that: “What we have on file is a… placeholder,” she says. “It’s still being processed.” I ask her to expedite (RUSH, RUSH, EXPEDITE. These are the KEY WORDS). She says to call the department that handles that and gives me the number.

2:15 p.m. - I call the Customer Care Management number (or whatever the hell touchy-feely name they gave this place). I tell her August/October/Rush/Expedite/Medical Supplies. I am told this is the wrong department and given a new phone number and transferred.

2:35 pm. - I speak with Chris? I tell him August/October/Rush/Expedite/Medical Supplies. He finds the actual name of the actual person (with a first and last name!) assigned to work on the actual pre-authorization and transfers me to him (My God!! I’m going down the rabbit hole!!).

2:36 p.m. - I get voicemail for Adam. I say August/October/Rush/Expedite/Medical Supplies call me back immediately here’s my number.

2:45 p.m. – I start to document the whole sordid history of this claim.

3:00 p.m. - Adam calls back!

I am achingly polite to Adam as I tell him the August/October/Rush/Expedite/Medical Supplies story. This is the fifth time I’ve explained it today.

He says this is no longer his case. He transferred it. He gets the name of the manager in charge of the person in charge of the pre-auth (Sandra – he also gave me her last initial. Deeper into the hive I go!). He puts a rush on it (his term is “stat”) and says they will call me back today on the status of the pre-auth.

4:08 p.m. – Jenn from CCS Medical calls and says that UHC has called them and approved the pre-authorization form . The shipment will go out today. She has already personally released it. She asks if I would like it to go 3-day air instead of 5-7 days ground. I say yes, since I only have 6 days of pods (that would be – 2) left.

I will receive my shipment Monday morning.

I hang up.


There is no moral to this story. Oh, what’s the line, what’s the line…

One of the women turned to me just before they left. "We all battle dragons," she said. "There's no shame in losing."

"There'd be no battle," I said coldly, "without the dragons."

She grinned, slid her hat back on. "There will always be dragons," she said. "It's only a matter of who plays the dragon, who plays the sheep. Which would you rather be?"

The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became an Evil Overlord

Because, REALLY:

1) My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.

2) My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.

3) My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.

4) Shooting is not too good for my enemies.

5) The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness.

Read the rest here.

Six Word Stories

I suppose we would call these "Twitter" stories these days. In any case, Six Word Stories from some of your favorite authors.

Six words:

"Bloody... burning cities. Newsflash! They won."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

United Healthcare Update

Just got a call from UHC at 7:10 tonight.

They've called my provider and had them release my shipment.

Omnipods are shipping tomorrow.

Right on time.

See, all you have to do is spend 6 hours over the phone for two days, talk to 8 people, and threaten to file a complaint with the attorney general and you can totally get your approved healthcare costs paid!

It's like a miracle.

Anybody else need me to fight with their insurance company?

Pushing United Healthcare

I intend to write up a whole post about how to push at your insurance company.

Another two or three hours total on the phone today, with three different people. Got to the Rapid Resolution Specialist's supervisor, who contacted *her* supervisor, who got my claim to a claims manager (I know have a claim number) who ASSURES me that it will be resolved and PAID tomorrow morning at the latest.

Then they will CALL my medical provider, tell them the checks have been cut, and give them the check numbers.

This is what they SAY.

They've also told me "Don't call us, we'll totally call you!"

Ha ha ha. Yeah right, do you think I made it this far by listening to that rule?

If I don't hear from them by 9am tomorrow, I get to call and do it all over again.

I get further along every time.

Fucking asshats.

You know what? That persistence thing... about how 90% of succeeding as a writer is persistence? That rule applies to living, too. And all the things involved in it.

Good news is, after dealing with UHC, the idea of battling to get a $15 charged knocked off my Verizon bill was small potatoes. Called them immediately after and got the $15 credited to my bill.

I think I'm starting to become a brutal woman in some of those 21st century skills that have replaced the ability to wield a big sword and hit people with it.

Granted, I want to be good at that too.

You never know when you'll need a big sword.

Bit Torrent

Used Bit Torrent for the first time the other day. It's like Napster used to be, only faster and friendlier.

50 Things to Say (and Mean!) Before you Die

Why not?

Quote of the Day

"Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t."

~ Unknown

Monday, January 05, 2009

I'm So Tired

It really is stunning how many spoons get taken up arguing with five different people at three different medical companies for two and a half hours, then breaking and spending all afternoon and evening prepping for the next go-round.

They're important, worthwhile spoons, though, which is why I'm doing it. Spending these spoons now means having more spoons later. But my god, am I feeling totally mentally useless right now.

As annoyed as I was at the crappy batch of pods I got last go-round with the 20% failure rate, I haven't had any trouble the last three months with the new batch. It's been sublime. Using a pump means I'm more sane, stable, and sugar-happy than I've ever been. I have at least 75% fewer low sugar episodes. I can turn the pump off to avoid a low instead of eating to correct it. I maintain the most stable blood glucose number I've ever seen. I can't wait to get my A1c done.

Sure, there's the hardware changing and moving it around and all that, but jabbing yourself with needles four times a day isn't exactly hardware-less.

And because of the pump, I'm mentally and physically more "normal" than I've been in years.

And they want to take that away from me.

That's what I'm spending my spoons on.

And I'm so tired.

Tomorrow I get to do it all over again.

I need to be subsidized...

... Or, where are all MY rewards for bad busines practices?

The Details of Living

If you do not suffer from a life-ending condition and have never had to deal with health insurance companies, medical providers, pharmacies, drug companies, employer HR administators, and the like - all at once - count yourself among the bless'd.

It only took five phone calls with three different companies over two and a half hours for me to get my insurance providor to admit that they'd processed my medical supplies claim for my first shipment of Omnipods incorrectly.

On Weds, the 7th, I get to participate in a conference call between CCS medical - which provides my pods - and the "rapid resolution specialist" at United Healthcare.

This is because the 7th is the date I'm due for my next shipment of pods, which CCS will not ship until United Healthcare pays their 6-month-overdue bill

I have exactly 6 days worth of pods left. Baring pod failures.

You, too, could spend hours and hours of your life and mental energy on fun and exciting battles like this one, with five different reps from three different companies!

But it is living, which is something?

This is what it's like to be reminded, daily, that you're in a constant state of dying in America.

Imagine how much more productive a citizen I could be if I didn't have this constant drain of mental energy sucked into the bare necessities of living on insulin produced in a lab? What could I accomplish, living in an optimum state of health? How much better would our society be if each and every one of us was able to work, play, live, in a state of optimum health? Without the constant, nagging worry? The shuttle between medical providers, the back-and-forth arguments, the paperwork, the headache, the constant, aching, sleep-depriving stress of wondering if you'll get the medical care, coverage, and suppies you need at prices you can afford... Imagine a world without that worry.


Universal healthcare isn't scary. What's scary is living without it.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

In The Zone

From here. There are some things you just can't make up... and be believed, anyway.

SENTRY: We spotted an Arab female about 100 meters below our emplacement, near the light armored vehicle gate.

HEADQUARTERS: Observation post “Spain,” do you see it?

OBSERVATION POST: Affirmative, it's a young girl. She's now running east.

HQ: What is her position?

OP: She's currently north of the authorized zone.

SENTRY: Very inappropriate location.


OP: She's now behind an embankment, 250 meters from the barracks. She keeps running east. The hits are right on her.

HQ: Are you talking about a girl under ten?

OP: Approximately a ten-year-old girl.

HQ: Roger.

OP: OP to HQ.

HQ: Receiving, over.

OP: She's behind the embankment, dying of fear, the hits are right on her, a centimeter from her.

SENTRY: Our troops are storming toward her now. They are around 70 meters from her.

HQ: I understand that the company commander and his squad are out?

SENTRY: Affirmative, with a few more soldiers.

OP: Receive. Looks like one of the positions dropped her.

HQ: What, did you see the hit? Is she down?

OP: She's down. Right now she isn't moving.

COMPANY COMMANDER [to HQ]: Me and another soldier are going in. [To the squad] Forward, to confirm the kill!

cc [to HQ]: We fired and killed her. She has . . . wearing pants . . . jeans and a vest, shirt. Also she had a kaffiyeh on her head. I also confirmed the kill. Over.

HQ: Roger.

CC [on general communications band]: Any motion, anyone who moves in the zone, even if it's a three-year-old, should be killed. Over.

From here.